For a carpenter.

I made a tool apron for Monte about a year ago. I copied the design of an old, worn one he had. It was a prototype, but has held up nicely. He recently suggested a modified version to better fit the tools he most commonly used – a little bigger pocket on his right hand side. I sewed a new one today.

I cannot sit down at my sewing machine without flashing back to memories of my mom sewing, and teaching me to sew, many years ago. This isn’t a prom dress 🙂 but I enjoyed it as a small project.

Its made out of stiff cotton duck cloth. I edged it on all sides with 1/2″ polyester bias tape; triple topstitched to reinforce. I used 6 feet of 1″ soft cotton twill tape for the tying waistband, which I folded in half and triple stitched for strength. Start by making a trapezoid shape with the duck cloth – 16″ tall, 16″ wide at the top; 20″ wide at the bottom. The trapezoid gets edged on all 4 sides with the bias tape. Fold up the bottom to make a baggy pocket 7″ tall. Stitch the sides. Stitch the pocket divider. Stitch the waist tie on. And voila!


Bird thingie.

The backyard is getting quite crowded with bird-thingies.  The latest one is a bark butter feeder that I hung up a couple of weeks ago.   Bark butter is a spreadable kind of bird food that you can mush onto the bark of a tree,  or onto a hanging feeder.   You can buy both bark butter and bark butter feeders.   But, I decided to try my hand at making both myself.  Long story short, the birdies like it!  This is a Bewick’s wren snacking on it.  I have also seen black crested titmice and woodpeckers try it out.


To make the feeder, I  grabbed a couple of pieces of cedar scrap from the shop, drilled shallow holes in each side with a forstner bit.  I staggered the holes on each side so they were not directly opposite each other, so that I wouldn’t accidentally drill all the way through the board.  Then I glued and nailed a piece of wood on top as an awning.   I didn’t measure, but I’d say that my board is about 16″ long and 6″ wide.

There are recipes on the web for bark butter that contain lard and corn meal and peanut butter and bird seed.  I simply got some all-natural peanut butter and mixed it with my current bird seed mix (mine is a mix of peanuts and whole sunflower seeds and millet) until it was spreadable.  Then I stirred in some cayenne pepper to dissuade the squirrels.   I spread some into each of the holes on the feeder and hung it up.  Within a week I saw some birds feeding off of it; which made me smile.



Baby, it’s cold outside!


Saturday evening, right around 7pm, the predicted “artic blast” arrived with 30 mph winds in our part of Austin, quickly dropping temperatures from the upper 70’s (Farenheit) during the afternoon to an overnight low in the low 20’s in just a few hours.   Sunday stayed right at freezing at our place all day, and then temperatures last night again hit the low 20s.  Tonight will probably freeze again.   Things will warm up a bit before Christmas Day.  Then we can put away our woolies until the next cold front comes through.

A few years back we had an outside spigot and pipe freeze, flooding one of our back rooms and making a cold mess when the ice thawed.   This year, Monte designed a wooden box to house a 25w incandescent light bulb for each of our exterior spigots to keep them warm and avert disaster this time around.   He cut out the pieces.  I assembled them, while he wired a light socket and lamp cord for each of them.  They worked great!  We can put them away later this week, until the next deep freeze heads our way.



Boat repair.

A week or so ago, we were at anchor and rafted-up in a cove with another boat when we experienced the largest boat wake we have ever seen on Lake Travis, courtesy of a motorhead who is ignorant of the damage that his wake causes other boats and docks along the lake.  We never saw him, but his wake caused our two boats to smash into eachother, resulting in our port-side gate stanchion breaking.

The next day I got on the phone with Catalina Direct and ordered a replacement.  That was the easy part.  The fun-part remained:  figuring out how to access the nuts & bolts below deck to make the repair.  Suffice to say that it was not a Catalina 320 design point to make access to the stanchion bolts easy or straightforward.  The Catalina 320 owners’ association discussion forum was a helpful resource, with some threads describing the repair.  I decided to document our experience, along with some photos, in the event it helps another sailor down the line.   This is a two-person job, as screwing and unscrewing the nuts requires one person above deck, and one person below.  Oh, and the below deck person needs to be small enough and able to contort his/herself in a very confined space for the duration.  This repair took about 4 hours.   While this post documents replacement of a port-side gate stanchion, I imagine it would be a similar experience for replacing any other stanchion, but the location will dictate a different set of steps to gain access.

In the photo below (new part on the left, broken part on the right)  you can see that the threaded rod of the port-side gate stanchion’s aft leg was broken off at the deck.  It’s actually a great design, in my opinion, because even though the stanchion was bent significantly enough inboard to pop the weld on the threaded rod, there are no outboard through-deck bolts to damage the deck by being pulled out when the damage occurs.  Another thing worth noting is the width of the “h” on the new stanchion was about an inch less than the old one.  You can kind of see that in the photo.  But we were able to remedy that by a gentle, but firm, pull on the legs to spread them enough to make the bolt holes line up with those on deck.   Don’t forget to order the new nuts/bolts/washers that are recommended in the listing for the stanchion on the Catalina Direct website.  They have to be ordered separately.  Our old bolts were bent pretty good, and the washers were cupped a bit.


The life lines on our 320 connect forward at the bow pulpit.   Easy enough to remove for the repair.


Now for the fun part.  On a 320, the bolts for the aft leg of the gate stanchion are located behind the aft galley cabinet.  The bolts for the forward leg are behind the middle galley cabinet, where the microwave sits.  You’ll want to open both of them up to gain access.   I recommend taking the divider wall between the two cabinets out as well to make maneuvering a little easier.  There is a molded fiberglass cable chase/run behind the wood trim inside the cabinets.  You will need to cut away part of that to access all the bolts.  A previous owner of our boat had cut some of it away for some other repair or installation.img_1147

When I first opened things up to see what I could see, this is what I saw in the aft cabinet.   Some of the fiberglass panel had been cut away already, but not enough for this repair.


I used a Dremel tool to cut away another 4 inches or so.   BE CAREFUL to not damage the cabling behind the fiberglass panel!  Also, take precautions to not work around live electric cables, to avoid damage/death to yourself.     I also recommend eye protection and wearing a mask to protect yourself from breathing in the dust while making the cut.   And, beware, that cut fiberglass edge is sharp.img_1142

This is an upclose view of the 3 bolts for the aft leg of the gate stanchion.   The big one is the broken outboard threaded rod.  The 2 inboard ones are the smaller through-deck bolts for the aft leg.  I had to lower the cabling that was fastened below deck to get access to the bolts.  I found that there was no clearance below the threaded rod to allow me to use a socket of any kind.  So I had to use a wrench to turn the nut, little by little.  As I did, the top of the broken-off rod rose slowly above the deck, eventually enough to be able to put a vicegrips on it above deck, to keep it from turning as I removed the nut the rest of the way.   I also will note that the recommended bolt/nut/washer kit that we ordered contained new stainless bolts for the inboard holes of the aft leg that are about an inch longer than the old ones.  That might make using a socket difficult, if you don’t have a deep enough one.


This picture shows all 5 bolts – the 3 of the aft leg, and the 2 of the forward leg.  It also shows how nice it is to not have the dividing wall between the cabinets there.  It made reaching through with tools easier.img_1143

We first removed the inboard bolts of the aft leg.   Monte unscrewed the bolt above deck, while I held the nut below.


This is a shot of the deck with all the bolts removed, and the old adhesive scraped away.   We used fresh marine adhesive, liberally covering the area of each foot.  All that remained was to install with the new hardware.


Voila!  repair complete.



I ♥ Kohler.

When we remodeled our house 5 years ago, we put in a beautiful Kohler Simplice faucet (model number K-647-VS) at the big kitchen sink.

I love it.  A few months ago, though, it started leaking water from under the single hot/cold control handle.  There was always a puddle around the faucet.  It drove me NUTS.

Google showed me that Kohler has really great documentation on how to fix this on their web pages here and even a short video here.   And I eventually dug out and read the owner’s manual/guide that came with it  – yes… i keep those things 🙂   I read about the Kohler Faucet lifetime warranty.   You can read the fine print here, but Kohler basically says:  “if the Faucet should leak or drip during normal use, Kohler Co. will, free of charge, mail to the purchaser the cartridge necessary to put the Faucet in good working condition.”   Yes, free.   I can’t believe anyone does that anymore.

So, I called Kohler’s customer service line (1-800-4KOHLER) and described the problem to a real and knowledgeable person and they said with all likelihood it was a bad valve.  They sent me a replacement valve in the mail for free.   It arrived over the weekend, and I installed it.   VOILA problem solved!

I just wanted to give a shout out to a company that still provides great customer service!

Read on for a few comments on what was a little more difficult than described in my experience of changing the control valve.  Good Luck!  My DIY photo:


The documentation and video online are pretty much self-explanatory.   There were 2 steps that took a bit more effort than I anticipated.

1) It took a significant amount of effort to get the Hot/Cold water control handle off (after removing the set screw) – more than I was capable of, so I enlisted Monte for that job.  It took a while, but it did come off with a sustained, firm, upward pull.   The problem was the black, plastic sleeve on the valve was stuck in the handle, creating loads of friction.  The new valve comes with a replacement black sleeve, so I had to remove the old one using needle nose pliers after the handle came off.

2) the decorative “bonnet” under the handle was hard to unscrew.  But, I used one of those rubber, grabber pads that helps unscrew the lids from jars.  And with some perseverence, it did the trick.  After those two steps, everything else went as advertised.

The replacement kit came with a teeny capsule of grease, which I spread around the new valve’s o-ring.  The video doesn’t mention that.



I’ve been playing with beads again.  I’ve gotten it in my head that pendants that can easily slip onto chains would be fun to make and very versatile.   Here are a few I’ve recently made.

Made with (L-R):  turquoise, tiger’s eye, swarovski crystal, and howlite.


One more pair.

Sterling filigree balls.

Sterling filigree balls.

I really don’t intend to re-purpose this blog to be a beading blog, but since it is a photoblog showing various moments from my day…. and since I’ve been thinking about and doing a lot of beading lately..this is what you get.  🙂

This is a pair that I made today, inspired by this pin on pinterest.  The noteworthy thing about this pair is that they are my first attempt at making a wrapped loop at the top of the headpin.  A little rough, but I’ve got plenty of time to practice.

Another piece.

Turquoise ditties

Turquoise ditties

I bought some turquoise stones and some brown round beads a while back.   This morning I pulled out my bead box and strung together this bracelet and earrings.

I have lots to learn about making jewelry.  My loops are basic and unornate.  My strung beads are looser than I would like.  But I’m having fun learning!

Now, if i could just learn how to photograph them properly….  🙂

As for my post yesterday, my friend had the best possible case during her surgery last night, according to her doctors.   Thanks for your prayers.    Now fingers crossed for good news from the lab next week.

We’re off to the lake this afternoon.  Have a good one!

DIY: Jewelry board project.

My lastest project.

My lastest project.

I finished yet another pinterest-inspired project today:  a board for hanging my jewelry.   The inspiration pin can be found here.

Wanna make one, too?  Read on.

I bought an inexpensive corkboard, about 18″ x 24″ or so, from IKEA.   For future reference, you should note the thickness of the board material (not the frame part, but the field part of the bulletin board).   You may need to trim the screws that come with the drawer pull hardware, like I did.  The thickness of my board material was 1/4″.   When the screws were screwed all the way into the hardware, there was 3/4″ of an inch showing.  Which meant I would have to cut off 1/2″ from each screw (with a hacksaw) so that they would fit my board.  You’ll either have to do that, or look for screws that are the right length.

IKEA corkboard

IKEA corkboard

Then I bought some miscellaneous drawer pulls.   I also picked out some hooks and small chain and some push pins.  Yes.  This would have been less expensive if I had this stuff laying around already…

Laying out where the hardware will go.

Laying out where the hardware will go.

Then picked out some fabric and ribbon from Joanne’s.

Pretty bits.

Pretty bits.

Cut and hem the non-selvage edges of the material big enough to wrap around the bulletin board leaving several inches.

corkboard4 corkboard5

Sew on ribbon to add some accents.


Put the fabric you’ve just sewn aside.  Now using an awl, poke holes in the corkboard where the screws for where you want each piece of hardware to go.

Poke holes where the drawer pull hardware goes.

Poke holes where the drawer pull hardware goes.

Using a drill, with a drill bit no bigger in diameter than the fasteners for the drawer pulls, drill all the way through the corkboard and its backing board.  My corkboard had a thin, fiber board backing.  So, when I drilled through it, it sort of made a hole with rough, fuzzy edges.  After I drilled each hole I scraped away the debris from the front and back of the board around each hole.

corkboard9 corkboard10

It’s a good idea to do a dry run and screw the hardware to the board, to make sure the holes are all in the right places.  If not, make adjustments, then take the hardware off again.

Testing to make sure the holes match the hardware.

Testing to make sure the holes match the hardware.

Now it’s time to wrap the board in fabric.  I did this using a stapler, into the back of the board.  Wrap the fabric tight, working your way around the board.

The back of the board.

The back of the board.

Again, using an awl through each pre-drilled hole in the back of the board, poke a hole through the fabric on the front.  Be careful not to snag your material.  This will allow the screws to go through the fabric without twisting it or tearing it.  Then, place the screws into each hole, through the back of the corkboard, using a screwdriver to turn the screws through the holes you’ve just pierced into the fabric.


Pierce the fabric for each screw-hole, to make way for the screws.


Turn the screws through the back of the board til they are clear of the fabric.

Now you just need to place the hardware over the screws and tighten them down.

I added some chain fastened with push pins on either end – more space to hang earrings.


The finished board.

The finished board.


Look what I just made!

I was inspired to make this wreath by a do-it-yourself project that I ran across on pinterest (original link here) and pinned it in my “DIY: wannado’s” board a month or so ago.   I immediately knew that I was going to try to make one – not just because I loved the way it looked, but because I have been hoarding corks for 10-15 years (much to monte’s bemusement) just waiting for a project I could use them in.   The hot-pad-trivet-made-out-of-corks projects I usually run across just didn’t do it for me.

I love wreaths, and with Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, I knew I’d better get started if I wanted to finish it before the holidays.  I love how it turned out.   Here’s how I did it.

What you’ll need: straw wreath body, straight pins, glue and lots of corks.

I bought an 18″ diameter straw wreath body (from Michael’s) a box of 1 1/4″ dressmaker pins (longer is better) and some craft glue (from Joanne’s).   Then I dug out and dusted off several bags/boxes labeled “corks” from the garage and started sorting.   I didn’t keep track of exactly how many I used, but I’m pretty sure it’s on the order of about 400-500 corks.  I can’t help but do a little math here…. if i estimate that on average I spent $12 a bottle… that means this wreath cost in the neighborhood of about $5000.   (heheheh… sigh)   Anyway, as I was sorting,  I tossed corks that weren’t 100% solid cork.  Many were made up of lots of little pieces of cork molded in the shape of a cork.   I also wanted to mix up the red wine (stained) & white wine corks and mix in a champagne cork every now and then.   So I picked out bunches of them as I went along.

Sort your corks.

Stick a pin into each cork – get a good bite but leave as much of the pin hanging out as you can.

Stick a pin in the end of each cork.

Then put a line of glue on the pin.

Apply glue to the pin to help it bond with the straw wreath form.

Then stick the cork into position by pushing the head end of the pin into the straw wreath form.  I inserted them all at an angle, where one row laid on top of the last one.  Sometimes the pins went into a gap between the straw and didn’t stick well.   So try to make sure you poke the pin through some of the straw when you push them in.   Between the pins and the glue, the corks were surprisingly stable in the wreath when finished.

Push the head end of the pin into the wreath form at an angle.

I must admit that it was a little daunting getting started, but after the first row or two, it really was easy and went a lot quicker than I expected.  Here is a close up of how the layering turned out.  Some of the corks had years printed on the end or a unique logo, which added a nice touch to the detail.

Mix ’em up.

I hastily added the ribbon as an afterthought, to dress it up for the holidays.   I know the ribbon looks a bit hokey, but I wanted to hang it up on the door to take a picture, so I was in a hurry.   But you get the idea.  After Christmas I’ll remove the ribbon and hang it on a wall in the house dining room or kitchen.

Start saving those corks!

La chaise de bistrot du bubbly.

Little bistro chair made out of champagne cage.

Yay, Friday!  Julie and I treated ourselves to a pedicure after work / class.  Then Indian for dinner with Monte.  Then back home for a movie on pay per view…Moonrise Kingdom.  Enjoyed it!

We shared a bottle of bubbly, and made this cute little bistro chair out of the cage on the champagne bottle.  I saw this online a while back which gave me the idea (and also shows you how to make one, if you want to try it yourself).  We ought to have a couple dozen made by New Year’s Day.  🙂

Table for one!

Pretty dangles.

My first attempt at making earrings.

The other day when my sister and I spent an afternoon running around and playing in downtown Austin, I mentioned that we stopped into a bead shop (Bead It on South Lamar).  Over the years, I have assembled a nice set of jewelry-making tools that I use to repair miscellaneous of my favorite purchased pieces that have broken.  I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making earrings, bracelets, necklaces, etc, but have never taken that step.

So, when I came home last week with several baggies of beads and earring posts & hangers, I was excited to make a few pairs.   These are my very first pieces.   Not bad, i think.   Hmmmm, could there be an etsy storefront in my future?    🙂

P.s.  I’m wearing the purple/amethyst ones as I’m posting this…