Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

JC at Lilacs and Cats has given me an award. Thank you JC!

First you must tell your readers ten about yourself that they may not already know, but are true.

Second you must tag ten people with the award.

Third, you must let the people know you have given them this award.

And finally, link back to the person who gave the award to you.


1. I used to draw and paint, but haven't done any artwork in ages. The Lord of the Manor is working on the guest cottage/studio though, so maybe soon I can get back to that.

2. Back in the 1980's we lived on a sailboat and cruised to Mexico and back. We also skippered boats for other people. What an experience that was. I sometimes dream of getting another boat and sailing again.

3. I love to fly; large plane, small plane, helicopter, whatever. I just love the view from up there. I have flown/soloed both airplanes and helicopters, but never got my license.

4. I know how to use power tools: chop saw, skillsaw, drills, lawnmower, weed eater, etc. and comprehend mechanical things quite easily. However, the vacuum cleaner doesn't appeal to me at all.

5. I used to run/jog when I was in my twenties and wanted to do it again, but menopause (and Hashimotos) hit me hard and I literally could not run! In my dreams I could run, but in real life, I felt like I was dragging the weight of the world behind me. However, I think I've got my drug cocktail just right now, and this morning I actually ran a little over a mile! And it felt good!

6. One of my grandmothers was born in France, married an American soldier, and came to live in America. Alas, I rarely saw her and she died when I was quite young, but I have an affinity for all things French. And I'd love to look up my cousins who live in Chaumont, Haute-Marne.

7. I try to eat only real food; whole milk, butter, eggs, cheese, unprocessed meats, lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains. I don't drink sodas or anything out of a plastic bottle. (Do you have any idea what's in that plastic?) I try never to eat margarine or Crisco. I don't eat iceberg lettuce, Rainbow bread, or baked potatoes. I try not to eat any processed foods, but cookies and ice cream sometimes sneak by. I NEVER buy anything that says diet, lite, or low fat on the label.

8. I think it's important for a family to cook and eat together, so we always dine together. We set the table with a tablecloth, cloth napkins, and real dishes. We broil some meat, steam some vegies, and make a salad, then sit down and talk while we eat. It's just very important to me.

9. My imagination is too vivid and sometimes I tend to lose focus. I can look at a rundown house and see seventeen different ways to make it cuter, but finishing my own projects is sometimes impossible.

10. I dislike shopping at the Mall. In fact, I don't really like shopping at all. That's one of the cool things about computers; you can order anything online and have it shipped to you without ever setting foot in a Mall.

Now I'm supposed to pick ten bloggers to pass the award on to, but I think I'll just do five:

Linnea at Neabear
Please have fun with it ladies, and don't feel pressured or obligated.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gold Leaf Boat Name

Today I had a fun little job out at the marina. An old Century runabout needed a gold leaf name, and since I'm the only one at our shop who even owns lettering brushes, it was my job. When I arrived the transom was all prepared: several coats of varnish, perfectly sanded for the final coat.
First I pounced my pattern. That means I took a little duster box full of powder and rubbed it over my perforated pattern. The chalk goes through the little holes and leaves a faint line for me to follow with my brush.

Then I painted on the Gold Size. Gold Size is basically a varnish that doesn't skin over as it dries. Then it was lunch time so I ran home for a sandwich and came back just in time to lay the gold. The size has to tack up a bit before the gold is applied. Below is the waiting size.


After lunch I pressed the gold into the tacky size being careful not to press the paper or my fingers into the size. For a job like this we use patent gold; gold that has a carrier sheet. For a gold leaf job on a window or door we use glass gold which has no carrier sheet. Talk about magic! Everyone is always amazed when they see that done, but we haven't done a gold leaf window in ages, so I guess the magic is gone.

As the gold is applied, it leaves ragged edges and overlaps, but that will go away when I burnish it.

Burnishing is nothing more than rubbing over the gold in one direction to get rid of the overlaps and ragged edges. If the customer had wanted engine turning, I would have made a little wad of cotton and twirled it around in circles over and over to create a pattern of swirls.

So with the gold all prepared, I put the pattern back on, pounce it again. See the guidelines?

Now I paint on the shadow and outline....

And Voila! it's done.
On Monday the painter will apply the final coat of varnish and the name will be protected forever. Or until they find some more rot and it needs a new plank. Ah, the joys of owning a wooden boat.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Flowers & Bugs

Here's those bugs and flowers I promised you. I need help identifying some of them. If you know, please leave a comment.

Beetle found on pine tree, approx 1" long, antennae 2" long.
These two were walking (and mating?) on the river.
Lots of these were sucking minerals from the damp sand.

And this isn't my mustache, it's a caterpillar!

Wild Rose found in the shade of the Big Trees.

Lily or Iris? Found along the river.

Found in the shade of the trees.
This was quite small, found along the road above the river.

This one is called Indian Rhubarb.

This is Western Azalea and it smells heavenly!

This one is mountain misery, I think, and it smells bad.
I don't know what this is, but it looks rather like echinacea.
So if you can help identify any of these, please do. And thanks for the help.
ps: thanks for the hints on identification. I'm slowly adding links as I find them.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sequoiadendron giganteum

One of the things we like to do when camping at Calaveras Big Trees is visit the "Big Trees". These giants are Sequoiadendron giganteum, the largest trees on earth. They may not be the tallest (that honor goes to their cousins the Sequoia sempervirens) but they are the largest in terms of mass. You can see the largest known living sequoia, General Sherman, at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park near Fresno, California.

Above you see the largest tree in the North Grove. It's called the Empire State Tree.

When Augustus Dowd first discovered these trees around 1850, there were even larger trees like the one shown above. Unfortunately, this one was cut down and for several years used as a dance floor, bowling alley, and meeting place. And back in the 1970's I attended a wedding there. Ah... the 70's.
Some trees that have fallen down are hollow and you can walk inside them. In the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park there is a fallen tree that was used as a home in the early days. These are some big trees, aren't they?

We enjoyed walking amongst the trees, breathing the fresh air and seeing the majesty of it all.

The campground is close to the Stanislaus River where the kids went fishing one day and caught two trout whilst I took photos of flowers and bugs which I'll share with you tomorrow.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Camping at Calaveras Big Trees

We have just returned from a Father's Day Campout at Calaveras Big Trees. So my mosaic for today highlights some of the fun things about camping there.

Please visit Mary at the Little Red House to see the other Monday Mosaics.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday Mosaic - Graduation

It's Mosaic Monday again, hosted by Mary at the Little Red House. I am a little late....but better late than never. I promise to get back into the swing of things real soon.

Please make sure to visit all the other Monday Mosaic participants at Mary's blog.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

In a Whirlwind

It's been an absolutely whirlwind of activity here Amongst The Oaks for the last week. It started with Teen1's graduation last Thursday. The football stadium was magically transformed with 544 white chairs, a stage and backdrop, flowers and a giant "2009". It was a very nice ceremony with speeches and cheers and tears. Afterwards nine of us went to dinner. Teen1 ate dinner with us then left early for the "Grad Night" party. She got home the next morning at 5:30am. I'd say they did it just right.

Friday we went food shopping and decorated for Sunday's party. Oh, and work; I still gotta do that. Saturday I spend literally all day in the kitchen preparing food and doing laundry. Then Sunday we had an open house/bon voyage party for the graduate. We had rolls and rye bread and all the condiments for sandwiches. There was a meat platter, a cheese platter, and a veg platter. I made blue cheese coated grapes, deviled eggs, and radishes with chervil butter. There was a Greek salad, a layered salad, and a fruit salad. There were brownies, cupcakes, strawberries, cookies and banana nut bread. Oh, and ruffles and onion dip, chips and salsa, and huntsman cheese and crackers. We put it on the table at noon and guests helped themselves all afternoon. What a great way to entertain; I actually got to socialize with the guests. It was a lot of fun with some teens playing DDR and video games, others playing volleyball, oldsters eating and talking, and generally everyone enjoying the day.

Then Monday we unpacked and repacked, and then weighed the suitcase. Then we did it all again and finally got it down to just over 50 pounds. Whew. So Tuesday we all got up a 4am, left a 5, arrived at SFO by 7am, checked in, had breakfast, hung around at the gate and DRAT! the flight was delayed. Some sort of mechanical trouble with the plane. So after talking about it a while, rather than scramble to find another connection to the Chicago/Manchester flight, we decided to rebook on the next day's flight.

So on Tuesday we got up at 4am, left at 5, arrived at SFO by 7am, had breakfast {deja vu}, hung around at the gate, and finally got Teen1 on her flight to Chicago. And it actually took off this time.

And she called me from Chicago saying everything was fine, but then when she arrived in Manchester she hit a little snag. Immigration pulled her aside, took her passport, and questioned her about why she was arriving in their country unescorted, who was meeting her, what was their relationship, etc, etc. She told me later she was really scared and had no idea what to do. Her cell phone wouldn't work there, she had no British money, and didn't know why she was being questioned. Somehow they found her host family (who were waiting in the arrivals hall), questioned them, decided their stories matched and let her go with them. Actually, it's nice to know they don't allow minors to wander into their country unescorted, possibly to meet a stranger with evil intentions.

So with Teen1 safely in Manchester, I got caught up at work, took down the decorations, did a million other things including taking my computer to the doctor, and now ten days later, I finally got a chance to sit down and blog. I feel like I've missed so much! I'll get back in gear and catch up with you all real soon. But for now, I'm just thankful it's calmed down a little here Amongst The Oaks.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

An English Cottage

Back when I started this blog my header said "Creating Our Little English Cottage" Amongst The Oaks. And I did sort of tell how we remodeled this house into a cottage, but then I started drifting and wandering and experimenting and sharing all kinds of different things. So I was compelled to change that line to "Our Little English Cottage" Amongst The Oaks. Which of course worked fine but I still harbor the idea of creating a truly English style home; thick walls, casement windows, simple finishes, lots of clutter, nestled in a garden. Well folks, my latest issue of Cottages & Bungalows has shown me the way.

See at the top where it says Eco Beauty? That's it! My new house. And we can make it ourselves! All we need is bales of rice straw and plaster. Not only is it energy efficient, it's gorgeous too!

I really like the way the house snuggles in the garden and under the wisteria.

Doesn't it look terribly English? Deep window recesses, simple white walls, lots of clutter. It could be a little cob cottage in England, couldn't it?

I think I'm in love with this idea. Does anyone know where I can buy 1000 bales of straw?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cherry Season

The little town of Linden nearby likes to call itself the Cherry Capital of the World and they grown some fine Bings, but truthfully cherries are grown in lots of towns around the world. We were given some cherries yesterday from our neighbor who got them from a friend out near Linden. It was a mixture of Bings and Raniers. We've never had the Raniers before and they are even larger than the Bings and maybe a little sweeter. Really yummy.

I had fun playing with them yesterday morning. I took some photos to share with you all, then I ate a few.

Then I took some more photos, and ate a few more.

More photos, more eating.

Look, cherries on parade, then more eating.

Oooooo, synchronized swimming, then more eating.

Guess what? My stomach was upset yesterday. I wonder why.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Il est faux

I've been busy lately trying to do all the things I'm supposed to do, plus get Teen1 ready for graduation and her trip to England, plus get a party organized for Sunday, plus work... and I'm afraid blogging has taken a back seat. And will continue to for the next week or so. Sorry. How about if I show you what I do at work?

We make signs and part of our job is to show the customers how beautiful the proposed sign will look. So first I go out to their location and take a photo of the storefront.

Then using PhotoShop I add the proposed sign to the photo. Notice those black triangles in the corners? I put those on the artwork in my vector based program before I imported it to PhotoShop. They help with size and perspective. Above you see how it looks before adjusting for perspective. Below I have started the process by rotating it a little...

and now I have adjusted the perspective using Transform>Distort. I simply adjusted the corners to match the lines on the building while holding down the Control key.

Now all I have to do is erase the triangles and we can see how the sign will look.

But I like to make my photo mock-ups to look more realistic, so I have added the edge of the letters and a shadow too. On the shadow layer I decreased the opacity so any building details would still show; like that crack you see below.

So below is the finished photo. Looks pretty real, doesn't it? But il est faux! Nonetheless, it sold the job, so I'm happy.

Actually, I added the dimensions on the finished photo too because the customer has to get landlord approval and they will want to know not only what the sign will look like, but the size of it.
So anyway, that's what I do at work. And now that I've told you all my secrets so you could do this too, do you want a job?