Saturday, February 28, 2015

Visit from Amy

Amy was my first guest for a quick spot of tea in front of the garden castle shed. Jan and I met Amy when we signed up for a recent eBay class at adult school. She manages the senior center at Manchester Center and adult school registrations.

We noticed photos of various chickens on the bulletin board so I asked and Amy said they were hers. We had such fun chatting about the chickens she raises. I never knew they could be pets.

In our chat I also found out Amy loves having tea and has a teapot collection.

I invited Amy to stop by one afternoon on her way home for a cuppa and a sweet treat. When Amy took a bite of the cake I made she recognized it and asked if it was a sherry cake. She grew up having it and told me how her mother decorated the cake. Then we discovered how much we both love Van Gogh! She spent two days in Amsterdam during her college years and spent both days at the Van Gogh museum.

Amy brought me gifts! After she left Jan took a photo of me holding the teapot and 6 fresh eggs from her adorable chickens. The teapot is made in Portugal, very nice! Just before she arrived I quickly wrote a note in chalk.

My sons grew up having the sherry cake and now my grandsons love it so here is my recipe that a friend gave me about 1978.

Many cake mixes now have pudding in the mix and it works both ways, just the cake mix with pudding or adding a 3 oz. box of instant vanilla pudding. The recipe says use an angel cake pan, I've always used a bundt pan and spaying with Pam Baking now bakes with an even color.

The cake is good plain or goes well many ways, with ice cream, a drizzle of chocolate syrup or topped with cherries. A can of cherry pie filling, slightly warmed, is easy but Trader Joe's dark morello cherries makes a good topping. They are not sweet or thickened so you have to do both.

Drain the liquid from a jar of Trader Joe's dark morello cherries into a sauce pan. Add half a cup of powdered sugar and a tablespoon of cornstarch. Whisk till dissolved, then heat and keep stirring till thick. Add in the cherries, remove from heat, mix in just a couple of drops of almond extract, not much.

Serve cherries over wine cake, have a cup of tea and enjoy.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Wild Harlequin Floor for Garden Castle Shed

A harlequin pattern for the floor of the garden castle shed has been on my mind but I decided it couldn't be a plain diamond pattern, it had to be wild.

Last Thursday I went out with a pencil to draw the big wavy lines to form the wavy diamonds. Friday afternoon was fun to be on the floor painting the wild shapes. By 4:30 Jan brought me a Blue Moon to celebrate! 

The floor pattern was a success but I can't say the same for the turret finials. Here I was cleaning off the flux after soldering, looks a mess.

The solder just didn't flow nicely, there were gaps in the seam so I turned it over to fill in.

 That didn't work! The whole seam popped open. I could scream!!!

 My brain works solutions during the night and I did wake up the next morning with a better solution. I will use a folded piece of copper on the inside and sweat solder it together at the same time I add the finial and flag. That will have to wait till I'm in the mood to do all the frustrating solder clean up.

In the mean time the garden castle shed still looks bare with no finials on top. I'm not happy with the color of the window frames, the lights are temporary, Jan needs to make the doors and frame when he has time and add the trim and window mullions. We've got lots more to do besides that but it's a process. It's been five months since the day I built the little foam core model that evolved into something much larger than originally planned.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fascinating Fungi by Garden Castle Shed Shaggy Mane Coprinus Comatus

Here is the photo at the end of the last blog entry. These mushrooms have been popping up in the same spot for months, I always cut them down while they are still in a round shape. The dark edge looked so interesting I did a search to identify them.

Wikipedia entry says:
"Coprinus comatus, the shaggy ink cap, lawyer's wig, or shaggy mane, is a common fungus often seen growing on lawns, along gravel roads and waste areas. The young fruit bodies first appear as white cylinders emerging from the ground, then the bell-shaped caps open out. The caps are white, and covered with scales—this is the origin of the common names of the fungus. The gills beneath the cap are white, then pink, then turn black and secrete a black liquid filled with spores (hence the “ink cap” name). This mushroom is unusual because it will turn black and dissolve itself in a matter of hours after being picked or depositing spores."

The morning after the first photo there was quite a change, the large central mushroom with the black lacy edge has now grown taller and thinner and the mushroom is flat and dripping with black ink. The mushroom at the front is opening and staining the cement edging.

Here is a close-up of the dripping ink.

By late afternoon the mushroom at the front was dripping with ink.

I had to see what the ink was like. When I pulled my finger under the edge the ink on the gills showed up in lines. Very interesting little fungi.

Even though they are edible before they turn to ink they will not be making their way to my mushroom soup.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sunny Day at the Garden Castle Shed

The sun was beautiful and bright all day and into the high 60s, can't ask for better working weather. Jan brought one of the table and chairs to the back flagstone patio. We've had two of these Costco tables and six chairs for years on the front porch. I've been wanting to perk them up.

There is still much to do on the shed, sigh. My small torch was just not powerful enough to finish the copper finials. We bought a larger torch and should be finishing them this week, then we can make the door then the window trims, edgings, stonework base and much more.

Remember the photo below from last month when I cleaned some barn wood and the turned post? At that time I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the post, it's taller then table height.

Well, I decided I wanted to have a stand, here is Jan adding on the base and top.

I slapped a little paint on it, still not sure if it will stay this color.

After a couple of days I'll decide and finish.

Jan was pretty skeptical when I said I wanted the table and chairs purple.

Don't you think the purple chair looks a lot better than the oxidized black? I was pleased but darn, it took a long time to paint two chairs.

Here is the result of the weekend rain. Two of the mushrooms have black ruffled edges, will the others open up the same way?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Windmill Mushroom Fairy House and Carmel By-The-Sea

Jan got creative photographing his windmill brown mushroom fairy house. He put it on an open book of Dutch windmills. Looks cute! Click here for the Etsy listing.

While going through photos I came across an assemblage Jan had put together of his doors, windows and tree. It was so quaint I had to print it. Look how real and three dimensional the print looks in a frame.

This colorful print made my heart thump, look at the light on the magenta bougainvillea and the portal window. Jan took the photo on a trip to Carmel by the sea.

One of my favorite paintings Jan has painted is The Tuck Box, also in Carmel. Hugh Comstock was a genius in designing storybook houses. 

It's time for a trip to Carmel to get our fill of storybook quaintness, art galleries and the sea.

Prints are in the art photography prints section of our Etsy shop.