Thursday, April 30, 2020

Oriental, NC

Cathy and I made our trip to Walmart to pick up our "contactless" groceries.  Great experience.

We drove into the assigned parking spaces.

And immediately this nice employee rolls out a cart with Cathy's order.  We didn't have to call them or anything.  They knew we were there, I think, from our app on our phones.  Just a little creepy but in a good way.   I would have liked to see him in a mask....but Cathy and I had our masks on.

 He gently loaded all the groceries on Cathy's order and left to retrieve my order.  Over $500 in groceries were packed in the van!   We tried to give him a cash tip but he waved us away saying he was not allowed to accept them.  Bad move Walmart!

 And back at the boat it was a couple of trips each with the wheel barrow - we're stocked again for a good while - plus we got the adventure of leaving the premises again!  (small things seem significant now, don't they?)

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Oriental, NC

Now that we've got most of the supplies for the electrical work Duane and Ed got busy.

There was a new piling to install.  

They hefted it in place and used a "water jet" to set the piling about 4' into the ground.  It's not a structural piling so doesn't need to be buried 10 or 15 feet. 

 This piling will be bolted to the dock and won't be used for tying boats.

And they spent most of the day running conduit and installing a nice new power panel.

I did get some mowing done.  Cathy and I finalized our Walmart grocery orders - we'll pick up a substantial haul tomorrow at our "contactless designated pickup time".

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Oriental, NC

We've been having pretty wild swings in weather, typical springtime. 

One day warm then one day chilly -  "smoke on the water" just after sunrise.

We ventured out for our first quasi-retail experience.  Duane needed some conduit for the electrical project and since they come in 10' lengths were not eligible for free shipping.  So we did the Lowe's contactless pickup order route.

Everything was not in stock in the New Bern store (1/2 hour away) so we decided a trip to the Morehead City store (1+ hour away) wasn't that bad.  We decided to relax and take the ferry route - it's about the same amount of travel time taking the ferry or driving around but the ferry is more fun.  They have reduced the number of runs the ferry makes from every 1/2 hour to once every 2 hours due to the decreased demand.....

 There were only a few cars making the trip with us.

The seagulls often chase the ferry - looking for handouts of bread.  They noisily swooped by my window.

 Cathy and Ed made pizza for dinner!  Yum!  Better than Domino's.

They made one just veggies for me  - sweet red peppers and some artichokes thrown in.  Delicious.

And I was out of bread, so I had left a loaf to rise while we had dinner.  Hopped off their boat and popped this in the oven.

It baked while we played cards - I had an alarm to remind me to take it out of the oven.  Perfect!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Oriental, NC

What a beautiful spring day!! 

The lot is finally mowed and looks so much more neat.

Not much going on - I spent some time here reading my Kindle.  Will probably venture out tomorrow to do a "contactless pickup" order at Lowe's.  Exciting stuff!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Installing Sailrite Monster Wheel on a Rex 607Z machine

This post is for my sewing skip if you're not interested!

I have a Rex 607Z sewing machine - which works great for most things including tough canvas.  It's got a quasi-walking foot and really does a better job on heavy fabric than my heavy duty Singer.    At $350, it's quite a bit less expensive than Sailrite's base machine, like less than half!  (The machines appear to be made from the same basic structure and parts, the Sailrite having a bit more "polish").

But, I do have a couple of beefs with the machine.  The most important complaint is that the clutch slips often when sewing multiple layers of marine Sunbrella.  It goes thru 4 layers easily.  6 layers often is a problem.   This is because the machine comes with a tiny fly wheel.

The other problem is that the machine is just too fast!!  No matter how slowly I depress the foot pedal, the machine screams to life.

There is a solution to both these problems!

It's a Sailrite Monster II Wheel.

I won't bore you with actual installation photos - you can always watch Sailrite's videos.  The videos are very good and installation goes exactly as they picture it.

Basic Monster Wheel Install Video

I chose to install the set screws for more power.  This means the needle would be engaged while I wind bobbins, so I'll just wind my bobbins on my other machine.

 Monster Wheel Install for Friction Clutch machine

There is one problem that you have to address - the belt cover guard has to be removed to install the Monster Wheel.  This leaves the belts exposed.  It would probably be OK to leave it exposed, but just for safety I thought we should find a way to put it back. 

Actually, for $26 you can buy a new guard from Sailrite.

The one on the left is identical to the one on the Rex with the small fly wheel.  The one on the right is for machines with a larger fly wheel (either the plastic one or the Monster Wheel).  See the difference?

We decided that we could easily modify the one we have at zero cost though.    Duane just used a pair of heavy tin snips and cut it to fit.

 Reinstalled and properly guarded now!

This cost $125 and I definitely recommend it.  I believe my Rex now operates with similar power to the Sailrite brand for $475 vs  over $1000 for a similar setup from Sailrite.   Lots of wine or boat parts to be bought with the difference!

I'm extremely pleased with this.  The machine is much slower, much easier to control.  And hugely more powerful!

Oriental, NC

It was a fun change to be at the house.   Since the refrigerator is unplugged, I didn't really want to bother cooking since we were only going to stay one night.   So we ordered a Domino's no-contact pizza delivery.  What fun - I know, we're amused by small things now, aren't we??   We haven't had a pizza in 6 months so it was a real treat!!!

I spent a couple of hours with the backpack leaf blower making the house looked lived-in again.  The drive was just covered in a thick layer of leaves and pine needles.  But now you can actually see where the driveway and the sidewalk meet.  Looks much tidier.

Same for the other side of the house and concrete pad in front of the garage.  I'm still vibrating from the leaf blower!

Packed up the lawn equipment, fire pit, some tools and ready to drive back to Oriental.

And it's a beautiful day!  View from the boat.  Maybe we'll mow the grass tomorrow.....

Since we were extremely careful not to come anywhere near another person, we don't think we need to isolate from Ed and Cathy.  After sundowners on the dock in a perfect warm breeze, Cathy had a yummy noodle/broccoli/asparagus dish ready - and a round of Spades followed.  A full day!

Friday, April 24, 2020


Guess where we are?  We decided to make use of the dreary forecast and make the drive back to the house finally after being back in the USA 3 weeks.....

It is so pretty and green here!  The extremely nice neighbors have been keeping the lawn mowed....but there are lots of pine needles and leaves left from the fall/winter.  It does make the place look a little "deserted".   So, I will get out the leaf blower and do a little policing this morning.

We are just here for one day and night.  We haven't made any close contact with anyone - although we did stop the car on the driveway and speak to Dick and Lindy from 10 feet away .  The house was in good shape for having been left on it's own for 6 months.   Only one dead mouse found, no dead bugs, and the plants survived!  (Thanks, Pat and Diane for watering them!) The toilets were a bit moldy and the water had evaporated significantly but other than a slight musty smell all was well. 

I missed the daffodils blooming, although Pat did text me a photo back a couple of months ago.  The irises are just starting to bloom now.  So pretty and delicate!  I just love the fragrance!

And my one lonely azalea is blooming too.

We'll pack up all the lawn equipment and a big list of other tools for the Oriental lot in the truck and trailer and head back to the coast.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Oriental, NC

Good morning!!  "Pink sails at morning, sailors take warning!"

Had a hankering for some Caribbean flavor so I made some banana pancakes to start the day.  Love that caramelized goodness when the banana releases some of it's sugar.

The guys are working on the electrical feed to the dock.  (Duane's laying on the floating dock).  They'll eventually run conduit and dig a trench to bury the cable back to the power panel.  

I don't think I really explained why we're doing the electrical work.  So, the dock has a power feed that was here when we bought the property.  But it's not a proper installation and doesn't carry enough power to run everything we want to run.  For example, we can't run both air conditioners and the water heater at the same time.   Really more of an annoyance - we can always switch something off and that's how we've handled it for the last few years.   But this seemed like a good time to tackle the project and make it right!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Oriental, NC

So we are, at some point, going to need to leave our little cocoon here and be exposed to other people. We really need to get to the house and pick up the lawn equipment for the lot here....the grass is getting pretty deep! Time to join the movement and make us some masks! Cathy had already made theirs a couple of days ago, so I just borrowed her patterns. Here's the instructions if you're interested.

Olson Mask

I just used a old high-thread count pillowcase and some jersey material.

This is not the easiest mask to make for sure - it has a finished pocket inside that allows you to slip a filter in if desired.

Almost assembled.

Here's the finished product.  At Cathy's suggestion, I zig-zaged a coated wire into the seam at the bridge of the nose.  It gives that area structure and lets you conform the mask and seal up that area better.

Seems to work pretty well!!  And is quite comfortable.

And for something different (not chocolate) - I made some lemon squares.   Hadn't done it in years and they were yummy!  Recipe below - easy and you'll likely have everything you need in the cupboard.

Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust


Shortbread Crust

  • 1 cup (230g; 2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups + 2 Tablespoons (265g) all-purpose flour

Lemon Filling

  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons (48g) all-purpose flour
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup (240ml) lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • optional: confectioners’ sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan* with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished bars out (makes cutting easier!). Set aside.
  2. Make the crust: Mix the melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir to completely combine. The dough will be thick. Press firmly into prepared pan, making sure the layer of crust is nice and even. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the edges are very lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside until step 4.
  3. Make the filling: Sift the sugar and flour together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and lemon juice and whisk until completely combined.
  4. Pour filling over warm crust. Bake the bars for 22-26 minutes or until the center is relatively set and no longer jiggles. (Give the pan a light tap with an oven mitt to test.) Remove bars from the oven and cool completely at room temperature. I usually cool them for about 2 hours at room temperature, then stick in the refrigerator for 1-2 more hours until pretty chilled. I recommend serving chilled.
  5. Once cool, lift the parchment paper out of the pan using the overhang on the sides. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares before serving. For neat squares, wipe the knife clean between each cut. Cover and store leftover lemon bars in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  6. Freezing Instructions: Lemon bars can be frozen for up to 3-4 months. Cut the cooled bars (without confectioners’ sugar topping) into squares, then place onto a baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour. Individually wrap each bar in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and place into a large bag or freezer container to freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator, then dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Oriental, NC

Today was so nice!!!   Finally, clear skies and calm seas! 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Oriental, NC

Well, it's rainy, soggy, windy and chilly outside!  Glad we're plugged in to electricity and comfy inside.

Here's where I spent a good bit of the day, just relaxing/surfing on my laptop/reading on my Kindle.  What are you up to?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Oriental, NC

 I made French toast with the last of the coconut bread....sprinkled with cinnamon.

It was my turn to host dinner - I'd planned on spaghetti and wanted fresh bread.  Looked up "bread for spaghetti" online and found a wonderful recipe that I'll use again for 1 hour breadsticks.

Simple dough (recipe below)

Slice into pieces

Top with anything you'd like - I did parmasean cheese and herbs.

The final result was a big hit!  (Sorry, the only photo I took before they were devoured!)

Earlier in the day Ed and Cathy decided it was time to give each other haircuts....

Before heading over to the camper power outlet to plug in their clippers....

The nice breeze we've been having is good for simply blowing all the clippings away.  Makes for easy cleanup! 

Their haircuts turned out like a salon did it!  Good for another month or two.


Yield: 16-20 breadsticks

Divine 1-Hour Breadsticks

Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour



  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 cups flour, about 15-20 ounces (see note)

Butter and Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted (for the baking sheet)
  • Dried herbs, garlic salt and grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or in a large bowl by hand), mix together the water, yeast, sugar, salt and one cup of the flour.
  2. Continue adding the flour until the dough just clears the sides of the bowl; knead for about three minutes. It should be soft and slightly sticky without leaving a lot of residue on your fingers.
  3. Let the dough rest in the bowl for 10 minutes.
  4. While the dough rests, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the melted butter onto large, rimmed baking sheet (about 11X17-inches).
  5. On a lightly greased countertop, pat the dough into a long rectangle, about 16-inches by 7-inches or so. Cut the dough every 1-inch (more or less) into strips with a pizza cutter.
  6. Twist each strip slightly and place about 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with dried herbs of choice, garlic salt and Parmesan cheese.
  7. Let rise for 20 minutes (you can cover with greased plastic wrap, if desired, I usually go without). Bake for 15 minutes until golden.