Tuesday, April 1, 2014

You made a what???

(Note: this one is out a day late for a classic reason. I like to have Lisa look over these things before I post them, unfortunately her editing pass was delayed. Lisa's editing was delayed due to a Monday night class in which the  group assigned to report on group work could not work as a group (got that?) resulting in them giving three separate presentations.)

Ok one of the points to today's post is to encourage feedback. Feedback is a good and sometimes fun thing (not to mention me being a little jealous of Lisa's comments when I haven't gotten any comments yet). I know a couple people have opted to email me because they didn't want to (or couldn't) comment, and I'd like to encourage those too, so if you can't or don't want to comment email me at psknewone@yahoo.com.

Anyway to encourage comments/emails... I realized that I really haven't named my sourdough starter and at least in the online community, names for your starter seem to be really, really important so... I am announcing the official Adventures of Patrick and Lisa Shameless Plug to Get Comments Name that Starter Contest! That's right, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls (and any in laws, out laws, or other readers of this blog that for some reason don't fit into one or more of those categories) comment or send an email with a name for my sourdough starter. We'll choose the one that we like best (or the one that strikes us as funny) and name the starter (Note for those of you going to the Layne family reunion: we are planning on making sourdough biscuits as part of the breakfast for our day so you may actually have to eat your words (I'm just saying...)). If your name is chosen will you get a prize? Possibly, probably, (I haven't gotten that far in thinking this through yet!) at a minimum you will get glory (or infamy) in this blog when your name is announced, you might also get a prize (and it may be featured in this or an up coming post). Please have your comments/emails in by May 4, 2014 and the announcement of the winner should happen by May 12 (I'm actually hopping for May 10th (just in case some happy or suicidal person chooses to name it for their mother!))

Second point: Talk about one of my favorite topics creativity. (Don't worry I'm not going for the big preach here and there will be pretty pictures). When we're talking about creativity  there are a lot of definitions or ideas 'out of the box' thinking, novel behavior, seeing/discovering things. For my purposes right now, creativity is finding uses for things that are positive (i.e. solving a problem, enhancing your environment, or in some way creating or increasing value) or creating something new.

Example the first...

I mentioned out of the box thinking, well what about empty box thinking... beyond the typical store stuff in it and recycle it answers how can this lowly piece of packaging help out in the workshop?

Well, lets take a look at one real use answer: I needed a way to glue some caps on tumbled stones. Problem 1: the glue needed is epoxy and there is no way to be sure it won't ooze around the fingers of the cap to touch the workbench or what ever else I lay them on so I need to keep the top off the ground. Problem 2: except for one,  none of the stones are going to stand up on their own. Problem 2a: since the shapes are random and sizes vary standardized things like soda caps and ice trays failed to do the job. 


At the moment, that box has become a very useful tool in keeping some of my projects from being permanent residents of the workshop. A little tape and a sharp craft knife and I have a custom tray for holding the stones.

Example the second...
We picked up some Mandarin oranges at a case lot sale last month. Problem we both missed the fact that the oranges were packed in juice not syrup (and not particularly sweet juice at that); we don't want to use them in some of the standard recipes because they are more acidic and could create problems for jello and so on...

Solution (sort of): orange chocolate biscuits. This is one that didn't really work right out of the gate but did answer some questions and is leading to new ideas... the oranges brought a lot of liquid to the party and some extra acidity meaning they didn't act quite like the usual versions of the recipe:

As you can see they ended up flatter, and browned faster than intended (yes that lead to burning...); they also didn't taste as great as I'd hoped. But, this one has signaled that I can probably deal with some other wetter ingredients than I had done (just not as wet as the oranges) and led me to ask "how do I get more orange flavor in there?" which leads me to dealing with some of the flavorants at my favorite spice places and thinking about using orange zest. True the recipe itself goes down as a 'mission failed' but it leads me to asking new questions that will lead to better/new things in the future (I hope) and thse things would not have come up if I had not tried for a creative use of our fairly useless oranges.

example three...wait what is that?
Actually there is no third example. Instead I'm going for the audience participation thing. I have a real love for 'shop made' problem solvers; these are things that people have made or modified to do what they do and run the gamut from things that people piece together for their hobby (often so they don't have to buy one or to make it do something people say it can't), to household items that get modified to solve problems, to items used in real live professional shops and businesses (artists, farmers, construction types do these things all the time and really should get more respect for it!). So, what are some of the things that YOU have built to solve problems? Comment or send an email. Like I say I like this stuff and will be talking about shop made stuff again (note: if you email you can specify whether you are willing to let me mention your stuff in a post (you can also send pictures) if you comment I'm going to assume you're ok with it being mentioned since you're the one who mentioned it in the blog).

Ok, two more teasers and another picture of our box...

This is a collection of stone that we will be following through a couple of linked posts in the near future (split between a couple of posts because the total process time is about 40 days (though the hands on time is considerably less). I'm doing these to answer some questions people have had about  what I do with some of the stones I get (and potential questions about what to do with stones that will come from the up coming Layne reunion.  

Speaking of the reunion:

These particular stones are in the mix of stuff that will be going up to the reunion. They are (from left to right) obsidian, moss agate, mookaite jasper (fairly new out of Australia), gold stone (its a synthetic, but it's cool enough I wanted to throw a piece in), another cool but unnamed jasper, and chrysocolla (a bit softer and more of a pain in the #%$$#%@#$@ to work with some times but I have seen it in some very cool and very real antique scabbards, knives and swords... (note on the note: in checking the spelling on this I realized one of my favorite sources has it marked out of stock... which is making me want to order some of their bags of random tumbling rough in hopes of getting more. Somebody stop me, or at least call my bank and tell them I need another safe deposit box!)

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