Archive for the ‘NaBloPoMo’ Category


Nixie Tube Clock: Guest Blog Post

November 30, 2013

To wrap up my month of posting every day, I’m happy to present a guest post from my husband!


Jill asked me to contribute to her blog with a post today.   I’m more of a maker than an art/craft or baker-person, so I’ll share one of my geeky projects with you:

I designed and made a Nixie tube clock.   Nixie tubes are from the bygone era of vacuum tubes, but there’s been a resurgence of interest in them over the past decade-how retro!  Many of us have never seen one of these tubes actually functioning.  Each tube can display a digit from 0-9 based on which combination of connections on the bottom of the tube are connected to a high-voltage supply.      So, I found some tubes and decided I’d turn them into a clock.    I designed a small 8-bit computer to run the clock and put it all together in a half-open assembly (guys like to see the guts of things).

Here’s a picture of the finished clock:

Ryan's nixie clock

Ryan’s nixie clock

I designed and debugged the circuit boards, built them, programmed the computer and put it all together.     I have many more details here, including the circuit board designs, and the source code for the software that runs the clock. Enjoy!  How’s that for something different?


Hazelnut-Fig Quick Bread

November 29, 2013

I clipped this recipe out of a Cooking Light magazine in March 1999 and finally made it in November 2013. I don’t know why this one took so long to get to, but I’m glad I held on to the recipe. The combination of figs and orange (orange juice + zest) make this especially delicious for breakfast.

hazlenut quick bread

Unlike a lot of quick breads, the nuts are on top rather than mixed in. It’s nice to get a few really nutty bites along with some no-nut bites.

hazlenut quick bread

It took a while to get to this recipe, but I won’t wait 14 years to make it again!

I baked this in two mini loaf pans (5.75 x 3″) rather than in one pan. You can find the recipe here on My Recipes.


Crochet Tom Turkey

November 28, 2013

Crochet Turkey

Crochet Turkey

I made Tom Turkey a few years ago, and it’s always fun to put him on display in November.

The pattern is Tom Turkey (#80744AD) from Lion Brand. It’s a free pattern, but you may need to log in to view it. Be sure to look at the reviews – there are photos of other cute turkeys that people have made using the pattern.


Artichoke-Olive Dip

November 27, 2013

It’s green!

artichoke-olive dip

I’ve made this recipe twice: once as crostini, as the original recipe is written, and another time as a dip served with pita chips. Either way, it tastes great. And it’s crazy-quick to make! Olives, artichoke hearts, capers, garlic, and olive oil go into the food processor, and a couple of pulses later, it’s ready to eat. I used pimento-stuffed olives; the little red bits add some nice color.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy snack or appetizer, the recipe is here on Smitten Kitchen.


Banana and Chocolate Chip Upside-Down Cake

November 26, 2013

An upside-down cake may sound daunting, but this is one is easy to make. The few extra minutes it takes to melt the brown sugar and layer the bananas on the bottom of the pan is more than made up for by the simple mix-by-hand cake batter.

Banana Upside-Down Cake

Surprisingly, this cake is low fat. I’m not going to call it health food, but I bake enough to know that 2 Tablespoons of butter, 1 1/2 eggs, and 1/2 cup of low-fat sour cream means that this is a heck of a lot less sinful than a lot of other cakes. But with caramelized bananas on top and chocolate chips throughout, you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. If you’re a banana lover, this is a must-try recipe!

Recipe notes:

  • You can find the recipe here on David Lebovitz’s website.
  • For the topping, he gives an option of water or butter – I used water.
  • For the cake, he gives an option of regular or low-fat sour cream – I used low fat.
  • There’s also an option for chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. I used regular-size chocolate chips. I don’t recommend using mini-chips or tiny pieces of chopped chocolate though  – a substantial bite of chocolate really adds something to the texture and taste of the cake.
  • I made the cake the day before and served it at room temperature. The recipe suggests serving it warm and adding whipped cream or ice cream, all of which sound wonderful.

Sourdough Bread Stuffing

November 25, 2013

I’ve eaten plenty of stuffing over the years, but I don’t think I’d ever made it before. When I was deciding on recipes for an early Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws, I decided to wing it and try a new recipe rather than asking my mom or in-laws for their recipes.

Sourdough stuffing

And, sigh of relief, this recipe was a big hit. The sourdough bread adds a nice tang, the onions, celery, sage, and thyme add what I consider to be the classic stuffing flavors, and the mushrooms are a welcome addition to the other elements. And just like that, I have a go-to recipe the next time I need to make stuffing.

Recipe notes

  • The recipe for Sourdough Bread Stuffing is here on the Food Network’s website.
  • To get a jump on things, I cubed and toasted the bread and chopped the vegetables the night before. With the prep done, it was easy to finish and bake the stuffing after I put the turkey in the oven.
  • I cut way back on the butter. The recipe calls for 8 Tablespoons of butter, which sounded excessive to me. Instead, I sauteed the mushrooms in a little olive oil, then added 2 Tablespoons of butter with the onions and celery, and 1 Tablespoon of butter with the sage. I can’t compare my version to the full-butter version, but I thought it was plenty tasty with only 3 Tablespoons of butter.

Kitschy Christmas Ornaments (Felt & Embroidery)

November 24, 2013

I see a lot of craft ideas online that go on my “someday” list. But these Kitschy Christmas Ornaments from Wild Olive, went on the “right now” list.

felt ornaments

These are as cute as it gets, and I wanted some on my tree this year. So far I’ve made three, and I think I’ll have at least a few more ready by the time the tree is up.

felt ornaments

felt ornaments

Project notes:

  • The instructions are just $5.00, and they’re very detailed and helpful. I’ve never made anything like this before, but I was quickly up and running after reading through the information.
  • In the instructions, she mentions using freezer paper to trace and transfer the pattern pieces to the felt. This was new to me, but let me tell you – it’s magical! A quick pass with the iron adheres the paper to the felt, and then it easily peels off with no residue. I found a good primer on freezer paper here on Make it & Love it.
  • To make things really, easy, you can buy a customized felt collection and matching embroidery floss. I didn’t need the floss, but I bought the felt. I’m not a felt expert, but the wool felt is definitely nicer than the basic felt that I’ve bought at the craft store for other projects.
  • Most of the stitching is basic, but if you need a tutorial on French Knots (those are the little dots on the wreath and the poinsettia), hop over to Sublime Stitching.
  • Photos of all the ornaments, plus links to purchase the pattern and the felt are here on Wild Olive’s blog.

Cream-Filled Coffeecake

November 23, 2013

When I read King Arthur Flour’s blog post about this Cream-Filled Coffeecake, I was intrigued. The story behind the recipe involves a woman famous for making coffeecakes, and equally famous for not divulging the recipe. At her funeral, her family passed out the recipe. Mystery solved? Not quite – the recipe wasn’t very detailed, so one of the recipients of the recipe turned to King Arthur Flour for help. The revised recipe is now published on their site. The interesting story, plus a taste for what I’d call an old-fashioned coffeecake, spurred me on to give this a try.

Here it is just out of the oven:


And the finished, filled coffeecake:


I wondered if the cake part would be too bread-like, but it was light and airy and was complimented perfectly by the sweet topping and creamy, vanilla filling. As good as the filling was, I wanted more of it and would have liked it to be a bit more fluffy.

I made this recipe along with my blogging friend Michele, who changed it up and made a different topping and filling. Be sure to check in with her blog, Veggie Num Nums, to see how hers turned out!

Recipe notes:

  • The recipe is here on King Arthur Flour’s site.
  • Don’t expect to make this in the morning and serve it for breakfast. The mixing, rising, resting, baking, and cooling all add up to quite a bit of time (not all of it hands-on). The total time on the recipe is up to 4 hours 15 minutes, but I think I spent at least 5 hours total, start to finish.
  • It was at its best the afternoon of the day I made it. The next day, it was still tasty, but was dry. The recipe says it can be frozen, so next time I’d freeze it right away and then defrost right before eating (it should defrost pretty quickly).
  • A whole recipe makes a huge cake with 20 servings. I made a half-size cake and baked it in an 8″ springform pan. It is very tall, so that’s still a good-sized cake. For a half-recipe, I made 1/2 the amount of dough and 3/4 the amount of topping and filling (proportions are in accordance with the recipe’s tip about making two smaller cakes – you need to increase the topping and filling amounts).
  • Another recipe tip says to be gentle when combining the two parts of the filling. I ended up with some flour lumps, so I vigorously whisked it. The lumps were gone and I thought it looked fine.
  • Watch the baking time. I baked my smaller cake for 35 minutes, and probably could have taken it out at 30.

Baked Oatmeal from Super Natural Every Day

November 22, 2013

Baked oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfast dishes to make because it reheats so well. There are just two of us in the house, and we usually don’t eat breakfast at the same time, so having something ready to warm up comes in handy. A while back, I got a copy of Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day from the library, and I flagged her version of baked oatmeal right away.

Baked Oatmeal

It’s got bananas on the bottom, berries on the bottom and top, and walnuts mixed in and sprinkled on top. So many flavors and textures, and it all adds up to a delicious, hearty breakfast.

I made this recipe along with my blogging friend Michele. Be sure to check in with her blog, Veggie Num Nums, to see how hers turned out!

Recipe notes:

  • The recipe, which appears here on Williams-Sonoma’s site, is almost the same as the one in the book. The recipe in the book provides an option of using 1/3 cup natural cane sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw), added to the oat mixture, instead of the maple syrup. I’m not a big maple person, so I opted for the sugar.
  • When I scooped it out of the baking dish, I noticed that there was some extra liquid on the bottom, even though the oatmeal was cooked through. I think using frozen berries might have caused this. It wasn’t a big deal, but next time I’ll thaw and drain them first.
  • My husband, not a nut fan, declared this good, but “too nutty.” I think it would work out fine to leave the nuts out and serve them on the side for sprinkling on individual portions. More nuts for me!

If you have the book, here are a few other recipes that I’ve tried and liked:

  • Lemon-Zested Bulgur Wheat: This is another great hot cereal that reheats well.
  • Chickpea Wraps: This was a welcome change from the usual sandwich selections. I used pita bread instead of a tortilla or wrap.
  • Cabbage-Chickpea-Curry Soup: Tons of curry flavor; perfect for chilly weather.

Crochet Christmas Bulb Garland

November 21, 2013

I made this garland last year and finished it just before Christmas.  I decided to hang it over the patio door, so I just kept making bulbs until I had enough to span the door.

Crochet Christmas Bulb Garland

Crochet Christmas Bulb

I started out with a pattern for a Christmas bulb that I found online, but used just the pattern for the bulb part and made my own pattern for the base. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see that the top part is spiraled, which gives it the effect of a screw-in bulb.


For each bulb, follow the instructions for the ornament body from this pattern.

For each base:

  • Ch 15
  • Starting in the 2nd sc from hook, 3 sc in each chain. You’ll see it start to curl up like a corkscrew.
  • Finish off. Sew to the bulb.

To make the garland, crochet a chain and slip stitch the base of each bulb to the chain, chaining an equal amount between each bulb. Finish off the chain.

Project notes:

  • I used a 3.5mm hook instead of the 3.75mm hook called for in the bulb pattern.
  • The base and bulb are medium-weight yarn; the garland is a thinner, silver yarn.
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