Monthly Archives: April 2015

Franklin, MA

In our East Coast road trip, we visited the picturesque hamlet of Franklin, MA. That is to say, we visited my brother, his wife, and the niece and nephew. It was a fun time at their house for a long weekend; it’s is easy to forget how much time gets sucked out of the day by little kids and how much fun it is to play with them.

We also visited Providence College where my brother works. Sorry, no pictures; just imagine generic East Coast liberal arts college and you are not too far off. We also took the train into Boston because the kids had never been either on the train or in the city. It was fun wandering around as it always is when you are trying to get your bearings in a new city.

On the train ride home, I taught my niece three card monty and I only cheated a couple of times. I think that makes some good points on my unsuitable uncle card.

I did a sketch of the yard landscape. They have daffodils, birch trees, oak trees, and blueberries amongst other plants.

I did a sketch of the yard landscape. They have daffodils, birch trees, oak trees, and blueberries amongst other plants.

Out. Out. Out. Out.

Out. Out. Out. Out.

We did some watercolors. It is a couple of horses that jasmine drew and then had help coloring. I was hit when I said that I always know she liked painted horses.

We did some watercolors. It is a couple of horses that Jasmine drew and then had help coloring. I was hit when I said that I always knew she liked painted horses. Jasmine says Hadley also drew a horse.

I did a landscape watercolor. Not too horrible for freehand without a sketch.

I did a landscape watercolor. Not too horrible for freehand without a sketch.

And Boston. I just thought a museum on a ship dedicated specifically to the Boston Tea party needed a special picture, because nothing says go America like dressing up as Indians and then looting and tipping over shipping containers.

And Boston. I just thought a museum on a ship dedicated specifically to the Boston Tea Party needed a special picture because nothing says Go America like dressing up as Indians and then looting and tipping over shipping containers.

New York City – Pt 2

On the second day of our trip to New York City, we walked up north from Harlem to the Cloisters. I don’t think that a lot of tourists make it out of downtown Manhattan, but there is really much more to New York City than that. First, we stopped for a bagel at 168th and Broadway, which was delicious. Nowhere does bagels like NYC does bagels – other than perhaps North Jersey which, frankly, is a suburb of NYC. The secret is boiling the dough then baking the bagel.

After that, we walked down to Ft Washington and saw a little red lighthouse that has been sitting at the hook on the Hudson for a hundred years. It is slightly dwarfed by the Washington Bridge overhead.

George Washington Bridge from below. We had to do a bit of urban exploration to get this view.

George Washington Bridge from below. We had to do a bit of urban exploration to get this view.

Afterwards, we made it to the Cloisters, which is a museum dedicated to medieval art and architecture and made up of parts out of buildings brought over from Europe. There was awesome stained glass all over the place, some really cool tapestries, and a bunch of mediocre religious sculptures. The focus was also on gardens with medieval plants that were just about to come in bloom. I think that if you have half a day in NYC you should consider taking the A uptown and enjoying a different part of the city.

The interior courtyard gardens were very pretty in the Cloisters.

The interior courtyard gardens were very pretty in the Cloisters.

And this is the coolest looking pear tree ever.

And this is the coolest looking pear tree ever.

Some sweet illustrated manuscripts, I wish books till came with art.

Some sweet illustrated manuscripts. I wish books still came with art like this.

Very well made stained glass, I'll have to improve mine to approach this quality.

Very well made stained glass; I’ll have to improve mine to approach this quality.

Some pretty painting on glass, one more thing that would be fun to learn, but there is probably not that much time in life.

Some pretty painting on stained glass; one more thing that would be fun to learn, but there is probably not that much time in life.

And the obligatory picture of one of the Unicorn tapestries. They are large but incredibly detailed when you get up close.

And the obligatory picture of one of the Unicorn tapestries. They are large but incredibly detailed when you get up close.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

While visiting Jasmine’s brother in New York City, we took a day and went to the Met. When I say all day, we were at the opening at 10 am and they kicked us out at 5:30 pm. Other than a half hour bagel lunch break, we were hiking around all day looking at art. The Met is huge!! We were tired by the end and we only saw about 70% of the museum.

We liked the 19th century European painters, the Egyptian Wing, and the Greek and Roman wing the best. Also, the Near East wing was awesome and I think I learned more there than I have at any other museum.

The only thing we were disappointed by was the Arms and Armor wing which was really only super decorative armor from the Middle Ages which did not appeal to us.

Below are a selection of the random art we liked the best; obviously, we can’t show all of the things we liked, so we just chose some of the art at random.

I really like the Roman sculptures. Something about their realism is just entrancing.

I really like the Roman sculptures. Something about their realism is just entrancing.

A Egyptian Ivory child's toy in the shape of a dog. It's mouth moves by a handle. At rougly 3500 years old I still want to make a copy (in wood) for my Nephew.

An Egyptian ivory child’s toy in the shape of a dog. Its mouth moves by a handle. At roughly 3500 years old, I still want to make a copy (in wood) for my nephew.

A piece from Monet. I think that Impressionism is my favorite painting style. Jasmine may disagree.

A piece from Monet. I think that Impressionism is my favorite painting style. Jasmine may disagree.

Part of the Istar Gate from Babylon. A really cool glazed brick sculpture, I want this at my house.

Part of the Ishtar Gate from Babylon. A really cool glazed brick sculpture, I want this at my house – or something similar.  Now to figure out how to glaze bricks.

A cylinder scroll. Apparently they used to make cylinders or carved clay or gems and roll them out to create a line of script. A cool Idea that I want to replicate with 3D printing.

A cylinder seal. Apparently they used to make cylinders of carved stones or gems and roll them out to create a line of script. A cool Idea that I want to replicate with 3D printing.

Kings Mountain (N35.18 W81.35)

Jasmine and I were visiting my brother Tyler and his wife Mandy in Charlotte, NC and we got to go on a nice hike to a local state park. Of course, we had to summit the local high point of Kings Mountain in the Crowders Mountain State Park. It was about 1690 ft above sea level, so decent altitude for the Appalachian foothills.

It was a very pleasant hike, relatively short at a 5 mile round trip and no really steep parts. It was also nice to hike a forest where most of the trees were bare; it has been a long time since we hiked through any dormant deciduous forest.

This was the standard trail view.

This was the standard trail view.

A slow moving brook. Another thing you don't really see in California.

A slow moving brook. Another thing you don’t really see in California.

At the top of Kings Mountain there are some left over structures from WWI air mail beacons. Random wilderness archaeology is nifty.

At the top of Kings Mountain, there are some left over structures from WWI air mail beacons. Random wilderness archaeology is nifty.

The View from the top, you can see Crowders Mt. in the foreground.

The view from the top: you can see Crowders Mt. in the foreground.

And the nicest part about going with a third party is we get a picture of us together. Huzzah!

And the nicest part about going with a third party is we get a picture of us together. Huzzah!

Pretty - right?

Ceramic Flower

I do a fair bit of business at Shapeways, a 3D printing company, so I got an invitation to join their trial for 3D printed porcelain. I usually use them for brass filled stainless parts for mechanical prototypes, but after some consideration about what to make, I settled on a flower shaped small vase.

Using Solidworks, I modeled up a simple flower – pretty much a circular array of a leaf shape at 3 varied angles around a central axis. You can see the Solidworks model below:

I don't think I have ever seen a flower with quite the same shape before:)

I don’t think I have ever seen a flower with quite the same shading before.:)

Then, after a couple of weeks, the vase arrived – and it was much prettier than I thought it would be. Also, the vase part was much smaller than I thought it would be: the total diameter of the part is 2.5″. But it is awesome for wildflowers and it would work well for small candles. Back to the drawing board and I hope that ceramics get taken out of the beta and into the open shortly.

Pretty - right?

Pretty – right?

And the bottom is not glazed for obvious reasons, but the glaze covers the rest of the vase quite well.

And the bottom is not glazed for obvious reasons, but the glaze covers the rest of the vase quite well.

Pacheco State Park (N37.06 W121.21)

On the drive between LA and San Francisco, there are a number of parks so we decided to take a break during one of our trips and go for a hike at Pacheco State Park. It is right off of a highway, but rather pretty in the standard dryish CA hill kind of way. Our hike was fairly short, only around 5 miles, but Jasmine and I got to have a nice picnic in the woods for lunch while on a drive, so I will count it as a success.

A standard trail for the park, a pretty wide path through rolling green hills.

A standard trail for the park: a pretty wide path through rolling green hills.

It;s poppy season! We love poppies. So colorful in a green and brown landscape.

It’s poppy season! We love poppies – so colorful in a green and brown landscape.

A good deal of the park was closed off due to windmills. From the looks of it they are old windmills, probably 80's vintage.

A good deal of the park was closed off due to windmills. From the looks of it, they are old windmills, probably 80’s vintage.

There is one large body of water in the park, the San Luis Reservoir. No trails by the lake, which is sad, but you get good view of the lake from the hills.

There is one large body of water in the park: the San Luis Reservoir. No trails by the lake, which is sad, but you get a good view of the lake from the hills.

Carrot Cake

Carrot cake post at last! Easter is upon us, so it’s time to make some carrot cake. The recipe is as follows:

Cake:

  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 cups grated raw carrots (1 pound)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Frosting:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 10 inch bundt pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, sugar, oil, carrots, and eggs. Mix thoroughly. Add in the nuts and fold into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from bundt pan. Loosen with knife and remove cake.

The cake once it has been removed from the bundt pan.

The cake once it has been removed from the bundt pan.

To prepare the frosting, it’s a lot easier if you use a stand mixer. Otherwise, you have to soften the butter and cream cheese a lot more. Place all of the frosting ingredients into the stand mixer and blend on the slowest speed. Some of the powdered sugar will be left at the bottom. When blended, stir in the remaining powdered sugar by hand. Frost the cake and enjoy!

The frosting after blended. The stand mixer just can't quite reach the bottom of the bowl!

The frosting after blended. The stand mixer just can’t quite reach the bottom of the bowl!

The frosting after mixing the last bit by hand. Now it's ready to frost the cake.

The frosting after mixing the last bit by hand. Now it’s ready to frost the cake.

The cake is now ready to eat!

The cake is now ready to eat!