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Archive for October, 2010

An all-purpose glider-style paper airplane

26 Oct

Unlike the needle-nosed dart model we’ve seen before, this airplane is designed for gentle gliding. It’ll go quite a distance if you throw it hard, but it will also float smoothly for ages with light toss. I’m not encouraging littering, but these are great for throwing out your window. Overall, it’s easy to make and remarkably sturdy. All you need is an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper and a minute to fold it. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Chalkboard drawing: “Deploy the traps”

21 Oct

Deploy the trapsThe wife was talking about mouse poop, and we did indeed catch a mouse immediately when I deployed our winter array of mouse traps (not surprisingly, the mice want to come in when it gets cold). Of course, I had to draw a picture first.

 
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Halloween decorations should be creepy (and cheap)

18 Oct

Store displayHalloween is my favorite holiday (after the ones with presents and the ones where I get to eat cake all day). Judging from the cutesy, neutered Halloween decorations I’ve seen, it appears that America wants to forget that Halloween is supposed to be scary. If an October passes without me fearing for my life during a horror flick or at least worrying about skeletal hands creeping out from beneath the couch, then the year gets chalked up as a personal failure. (watching The Orphanage guaranteed that I would succeed this year). Thankfully, the wife and I have a deal: in October, we watch horror movies; in February, we watch romance movies.

October is also when I get to break out the Halloween decorations. I’ve assembled my own batch of Halloween icons over the years, and I try to add something new every year. Today, I’m going to go through some ways to bring the true, creepy spirit of Halloween into your house with minimal expense and effort. My specialties include creepy creatures in jars and horrifically-labeled bottles.
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Chalkboard drawing: “Doctor”

15 Oct

DoctorPutting off a doctor’s appointment is a time-honored art and an unmistakable sign of a curmudgeon-in-making. Yes, I finally made an appointment, but I am proud that I wasted as much time as possible first.

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Premium cider is on its way

10 Oct

Empty jugsIn simpler times, fall was when apples were finally ripe, making it the only season to brew cider. Now, we can make do the rest of the year with shelf-stable, pasteurized juice or by buying imported apples and pressing them, but fall is still the time to capitalize on the temporary availability of fresh apple cider from local orchards. Fresh, sweet cider makes a great raw ingredient for hard cider and creates a richer, more flavorful final product than cider made from simple juice. Most fresh cider is flash-pasteurized and contains no preservatives, which makes it perfect for home brewing. However, the lack of preservatives gives it a limited shelf life; you must keep it refrigerated or start brewing with it before some undesirable natural yeast takes over.

Having honed several good cider recipes during the year, I went to Weber’s Cider Mill Farm yesterday to pick up some fresh apple cider from the pros to make some premium-grade hard cider before winter comes. Fresh cider is typically around $6 per gallon, which is about 50% more expensive than the unfiltered Kirkland apple juice I use the rest of the year. The high-quality results are worth the extra cost, but don’t be afraid to negotiate. Most orchards (including Weber’s) will be happy to give you a discount if you’re buying large quantities. The friendly folks at Weber’s were quite helpful, and their cider is fantastic — highly recommended for anyone in the Baltimore area.

I dragged a heavy wagon with 12 gallons of fresh cider out of Weber’s. That’s enough to start two premium batches and still have some fresh cider left for drinking. One batch follows the Panda Beer model, with just brown sugar, raisins, and honey, while the other is a spiced winter cider with cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. When it’s ready for tasting, I’ll be sure to share the recipe for the Winter Warmer.

 

Chalkboard drawing: “Groundskeeper”

04 Oct

GroundskeeperSomeone drew the lone flower (on the left) when I had some friends over for the evening. It was too sweet and simple to last for long. This fellow emerged to solve the problem.

Answers to unspoken questions:

1) Yes, expect chalkboard drawings to become a semi-regular feature.

2) Yes, you will see more directions soon, too. Good projects take some time to finish!

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