Effie Yeaw Nature Center

Edward and I went on a photo trip at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center.  Edward found it online.  To get there, you drive though a residential neighborhood near Sacramento, CA.  The narrow street suddenly opens up to a large open nature area.  It’s a short drive through the middle of a golf course to the nature center.  Parking is $5.  The building is only open on the weekends, but the nature area is always open.  We took some of the trails from the nature center down to the river.

We spent spent a couple of hours on the trails, mostly chasing butterflies.  It was windy and the butterflies were moving too fast to get any clear shots of them.  The wind didn’t get in the way of taking pictures of the sculptures near the center, though.  I used Bot, my 3D printed figurine, as a photography model for a few shots.  Then, a squirrel came to eat some grass near us.  I got a shot of a squirrel.  It was a relaxing trip.




Salmon Falls Bridge

My husband and I went on a photo trip to Salmon Falls Bridge.  The wildflowers are in bloom.

Deanna at Salmon Falls

My first goal was to model shirt ring that I designed and printed.  My husband took this picture of me along the trail.  I had been trying to think of things to print with my new 3D printer.  I keep ending up with dresses that are too long, so I decided to print a shirt ring to help hold them up.  I use to use shirt rings in the 80’s to stylishly make my oversize shirts look more like they fit.  I used this image in my last blog post, My Introduction to 3D Printing, to help illustrate my 3D printing work flow.

I printed a cute little toy robot and named it Bot.  I thought that it would make a good subject for some photos, so I brought it with us on our hike.  Bot’s color is similar to our California soil, so it blended a little too well. Bot still made an adorable little model.

I got a new 12-50mm Olympus lens that can do macro and zoom shots.  I tend to take a lot of macros of bugs on these photo trips, especially in the spring.  Finding and getting clear shots of insects is challenging because they are so small and fast.  I brought the lens on our trip to Daffodil Hill, but there weren’t many bugs out that day.  There were more bugs out on the trail this time.  I like this lens because I don’t have to switch lenses as often.

Salmon Falls was lovely. The sun was bright and flowers were out. It was another beautiful spring day in California.

My Introduction to 3D Printing


I got JGAurora 3D printer a few months ago.  I learned a lot about 3D printers by assembling it myself.  It was like assembling a computer.  It comes with videos, a user manual, and Cura on an SD card.

I’ve already made a few upgrades.  I got a PRINTinZ plate for my bed.  I had to design and print a little stint to lift my Z-axis switch up by 4mm to get the plate to fit.  The plate is very smooth, so the prints come out significantly smoother when I was using blue tape.  The filament sticks to the plate better and pops of the plate easily.  I also made a spool holder.  The spool of filament rolls very smoothly on barrings.  I might add a few more upgrades later.

I’m starting to develop a work flow.  First, I use a program called 123D Design to design my 3D objects.  After saving the objects as STL files, I use Cura to generate the G-code files.  I save the G-code on and SD card.  The SD card is inserted into my printer.  After that, it’s just a matter of picking the file to print from the SD card.

Bot on a Scanner

You don’t have to be a 3D designer to get into 3D printing.  There are sites where you can shop for the files or even download them for free.  Thingiverse, for example, has a 3D printing community where people share designs.  So far, I’ve printed The $30 3D scanner V3 by daveyclk and Jointed Robot by Shira from Thingiverse.  The scanner is a turntable with a spot to hold your phone.  It’s used in conjunction with 3D imaging apps to stitch multiple pictures of an object together to create a 3D image.  I haven’t tried it yet, but the scanner has a lot of good reviews.  I made the robot to get a better idea of how I might make joints in future projects.  It’s good to see how other people put their designs together.  I haven’t posted much on it, but if you’re interested, you can follow me on thingiverse here.

It’s so fun having a 3D printer.  I have been into arts and crafts all of my life.  There is only so much detail you can get with ceramics.  I like the precision of 3D printing.  I love how easily a piece can be replicated; the detailed memory of a piece stored on a tiny little SD card.  3D printing is awesome!

Daffodil Hill

Edward and I went on a photo trip to Daffodil Hill.

Daffodil Hill is only open a few weeks a year, weather permitting. Visit their website and call ahead to make sure the gates will be open.  Arrive there early for good parking.  Entry is free. Donations are welcome. They sell flowers at the gift shop. There’s a picnic area near the entrance. We ate at the snack bar across the street where they were barbecuing hot-dogs and hamburger.

Daffodil Hill is charmingly rustic.  While you’re there, you’ll defiantly know you’re way out in the country.  You might loose track of the time by a hundred years or so, though.

There are a wide variety of daffodils.  They are mostly yellow or white or a combination of the two.  They’re all beautiful.

There are also a lot of tulips at Daffodil Hill. While most of the daffodils are in the fields, there are planters full of colorful tulip accents everywhere.  It seemed like every time I found a good shot of the flowers, a crowd of people would line up behind me to take the same picture.


I got plenty of pictures of flowers from this trip.  I even edited some of my images to make them look more like paintings.

Check out the rest of my Daffodil Hill photos on Flickr.

Sim City Autumn Tournament

I’ve been playing Sim City.  I recently participated in my first seasonal tournament.

The seasonal tournaments are series of competitions over several weeks. Everyone who joins the tournament starts at the Neighborhood League. The top ten players get promoted to the next league.  The bottom 50 gets demoted. I made it all the way up to the Metropolis League, the second highest league.


Seasonal tournaments give extra prizes. The autumn season was giving out castles. Each castle gets progressively bigger as the player levels up in league.   I got five out of six of the castles; the  Old Town Stronghold, the City Fortress, the Countess’ Citadel, the Princess’ Tower, and the Royal Castle.  I missed out on the Imperial Castle.  I needed to at least get tenth place, but I ended up in 19th place.  Even though I didn’t win the top prize, I still beat most of the other players.

Mud Pies

In my blog, “Bucket of Mud”, I explained how I made my bucket of mud. First, I gathered chunks of bone dry Navajo Wheel clay into a bucket. Then, I added water, mixed, and repeated. After my bucket was full of mud, I wrote my very first blog about it.

Since then, I’ve been preparing to throw the clay.  Mud gets messy. I scooped up a creamy, chunky glob of it and plopped in onto a bat. Thwack! Thwack! Mud pies!


Then, I started the hair scavenger hunt.  Hair seems to be able to teleport directly into mud and it’s strong enough to slice through wet clay.  Pulling the smooth strands from the clay was a bit challenging, but not as challenging as getting the hair off of my sticky, muddy fingers without getting mud everywhere. Next thing you know, I had several bats covered in mud pies and two hands caked in mud.

I let the mud pies dry out a bit. Then I wedged them.  Wedging is like kneading dough.  Wedging makes the clay’s texture smooth and consistent.  It also gets the air bubbles out of the clay.  There are two wedging techniques, table wedging and spiral wedging.

I learned how to table wedge before I learned how to spiral wedge.  To table wedge, take a lump of clay and smack it down onto a table.  Slice it in half, flip the top half over, and smack it down onto the other half.  Slice it up.  Flip it.  Smack it down. I use the table wedging technique when I want to quickly prepare a lot of clay for hand building or sculpting.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I use the spiral wedging technique to prepare clay for being thrown on the wheel.  To spiral wedge, smash a lump of clay down and forward onto a table.  Roll the front of the lump of clay back over the back of the lump.  Roll it back.  Smash it forward.  Roll it back.  Smash it forward.  There’s a rhythm to it.

My lumps of clay come out in conch shell like cones.  The clay particles align in a spiral up through the cones.  The particles will also flow in this direction while being thrown.  Particle alignment strengthens the structure of the clay.  After smoothing out the lumps into cones, the clay is ready to be thrown.

Castello di Amorosa

Castello Di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa is a beautiful 13th century Tuscan-style castle and winery. Dario Sattui was inspired by his Italian heritage, his love for medieval architecture, and his desire to make “superior wines in a magnificent setting”to build Castello di Amorosa, Castle of Love.


My husband, Edward and I love travel photography.  These are my photos from out trip to Castello di Amorosa.

Napa Valley

We visited the Castello in mid-November.  It was a relaxing drive through Napa Valley, California.  Thirty of the Castello’s sounding 171 acres of land are dedicated to growing grapes.  The golden leaves on the vines glowed with the morning sun.

Castello Di Amorosa Chickens

A couple of cottages frame the path leading to the castle.  The animals in residence act more regal here.  Even the chickens seem to hold their heads higher as they cross the road of the Castello.

Castello Di Amorosa Gargoyle

This gargoyle guards the Castello gate.

Castello Di Amorosa Drawbridge

Cross the drawbridge over the mote to enter Castello di Amorosa.

Castello Di Amorosa Rooftops

Check in at the Castello.  The tours include wine tasting.  The tours are very popular. Tickets can be reserved ahead of time.

Castello Di Amorosa Courtyard

This is the vaulted loggia along the main courtyard.  It leads to the lower courtyard and the chapel.   Apartments for the Nobles overlook the courtyard.  The Castello has three courtyards.

Castello Di Amorosa Dining Hall

Castello di Amorosa’s Great Hall is a magnificent display period class and style.  The doors to the Great Hall are adorned with over 2000 hand-forged nails, a show of social standing.  Frescoes grace the wall with stories of life and love.  Pizza could be served here hot, right out oven that’s outside the hall doors.

Dragon Sconce

All of the Castello’s ironwork was hand-forged by Italian artisans.

Castello Di Amorosa Tower

Some of the Castello’s medieval elements include it’s five defensive towers with battlements, ramparts, stables, a prison and a torture chamber.

Castello Di Amorosa Wine Seller

The Castello di Amorosa has has eight levels, four above ground and four below.  Two thirds of it’s 121,000 square footage are underground.  Of the Castello’s 107 rooms, 95 are devoted to wine making.

Castello Di Amorosa Banquet Setting

Castello di Amorosa specializes in producing small lots of superior quality wines.  The Castello’s wine is only sold at the winery or shipped directly to customers.

Fancy Grape Juice

I tasted the wine.  My favorite wine was the La Fantasia.  It’s a sweet fruity sparkling wine that’s low alcohol.  We also tried the grape juice.  It was the best grape juice I had ever tasted.  We ended up buying a bottle of grape juice.


Next time we visit, I’ll have to bring a few outfits for a fancy photo shoot.  Edward loves when I model for him.  It would also be good to arrive much earlier, so we can get more shots before the crowds show up.

Castello Di Amorosa Backdoor

We had a fun photo trip and got a lot of great shots.  Castello di Amorosa is an extraordinary castle in a beautiful setting.

Bucket of Mud

Bucket of Mud

I have a bucket of mud.  This is special mud.  It has the potential to become something else, something new.

I filled my bucket with rocks and pebbles, bone dry scraps of Navajo Wheel clay.  Then, I added water.  I could hear the fizzing of the rocks soaking up the water and releasing little bubbles of air.  The rocks dissolved.  As the mud settled to the bottom of my bucket, I added more rocks and more water.  Eventually, my bucket was full of mud.

I’m turning this mud into workable clay.  The trick is to get the clay to the right consistency.  It has to be dry enough to hold it’s shape and wet enough to be malleable.  It takes the right mix of time and energy.

This is my first blog.  Like my bucket of mud, my blogs will take time and energy to develop.  Will they become brilliant inspiring works of art or overly glorified handicrafts?  I don’t know.  I invite you to join me as I find out.