Monday, July 21, 2014

Quiet Sunday in lake country

We had a lovely, quiet Sunday afternoon after a busy morning of  running around town shopping. We took a drive up to Fish Lake for a burger dinner. Unfortunately, it wasn't as good as it's been in the past, so next time we'll order something else, or try one of the other lakes; but we prefer the smallness, and less glitchy, non resort vibe of Fish lake. I brought my fishing pole but was so relaxed, just sitting near the lake, with the lovely breeze, that there was no need or energy to fish. I did take a little stroll with Bodhi along the shoreline which he loved, since there were several other dogs there who he was happy to meet. He is a very social guy!

In the morning we ran around to a bunch of stores for me to get more of my soap making supplies and a bit of food shopping. No one had the brand of silicone I was looking for, so when I got home I watched a few more mold making videos and saw that there were other brands people were using. So tonight, on the way back from doing evening gardening work at our sons place, I'll stop and pick some up. I did get lucky at Good Will and found a couple of silicone molds made for cooking, which will work fine for soap making.

Later this week I should be able to have all the soap making equipment and raw materials either on hand or waiting for delivery. There are only 3 things left to buy, so that fall project will be ready to go and I can focus on finishing up studio pots. One order is due to arrive on the 29th, but everything else will be here sooner.

Jim is off to the hospital for a test and wants a pancake breakfast when he gets home. Yesterday I made him bruschetta for lunch with the first tomatoes. He was smiling with every bite. I have a lot of baby artichokes that I have to find recipes for. The large ones are easy  - I just stuff them with a bread crumb, parmesan, herb mix. In the past, I always got large artichokes but this year, the plants are giving off a whole bunch of babies. Don't know how that happened. It's a mystery yet to be solved!

I'm still transferring files from the hard drive that I salvaged from the Dell XPS laptop that died, and I have to get my old iPad set up for emails. I was at ATT a few days ago and they got it set up for cellular, but I'm hitting a wall trying to set up my email up on it.  Following their on line instructions is repeatedly giving me error messages about my password and user name, so after breakfast I'll have to call them and see if they can figure this out. None of my other apple devices are sending emails, only receiving them after upgrading to the new operating system. So maybe they can help with that problem as well because I've tried every solution I found on line and even one call to Century Link a couple of weeks ago, proved useless. Maybe this time I'll get a more knowledgeable tech person. One can only hope!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Oregon is on fire

This morning the news is reporting that 150,000 acres are on fire in our state. Luckily, so far, the fires are north and east of us. I hope this year isn't as bad as last year, which was horrific. We had to stay indoors for weeks at a time because at one point we were surrounded by several big fires.

I was out at 7am planting some more beans, tying up and pruning some tomatoes, harvesting some chiles and repotting a,  going to seed, dill plant to make room in the raised bed for the beans, and doing my hand watering. The Serrano chiles are now producing well, so it looks like there will be nachos and margaritas this weekend.  Some critter has stuck his nose into the bottom of my earth box with the big, beautiful tomatoes, and has eaten half of the one just starting to ripen. There's been a skunk smell around a couple of times this week, so it's either him or a large rodent - probably a relative of the one I named Ratatouille last summer, who came face to face with a rat trap and lost, thanks to big time hunter - my husband Jim. Time to find a critter repellant or something more drastic.

Some more soap making goodies (shea butters and a couple of essential oils) arrived late yesterday and I got those unpacked and gave myself some pre-breakfast email, soap making reading and note taking time. Now it's time to make some breakfast, put the laundry away, hit the shower, feed the sourdough starter, turn on the studio air conditioner and watch a couple of soap making videos while the studio cools - not necessarily in the order given. One must always remain flexible, since the unwritten rule that  man/woman plans and God laughs, will always prevail.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

107 in the shade

Got my hand watering, transplanted a couple of veggies, and fed all the veggies before 9am. I'm not going out again till around just before dusk, when I'll plant some of my spinach starts. It's going to be 107 today!

Last night, I got in the studio after dinner and went through my tools to make up a package for the potter in West Virginia who just lost his house and studio in a fire. When I had a much larger studio, I had a couple of wheels and a lot of duplicate ribs, trim tools, and some other small tools, sponges, etc. So it was just a matter of going through boxes and trays to sort out duplicates. 

One can only imagine how dreadful it would be to not only lose your home but your studio - the source of your income.

Other than cooking, gardening and a couple of meetings with  the lawn guy and TV repair man (good news is that the TV isn't dead. Bad news is that it's a $450 fix!). It was a costly day since it's going to cost that much  or a bit more to replace our sod in the front yard.). Good thing I decided to put off buying a new computer and the iPad mini after I found out that new iPads are supposed to be coming out this fall.

I spent some time after dinner ordering some Pyrex bowls and a vintage double burner cook top for the studio. I can use it for soap making and for heating wax. My old one was going strong after 38 years or more but it was pretty raggy and I left it in North Carolina when we moved; but after reading reviews on modern versions of anything electrical, they seem to all be junk - don't work well, fail in a matter of months, have cheap plastic gears, etc.

There's still an immersion blender,some old pots and wooden spoons to get before I get started on my first attempt at soap making. So far, I haven't found a used one, but I'll look a bit longer before I bite the bullet and buy a new one since the quality choices all seem to have limitations.

Some of my soap molds are coming from China and won't be here for a few weeks, so there's no rush to complete the list. Meantime, I'll finish up paperwork here while waiting for the TV repair man who's going to be here within the hour to remove the loaner and get our repaired TV set up.  When Jim gets back from the hospital I'll be heading to the studio for a little while, to do a bit more organizing - a never ending chore in this small space, and more so now that I have to find a place for all these soap making supplies. On days like this I'm so grateful that I put a heater/air conditioner unit in my studio.

In this extreme heat, I'll be making one of my ten, fifteen minute dinners - linguine with clam sauce. It's almost too hot to eat, let alone cook! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

West Virginia potter needs help after a house and studio fire

West Virginia potter Dan Templeton had a house fire that destroyed his home and studio and is in need of donations and equipment and such........donations can be sent to Dan Templeton 1106 North Fork Road
Wheeling West Virginia 26003. He has use of a wheel already but is need of ribs and other small tools and any money donations will help him get backup and potting. Dan makes wonderful traditional style salt glazed pots in the 18th century American nature.......a great guy with a lot of talent. from Ken Westfall

I'll be going in the studio when we get back from my morning gardening chores at our sons place, and start searching for things to send Dan Templeton. I know I have a lot of duplicates as well as things I no longer need. So if you have extra boxes of cones from temperatures you no longer work at, extra brushes, sponges, ribs, trim tools, etc. put them in a padded envelope or small box and send them. And of course, a little donation to help him would help a lot as well.

It's 6:30, I've had my last sip of my first cup of tea, and it's time for me to head out in my nightie and do my morning hand watering. It's going to be another 100 degree day in Southern Oregon, so we'll be heading over to our sons place before breakfast to harvest some veggies and do a bit of hand watering.

Hopefully in the afternoon the TV repair man will arrive to fix this bedroom TV, although I must say the quiet after dinner last night was lovely!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Doesn't everyone garden in a nightie

These 100 degree in the shade days are going to continue for the rest of the week, which is why I was out in the back yard at 6:30 this morning, in my nightie, watering, planting, dead heading and re-potting a bunch of things.

After breakfast I decided to have some Sunday morning relax time, do email and turn on the TV for some background noise and see how the championship soccer was going. The bedroom flat screen Samsung was dead! First the Dell XPS laptop dies and now this TV.  That was my first AARGH reaction! But, It may not be dead. Some google detective work on my part turned up a class action lawsuit around these Samsung flat screen TV's. seems there's a little six or seven dollar capacitor in them that is a faulty design, and since Samsung knew about it they settled and did a recall. So why were were never informed of this? And now they tell us, the recall,  and free repair ended in December.

All they could do today was give us a phone number for a repair person We have a second Samsung in the living room, and that was bought in the period where there were still these problems. They knew of the problem and kept selling TV's. According to court records and their attorney's, about 7 million sets are affected. Thanks for nothing Samsung. There won't ever be another Samsung product purchased in this household. Problems can arise with anything; but impeccability demands you own up and fix it and not sweep it under the rug.

Needless to say we spent a lot of time first with Direct TV on the line, after we had spent a lot of  time on our own trying to fix the problem with re-setting everything. So I checked the Samsung book - no help there. Google was next and that's when I found out about the capacitor problem and the class action law suits in 3 states.

Next it was on the phone with Samsung, who informed us that the deadline was December to request the free repair. How were we to know there was a recall when we were never notified! So the best the Samsung customer service people could do was give us a number for a local repairman. That call made (he'll be here tomorrow), it was time for lunch and back to my email and finding out why all my Apple devices refuse to send emails. That problem still isn't solved, but I'm just too weary to get on the phone with Century link and find out whey they're refusing to let me send emails on Apple devices. It's been a technical over load day.

At least I did get to order some soap making supplies in between all of the above busyness, and join a soap making group on Yahoo, where I got some tips and information about some raw supplies. The past couple of days I've purchased some molds, oils and fragrances. Now I just need to buy a few more supplies, a stick blender,  and maybe some kind of double burner electric cook top, so I can make soap in my studio instead of the kitchen. Since soap making is going to be a fall project, I'll have time to check out local charity and thrift shops and garage sales for some of those things.

I had one of those double burner, portable cook tops in my studio in North Carolina , but I don't know if I brought it when we moved. It was pretty ancient and had been used for decades to hold my large wax pan. I'll check the studio and see if by chance, I kept it. Then it will be time to start on dinner. Tonight, it's a simple sardine, onion salad with boiled potatoes, and  cheese and fruit for dessert. It's way too hot to spend a lot of time bent over a hot stove.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Where will we go from here

In my bits of down time I've been perusing Pinterest and remembering the various trends and changes to pottery since I started in clay in the early 70's. At that time cone 9 was the preferred temperature and a reduction kiln was the dream of many of us just getting into clay. There wasn't much color in those days - lots of oatmeal and matt glazes, temmokus - probably the influence of the Leach era.  There were people like Betty Woodman, Ruth Duckworth and many others whose work went in a different and sometimes brazen direction for the time, but that wasn't was was seen at the majority of craft shows.

There were some great salt pots in those days from Karen Karnes, Don Reitz, and so many others. How many of us wished we had thought of the idea of those wonderful cut lids n Karen's jars, that made her pots so recognizable.

Remember Voulkos with those powerful platters with tears and holes? I always dreamed of owning one of those; but it was a dream unfulfilled; but I can still enjoy them from afar in well documented photos.

We had potters doing selfies, before they were called selfies - doing sculptures of themselves and doing it quite well.

Then cone 10 became the new ideal, and then wood firing caught on and everyone including myself was building wood kilns - lots more brown pots with few exceptions, like David Hendley who found a way to put vibrant color in his wood fired pieces. It seems for a while, and still true in many cases, that many were trying to mimic the historic, mingei and wabi feel of the tradition Anagama and Noborigama kilns of Japan. There were a lot of anagamas being built and a lot of brown crusty, pots in the 80's and 90's. At the same time we became conscious of what we were putting in the air, and all that black smoke coming out of those kilns made us consider an alternate choice for a wood kiln. I and others were building bourry box kilns in the early 80's in an attempt to have it both ways - wood fire pots without filling ours and other peoples lungs with too much of the bad stuff.

For a while temperatures were rising well beyond cone 10 and still may be.

There was also a big Raku trend in the 70's and 80's. There was the crystalline glazes trend with a lot of not very intriguing forms being covered with a glaze that held the hope it might bring an otherwise mediocre pot up to a higher level; but there were those who were also taking it to new heights with exciting forms to match the power of those glazes.

We saw clay being used to create lifelike pieces of luggage, and then there was the funk era with David Gilhooly leading the way with his amazing, outrageous and so funny pieces of frogs and beavers doing the most outrageous things in clay. Have you ever seen his erotica series of frogs making love inside a cheeseburger, and sliding off the melted cheese? It was one not to miss! The 70's were definitely fun.

Shinos were big in the 80's and are still a favorite with many of us potters; but often not so much for buyers. For some of the buying public it was more like shi - no. Temmokus often run into the same problem. Even black dogs are the last to be adopted. There's color prejudice every where it seems. Malcolm Davis made shinos very exciting with carbon trapping and his other discoveries, and opened the shino market up a bit more. People noticed.

We've been through so many style changes, some borrowed from other eras, like the duck bill pitchers and others and the newer, maybe not so new, boat forms, animated, dancing pots etc. etc. In the 90's and currently we've seen a big resurgence of majolica but in a newer, fresher presentation by many, slipware, both traditional and reaching for newer expressions. Raku grew, as all things must, from just shiny glazes that faded in time. And as the glazes in some cases, took a different, mellower, velvety road, the forms also grew.

We've had naked raku for a decade or more. There was salku and pit firings. People learned to wrap pots in silver foil along with some organic  materials and fire them in their electric kilns. I was doing some fun cone 10 saggar firings in the early 80's using jars that were made for industrial use and later sold in new age stores as crystal sounding bells. That was around the time I took as Paul Soldner, hands on workshop for low fired salt. I didn't stay with those too long, although I loved the look - just hated having to tell people that the pots shouldn't be put in a humid environment, like a kitchen or bathroom - usage just too limited for what I wanted to be functional work.

In the 90's soda firing and salt firing were very much in view and continue till today. The salt pots were not the pots of earlier eras with the look of brown sewer tile. Flashing slips and directional deposits of soda, gave a new look to the work. I joined the soda fire group, first converting my ancient Geil gas kiln in the early 90's and later went to a cross draft hard brick kiln. Health issues necessitated a move cross country and a huge lifestyle change, otherwise I'd still be solely, making that work. I love it.

With energy costs skyrocketing and communities putting more and more restrictions on wood and gas kilns, we've seen the firing temperatures lower and electric firing become the majority, I would say, of hobby and other work being produced now. Ceramic companies saw the trend and started selling some interesting glazes for cone 6 oxidation. People experimented with slow cooling, firing down techniques and overlapping glazes, using ash glazes, etc. to get more interest in those oxidation glazes. Spraying became a big trend and still is thanks to the efforts of Steven Hill, whose never ending exploration found a way to get the look of his cone 10 reduction glazes to work at cone 6 oxidation. Many professionals who previously worked in cone 10 reduction, switched to cone 6 reduction and oxidation. Many soda firers are now working in cone 6 and I've done a lot of testing at this temperature and may switch one of these days after I get these cone 10 pots fired in my mini, converted, gas, soda kiln.

Earthenware too is ever evolving. Ron Meyers made us look at other possibilities. Animal figures rule lately with rats, goats, chickens, birds, cows, squirrels, possums and others showing up with regularity; and charming they are!

The past few years we've seen birds on everything. I have to admit I love them and have drawn a few and put a few on some lids. But when will they become a cliche? Or, maybe they already have and my liking of them is blinding me, but  happily so, to that fact.

Deconstruction became a word not only in the food world but in the world of pottery as well. Slicing and dicing, nips and tucks are well underway in recent years.

These are some of my memories and observations and I'm sure I've missed quite a few. Hopefully some of my readers will fill in some of those gaps when reflecting on their own memories.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pinterest an amazing resource

I discovered Pinterest a while ago, and it's been a great resource for anything you can imagine - all types of gardening projects, and gardening hints as well a amazing photos of gardens, as well any kind of art and craft information, organizing ideas, food recipes for any diet you can imagine and any other information you can think of.

When I decided that soap making would be fun to try this fall, I got a video and a few books from the library, and then I thought it would be a good idea to check Pinterest. Wow! It's a wealth of photos of amazing, creative soaps, links to suppliers, tools to buy or make, recipes, etc.etc.

If you want to look at pottery, find how to pottery videos, hints, glaze recipes, and on and on, it's all  there. It can also be a very good source for getting photos of your own work, or link to your own blog on there. You can create folders that relate to your special interest, whatever they are. People will find you if they are interested in your type of work. If you do earthenware, slip ware, stoneware, soda fire, woodfire, salt glaze, or whatever you do, just enter the key word and it will call up pages of that type of work.

If you haven't explored this amazing resource, you might want to give it a try. Or if you're interested in looking at pottery, gardening information, soap making, cheese making information and some other things, just go to my pinterest page and you can see all the amazing things I've saved for my own perusal, on my home page. Or, you can just type a key word in their search box, i.e. wood fired pottery, vegan recipes, cheese making, bread making, do it yourself project, and on and on.

Our day started early - out the door by 7am to get to our sons place where I finished planting bush beans in the other half of the raised bed where I planted some two days ago. We were so wiped yesterday, we put last night's visit off till this morning. I also had to harvest a few things and put out some organic granules to send those chewing critters, who are eating more than their share, to insect heaven. Maybe they'll reincarnate somewhere else next time. One can only hope!

Then we were off to the farmers market for more veggie starts, and few other things. The first peaches are in so I bought some and will be making a peach cobbler as soon as I post this. From there it was off to the  organic grocery store  for a few items, home to unpack, do my hand watering and finally have breakfast - the lovely croissants that I bought at the farmers market. After all that activity, I decided to take an email break and order some soap making supplies on ebay. I'm not sure I got the best prices but I got a bit of this and a bit of that - enough to get started this fall, once I get all my thermometers and other necessary tools.  I also spent time searching Pinterest and found a never ending supply of soap making recipes, links, suppliers and a huge amount of photos of some amazing looking, hand made soaps.

Then it was time to make a fruit salad with almond cream for lunch. Now that all that's done it's time to start peeling those peaches and make the peach cobbler, prep dinner veggie and get back to moving files from the old hard drive to this HP laptop. My days are busy and flying by way too fast these days!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Have anagama will travel

I'd love to see this kiln in action!

Yesterday's garden day started while I was still in my nightie, hand watering and harvesting and tomato plant pruning, and dead heading flowers in my back yard, and ended at 9:30 last night with me cleaning out my sprayers after my second trip of the day, to our son and daughter-in-laws garden to deal with a watering problem as well as regular garden harvesting, digging up the last of the potatoes in their garden, planting some new beans, and spraying for that horrible fungus and rust that seems to be attacking everything this year.

In between garden chores I made an intriguing Italian mac n' cheese, which was delicious. I checked out a few recipes and then changed them, of course, by adding garlic, bay leaf, a touch of cayenne, some fresh parsley and bread crumb topping drizzled with olive oil an truffle oil. Nice part is that there's plenty left over which I'll use tomorrow as a side dish to go with some fish, or chicken.

By the time I could crawl into bed, I had just enough energy to do a bit more reading up on soap making. Last night it was on making transparent soaps. I made out a list of suppliers and  things I will need to try my hand at soap making this fall, and will be searching charity shops and garage sales this summer for suitable bowls, mixing tools, etc.

Since I'm pretty tired from yesterdays very busy day, we're taking a morning break to have breakfast out; but first I need get my early hand watering done.

After breakfast we'll make  quick stop at the grocery store to pick up some Bratwurst to go  with the roasted potato, green bean, onion, garlic dish I want to try tonight. It's basically a baked veggie salad with a mustard vinaigrette. Hope it's as tasty as it looks. When we get home I'll do some of my early dinner prep, make a fruit salad with almond cream for lunch, and relax a bit catching up with some email, and transferring files from the old hard drive.. It would be nice to find an hour and the energy for the studio, but I think that's wishful thinking today.

After dinner, we have to drive to our son and daughter-in-laws house again to see if the water problem has been fixed, lay down down organic granules to put an end to the chewing critters who are enjoying themselves too much in that garden, plant more bush beans and harvest some of the first cherry and grape tomatoes, beans and snow pea pods, and maybe the first cucumber which looked almost ready last night.. It will be another late night, and tiring day with no time for making pots.

Tomorrow morning we'll go to the Farmers market very early for more starter veggies, then home for breakfast and planting.  I should finally have some time for the studio in the afternoon. I'll definitely be ready for a few hours of sit down work - decorating those last pots for the bisque kiln.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Interesting selling quandry

There's been a discussion on Clayart the past two days about alternate options for selling work. A potter in Canada, who like myself, is retired, but still making more pots than she can use, was asking about the possibility of hiring an agent since she lives in an area without many selling options, and her age ruled out the usual options of traveling to do shows. The feedback was what I felt, that paying an agent in our culture, just wasn't viable, unless you're someone making very high end sculptural or similar work. It works in places like Japan for the high priced potters, since selling agents there are many and part of their culture.

But what can you do, as in my situation where you can't sell from home, and your local options are nil. There are a lot of potters in this area but most of them, use the annual fall Clayfolk show to sell their work. But of course to do that, you have to gain points by doing certain jobs during the year, attending meetings, working the sale, etc. and amass points over time to get into the show and get a good location. And for that one show, you are competing with about 100 or so other potters selling on that day to a not very large market. Medford, Or is a small city of about 70,000 people, and it's not a place with high paying jobs, so the customer base isn't that big. I did that show years ago, but in my mid 70's with arthritic bones, and lower energy, that's no longer an option i would choose.

David Hendley suggested that this gal put a sale page on her web page with a paypal option, instead. With paypal you only pay about 3% of the sale. There are no monthly fees or equipment rentals fees or purchases needed. He said that he gets more sales on his own web page than on Etsy. You can also join Square, get a free little plug that goes into a cell phone or ipad touch, etc. and take charge cards. The payment scale is similar to Paypal. That sounds like the best options to me, and for those in a similar situation. I still make more pots than I can use, and don't have the energy anymore to pack and haul pots and sit at shows.

From what I've observed, the people who do well on Etsy are those who either already have a large customer base or who have used Facebook to post photos of their work, amassed a large group of Facebook friends, and then point them to their Etsy site whenever they list new work for sale. I've seen that work well for a few potters I know. It's a good marketing possibility. The same may apply for setting up a sales area on your web page. So, unless you already have a good mailing list, you might have to get on social networks and find ways of getting people to your site.

Our friend Steve, who lives in the country in Northern Washington state, has a wife with a marketing degree, and Nicole hauled his pots to the city years ago, to sell them at a pottery party. She gave the hostess a certain amount of free pots based on the sales made at the party. That worked very well for them, as an added selling choice. Fortunately, although they live in the country, they're on a well traveled road and can sell a lot from their house, but they also needed another way upping sales away from home.

Another friend in Santa Barbara held sales at her home every year. She invited other artists, weavers, etc. and they all shared their mailing list and costs for the printing and mailing. She didn't have to pack up pots, pay a heavy fee for a show that might wind up being a dud. Instead she had the comfort of her own space and because she had a lovely, beautifully planted, park like property, that was easily accessed, she attracted a lot of people and good sales..

In the economy of the past few years, crafts people have had to come up with some unique marketing ideas to survive; and many haven't. Some made it through with part time adjunct teaching jobs, kiln building and part time work. It's been a hard road for many fine potters. Hopefully, the economy which is steadily improving, will make life a lot easier. We probably won't see a throw back to the 70's when anything hand made was selling like hotcakes; but you never know, it could happen again. Wouldn't that be lovely!

Monday, July 07, 2014

100 degrees in the shade at dinner time

Thank goodness I got the bulk of my garden work done before breakfast. I pulled up all the snow pea vines in one of the raised beds, cleaned up all the dead leaves from the sick pole beans, harvested beans, did more pruning on the tomatoes and did my usual hand watering. It was 100F in the shade at 5 o'clock, and  I had to go out and do a second hand watering because the flowers and veggies in my large and small windows boxes had already started wilting.

Since my Dell XPS finally died, I've spent the last two days taking it apart, getting to Best Buy to help me deal with two stubborn screws so I could get my hard drive out of the holder. So, last night I started copying some of the data files on to this HP laptop. I don't know why, but this Dynex hard drive enclosure is not showing all the files I know I had on that drive. Fortunately, I have been backing up files frequently on a stand along hard drive and have some files in JCloud on line as well, so I think I should be OK.

The family left for L.A. yesterday morning. It was a great visit and now it's time to get back to our more laid back, nesty, daily life, as long as there are no more computer or other problems to deal with.

Their big, annual party was Saturday, and it was a great success as usual. They raised a good amount of money as well as other things for a local charity at the party. It was a feel good, taste good kind of day. We partied well for a week and now it's time for a bit lighter fare for a bit.

It's too hot to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so tonight I'm making a Burmese stir fry "Wet-Tha Khauk_Swe-yaw". I have no idea how to pronounce it; but I've made it before and it's a very tasty, spicy, noodle, celery, onion and pork stir fry. Wok cooking is the only way to go in this heat. I'm also making a Thai cucumber salad to go with it. Maybe a little cold sake would be nice with it.

I got in the studio for a bit the other day just to slip a few more things. By Wednesday I'll be up to date with my weekly garden spraying and heavier garden chores, and hopefully have most of my data from the old Dell laptop,  backed up. If there are no other computer or other disasters on the horizon, I should be able to find a couple of hours of studio time some afternoons.

Friday, July 04, 2014

It was a good morning on the river

These beauties were caught right in front of our sons house yesterday morning. One salmon fed over 15 of us last night and guess what we're all having again tonight!

And this morning, our ten year old grand daughter McKenna, caught this beauty. She loves fishing as much as her dad and I. It's definitely in the genes!

Our friends Alan and Heidi prepped and cooked a magnificent dinner for us last night. Alan is a great chef which is why he has all those successful restaurants. You can buy his cookbook "Lemonade" to try some of his great recipes. Last night's dinner was superb. I loved the beet and wheat berry salad. Even people who were non beet lovers, like our son, raved about it. That and the yellow and red cherry tomato and avocado salad went well with the brined salmon.There was also a pasta dish and baked potatoes. And on top of all that he also made a bunch of peach and cherry pies with a crunchy topping and served a la mode. So wonderful!

Nic, our daughter-in-law, a great cook as well, made a couple of delicious dips and Sean opened up some very special wines. I will definitely be going a diet when this week of partying is over but am enjoying myself immensely and will cry later when the scale goes through the roof!

I'll be off to buy the iPod mini around noon. My teen age grandson Brandon, my in person, family computer sounding board, told me that he has one and loves it. I still have to decide if I want the 32GB or the 64. My old iPad is 64 and I believe the memory is half used, so the 64 may be the way to go; but I'll double check that.

My friend Mike said he'd take a picture of the mug I made for him. So when he sends that, I'll post it. Other than that it's going to be a day of shopping for the new device, and maybe some time getting information out of the hard drive of the deceased Dell XPS which I just removed. This may be more than a couple of days project getting that data out, and doing a major deleting of duplicates and things I no longer need taking up space, and then synching 3 devices and this laptop with the iTunes software. With the Wimbledon finals coming up I'll have some nice background entertainment while I get started on all of this done.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

A smorgasbord kind of week

It's been a smorgasbord kind of week - the usual daily garden chores, dealing with computer related problems (the old Dell XPS finally died in a blaze of interesting green color bands on the screen before it breathed it's last breath). I had to install a new modem, get the smart phone into ATT for a new Sim card since that wasn't working properly either, etc. etc.), some fun social evenings with friends and our son and family who are in town for the week, and spending a lot of time reading up on laptops. The more I read the more confused I got!

Instead of buying a new computer, I've decided to buy an iPad mini. It's going to replace the smart phone I don't need since we have one of those pre-pay phones, and the iPod touch which limits me to wi-fi connections. When my back up computer dies, then I'll buy another computer, but for now, this small, lightweight mini iPad is going to  be a nice, small, lightweight easy to read device for my mobile needs. It also gets a computer out of the living room which makes both of us happy. Now I have to figure out how to get it and my other units synched with the information on the hard drive of the deceased Dell XPS laptop! Any do it yourself ideas, anyone?

We attended a wine tasting at a friends, with the wines from another friends, young winery. It was so much fun tasting and mixing the 3 wine grapes, straight and then blended, voting on them and learning more about the art of wine making. And of course there were a lot of lovely tapas type munchies in between all that tasting. Who knew that adding acid actually made the wine smoother and took away the flabbiness. I never knew wine could be flabby. You learn something new every day!

The next night it was pizza party at our sons, who has become quite the expert at managing that wood fired pizza oven. Our daughter in law is an amazing cook and she's in charge of the the dough and toppings. Then last night it was dinner out at the local Mexican restaurant with family and friends. Tonight it's salmon dinner at our sons (they got lucky on the Rogue River early this morning). Dinner was caught by 8:30am! Tomorrow it's barbecue at their place and Saturday is their yearly party of about 100+ people. I think we'll need a vacation from all this lovely  partying. The scale and I will definitely not be touching each other for a couple of weeks!

With my potatoes having been dug up, I filled those squares with  broccoli starts and another eggplant early this morning. I also harvested the rattlesnake pole beans which are producing like mad, even though the plants are in bad shape from some rust/fungus that I've been dealing with this years on tomatoes, beans, squash, cucumbers and a few other things. That bean is a great heirloom variety that I've grown for years and this is the first times I've seen anything like this attack them.

My friend Mike loved the special mug I made for him. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the finished product. I've been so busy the past ten days or so, with all this gardening, cooking (spent a whole day making 70 perogis a couple of days  ago) and those computer, modem and phone problems that there just hasn't been time for the studio other than a couple of half days to finish and bisque it and another day firing it with a couple of black slip tests, in my tiny test kiln.

I signed up for our local womens club luncheon next month where members can bring their art, crafts, business ideas, etc. So that will get me moving. There's enough work made - just a few pots need decorating. The kiln is about 75% loaded with pots to be bisqued; and  I have a bunch of pots already bisqued, so I'm in good shape. I just have to free up my afternoons next week for the studio. So much for retirement being a time to slow down!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Liz Zlot Summerfield decorating demo sample

This is a nice promotional sample of Liz's decorating process, in her new video which you can purchase through Ceramic Arts Daily.

This morning I ordered a couple of pattern rolling pins that are use for cake decorating. I promised my ten year old grand daughter McKenna that she could come and play clay with me this summer, so I'm trying to come up with some other textural things that would give her some way of getting some patterns on little slab plates, cups, Christmas decorations, and other projects suitable for a young beginner.

Bodhi is off to the doggie groomer this morning and there's morning garden chores, and pesto to make for tonight's pasta dinner; but I will get all afternoon in the studio, which didn't happen yesterday. I shifted the afternoon plan and went to take care of my daughter-in-laws garden and we didn't get back till almost dinner time. It was over 90F yesterday and I was concerned about the tiny seedlings I had planted two days before; but fortunately they weren't stressed, but I gave them a bit more water anyway.

Picked my one lone, yellow wax bean yesterday, so we will soon have enough for me to try out some new recipes. There's a Lidida Bastianich bean and potato recipe that looks like a good one to try. Life is good!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lovely new Phil Rogers documentary from Goldmark

I love Phil Rogers work. There's such quietness, yet strength in his pots. The details are often many, but the pots are never busy. For me, they're the kind of pots you would never tire of viewing and using. It occurred to me that some of that hakeme slip decorating could be used in earthenware, so I'm eager to try it on some yunomis and small tea bowls.

My husband always thought that much of my work had an Oriental feeling, which may not be surprising since Yi dynasty  Korean and the works of some potters from Japan, like Hamada Shoji and Kawai Kanjioro are at the top of my all times favorites list. We do assimilate all those pictures we view so often, and store them somewhere deep inside, which allows them to become part of our unconscious or conscious process at some point or another.

This morning was for the usual garden chores, email and now, some early dinner prep. This afternoon, I'm heading to the studio to mix up my clear glaze. I hope all the ghastly borate in that glaze hasn't out gassed and caused it too appear thicker than it really is, otherwise, I might just let that batch dry out and reconstitute later, or add some darvan. First I'll test the specific gravity.

Yesterday was a lazy Sunday, once I finished my 7 am garden spraying, and other chores. Thanks to my friend Kay who sweetly got me out of the house to go to a fund raising Craftsman style house tour in town, it turned into a lovely play day. My bad hip ached all night after all that walking and particularly going up and down all those steps during the tour, but it was worth it. This bad hip is now affecting my sleep, so I am probably going to get this one fixed sometime in the next six months, or so.

Time to start chopping tomatoes, slicing serrano chiles, and grating cheese for tonight's nachos. Jim will take on his usual job of squeezing the juice for the margaritas.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My phone is now smart

We were out to the farmers market before breakfast for some croissants and veggie starts which I'll be planting later today. It's the only place that I've been able to find these very young lettuce and other veggie seedlings. My early lettuce and cilantro are now pretty kaput and time to pull it out and re-plant. I had to stop at the ATT office after that and got all the information about cellular plans, usage, etc for my Apple 4s smart phone, which our son recently gave me when he upgraded to the latest one.

I opted for the pay as you go unlimited phone and text plan with 1 Gig of data use, to see how this will work for me. This phone will offer us a lot more flexibility than Jim's not very smart phone, which was no use to use the time we got lost on very dark roads and had no way to look at a map. This smart phone also has a handy compass built in. There's a thing called voice memo and a few others goodies that I don't have on my iPod touch. I'll have to check some of these on line and find out just what they do and how to use them.

Since it's too hot to garden here this afternoon, I'll be spending time seeing if my printer can print out the users guide for this smart phone, then cleaning a lot of unused apps in my ipod touch, get it re-synched and hopefully, get some of my photos and apps downloaded on this smart phone. There's a Nike ipad app which looks like you use it to test the merits of your exercise routine. I can definitely get rid of that one. My iPod touch had double the memory, at least, of this new phone, so I have to do a lot unused, rarely used app deleting as well as delete a lot of photos and rarely listened to music.

I actually got four hours in the studio two days ago. Not much got done since it took forever just to re-mix under glazes that had been sitting far too long. I managed to finish decorating a special surprise mug for a friend, which took forever. There were very small numbers that I had to use as part of the decorating and not even the smallest brush worked well, so I had to do a lot of drying, scraping and re-slipping and re-decorating; but I finally got it done.  At the time I regretted that I never bought one of those ceramic black under glaze pencils! I'm just hoping that the slip I had to remove and re-apply to  a bone dry pot, didn't crawl when bisque fired yesterday. I'm almost afraid to look, but I will - later!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Another Dough Fitch and Hannah McAndrew kiln opening

Just love how well they document their work and firing results. Some great pots in this somewhat uneven firing. We all know that one! Better to re-fire the under fired pots than over firing.

Yesterday was a full gardening day for me in two gardens. Today will be easier, as I just have to deal with my own garden and a quick Chinese stir fry dinner.

I've spent the morning organizing some garden fertilizers, sprays, etc, and getting another order in for more organic garden supplies, and finding the recipe for tonight's dinner. It will be a flank steak stir fry using some of my over abundance of snow peas. Time now to get a bit of breakfast and on to my morning garden chores.

Looks like I might just get some studio time after lunch. It's a start. Once these vegetables start coming in in great abundance, I'll be a lot busier in the kitchen. Twenty four or so tomato plants are going to give me a lot of salsa, tomato and taco sauce to process. At least this year I only planted a couple of zucchini plants so I won't have to look around town for open car windows to share. :-)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Very good Nick Joerling video clip

I'm a big fan of Nick's work - just love those animated forms. In this little video clip from his new DVD, he demonstrates how he achieves some of that lovely movement in his work.

Gardening has still been consuming so much of my day. Yesterday my garden day started before breakfast and didn't end till after 9pm. Part of the day was spent traveling back and forth (twice yesterday), to our son and daughter-in-laws place, which is 50 minute round trip.  Today will be a much easier day since I only have to hand water and do feeding only in my garden.

There's a really bad fungus on the tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, peppers and squash in both gardens. In my 50 years of vegetable gardening I've never seen anything like this. I've been pulling off the affected leaves as much as possible and spraying every 7 days with copper solution. Thanks to mercury retrograde the motorized Green Gorilla sprayer just decided to quit and no amount of checking and cleaning got it to work other than by hand pumping and even that has been sporadic. I'm very tired today!

After morning gardening, cooking, feeding my sourdough starter which is long overdue, ordering some vitamins, etc. I'll start on some early dinner prep. I harvested some of the late season lettuce yesterday so tonight I'll be making salad Nicoise for dinner. It's one of our favorite warm weather dinners.

The rest of the day is going to be to rest, and explore Wordpress and see if I can find out some of the more subtle or hidden controls to be able to create a web site I'd be happy with. My first effort proved frustrating. Unlike BlogSpot, they have very few free template choices and their editing choices also seem limited. If it doesn't get any better with more exploration it might be time for me to learn html or just find a host that will support my old Frontpage created web site, or just forget about a web site. I'm retired, so why in the world am I even bothering with this! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mug eye candy

Check out this link for 24 very unique mug designs - some pretty awesome, practical and humorous ideas.

Yesterday was a re-charge day for me, so other than absolutely necessary garden and cooking chores, I spent time trying in vain, to create a web site on Wix, using one of their templates, which wasn't very open to my efforts to make changes. Instead, I switched over to my blog template and re-worked it to what you're seeing now, which I think makes it more easily readable.

I will continue my search for web software since my Frontpage software is no longer supported by Microsoft or Host Monster, my current web host. Since I have to fairly quickly decide whether or not I will renew that or find another host that supports Frontpage, or find another reasonably priced, user friendly software that Hostmonster or another service will accept. Any suggestions anyone?

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Cone 6 soda tests

Now that my ever extended planting of  two gardens is at an end, with only maintenance at hand,  I've been spending time in between hard garden work, cooking and cleaning up picture files in computers and backing up hard drives with only two fishing trips to break up the schedule of the past two months.

Looking at these cone 6 soda tests that were fired in John Britt's little soda test kiln five year ago, is getting me intrigued once again.

Earthenware has not captured my heart, sorry to say. I love the look of it, but I just can't get past the lack of durability or the fact that I still really miss soda firing, Even if it  only means doing a couple of summer and early fall soda firings in my little Olympic soda test kiln, that would  be enough to satisfy that itch. In view of that, it just makes sense to switch to a cone 6 white stoneware or porcelain that I can use for cone 6 oxidation in my larger kiln and the soda in the much smaller gas kiln. 

Of course that means that I have to get back into the studio soon and finish up all those earthenware and cone 10 soda pots. That may take a while since we are determined to enjoy ourselves this summer and get out and about a bit more than we have in the past two years when the focus was just getting settled after the move and seeing to  a lot of work that needed to be done on the house, setting up the studio and creating some semblance of a garden in the midst of all the concrete in the back yard.

Now that garden work is easing up, I should be able to at least get started on wrapping up those earthenware and cone 10 soda pots.

Here's some photos fo some of those Cone 6 soda slip and glaze tests.


BW - a white stoneware from Axner's.
H - Helios porcelain
LG - Loafers Glory a white stoneware
MW - Moon White stoneware
PH - Phoenix stoneware
P5 - P5 porcelain


 #5891 Grolleg flashing slip on MW (I think.Tile was broken)
#5891 Grolleg flashing slip on PH
#2993 Bauer flashing sip on BW
#2519 Jane Hamly dark blue slip on BW

2nd row down, from left to right:

#6254 Blair red flashing slip on BW
#6254 Blair's red flashing slip on P5 porcelain
#6031 Tudball black slip on LG
#5898 Hamlyn Green on MW

3rd row down , from left to right:

8407B Tudball Green Rutile cobalt slip on LG
8407  Tudball plain flashing slip on P5 porcelain
8403 Version 5 June Perry flashing slip on LG
6626 Water color on BW

4th row down, from left to right:

#8683 Helmer flashing slip on BW
#8600 June Perry Celadon on PH (not enough reduction but nice satin finish)
#8455 GOES slip on MW
#8407C Tudball rutile slip on LG


#8941C Show Saver Light blue on LG
#8941B Show Saver leaf green on LG (much nicer color than photo shows)
#8941A Show Saver bright lime green on LG (much nicer color than photo shows)
#8880Version 2 Ruggles and Rankin #6 Tile slip (clay body unknown.Tile broken)

2nd row down,from left to right:

#9166 Linda's Yellow slip on PH
#9166 Linda's Yellow slip on P5
#8996  Randy's flashing slip on PH
#8941D Show Saver on LG (beautiful turquoise green)

3rd row down, from left to right:

#9762 Crackle slip on LG
#9607 #6Tile slip on LG
#9593D June Perry Celadon (nice, fat mutton fat celadon, but under reduced)
#9283 June Perry 1/2 and 1/2 slip on PH


#9930 Gay Smith's Helmer flashing slip on LG
#9887 Helmer flashing slip on BW
#9844 Matt Long flashing slip on porcelain? either P5 or Helios (very promising)
#9775 Peachy shino on H (not reduced enough, but surface looks good for cone 6

2nd row from top, from left to right:

#10124 Mark Peter's Helmer flashing slip on PH
#10124 Mark Peter's Helmer flashing slip on LG
#9976 Fish Sauce slip on PH

3rd row from top, from left to right:

#10260 June Perry honey on LG (nice butter surface. May need more reduction.
#10259 June Perry green on LG(very dull. I need to play with this some more)
#10253 Shino on LG (not reduced but surface nice and smooth)
#10251 Temmoku on LG (under fired. I have to check my recipe and recipe sheet and see if there's an error in either one)

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Nice decorating idea using resist stamps

This is an interesting use of these sticky stamps. I think this technique would work well with slip in earthenware to resist areas where you want the red clay to show. I'll have to check out commercially available stamps. Might be fun to try it either with available stamps or creating your own.

I'm having a totally vegg out day after 3 busy days of mainly fun and some garden and cooking time. Our son Sean is in town and has taken me on two fishing trips down the Rogue river the past couple of days. It was great fun but I'm now wiped. All day fishing in the sun is great, but also tiring. Fortunately I have enough energy to hand water my plants and cook; but that's going to be about it other than watching the French Open tennis, and email.

We caught a lot of trout and cut throats and I cooked my keeper rainbow trout for dinner Thursday. Yesterday, was another good fishing day, but no fish worth keeping. We didn't catch or even get any salmon bites but a friend on one of the other boats got a really nice one. And they caught enough keeper trout for last nights dinner.

Most of our catch was either native fish which we can't keep or too small to keep, except one which we threw back. My old rock hounder eyes spotted what looked like a light colored agate buried in the river bank somewhere around Trail, and I asked our guide to get up close enough for me to dig it out and it turned out to be a small, split, lovely geode, with an interior, inner layer of blue agate or chalcedony and a hollow center filled with minute crystals - very pretty. I didn't know we had geodes in this part of Oregon.

Sean gave me his iPhone 4, now that he has the latest version. I'll try to play with that a bit today, but after trying unsuccessfully last night to set up the WI-fi, I'm thinking that I need to get to an ATT office and buy some minutes for the times I'll use it for on line access when WI-fi isn't available, incoming calls, etc.. This is all new to me since the only iphones we've ever had are the non smart type Trac phones where you just buy minutes as you need. Jim has enough trouble trouble figuring out that simple one (there's were a couple of days of incessant grumbling noises emitting from his office when he got that phone). This smart phone looks a lot like my ipod touch, so I should have no trouble figuring it out once I get it set up - I hope! LOL

Right now it's time to head for the kitchen and make our Sunday bagels with smoked salmon and Neuchatel cheese breakfast. Hopefully, this brain food will help me to understand these iPhone instructions.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Nice Jake Allee video on making a darted textured pitcher

Lots going on with this pitcher and Jake shares his technique and his design choices. And I thought I was the only one who found that inside old ball point pens are hidden wonderful pottery tools! LOL

Jim is off getting the car serviced and I'm house bound waiting for our sons wine delivery, writing checks and other paper work. I got most of my hand watering done before breakfast but I'm in the house till the wine arrives or Jim gets back. Then I'll be going out to plant, since there was no time for it yesterday.

This afternoon will be for planting, since yesterday was a day to get Bodhi to the vets early for a day of teeth cleaning, shots, blood work, etc, breakfast out, then on to Ashland for a bit of play time which only amounted to peeking into 3 shops (the Tibetan Buddhist shop was the best!), and a big food shopping binge at the Market of Choice and Shop n' Kart which is the only place around selling great cheese blintzes. Guess what we just had for breakfast? :-) I got a few great cheeses - really splurged. But our daughter gave me a list of the 5 great cheeses you have to try before you die. So I'm going to indulge. They're ordering a couple on the list and we'll get back there Friday to pick them. One tiny piece of cheese was as much of one of Jim's bottle of wines! It's better be good; but I reminded Jim that the same volume of good caviar is even more expensive than that tiny piece of cheese. I sure hope it's worth it! I'll be trying it as soon as the pear ripen.

Then we drove to our sons place on the river and I did a bit of hand watering and weeding there, and then back to the vets to pick up Bodhi. Too bad he can't smile, because his teeth are glemingly white! Then we headed home to unpack all those groceries, make dinner, cover a few tender plants for the night,  and retreat to the bedroom for rest, email and some Yard Crasher TV and blessed sleep.

Time to write the last membership check. Our daughter says I need to slow down, so this is part of my slow down time.:-)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dave and Bonnie Deal Raku

If the embedding didn't work, here's the link:

Enjoy the exquisite Raku pots that this Pacific North West couple produce.
I would definitely not recommend his no tongs, hands only, pot removal technique for the uninitiated. 

As for me, I'm a day late finishing planting the last 3 perennials; and it's too hot now to do it; but at least I did find time to cast a few the past few days and enjoyed a lot of great time with the family at the river house. We even saw an adult bald eagle flying by the river in the late afternoon.

There was morning garden time today to hand water, dead head and pick some lettuce and snow peas for tonight's salad. After 3 days of rich, delicious party food and great wines at our son and daughter-in-laws ranch the past 3 days, we're ready for a salad and a simple grape tomato pasta dish tonight. 

Jim is off to the store for the grape tomatoes. There are small, green cherry tomatoes on a couple of my plants so it won't be long before we'll be eating our own. 

My garden charts/calendars need updating, and there's a few other things I need to attend to now while I watch some of the French Open tennis that I taped. Hopefully after dinner, it will be a bit cooler and if I have the energy to get out there, I'll plant one or two of those perennials and/or install the last plant hanger for the cascading tomato plant. Problem is that lately, by the time dinner is done, I'm too wiped to do anything more physical than typing and using the TV remote!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dreaming of mojitos

Feel like I've been in a sauna all day! It was still hot out there at 7pm! The forecast was for high 80's but I think it wound up well over 90 today. At 8:20 pm it's 88!

I finally found some okra starts at the farmers market along with a few more goodies  to eat and plant. There were a lot of interesting vendors there, even one man sharpening knives. There was only one potter selling mugs and sponge holders, many ethnic food vendors, several artisan bread bakers. various honeys, home made jams, soaps and too many other goodies to list. 

Some growers had plant varieties that none of the local nurseries carry - things like borage which I bough, and other more unusual herbs and veggies. I bought a really nice coreopsis which is a different variety than I've seen anywhere else. I bought that, as well as a luscious, purple penstemon which the hummingbirds are going to love. I was like a kid in a candy store! Good thing I've run out of space to plant for the most part or I would have filled the car.

They had organically grown starts for most of the heirloom and other tomatoes as well as many of the other veggies that I started myself, so next year I think that I will buy most of them at the market and only grow the two tomato varieties that nobody sells One vendor was selling morels and other wild mushrooms but I didn't think they'd go with the crab cakes I was making again for tonight's dinner. I don't know if the morels will be around next week, but I will splurge if they are and make sure the dinner I plan that night would be perfect for some  morels sauteed in butter with minced shallots and a bit of pale dry sherry.

After one last stop at Fred Meyers for a low planter for the outdoor coffee table, and more potting soil, we headed, unpacked the car, and had the lovely croissants I bought at the farmers market. Then we drove to our sons place where I pulled out some old, going to seed lettuce and planted one of the okra plants,  pruned a few tomatoes, did a little weeding and a bit of hand watering.  The fishing pole still has not gotten out of the car - but it will soon, I hope.  I was too tired and too wilted from the heat and just wanted to get back into an air conditioned car.

After stop at the grocery store for some corn on the cob for dinner and a few more groceries, it was time to go home and stay put for the rest of the day.

After dinner I got the last three planters of annuals planted and hit the shower. Tomorrow is another day, and I'm planning on a  very early start planting these last 6 perennials. I'd also like to get two hangers installed on the fence for the Hummingbird feeder and a cascading, cherry tomato which I potted tonight. Then I can finally look forward to some summer fun in the pool and some happy hour, poolside mojitos and margaritas this summer. The mint is on hand, and I bought some limes today, so Mojitos will be part of poolside happy hour early next week. Oh yeah!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A visit to the studio of Grayson Perry

I'll bet that he knows where everything is amid all that clutter!

After a few days of needed rest, helped by mother nature's blessed rain, I'm ready to get back to  the last of the planting.. This body is still feeling the effects of over work, signaled by a scratchy throat, swollen glands and general exhaustion the past couple of days  I'm not going to go at it with such fervor this week. There's very little more to plant, just leeks at our son and daughter-in-laws garden and a few leeks, two perennials and a some bedding plants here. And I will do it in small doses over a couple of mornings, leaving the bulk of the afternoon free for grocery shopping, cooking and maybe even some studio time.

Yesterday was spent on paper  work, a meeting about the drip system and new timer installation, which still needs some work,computer clean up and spending a couple of hours making some slab and impression templates to play with when the planting is done and I can get back in the studio.

Today I'll be doing some hand watering here, planting,  feeding, some hand watering and weeding at our son's place, and walking down to the river to cast few afterwards, if I'm not too tired, and making a crab cake dinner. It should be a good day!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

It is done

 It is done! Every inch of plating space is planted at our son and daughter-in-laws place, and waiting for nature to now, do her job. For me,  it will be time to just feed, weed, water as needed and critter check every other day or so.

My fishing pole never left the back of the car yesterday. With rain in the forecast for today, I decided to finish their garden. I was determined to be done with all or at least 99% of my spring planting in both gardens by the end of this week.

Today's rain puts off finishing my own little bit of planting. Yesterday morning I re-potted all the orphan tomatoes here before heading to our sons place. It was a perfect day yesterday and I pushed myself to the max; but felt so good to finally have every inch of that vegetable garden planted. I even had a couple of leek seedlings to bring home since there wasn't a spot left, that I could find to plant one more thing!

As soon as the rain ends, tomorrow or the next day,  I'll plant my few leeks and a couple of fill in bedding flowers and my garden will be done other than waiting to see if one of those orphan tomatoes winds up being an Opalka tomato. If it is I will probably just plant it in a pot and give the rest of those orphan seedlings away.

Other than cooking, today is going to be a day of rest. There's one more clay court tennis final to watch and a paper pile to deal with. My garden notes and feeding chart were completed last night, so I can dig into my paper pile and make a dinner and shopping list for the week. It's roast chicken dinner tonight - perfect for this rainy day.

Jim said this years gardening made him think of the Pope who kept asking Michelangelo, "when will it (the painting on the Sistine chapel), be done.  My answer is, "It is done, well, almost!". Blame it on the rain.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A extruding project video

Found this video while perusing Pinterest this morning. I don't see any reason why someone couldn't just make square slab and do the same project,. This spiral  shape could be used to make small boxes, smaller jars, bud or larger vases, lotion dispensers, cruets, etc.

Still can't find any okra starts after visiting a couple of nurseries the past couple of days. I have some okra seeds, so I'll get them soaking and plant them in both gardens tomorrow, along with some nasturtium starts that I bought yesterday.. They're good to plant near, but not too near, squash plants since some insects which attack the squash prefer the nasturtiums. Plus, the nasturtium flowers are edible and the leaves may be as well. I'd have to double check that..  It looks like I will be finished with the bulk of planting as I hoped, by the end of this week.

It was over 90 F yesterday, so I quit after about an hour and a half of garden work at our son's place. I'll have to finish over there tomorrow. Since it's going to be even hotter today (an expected high of 95F), I'll start some planting in my garden right after an earlier, than usual breakfast. This just may be the day I get in our pool. It's been over 2 years since we've been here and I've yet to go in the pool or the spa. That's quite a shift from my youth, when it was hard to get me to come out of the water. I never understood those girls sitting by a pool tanning themselves when they could have been doing an imitation of Esther Williams doing water ballet or being brave enough to dive off the high board. Such fun memories, except the time I was either courageous enough or foolish  enough to attempt a back dive off the high board and let's just say, I had an unsuccessful, painful landing on my back.. Guess that's another reason to call it a back dive!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Interesting Ukrainian slip decorating video

I don't speak Ukranian, but a picture is worth 1,000 words, so enjoy and if anyone understands Ukrainian, maybe you can tell us what he's saying!

This morning it was planting time at our son and daughter-in-laws garden. With the exception of one tiny spot, all 6 of their raised beds are now planted. I will have to get back there tomorrow to replant a few bush beans since some hungry birds have decapitated a quite a few of these newly sprouted beans.

Today I set up a couple of cucumber lean to's and planted  a couple of mounds of cucumbers, as well as some chili peppers, basil and a couple of eggplants. I ran out of mushroom compost, otherwise I would have planted a few other things in the flat area of their garden Weeding and watering topped off the garden work there.

I had to stop on the way home to get another bag of mushroom compost and pick up a couple of food items.
 Once home, car unpacked, I crashed in the bedroom, turned on the TV and fell asleep watching some clay court tennis from Russia. Now it's time to think about tonight's dinner. 

Last night I made a delicious, old fashioned meat loaf, with a new recipe I put together  after reading a whole bunch of classic ones on line, and loosely remembering my mothers meat loaf. It turned out very well and will now be my new "go to" meatloaf recipe. The nice part is that there's enough leftover for dinner again tomorrow night.  Tonight's dinner is bratwurst, boiled, buttered parsley potatoes, corn and applesauce. After a heavy duty gardening and shopping time, I'm opting for this easy, no fuss dinner tonight.

If anyone wants to look at my meat loaf recipe, you can find the link to my other blog in my blog list on the right of this blog page.

Our in the car lunch of pistachios and a tangerines on the way home, doesn't make for a filling, meal,  so I'd better post this blog and get my achy tired self into the kitchen and start cooking some meat and potatoes.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Nice slip decorating technique video

I like this idea of trailing the base slip while the wheel is rotating. It seems to give a nice, even coverage and less messy than having to pour it later on. Fun technique.

Enjoying a very lazy Mother's day morning. Jim says he's going to be serving me a bagel, cream cheese and smoked salmon breakfast in bed, so I'm sitting here watching a Sharapova/Halep  Madrid Open clay court tennis final while doing email and looking forward to a bit more of this lazy time before I have to go get out of this cozy, warm bed, hit the shower and get outside and uncover all my tender veggies.

This is the last night that I'll have to cover the tenderest veggies and basil,  and am looking forward to seeing my garden without all of the remay shrouds.

Since we celebrated Mothers day with an early Mothers day dinner two nights ago, I'll be cooking a Sunday, comfort meal tonight - meat loaf, mashed potatoes and buttered ginger carrots.There's nothing like mashed potatoes to touch a mans heart, well almost!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Here's a nice little video showing how you can use some of these antique wood stamps to create your own plaster stamps.

While doing a bit of organizing in the studio earlier, I took a photo of my own collection of these antique stamps. The square ones are my favorites and they're the hardest to find. You can find a lot of them on ebay and probably Etsy as well. Years ago, when I bought so many of these, you could find them in a lot of antique shops and may still be able to do that. Some stores that sell Indian gifts would also be a good place to search these out.

It took two days of working between intermittent showers but I finally got all my planters planted and fed. Jim celebrated Mothers day early by bringing me flowers and taking me to my favorite restaurant in the valley - Sammy's Cowboy bistro, last night. The name does not match the great food this lady chef cooks. They have their own gardens where they grow a lot of their own vegetables and flowers. She is to my mind, the most creative chef here in the valley.

I picked our first snow peas two day agos which I'll use tonight in tonight's yaki soba noodle stir fry dinner  . Most of my raised beds are planted except for one square. I've got a bunch of "no name" tomatoes which are too small to identify, so I'm holding off on planting that square. Our son and daughter-in-laws garden is well planted, except for the cold tender things which I'll plant Tuesday. Right now all those tender herbs and veggies are covered for the next cold evenings.

By mid or late week, I'll be done planting at my son and daughter-in-laws garden. Warmer days and more importantly, warmer nights are coming which will allow me to finish all this planting and get most of the remay put away till next spring.

I spent time during the rainy spells to cut out red plastic squares to put at the base of the tomato plants and I got those installed on all my tomatoes and have enough cut out for our sons garden. It's said that putting this red plastic down increases the tomato yield by 20%. Hope it's true. You can never have enough vine ripened tomatoes!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Another gardening day and outrageously delicious Gorgonzola wine cream sauce recipe for pasta.

 Got a lot of gardening time in my back yard yesterday and all the planters are now filled and planted. I'm still having to cover a lot of things at night because of the cool evenings. The plants are doing well with all this extra care.

Planting here and a trip to the store to exchange a pot for a larger one and cooking used up all my time and energy and I never made it to my son and daughter-in-laws garden, so I'll be going over there today for some planting and other garden chores.

After another heavy gardening day,  it's going to be an easy dinner of salad, Italian sausage and spinach fettucine with the leftover Gorgonzola sauce and Italian ices for dessert.

There's a 70% chance of rain in the forecast for tomorrow, so I might actually get into the studio for a while.

One of my readers requested this Gorgonzola sauce that I mentioned in yesterdays blog. If you didn't read the blog, Jim said it was the best pasta dish he's ever had. It really was that good!
  • (I halved this for the two of us and had enough sauce leftover to use as a pasta side dish tonight with a mild or medium Italian sausage).
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 4 oz Gorgonzola Dolce (must use this. It's much creamier than regular Gorgonzola. I buy mine on line from Murrays cheese in New York, but it you might have a good sour near by)
  • 2 Tbs  freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese,  
  • Optional: extra Parmesan to pass  around.
        finely chopped or snipped flat leaf parsley as a garnish.

        Slice or finely dice the Gorgonzola cheese and set aside.
  • In a large sauté pan, heat the cream, wine and stock over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble. Lower heat and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by about one third or lightly coats a metal spoon.
  • ** If you baby this by keeping the heat a bit higher than a simmer it will be ready in about half the time. I used a high heat rubber spatula to stir it very often, till it lightly coated a metal spoon.

  • Add the Gorgonzola and Parmesan and stir until the Gorgonzola has melted and the cheeses are fully blended. Adjust consistency with additional cream if necessary.

  • Season to taste with Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of grated nutmeg.  (only use enough nutmeg until you can taste just a hint of it. For me that may have been something like 8-18 grates on a nutmeg grater).Serve right away.
NOTE: You can serve this with mushroom or other ravioli, or rigatoni, penne, ziti, spinach fettucine works if you use it as a side dish with fish or simple grilled chicken, or pork. An added 1/4 of a cup of chopped walnuts would be a nice addition to the mushroom or squash ravioli dish. If serving this sauce with one of the tube pastas, some halved, grilled, cherry tomatoes would make a lovely addition. 

I used fresh mushroom ravioli that I bought at Costco. It was very good. The sauce takes about twenty minutes to cook and the fresh ravioli about 3 minutes.  A salad first made for a complete and lovely dinner.