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.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Drive

After a particularly grueling work week, we decided to take a little ride in the boat. So within 15 minutes of deciding, we were on our way. Look, Look! Here's our empty slip!
The weather has been unseasonably warm and we washed the boat while motoring down the channel.
Remember how I mentioned we could go to Bob's At The Marina in 5 minutes if we walked and 45 minutes if we took the boat? Well, we were right. We motored over to Bob's and it took 45 minutes. 
Motoring back we had views like this. The Delta really is beautiful and so peaceful in the winter. I'm glad we took this little Sunday drive.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Simplex Teakettle

Did you notice my copper teakettle? It's a Simplex, made in England. I'm kind of an Anglophile and when I saw this at a local thrift store for only $15.00, I snatched it up post haste. I have to polish it and I know it will probably be a pain in the marine environment, but I love it anyway.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

New Stove

Why is our old stove sitting on the floor?

Because we are getting a new one!

But first we have to get the stove into the main cabin....which means it has to go down through the hatch in the center of the boat because the stove is 21"wide and all the doors in the boat are only 16" wide.
One of the really good things about sailboats is that plenty of ropes and blocks and winches are available for lifting things in and out of the boat. Using a halyard tail and a snatch block on the boom, we lashed it around the stove and lowered it down the hatch. It was a tight fit, but we managed to get it down below.

We also decided to put a sheet of stainless steel below it to try to make it easier to keep clean. Here it is all masked off so we can apply the spray glue to the old stained wood.

Here's the new metal being put into place. Next we made a template to get the gimble points figured out.
Then we mounted the brackets and lifted the stove into place.
After hooking up and testing the gas line for leaks, we fired up the burners. Oh my! These burners are so much larger than the old stove's. And the oven has a thermostat! I can hardly wait to cook on it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Breakfast on Thistle

Princess A brought the newspaper to the boat this morning and we had breakfast together. Now if Princess K and Prince Charming would just get here.....

I guess I'll just have to make a second breakfast when they arrive.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Peat Dirt Storm

Here in the San Joaquin Delta the richest soil contains lots of decomposed peat moss, which is very light in weight. If it's been dry for a while and the winds kicks up it gets blown right out of the fields and into town.

Frequently when I was a kid we'd have huge dust storms in the summertime. The farmers have changed their practices so it doesn't happen so much anymore, but today we have having a doozey.

The day started out nice, and the temperature is still warm, but it's blowing 20 knots. All the halyards in the marina are clacking on the masts (why do people allow that to happen?) and the wind is shrieking through the rigging. The boat is heeling over and the bumpers are squeaking. 
Needless to say, the sewing project got packed up and put away.

Just look at those little williwaws going down the fairway.

A Sewing Project

Our boat came with a "cover" and I managed to rig it up right after we got the boat. However, I couldn't  figure out what it was supposed to do. It wasn't high enough to walk under so it couldn't have been a sun awning. And it didn't really cover the cockpit, so it would have allowed rain in, so it wasn't a winter cover.

So I have decided to make it into a rain awning. By sliding it way aft of where it was designed to go, it is now wide enough to cover the entire cockpit with fabric enough to create a wall at the transom. Our transom faces South and that's where our winter storms come from, so hopefully it will block the rain from that direction. And it still goes over the dodger so we should have a snug refuge from the winter storms. 

And what a beautiful day to be outdoors sewing. I think I'm getting a sunburn!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our Local Burger Joint

Every now and then we are too lazy to cook dinner and we walk over to our local burger joint; Bob's at the Marina.

It's an old fashioned place with basic burgers, fries, onion rings, and sandwiches. And they serve a generous breakfast too. Oh, and beer and wine. 

But the best part is, you can come here by boat and tie up at the guest dock while you eat. In fact, we could do that too, but it would take about 45 minutes to get our boat from the Sailing Club to this marina. It's way easier to walk out the front door of the condo, turn left and walk about a half block, turn left at the marina driveway, make our way up to Bob's, and order a burger and a beer. But maybe someday we will bring our boat here and enjoy looking at it while we eat our lunch.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cheap Thrills

So we got these little LED lights earlier this year for the patio at the condo. But we decided to take them out to the boat and hang them around the awning. 

Party Time! 
We ate dinner out here this evening and it was very pleasant to have these little lights. We had to drape an extension cord down into the aft cabin, but we could put a 12 volt plug on them if we had a 12 volt outlet in the cockpit.

Just add that to the list......

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Decorating Project

This project was instigated by a card we received from some dear friends in England.
I took the card out to the boat, read it to the Captain, then looked for a place to display it. Wherever I put it, it was in the way or it kept falling down. As I've said before this boat has no little shelves or fiddle rails or anywhere to set anything.

I decided to make a memory board and attach it to the head door. First I made a paper pattern of the funny shape of the door panel. Then the Captain cut it out of 1/4" plywood. I marked out the ribbon pattern and drilled the 1/16" holes for the buttons. Next I stapled two layers of quilt batting and the fabric over the board.

Then I stapled the ribbon along the lines and sewed little buttons on the front. To secure them I went through identical buttons on the back and knotted the tread securely.

I like how this turned out. It not only provides a display space for cards, photos, and notes, but it also brightens this dark corner.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Typical Day on the Delta

It was so peaceful and quiet anchored behind Spud Island that we slept until 8:00 am. After a leisurely breakfast and tidy up, we raised the anchor and headed back upriver towards the Port of Stockton.

Out on the channel there was plenty of traffic. Lots of these...
And these...
And these.
Stockton is a deep water ship port and we get several ships in and out each week. The channel is 30' deep all the way to San Francisco Bay, and about 200' wide here. Although it looks close, there is plenty of room, BUT, if you dilly dally in the center of the channel, you will get a long blast from the ship's horn. He is saying, "Get out of my way!"

Shortly after the Western Tokyo went by the Atlantic Star went by, then we saw the Coast Guard zooming by, headed toward the port.
They are on "Homeland Security" duty and provide protection for the propane tankers every time they move along the channel.
And here is the propane tanker, Luigi Lagrange, that they were hovering around. If you wanted to pass it they would escort you and stay between you and the ship. And the sailor on the bow had both hands on his loaded M240 At all times. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

More LED Lights

Before we left the dock yesterday the Captain installed three more LED lights. He also retrofitted two existing lights with LEDs. When he removed the old lights he found THESE!
Wire nuts absolutely do not belong on boats because moisture will eventually get to the wires causing failure and/or arcing. 
It's best to solder the splices and seal them with heat shrink.
So that's what the Captain did. The galley was out of commission for a while, so we went to In-N-Out for lunch.

Here's how the new lights look.

He wired the lights so we can turn on either the left light, the center lights, or the right light. And the Admiral/Galley Slave is much happier now.