Photos. Birbs. Wood. Food.

When you bake a meatloaf and want to glaze the top (which we almost always do), this is the stuff. Came from an ancient and yellowed Betty Crocker Cookbook, but they did half this recipe, which is nothing like enough for a standard loaf-pan-sized meatloaf. We often do twice this recipe, but we’re not like the other children.


  • ½ C ketchup
  • 4 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground yellow mustard seeds


  • Grind mustard seeds
  • Combine ingredients and mix thoroughly
  • Paint onto top of meatloaf a couple times while it’s baking, and again as you slice and serve the meatloaf.

#recipe #sauce

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Based upon this simplified peasant bread recipe, this works fine for me at 6900 feet altitude, though my scale told me 512 grams of flour was about 3¼ cups, rather than the 4 called for in the recipe. My version therefore uses a mix of units. If you have a kitchen scale, you should be fine. If not, you’ll need to use your judgement.

Note also that I’ve cut the original recipe in half.

Round loaf of bread on a cooling rack


  • 2C flour – I use 256 grams, which with the flours I use is more like 1½ cups
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 C lukewarm water

For greasing the bowl:

  • 1 Tbsp butter

Special Equipment

  • Pyrex 1 quart glass oven-safe mixing bowl


  • Put all the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. 2 quart capacity or better will give you room to stir. Don’t mix the yeast and salt (put them on different sides of the bowl).
  • Add a cup of lukewarm water and mix with a fork until everything is pretty uniform.
  • Cover with plastic wrap (if in a dry climate) or a tea towel, set in a warm area, and let rise until it has doubled in volume. About 90 minutes does the trick here in Santa Fe, but might take longer at sea level.
  • Grease the Pyrex bowl with about a tablespoon of butter.
  • Using a fork, pull the dough loose from the sides of the mixing bowl, and fold it on itself so it loses most of the air (punch it down). Scoop it into the greased baking bowl and set it (uncovered) near the oven.
  • Bread dough in a greased bowl
  • Begin preheating the oven to 425F.
  • When the oven is ready, and the bread dough has risen to the edge of the bowl or slightly above, pop it into the oven for 15 minutes at 425F.
  • Turn the oven down to 375F and bake the bread for 15-17 minutes more.
  • When the bread is done, dump it from the bowl onto a cooling rack.
  • If the crust looks underdone, put the bread in the 375F oven (out of the bowl) for up to another 5 minutes.
  • Let the bread cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.
  • Enjoy!

Above, I don’t specify what type of flour. I’ve made this with at least 1 cup of bread flour every time, but the remainder of the flour has been corn, rice, and rye (so far). They’ve all turned out well, though the rye needed a little extra water to be the right consistency. Feel free to experiment! It’s a small batch, and goes pretty quickly. I could see making a loaf of this every day if I didn’t have so many other hobbies.

#recipe #bread

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Small chokecherry bowl, top view

This is a smaller chokecherry bowl, turned from the other half of the trunk that made the larger bowl.

Rough turned in early January, I finished it the second week in February 2024. Bowls seem to go very quickly, but then I think of the time I spent fussing over the finish on this one, and suddenly they’re not as quick any more.

#bowl #project #woodturning

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  • ½ onion, diced
  • ½ tsp powdered garlic
  • 4 cups sweet potatoes, diced into ½” cubes (or carrot/squash) (there are bags of frozen roasted sweet potatoes we like to use – 2 bags is the right amount)
  • 2 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth or water
  • 15 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper


  • In a large pot over medium heat, sauté onion in a little oil (1T) until it begins to brown. Darker than translucent, lighter than caramelized.
  • Add broth and bring back to a boil, deglazing pan if needed.
  • Add coconut milk and bring back to a boil.
  • Add sweet potatoes and bring back to a boil.
  • Add spices.
  • Stir to combine, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes if using frozen roasted sweet potatoes, or 30 minutes if using fresh sweet potatoes, or until potatoes are tender.
  • Use an immersion blender to blend soup until completely smooth.
  • Serve and enjoy!

We routinely add a Spam Single, some leftover ham, a half-pound of Italian sausage, or other meat to this. Frozen spinach or chard is also a good addition. My sweetie likes to add a sprinkle of Tajin powder to hers.

#recipe #soup

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Cholla and epoxy bedside lamp, unlit and lit

After the first bedside lamp with its wooden base, I wanted to try making one with a cholla and epoxy base. I started by pouring tinted epoxy into a 16 ounce cup from the dollar store, with some cholla pieces jammed into it. For smaller molds like this, I may need to start using partial pieces of cholla, as there ends up being a lot of empty space that needs to be filled with the epoxy. And pouring large amounts of epoxy can lead to a runaway exothermic reaction which causes the epoxy to foam and bubble and set very quickly, which generally isn’t usable.

Epoxy and cholla, fresh from the snowflake-adorned mold

With a successful pour, I pulled the blank from the mold and rough-turned it to a shape I thought would work. The only dimension I was really worried about was the top, which would have the top of the lamp meeting it.

Rough turning of cholla and epoxy

Looking at the rough blank, there wasn’t enough room for a battery, so I glued on a round piece of cherry, which I thought would look good, then I poured a small pour of epoxy to make sure the base and the lamp body were stuck together real good.

Wood round glued to bottom of cholla and epoxy blank

Next I turned the base, aiming to leave it as wide as possible, giving me the most flexibility with the battery.

Wooden base rough-turned

With the base turned, I bored a hole into the base of the lamp body. The largest diameter at the bottom was 2½ inches, but I stepped that down to an inch to make sure I didn’t make the inside of the lamp bigger than the outside.

Boring the hole in the bottom so I can assemble the parts and insert the battery

With the hole bored and the top of the lamp assembled, I carved out an opening for the battery and glued on some feet to give a little clearance for the battery, so the lamp wouldn’t rest on the battery.

Bottom of the lamp, showing the carved space for the battery, feet, and signature

After signing the lamp, I finished it. The epoxy portion is polished with a plastic polish. The wooden base was finished with multiple coats of Tried and True Danish Oil. After the finishes have had a chance to cure, I’ll probably add a coat of furniture wax to make it easier to dust.

Completed cholla and epoxy lamp, unlit

Completed cholla and epoxy lamp, lit

#woodworking #project #lamp

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Unlit lamp

A while back, my sweetie expressed a desire to have a bedside lamp and a night light. I worked with a few different ideas for the lighting part of it before finding the Lanterna 3-Stage Battery Powered Lamp at Lee Valley. It’s just about exactly what I want, except it takes 3 C-cells. More on that later.

So I started by making a twisted tangential turning roughly the shape I wanted for the lamp base.

Taped-together wedges which will form a twisted tangential turning

I also went searching for a rechargeable battery for the lamp. Turns out our door cameras have a battery which is just about perfect. The battery has charging circuitry built-in, and the terminals are on one end of the battery, and the charging jack on the other, so I ordered a spare battery. The only question was whether the 3.7 volt battery would drive the light circuit which was expecting 4.5 volts (yes, yes it does).

Then I disassembled the Lanterna and figured out what I could use. It was pretty easy, as there is a ⅜ inch threaded rod down the middle of the lamp holding everything together and carrying the wires from the head to the base. All I needed to do was cut off the battery holder, shorten the rod to fit my base, and then solder the wires onto the rechargeable battery terminals.

Lit lamp

Then because my base was a little short, I cut a piece of walnut and carved out a battery-shaped hole in it, leaving the hole just large enough to slide the battery through, but tight enough that the battery won’t fall out when you pick up the lamp.

Lamp base, showing micro-usb charging port

With the walnut base glued to the twisted base, finishing was just a matter of a few coats of danish oil, a coat of shellac, followed by two coats of violin varnish, and then a thin layer of carnauba wax so the lamp should be easier to dust.

My sweetie thinks it’s wonderful.

Technical notes: the battery charging circuit may not support operation of the lamp while charging. I don’t think this is a big problem, but that’s part of why the charging jack is on the bottom of the lamp. It’s less tempting to try and use the lamp while it’s charging this way. Also, Ring doorbell batteries are about half the price of the TP-Link batteries, but the charging jack and battery terminals are on the same end of the battery. Depending on your design, this may be good or bad.

Finally, the three stages of the lamp were chosen fairly well. The dimmest is slightly too-bright for a night-light, but putting a colored lens in front of the LEDs would solve that. And would be easy given the way the lamp screws together. And the current draw is low enough that the lamp should last 10-20 hours at full power, and almost a full week in nightlight mode. I think that’s a pretty decent life.

#project #lamp #woodworking #woodturning

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  • 2¾ C flour
  • ⅔ C granulated (white) sugar
  • ⅔ C brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 C chopped or crushed cranberries. Fresh and frozen are both OK.
  • 1 large apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large orange, zested and juiced
  • 3½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 C milk
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil


  • Peel and chop the apple.
  • Zest the orange, then juice the orange, adding the juice to the chopped apple.
  • Crush or coarsely chop the cranberries. Mashing them between two cutting boards works pretty well. Add to the apple pieces.
  • Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange zest in a large mixing bowl.
  • Whisk the egg, milk, and oil into the bowl, stirring just until blended.
  • Fold in the fruit and orange juice.
  • Pour into two greased 4x8 inch loaf pans, or four greased mini-loaf pans.
  • Bake at 350F for 50 minutes, until golden brown and delicious, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool on a wire rack.

You can frost these with an orange-flavored frosting if you desire (sprinkle some extra orange zest over the frosting if you do), but we like them plain, or with a little butter.

Frosting ingredients (optional)

  • 1 C confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 3 Tbsp orange juice
  • ½ tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp Cointreau, Triple Sec, or orange oil

#recipe #dessert

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I recently had our HVAC guy out to clean my shop mini-split. He commented that it really needed the cleaning, and he was surprised it was still working well. And that I really ought to keep it cleaner. So I decided I would built a box to hold some filters to clean the air going into the split, so it would be happier in the future.

First step was building a frame to hold two of the filters I’m going to use. These are the filters I already use in my Rikon 62-450 air cleaner, so I generally have them on hand.

Frame to hold two filters

With the frame built, I measured the mini-split and the space between it and the ceiling. My goal was to put the filters sitting vertically, rather than the horizontal filters built into the mini-split, which sit horizontally at the top of the split, and catch dust even when the split isn’t running. I figure the filters will last longer if they’re only collecting dust when the split is running.

Everything looked as though it would fit, so I built two frames for the box. The one in the left had to work around the mounting system for the post for my post drill, which I needed because it was impossible to buy a straight 6x6 during the early COVID days, so I got a twisted one and figured a way to make it work.

Two side frames for the filter box

With the side frames built, I cut panels to fit on them from a scrap of MDF I had. Then I used more scraps to connect the two side frames together and provide an opening for the filter holder.

Completed frame for the filters

Next up was to seal up the large gap between the mini-split and the filter box. But I couldn’t build anything rigid here, since the front of the split pivots up when it opens so you can clean the filter. My solution was to tape in a piece of ¼ inch MDF. Hopefully the tape will remain flexible enough that I don’t need to remove it, but can simply flex the piece out of the way.

Taped-in insert between the filter box and the mini-split

With that, it was time to put the filter carrier in place. I had hoped that it would stay with no attachment, bu it wanted to tip forward, so I put a single screw in to hold the top of it in place.

Filter carrier placed in the front of the filter box, secured by a single screw at the top

And with that, everything was done except inserting the filters. With them in place, it’s done. The filters don’t seem to hurt the airflow from the split when they’re clean, but I’ll need to keep an eye on things as they get dirtier. It wouldn’t do to burn out the fan in the split.

Completed filter box with filters

#project #woodworking #airFilter

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Carving skew

While working on the Altai Project Logo carving, I discovered I needed a narrow skew in order to get down into some of the corners. I have a handful of ½ inch wide unground blanks I got from the Mountain Woodcarvers clearance page, so I got busy.

Carving blade blank

Carving blade blank

First step was grinding it down to 2-3mm wide. Then I skewed the tip, and put a rough edge on with the grinder. That’s the rough outline of the tip made.

Then I had to re-harden the steel, as the grinding had wrecked the temper. I heated it bright glowing red with a MAP gas torch, and plunged it into a jar of canola oil I keep for hardening tools. Then the blade went into the toaster oven to temper it. I’m aiming for a hardness of 60 or so, which will work well for a carving tool.

With the blade in the oven, I turned to the lathe, and converted a small piece of granadillo into a handle. I also drilled a 3/16 hole for the tang. Because it’s a tapered tang, I drilled a short bit wider with 7/32 and ¼ inch bits. Then I added a ferrule from some ½ OD brass, and filed it smooth.

By this time, the blade was done cooking, so I pulled it out and let it cool, then pounded the handle onto the blade. A bit of hand sanding and a couple coats of tung oil, and it’s ready to go.

Carving skew

#woodworking #tool #project

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Based on the basic recipe from Southern Living, this is pretty tasty, and as a bonus, you get a good cup of pot-likker to give a boost (and some added vitamins) to some other recipe down the road. Switching Spam for ham will require tweaking the spices, but is not a horrible substitution.

Serves: 4 Active time: 15 minutes Total time: 2 hours, 15 minutes


  • 2 slices bacon, chopped, or 1 Tbsp bacon grease
  • 2 Tbsp diced onion
  • 2 (3 if using bacon grease, rather than bacon slices) slices ham, chopped
  • ½-1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ⅛ tsp chile powder (I prefer Chimayó)
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • ½ lb collard greens


  • Sauté the bacon and onion until the onion has gone translucent.
  • Add the garlic and ham, and get everything mixed together.
  • Add all the other ingredients and bring to a simmer.
  • Simmer for 2 hours, or a little more, stirring occasionally.
  • Fish the greens out with tongs and serve, and save the pot-likker for something else. It’s tasty and full of nutrients.


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