Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish my American readers and friends and family a very happy Thanksgiving!  I am busy baking and cooking all day.  I am thankful for each of you read this blog and are supportive of my dreams!

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Minecraft: The Early Days

Wow, I haven't posted about Minecraft since March.  I think part of that is that my first builds, from 3 to 4 years ago, are nowhere near as pretty as the ones I'm building nowadays. I've finally decided that I'm going to share them anyway, because it'll be fun to have my entire Minecraft journey documented.

First, a quick announcement: I'm taking this next Thursday and Monday off from posting, to celebrate my birthday weekend.  :)  So there will be a brief break before my next post.

To start, let's go back to the overview picture of my gigantic Minecraft world that I've been playing in since August of 2010.  Today I'm going to show you the area in the box #1 - the early days.

Zooming in, I've marked the outlines of the beginning of my world with yellow arrows.  This is the area before the first major biomes update, that brought more than one biome into a world.  Before then, each world was entirely made up of a single biome (essentially a winter or summer biome).  When Minecraft does major biome generation updates, it creates sharp delineations on the edges of old worlds, which you can see below.

Zooming in further, you can see the birds-eye view of my first builds.  The long grey lines are mostly minecart tracks between areas.

Starting at the letter A above, here is my spawn point, complete with my first crafting table! The first thing I did was start to dig into the mountain to make a home.

Turning around, you can see Inverness, the aerial train station (letter G), the island fortress (E), and Lorwick Tower (F), from left to right.  I tried to keep minecart rails away from hostile mobs by having them either enclosed in glass or on lit rails in the air.

Turning back around and going through the double doors, you see the open area I first carved out.

These signs tell you how to flip the switches to make the minecart system go to the correct place.  Not all of the rails have been completely updated to powered rails, even though that changed years ago, as I spend most of my time in other places nowadays.

If you follow the myriad of hallways and stairways that I dug out of the mountain, you get to the area marked C on the map above.  I built a stairway up to the top of the mountain that goes near a natural waterfall.

A picture of a natural archway found near my spawn point, between Inverness and Blackwald Keep (B).

You can also reach Blackwald Keep by going through this tunnel inside the mountain.

The reason I built Blackwald Keep there was to surround the giant hole going deep into the ground - the site of my first mine!

I eventually covered the top of that hole with glass, after several times falling to my death whilst walking around the Keep.

View from inside the Keep, in the corner.  You can glimpse the chests down inside the fenced-in area (the same chests photographed above, near the mineshaft).

Top of Blackwald Keep.  You can walk all the way around the top of the wall.

View of Inverness from the top corner of Blackwald Keep.

Inverness is the train station in the sky.  Most of the local minecart rails end up in Inverness, where I flip switches to go back out to the other destinations.

Here is another view of the little island fortress. There is an underwater minecart system going from the first mountain home (across the water), to the island fortress, to Lorwick Tower (to the left in this photo).

Lorwick Tower!

View from the top of Lorwick Tower, looking out to Greywynd (H).  

Approaching Greywynd, you can see it's another house built into a mountain. There is a portcullis built into the tower in front (leading to the beach), powered by redstone circuitry.  

When you reach Greywynd, you have the choice of taking the minecart back to Inverness, or going on to Johor, the lakeside town off the bottom of the map (not talked about in this post, in box #4).

Here's the portcullis blocking the way between Greywynd and the surrounding countryside.

The two signs tell you which button to press to raise the portcullis, and which to press to lower it again.  Below you can see the raised portcullis.

The next time I post about my Minecraft world, I will probably continue on to Johor and some of the surrounding buildings!  ~Kell
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Meal in a Bun: Great Day-Trip SCA/Con Food

In most fantasy novels that I read, there seems to be this market stall food called sausage rolls or meatrolls, that protagonists grab before journeying off on their quests.  I have been salivating over this concept as long as I've read about it, and a few years ago I decided I was going to make one.  I knew how to cook sausage, and I knew how to make bread dough - that's all I needed.  I call it Meal in a Bun.

Meal in a buns are amazing.  They take a few steps to make, but I always make a lot of them at once and then freeze most of them for meals later.  They freeze and thaw beautifully, heat up very quickly in the microwave, and are easy to grab and bring with you. Wrap them up tight and warm in the morning, and eat them in the middle of your convention day or SCA day-trip.  They are healthy, made entirely with whole ingredients, and don't look out of place at fantasy or medieval events.

The first step is to make the bread dough and the stuff for the insides.

Bread dough: 2-3 recipes of the master recipe found in Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, or whatever your favorite bread recipe is.

Insides: Lately, I've been making a mixture of roasted root veggies and sauteed sausage and onions to stuff into my meal in a buns.  Just one or the other works wonderfully, too, if you want a more vegetarian or meat-lovers option.  Or play around!  You really can put anything in a bun and it's delicious.  Just make sure it's freeze/thaw friendly, if you plan to freeze them for later.  Important tip: You need to over-season the mixture.  Season it like you normally would, and then add a bit more until you're just starting to wrinkle your nose from it tasting too strong.  The bread will even this out!  If it's not over-seasoned, though, the bread will dull the flavor until it's boring.

Roasted root veggies: 3 beets, 2 turnips, 4 baby red potatoes, 1 onion, 1 lb of brussel sprouts, all diced small.  Whatever spices you want, though I used rosemary, sage, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, tossed with olive oil.  Cover in tin foil, bake at 400F for an hour, stirring at least once in the middle.

Sausage: 2 onions + 1 lb roll of ground breakfast sausage, mild flavoring, sauteed on the stove top.

After your insides and dough are ready, put a bunch of flour on the counter, and have some ready for dusting in a bowl.

Remove about a tennis-ball sized lump of bread dough, and stretch it out flat.  I do this by gripping the edges in the air and rotating it, letting gravity do a lot of the pulling (kind of like stretching a pizza crust).  Place the stretched dough on the floured counter.

Add a fair heaping of insides (sausage and onions pictured here) - more than in the above picture!  The dough will stretch around it.  Stretch the edges up, pinching them together to encapsulate the insides.

Turn it over and let it rest on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel, letting it rise again (~30 minutes, or whatever your dough recipe calls for) before baking.

Important tip: Cover your baking stones with tin foil before cooking these!  Juices will flow out of the buns as they cook, and you'll spend a lot of time scraping at your baking stone to remove them if you don't cover them in tin foil.  My baking stones have some dark areas on them now, from making this mistake the first time.  They still work just fine, but they were a pain to clean.

Salivate as you wait for them to cool.  Yum yum yum...

If you have leftover bread dough, make some regular bread.  If you have leftover insides, mix in rice to balance the over-seasoning, and eat it as leftovers.

Enjoy your amazing SCA/convention/traveling food!  Make everyone else jealous.  :)  ~Kell
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Monday, November 10, 2014

Crafty Inspiration Links!

There are so many awesome ideas around the internet.  Many of them I post to my Pinterest, if you wanted to follow me.  I've saved some of them for sharing here with you!

Here's another way to make your own litter box furniture - this time, with Ikea furniture!  I have also shared three ways I've made litter box furniture from random pieces found at thrift stores.

Instructables shows you how to make this cute bookshelf bridge.

If you're interested in a similar thing for your cats, here's who makes them!

Make a beautiful terrarium for a pet with another neat Ikea hack!

Speaking of terrariums - this local Detroit duo is making gorgeous terrariums out of reclaimed Detroit lumber and glass.

Hide a room with a secret bookcase door!

I'm really becoming obsessed with all the chalkboard paint tutorials I've seen everywhere. One of these days I'll have to make one of these gorgeous creations and have a place to write chalk notes...

I've never seen paintings so small before.  I'm in awe.

A good reminder for all of us out there, posted by my favorite embroidery artists!

Learn how to make this adorable rainbow unicorn hat.

Here's a tutorial for how to bake a cake inside an orange on a camping trip!

Finally, I'm going to leave you with some more inspirational words from the wonderful Hanna at Pearls & Scissors.  I love her Words for the Week posts (along with her beautiful photography!).  Click through to inspire yourself with her thoughts on of the common phrases that is supposed to be comforting, but isn't always.

Keep making things!  ~Kell
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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Unique Leather Business Card Holder

I designed a unique holder for business cards.  Like so much of my work, the shape is naturally informed by the scraps of leather, and is a one-of-a-kind piece of art.

The leather was specifically formed to be able to fit business cards.  It holds approximately 30 business cards securely and safely.  The friction of the leather holds onto the cards with enough firm pressure that they don't fall out, even if it's tipped upside down while open, while allowing the cards to easily be gripped on the top and drawn out with an easy tug.  

Quality wet-formed veg-tanned leather means that the case keeps its shape and makes sure your business cards don't get bent in your purse or bag.

The leather is only dyed on the outside: it won't ever rub off on your cards, keeping them pristine and in perfect condition.

Interested in a one-of-a-kind piece of art to hold your business cards?  Contact me and let me know what colors and ideas you have, and I'll make it, just for you!  ~Kell
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