Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dry Sink Cabinet Woodwork from 1973

Woodworking has been on my mind a lot the past several months since starting the garden castle shed. I've been watching a lot of woodworking videos to decide what to do for each step along the way. I've discovered a lot of woodworkers online, many of them with workshops with all the power tools and all I see is money money money in the shops. Then I hear about how important it is to start with a vacuum system to suck up all the sawdust as you work.

Even working outdoors there have been days my hubby was coughing later from all the dust and a couple of times I had dust in my eyes even though I wasn't over the power tools.

I've studied my dry sink cabinet I made in 1973 with minimal tools. Here is is now in 2014.

It looks just the same as when I built it and it has been though moves from Hawaii to California and for three years from 1990 to 1993 was in a hot storage shed with piles of boxes on top. Not bad for 41 years old.

Early American furniture was a popular style at that time, we were gearing up to the bicentennial in 1976. It was the shabby chic of the era and I was a young woman with a limited budget but lots of energy and a desire to have a style that was not readily available in Hawaii.

Dry sinks were usually lined with metal and dishpans of water were set in the top, would have been for homes before plumbing.

Now it sits in the breakfast nook area, next to the kitchen counter where I make tea.

The style is rustic but has a smooth finish. At the time I used Deft, a poly finish. I assembled the cabinet with screws and used wooden plugs to give it the early look.

In 1973 I was in my late 20s, a military wife and we were stationed at Barber's Point for more than six years. My husband was away on deployments half of the time so I stayed busy.

Here is a page of photos from that time. I built it on the front porch of the WWII housing. My oldest son, Joe, is standing behind in the second photo and that's me on the stool working on the frame. The wood available to me was Luan or Phillipine mahogany. The only tools I had was a $13 jigsaw, a 1/4 inch electric drill, a hammer and chisel for routing, and a serrating tool to true up the boards that I pieced together. I had only 2 clamps.

 Here are my original papers where I sketched and calculated.

The only woodworking experience I had before this was making a couple of frames at the base wood shop, no formal classes.  I was flying by the seat of my pants and having a great time.

Having sewn clothing most of my life and understanding how pattern pieces must fit together was helpful. Building this piece of furniture was more satisfying than any dress I ever made. A dress goes out of fashion in a season or two, a piece of furniture can last a life time.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Albondigas Soup and Mr. Frog's New Santa Hat

Family Christmas eve dinner this year will be a little of my Mexican heritage. Growing up in El Paso, Texas I had one aunt known for her cooking. Aunt Grace made the most delicious albondigas soup, meatball soup. I could taste the hint of mint in the meatballs with rice.

Years later, in 1968, I purchased Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking by Elena Zelayeta. At last I had some recipes to recreate the tastes of home. Here is my well used paperback book, survived all the years and moves.

Christmas eve dinner will include some recipes from the book.

Christmas Eve Salad
Albondigas Soup
Flan (caramel coated custard)

I'll also be making a big batch of home made flour tortillas and a smaller batch with wheat flour at Lisa's request.
Jan and I had a meatball factory going this evening.

Jan was using a tiny scooper and I was rolling them into balls.

Here is our largest pot to accommodate the double batch of simmering soup.

The recipe is on page 34 and here, with my notes in brackets.

Sopa De Albondigas, Meat Ball Soup

1 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons oil (used light olive oil)
1/2 can tomato sauce
3 quarts beef broth (2 quarts is plenty for a single batch)
carrots and peas can be added (I dice carrots, add last 10 minutes, peas at the end of cooking time)

3/4 pound ground beef (all beef, no pork is fine)
3/4 pound ground pork
1/3 cup rice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (1 teaspoon is plenty)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves (I use 2 tablespoons for more flavor like my Aunt Grace's)

Wilt garlic and onion in oil; add tomato sauce and beef broth. Heat to boiling point. Mix meat with rice, salt, pepper, egg, and mint, and shape into little balls. (Small balls, about an inch in diameter so the rice will cook completely.) Put meatballs into boiling broth. Cover tightly and cook 30 minutes. Will freeze nicely. Serves 6 to 8. (If it's served as a meal it serves less.)

The flavor is even better the next day so that's why I'm making on the 23rd. We're cooling down the soup quickly to get it refrigerated.

Mr. Frog is happy with his new Santa hat. Looks like he has eaten a few albondigas.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Calm Before Christmas and Woods & Sons English Scenery Blue Teapot

A glass of wine after dinner set the calm before Christmas this evening. The Paris cabinet in the background sets the mood for our old world feeling dining room. The atmosphere, lighting and Jan's paintings soothe my soul as I sit at my laptop to blog.

Jan and I don't buy each other Christmas gifts any more, we usually buy something we agree on together, like the tools we've picked up. As you get older in life and comfortable then presents aren't necessary for each other. We are content, that is a gift in itself that we are so thankful for.

My teapot wall has a new addition, I guess it should have been wrapped but I would rather enjoy it now. I found it on Etsy, it is probably from the 1920s, a Woods & Sons English Scenery in blue.

That's Mr. Frog on the floor, he needs a Santa hat before Christmas Eve. There are three teapot friends of his on the third shelf down, Mrs. Toad, Miss Elephant and Giraffe.

The new teapot is lovely, it does have a flaw that was mentioned in the listing but I can live with it. It would have cost four times more if it had not had the flaw under the front rim.

There are two more teapots I'm looking for to make my collection complete.

The calm will be over in the morning and the last three days before Christmas will be a frenzy of wrapping gifts, finishing a couple of items and lots of cooking and baking.

Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

No Stormageddon in Fresno

Stormageddon last week bypassed Fresno. It was a good rain and then fog in the San Joaquin valley. We are at the very northwest area of Fresno and don't get much fog. Bring on the rain, after several years of drought it is needed to replenish the aquifers for the valley farmers. We've actually had more rain since then, yeahhh!

Last week we had our Bible study group's annual pot luck Christmas dinner. It was at our home so it took a couple of days to whip the house into ship shape condition for company. A few doors were closed to hide all the extra things that had to be moved to make room for everyone. I hope nobody peaked but they know me and probably guessed why the doors were closed. I'm still squeezing into the laundry room to do laundry, two sewing machines were shoved in.

Each year I use some holly from a bush in the yard to decorate the table. The bush was dead! Shows you what a terrible gardener I am, in this hard pan area I don't even try. It was too late to do much so dashed to the closest store, SaveMart and picked up three small poinsettias. Not creative it all but with friends, great food and laughs we had a great time.

This photo is for Lisa, to prove I cleared the counters. The table runners were waiting for all the food everyone brought.

Last Saturday we went back to the swap meet on Olive near Clovis Avenue to see what we could find in old tools. It was almost noon so we may have missed some tools, only found the rusty hammer for $1 and the lion drawer pull for $3, we wanted to come home with us.

We decided to hit a few antique shops in old town Clovis, such a fun place to go. As we walked by one shop Jan commented that they didn't have much before and wanted to move on to the antique mall store next door. I commented that you never know, things come in all the time. 

Jan did find something he wanted, the full set of bits. They were in good condition and in their original storage roll. We have been watching Paul Sellers incredible hand woodworking videos on YouTube and his site Woodworking Master Classes so now we see old tools in a new light. With just a few hand tools you can more accurately cut wood than with power tools.

Many years ago I did woodworking and was always so frustrated that things would not be accurate even when using a miter box. I blamed myself when it was the large saw space in the miter box that caused the inaccuracy. Paul Sellers has a video on making your own miter box that will fit your saw for accurate work.

The lion head drawer pull may show up on a drawer made with hand tools! I've always wanted to make dovetail drawers, in the late 1970s I bought a dovetail template for a router but it was just too complicated and confusing, I never did it but now that I've seen Paul Sellers make a perfectly fitting dovetailed box with just a few hand tools it will happen, in the new year.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Stormageddon? California Storm at Garden Castle Shed?

For two days the weather forecast has been telling us we are going to get the biggest storm in years. We jumped out of bed early because we were warned about high winds so Jan decided to take down the two canvas awnings we have out front. I love our awnings and the front now looks so bare.

We dashed off to Fresno Ag for sealant for the gaps between the roof sections.

Jan grew up in Holland, when they get storms they can be big but this is Fresno, storms tend to go around us. As much as we need and want the rain I think it will not be bad. This morning the warning was for 45 mile an hour winds.

So, Jan decided to board up the window openings and will barricade the door opening. Here he is at 3 p.m., working on the sealant. Not a tree is moving.

Will we get the storm? Gray skies, yes but I am one of the deniers about a huge storm in Fresno.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Crenellated Wall on Garden Castle Shed

It was a big step today for the garden castle shed. We now have a crenellated wall. Now it really looks like a castle shed. 

There is still much to do but we are one step further along. Here it is at dusk with solar lights, the reflection in the mirror is from our house.

It was a beautiful warm sunny day, must have been about 15 degrees above normal. We both worked in t-shirts.

Yesterday I received Dan Reeder's latest updated Paper Mache Dragons book and this morning moved all my paper mache supplies to the shed. The garden castle shed must have a dragon in a turret! I posted photos of my previous dragons on the November 5 post, here.

Jan made my worktop desk in the turret on the right. I'll have a view from two windows to the yard.

We had tea earlier in the day and then by 4 p.m. I had my celebration Blue Moon beer after doing lots of painting.

 Painting proof, look at those fingers.

Jan is fitting the trim for a window, they will be next in the process to complete my dream shed.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Celebrating Dutchman at the Garden Castle Shed

The Dutchman is celebrating. It was a spontaneous pose when he saw me with the camera, what a ham!

We really wanted to get the crenallations completed today but the double layer is glued for 24 hours. Tomorrow it will be installed and our garden castle shed will look more like a castle. At least now the walls are all in with the window and door cut outs.

Notice the little orange dots on the left, those are mandarins on our little tree. The shed looks very plain at the moment, still need the windows, door and trims, light sconces, stonework at the bottom, and lots of finishing work.

Our gargoyle needs a perch so he can start his job of keeping away the evil spirits. See you tomorrow when the crenellations are finished.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Full Moon Over the Garden Castle Shed

We had a full moon over the garden castle shed this evening. The solar lights came on, still need to mount them permanently. Inside there are two lights, the solar panel is mounted to the right where it gets some light during the day but not enough, the lights only stayed on about 3 hours.

Wall mounted solar lights on either side of the door are a must, just haven't found any suitable yet.

Oh, how I want everything done! We are a step closer.

We have both turret roofs up. The door shape has been redone, we had to piece the sides. That will be covered when we frame the finished door.

Tomorrow the window shapes will be completed and maybe the crenellations.

Jan made up several simple ladders for me to organize the shelves and hearts that we have listed on our Etsy shop. I designed them to be moveable and will hang or stand. It will be nice to get things out of the house and organized in the shed.

There is a plan for the floor but it may be a couple of weeks before I can get to it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gothic Windows on Garden Castle Shed

We had a couple of melt downs earlier in the week. The challenges have made me question my sanity in tackling a project like this because we have no construction experience, it is such an unusual project and the escalating cost.

An 8x4 foot shed from Lowe's is only $397 and they say it can be assembled in a weekend. I would be miserable having a simple shed like this!

Tuesday morning we had rain and decided to work on the panels inside. The 8 foot long plywood table top was still set up from Thanksgiving, the perfect working place for the triangle roof panels. Our Paris Cabinet is in the background and the big box of Mule-Hide roofing with a self-sticking back.

The roofing is to be applied with pressure. Looks like Jan is rolling out roof pizza pieces.

Finally Jan got to install the roof panels for one turret this morning. It was gorgeous and sunny for a couple of hours.

Since cutting the arch for the front I've been uneasy, it just didn't seem right. I wanted a Gothic arch door and windows. In the middle of the night I woke up and realized I needed to figure it out before we went any further. I started an internet search on Gothic windows and soon discovered that they are based on an equilateral triangle.

I did cardboard templates for the doorway and window, ahhhh, I think that's it. Doorway template does need to come down a little, here is a photo after gray skies came back.

 Jan has the left turret roof pieces prepared, ready to go on tomorrow. We have now decided what to use for the roof trim to seal the sections. We want the look of the original water gate.

 We're also planning the base, needs to look like stonework. Oh! The crenellations, that will make it look more like the Koppelpoort watergate or a castle, that is next after the roof.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Two Steps Back Again for Garden Castle Shed

Again we seem to be on the two steps back and one step forward on the garden castle shed project. Can you hear me screaming? I want it done and we just do not have enough hours to work much after our work which we are trying to do early or late in the day.

Besides some storage the shed will be a place to work on painting and messy projects. Here is a desk I painted Sea Salt white over the weekend while Jan was painting projects for orders to be shipped. The desk had a bad finish and bubbled veneer and broken drawer. I arranged a few things on it and the drawers will be for supplies and tools. One drawer now has sand paper and sanding block, another has garden sheers and gloves. Jan made the heart and arrow sign propped on the desk.

For days rain has been predicted and each day no rain. We need rain in the valley after several years of drought. We won't complain about the rain but it put a stop to working on the project. Yesterday, Monday, was sunny and warm so we started working on the wood panels for the right turret. It didn't go as we wanted and by the time we were back from an errand at 5 p.m. it was too dark to work so Jan threw a tarp over the open frame. Now doesn't it look like two steps back? This is how it looked this morning when we finally got rain. Looks so sad, not the wonderful shed I have in my mind.

The hold up and problem yesterday was when we shingled a section of the roof. The sections are just too small to use regular comp shingles. We didn't like it so took off to see if we could find a roll of slate gray roofing. Home Depot had rolls only in a brown and pale gray which we did not like. We made a call to a roofer explaining what we needed, they suggested ABC Supply so our errand took us across town. They had two types, plain and one that self sticks. Self-sticking? That sounded great for the triangle sections and then there will be a cap over the sections where they meet.

This morning I pulled off the plastic covering the door opening to get a little glimpse of my future shed. Still so much to do but having a little vignette makes me feel better. The big black roll of roofing felt is standing to the right and Jan's tool caddy is just waiting for a day to work.

It's almost 1 p.m. and we haven't had rain for a while. Maybe we can sneak out to get some panels done before we get more rain or before it gets too dark.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving by the Paris Cabinet and We Have Turrets

Thanksgiving with the Paris Cabinet in the background. 
We had a wonderful meal together and a loud and wild time playing Mexican Train after dinner. 
Left to right, Sage, Davis, Joe, Lisa, Doug, Reese, Donna, Jan.

 Holy moley! We have roof turrets. 
Looks mighty large when you are standing inside looking up.

From outside the turrets do not look large. 
It was a gorgeous Friday, we got the front on and I started painting it.

One of the cacti had bright yellow blooms, we love sunny yellow.

 My painting job didn't get too far before it got dusk and I didn't want to open another can of paint. Jan is standing in the doorway. We still have so much to do, turret shingles, copper finials and flags, crenulations, build the double doors and windows, add lots of trim, stone base and more.

 With rain expected we will work on the turret shingles next.

It looks like our gargoyle is smiling, hmm, doesn't look too ferocious. 
Wonder if he can really do his job to ward off evil spirits.