Category Archives: HOBBIES

Model Train Room’s Ski Hill

As previously mentioned, my husband and I became volunteer managers of an HO Scale train room, at our area’s Senior Recreation Center last year.

This room had been a four year work in progress by another train lover, so we are dealing with what was already built.  What we jokingly called our seven foot chocolate cake/blob, is the cover for a (circular track) helix that’s designed to bring the trains to the upper or lower level of tracks.

Model Train helix

To reflect how we would have wanted our town to look in the 1950’s, we added a Ski Lodge and Skiers on the mountain.
Model Train Ski area

Model Train Ski LodgeWhen people cleaned out their dusty, spider infested boxes, they donated the HO scale model items to the train room,

Luckily for me, all the spiders were dead and one of the great finds was this saloon.

We kit-bashed it into a ski chalet and painted winter Model Train Ski Hill 1clothes on the patrons.

Kit-bashing sounds destructive, but it is really a gentle method of creating what you need to fit a theme.

A fence was cut, shaped and painted to become ski racks.

Coal dust was used for the blacktopped road and the rock retaining wall was molded from plaster.

Model Train Ski Hill 2More trees were added and hot glued into place to finally stand up straight.

Our research on adding snow to the mountain was entertaining.  One suggestion was to add crystal sugar for the sparkle.  How cute would it be, to have ants snacking on our sugar mountain?

We haven’t been historically true to how our town looked in the 1950’s.  We’ve captured some interesting sites of Utah and compressed them into scenes of what we hope everyone will enjoy seeing in our train room .

Skydiving, our new hobby

After our first tandem skydives that, as described in a previous post, should have been a one time experience, we had to go back and do it again.  We soon found ourselves hooked on this amazingly, bizarre sport of falling downward at a speed of 110 to 120 miles per hour.
Almost At Altitude The first time I jumped on my own, I noticed that the door was closed on the airplane.  That’s a very lonesome feeling!  It’s was now too late to change my mind…and time to do what I was taught…. to open and fly this big handkerchief. Freefall Sequence

There’s a training statement that sounds funny, but is seriously true: “When the people look like ants, it’s time to play.  When the ants look like people, it’s time to pray.”

I can’t begin to describe the adrenalin rush of floating and playing above the clouds.

First Freefall Necklace We were soon asked to join the club’s staff, which paid our way by manifesting the jump loads, packing chutes, and talking down students.

Wearing a ripcord “necklace” after the first freefall, is a ritual deemed to bring good luck to their students.  Since it would have been bad luck to remove it before our next jump, we were expected to wear it until then.

Our goal was to earn our Class A license.  Passing a written test and completing a skydive that showed we weren’t a danger to other skydivers, gave us the privilege to join this elite group of adrenalin junkies.

Lee and I were well trained to be prepared in case of a parachute malfunction.  After many jumps, we eventually found ourselves under parachutes that weren’t going to land us safely.  We each had to cut away our mains and land under our reserve parachutes, much to the worried concern of our friends on the ground.

300 Way SkydiveWhen we weren’t jumping ourselves, we loved watching world record attempts.

At Skydive Chicago, we watched the completion of the first 300 way world record.

Ten of the eleven jump planes did a celebratory fly-by, to the delight of everyone on the ground.

Fly By Planes
Since we accomplished our skydiving goals, it was time to be kind to our bones and retire our parachutes.  Our log books show that I finished one more jump than my husband.  He knows that I try to always be a “jump ahead of him” and if he forgets, it’s written in my log book.

On our bucket list, Skydiving

My husband stated “for my 50th birthday, there’s something I always wanted to do.”   I couldn’t imagine what was on his bucket list, that he hadn’t already accomplished.

His answer was “jump out of an airplane” and my response was “okay, is that with or without a parachute?”  Gosh, he was serious!
Lee's Birthday Tandem skydive 1Well, we celebrated his birthday by driving to the local airport and watching some skydivers.

It looked so effortless, that we both signed up for our tandem skydives.

Lee's In Flight Tandem 2

The jump begins at an altitude of over 1 mile above ground.  The drogue chute (see the yellow tail behind the parachute) is released to stabilize the jumpers.

After free falling down to 5,500 feet, the main parachute is opened.

Lee's Tandem Safe Landing 3 Now learning how to guide this huge tandem chute begins.

The toggle straps have double hand holds, so the trainer and student work together on making turns and landing in the pea gravel.

Lee was the perfect student and had a stand-up landing.

Neva's First Skydive Tandem 1It’s easy to smile at the camera and not be nervous when your feet are still on the ground.

We had a camera man take videos of our first jump.  I was so scared, I had to watch the video to make sure I actually did this skydive.Neva's First Skydive Tandem 2

The worst part for me was when the pilot opened the plane’s door.  The tandem master leaned out that open door to visually check the jump area.  Being buckled to him meant I was hanging out the doorway too.

The camera man exited and was hanging onto the plane’s strut.  At this point, I was more concerned about survival, than geeking the camera mounted on his helmet.

Once we were in free fall, it became the most amazing experience I could ever imagine.

After completing our skydives, we both knew we had to go out that open plane door again for another tandem jump.

What started as my husband’s birthday wish, became our newest hobby.Neva's Tandem Safe Landing 3

‘Lego King of his Castle Birthday Cake’

My grandson chose a ‘Lego King of his Castle’ theme for his sixth birthday party.  The little king’s swim party was a success, even though his crown didn’t float very well.
Birthday Cake copy

The lego birthday king is wearing his red robe and flanked by his lego princess sister and prince brother.  They are shaped from Rice Krispie Treats and covered with colored fondue.  Wilton FoodWriter pens outlined the face and robe details.

Hershey chocolate squares were used for the castle door and windows, then outlined with piped dark chocolate.  Sugar wafer cookies are the drawbridge and held with chocolate licorice chains.

Birthday cake side pic
I cut squares out of the middle of the double layered chocolate cake and placed the pieces on each corner.  The turrets are chocolate covered mini marshmallows.  Waffle cones were placed on top of ice cream cones and chocolate frosting “glued” them together, with golden sugar glitter sprinkled over them.

Bubble wrap covered the tray and then frosted blue for the lego base.  Blue Jello jigglers were cut and placed with red Gummy fish around the cake for the moat.  Fruit rollups were used for the flags and banner.

Many of my inspirations came from the creative ideas for Lego Castle Cakes found in the website: http://www.coolest-birthday-cakes.com.

A Waterfall in the Model Train Room

As previously mentioned, my husband and I became volunteer managers of an HO Scale train room, at our area’s Senior Recreation Center last year.  Besides fixing the railroad track so the trains can run smoothly, we are remodeling the room to reflect how our town may have looked in the 1950’s.
Train Room waterfall full length

Originally, the waterfall was just a blue strip, with wads of cotton stuck on to simulate water.  I found some tutorials explaining how to create waterfalls by using clear caulking.
Train Room caulking gun copyLuckily our bathtubs aren’t in need of a re-caulking just yet, cause making waterfalls seemed like a lot more fun.

caulking linesI spread the caulking on clear plastic wrap with enough lines to match the width of the waterfall area and about 15 inches long.  I made five of these caulked sections, to cover the length of the waterfall.caulking merged

Then a tooth pick was used to blend together the caulking lines.  By twisting and lifting the toothpick, the roughness of water splashing was created.

The next day, the caulking strips were dry enough to attach to the train room wall, by using more caulking as glue.

By accident, I found that the pressure from the caulking gun made long drips which were perfect to simulate the waterfall’s streaming water.

After the strips were attached, more long drips were added since this looked so cool.  Sparkle Paint was dabbed sporadically and wisps of cotton added for a clear, rushing water effect.Train Room waterfall bottom portion

On our bucket list, Gliding in a Sailplane

My husband and I took our first ride in a Sailplane over 15 years ago at Lake Pleasant, near Phoenix, Arizona.  We enjoyed it so much that instead of crossing it off, we’ve kept this on our bucket list.

On a recent trip through Arizona, we returned to the Turf Soaring School at Lake Pleasant for what is now my fourth sailplane ride.Getting strapped in Glider

It was like stepping back in time, when we were greeted again with hello’s from Bebop, their white parrot mascot.  The owner claimed that this (blankety, blank) parrot can live for 100 years.  Well, Bebop must be almost as old as I am.

Release Glider tow rope

Part of the pre-flight check list is making sure the release handle will detach the 200 foot rope from the tow plane.  As you can see, I got to practice this important task of tugging the yellow, ball shaped release handle.  The training includes all aspects of gliding, but I wanted to relax(?) and enjoy the flight.

Glider LiftoffCarl Baxter, the aerobatic instructor, asked what kind of G-force ride I wanted.  Since he would be seated behind me, I would have to verbally let him know if and/or when I needed to stop the aerobatic ride.

Glider under tow over Lake ParadiseI’m a confirmed adrenalin junkie and like to get my money’s worth.  Well, I certainly did!

He performed some loops, rolls, wing overs, a cloverleaf (90 degree turn), and my favorite, a hammerhead stall.  Buzzing the airport

I have to admit that a few times while my mouth was saying “oh wow, this is fantastic”, my brain was thinking “oh crap, this is scary.”  Then he flipped the plane to an inverted flight and watched the ground zoom by, as we hung upside down.  Glider returned to earth

Since there weren’t too many thermals to keep us airborne, we did a low (dive bombing type) pass.   This then took us up and over the airport buildings, so Lee could get our photo.

We then turned back towards the runway and came in for a smooth landing in front of the airport.

I found this video on-line of a flight that was taken last year at the Turf Soaring School.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WtEpVE5_aE   This will give you an idea of what we saw and some of the aerobatics we enjoyed.  Note: the creaking sounds are the plane’s wings, not my body.

Model Train Room Celebration Cake

My husband and I became volunteer managers of an HO Scale train room, at our area’s Senior Recreation Center last year.  This meant fixing the railroad track, so the model trains would run again.  Also, an ongoing project is to create scenes that bring back our childhood memories of an era when we paid 59 cents a gallon for gasoline.

train room copy

After many months of time and effort, our train room was ready to be shown off to visitors, including our city’s Mayor and Council Members.  The Salt Lake Tribune reporter labeled our accomplishments, “a gem in the heart of West Valley City.”

In celebration of our Model Train Room grand re-opening, I created a special cake for the occasion.

train cake copy

The bottom layer is two lemon cake mixes baked in 9 x 13 inch pans with green tinted whipped cream for grass color and white whipped cream with graham cracker crumbs for the ground coloring.

The train engine is a chocolate cake mix baked in two loaf pans and a mini-loaf pan.  I filled one loaf pan 3/4 full, so it would puff up higher and rounder to make the boiler.   The second loaf pan was filled 1/2 full to make the coal tender.  The mini-loaf pan cake was tipped on end for the engine.

Three mini-donuts were covered with chocolate frosting for the smoke stack.  A gold foil wrapped Rollo candy is the train bell and red licorice added trimming.  Oreo cookies (without the filling) were used for the train wheels with life savers in the center.  Crushed Oreo cookies were used for the tender’s coal.  Carmel Corn was threaded on a stiff wire that was bent to simulate the smoke and then inserted into the mini-donut smoke stack.  Licorice created the train track and a picture of Mickey Mouse was inserted for the train engineer.

My inspiration for this train cake came from the many great ideas shown on this website: http://www.coolest-birthday-cakes.com.   Please let me know if you have any questions on the assembly of this fun cake.