Archive for the ‘Not Writing’ Category

Edible Writer’s Blocks?

Posted: August 24, 2016 in Not Writing
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Gummy LEGOs

Today I’m taking a break from my endless font of writing wisdom to share a fun project I did for my kids while they were on summer vacation. In a previous post I spoke about taking on another creative project as a way to deal with writer’s block.  Here’s what I did:

Home-made gummy LEGOs.

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I started by building a custom form in which to pour liquid silicone, which in turn became my candy mold.  This frame is just perfect for a standard one pound liquid silicone kit, available at hobby shops or on the Internet.

The individual LEGOs inside the frame represent the pieces of candy the mold will eventually make. Make sure you press down firmly on all the LEGOS to reduce gaps.

 

 

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The liquid silicon kit consists of two parts you mix right before you pour.  One part is white and the other part is blue, so you can see when everything is fully mixed.  If you see streaks, the silicon won’t harden properly.

TIPS: You only have about 30 minutes before the mix starts to set, so mix quickly.  I recommend using a bowl with  a round bottom and no corners, then transfer the mix to a second bowl to make sure it is completely streak-free.  It will have the consistence of spun honey.  I suggest you pour slowly from about a foot high to reduce bubbles.  Just pour into the center of the form and it will slowly spread out to fill the whole thing.

IMG_7322Once the silicon is in the form, tap it around the edges to dislodge any bubbles that may have formed.  Don’t worry about any bubbles on the surface; they won’t affect your mold. Let it dry for 24 hours.

IMG_7323When the mold is dry it will look exactly the same, but will be hard and rubbery to the touch.  Now it’s time to remove the LEGOs.

You will probably see some “flash” or thin little flaps where the silicon seeped between the LEGOs; you can just tear those off with your fingers.

 

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The silicon is food safe and very flexible, so you can bend it quite a lot to get the LEGOs out of the mold.  You’ll need to do this to get the candy out, too.  Notice that the mold is so perfect you can actually see the word “LEGO” stamped on each of the little studs.

 

 

 

5116d71e40a34aea4af05689e7ac03d5Now the candy.  I use one small (3 oz.) package of Jello, any flavor (not sugar-free), plus two of the small packets of unflavored gelatin (these typically come four to a box).  I also include corn syrup, like Karo (clear, not dark). Here’s the recipe:

In a half cup of COLD water, stir in a quarter cup of corn syrup until it is completely dissolved.  In a sauce pan add all of the gelatin and Jello to the water, and mix with a spatula until it is completely dissolved.  This make take some time.  If you don’t so this, the candy won’t come out clear.  Next, heat the mix on medium low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.  You will probably have some foam on the top, which you can skim off if you’re REALLY patient.  But here’s another way to get rid of it:

Pour the mix into a tall glass and let it sit over night.  Once hard, you can wiggle the giant gummy glob out of the glass and cut off the foamy part with a knife.

Now you can reheat this mixture either in a saucepan on medium low or in the microwave (about 30-45 seconds).  To get it into the mold, you may have suIMG_7328ccess pouring it (if you have the right kind of container to pour from). I ended up making a mess.  I tried using a straw with my finger blocking the top end and dribbling it in, but in the end I used an eye-dropper.  Try to fill just exactly to the top.  Next take the flat LEGO base-plate you used to build the form, and brush on a little bit of vegetable oil.  Then you can use it as a cover (the studs will fit perfectly in the mold’s holes).  This will make the candy “functional” so they can be stacked just like real LEGOs.  Be aware that if you over-fill, you will get over-spill, like I did.

Let this sit for a few hours — I found putting it in the refrigerator made it way easier to get the candy out.

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(This is what happens if you overfill!)

Enjoy the blocky fruits of your labor.  Now you have something fun to munch on (and play with) while you go back to your writing!

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Just so you know, this week’s post is not strictly about writing. It’s actually not about writing at all. But it is about creativity and making progress on one’s creative projects.

And there’s free stuff.

I’ve had this idea for a music video to go with Billy Joel’s song, “Running On Ice,” for about 25 years.  Half my life.

Thanks to YouTube and iMovie I have finally been able to actually make it.

About the time this song came out in the late 80s the PBS series American Masters aired three documentaries about silent film era greats Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.  I recorded all 8 hours of these (you know, on VHS tape) and watched them over and over all through my college years until I had them practically memorized.  And at that time Billy Joel was a big part of my personal play list (you know, on my Walkman).  At some point these two things collided in my brain, and thereafter every time I head the song “Running On Ice” — for the next 25 years — I pictured these silent film geniuses going through their paces, choreographed to the music. I had the whole thing worked out in my head. Only I had no way the actually edit the thing together and get the timing just right.

If you’re not familiar with the song, it is very frenetic, angsty, and full of cymbal crashes and drum rolls — the perfect soundtrack for the classic pratfall.  The song is about how difficult our fast-paced life can be, with all of our modern pressures and conveniences, and that pretty much sums up the films of these silent greats (only about 80 years less modern in their cases).

I think the video speaks for itself (here’s the free stuff I mentioned earlier).  Enjoy.

Now, if I can only get a couple of million dollars together, build a western town set with a bank and a saloon and hire a couple of dozen actors and a whole film production crew, I can start working on my other video idea … “The Ballad of Billy the Kid.”