Category Archives: Life at Home

Winter is coming….

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and readers in the USA, and a warm hello to everyone who does not celebrate the holiday.

And a special BULA! to our fellow Fiji Princess 7 day stayers… when are we doing something like that again?  We are definitely willing…

The juncos have returned, the summer geese and the cormorants are gone, the winter geese are here.  The leaves are off the trees (and thanks to the other day’s south west winds, they are not on our property either 🙂 ).  Our stupid rose bush insists on still blooming, so I can’t prune it yet, but everything else says that Autumn has a firm grip, and winter is on its way.  Fortunately, no snow yet for us here on the south coast, but we certainly aren’t having one of those wonderful 70 degree Thanksgiving day’s when you go for a walk in your shirtsleeves after eating too much.

The heat had to be turned on near the end of October.  There is this Yankee thing about waiting as long as you can before you turn on the heat.  Everyone starts to ask each other if they are still toughing it out, or if they turned it on yet.  We held out long enough, but there is a point where you just have to do it.

I’m sorry we have been away from the blog for such a long time.  I know that for some of you who don’t use Facebook, this is your way of keeping track of us.  There have been a few changes, and you can feel free to get in a chuckle at our expense if you like.

The move to Florida is no longer going to happen.  We have a saying (and so do many others): ” the universe will unfold as it should”.  The forces in the universe were apparently conspiring to prevent our move from Somerset to Yulee, and after 10 months, we just had to read the signs and make a decision.  The largest issue, of course, is the fact that we just could not sell the house.  No one was interested – no even to look.  There is a clear message there.  Then a few other things happened, and after 10 months of trying to make this work, it was time to move on with our lives.

In contrast, when we decided to purchase this house in Somerset, we put the Ashland house up for sale after we left for a vacation in Hawaii.  We had a signed P&S in less than 2 weeks, before we got back home – obviously, that change was meant to be.  Everything was just “too hard” and working against us for this move to Florida.

We are very happy with our decision to stay here, and to get back to living in the now instead of floating in limbo, waiting for the ‘later’.  And if you know of anyone who is interested in purchasing a very nice lot in Waterman’s Bluff at a great discount, send them the information please.  We now are trying to sell this land.

Once we made the decision to stay, we started shopping for a boat.  We had sold Autumn Dream to a really great guy, and so we started looking at sail boats.  Kevin kept looking at Pilot House sail boats, and we were trying to decide what was the best option for us.  We mentioned to the new owner of Autumn Dream (when we were helping put the cover on) that we were in the market for a boat, and he asked if we would be interested in buying her back, due to some changes in his life.

Wow.  After a few days of discussion, we decided to buy her back.  This is when you really can start to laugh if you choose.  Yes, the blog will stay as M/V Autumn Dream, because she is back in our lives, and we are staying here in Somerset.  All is right with the world, and the universe is unfolding as it should.

Future posts will include boat work (of course) and changes we are making around the house, now that we are staying put.

Hope this post finds you all happy, and well.


Sewing Projects

Some of the people we met recently asked what do you do to fill your time, being retired…  We don’t seem to run out of things to do, and are not bored by any means.  Over the last few months, I have been doing a few sewing projects when the muse strikes.

Before we headed down to Florida and South Carolina, I wanted to make a present for Renee and Joe.  Here are the photos of the finished Sunbrella pillow.  It’s embroidered with an octopus, and I used some antique buttons from Kevin’s mother’s collection.

I experimented with my embroidery machine, to see how it would work on leather.  After I embroidered a Chinese dragon, I wanted to do something with it, so I made this “hobo-style” leather bag.


leather embroidered bag

Kevin wanted me to make some new leather head rest cushions for our car.  We were using some old ones that I originally made for our 2002 ‘new beetle’, but they were really faded and the pigskin was starting to crack.  These are nice and soft with memory foam.  The only bad thing about memory foam cushions is in the winter time, when they are as hard as a rock until the car warms up.  We are hoping that we would escape New England by winter, but so far the house is still not sold…


leather head rest cushions


Quiet lately…

We haven’t written anything since we finished the sale on Autumn Dream.  Since this blog is called “MV Autumn Dream”, and she is now being enjoyed by her new owner, we are trying to decide whether to start a new blog, keep this one going, or just stop blogging.  We know that some friends keep up to date by reading this, and others stay in touch through Facebook, so it is a tough decision.

So what has been going on?  Well, as you know the house is for sale, and we are in a bit of limbo as far as moving and starting to build in FLA until the house is sold.  Please, someone be interested enough for a showing… once you are inside, you will want to buy!  While we wait, we are enjoying Summer on the South Coast.  You just can’t beat this retirement gig, so much better than working!

I (Beth) have been busy sewing, reading, and cooking.  Seems like lots of cooking.  We were watching Cooks Country one evening on PBS/Create and they demonstrated a “quicker cinnamon bun” recipe.  First time I tried it I added Pecans.  YUM.  A friend thought I said I added bacon.  BACON??? What an AWESOME Idea!  Yes, last week I added BACON and walnuts instead of Pecans, and we have a new favorite… Cinnamon BACON Walnut buns!


Cinnamon BACON Walnut buns. YUM.

I tried making a version of Chicken Mole, and Kevin liked it, so that has been added to the repertoire… There has been an occasional harvest of Squash or cherry tomatoes from the garden.  The Jalapeños had a late start but now have lots of peppers growing.  Might have to try something like cheese stuffed Jalapenos on the grill.  Unfortunately, the Poblanos flower and do not fruit.  I was looking forward to using those in refried beans.  I think the squash stole all the nutrients from the Poblano Chile plant.

I really get a kick out of eating food I grew myself.  I know lots of people do it, but growing up in NYC, vegetables came out of cans, or maybe the freezer… and to pick something and cook it that day is just great.


A Siamese Twin squash!

We have been taking road trips, spent a few days on the Cape with Dave & Pat, finding new restaurants, reading some interesting books, and trying to make sure we have our 3.6 mile walk every morning; if the forecast is HOT, we go before our first cup of coffee… if it isn’t going to be “wicked humid” we go after, and then have our second with a treat (see the cinnamon buns mentioned earlier) after we cool down.

Speaking of books, I just finished Sy Montgomery’s “Soul of an Octopus“.  Not a bad read…

soul of octopus

Soul of an Octopus

Sorry things aren’t more exciting around here…  I guess we are just enjoying the summer!

Our Waterfront Home is for sale

Yes, our home in Somerset is for sale.

We created a special page here on the blog, just for this purpose

For more information, please contact Gil Diniz (508) 342-5579 at Prestige Realty – there is a link to his site on the page.

Wish us luck!

Somerset Musings

We have said many times that we love living here in Somerset.  One of the pleasures is watching the light change on the river, and the glow at sunset…


Sunset glow

Another is enjoying a meal at the Somerset Grille.  We have mentioned this place before – a local diner, serves breakfast and lunch daily, and dinner (and Seafood) on Thursdays and Fridays only.  This is such a gem.  Their food is always good, but their specials are exactly that, special.  On Thursdays, Kevin asks me “did they post their specials on Facebook yet?”.  Typically between 2pm and 4pm they appear, and then we decide if I am cooking dinner or if we are eating there.

This week they had BOTH Sesame crusted Seared Ahi Tuna AND Pork Osso bucco with garlic risotto, so we had to go.  What to choose?  I had the Tuna, and Kevin had the “awesome bucco” so he actually got to have both…with a side of butternut squash and for me also some potatoes au gratin (not shown).  Great meal.  Great company.  Wonderful staff.


Ahi Tuna and Pork Osso Bucco


Is that wine for me to drink or go swimming in?

Can you say “generous pour” with the wine?

In other news, we finally got the old Kenmore machine running.  It had two belts, and the upper belt was toast… totally disintegrated.  Not sure why it had lugs because the machine doesn’t need them.  The size stated on the belt also was odd;  1418 (14 1/8 inch) where the actual belt was 13 1/4 inches long.  After two tries with ordering belts on line (the second belt didn’t fit either – too wide) I went over to Amy’s Fabric Treasures here in Somerset.  She had a box full of belts, and I bought two different kinds – and Kevin was then able to get things working and I returned the V-belt that was just slipping a bit too much.  I’d been meaning to get over there to check out the store, nice place, a bit crowded but boy, they have got LOTS of stuff if you like to sew.  This is now my go-to store.  I’d much prefer to buy anything here than over at a chain store like Joanne Fabrics (who by the way didn’t sell any belts).  And the Fabric Place in Framingham is just too far away.


I think this belt is shot!

I’ve been putting the machine thru its paces, and using it to make some pillows for the living room sofa.  So far it is working well.  Doesn’t seem to like too many layers of fabric, and I’m not sure how it will handle leather or sunbrella.  Time will tell.

Thumbs UP!

It is so easy to complain.  Let’s face it, we all do it.  Everyone is quick to post a review on line when stuff goes wrong.  For some reason it makes you feel better about whatever perceived injustice you just experienced.  People in general seem to be less inclined to post reviews when they are satisfied, or frankly, surprised by over the top service.  We try really hard to be equal opportunity posters- whether on this blog,,, or other on-line communities.

We are subscribed (and members) of Active Captain– a boating website and service that uses subscriber-supplied content in addition to many tools for navigating, boat maintenance, etc. (they are also the keeper’s of their dogs’ blog Taking Paws).  One of my jobs (Beth) as CIO (chief information officer) is to finally get our e-boat card set up and learn how to use the site and tools.

A few years ago, Active Captain offered a special price for Eartec Simultalk voice activated headsets at Defender.  We needed a new set after our old Motorola Talkabouts died on us.  It really makes it easier to pick up a mooring or do other things (including work in the house) with headsets.  No yelling and clear communication.  As you know we did not do a lot of boating the last few years, so the headsets didn’t get much use.  When they did, we had a lot of trouble with them, trying to get them both working.  I really got sick of saying “Can you hear me now?”.

Last week we were going to use them at home, and they just wouldn’t work.  Not only did it seem like the batteries were dead, one of us could hear just fine but the other one (talking) couldn’t hear anything!  Kevin found the instructions (printed in 2003?) and found out the company was nearby, in Narragansett RI.  He sent an email and they said if we brought them down, they could repair them.  Great!  A trip down there meant more Baa Baa burgers at Crazy Burger.  Yum!

When we arrived, an extremely helpful person came out to talk to us and diagnose the problem.  He looked at the headsets and said “Do you know how to wear these?”  put them and DOH!  All of our complaining about them not being ergonomic or logical went out the window – we  DIDN’T know how to wear them!  After feeling stupid, we started to feel better when he confirmed that there was a problem with the switch on one of the receivers…  plus the batteries needed replacing.

These were way out of warranty, and we expected to pay for new batteries and any repairs.  Instead, he gave us a new receiver, said he would put a new switch in the old one and I guess put it back in inventory, and charged us for the batteries only.  As an added bonus, he gave us new instructions… Wow.  We were not expecting this at all – what fantastic customer service!

Eartec has a great product, is a (small) local company, and they are really nice people to deal with.  If you are looking for some kind of wireless headsets – they seem to have them all.  Please help support them – they definitely will support you!

One more quick Thumbs UP goes to Sewing Parts  We needed new belts for Kevin’s mom’s (now my) old Kenmore sewing machine.  I ordered the two belts from them using the part numbers provided by sears (and confirmed on their web site).  One of the belts was just too large and flopped around.  No way was it going to work right.  After more digging on the internet it looked like this belt was described both as a 13 7/8 AND 13 1/4 inches.  How can the same belt part number (for a specific model number) have two sizes?  Who Knows?

Anyway it was obvious I needed the 13 1/4 instead of the 13 7/8 belt.  I called customer service and they were extremely pleasant.  We found a different  belt that looked like it was the right one, and they shipped it immediately.  She told me it wasn’t worth sending the other one back, AND she refunded the difference in price to my credit card (the new belt was almost $4 cheaper than the original).  Wow – didn’t expect a refund – in my opinion that was not necessary, but again, now they have a happy customer and I will order from them before going anywhere else.

It’s great when you can say NICE things about two companies in one day!

Disaster Averted – we hope

Today’s entry is about sewing…

On Sunday, after lunch Kevin went down to do some work on Autumn Dream, before it got windy, snowy and cold (yesterday we woke up to about 8F).  I got busy making pumpkin scones.  He surprised me by being back home  before they were even out of the oven… and was not happy.

Seems that one of the seams on Autumn Dream’s cover was open and getting worse by the minute.  Her cover is a heavy canvas material – and is at least 10 years old – it was purchased by the previous owners.  We already had to replace the isinglass (clear plastic) that allowed the sunlight to reach the solar panels with the cover on, and this summer I repaired another area where the seams had started to separate.

The problem is the thread – after all this exposure to weather and sun, it is disintegrating – and anywhere the cover rubs against the frame is at risk.  Here’s a link to last winter’s blog with a photo of the cover

So… the thread gave up the ghost on the starboard side, about 2 feet forward of the zipper, where the cover was rubbing against one of the upright portions of the frame.  We waited for the scones to finish baking, then grabbed the Speedy Stitcher and went back to attempt a repair.


Speedy Stitcher to the Rescue

With Kevin working the “bobbin” thread on the outside, and me “sewing” with the awl on the inside, we sewed the seam back together with 2 rows of stitching in about 15-20 minutes.  Of course then we saw where the cover is starting to pull apart at the zipper – but that is the canvas itself so we couldn’t fix it the same way – we just hope it holds for the winter.  Maybe it is time to give up and get a new cover.

When we got home, it was time for a Victory Coffee with fresh pumpkin scones!

My other sewing news, for those who are mildly interested, is my “new” sewing machine.  This belonged to my mother-in-law, who unfortunately is not able to use it any longer.  I need to do some research with Dr. Google and YouTube to learn how to do a full D&C – cleaning and servicing- and then I think this Kenmore Ultra-Stitch will work better with heavy canvas than my old New Home (which is probably 20 years younger than the Kenmore).  Note the owner’s manual – brings back some memories!

Lastly, something that has NOTHING to do with sewing…  Back when Kevin and I both were working in Marlborough Shipley/Rohm& Haas, there was a time when we realized we had become the “old grizzled engineers” and were surrounded by much younger engineers.  We really enjoyed the company of some of these people, and thought they had great potential.  We wished them luck and hoped they did ‘better’ than being stuck in EM.

Most of these folks have now moved on to other companies or completely turned their lives around.  Nate has joined the Air force (or is it the Navy?) and graduated from EOD training.  Crystal is in Hawaii working on her Master in Marine Science.  Alex decided to take time off and travel!  Wow – here is a link to the blog that he and his girlfriend are using to document their adventure:

As I write this, Kevin and his friend Dave are braving the cold to re-install the transmission – Hopefully it will go back IN almost as easily as it went OUT… Kevin will be providing an update on that project.


Making a Dingy Cover

In a previous entry I (Beth) mentioned that one of my winter projects was to make a dingy cover out of sunbrella. Kevin is tired of pumping gallons of water out of the dingy after our typical summer rainstorms.

Here are the project details, with photos following.

I used sunbrella that I bought from Marine Consignment of Fall River – it was all cut pieces left over from a canvas maker’s shop – but I figured I would have to piece it together anyway. Using the excellent book “the Complete Canvas Workers Guide” I was able to get through this step by step.

Materials: Sunbrella, Coat’s and Clark “Outdoor”polyester thread, brass grommets, Sta-Set braid (3/16”), and a fiberglass shock-corded tent pole for the center support.  I followed the guidelines and used double-felled seams to minimize water penetration.  The fiberglass tent pole was cut to the correct length, and is held in place in 3 locations with tunnels inside the cover.

All sewing was done on my24 year old New Home machine.  I used 90/10 and 100/12 “Jeans” needles for the sewing machine, and had to tweak the foot pressure and the upper thread tension to almost the max.  For those of you who may care, I also used a walking foot for this project.

I bent quite a few pins…  but didn’t break any needles.  The machine was a bit grumpy at times sewing through 4+ layers of fabric, and at times it decided to jam, but in the end I prevailed and we now have a Dingy Cover.  It is bright yellow!


The materials.


Laying out the pieces


3 main sections sewn with double felled seams


The center section added


The center section showing the fiberglass rod in place


Fitting the corners and darts


Fitting the bow section


Finished cover, side view


Finished cover, aft view


Finished cover, bow view


Happy Holidays!


This is how they do things on the South Coast.  Buy a Christmas tree, get 5 pounds of potatoes for free!  No Kidding.

We wish you all a wonderful holiday season and look forward to a fantastic 2016.

New posts with the latest on the cutlass bearing and other exciting items will be here soon.  I promise….

Cinnamon Banana-nut Muffins

I really like to cook.  This is the time of year when it starts to get to be more enjoyable, because the weather just makes you want to get WARM.

We had two nights of hard freeze – about 25F here.  Before that, the hydrangeas were still looking good.  All it took was that freeze to make all the leaves turn brown and droop.  Same thing for the Rose Mallow plants.  We were astonished that they were still blooming and making new buds last week.  Well… now there are green stems topped with brown, dead leaves.  It was certainly good while it lasted.

We have some “mums from hell”.  These have been coming back every year in front of/below the boxwoods.  This year the plant was like Audrey – just kept getting bigger and bigger and now it is just an explosion of yellow flowers.  A nice surprise.

Attack of the Mums

Attack of the Mums

Mums Taking Over

Mums Taking Over

So, back to baking.  We had 3 bananas that had gone past their happy place into that brown, over-ripe condition.  What to do?  We decided that some banana-nut muffins were in order.  I actually have never baked anything with banana before.  Kevin was surprised that at no time in my life had I made banana bread, but it is true.  Zucchini bread yes- partially as a method to get my young son to eat vegetables, but no banana bread.

Dr. Google found this recipe for me for Cinnamon Banana-nut muffins.  Used extra cinnamon and pecans for the nuts – YUM they are tasty!

Banana Nut Muffin

Banana Nut Muffin