Category Archives: Projects at Home

Hawaiian Quilt


Hawaiian Quilt Pillow

Quite a few years ago, Kevin’s mother gave me a kit for a Hawaiian quilt pillow that she had picked up in Hawaii.  It had to be at least 10-15 years old at the time.  It was my “boat project” that I worked on when we were hanging on the hook or sitting at the mooring.  Because I was only working on it a few days a year, it was taking too long to finish.  I decided I needed to ‘get it done’ so I could move on to other projects.

I like Hawaiian Quilting.  It is definitely different than the crewel, cross-stitch, and needlepoint I have done in the past.  Some day maybe I will design and make another one.

I finally finished it about a week ago.  Now I need to figure out what to do with it.  Maybe it will go on Autumn Dream, though I already have an assignment to make a leather bolster pillow for her, and I don’t want to have “too many” pillows crowding the main salon.

Last week I picked up a knitting magazine, and that inspired me to dig out some patterns and my crochet hooks.  I bought some yarn the other day, and I am working on a cap-sleeve sweater.  I’ll share when it is finished.


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and a long post!


It is now 2017.  So time for an M/V Autumn Dream Update.  As Beth mentioned previously, we are staying in Somerset and have repurchased M/V Autumn Dream.  This did not break my heart having to buy back such a great boat.  You may remember from a previous blog that when we sold the boat to Dr. Andy he had an extensive survey (physical) performed on the boat to make sure she was as healthy as I was telling him she was.  You may also remember that the surveyor gave this 43+ year old boat a clean bill of health.  So buying her back was a no brainer.  We loved this boat but it was not the right boat for our place in FLA.  Getting her back we are now doing a few upgrades that we were planning to do before we sold her.  Some of the upgrades include the new Pilothouse headliner which Beth has already blogged about.  Before physically re-installing the headliner panels in the overhead we had decided that we wanted to insulate the overhead (pilothouse ceiling) area that the headliner covers up.  Want to insulate to make the Pilothouse a bit cooler and maybe a little bit quieter as the insulation will absorb reflected sound.  The insulation part is a quick and relatively easy job.  However being a boat ……..   So the quick and easy job gets a bit longer.

OK so not as a result of the headliner job but this is a good time to do it since the headliner is removed.  I’ve always wanted a second multi-function display (MFD) in the pilot house for redundancy, and also so I could run the radar on one MFD and the GPS on the other MFD when navigating in crap weather.  Currently we do a split screen on the MFD with both the radar scan and the GPS chart displayed.  Not a big deal in good weather when you can look outside and see what is around you in addition to looking at the MFD screen.  i.e. other boats, rocks, islands, big ships.

Our existing electronics (radar, GPS, VHF Radio etc.) are from the stone age (pre-digital).   Also with consideration that I had recently replaced the radar array the boat came with, (a pre-stone age vacuum tube display) a more current stone age array to match up with our existing stone age MFD.   I figured that due to all the new digital navigation equipment now being sold, I should be able to purchase a second stone age MFD for short money.  So it was now time to go out to the world to look for a second Raymarine C-series  MFD.  Well there’s tons of Raymarine C-series MFD for sale as everyone is upgrading.  However because there are many others like me (read cheep bastard) who wish to save a few $$$$ the second hand market is showing strong prices for MFD that are in less than optimal condition.   Well after a protracted search, I managed to find a Raymarine C-80 MFD in Salem MA.  For a fair price and in reasonably good condition.  Only issue no power cable.  So to the internet to look for a cable.  New replacement cables from Raymarine are about $50.00.  Found a used cable for about $19.00 including shipping!  The internet is a great place some times.

As an unexpected bonus the “new” MFD came with a local area chart card.  These electronic chart cards are about $200.00 for a specific region.  So since this was an unexpected bonus (I was only going to run the radar through this MFD and not the GPS).  However since I have the card I can now also use this as a back-up GPS to the other GPS.   However to utilize the GPS chart card you need a GPS antenna.  That means you have to feed the MFD GPS data and the data comes from the add-on items like GPS antenna.  In the event of a failure I could use my existing GPS antenna and move the cable from one unit to the other, but no wait!  That’s not all hmm…..   I could get a used GPS antenna!  Redundancy Redundancy!

With this requirement to use the new toy to the fullest…  Well now off to look for a used Raymarine GPS antenna.  A new Raymarine GPS antenna that will work with this MFD will set you back about $400.00.  So M/V Autumn Dream being a boat you can see that BOAT actually is an acronym for = Break Out Another Thousand.  Back to the internet revealed many used GPS antennas that “may” work starting cost at about $75.00 up to $300.00 used.  You may also remember that we love Marine Consignment in Fall River.  Before going on internet for any of these used items Beth and I spent several hours picking through the racks of equipment and stuff and talked to Bill!  Well unfortunately no MFD or cable, but wait he did have a Raymarine GPS antenna but he did not know the status of the battery in the antenna.  So for the very reasonable cost of $25.00 USD we had a GPS antenna.  I did have to take it apart and check the battery and I found it was dead.  This particular unit does not have a replaceable battery but once again through the wonders of the internet I learned how to replace the battery and test the unit.  Long story short, all is well and I now have a $30.00 functioning second Raymarine GPS antenna. (antenna + battery, and of course a $15.00 mount for the antenna, because this new mount looks cooler than just surface mounting the GPS to the roof of the Pilothouse)

OK where was I going with this?  Oh Yea!  So as a result to do the electronics updates and insulate the Pilothouse overhead and replace the headliner I need to move the radar cable and run a new cable for the GPS antenna.  Oh also in the process of doing the cable and insulation work I decided to replace the VHF radio remote speaker which also goes in the overhead!  So as of January 1, 2017.  The new MDF and GPS antenna is purchased and tested to be good.  All the cabling is completed except installing the GPS antenna and running the wire to the MFD location.  The GPS antenna requires some fiberglass work on the Pilot House roof so that will wait till spring.

Current project status:  All insulation is installed.  New VHF remote speaker is installed and wired back to the location of the VHF radio.  To accommodate the new MFD I had to run a new electrical circuit and re-work the helm console.  All this is done and when spring arrives a few hours of work will see two MDF’s, a new headliner, new GPS antenna and VHF speaker in the pilothouse!    Some photos of the work.



Pilothouse with old headliner


Old radar and MFD installed in console.  Old radar removed a few years ago and location of MFD was moved to where the old radar was in this picture.


Pilothouse overhead with headliner removed


Starting to remove cabling and the old remote VHF speaker


Who ordered a boat taco?   M/V Autumn Dream all bundled up for a cold New England winter!


Insulation installed and cabling well underway.


Who ordered the spaghetti?  Actually this is a reasonable well organized control console, I am running the new power cable for the new MFD which will eventually fill the open hole on the left in this picture.  


Blurry phone photo of completed (mostly) insulation and cabling reinstalled for radar etc. 

Finally owning a boat is no fun without a way to get to the boat on when you keep it on a mooring.  To get to the boat on a mooring you either swim or take another boat to your boat.  In our case we have a small boat called dinghy.  In our case it is an old Dyer that I have been in the process of continual maintenance.  The dinghy is really a work horse and she takes a ton of abuse as your big boats tender.   We use her to move – us, food, water, fuel, luggage, wine etc.  So she occasionally needs love.  As you can see in the following photos she is back in my shop getting some much needed love.  She will get some minor fiberglass work and paint this winter.  Also Dr. Andy bought some perimeter gunnel guard to put on the dinghy to help protect the mother ship from scrapes.  This too will be applied once the painting is completed.  Some photos of the work in progress for your amusement!


Sanding paint to raw fiberglass to prep for some new fiberglass


Close-up of sanded area almost ready for a filet prior to fiberglass tape.  Filet is to reduce the curvature that the fiberglass has to make.  Fiberglass does not like to make a 90 degree turn.  Likes a radius better!


Filet done and curing.  Next step will be a strip of fiberglass or 3 or 5 to complete this step.  Then sand, sand, sand.  Then finally paint!   More to come!


Peace, Joy and Happiness be yours in 2017 wherever your world takes you.

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


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.

Cruising, Tomatoes, and the next project….

All good plans are wiped out by Mother Nature.

This weekend the marine forecast looked good.  We planned to leave Friday, anchor in the Kickemuit River, and spend Friday and Saturday nights there,  chill out, kayak, read, nap…  you know, boating.  I provisioned on Friday morning at Au Claire’s Market, made hamburger patties, packed everything up, and we headed downriver on the end of the outgoing tide – But boy was it shallow in a few spots!

Friday night was lovely – cool but not cold, bugs weren’t biting, and the sunset was spectacular and went on for hours.

Where we WOULD HAVE Kayaked...

Where we WOULD HAVE Kayaked…

Woke up Saturday morning, made breakfast (chocolate chip biscuits), listened to the revised forecast, and that was the end of the weekend.  Remnants of Tropical Storm Bill headed our way, with rain expected to start Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon, ending around 2pm, with potential thunderstorms.  Not quite the idyllic weekend we had planned.  Not a big deal with windshield wipers, radar, and GPS to get home, but the row back to the dock in the pouring rain was not too appealing.

So, after breakfast we cleaned up, stowed everything away, and headed back to Dighton.  Stuffing box is still leaking more than we would like, but not abnormal for many boats.  Of course we had two NEW issues: 1. the oven would not get hot enough – thanks to Dr. Google I think I found the problem and will check next cruise (the steel ‘floor’ above the burner needs to be pushed against the back wall of the oven).  2. The fuel gauge suddenly went from almost full to negative.  Kevin is conferring with Dr. Google on this one and has quite a few things to check.

Kevin and I are working on our next furniture project – a ‘rustic, industrial’ component rack for the stereo, dvd player, etc.  This will replace a very large console that is taking up too much floor space.  The TV will get mounted on the wall.  Here are some of the parts getting their primer coat before assembly.



Shelves, sides

Shelves, sides

And finally, yes I have tomatoes on the vine.  They may be small, but it is a promising sight.  Homegrown Salsa, here we come!

some tomatoes

some tomatoes

one tomato...

one tomato…

Salsa Garden

Believe it or not, I have never attempted to grow vegetables of any kind until now.  We were always either traveling on business or running around too much to be able to care for plants that could not fully care for themselves.

Our back yard faces south, so we have plenty of sun.  This year, there were no business trips planned, so we decided to try a little experiment.  If it works, we may put in a raised bed next year for more veggies.

The biggest issue is the woodchucks that live under the shed- would they try and eat the plants?  So we are using a big tin tub and planted two heirloom tomato plants and one Serrano chili plant.  On the deck is a pot with cilantro, and another with basil.  The tomatoes are flowering, and so is the Chili.

If all goes well, we should have plenty of Salsa when we harvest the tomatoes!



Tomatoes and Serrano Chilis

Tomatoes and Serrano Chilis

Finishing touches/making your own furniture and fittings

Kevin and I both firmly believe in building things that we want or need if we can’t find something that works – or the quality isn’t there.  We also really like the concept of recycling/upcycling.

We previously posted about the wine cabinet he salvaged from our old kitchen, and the book case he built (and I painted).  The finishing touch, that we were waiting to ‘get around to’ was some granite countertops.  We worked with Garcia Tile in Taunton for our Kitchen remodel (tile and granite) and Manny is friendly and has fair pricing.  These were fairly small counters, and he sent us to the yard to pick out a remnant.  The cost was for the labor – templating, cutting, polishing, and delivery/installation.  There were cut-outs needed on each for the door frame and the wire mold for the speakers…

We found a piece of granite that looked similar to soapstone.

Lastly…. we live in a Cape with a central stairway across from the front door.  In the cold of winter, when we keep the upstairs cooler than the first floor, you can feel the wind (no, not just a draft) as the warm air rushes up the stairs.  Not very efficient way to heat a house.  Our solution was to add a heavy drapery across the bottom of the stairway, and we wanted a curtain rod that could be installed close to the ceiling.  Couldn’t find anything we liked, and the ones we did find still were 2″ from the ceiling and ridiculously expensive – and made in China.

The solution- make it ourselves!  Kevin fashioned a curtain rod from copper tubing, end caps, and copper pipe hangers.  I made lined drapes with upholstery fabric (tapestry fabric) left over from other projects.  Add some clip-on curtain hooks, and Tah-Dah, floor to ceiling insulated drapes that can be moved out of the way easily when not needed, to keep the heat where it belongs.  It made a huge difference after we finished the project, especially this winter with the sub-zero temperatures.

Copper Pipe curtain Rod

Copper Pipe curtain Rod

Granite close-up

Granite close-up

Here is the finished book case and the Wine rack

IMG_6535   IMG_6539

Fortune Cookie… and other things

Fortune Cookie

Fortune Cookie

Last week this was my fortune.  “Here we go.  Low fat, whole wheat green tea.”  Do you think the person who writes these may have been having a bad day?

On to more relevant things.  Here is the finished installation of the new LED stern light.

Stern Light

Stern Light

Kevin painted the port side bilge in the lazerette.  The paint fumes in that enclosed space made him a bit high.  I can’t believe he was able to drive home!  Note that he also re-routed some wiring for the bilge pump and put it in wire loom to reduce any potential chafing.

port side (1)

port side (1)

Port side (2)

Port side (2)

Several days later, after letting the paint harden up, I (Beth) painted the starboard bilge.  This time we brought a fan for ventilation (the cover is still on!) and I tried to untangle myself (folded up like a pretzel in there) and get some air every so often.  those fumes are unbelievable.  When I was washing a few spots off my arm I noticed that I could barely feel it, so I stopped before I injured myself.  The solvent must have an anesthetic effect – I definitely was numb – both in mind and body!

Starboard (1)

Starboard (1)

Starboard (2)

Starboard (2)

Yesterday we picked up our repaired water tank.  Kevin tested the weld overnight and no leaks!  Hurrah! we can start putting the tanks back in.

Repaired Tank

Repaired Tank

Sunday was Mother’s day – so we avoided restaurants!  But it was a beautiful, and very windy day, so we decided to go out for a drive in the afternoon.  We stopped by Gray’s Grist Mill and Gray’s Daily Grind for for some dark roast Free Range Coffee and a chocolate chip cookie, and enjoyed the view at the mill pond.  WE LOVE LIVING HERE!

View from the Mill Pond (2)

View from the Mill Pond (2)

View from the mill pond (1)

View from the mill pond (1)

Gray's Daily Grind

Gray’s Daily Grind

In the garden, we have been busy too.  The Lilacs are doing well this year and are in full bloom.  They smell wonderful.  Dug up a hydrangea and moved it to a more shady spot (it was in full sun, DUH) next to the rose bush and hydrangea we moved last year.  Yes the bed has a funny angle to it and I need to widen it a bit.  Moving that plant was HELL and that is why the last one that needs to be moved is staying right where it is to bake in the sun!  We still need to dig up and move the Umbrella Pine.  The hole is ready, but Kevin is not!

Lilacs, Roses, and hydrangeas

Lilacs, Roses, and hydrangeas

Planted some day-lilies along the new wall along the driveway – and transplanted daffodils.  Split a monster Rose Mallow into 4 plants and transplanted away from the house in the new garden.  We’ll see how well the transplants do.  Have to water every day because there has been almost no rain!

If you can’t find what you want, just build it yourself



Painting is mostly finished! Wednesday afternoon Kevin finished the ceiling and I painted the two remaining walls. Thursday I primed the base molding, and Friday afternoon I painted the molding, and two door frames. Kevin installed the replacement cap molding.
And of course, after we finished – Victory Coffee!

Only the windows in the room remain, but I need a break from painting! In the mean time, furniture has been arranged, rugs put back down, and the artwork is hung. Our living room is finally liveable again!
Next painting jobs: the 3 windows, then the entry way is next. In there I have only one wall remaining to paint, plus the door molding and one section of floor molding, and of course, the ceiling – but it is all small stuff. Then painting will move upstairs again, but maybe after we retire.

When we bought this house, there was no box in the ceiling in the dining area for a light over the table. During our major remodel the first year, the electrician added a box and light switch for us. After looking all over, we ended up with an Ikea light that we liked.
This year we decided we should add a ceiling fan/light over the dining table so we can have the doors open on those sultry days, and enjoy the view but have a breeze. After much searching on the internet, we couldn’t find anything we liked – even in fans that were up over $500.00.
Finally, we had brainstorm- buy a GOOD Hunter fan with a light kit – cannibalize the parts we need, and install our Ikea light as the light. Kevin already had a Fan/light remote unit (from our Ashland house) so we didn’t need to buy one with a remote.
After Kevin finished painting the ceiling, he did what was needed to wire and assemble the custom light kit onto the fan.
Ta-Dah! We have exactly what we want, and didn’t spend “too much” money for something that didnt’ quite meet our needs. Now he is busy in the workshop building a custom box for the control.