NYRampage

Happiness. Short-term, stupid, self-interest.

Cake Season 2008 – Tropical Cake

For my daughter’s 11th birthday, she had a tropical themed sleepover party. The American Girl Doll party kit color scheme gave me my inspiration.

Fondant is so easy to work with, anyone can look like a pro; but, I find most people don’t like the taste. My work around is to go heavy with the buttercream undercoat and roll the fondant thin. My wife requested her next cake to be buttercream only (which I plan to do sometime this summer since her birthday got buried this spring).

May 23, 2008 Posted by | Life in general | 2 Comments

The Nature of the Beast

ems-cat.jpgMy favorite evil mad scientist inspired me to commiserate…

angel.jpg

Ever since I stumbled across the Lego trebuchet while searching for other Lego creations like the Lego bottle opener, I’ve been hooked on the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories blog. (I’ve mentioned the site before) Being a food art creator, and a cat lover as well,  I also liked the peeps and the 3D printed candy. Which reminds me of the very cool FigurePrints… check out this interview on the PC Gamer podcast. (interview starts at 31:07 into the podcast)

February 28, 2008 Posted by | Gaming, Life in general, Tech | 1 Comment

Marketing Speak

I love marketing… (you should be able to smell the sarcasm in that statement)

For example, my Verizon Wireless cell phone plan has a feature service “included for free”, called Mobile Web 2.0 Access; that costs $1.99 per Megabyte. However, I could upgrade to “Unlimited Free Mobile Web 2.0”; that only costs $15/month.

So let me get this straight… I can either access the web for free and just pay per access, or, I can pay to access the web for free. How can I lose?

I have another term to describe marketing and sales people when they talk like this… Shit Speak.

November 28, 2007 Posted by | Life in general, Pet Peeves | 1 Comment

No More Screwing Around

Juicy Fruit, poison, drowning, pitch forks… nope… none of them are the answer.

My lawn continues to be destroyed by moles. I think the poison did work on one, but there is no way to know for sure without digging up the lawn to find a carcass. Something I did in addition to the poison was a few days later to swamp the area where he was with water. I started to do it just to break the tunnels back down and to find out if he was still there (by remaking the tunnels), but the pool of water that my lawn was holding compelled me to over do it to the point of drowning anything that may have been curled up with stomach pains in any of those tunnels. I don’t know if I got him, but that area has never been touched again. I think I got him.

My wife had told me earlier in the year that she would by me moles traps (at $15 a piece)… she said that’s what The Mole Man says is the only way to do it. But, I thought the poison and subsequent drowning was doing the trick.

I still had two other areas that were active from time to time. Moles quiet down in the summer, but that didn’t stop me from trying to poison and drown the suckers. Of course, about a week later, after thinking success, both areas became active again.

My cell phone rang while I was out looking at what the mole had done to my lawn… and what I had done to it in turn by turning up the soil trying to find him and how far the tunnels went.

It was my wife. Standing there, muddy and dripping in sweat, I answered and grunted, “Get me the traps. Just get me the traps.”

My wife “has a heart”, but it is for me, not the moles. She came home with the Victor guillotine mole trap. I set it per the instructions and we went away for the weekend.

I returned home to a big impaled fat-assed mole with sweet, sweet, glorious-o-glorious Black Death surrounding him. What I liked best was that his neck was pinned to the earth and his whole body was above ground outside the tunnel. I surmise he was trying to escape the grips of death, hopefully while the sun baked and burned him like a vampire in the morning sun.

I’ve never been happier. I had to show all my neighbors. I’m thinking of having a party.

I got #2 today; he was the smaller and sneakier bastard. Here is a picture of his slaughter.
mole-death.jpg
I gave him my last respects in the form of a middle finger after I had stabbed him a few more times for good measure and then I flung him into the garbage can.

So now you have seen my dark side… and moles know not to screw with me. (anymore)

September 8, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement, Life in general | 2 Comments

Cake and eat it too

Spring means cake time at our household due to the plethora of birthdays we celebrate this time of year. A year ago I told you about something you may not know about me. Now, check out these cakes:
katies-first-butterfly-cake-001.jpg   katies-ladybug-cake-for-pop-pop-010.jpg
These cakes were extra special for me, because I didn’t make them. I have a new apprentice in the house, Katie, my 10 year old daughter, and this year she was teaching me.

As part of an “After School Fun” program, Katie took a cake decorating class and made the dragonfly cake above. Then, for her grandfather, she made a very special lady bug cake that she let me help her make. I was surprised at how many things she was able to teach me. (hey… I’m supposed to be the one who knows everything!) The little tricks she showed me were very helpful over the next few weeks where I was in charge of making the cakes, though I was happy to have the help of both my children in making them.

This cake was for my wife’s birthday; daisy’s are her favorite flower. It was a lemon cake with lemon icing.
kims-lemon-daisy-cake-006.jpg   kims-lemon-daisy-cake-012.jpg

I didn’t have a lemon icing recipe so I improvised based on the standard butter cream icing recipe. I loved it; others thought it was a little too lemony. Here it is:
2 lbs confectionary sugar (sifted)
1 cup white Crisco shortening
1 cup butter
2 tsp lemon extract
zest of one lemon
2 Tbsp lemon juice

In a mixer, cream butter, shortening, extract and lemon zest. Slowly, mix in the sugar; it should chalky looking. On high, whip in the lemon juice until creamy and fluffy.

To tone it down a notch, I would probably not use the lemon juice at the end and use the standard milk to thin and fluff the icing. (The other option to tone it down would to go back to the vanilla extract instead of the lemon extract)

My son got a soccer ball made from a specialty baking pan. These cakes, frosted with just dotted stars are the easiest to make.
matts-soccer-cake-006.jpg

This cake was extra big for a party where we celebrated everyone’s birthday and it had vanilla pudding between layers. All of the flowers were leftovers from the previous cakes.
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This last one I made on my own, inspired by a Wilton designed cake, and it was a huge hit at Katie’s sleepover birthday party where each girl had their own, custom made, matching face on a pillow they were able to eat. They were all very excited to “decapitate and eat their own head”. In honor of Mistoff, I put him sleeping on Katie where he spent the greater part of his day.
katies-10th-birthday-sleep-over-party-and-cake-015.jpg   katies-10th-birthday-sleep-over-party-and-cake-084.jpg

In April and May, I get to make cakes and eat them too. (and lots of it!)

June 7, 2007 Posted by | Family, Food & Drink, Life in general | 5 Comments

Moles and Juicy Fruit

I don’t really watch the stats for my blog, but it is fun to take a look every once in awhile. Lately, the home improvement articles have received quite a bit of traffic, specifically people looking to figure out how to remove grout from slate.

However, by far, the most popular article was one I posted almost a year ago… people want to know how to kill moles with Juicy Fruit gum.

sweeneys_mole_killer.jpgI guess it is time for a follow up because I am still battling these bastards. I never tried the Juicy Fruit trick as I doubt it works, or if it does, I doubt it is very efficient. I have made some progress using a poison called Sweeney’s Mole and Gopher Poison Peanuts. You can get it at Wal-Mart and it comes in a conical bottle. Just follow the directions. The only thing it doesn’t tell you is how much of the tunnels you need to treat, so I treat them end to end, and several places in between. I think the trick is not to collapse the tunnels because you don’t want them making new tunnels, rather, use the current ones and thus come across the bait/poison. I also have made the assumption that every time I see new tunnels and activity, that mean time to treat again because they are not using my baited tunnels anymore.

This seems to have worked in at least one spot in my yard. I had very obvious new activity in a discrete location, treated twice based on activity, and it has been several weeks now without any activity.

I am currently battling a much bigger area where I also seem to be making progress. Wish me luck!

June 5, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement, Life in general | 24 Comments

Blink

*Blink*

 …and April and May are gone…

 But it was a great two months and next up I will have more than the Monday Home Improvement blogs to tell you about.

May 22, 2007 Posted by | Life in general | Leave a comment

What This Guy is Playing – April ’07

As always, April, May & June are killer months for me and it has already started. I don’t have time to play anything except soccer on Monday nights. Here’s what going on around here…

  • Yard clean up
  • Lawn maintenance
  • Easter
  • Soccer coaching
  • Garage sale prep
  • Birthday parties
  • Making cakes
  • Exams for work (work is already busy enough)
  • Trying to continue on the porch project
  • Spring cleaning

That’s just April. However, I can say this:

April 4, 2007 Posted by | Family, Life in general, TV | Leave a comment

What This Guy’s Playing – March 2007

March 2007 – Spring is Around the Corner

Most of my time lately has been spent working on “the porch project.” I’m enjoying the work, but frustrated with the planning and details. So instead, I’ll be cleaning the basement which is huge, but at least it is mindless.

Video Games

    Now Playing

  • Barely Anything – I never finished my replay of Half-Life 2; I’ve jumped in to play a little more Burnout 2 (I found unlocks I didn’t unlock), I’ve made a couple TrackMania Sunrise tracks (I’m bored of TrackMania Nations), and wife and daughter are still addicted to Paper Mario, but they are almost done.
    On the Horizon

  • Demos – I probably won’t be playing much at all, though I’m looking for a demo of NeverWinter Nights 2 and Supreme Commander.

Sports

    Now Playing

  • Soccer/Gym – Time to get back in shape!
  • The kids are enjoying sledding and are sad to see the snow already starting to melt.

bsg_cylon_800.jpgOn the Big Screen

    Now Playing

  • Battlestar Galactica – I’m finally starting the series; so far, I like it a lot. My wife is still unsure.

Life should be fun… GO PLAY!
What are you playing?

March 1, 2007 Posted by | Gaming, Life in general, Sports, TV | 3 Comments

Home Renovation – The Plunge

Over two years ago we started collecting high-end Andersen windows from Home Depot that we reduced in price for whatever reason. (we only had one problem with this method, but that’s a story in itself) This was our way to get started without breaking the bank. After all, the windows were going to be one of the most expensive material costs.

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The summer of 2005 we didn’t do much physical work, but we did get serious about the design. (the pool table really was not going to fit) Using the various windows we collected, we figured out where they might go. (We were hoping we cold get something to work) It wasn’t completely hap-hazard… we came up with a design that required the purchase of just one more window and I started to put everything down on graph paper.

wrong-sketch.jpg

We also started to figure about how we might heat it. We considered extending the current hot water baseboard heat, but we had concerns about freezing pipes. We considered radiant heat, but I wasn’t in love with the idea because of installation issues and because we didn’t know what the floor was going to be. I knew I had to insolate the concrete slab from the actual floor somehow; plus the radiant heat seemed expensive and I wasn’t sure I could do it myself.

The ambiance of a fireplace or wood stove was appealing. However, because wood stoves or fireplaces require lots of maintenance and the risk of fire hazard goes up when running it all the time, not to mention the temperature swings and the fact that I want it warm when I sat down on Sunday morning with my coffee ruled that option out quickly.

There are other wall heaters we could go with, some efficient, some not; but we were looking for ambiance, not another eye sore.

stove1.jpgWe looked into natural gas burning, direct vent, wood stoves, such as the ones from Jotul. (pronounced, YO-dull) They have the BTU’s, and they have the ambiance and are low maintenance. They are moderately efficient and can work on a programmable thermostat. This could possible be the solution, but where would it go? Is it truly feasible to install? Well, because of a “spring sale”, we made a hasty decision and bought one last year and hoped the project would be far enough along in the fall to install it. Of course, we weren’t ready and the stove served as an end table for 1 ½ years.

It was, however, enough motivation to break ground, and in the Summer of 2005, I started by ripping the siding off the inside wall.

01-porch-project-start-002.jpg
01-porch-project-start-001.jpg

So I had a load of lumber for framing, the windows, and a beautiful summer. So, what did I do…?

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I guess I wasn’t really serious about this project…

February 26, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement, Life in general | Leave a comment