Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Buche de Noel

I made the Yule Log today. I sort of followed Martha Stewart's recipe. The cake is a chocolate sponge cake, the filling is chocolate mousse, and the icing is chocolate ganache.

After assembling it, you decorate it with the meringue mushrooms and some greenery, and sprinkle powdered sugar on it to look like snow.

We are taking it to the brother-in-law's house tonight.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Holiday Baking

I've been doing a little holiday baking lately. These chocolate crackles are a family favorite.

And the captain loves these shortbread cookies.

And last night I made these meringue mushrooms to decorate the Buche de Noel that I'll be making for Christmas Eve.

You start with an Italian meringue, pipe it into these shapes, bake for an hour, then stick them together with melted chocolate.

I love making desserts that require artsy/crafty touches, so making these mushrooms was a lot of fun. I'll show you the cake later.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Almost Christmas

We have managed to get a tree, find the decorations, send out some cards, buy a few presents, and make some cookies. Katie is home from school. We have been invited to dinner on Christmas Eve. And we will have a quiet Christmas Day here at the condo with just the four of us. And maybe go for a boat ride on the weekend.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Shore Excursion

We had a wonderful weekend in Las Vegas with some dear friends. We were celebrating winter birthdays and enjoyed Bocelli on Saturday night. 

Last time we were in Vegas, most of the really fabulous casinos weren't even built, so we did a lot of "walkin and gawkin".
We saw Venice, Rome,
Egypt, and New York.

We enjoyed shopping at the Forum,
seeing the Trevi Fountain, and afternoon gelato. 
And we finished up with dinner in Paris last night.
What a fun weekend. Las Vegas is like Disneyland for adults. Only smokier....

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Neon Sign

Here is a sign we recently installed. We started working with Team San Jose about 18 months ago, and to tell you the truth - I never thought I'd see this sign installed. We went through numerous design changes, at least three location changes (which required re-engineering every time), and then had to fight our way through the quagmire of the permit process. Let's just say that the City wasn't exactly helpful; which is strange considering the sign was for the City.....

And then when we finally got the green light they gave us three weeks to build and install the sign! Luckily they had given us a deposit and we had pre-ordered lots of the components, but we still had to work some long hours to make it all happen.

 The sign was for their Civic Auditorium which is an old building. So they wanted a retro looking sign with exposed neon. You don't see too many neon signs anymore, but we have a local supplier who still bends glass and he was excited to help us with this project.

The sign also had some channel letters with exposed neon in them. These were 13" tall and the others were 22" tall. We build these channel letters in house, but we usually put LED lighting in them because it's so much more efficient.

It's quite a process installing the neon tubing. Each piece has several tube supports that the glass has to be wired to, two PK housings to accept the ends, and rubber caps to keep the wiring dry. On the inside, wires must connect the back of each PK housing to the next one in line and eventually connect to the transformer. There were 152 connections in this sign and guess who had to crawl into the sign to make all those connection? Below you see me standing in the sign working on the easy part. It was way worse in the middle part of the sign.
When I was finally done making all those connections, and the Captain had installed all the glass, and our employees had installed the transformers, and done all the other little things to finish the sign, we turned it on and all the tubes lit up perfectly. So we left it running all night long. On Monday we rolled it into the trailer in preparation for Tuesday's install. And on Tuesday morning everything went smoothly and the sign was bolted onto the wall around 4pm. Whew!

I guess projects that drag out like this and present numerous challenges to overcome are kind of like cruising, aren't they? If that's the case, then we will be well prepared when we finally cast off.