29 December 2009

Makin' Butter

We wish you a geeky Christmas, and a happy New Year!

About five years ago, my brother-in-law shared with us the tradition of making butter by hand to serve at Thanksgiving dinner. We each got our little jar of heavy cream with a bit of salt added, and sat shaking the darn things for 1-2 hours while we watched a movie. I like the final product well enough, but wanted to find a better way.

After some successful but labor-intensive experiments involving a backpack and a treadmill, I hit on the perfect solution: repurposing the rock tumbler as a butter churn.

You will need: a rock tumbler, a container that fits on it relatively well, and a small washable clean something (we used a small silicone condiment bowl) to use as a paddle. Also heavy cream, a bit of salt, and any other flavorings you'd like to add. (Ideas: truffle oil, herbs, honey...)  Take care not to buy sweetened cream!

The container shown here is from Gatorade powder.

Put your cream (with some room to slosh) and your butter paddle into the container, seal it tight, and put it on the rock tumbler.


If you have trouble finding a container that fits, you can use a glass jar placed in the rock tumbling barrel:

Keep checking the container, and soon you will have butter!  (You will have to dig out your butter paddle.)  Enjoy.

15 December 2008

An Amazing Puzzle

By far one of the niftiest things I've found on the Internet recently:
Play Auditorium

Here's the level where I got stuck on my first attempt:

13 August 2008

Art and Motorcycles, Part III

See earlier installments:
Motorcycles Part I: Making Motorcycles
Motorcycles Part II: Making Motorcycles Out of Cutlery

And now Motorcycles Part III: Dancing with Motorcycles

As far as I can glean from Ye Olde Internet, this was a motorbike show performed by Italian policemen in 1953.

09 July 2008

Goodbye, princess

It is with deep sorrow that I share the news of the death of my cat, who has been a loving and sweet companion to me for thirteen years.

07 July 2008

The Limerick Game, Part Two

See here for our earlier installment.

Some of the best lately:

July 22 - July 29

The princess of fairy tale lore
Slept on peas ‘neath her bed, but no more.
Since discovering them there,
In her ears and her hair,
"Henceforth, only futons!" she swore.

21 Dec. 2007 – 15 Jan. 2008
On the twelfth day of Christmas, she said,
“Are there MORE days of Christmas ahead?
All those pipers and rings
That the holiday brings…
Make me just want to go back to bed.

21 March 2008 (my favorite)
It seems that I never do learn
Why despite all the money I earn
My savings keep dwindling.
I can just afford kindling
Which means I have money to burn.

18 June 2008


This stained glass piece took me five hours, from conception to completion. I am still practicing my soldering technique - some of the seams are practically perfect, but still some are lumpy. The clear glass was salvaged from an old ("antique") window frame. The design and title were inspired by one of the dot cartoons from Sesame Street, recently jogged in my memory after watching some old school Sesame Street on DVD.

28 May 2008

15 April 2008

Science Geek Humor

Courtesy of my Dad, my favorite engineer:

Understanding Engineers - Part One

Two engineering students were walking across a university campus when one said, "Where did you get such a great bike?" The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, "Take what you want." The second engineer nodded approvingly and said, "Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn't have fit you anyway."

Understanding Engineers - Part Two

To the optimist, the glass is half full.
To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Understanding Engineers - Part Three

A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.

The engineer fumed, "What's with those blokes? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!" The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such inept golf!" The priest said, "Here comes the greens keeper. Let's have a word with him."

He said, "Hello, George! what's wrong with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?" The greens keeper replied, "Oh, yes. That's a group of blind fire fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime."

The group fell silent for a moment.

The priest said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight."

The doctor said, "Good idea. I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there's anything he can do for them."

The engineer said, "Why can't they play at night?

08 April 2008

Breaking the Rule of Five

There are several reasons why this piece is significant:

* it is the first piece I made completely in my own studio
* I assembled the first half of the piece while I was in labor
* the blue glass is all leftovers from repairing the stained glass skylight in my house
* some of the blue glass is new, and some is over one hundred years old! (It is a perfect match in color but not in texture.)

Extra credit to those who can deduce why it is called "Breaking the Rule of Five" Click on the photo for an enlarged version for closer examination.

Special thanks to Dan Gamaldi at Cradle of the Sun for his help with the frame!

17 March 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I can't think of anyone who needs to memorize square root approximations anymore, except perhaps carpenters and math tutors, but here's a trick I learned from a student ten years ago - for those of you who like kickin' it old school!