Friday, July 18, 2014


A few minutes ago, my (almost 15 year old, taller and stronger than me) son comes downstairs to tell me there is a HUGE-ASS bug in his room, and can I please take it out?  He hates bugs.  It's one of the few things that will tear him away from a video game trance.

It's HUGE, he tells me, it's a cicada.  I'm not even sure there are cicadas around this year, but he's swearing up and down that it's a cicada because "It's clicking so loud I could hear it through my (video game) headset."  You know, there comes a time in every kid's life when you turn over the bug-getting directly to your child.  Mostly because you are just DONE with bug killing.  To complicate matters, this bug is in the "too big to squish" category.  According to my definition, bugs are too big to squish when I can actually hear them crunching if I step on them.  It's not really fair for the little bugs, but the big bugs get a break here because the crunch noise they would make would give me an automatic picture what's going on under the tissue or my shoe, and I just can't deal with that.  Anyway, I try to explain to my son that he can put a cup over it, then sliiiiide a paper under the cup, and walk the bug outside to freedom.

NO WAY, he tells me.  It might attack me if I do that.  YOU have to do it.   By the way, this is the same boy who tells me he wants to join the marines.  

So I grab a plastic cup and a perfume ad from the kohl's flyer, and I head up to his room.

Ok, so it was pretty large.  Definitely not the largest bug I've ever seen around here - that distinction probably goes to the nasty beetles that fly into the window screens on summer nights and sound like bees on steroids.  I've had them fly into my head once or twice before and they FREAK me out every time.  No, this guy was definitely prettier.  A nice green color body, about 3 inches long and flattish. Reminiscent of a praying mantis, but with a much bulkier body.  He was perched high up on the wall next to my dear child's unmade bed.  Excellent.  So if I accidentally killed it, bug guts would fall into the sheets and blankets and the complaining would just change to a different topic.

I stepped up on the bed with my cup, eyed my prey and aimed for complete coverage.  But I didn't realize he was looking back at me.  He took off toward my head, buzzing like an electric fan, and I tried to simultaneously keep my shit together, wave him off, and not drop my cup. Success, except for the fact that now he landed on the ceiling.

My second try achieved full bug-coverage.  I slid the perfume ad between the ceiling and the cup and removed the cup from the ceiling.  He was very quiet in there (unlike those NASTY big beetles -  you have to keep shaking the cup to keep those guys off-kilter or they'll climb right up the cup and ATTACK you when you remove the paper on top.  HATE those things…) which was a relief.

I walked this pleasant enough green guy outside, stopping to get my phone on the way.  I 'd take a picture of him and post it on Facebook - HA!  I thought, that's what he gets for asking me to take care of a bug for him when he's almost 15!      

I put the cup on the porch railing, got the phone ready and aimed it at the top of the cup.  I took the perfume ad off the top and peered into the cup to see the subject of my photo.  Was he still in there?  I snapped a picture and then he flew out, right at my head.

Here's the picture I took.  He was already climbing up the side of the cup,  getting ready to spring...

I'm sure the neighbors heard my screech…

The bug-getter in the house never gets any sympathy.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Don't Be Jealous of My Harry Potter Wand Pens - Make Your Own!

When you work in a highly trafficked area, you need pens that stand out - pens that would look foolish in anyone else's hands.  Hence, the Harry Potter-like Wand Pen.

I found a tutorial to make these pens on YouTube.  I'm not very adept at putting links in here, but if you copy this and put it in your browser, you'll get to the right place…

NerdECrafter gives a decent description of how to make your own wand-pen, but I made an improvement to this procedure, and I think it's worth noting.

The disposable pens featured in the video are Bic pens with opaque plastic casings.  I've used these pens before to make polymer clay covered pens, and I was successful.  See this post:

I did NOT use aluminum foil to hold the opening for the pen ink, and I did also take out the ink tube itself.  I used the plastic casing in the baking process, and it didn't melt.  HOWEVER, I could have just been lucky - who knows!

THIS time, I purchased Bic Cristal ball point pens and I had a problem with my first batch.  I removed the ink tube but left the crystal clear plastic tube inside the polymer clay before baking.  The 275 degree baking temperature for my clay also melted and SEVERELY SHRANK the plastic tubing, causing it to crack the polymer clay covering.  That batch went into the trash.

Next, I used the aluminum foil method proposed in this video, HOWEVER, I wrapped the foil around a bamboo shishkebob skewer, noting that the ink tube was just lightly smaller than the bamboo skewer. I got a perfectly sized hole for my ink, but when I tried to insert the ink, the aluminum foil squished inside the tube and clogged the chamber.  CRAP!!  I suspect even if I hadn't used the bamboo skewer, this still would have happened, since the aluminum foil seems to stick to the clay during baking.

The Good News:  Finally, I decided to cover my bamboo skewers with petroleum jelly INSTEAD of aluminum foil and I had success!! After baking the skewer slid right out of the polymer clay covering with just a little bit of twisting.  I left the skewer inside the clay for the next baking, when I added the decorative tops pieces on top.

I also think it's worth mentioning not to over bake the clay on the first baking round.  The black pen split, I think in part because I had made it too thin, and also because I over baked it a bit.  I covered the split area with more black clay and when I baked it a second time, it covered the cracked area perfectly.

After they were completely baked, one pen required a very slight  amount of drilling to make the hole just a tiny bit bigger to accommodate the fat part of the pen ink. The other two fit perfectly.  If the hole from the bamboo skewer is just a bit too big, you can wrap the end of your pen ink with a layer or two of clear tape to make a tight enough fit that your ink doesn't fall out.

People will be too intimidated to steal these pens from your desk at work.  
Especially if you shout "STUPIFY!" at exactly the right moment.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Guest Post: New York Summer Fancy Food Show at the Javitz Center

I am happy to be a guest blogger about my trip today to the New York Fancy Food Show at the Javitz Center with my friend Robyn Ettorre, who is a chef.

We got there when the show opened and were there all day and we could have spent two days looking around there was so much to see. The show was organized for the most part according to the country of origin of the food products so as you walked through the various displays you could see what each country had to offer.  Most of the vendors had samples to try, so of course we did some damage as we walked around… 

One of our favorite things was a very interesting infused rum that was there from Trinidad it was Chai Rum and it was infused with the spiced tea... we loved it. 

There were a lot of cheese vendors there from many different countries and since Robyn works in a cheese store she was interested to see what they had and also to see their displays. We were very happy when we came up on the Bloody Mary table which was giving out free, pretty good sized Bloody Marys.  As a matter of fact, we made the most of the cocktails during the day, sampling Greek wine, lemon drop and pomegranate martinis and lemoncello in addition to our Bloody Marys, which brings me to the only down side of the day - my Three Advil headache, brought on by my sampling.  Oh well…  YOLO!  

We also sampled many different coffees, and all kinds of foods.  Another really good thing that we tried was a kale pot sticker from one of the Asian vendors.  I'm not sure which country it was representative of, but it was very very good  ..  I think maybe it was from Thailand .  We had a great day couldn't believe how much there was to see there - it was a little bit overwhelming but we loved it and hope to go back next year.