Sunday, January 30, 2011

Busy, but lovely Sunday

We're having a lovely Sunday, starting with a great, rich brunch of Eggs Benedict at the Tin Lizard in Spruce Pine, followed by some productive time in the garden doing more pruning and cleanup. I didn't get enough garden cleanup in the fall, so I'm hoping we'll get more mild weather before planting time to get this garden in shape.

I made a cavatelli, cauliflower, pancetta, chicken broth and onion pasta dish for dinner which was intriguingly different and very tasty. Even Jim enjoyed it and he doesn't like cauliflower! Thank you Lidida Bastianich for another lovely recipe!

Tomorrow I'll be in the studio all day, mixing flashing and decorating slips and starting decorating, which I had hoped to start earlier in the week. I want to get a firing next onth so I need to get more studio time in the next two weeks to finish these pots and maybe do a few more slab pieces.

Now I'm going to watch the rest of our taped Australian open men's final, and do some more of the never ending computer file sorting and cleanup.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Roofing felt bats

If you aren't aware of this type of bat, here's a helpful video showing how to attach a roofing felt bat to your wheelhead using slip. This technique also works well using canvas instead of the the roofing felt. Both materials are readily available, lightweight, inexpensive and easy to store.

There was no studio time today; but I did get in the garden on this lovely, spring like day to prune one of my peach trees. Yesterday was an Asheville day for some food and wine shopping and my belated birthday dinner at PF Chang's with friends.

I did manage about an hour in the studio to finish and wax a couple of pots. There have been way too many things to keep me out of the studio this week, and tomorrow will be no exception. Since it's expected to be another wonderful, warm day like today,I'm going to take advantage of it and get some more pruning done and be back in the studio Monday when the temperatures are expected to drop down to the 40's.

Time to get started on a salad for dinner. I have my leftover Peking duck and Jim is opting for some crab cakes.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Interesting Cory Lum video on making plates

I've used this technique for small plates; but I'll have to try it for larger pieces as well.

We had another great dinner at the Tin Lizard pub in Spruce Pine last night. They have a new chef and new sous chef and the food was great.Everything was fresh and perfectly cooked. We shared the crab fritter appetizer again. It's served with a remoulade sauce with good attitude. Jim had the salmon poached in Riesling, topped with sauteed mushrooms and leek and baked en croute; and I had the lamb chops with a light curry seasoning. Brian, the chef, makes the very best carrot cake which Jim had last week. Last night he ordered the banana cheesecake that I had last time, and I chose the flourless, chocolate torte which was a super rich and very creamy - pure decadence! It's wonderful to have another, young, talented chef in the area.

I'll be heading for the studio for a few hours now. There were too many things to keep me out of the studio the past few days - mainly some major computer work and household and other chores that seemed to just eat up my day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Light blanket of snow this morning

Woke up to a light but lovely coating of snow this morning which is disappearing very fast.

Not much to blog about, pottery wise. Yesterday was an all day headache day, so I spent time on paper work - noting glaze recipes,filing emails, writing out recipe cards - all those mundane chores you save for those slow down days.

This morning is a smorgasbord of activities.I'm baking bread, and dealing with various paperwork projects. I found a list of various traditional pizzas, i.e, Napolitana, New York style, etc., using bakers percentages which I had to convert ounces, then grams - just one of those time consuming little jobs that pile up. I love Ron Slagle's pizza dough recipe, but I want to see if I can find a recipe for the type of pizza dough I had in New York while growing up. It would be nice to have an alternate recipes for a change of pace.

Next on the list is a few glaze recipes I need to check on my glaze chemistry software. That will be followed with planting some artichoke seeds. Hopefully, by starting this early, I'll have better luck this year and actually get some fruit!

Another job on my days "to do" list is to get my Nikon digital camera and book out today and find out why I'm not able to get clear focus. If I can solve that problem I'll shoot some more pots. And then there's software to install on my other laptop. There's also some new software to install and old software to re-install on my laptops.

Jim is bringing home some Chinese takeout for dinner, so I'll have plenty of time to complete all these little jobs.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pizza and margaritas again

I love having pizza and margaritas twice in a week. The leftover dough was better after a couple of days in the fridge - more flavorful.

Today was a studio day and I actually managed to get everything on my "to do" list done, other than putting a couple of handles on a platter which just wasn't dry enough. By the weekend I should be ready to start dipping and decorating this group of pots.

As soon as I finish this margarita I'll head back to the studio to clean up the test tiles I threw today, cover a couple of pots and close up for the night.

Tonight is "Top Chef", which we both enjoy. I fell asleep last week, so I'll watch the re-run before tonight's episode. Hope I can stay awake this week; but I wouldn't take bets on it after a double margarita .

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pizza and margaritas night

We had a great seafood dinner with friends at the Knife and Fork in Spruce Pine last night. The owners are now heading to California till the end of February and will be sorely missed; but we're thrilled that they came from from their Florida vacation with all that lovely seafood for their customers. We all agreed that the tempura shrimp was the best we've ever hand, and the grouper and other shrimp dish was outstanding as well.

Decided to stay in today and make pizza and margaritas and catch up with weeks worth of magazines and the latest catalogs. All my springs seeds are ordered, so I'm just doing a cursory scan and the rest of these seed catalogs. In another week, I'll be starting some seeds, like artichokes and some perennials. I've cleared one of the six foot tables in the basement, so I'm set to go once the seeds arrive.

The Australian tennis starts in half an hour and we'll be watching that while I continue with the paper pile. Tomorrow I'll be back in the studio to do more throwing and maybe do some slab sushi and square plates/platters.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Short break in the weather

The driveway got plowed late yesterday morning and Jim was able to get to town and pick up several days worth of mail, mail an etsy purchase for me and a few other chores. With all this snow we've had to take advantage of the odd, clear day, once a week or so, to get those in town chores done.

After a totally useless day in the studio Thursday, trying to work with a bad headache and trashing a couple of pots, followed by a bad night's sleep, I decided to take yesterday off and catch up with snail and email and bills. My new Adobe Paint Shop Elements 9 software arrived along with an Idiot book on how to use it; and that will keep me busy in the evenings for a while.

I wasn't thrilled having to buy a new photo editing software but my Paint shop Pro suddenly stopped working with the last Windows 7 update and the new Paint Shop Pro got horrible reviews, so I had no choice but to get the only other viable program in the same price range.

Time to get a loaf of whole wheat bread started early and then on to the studio after breakfast; and seafood dinner with friends later. Life is good.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow tapering off

My day started early with a lovely 6am trek through the snow to the studio to cover a couple of pots I threw late yesterday, then packing a new Etsy purchase. Hopefully we'll get the driveway plowed today so Jim can get it to the post office later this afternoon.

The studio Buddha statue is sporting another lovely top hat and his body is about 80% shrouded with the snow. The snow is tapering off and there's even a glint of sun light peeking through. Looks like the weekend is free of snow, so we'll be able to get out to do some food shopping and other chores.

Today will be another full studio day - mainly trimming and some assembling and maybe even time to throw a couple more pots.

Dinner will be a simple London Broil with sauteed mushrooms, baked potato,and broiled tomatoes. That's as much cooking as I want to do on studio days. I prepped the veggies before breakfast and Jim will get the oven turned on at 4 so I eat my twelve almond lunch in the studio and work straight through, till 4:30 and have dinner on the table by 5. Life is good!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This is the stone fountain in front of my studio. The snow covered bamboo spout creates an interesting look.

Everything is covered again with new snow. More rain and snow are predicted for later, so it's going to be another sit tight couple of days with all the ice and snow in the forecast through Thursday.

I never did make it to the studio yesterday - spent all morning doing dinner prep (a really tasty turkey meatloaf dinner). The seed ordering took me all afternoon and evening. I went through a dozen seed catalogs and ordered seeds and plants from 9 of them.

There was also a problem to solve with my Paint shop pro which has stopped working after the latest Windows 7 Pro fixes. So this morning I had to get on line and find and order the Photoshop Elements 9 which I know ,works with Windows 7, since I downloaded a trial copy two weeks ago. Now I'll have to learn a whole new software.

There were also grandchildren birthday presents to order this morning. Now that all this is done, I'll be heading to the studio for the rest of the day.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Buddha's snow hat

I love when my studio Buddha wears his snow hat. Shortly after I took this shot, the wind blew it off; but it's snowing again, so he'll soon have another hat. It's going to be fierce out there- snow, followed by sleet and a sheet of ice later today.

Jim and I got out after the driveway was cleared yesterday and we able to pick up mail and Jim's niece's chemo medicine, and do grocery shopping for her and ourselves. Our local road wasn't too bad, and the main roads were well cleared. With all the snow in the forecast through Thursday, it looks like we'll be nesting again till Friday.

This morning I got in the kitchen really early and chopped and sauteed all the veggies for tonight's turkey meatloaf, got it put together so Jim can just pop it in the oven for me while I'm in the studio this afternoon.

Doing some seed ordering last night, I ound a new white cherry that blooms late which can avoid the problem we have here with late frosts which can wreck havoc with early blossoming cherries. I ordered that, 50 new strawberry plants and some veggie seeds, and a Goji berry to replace the one some critter ate last season. There are a dozen more catalogs to go through; but not much more to order since I still have a lot of seeds from last year.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Snow and more snow

The snow is beautiful and it's still coming down. This picture was taken from our front door earlier this morning.

I headed out to the studio around 6:30 to trim and wax a couple of pots from last night, among them, a couple of family pots - kitty dishes, honey jar for John Britt's wonderful honey, and a kitchen utensil jar.

Today's plan is to throw some medium sized bowls and some medium sized jars. One will be a nice, wide flour jar for myself - that is if we don't lose power. The house is well taken care of with a huge generator but not the studio. We've had a lot of mini power outages since 4 am. Hopefully it will be OK long enough for me to get some throwing done.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Late start on an icy morning

Decided to wait till some of that ice melted on our driveway. It looked and felt more like an ice skating rink than a driveway at 6:30 this morning when I went to the studio to cover some pots - very treacherous. So, I spent some after breakfast time sketching some pot ideas and catching up on the morning emails. I've never seen the entire driveway covered in a sheet of ice like that! It took me about 5 minutes to walk to the studio.

This time I'll put the cleats on my shoes and get myself to the studio. Yesterdays pots need trimming, assembling and waxing.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Back in the saddle again

Sent another Etsy pot off this morning. Seems this double boxing is costing more than the $9 shipping I charged. It was good to find out that the post office charges are based on the combination of box size, weight and distance.

I'm taking a "rest my back" break after trimming and waxing some pots and putting a couple of hundred pounds of Moon White through the pugmill a few times. It needed softening after sitting a few months. Soft clay, slow wheel works for me. As soon as my back goes out of spasm I'll head back to the studio to do some throwing.

It's going to take a few days for these muscles to get back in studio shape.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Hamada Shoji slide show

You tube is such a treasure for these slide shows and videos of long gone great like Hamada, Cardew, Leach, Voulkos, etc.

As for me, I'm still winding down from the holidays, and doing computer work and cooking while waiting for my thumb to heal. Yesterday I did some delayed Christmas, cookie baking and tried a new Cuban, black bean chili. It was pretty easy prep, chopping a bit of onion and using canned beans and a can of spicy Rotil tomatoes; and it was excellent - definitely a keeper recipe.

Jim is slowing taking down the Christmas decorations, but leaving the tree for last. It's always a bit sad when the last vestiges of Christmas are gone and the living room is back to normal.

In between cooking yesterday, I spent hours on cleaning up one of my old websites just using the editors on the host site. It will be my evening job for quite a while until I can figure out the problems with my own software or just create a whole new site. If I understood HTML it would be a lot easier and quicker.

As for today, I'll try to get into the studio to do a bit organizing before I go through my sketches and throwing/making list.

If this thumb isn't up for throwing, I'll put the slab roller and extruder to work. Friend Shane and I want to fire my larger soda firing in February, so I need to start making pots, one way or another.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Years day

Hope everyone had a lovely New Years celebration. Jim and I had a delicious, 5 course, early dinner at the Knife and Fork, and got home in time to watch the Lincoln center concert on PBS. We lasted till 11:30 which is late for us, but couldn't make it till midnight; but did catch a peek of an area in Russia welcoming in the New Year.

We started the New Year this morning with fresh squeezed orange juice from the lovely box of citrus fruits Jim's niece and husband brought when they visited from Florida Thursday. That cold spell they had just made the fruit sweeter!

Our plan for this windy, rainy day,is to relax, watch the Rose Bowl parade (me), and the football (Jim). I'll try to do  some web page cleanup, maybe go through the new seed and garden catalogs that arrived the other day, and make a New Years day Fettuccine with sauteed onion, mushrooms and black forest ham slices.

Jim, our in house, wine steward, will be opening the wine our Sean sent us - an '07 Colgin, (in Wine Spectators top 3 last year or the year before). Needless to say we're very much looking forward to tonight's dinner!

Hope everyone is enjoying a relaxing, yet fun filled day to start the New Year!