Wednesday, July 17, 2013

No Longer Amongst The Oaks

This will be the last post from Amongst The Oaks because we are no longer amongst the oaks. It has been lots of fun meeting you all through the years and I don't intend to delete the blog but I won't be posting on it any longer. If you want to see what we are doing, come over to my new blog  Now, do you think the other sailors will laugh at me when I drape bunting on the rigging?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Open House Part 3

The last part shows the library and the master suite. The library is where we spend most of our time, especially in the winter when we run the little gas fireplace.

I hope you enjoyed the Open House here Amongst The Oaks.

Open House Part 2

In this video you see everyone's favorite room; the kitchen. You also see the laundry room and the the back garden. In the garden is a large patio for entertaining, a huge fireplace, the guest house, and a lawn area for croquet.

Open House Part 1

We had an Open House Sunday and had LOTS of traffic. I thought you might like to see our little English cottage too. It has never looked so good or been so clean. This first video shows the front of the house, the living room, the dining room, the first two bedrooms, and the main bath.

We did a whirlwind clean up of Teen2's bedroom including painting the walls a warm grey. If I'd had more time I would have staged it a little better with a desk, but I just plain ran out of time and energy.

If you have any questions, just post a comment and I'll try to answer.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Sailor's Life For Me

The Lord of the Manor and I have a long history of boating. When I was about 13 my dad built a plywood sailboat from some plans in Popular Mechanics. I figure the boat must have looked a little like this one I found on the Internet. I sewed the sails out of who knows what. I'm sure I had no idea what I was doing, but we sailed that boat a lot out in the San Joaquin Delta and up at Camanche Lake. Out of all four kids I seemed to be most interested in sailing it.

The Lord of the Manor's family lived on a little canal right in the middle of town and had a ski boat at the dock in their back yard. They spent their summers messing about in small power boats; exploring, water skiing, and camping on a friend's island. When we were dating he taught me to water ski and we spent many summer evenings cutting through the sloughs on the glassy water.

When we were in our mid twenties a friend of ours suggested getting sailboats and going cruising. Hmmmmm, sounds interesting, so within two years we had sold our house, business, and car and took off to Mexico. We had to cut our trip short when the people who bought our house stopped making payments. We came home, recovered what we could, and swallowed the anchor again. We started another business, bought a house, had two kids, and tried to turn our backs on boating.

But nautical things still seemed to pervade our lives. We named our business Harbor Signs. We decorated our walls with photos of old sailboats. We collected kerosene lanterns, anchor lights, and nautical bits and bobs. This becket is on a sea chest that LOM made for Teen2 when she was little. We worked those beckets late at night after the girls had gone to bed using The Ashley Book of Knots for reference.

Here are the bits off our second sailboat Tilly Whim, a beautiful Laurent Giles design that sailed like a dream. After we sold it, successive owners let it go downhill and it was finally cut up and thrown away. The yard owner gave this to us later.
 Here is a photo of it on a mooring at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. It's the one in the middle with the green sail cover.

 And here is a photo of the young sailors who owned it. Can you believe we ever looked like this?

And here is a photo of the old sailors who are actually thinking of getting another sailboat and trying it again. What are they thinking?

Thursday, March 7, 2013


We have been here Amongst The Oaks for almost 18 years. We first fell in love with the oak trees and the look of the neighborhood. Then we remodeled the house and fell in love with our little English cottage. We have also grown to love our neighbors, and all the fun things we do together every year.

Our children learned to ride their bikes under the shade of these old oaks. We watched our little girls scuff through oak leaves on their first days of school, and later watched our girls drive the old VW around the tree in the middle of the street on their way to high school.

We have had wonderful parties here: Tea Parties, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Gourmand, Easter, Christmas, Boxing Day, Birthdays, Mothers' Days, and Fathers' Days. We often planned our parties around the seasons of the oaks; spring is best but the pollen can stain white table cloths, summer is warm and relaxing but needs an awning, late summer is impossible because of the annoying gall wasps, fall is nice again, but the leaves fall in your food, and winter can work if the fireplace is going.

We have cooked literally hundreds of meals in our beautiful kitchen, sometimes me, sometimes LOM, and sometimes the guests! I can't count the number of friends and family who have rolled up their sleeves to help create all those memorable meals.

We have opened our home to guests from near and far, some staying a short time, some staying as long as a month. We have allowed our neighbor's grandson to use our living room as a set in a movie he was filming. We have truly LIVED in this house and it has handled it all beautifully. This home has been very good to us and we are very comfortable here, but now it's time to say "Goodbye."

You see, we are approaching retirement and somehow we just can't imagine rattling around in this house, doing the same old things year after year now that the kids are gone. We still have adventures to pursue and are thinking of taking a different tack, so to speak. Besides, this home needs a young family to liven it up and use it properly so we will be putting it on the market soon. Lately we have been primping and cleaning and touching up paint. Next we will plant flowers in the hanging baskets, and call the realtor. And then, you may ask, "What will we do?" I'll get back to you on that.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bunting Tutorial

A few years ago I made this bunting with some old curtain fabric and we have had fun with it, but I wanted to make a longer string so I went fabric shopping at JoAnnes, but I just couldn't find anything I liked. After stewing about it for a couple of days I remembered that WalMart has fabric so Teen2 and I trotted over there one evening and SHOCK! they had some of the cutest fabrics! I got two yards of two different patterns and four yards of a third pattern; all co-ordinating, of course.
 Here's a drawing of my template and how I laid the triangles out on the fabric. I cut the template out of cardboard so I could trace around it again and again. The triangle is 11" x 8 1/2" and it fits perfectly on a strip of fabric 12" long leaving 1/2" seam allowances all around. So if you use this template, you will get 21 triangles out of one yard of fabric. You need to unfold the fabric and refold it as shown to make best use of the width. Then trace around the cardboard template leaving 1" between triangles, and 1/2" at the top and bottom. Put three pins inside each triangle to hold it together whilst you sew. Don't waste time cutting around each triangle before you sew, simply sew the fabric together in the 12"x44" chunk and cut it apart after you're done sewing.
 I actually used a felt pen called Marks Be Gone for my tracing. These pens are used by quilters and the marks disappear with a spray of cool water after you are done sewing.

Here is how the fabric looks with all the marking and pinning done.

The I cut it into a manageable chunk.....

and started sewing. Make sure to leave the top part open for turning later.
After sewing, I cut the triangles apart.....

and trimmed the points to make the turning easier.

Turning the triangles inside out was the most time consuming part of the project, but I made 60 triangles, so maybe you won't feel so overwhelmed if you only make 20 or so. After turning the triangles, iron them so they look nice and crisp....
then trim off the little pieces of seam allowance that stick up on the top.
Here are the stacks of triangles at the half way point. The fabrics I chose are fairly bright, but I wanted that cheerful almost "Cath Kidston" look, so I'm quite pleased with my WalMart fabrics.
When they were finally all done I played with them, laying them out on the bed to "Ohhhh" and "Awww" at their prettiness. Then I took 60' of seam binding and marked it every 12". And then came the long process of sewing them all together. I encased the raw edges on the top of each triangle with the seam binding, sewing close to the bottom edge. Then I went back and sewed along the top edge to strengthen the seam binding. Then....
Happy, Happy, Day, I strung them all around this awning thing that's over my patio. And then we had a wonderful English tea party here Amongst The Oaks. 
You can make paper bunting too like I've done here above my range in the kitchen, and it's a lot easier. Just cut the triangles, fold them over and glue them around a ribbon, and you're done. You can decorate them with letters or pretty pictures too. I hope you try one of these ideas and let me know how it turns out.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Perfect Day Out!

Teen 2 and I had a fabulous day out today. First we visited the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, then we stopped to watch lawn bowling as we strolled to tea at The Secret Garden, then we drove to Old Town Antiques in Pleasanton where we barely had enough time (2 hours), to see it all. We need to do this again!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hydrangea Season

It's hydrangea season here Amongst The Oaks so I made this lush bouquet this morning. I made one like it last Friday too for a little tea party we had. I don't feel bad at all cutting all these blooms because it's frequently so hot here that they just wilt on the plant anyway. I grow flowers for my enjoyment and cutting them and bringing them indoors allows me to enjoy my flowers just that much more. I hope you enjoy them too.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tea Time Amongst The Oaks

Teen2 left a bit of lemon curd and some fruit in the frige from a tea party last week, so guess who took advantage of it? LOM and I of course.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Asparagus Festival 2012

It looks like the weather is going to cooperate for this year's Asparagus Festival. We've had showers the last two days and all the set-up work has been done in the rain, but now it is sunny a bright. Thanks goodness. If you would like to attend the festival, here's their website:  And here's a link  and another to previous Asparagus Festival posts.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Me and Teen2 at Easter.

When she was little I dressed her in frilly dresses.

When she got to be about 9 I had to pay her to even wear a dress.

Now she likes to dress up again.

In frilly dresses at that!

Will wonders never cease?