Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cupcake Wars and Thanksgiving Travels

Taylor and the Cupcake (Wars)

We spent Thanksgiving with my mom in Hot Springs, AR this 
year, gathering at a neighbor's house where everyone brought
their special dish and enjoyed an afternoon of delicious food
and good company.  The weather is still relatively warm there,
this was one of the first years they did not eat outside. Still,
much warmer than the St Louis (MO) area. A blanket of rain
was on the way so there were a few spits here and there
but we were able to linger on the deck for a great deal of the time.

We ate at our favorite Hot Springs restaurant, Mr Whiskers,
which offers shrimp, catfish, oysters, chicken and hamburgers 
among other things.  They make their own sauces and the 
food is cooked to perfection. It's delicious!  We talked for
days about what we were going to get when we arrived in 
Hot Springs.  Yes, it's that good.

On Friday I helped mom decorate while Tom drove Taylor into
town for a quick trip to one of her favorite stores and some bbq.
The downtown is store after store, small businesses, with pretty
things to wear, delicious restaurants, interesting things for tourists
to do and of course the bath houses for which they are famous.

Taylor stopped into the cupcake store, Fat Bottom Girls, and standing right 
in front of her was the winner of Cupcake Wars.  
Taylor must follow this show because my husband 
said her eyes lit up and she could only ramble on about how
excited she was to actually meet the winner.  
Apparently it was "the greatest day in her life!"
The owner gave Taylor a free cupcake which she
ate of course but also brought the box home to show her mom.

The weather was so nice we sat outside on mom's deck
watching the lights on the dam and listening to the 
occasional dog bark or boat drive by.

Mom has many carolers that she displays during the holiday,
these are only the ones on the mantle.

We decorated her tree.

I found an ornament I made back in 1980.

This one Mom made back then too.

We drove back Saturday, in the driving rain but fortunately
ahead of the flooding they anticipate.  It was still a rough go 
through parts of Arkansas, the asphalt roads gathered a stream
of water where the tire tracks were causing a lot of hydroplaning,
streams were roaring, coming out of their banks.  The Lake Hamilton
dam (Carpenter Dam) was wide open with the river so 
high on the river side that I wondered if anyone was being flooded there.  
They lost the bridge one year when they had to quickly open the dam.
There is a series of lakes starting with Lake Ouachita which leads
to Lake Hamilton and then Lake Catherine.

I posted this photo from our last trip of an abandoned barn.  A few
months later it has collapsed.  I couldn't get a good photo this year due
to the rains but I was sorry to see it go.

We're back home now and ready to do some pretty good
pre-Christmas cleaning.  I'll have the hubby get out the decorations
and put the tree up soon. It sure is a lot colder up here!  I'm missing
that light jacket weather!

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mason Jar Topper by Tom Usher

Wood turned mason jar lid.
My husband made this cute mason jar lid from
some scrap wood that he had in the garage.

I'll let him do a guest post below.

I glued up a piece of hard maple and a scrap of poplar that was laying around the shop. Having never done this before I didn't want to waste any expensive lumber. There is a dowel rod in the center holding the pieces together. A joint made with end grain up against long grain is inherently weak so it has to be reinforced.

The lathe is set up and ready to turn the top. I used a set of long nosed jaws on the chuck for the additional gripping power on the maple block that would become the handle. It will take a considerable amount of abuse during turning and I wouldn't want it to break off. The drill is a 2 7/8" Forstner bit.

The bit is held in the tailstock and it does not revolve. The wood spins in the chuck and the bit is slowly pushed into it with a crank on the rear of the tailstock. 

               After the hole is drilled I roughed the material to shape with a

 fingernail bowl gouge.

I continued shaping with the gouge until I got the shape that seemed right. Is it? Who knows?! That's what I really like about turning. Unlike most of the insanely persnickety trim work I usually do in my day job it's fun to just kick back and let the material sort of dictate the final product.

After I sanded the top I flipped it round on the chuck and supported it from the inside.  I slid the tailstock with the live center in it up to the maple block that had been in the chuck up to this point. This way the work was completely supported as I roughed out the top with a roughing gouge. Supporting the work with the chuck from the inside is not as secure as when it's clamped between the jaws.

It gets a little tricky where the two pieces of wood meet because the grains run perpendicular to each other. That can cause the gouges to catch and ruin the job. I used a little finesse, a scraper and a skew to finish off the connected area and a small spindle gouge to shape the top.

I sanded it down and just put a simple finish on it. Then I took a mason jar ring and glued it into the top on the small ledge that I left in it for that purpose. I used the normal tacky glue that you find in most craft stores.

And there you have it. That's the first time I've made one of these tops and now I have at least a small feel for it. I'm going to make good use of a whole lot of scraps around here making more. I've got plenty of walnut, maple, oak and all kinds of exotics that are too small for most things but ought to glue up just fine for this.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Taylor and the Gyroscope Plus a Chemistry Lesson

Who says kids are only interested in electronic gadgets?
Enough of staring into phones or tablets, we're moving to 
some hands on experience and a little "hidden" schooling too!

My husband stopped into a nice hobby shop and found a 
gyroscope for Taylor.  She was absolutely thrilled, like having 
a little space station right on the tip of her finger.  She would
wind the string, pull and watch it spin:  on her finger, in its stand,
absolutely sideways and ever going-- although the photo stops
the action.  She had a ball with it.

We also got her a chemistry set that has many different 
experiments that build upon each other.  Pops and Taylor
got to geek out at the dining room table going through
several of the experiments on Saturday and Sunday.
We have our son's old set in the attic so I'll dig into that and 
see what else is still good.  There is a microscope somewhere.

We will build on this kit, upgrading to more advanced kits
as she learns.  We're wondering where you buy chemicals these
days, it used to be the pharmacy carried it when we were kids
but with elevate security maybe you have to order on line now?

She requested her great grandmother's mostaccioli recipe 
for dinner.  You start with a chuck roast that cooks all day in 
the crock pot in tomato sauce and other ingredients until
it breaks down and just falls apart into beefy pulled meat.
You add the cooked noodles and it is almost instantly gone if
there is any sort of crowd.  We had a couple of plates left
over for lunch the next day after everyone had their fill
the night before.  Delicious stuff!

We topped it off with a cookie cake when her mom arrived 
from work.  We ended up the evening sitting by the fire pit,
both Taylor and my daughter spending the night.  Then up for
church on Sunday morning.  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Lathe Upgrade- Seam Rippers, Pens and More

Wood working is both an occupation and passion for my 
carpenter husband who has converted our garage into
his shop with the exception of a space for my car at night.

Our newest acquisition is a Nova 1624/44 wood lathe upgrade from his old
Craig's list acquired Craftsman which had limitations due 
to size and stabilization. He will be able to use this
both personally and in his occupation.  

The first order of business was to create a handle for 
one of the tools that came with the lathe.

He has orders for seam rippers as well.  These are
the first creations using the new tool.  The image below
will show how the seam ripper pulls out of the end, 
is reinserted so the ripper is exposed and can then
be pushed back inside for storage.  

There is no set shape to these, it is all free hand.

He has also been creating pens, these were on the old 
lathe.  He has an order to turn a pen for a friend's daughter
made from a walnut tree that grew outside the daughter's room.
He will also make a wooden business card holder from the same tree.

There are so many things he can make from bottle stoppers,
furniture, rolling pens, kitchen utensils, toys, ornaments, etc.
I'll post about his mason jar toppers on a separate post.

He's going to give me lessons so I can try turning so that should
be fun.  

Update on Medical
I'm feeling better but on quite a few meds for my 
now full blown colitis.  I have to consult with the Dr. on
the steroid, it seems to play around with my blood sugar
and I have to eat something or have a hard candy to feel
better.  Also I am experiencing some lower leg and foot swelling.
All in all I am doing better than the last couple of months and
hope to avoid another hospital stay!!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Hospital Stay

My colitis situation has worsened, going into full blown
colitis rather than just the last 6-8 inches of the colon.
I was admitted through the emergency room last Sunday
after almost fainting several times following an extended
stretch of very little food, chronic intestinal issues and
dehydration.  I was down 25 lbs in 5 weeks.

After initial blood work they discovered that my potassium
level tanked, which was causing me to pass out, and my 
hemoglobin level was low so into a room I went with both
arms hooked to IVs with 5-6 different things going into me.
One of the IVs worked itself out and gave me this nice bruise.

I had to have another colonoscopy where they did several 
biopsies to determine the full colitis. I was in for 4 days and
allowed to start a soft gastric diet on the 3rd day, 
continuing on as I add a little bit more here and there.

I started out taking only 1 little thyroid pill daily and now
have 8-10 additional pills in the morning and one at night.
Three of them are steriods, one a pepcid, iron, vitiman C,
and four are the same pill for colitis.
I should mention, ever since I was a kid, I can't swallow pills.
This is a huge struggle for me.

They intend to move me off steriods and onto a program
of tier 2 drugs that, in combination,  have shown a 50%
cure rate, otherwise there is nothing but cramping, blood loss and
diarrhea, particularly in the morning.  

I am watching my diet.
No soda, no coffee, no processed foods if possible,
more fish, soft meat and no cookies, cake, etc.
No milk, ice cream or sherbet, although they say 
cheese, butter and things cooked with milk is OK.

I'm keeping
a diary to see my symptoms vs what I ate.
Since this is autoimmune, I am going to start having some
local honey for its anti-inflammatory properties.

I have to get back to work tomorrow and I'm concerned with 
the drive in.  I am up for hours with symptoms, how will I drive
45 min into work?  The Dr said I could take an Imodium
so I may do that to get there, afternoons are better.

So that is why I have been missing for awhile.
I'm hoping to get back into a normal routine once
I figure out the right food, the right time.