Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year! Sydney Australia fireworks finale

 Here's a link to the fabulous finale of the Sydney, Australia fireworks display for those of you who like us older foks have a hard time staying up till midnight; or for those who just enjoy great fireworks displays!

I'd like to wish you all a most glorious New Year, filled with hope, peace, joy, and abundance in all things!

Jim and I are enjoying our typical, stay at home New Years Eve. We just finished our dinner  (well at least I finished mine, he's still eating).

He's enjoying the Oklahoma Stanford game and I'm going to finish moving my music files out of Itunes and otherItunes files, rename the folders, move them to a different area,  then uninstall the program and do a clean re-install. Windows 7 refuses to recognize the fact that I removed the check box on the the compatibility change I made earlier; and since 3 attempts to reinstall the software in repair mode hasn't worked, I'm resorting to the longer, pain the rump process.

We woke up to a thin, but pretty light dusting of fresh snow followed by rain, so it's been a good day for cooking and computer work. At our ages we probably won't stay up till midnight, so I'll set off my Farmvillle fireworksm and end the year with a long prayer of gratitude, and a meditation.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Women potters of Ghana

Here's a link to a series of photos on video, of the women potters of W. Ghana.

Women potters of Ghana

It looks like we have one more day of decent weather before snow and sleet arrive so we'll be heading out to do some last minute shopping later and have our big meal of the day out.

We're New Year's Eve stay at homes and I usually make a nice dinner. Jim loves Caesar salad so I'll make that with the rack of lamb. He's also requested my potaoes au gratin with mushrooms, so that will be on the menu as well.

At some point today I want to see if I can get this new tape conversion machine working and then get the converted MP3's on to disks which I'll be buying today. There is still a lot of computer filing to deal with but I needed a day or two of rest from that chore.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No knead whole wheat, raisin pecan sourdough

Here's one of the two loaves of whole wheat, raisin, pecan sourdough bread I baked this afternoon.
I think I'll make it with yeast instead of the sourdough next time, which I think might suit the sweetness of the raisins and nuts.

The day is almost gone and wasn't the day we had originally planned. We were going to celebrate my belated birthday dinner tonight, but our dear friend Jim woke up this morning with a high fever, and other flu symptoms, so the birthday dinner will have to wait till we're all healthy and the weather is good enough for an evening trek to Asheville.

Our power went out again last night but fortunately it was on this morning. To be on the safe side, we topped off our 500 gallon propane tank today. Seems a lot of people had the same idea. They said that their 3 trucks delivered 6,000 gallons of propane today. Our generator is powered by propane, as well as my kiln and my studio studio heat. We also have a propane fireplace in the living room, so it's a good idea to keep that tank close to full  this time of year.

My day was spent cooking and sorting through a lot of old audio tapes. My new ION Tape 2pc machine finally arrived and I uncrated it and got it plugged in; but that's as far as I got. Tomorrow I'll read the book and get the software installed. If all works well I'll be able to convert all these old audio tapes into MP3 files and then burn them to CD's.

I also did some web searches for more recipes and wound up ordering the new "Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes" cookbook. My current recipes are very good; but I want to expand my repertoire into some more healthier, whole grained breads once in a while.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Making bread today and tomorrow

After breakfast,and  animal and plant care,  I decided to take a nice, soaking, jaccuzzi, thinking that since Bonnie kitty was outside, she couldn't get into trouble while I filled the tub. Well, woman plans and God laughs. A bully neighborhood cat was threatening her and she wanted back in. By this time the tub had about 3 inches of water in it. Curiosity got the best of her and she jumped, straight away, into the tub! I wish I had a camera to catch the horrified look on her face when she realized what she had gotten herself into. It only took two tries for her to jump out of that tub, shaking her legs as she ran back into the laundry room.Even Jim who is rarely amused by her, was laughing so hard at the sight of this kitty looking like she was doing the makarena.  I wonder if she's learned her lesson on that one!

I spent a lot of time today, searching out some bread and pasta recipes. After all the meat this week, my body is craving some simple pasta, and soon - probably Wednesday since we're eating out tomorrow and I doubt if they'll have pasta at the  Grove Park grill.

After dinner, I mixed up a double batch of a sour dough, whole wheat, pecan and raisin bread.. It will proof till around noon tomorrow and should be ready to bake around 2 or 3 o'clock. A couple of other no knead recipes I found, look good as well - a spelt, and a whole wheat sour dough with millet, quinoa, sesame and other seeds,etc.  But those will have to wait until I can get to a store that carrie vital wheat gluten and some of the other ingredients in those recipes.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Another Under the Tree Village scene

Here's another section of  Jim's under the tree village decor.

It's a cold, but beautiful morning. Bonnie Lass, our kitty is having a grand time outside and repeated attempts to lure her back in have failed miserably.

We had a big breakast and will just have some almonds for lunch. Friends are coming over late afternoon for pate, cheese, fruit, wine and chocolate cookies.

After I make some phone calls I'll get back to this computer work for a few hours. I won't bore you with the gory details of computer woes another further!

Seed catalogues have been arriving this past week. I'll peruse them after the holidays and get my seeds ordered,  plant some perennials under the basement grow lights and plan the garden layout for  this spring. We're still eating potatoes from last season's planting; but they're already starting to sprout, so I'm going to have to think about eating more potatoes - think it's time to think about making potato pancakes.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

More under the tree decor

Here's another section of Jim's under the tree village/farm scene. I've been posting them in left to right order. Tomorrow I'll post the last section. 

We're enjoying a lazy, after Christmas morning. Yesterday was a busy cooking day. Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignion is a time consuming recipe but we decided it was worth  it. The best part is that we have leftovers for tomorrow. If you want to try the recipe, and don't have her cookbook, the recipe is on line.

Tonight we'll have the leftover pumpkin soup and ham. The rest of the day I'll be dealing with this computer. My backup failed yesterday so I may need to remove some files from the stand alone hard drive before I try it again.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone

 Here's a pictures of one of the fireplaces at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, taken when were there celebrating a good friends birthday a couple of weeks ago. I should take a photo of our fireplace, which looks a lot like this one, and post it some time this week.

Yesterday I baked Babka, which is a Polish, sweet bread. We'll have that for our Polish breakfast along with with kielbasa and hard boiled eggs with horse radish. In the past we also had ham, but our appetites aren't as big as they used to be, so we had ham for dinner last night instead.

Right now I'm listening to a Josh Grobin Christmas album while sipping my morning tea. The tree and staircase are lit and I'm thoroughly immersed in the feeling of Christmas. Bonnie and Bodhi have fresh food and water and Jim is walking Bodhi in the rain, which is slowly melting our beautiful mantle of snow. The temperatures is above freezing, so we avoided the freezing rain and this will be good for anyone traveling locally today. .Life is very, very good.

On this special day, and every day, we are so grateful for the love we share, our beautiful family including the furry members, good friends and enough abundance that makes sharing and giving an easy choice. Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Another under the tree village scene

Here's another section of our under the tree village scene. I found this cute Craft Gallery building a few years ago, which seemed a good addition to our collection. It's one of the contemporary pieces which goes well with our antique/vintage pieces.Some of those antique pieces were from my mothers childhood. We have a lot of  bisque farm animals  and other figures which Jim puts on the windowsills, making our living room a childs Christmas playground!

It's been a busy day with cooking, computer time(the computer woes continue and seem to be getting worse), and animal care. For dinner I made a delicious pumpkin soup with oven baked brown sugar, butter and cinnamon croutons,  ham, yams and green beans. Jim pulled a lovely cabernet out of his wine cellar to top off the meal. For dessert we had some chocolate which always goes great with wine.

There were emails to answer, phone emails from our son who needed Mom's cooking advice on how to make a port wine reduction. His whole family is sick with a 24 hour virus  and he was the only one healthy enough to tackle kitchen duties.He's always cooked a bit but since Gordon Ramsey became one of his clients, I've noticed his repertoire is increasing and getting more sophisticated. He finds cooking relaxing (wish Jim would have found joy in cooking. He just enjoys eating well and maintaining a decent wine cellar; but his cooking endeavors don't extend beyond making toast and hard boiled eggs.).

As soon as I post this blog update, we'll  watch Stings Christmas special on PBS, and if we're still awake after that, we'll watch  "A Christmas Carol". (our favorite is the Alistair Sims version.) We have our own videotape so we don't have to rely on local programming. We usually watch it on Christmas eve, which has become part of our family's tradition; but we may not be able to stay awake for it tonight.

Hope you all are enjoying a wonderful, festive, and healthy and prosperous, holiday season, surrounded by those you love and who love you!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More under the tree goodies

Here's a picture of another section of Jim's under the tree village.

Looks like a beautiful day ahead - sunny with temperatures going up to 50 this afternoon. Jim is out walking Bodhi, and carefully treading over the icing driveway and Bonnie who must have been a Himalayan snow leopard in her last lifetime is out leaping and diving into the snow. She loves it! And who would of thought! Since cats notoriously hate rain, I thought snow would have been greeted with the same disdain!

Well, time for me to leave my computer chores for a while. My farmville farm is tidied for the morning - harvested all my crops, made a lot of money but nowhere to spend it. :-) It's time to head to the kitchen and make pate (one of Jim's favorite things in the whole world)!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More under the tree decor

 Here's another section of Jim's fun, under the tree decor. Most of these figures are from my childhood; but in recent years, we've managed to add a few more contemporary and antique pieces.. In our early married years, one of my treasured boxes of antique figures and decorations  from my mothers childhood were stolen from our apartment storage area; and I've yet been able to replace most  of those childhood treasures.

Around 5pm we heard the rumble of the snow plow beginning it's job of digging us out from all this snow. Now that we're free, we'll get out later to pick up the mail and do some grocery shopping. It's been fun hibernating in the midst of this lovely snow, especially after our power was restored !

Yesterday I did my studio plant watering, studio leaf cleanup and spent some time going through some test tiles and making followup notes. The rest of the day was spent cleaning up computer files and some paperwork. After dinner I deleted another 1+  megabytes of duplicate photos and that job and other computer file work will continue for days, in between holiday cooking and other chores.

Right now I have to follow up on some grand children's Christmas presents that I ordered from Amazon, that have yet to arrive at our son's Oregon house, which is where the family has gone to celebrate Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Under the Christmas tree

Here's a picture of one section of our under the tree decor that Jim lovingly and beautifully sets up every year.

We got our power back yesterday afternoon, so I  was able to make a roast chicken dinner since I was no longer concerned about being miserly with our propane supply. After breakfast I'll turn the propane heater back up in my studio, get the plants watered and get then get back in there again after lunch to do some sweeping and a few other paper work chores.

WhenI bring all those plants indoors for the winter, they go through a period of adjustment where they drop a lot of their leaves. So I need to give them a good shaking and sweep up all those leaves.

Windows 7 from hell problems on this new laptop continue to consume my time. I won't bore you with all the grisly details, other than to say that when I finish getting all these files back in to proper directories and back on to the stand alone hard drive, I'm serious considering formatting this laptop and reinstalling Windows XP or Vista so I can use all my old software and have this video card working properly.

I hope I remember this horrible experience when it comes time to buy a new computer and reason wins out and I wave goodbye to Dell and Microsoft and become another Apple Macintosh convert!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

More snow on the way

Lots of beautiful snow and more to come!

Our power is still off; but once again - thank God for our generator!

It's my 70th birthday today and plans for company and  dinner out have been waylaid because of this winter storm. So, Jim and I are cuddling near our propane fireplace, enjoying some of our taped movies, hot chocolate this afternoon with extra marshmallows for Jim  and a dinner of the rest of the turkey noodle soup and butterscotch pudding again for dessert. Jim opened a great zinfandel to make up for the leftover dinner.

More snow is expected tonight; but hopefully not much more to add to the already 9-12 inches we've already had.

Our dog and cat are a bit thrown off with this deep snow. Poor Bonnie, our kitty, tried her best to walk on it but decided after a minute or so of sinking and not being able to keep her tummy dry, thought better of this, her first journey in the snow, and reluctantly came back into the safety of her normal digs in our bathroom wing.
We're now going to watch "Love Actually" while enjoying the last of this lovely wine.

Friday, December 18, 2009

First winter storm of the season

We're in the middle of our first winter snow storm (have about 6-7" so far), so this is going to be short. Our power went out  a while ago and we're operating off our big generator at the moment. We had planned to go out for dinner with house guests, but this weather kept company away, and got us to cancel our dinner reservation. Instead, I retrieved some turkey soup from the freezer and made some butterscotch pudding for dessert.

Now we're going to settle down and watch one of our Netflix Earth documentaries, since the movie we were watching went bye bye when we lost our cable connection.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Charlie Odum in Mashiko, Japan

Here's a video of Charlie Odium in Mashiko. Check out his unique wheel placement.
Yesterday I actually got away from this laptop for a while. I set up my new stereo in the studio, did some studio clean up and did some more Christmas decorating. Jim cut me some pine branches and holly and I made a few table top arrangements. I used the bottom of Linda McFarlings casserole for the dining room table, and another wonderful wood fired shino bowl for the kitchen table arrangement. The house is looking very festive and appropriate for the season.

Since I was busy with other things I didn't get as much paper work done as intended, so I'll focus on that today;but first I need to see if there's a way to transfer some of my Ipod music on to this laptop, since I lost a lot of the music when Vista gave me the blue screen of death and I had to format my drive and lost so much data, including music files.

Each new thing I try to install seems to require fixes. At first the computer didn't recognize the Ipod; but after much reading and then finally changing my input plug, I was able to get it to at least recognize the Ipod. So, this morning I'll see if there's any way to transfer some of that music. Otherwise I'll have to get what I can off the old desktop and on to a flash drive, transfer it to this laptop and then reload the Ipod, which then erases everything on the Ipod in the process. I wish these Ipods had delete buttons so you could just delete and add new files without first, having to remove all the data currently on the Ipod.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who woodah thought Gingerbread entry

Here's another remarkable gingerbread entry.

It's a cool, clear morning -  nice winter day. If I didn't have all this paper work to go through I'd be thinking about a nice walk in the woods later.

Jim's sister, husband and one of our nieces is coming on Friday, so I need to get guest rooms ready and  this living room back to looking like a living room rather than a second office! I have computer software boxes, disks, assorted recipe books, and magazines that I need to sort through, read, put away or throw out. It will take at least half a day to go through this stuff. I've given up on trying to transfer more files until after Christmas. I got enough important files and some programs installed that I can afford to wait to finish this project.

Since Jim and I don't exchange presents - just treat ourselves to what we want. I bought  a new cd player for the studio. It plays MP3's as well as regular CD's, is an Am/Fm radio,  and  also has a dock my Ipod . I have to get that unpacked later and make sure all parts are working. If they are, I'll be looking for a home for the stand alone MP3 player and Ipod dock that are taking up studio space. Hopefully after Christmas I'll be able to get into the studio if this cold and sinusitis have cleared.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gingerbread castle

 Here's another of those fun gingerbread entries from the Grove Park Inn's yearly gingerbread contest.

There hasn't been much to blog about. Yesterday Jim and I drove to Johnson City, TN to do some shopping and have dinner out. Today I'm just sitting next to the fireplace, working on the computer and drinking a lot of liquids and popping a lot of vitamins to try to get rid of this cold and sinusitis.

I bought the Norton 2010 anti virus software yesterday and I'll get that on my computers today. That's my big activity of the day other than making some rice for the leftover gumbo.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another gingerbread house

 Here's another gingerbread entry to enjoy.

At the moment I'm dealing with a bad cold on top of the sinusitis of the past couple of weeks. I'm definitely doing my part in keeping the Kleenex corporation in the black and getting pretty good at being a reclining,couch potato.

Other than working on getting this laptop working, which is proving to be a bit of a challenge with incompatible, older software, I'm just popping vitamins and drinking lots of liquid

It took 2 days but I think I got the majority of music CD's I can't live without, on to the laptop. There are a lot more to go when I feel up to the task of going through them all.

Fortunately we have leftover Chinese food for dinner because I am definitely not in the mood or shape to stand around the kitchen for any prolonged cooking adventures  I did manage to get my studio and house plants watered this morning and now I'm going to try to take a nap.

First I need to see if kitty is ready to come in.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gingerbread Log House

Here's a cut little gingerbread log house - one of the entries in the gingerbread contest at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.

Computer hell continues, but I did manage to take time away from it, before I went to bed last night to mix up a batch of no knead bread which I baked right after lunch. It  will go nicely with the mushroom bisque we're having for dinner.

I'm still dealing with the laptop keyboard problem which takes what I type  and puts the letters in different words, and paragraphs. I'm not getting the problem when I use the wireless keyboard, only the laptop keyboard. It's definitely a puzzlement!

The rest of my day is being spent on the computer. I think I have the majority of files transferred but am having problems with some music files not opening in iTunes, but opening fine in Windows Media player. I may just have to  get all my cd's out and manually re-install them. That will be another days project! And I still have to either get new drivers for some of my software, or new software.
Microsoft isn't publishing Front Page any more and the old version probably won't work on Windows 7, so I need to do some homework on some easy to use, reasonably priced Web page software.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gingerbread chuck wagon

Here's another clever, gingerbread contest entry.

Yesterday was a computer day from hell. I was on the phone with at 4 or 5 (lost count) Dell techs in India  for almost 4 hours, then waited till bedtime for a call or email for a code to install the pic tuneup I purchased over 10 days ago. Never did hear from them.

They billed me and never gave me the code, instructions, etc. Each tech after getting 10 minutes of information about my system, etc, said, they weren't the one to help and directed me to the next one. I was on the computer merry go round  from  hell until I got the last tech and even he couldn't help with all the issues. Seems Micrsoft has again put out a Windows program before the software and hardware people had a chance to upgrade drivers, etc.

On my own I manged to get some upgrades from the Microsoft site, so now I at least have my wireless mouse and keyboard working and don't have to sit with the laptop on my lap all day!

Today I'll continue the file transfers and search some of my other software sites to see if there are any upgrades for Windows 7. I'm hoping today will turn out to be as nice as yesterday so I can take an afternoon break and go for a walk with Bodhi.

Tonight I'll make the pasta dish I planned for yesterday. Since it was still on the phone with Dell at 6 o'clock, Jim drove down to the local seafood restaurant in town and brought us back a couple of fried clam dinners. Today has got to be better - one can only  hope!

I WILL get back into the studio soon - hopefully before Christmas!!                                     

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Another gingerbread entry

It's another computer day. The new drivers didn't arrive yesterday but Jim is  heading to the post office later and if it isn't here today I'll definitely be calling Dell. I was way too busy to call yesterday but I must call today about their 6 month old software that isn't working with Windows 7.

This morning I dug out an old wireless mouse and was very happy to find  that  it works with Windows 7.

I just put Bonnie out for a bit. It's a beautiful day and there's no sign of the bully tom cat. She was crying to go out and I didn't have the heart to make her stay in on such a beautiful day. I hope this isn't a mistake after yesterdays journey. She's good about coming when called, so I'll check on her every 15 minutes or so.

Other than making dinner (mixed salad and orichette pasta with broccoli, pignoli nuts and an olive oil, garlic, anchovy sauce),. I'll be on the computer all day . We haven't had pasta for a while and this dish  is one way I can get Jim to eat broccoli.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Grove Park Inn Gingerbread contest youth winner

As promised, here's the gingerbread winner in the youth category. I think this was my favorite. I love the ingenuity of using shredded wheat for the thatched roof - rather brilliant, I thought.

It's been a bit of an eventful day. Bonnie kitty was terrorized by a neighbors Tom cat and got herself cornered on a steep slope filled with wild roses.  Jim and I spent over a half an hour, in the freezing rain, trying to locate her by her moanful cries. We managed to chase away the bully and Jim got the neighbor to lock up the offender so we'd have a chance to coax her out of there. We were cold, wet and bleeding from those rose thorns and finally retreated to the house, hoping she would soon follow.

A very cold, wet, Bonnie kitty finally showed up a bit later, after much coaxing and calling. I rubbed her dry, gave her treats and she's been sleeping ever since. I started on the dal and raita for our Indian curry dinner and now I'm going to have a well earned glass of wine. I may never let her out again. The physical and emotional strain is too much for these old bodies!

Monday, December 07, 2009

This years Gingerbread contest winner

Yesterday was a lovely, grown up play day - drove to Asheville with dear friends and brunch at the Grove Park Inn. The guys had full seconds plates as well as dessert. Where in the world do they put all that food! I couldn't  even finish one plate and  leave  room for dessert, so Bodhi had some of my leftover sausage when we got home. Afterwards we walked around the  beautifully decorated Inn looking at the Christmas dnecor and the Gingerbread contest entries. Here's the picture of the winner. I'll post a few others in the next couple of days.

Evidently this contest is a big deal - with entries from all over the country. I think  my favorite  was the youth winner, which I'll try to post tomorrow.

This cold day is going to be spent back on the laptop sorting files and attempting to fix glitches.  Hopefully the disk with the new drivers will arrive today and will work to correct some of these problems as well as some of the Dell software which came with the laptop which is not compatible with Windows 7. Otherwise I'm going to have to get  back on the phone with Dell about replacing those disks with ones that are compatible.

I ordered this huge book on Windows 7 and am hoping I'll be able to glean enough information that I can understand, to make good use of this new operating system. Ah, the joys of computers. Jim manages to live a full and happy life without these things, why can't I. HMMMMM!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Here's a trip down memory lane - me proud as a peacock with this big bowl. It was taken at Davenport California, in the early 80's at a Karen Karnes workshop.

 Wow, it was 20F degrees this morning. Winter has arrived!

Still dealing with Windows 7 woes. There was a real screwy glitce, some of the letters skip bakc h "Example, when I typ" See what I means??? If I don't t pe super slow, the letters go backwards, sometimes, several words back. What a mess! Any computer experts out there with a possible fix????

Needless to say, this is a short message today! LOL We're doing brunch with friends and I'll have the rest of the day to see about fixing some of these glitches, getting my files transferred, etc.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Christmas tree is up

Here's our Christmas tree. I decorate the tree and Jim does the village under the tree.

Been playing with the computer and cooking today. I made a cauliflower, tomato and garbanzo beans curry and dal. I used store bought, frozen, Naan; but it wasn't very good. Next time I'm make my own or use Chapatis.

I'm still trying to get my wireless mouse and keyboard to work with the new Windows 7, but they tell me I need need a different driver for it  work. Dell is sending me a disk, which should be here either tomorrow or Monday.               
It's probably  going to take a week or so to get this new Windows 7 working. I lost a lot of files when I used DOS to transfer files to the stand alone hard drive. When I tried to get them yesterday they said there were problems on the stand alone drive and it needed to fix them, but fixing them, seems to erased some of my most recent files. Have I mentioned again that I'm still in my "I hate computers" mode.

Windows 7 is also not compatible with some of my 6 month old software that came with the laptop, so I'm going to have to get on the phone again with Dell after I check the rest of that new software. If 6 month old software isn't working, I'm not holding up much hope for my older programs. Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn't have any information on a lot of program compatibility for their new system - typical! :-(

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

VIdeo on historical Stangl & Fulper Pottery

Interesting video on the historic Stangl & Fulper pottery in New Jersey.

 I'm up to my ears in computer woes this rainy morning. Got the Windows 7 installed, but some drivers need updating, but the web address for doing that only gave me options to update drivers for Windows xp or Vista. AARGH. Then I tried to re-install the McAfee antivirus, only to find out that  it's not compatible with Win 7 and there's no fix available. So I closed down the laptop and headed back upstairs to my office and am working on my old desktop. After breakfast I'll be on the phone with Dell once more. Ah, the joys of computer ownership!

Today will be spent getting all my files back on to the laptop and loading some software to see if any of it will work. I have a feeling I'm going to be buying a lot of new software.Windows 7 is so new that they don't even have information on their web site about the compatibility of many popular software programs, like my Word Perfect. So I guess I'll just install it and see what happens.

We didn't have the turkey soup last night so we'll have it tonight. Jim decided he'd rather munch on pate, fruit and cheese after our big lunch. Well, time to get to my morning mail and harvest my Farmville crops so I can get back to working on the laptop. I think I'll also do some checking on line to see if there are any good reviews on some free antivirus software that I can install on the laptop until Dell sends me a McAfee disk that will work with Windows 7.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Wedgewood plate with potter throwing

Here's a fun Wedgewood plate that I have hanging in my studio. I found it on Ebay a few years ago and had never seen one like it before.

I'm still waiting for the Dell tech to call to help my install Windows 7 on my laptop. Jim and I need to get out a bit later to do some shopping, so if this guy hasn't called before we leave, I'll have to call him again when we get back. We'll have a big lunch out and just have a light dinner of the turkey carcass soup. 

These computer woes and dealing with my office paper piles has consumed all my time lately; but the pile has gotten smaller and the trash bucket has been emptied several times already with more to go. Now I have to finish filing all these sorted food and glaze recipes and other assorted pieces of information. I'll pick up a bunch of folders when we're out and that will help me clear most of this stuff off the desk and into appropriate file cabinets.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Antique Oribe basket

Another revisited pot. - this time an antique Oribe basket form that I purchased in one of my visits to Japan.
It's one of my favorite pieces, and it's currently doing duty as a candy dish on our living room coffee table.

I've been waiting all morning for a call from Dell to help me install the new Windows 7 operating system in my crashed laptop. Since I'm relegated to the house, both with that waiting and dealing with sinusitis which is making me avoid studio dust, I'm using the time to hit the paper pile in my office. After an hour of sorting, I'm wondering why I thought I couldn't live without all this information, recipes, etc.

This afternoon I'll make a pot of turkey carcass soup. We finished the last of of the turkey leftovers yesterday and now it's time for the soup which I'll stick in the freezer for another day. Tonight it's pork chops au poivre with a cream and sherry reduction and home fried potatoes and butternut nut squash with an orange, brown sugar, butter sauce.

Well, time to get back to the paper pile.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Linda McFarling Soda Fired Jam set

Here's another revisit of my Linda McFarling Soda fired Jam set. Linda is one of my favorite potters. I love her sense of simple, yet strong forms. The crackle slip works really well on these jars and the contrast of the flashing slip and the matt black of the stand make a stunning contrast.

Yesterday was spent mostly with computer woes. Transferring files individually with my limited knowledge of DOS took me two days at least; but it's finally done. It's going to take even longer to sort all those individual files and get them re-loaded on the Laptop once I get a new operating system installed. The new Windows 7 Software is here but I'm still waiting for the Dell tech to call me to help install it. That probably won't happen till Monday. There was also a freezing mouse problem with this old desktop that I was finally able to resolve yesterday by deleting and doing a clean install.

In the meantime I'll be going through more paper piles and plan on enjoying a lazy Sunday morning with some bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese for breakfast, reading the Sunday papers,  and re-heating  the last of the leftover turkey with freshly cooked veggies for dinner.

I've been staying out of the studio because of these computer woes as well as dealing with sinusitis which doesn't seem to be responding to treatment. It's definitely been an interesting couple of weeks!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ellen Shankin Jar

Here's re-visit of another great pot in my collection - an Ellen Shankin stoneware, ash glazed jar.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. My day was spent cooking and transferring files from my dead laptop (that job will continue today). It's taking me forever to use DOS to transfer all these files to the stand alone hard drive. If I can finish that, then I'll get on the phone with Dell to have them guide me through installing a new operating system.

This computer project will eat up most of my time today. Fortunately dinner is taken care of - either Thanksgiving leftovers or dinner at the seafood restaurant in town if our friends are available. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Michael Cardew pottery teapot

 Here's another re-visited pot - a darling, one person teapot that I purchased from Michael Cardew in the early 80's.

Yesterday I figured a way to save some of my files on my laptop. Using Dos, I was able to access my documents and got a lot of them copied to my stand alone hard drive. It took forever to do with all the typing of those DOS commands, and I still have more to do after breakfast. The new Windows 7 software is due to arrive today, so my day will be split with doing some Thanksgiving veggie prep and cooking and maybe getting on the phone with the Dell Techie to get the new Windows installed.

Fortunately I have leftover mushroom bisque for dinner. Not having to cook will free up that time to deal with the laptop problem.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ruggles and Rankin Wood fired jar

Today we're re-visiting this wonderful slip decorated jar by Will Ruggles and Douglas Rankin.They fire in a multiple chambered kiln fueled by gas, wood, and oil with a combination of salt and soda.We were very fortunate to have them here in Western North Carolina for all those years and I'm looking forward to seeing the work that they'll be making in their location in New Mexico.

Computer woes continue. Dell tech couldn't get past the blue screen of death either, so we're going to have to reinstall Windows which means losing everything on the laptop. Fortunately, I'm pretty backed up with my documents, thanks to a stand alone hard drive. I'll only lose a couple of family photos and recipes which can probably be easily replaced. Instead of reinstalling Vista or Windows XP, I ordered Windows 7 which the laptop will support. Vista is what caused this problem and XP will soon lose support, so Windows 7 seems to be the best option for now. I just hope it's going to work with all my old software. If not, then I may have them create a dual boot drive so I can install the Windows XP as well.

Yesterday was spent with the Dell tech and by myself, to see if I could find a back door into the program. Cooking, plant watering, animal care and other chores filled in the rest of the day. The studio will just have to wait till after Thanksgiving.

Today I need to do all my Thanksgiving food shopping and tomorrow I'll be doing a lot of my pre-Thanksgiving vegetable prep. If the software arrives today, then I'll be dealing with that as well.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thomas Clarkson large ash glazed stoneware jar

Here's another great pot worth re-visiting. This is a large, ash glazed jar by Thomas Clarkson of Charlottesville, Va.

Yesterday was spent on computer woes and cooking. The blue screen laptop problem is still not resolved and I didn't have time to call about it yesterday since I knew it might take a long time and I had an early big roast pork dinner planned.

After breakfast, and plant watering, I'll get on the phone and see if they can remotely access the laptop and find a way in so we can do a CHKDSK /F and get an idea of the problem.

Tonight I'm making salad and mushroom bisque for dinner. After a heavy meat dinner last night, the soup will be a nice change of pace. We'll have the leftover pork another day - probably tomorrow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Robin Hopper Stoneware pitcher

Since I'm dealing with a major computer problem, here's another re-visit of a Robin Hopper stoneware pitcher from my collection. 

Dealing with computer laptop hell this morning - the Windows blue screen of death that I need to address. It tells me to do a chkdsk /f, which of course, I can't do because I can't find a way in. None of the safe modes work. Diagnostics aren't turning up a problem, so it might be a virus, which I have no idea how I could get since I am super careful, anti virus always up to date, not opening email attachments, etc.I hope Microsoft and Dell have help available today! I'm using my old desktop just to catch up on email, then going to see if this can be fixed today. Jim says he has 3 words for me "Buy an Apple!"

I'm cooking a pork roast dinner this afternoon, so it looks like the whole day is spoken for at this point. Fortunately I got my bowls trimmed and all but one, waxed yesterday, before I had to come in and get ready for a date night with Jim - dinner at the Knife and Fork. I had the roast leg of lamb and Jim opted for the rabbit ravioli - nice meal, as always!

Hope everyone is having a nice, quiet, no computer or other problems, Sunday!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Robin Hopper teapot

Here's a Robin Hopper teapot from my collection. Unfortunately the lid was dropped. I need to get it glued one of these days. I bought this from Robin before he moved to Canada's west coast, and was still living and working in Ontario.It's a nice example of resist design on the raw body, cobalt slip over and clear glaze over part of the cobalt slip.

Never got to the studio yesterday, other than covering some leather hard pots to trim today. Bread baking and dinner prep and some household chores usurped all my time. Dinner was a tossed salad and steamed mussels in white wine, garlic, onion, pernod, and basil with an addition of  a cream, shallot and lemon sauce. It's  the original Carrabas recipe "Cozze in bianco",  that I found on line -and  not the  clone.. The only thing missing part of the recipe was the lemon butter sauce, so I had to search the various recipes on line and settled for the classic French, lemon butter sauce. The recipe called for chablis which Jim picked up for me;, but next time I'm going to use a sauvignon blanc instead. Chablis is pretty undrinkable and not great for cooking either (just my personal preference); but I thought I'd follow the recipe as given the first time.

We're going out to the Knife and Fork in Spruce Pine for dinner, so I'll be able to get in some good studio time today. The pots are definitely ready for trimming and depending on how I feel, I'll either throw a few more things or mix up a couple of flashing slips and start decorating.

Friday, November 20, 2009

David Gilhooley chocolate covered frog ice cream cone

Finally got around to taking pictures of a couple of  more pots from my collection. Here's a wonderful whimsical chocolate covered frog ice cream cone by David Gilhooly. David was one of the leaders of the funk movement, initially setting up a vegetable cart in San Francisco, selling these fun ceramics.. He was one of the  artists in a gallery I started while living in Canada in  the 70's and when I sold the gallery I kept this piece. He stopped doing making pots some time ago, which is a big loss for the world of ceramics.

I've been busy this morning with taking photos and getting a batch of no knead bread started. It's on it's second rise now. This time I added more yeast and which seems to be working well. It should be ready to bake in another hour or so. In the meantime I'll check the pots I threw yesterday and see if they're ready to trim. I uncovered them at 6am,  so should be ready for trimming today.

I only threw a few small, 2 lb range bowls using the last bit of Loafers Glory. It was pretty firm, but I was very encouraged that I could wedge and center it without too much chest discomfort and the best part is that I feel good thing morning. I also added some throwing slip to the reclaim and got the mixer going for a bit and got some studio sweeping and other cleanup. It felt really good to be getting that much studio time and not feeling the worse for it!
Jim is up inBanner Elk in search of some clams, but just called to say they're out, so he's picking up mussels instead and I'll try a Carrabas clone recipe for steamed mussels in a pernod, white wine, lemon, garlic, basil sauce. That, along with the freshly baked, crunchy bread will make for a nice, light supper.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Visiting an old wood fired soda pot

Been too busy to take more photos, so here's a re-visit of one of my wood fired soda pots.

Experimented with letting Bonnie kitty have the run of the house early this morning. She certainly provided a lot of interest and exercise for our dog Bodhi, as the two of them chased each other almost non stop for about 45 minutes. Fortunately she didn't knock over anything, although she did attempt to use the sofa and one chair as a scratching post, which is why Jim hasn't wanted me to allow her the run of the house. Guess I need to get a water pistol and learn how to aim it! I was able to distract her with the new laser toy. Like the fishing pole with the bird feathers, this one is a big, kitty, winner in the toy department!

After I water the house plants, and get my morning vitamins, I'm going to head for the studio and see if I can find something to do without hurting my chest. I think I might just get the de-airing pugmill working and see if I can get some of the Moon White clay soft enough to throw a few small things.

Dinner is leftovers again so I'l just have to make a salad to go with the chicken thighs, stewed tomatoes, peppers, andouille sausage, etc, and biscuit topped casserole. Jim really liked this recipe so it will go in the permanent file in the favorites recipe box.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November blooming azaleas

These pictures of a blooming shrub and azalea near our front porch was taken a couple of days ago. With the unseasonable warm days, I guess they thought that spring had arrived!

We went from spring like, 70 degree weather, to a rainy, cold, dreary day; but I'm not complaining - just trying to keep that cold from reaching deep inside my bones!

Today has beena day of small, non studio chores. I'm still having a challenge with some of my grow lights and I think that another fixture may need replacing. New bulbs didn't work and I had to move a bunch of plants under another light that I was planning to grow lettuce under. I know that these cheap fluorescent fixtures don't often last very long, but the fixture in question looks pretty new. :-(

It's going to be a simple salad and pasta night. Cooking for two makes for a lot of leftovers, so I won't have to cook for another couple of days.

I found an old Moosewood, low fat favorites cookbook on Amazon for under four dollars, and I've spent the last hour going through the recipes, making notes of the ones I want to try.They have some interesting vegetarian stews, as well as a Italian fish stew I'm looking forward to making.

 I also got the Thomas Keller "Ad Hoc at home" cookbook which I'll try to go through more thoroughly after dinner. We've eaten at his restaurant "The French Laundry" a couple of times, but I don't have the time or energy for some of his more complex, exotic recipes. The Ad Hoc cookbook is mainly family style recipes; but with his signature style.  It's a gorgeous cookbook with very high quality paper and photos and the recipes all look doable without spending the whole day in the kitchen. I don't think I'll be making oil poached sturgeon (not something I can buy locally); but from my quicke perusal, it looks like most of the recipes have ingriedients that would be locally available. He has a leek bread pudding that looks like it would be a lovely side dish with a simple pork or beef roast.

You should never food shop or read cookbooks when you're hungry! LOL

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Busy non studio day

 After a frustrating half hour trying to upload a photo, I'm giving up. The size and format is correct, so I don't have a clue as to why I keep getting a "failed" message". I'll try again tomorrow. I'm too tired to fight a losing battle with finicky software.

Jim and I have been out galavanting all day in Johnson City, TN. Originally, the plan was to drive to Asheville. That's before I discovered that there's an Earth Fare in Johnson City, so we made a quick change of plans since Johnson City is a bit shorter drive than Asheville.

After my morning animal chores, animal care, light breakfast and plant watering, we headed out to Tennessee in time for an early lunch at the Indian Buffet, followed by a lot of shopping stops - everything from kitty toys and food at Pet Smart to groceries and clothes etc.. Earth Fare was wonderful. It's similar to the Whole Foods markets, but on a smaller scale.  Since we had such a large lunch, we just opted for snacks for dinner - smoked trout spread, cheese, grapes and  wine.

The minute I got home, and put away all the groceries and other purchases, I had some chicken stock to make which I'll freeze it for mushroom bisque next week.Now I'm just settling in, catching up on email and updating the blog.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Burning Bush in all it's fall glory!

 Woke up to the most glorious star filled sky this morning! With the garden sporting mostly shades of brown this time of year, this burning bush has waited to exhibit it's glorious color at time when when it could shine without competition! This crazy weather (in the 70's the past couple of days), has two of my azaleas putting forth a few blooms; and the calendulas are still going strong.

Yesterday I trimmed one pot. Yes, that's right, 1 pot! They other 2 went flying off the wheel! When I released my foot from the foot pedal, the foot pedal demon who has taken up residence, spun the wheel out of control. It was quite a sight! The universe is having quite a laugh at my expense lately. First I can't wedge or throw unless the clay is like cream cheese, making it an impossible task, then this demon takes up residence in my foot pedal. So today I will do an foot pedal exorcism to remove it and hope it's just a minor adjustment and not something needing replacing.

In any case, I think today is going to be a paper work and cooking day. I have a chicken thigh casserole with a biscuit topping that I think I'll make, and I have a huge paper pile that I need to go through and some glaze recipe notations to make.

Well, time to feed kitty, AKA, the organic alarm clock, and let her out of her night time quarters.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Beautiful morning

Lovely sky this morning!

Getting ready to make our Sunday morning bagel, cream cheese and smoked salmon breakfast, then read the Sunday papers and hit my paper pile for a while. After lunch I'll get in the studio to trim a those couple of pots and see if there's anything else I want to do in there that won't require using any chest muscles.

We're trying to clear out the freezers, so tonight will be spaghetti and meatballs. I think I'll start another no knead bread after dinner so I can bake it tomorrow morning.

Here's the requested  recipe for the blue glaze in yesterday photo.

#1532 Limestone blue (U of Hawaii) C10Reduction

38.1 Kona F4 soda spar
 9.5 Epk
19.1 Whiting
28.6 Flint
 4.7 Barium Carb
Add: 5% Rutile, 2% Cobalt Oxide, 2% Copper Carb, 2% Bentonite

Likes reduction, but not too much. Don't fired too hard a cone 10 or it may pinhole (same thing with too much reduction or too fast a firing). the rutile tends to pinhole in this glaze unless you baby every phase of it. Works best on porcelain or white stoneware. If you like blue, this glaze is worth the trouble. It's a beautiful lapis color, as you can see in yesterday's blog photo.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Braised cabbage in U of Hawaii blue glazed bowl

Here's the braised cabbage,potato,tomato,onion, mirin dish I had the other night. This blue glaze, from the U. of Hawaii, is one I used in the 80's - gorgeous but finicky glaze - needs reduction but not too much, can be prone to pinholing, better on a white body, etc. etc.

Yesterday I got in the studio and threw a mug and small bowl; but even that is sending sharp pains in my chest, so I'm just going to have to be patient with this healing. I'll trim them later and maybe just use my bit of studio time this morning to weigh out a glaze test or two.

It's another gorgeous Indian summer type day, so this afternoon we want to get out and do an hour of garden cleanup before joining friends for an early dinner at the restaurant in town that has switched to a mainly seafood menu. We were there when they opened last week and it was pretty good and inexpensive - a good place to have dinner after a heavy studio day when you just don't feel like cooking or driving a half hour to Spruce Pine.

The Tapas restaurant in Banner Elk was MUCH better last night than Monday. I guess the thing to do is to limit our visits to the weekends when everything is fresher.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Craig Martell porcelain jar

Finally got around to getting all the extension cords so I could test my new photo setup. Here's an exquisite Craig Martell porcelain jar that I photographed this morning.

It's a gorgeous day - sunny, mild and only the slightest breeze. It would be a good day for some garden work, but I think I'll head to the studio for an hour or so and see if there's anything I can do in there. Throwing is painful and I'm afraid, delaying healing. Yesterday I threw just one 4 lb shallow bowl and dried more of the wet reclaim; but that bowl was all my body would let me throw. Today I'll see if I can just throw a couple of very small kiln fillers and see if that will make my chest happier.

Our Friday night porch sitting has been pushed off to Saturday, so we're going back to the Tapas restaurant tonight to pick up a case of wine, which they are selling us just 10% above their wholesale cost (a nice thing they do for their customers). So we'll have a few of their Tapas selections and do some pick up grocery shopping on the way back.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yoga for neck and shoulders

Found this neck and shoulder video on you tube and thought some readers might benefit from this. I know I will:

Had a very aggressive osteo treatment yesterday and found out that fall I took about 7 weeks ago put one of my ribs out of place. It's now back where it belongs! My overnight droopy eyelid, turns out, is just from sinusitis, which the doctor said is probably from all this rain, dampness, etc. For a day or so I thought "boy this body is aging fast. Soon I'll look like the "Picture of Dorian Gray". LOL

Guess I'd do better living in the desert, but Jim's sinuses don't fare well in a very dry climate. Also found out that my thyroid is sluggish. No wonder I've been cold and tired so much lately, with a body temperature of 95F! So she sent me off  with some bottles of thyroid support, barley powder (I need to alkanize this old body (another minor temporary problem), and sea salt for the sinusitis. It was good to know I wasn't falling apart, just needed a good oil change and grease job, and told not to drive this body too fast. LOL

Our plan to go to Asheville today was changed for us by nature. It's raining, rained hard overnight with more rain expected today and through tomorrow morning. There are flood and wind warnings, so we're going to stay put other than Jim making his usual post office run to pick up his USA today and other mail only to find out that it's a holiday. I have the leftover roast chicken for dinner so I'll just make some mashed potatoes and honey ginger carrots to go with it. The rest of the day is going to be for studio time - finally!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reclaim clay bridges drying

First thing this morning I got out some of this reclaim clay and made a few bridges to help firm it up. It's deliciously plastic and moldy but way too wet to throw anything other than plates and I have enough of those already for the next firing. I also trimmed a  2 lb test bowl I threw with this clay yesterday. Getting my hands on the clay felt so good after a couple of weeks and I want so badly to get back to work; but today and tomorrow are spoken for with doctors appointments and an Asheville shopping day tomorrow.

Hopefully by the time we get back from osteo and lunch, I can get an hour or two in the studio before dinner. Gone are the days when I'd have enough energy after dinner to work in the studio till midnight. These days the only late night time I get in the studio is on  firing days and the few days before when I'm glazing and loading.

We had a nice evening with friends, celebrating Jim's 76th birthday at the Tapas restaurant in Banner Elk. We were happy to find that they had a Lytton Springs Zinfandel, which is one of our favorites; but all things considered, the four of us agreed that the Tapas restaurant in Asheville  is a bit better.

Since we're having a big lunch at the Japanese restaurant today, I might just make a simple linguini with fresh tomato, capers, garlic and white wine sauce for dinner. I think I have enough cherry tomatoes from my one lone plant that is still producing well under the protection of  Remay, for the sauce. We have a Netflix documentary "Earth" to watch after wards and Jim, who is a big fan of  "World Series of Poker", is watching the final tonight. He's been looking forward to this and talking about it for a couple of days. I'll opt for a meditation and some play time with kitty Bonnie instead and maybe watch the very end of the Poker with him if I can manage to stay awake till 11 o'clock.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Studio AKA winter home for some of my tropical plants.

Here are some of my tropical plants. As you can see, some are way too tall to put in the basement. That tall one is an avocado tree. These plants were originally intended to live in a greenhouse I was going to build, and then my sanity returned and reminded me that I don't even have enough time to do all the other things in my life and adding one more at my age was certainly not wise, not even considering the cost of a large greenhouse. I'm looking for someone with a large greenhouse to adopt some of these plants!

Kitty Bonnie aka the alarm clock was very insistent this morning. Fortunately I was already up, just enjoying that morning, twilight time and the warmth of the comforter. By now everyone was awake, including the birthday boy (Jim's 76 today) and Bodhi, who was ready for his morning walk.

Tonight we're going out with our friends Jim and Laura to a Tapas restaurant - Jim's birthday wish. On our birthdays we take each other out for dinner and the birthday person pays and someone else drives.

Yesterday we didn't get to the garden work. A virus alert on my computer and dealing with a my space person who is impersonating Jim, took up all that gardening time. Later I made some Wikepedia changes on his bio. They had his birth date and some other things wrong. It's amazing how some of these days unfold in a way that has nothing to do with my original plans!

We'll get out to the garden for a bit this afternoon and hopefully finish the last phase of the fall cleanup before mulching once we get another sunny day. Between cooking, pet and plant care, garden work, shopping, needing time to heal these torn chest tissues, and all the other little things of daily life, there just hasn't been any time or more importantly, any energy left, for the studio. I'm hoping that I can get in there tomorrow and uncover all those pots and see if they haven't dried too much to slip and decorate.

This morning I need to try to figure out the my space instructions to prove Jim is who he says he is. The first try at the link they provided doesn't work, so this may take a lot of time. We have to make a sign with the my space photo and id, have him hold it, take a photo and send it to them. I think it would just be easier to call a lawyer and have them write myspace to either remove that site or get the person to be a disclaimer at the top of the site saying that they're not the real Jim Perry. Why do people do such things!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

No knead sour dough

Here's the no knead sourdough I made the other day. I need to tweak the recipe a bit because, initially the dough was way too wet, probably because my starter is wetter than that of the person who posted the recipe. Fortunately, it tasted great, even though I had to add extra flour later in the process.

Enjoying a totally lazy Sunday, so far. We had bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon for breakfast which should fortify us for another hour or so of garden clean up this afternoon.

I'm making a roast chicken, mashed potato and fresh garden beans (the last of the season thanks to the Remay covering the plants) dinner tonight. Before we head for the garden I think I'll have Jim take down some of those pots in my studio so I can photograph them for the blog when I can find the time.

Time to put kitty Bonnie Lass out for a few hours. She loves her outside adventures and so far, we haven't had too much trouble getting her back in around dinner time.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

My photo setup

Well, here it is - finally - my new photo setup! I took Joy Tanner's wonderful photo class and learned how to make my own light box and other accessories, as well as how to take better photos, use a gray board and reflectors and diffusers. Next I have to take some test photos; but probably not for another day. The garden calls today. 

It's going to be around 70 degrees this afternoon and I need to plant some late parsley and continue general garden clean up and harvest what I can.  I'll probably be too tired after that to do anything more than make dinner and vegg out over a Netflix movie tonight.

This morning I baked the sourdough version of the "no knead" bread. The dough, from an on line recipe, was way too wet, so I kept folding more flour in without kneading, until it would hold it's shape a bit. Obviously, the poster has a much firmer starter than the one I use. The loaf looks good; but I don't know what it will look like when I cut into it. Even if the texture isn't right, I'll get an idea of the flavor and just adjust the amount of water next time.

We had another lovely dinner at the Knife and Fork in Spruce Pine. I had their stack cake - my first time eating this local cake. The history of stack cake goes back to early weddings in these mountain, where many of the woman brought one cake and then all of the cakes were stacked with applesauce in between. It was delicious, as was the rest of the meal.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Hardy calendulas

These calendulas are holding up well after a couple of freezes which have killed most of the other annuals.

Last night's frost got my pepino melon. I'm hoping that the straw mulch will protect the roots so that it may come back next year. I decided not to bring it indoors with the rest of the tropical plants. Frankly, the fruit isn't that great to warrant all that winter care and energy cost to keep it under lights.

Finally got my  photo setup finished, with only one minor correction to get the light box a bit closer to center over the table. I had to change the direction of the table, which then meant moving a heavy sink and cabinet and other things. The whole job took even longer than expected. Even getting the new, larger backrop out of the box turned out to be a chore because of a stubborn cap

After breakfast I'll get back down to the basement to make those little adjustments, get the protective plastic off the backdrop which is already hung and get the reflectors up and get the other lights in position and turned on for a test run.

I have a few more pots from my collection to photograph; but they're sitting high up on a ledge that runs along two walls of my studio. Jim's going to get some of them down so I'll be able to photograph them for the blog in the next couple of days.

There isn't much planned for today other than getting that photo setup tested, going out to an early dinner, do some food shopping and the animal,  plant and house care. Between all these other things and not feeling 100% yet, there doesn't seem to be any time or energy for the studio yet. It amazes me how quickly the days are seeming to fly by lately without my being able to accomplish everything  on my "to do" list - like feeding my sourdough starter yesterday!  In fact, I'm going to do as soon as I get my shower!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The uncarved pumpkin

Am I the only person who still hasn't carved their Halloween pumpkin???? Guess I'll cut it open today and get the seeds out and cleaned up for roasting and make it a Thanksgiving pumpkin!

It's cool and quite breezy so we're going to put off gardening clean up for another day or so. Today's main chore is getting my light box u-bolts moved and reinstalled evenly so it will hang properly. Jim is heading to the hardware store to see if he can get me the wood I need to hang the back drop paper.

Last night we decided to try one of the restaurants in town which, just yesterday,switched to a mainly seafood menu. It's not gourmet fare; but it's inexpensive and everything seemed fresh. Jim also liked their hush puppies and fried clams. I opted for the clam chowder and fried cat fish and both were good.

Tonight I'm making pizza again since I already have the dough and leftover margarita mix.  Well, time to feed my sourdough starter before I start on todays projects.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Japanese cherry tree leaves in the fall

I love the color contrast on these fall leaves of our Japanese Cherry tree. When I planted this tree, I sited it so we get our first peek of the spring blossoms when we woke up.

Up at 5am walking  Bodhi under the stars and feeling the nip of this frosty morning, then coming in for that first cup of morning tea made for a lovely start of the day.

Yesterday was another one of those man plans, God laughs days. Since Jim had to make a dump run he suggested we take that country drive I've been suggesting and off we went, ignoring the other "to do" chores I had planned for the day. It was too beautiful a day to waste hanging out in the basement working on my photo setup. We had a lovely drive turning on to untraveled mountain roads, a big lunch out and by the time we got home we were tired and not good for much more than a nap for Jim and some computer work for me.

Today will unfold, probably like yesterday - with good intentions and lovely distractions. But I am hoping I can find time to set up my light box, or maybe just give in to procrastination once more.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My latest no knead, same day bread with the faster but not too fast rise

This new method that I contrived yesterday, (only because I was too tired the night before to start my bread), worked out great. The bread didn't have the same large crumb (bakers term for the holes in the bread), but it looks good, has a wonderful crust and tastes great - even worked well for toast this morning. The best part was that it was still a "no knead" bread; but I made it with an 8 hour rise instead of 19, which is what Jim Lahey.s original method calls for. I added 3/4 tsp of yeast instead of 1/4 and added 1/4 tsp of red wine vinegar. This is  my amended version of the 3-4 hour version Mark Bittman of the New York Times came up with. His short version (3-4 hrs) called for 1 tsp yeast and no red wine vinegar. I think if I can get the instant yeast, which I'll order today, I may even be able to shorten the time. I'm looking forward to playing around with these no knead recipes some more, especially interested in trying the sourdough version some time, as well as his latest  no knead pizza dough which I'll make after I use up my current batch of pizza dough.

Looks like another gorgeous fall day, so we'll probably be getting out in the garden to do more cleanup this afternoon. It would also be a nice day for a little ride. There's so many roads in our own little town that we've never explored.

Right now I need to head down to the basement and move some tables and chairs and get some boards up so I can get my photo setup finished today. That chore is long overdue. 

Monday, November 02, 2009

Jenny Lou Sherburne at Spruce Pine Potters Market

 Here's a shot of Jenny Lou Sherburne's booth at the Spruce Pine Potters Market. Her colors are delectable and I love her forms as well. There's a lot of time and work in these pieces.

Wow is it foggy out there this morning. I think it's going to be a good day for baking bread!

Yesterday the plan was to get the light box setup but one of the workers used the board I bought that was part of the setup, so Jim is heading out this morning to get me a replacement. Today's activity will be baking bread, and getting a lot of nails in that board which will be used to adjust the height of the background paper. Once that's done I'll move the table back in place and hang the light box. Pottery is going to have to wait a day or two because we also have garden cleanup to do if and when the sun comes out.

We have some leftover pierogis that I'll make for dinner again with some tomato bisque, which I'm taking out of the freezer as soon as I post this, so dinner will be easy. 

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Michael Kline decorating demonstration at Crabtree Creek Art Gallery

Here are some pictures of Michael Kline taken yesterday at his demonstration at the Crabtree Creek Art Gallery in Micaille, NC. Michael brought a lot of his bisqued pots to decorate for the demo, as well as a good group of fired pots.

Michael has devised a unique mixture of liquid wax resist and oxides for his beautiful brushwork, which is then covered with a white slip and fired in his wood kiln with a light salting at the end. As you can see, the results are some pretty spectacular looking pots!

Driving home from Michaels very generous, decorating and informative, as well as entertaining demonstration, I saw all the children in town dressed in their Halloween finery. What a joyous sight that was. I smiled the whole time on the way home. There were Princesses, Harry Potters, and assorted other characters and fashion plates parading down the main street with their bags of candy. All the businesses in town were participating in making a safe and Happy Halloween for the Bakersville children.  It was pure Americana, worthy of a Normal Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover.

It rained hard overnight but had stopped by the time I walked Bodhi at 4:30 am. On this hazy, cloudy Sunday I think I'm going to see if I can find the right sized board in my scrap pile to create a support for my light box. If I hang it from available supports beams in the basement, the setup will be too close to the utility sink, so I need to nail a board on both beams and then hang the lightbox on had it so it will be better positioned. If I don't have the wood for that project, I'll try to get some studio time this afternoon. Most times, Sunday morning is for lazing, enjoying a leisurely breakfast and then reading the Sunday papers.

Dinner is just going to be some simple sauteed fresh potato pierogis that Jim got in Asheville the other day. They're not as good as my home made with my moms recipe, but they're better than the frozen ones that are generally available.  Making them is an all day process so I'll have to find time once the garden is finally put to bed to make a batch. I have 2 baskets of potatoes from this years planting, so we will have plenty of potatoes for the next couple of months for pierogis, potato pancakes, potato leek soup, etc.etc.

Time to think about breakfast - buckwheat pancakes this morning.