Sunday, December 30, 2012

Post Christmas especially for the foodies who follow this blog

We still have New Year's to go but I think we feel that we've celebrated enough this past week for a lifetime! After a great Christmas with our sons family, wonderful food and wine that our son and daughter-in-law provided and cooked, (our daughter-in-law is a fabulous, creative cook!), partying with other friends, our son and daughter in law, her mother and step father, and Jim and I, drove down to Napa, for a few decadent days, which I will need at least week to recover from!

We ate and drank like royalty (no exaggeration), and even found some time in our short visit to shop at some of the great stores in the valley. I brought some goodies home from the kitchen supply shop at the Culinary Institute of America, Dean and DeLuca and another local upscale grocery store. Dean and DeLuca and the local bakeries are awesome. I indulged myself, with Jim's urging, to a fabulous wooden platter, made from an old wine barrel that they sell at Dean and DeLuca. It has the most wonderful reddish tone from the red wine having been stored. It's will be a solid, treasured memory of this awesome trip. I'll have to take a photo and post that another day.

Friday night, our son and daughter in law treated us to dinner at the French Laundry in Napa, which is probably the best restaurant in the country, if not the world. Reservations are about a years wait. It's that kind of place - not just a restaurant, but a food happening. Recipes, service, presentation, wine pairings are all taken to another level of high art. It's not merely exquisitely, and creatively prepared dishes. It is art on a plate, using the best, most expensive ingredients available - like the fresh, imported white truffles, and then being very generous with shaving them over an amazing risotto. This is the first time I've ever seen a truffle as big as a grapefruit!

Before serving the truffle, they bring  the temperature controlled box of truffles around the table, ceremoniously opening the box for each diner, in turn, to experience that first whiff of the intoxicating, aroma, and then choose whether they want the lighter or darker truffle. The truffle smell which seems to have captured all of the aromas of an ancient forest floor - rich, woodsy, smoky and pure heaven all combined, is the best description I can offer.

The well trained staff is a show in itself. When a customer hits the staircase to ascend or descend, any employee on the stairs, even if his or her hands for full of a food, immediately rushes up or down to clear the staircase for the customer.

When each course is brought to the table, there's a server for each person and the dishes are set in front of each person simultaneously, and just as simultaneously, the covers on the dishes are removed, revealing small, intriguing mixtures of food you may have never seen, or at least, never seen in that combination. It's like a well trained group of dancers all moving elegantly and in  unison to reveal the treasure in each, covered dish. One dish reveals a hot, bisque, another tapioca topped with baby oysters and caviar. One after one they came - each a surprise and more intriguing than the last.

The first thing we were served was a mini ice cream cone (the sweet,dark, crunchy version), the base filled with creme fraiche, and topped with salmon tartar. I've had this before during prior visits and was happy to see and taste it again.

The food and wines kept coming and at various points some of us said "I'm done". My son and I were the earliest quitters but the heartier eaters continued, on to a cheese course, which we skipped. It was not any cheese course I had ever seen - no selection of cheeses on a plate at this table. The melted cheese was hidden under other treasures, topped with a perfectly fried quail egg!

 I opted to skip the dessert, but was given one anyway: but even after sharing some of it with Jim we still left half of it. There just wasn't another more room for one more bit of food or sip of wine.

You can blow up the menu and wine list I posted above and get an idea of the type of food we were served. We had other things not on the menu and the wine list is the list of wines we drank. All diners get their own typed out menu and wine lists, based on what they ordered. One of the dishes not on this menu, was an amazing pumpkin bisque served in a two layers cup that had hot water in the bottom to keep the  soup at the proper serving temperature. It looked more the color of a lobster bisque or a tomato bisque, but the flavor was definitely pumpkin, but perhaps there was some tomato in there, or maybe they used a very reddish pumpkin; whatever the ingredients it was superb!

This was a meal of a lifetime, a very generous Christmas gift from our son and daughter-in-law. And to top off the evening, we were given a tour of the kitchen. That would be a whole other blog message. Suffice it to say, it was run as efficiently as the dining side of the restaurant. We left with a shopping bag filled with the menus and some cookies in special metal cans from their famous bakery, and priceless memories.

The other part of our gift was a case of wine of our choosing for us and Nicoles parents. We only visited two of our sons and our favorite wineries - Frank Family and Bremer. We were even priviledge to have a barrel tasting of the 2012 cabs at Frank Family. On top of it all, we were blessed with great weather while there and good travel days, which aren't always the case this time of year, when coming back through the Siskiyou pass.

Today Jim is going to find places for our 18 bottles (we bought some extra ourselves). Once I recuperate from all this partying, I will be making some special dishes to go with these great cabs, chardonnays, pintos and sangiovese wines.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Another baking day

After a great cheese blintz breakfast (thank you Costco!), I had to get out to the store to get a couple of cans and plates for gifting cookies. Then I spent the rest of the morning and afternoon rolling out and baking the sugar cookies and decorating them. I also made Czechloslovakian cookies with raspberry jam centers, which I love, and have put together these few gift cans and plates of cookies.

There are still gingerbread men to decorate but I don't have time or energy to get started on that project right now. There are also other cookies to make tomorrow. Once those are done, I think I will call it a day with cookie making this year.

It's party time with friends tonight and I'm hoping  I don't fall asleep after the first glass of wine. I am definitely pooped! So I'm going to close my eyes and meditate to recharge.

Santas helpers have been very busy

It looks like Santa Claus has adopted the Walmart business model of keeping a lot of local warehouses stocked with  their merchandise, because he's been sending a lot of his presents to our house to be picked up at a later date. Or maybe he's just being merciful to his reindeer and lessening their load Christmas eve! In any case, our guest bedroom and half our garage, looks like some spaces on that hoarding reality show.

As for me, other than answering the door several times a day, I've been doing some holiday cooking. Today, in addition to normal meal prep, I made a pate, as well as a batch of sugar cookie dough, which I'll bake tomorrow. I even found time to re-do all the tabbed, separator cards in my dessert recipe box. The old ones were about 50 years old and falling apart. They should have been retired long ago but it wasn't until yesterday that I found some at Office Depot that would work.

 The local stores didn't have the meringue powder to make the Royal icing for the gingerbread men, but when I got home, my order which I was told wouldn't be here until after Christmas, had arrived.  I guess the package made it through the mid west  the day before the storms arrived - lucky me!

Our son and family flew in to town tonight, so the next week is going to be family time and baking time The studio is just going to have to be put on hold until after the holidays.  There's fudge and popcorn balls and more cookies to be made and decorated and presents to wrap in between animal care and other household chores.

Time to say goodnight and finish watching yet another version of the  "Christmas Carol" - this one stars Patrick Stewart who is a very good Scrooge. All versions are so good in various ways, that I can't decide which, of any of them, is my favorite; but maybe the Alistair Syms portrayal has a slight nostalgic edge.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blowin in the wind

The wind that caused us to cancel my birthday dinner in Ashland, is upon us this morning. The remay is barely hanging on over my raised beds, so I'm going to have to get out there  as soon as I'm out of my pj's and re-do it all.

My birthday wound up to be a shopping and cooking day because of the impending bad weather. Dinner plans changed twice; but I finally settled on steamed clams which I found at Costco. Jim opened a great bottle of Cake Bread chardonnay and I heated up some sourdough and we feasted on 5 lbs of clams steamed in wine, garlic, butter and herbs.

None of the stores had the ingredients I needed for the royal icing to decorate the gingerbread men, but the heavens blessed us and when we got home from all that shopping, the package arrived with that meringue powder. Two days ago an email from the company said due to weather conditions countrywide, I wouldn't be getting delivery until after Christmas. Thanks goodness they were wrong. So sometime Friday or Saturday I'll be decorating those gingerbread men for the grand children.

It was too late by the time we got home from all that shopping to get into the studio. Groceries had to get put away, more Christmas packages had to be opened and stored, clams had to get soaked, animals fed and walked, and on and on.

Time now to get dressed and re-cover my raised beds and hope that my winter broccoli and cabbage haven't turned into popsicles from the cold and wind. Then it's going to be an oatmeal breakfast, finish email, and  studio time for a few hours. Somewhere in the day I need to make that banana bread. The bolognese sauce that I planned as a dinner substitute last night, before I found the clams, is defrosted, so I'll be making that easy, pasta dinner tonight.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Another busy retirement day

Got my paperwork together and weighed out 6 new glaze tests yesterday; but stopped because I was just about out of containers; but it was already 4 o'clock and time for me to get started on our usual, early dinner. While the sweet potatoes were baking, I got on line and ordered about 50 more pint sized plastic, take out containers. Meantime, Jim went to the store to see if he could find me some of those lightweight, inexpensive, 1 pint round, ziploc containers. But they didn't have that size and what he brought home were larger, square containers. So I'll use those later today for some slip test batches which don't have to be weighed out  - just a cup of slip and teaspoons of oxides.

I also have to throw more test tiles for the glazes and slips. It's a big "to do list today", but not sure I will get it all in. If I have time, I also need to make banana bread. The bananas are at just the ripe stage of being very ripe, which is how you want them for banana bread.

We've had some bad weather in the area and more coming in tonight. There was a 60 car pileup in the Siskiyous yesterday and although we're not going over the pass, we were planning on celebrating my birthday with dinner in Ashland. But we've decided to cancel that for another day since Ashland which is higher altitude than Eagle Point, where we live, tends to get more ice and snow and night time driving in those conditions is something, at our age, we try to avoid. Instead, I took some bolognese sauce out of the freezer and we'll have a comfort, pasta and salad, home cooked meal.

We have to get out in a bit for some chores. A trip to Costco may be a place to find some of those plastic containers and maybe some birthday dessert. :-) I also need to stop at the grocery store because an email yesterday said that my order for the meringue powder and other things I need to finish Christmas baking, probably won't arrive until after the holidays due to bad weather. Evidently Colorado is a hub where a lot of these packages go through, so I'm hoping some of the other, larger grocery stores in Medford will have what I need, or at least have a substitute. Those gingerbread men are going to need Royal icing in a few days before I deliver them to the grand kids. There are also stops to be made at the post office, library and Office Depot - another busy retirement day!  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's only about a inch so far, but still snowing, and sure looks pretty! Good thing I don't have to drive anywhere this morning because it's pretty slippery out there.

I have some paperwork to do this morning and then I'll be heading to the studio. Jim didn't get back till mid afternoon yesterday, and he arrived with a pile of mail and packages that I had to deal with so it was another no studio day; but there's nothing on today's agenda after the paperwork and ordering some vitamins, so I will get in the studio after breakfast, after I get the slip and glaze recipes written out.

My aim was to have all these tests weighed and on tiles before Christmas and it looks like that will happen, even with all the holiday preparations and other delays. Dinner is going to be super easy tonight - ham steak, sweet potatoes, corn and applesauce, so I'll be able to get a full afternoon in the studio.

This retirement pace is working pretty well, especially the "no work" evening part, which is compatible with my energy these days.

Monday, December 17, 2012

One thing leads to another

Got the gingerbread made yesterday morning and managed to rearrange the freezer space to make room for them. Since the kitchen was already messy from earlier baking, I decided to forgo studio time and continue with Christmas baking, so the whole afternoon was spent making and frying these Chruschikis, which I haven't made in years, because the dough is the hardest dough to roll. These don't have to be frozen; but store well in this tin can, so freezer space was not a consideration. My mom used to store these in a cardboard box under the bed!

Before I started on these, I checked you tube, to possibly see how others handle this dough and I found the solution - a pasta machine. Voila! That was the anwer. I still had to do a bit of preliminary rolling of each piece, but it was so much easier with the machine.

The Chruschiki's I make aren't the light weight, very thin versions that you see most of the time. Our family's recipe is a heavier version which resembles the taste of a stale donut and gets drier and harder the longer it's stored. It's kind of like bakery hard tack! In any case, there's a large tin can (you know the type you buy loaded with popcorn or chips), filled with them. I just fried the last of them this morning and did half the cleanup and and will do the other half after I rest this very sore hip.

My sour dough starter and furry kids have been fed, the days baking is done and the floor is vacuumed. Since the freezer is full,  the rest of the baking is going to have to wait another four to five days.

Jim is off to the doctor, so I have to hold the fort and stay out of the studio because I'm expecting a delivery. The studio is warming up and I will get in there as soon as Jim gets home. Dinner is salad and cheese fondue, so it will be easy.  Meantime there's cooled frying oil to be put put away when it's cool, a very greasy stove top of clean and salad dressing to make. So much for retirement!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Woman plans, God laughs.

Yesterday I made a batch of gingerbread dough to make gingerbread men, which I was planning to freeze after I made and baked them today. A short while later, a neighbor came by with several pounds of frozen salmon fillets. He does a lot of work for some of the Indian charities and each year they give him 50 lbs of salmon! So, by the time I got my heavy cleaver out and cut the frozen fillets in half, cleaned up the mess and got them packed up, I had the head scratching job of trying to find room in the freezer for them. Fortunately I was able to, but now I'm trying to figure out where I'm going to put these cookies when I make them.

The plan was to bake and freeze the cookies and decorate them a few days before Christmas, when the family arrives. I thought I was so clever to pace my Christmas baking! So much for planning. LOL

So, gingerbread men is all the baking I'll be doing the next few days. I have the studio heating, so after the cookies are done, maybe I can get in there to do something. The tragedy in Connecticut just devastated me and I was in no mood for the studio. I didn't think that tears and clay would be a good mix.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Blowin in the wind Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan's Blowin in the wind

How many roads most a man walk down
Before you call him a man ?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand ?
Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned ?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Yes, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea ?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free ?
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see ?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky ?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry ?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died ?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Playing with sgraffito

Here's another sgraffito test plate. I do like having a job I can bring into the house when the studio is too cold, as it was yesterday. It's been interesting testing different tools for the sgraffito; and testing different stages of the drying. Yesterday I did a leather hard plate and if that one sample is any indication, I think I prefer waiting till the slip is dry. Next I'll try it on freshly applied slip.

My last stain order arrived from Seattle Pottery supply; but I'm still waiting for the last under glazes which should be here any day.

A couple of sgraffito plates and some cleanup is all the studio time I got yesterday. With Christmas so close by, I spent the morning yesterday pulling out my Christmas cookie and bread recipes and making a shopping list for this morning. With the grandchildren here for the holidays, I'll be making lots of Christmas cookies.

By mid afternoon I had to think about dinner, since I was roasting a couple of rock cornish hens and making a rice, mushroom, almond and raisin pilaf. After dinner I continue the search for colored slips and found a good source, so hopefully, when I get back from grocery shopping later this morning, I'll start weighing out some of them. If time allows I'd also like to test one of more of the stains in glazes.

It's a non cooking night since we're meeting friends at a Pan Asian restaurant we discovered recently, so I'll be able to get a little more afternoon studio time than usual.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sgraffito effort

Since I'm still waiting to get all my stains and under glazes, I tried to sgrafitto a couple of the test pots. I solved the cold studio problem which occurs when Jim needs to open the garage door - I bought this lap, work table for about $5 at Michaels a couple of days ago, and retreated to the warmth of the living room to do the sketching and sgraffito on a couple of pots.

I got a bunch of older Duncan under glazes on ebay at a great price. Seems I was the only one bidding on them. They're in the mail, so I need to throw a bunch of small cups in the next couple of days.

Since I'm still not sure what direction my earthenware decoration is going to go, I'm going to try a bunch of different things and see how it feels and looks. I love the idea of a lot of color like Matisse's painting and post modern work. Since I really can't draw much of anything, but think I have a good sense of balance, I'm hoping that the under glazes will be the direction that will appeal to me the most. Doing the sgraffito was fun, but I can't imagine wanting to do this on every pot!

Other than harvesting some veggies and cooking a couple of meals, it's been a day of this and that.

Our mulch was delivered this morning and applied - thanks to the younger gardener person. Jim is off to the dentist again, and I've been tied to this computer getting emails down below 700, and doing a lot of computer filing and cleanup up, updating my ipod touch before Itunes crashed. After a re-instal/ repair, that job is continuing and then I'll do the Ipad. Listening to Christmas music has kept me from screaming. I hate this computer cleanup/filing business; but it has to be done. I just need to quit saving recipes, photo, articles and other things that take up my time. The problem is that they all look so good!

The furry kids are fed, and, more household chores await - the vegetable bin needs a major clean out. I took some pesto sauce out of the freezer and I'll use it on linguine. That and a salad will be a nice, easy dinner. After bacon for breakfast and chicken salad for lunch, it was time for a vegetarian meal.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A smorgasbord kind of day

Halleluijah! Yesterday I actually got to do everything on my studio "to do list". The slab roller got cleared of glazed, waiting to be fired, soda pots. Other studio and non studio items that were also, temporarily residing on the table got cleaned and found new homes. The table didn't stay clear for long, but at least now, it's only a temporary housing for current pots that are drying before getting bisqued. f

I re-arranged my only ware cart to make room for those soda pots, and got my white slip re-mixed, checked the specific gravity and dipped a couple of test pots, threw the lid to replace the glass one that I broke on my antique, glass, flour jar, and another shallow bowl to for more testing. I think the slip was still too thick.  And last studio chore of the day was making notes of which pots had that thicker slip.

Dinner was later than originally planned because Jim had an emergency dental visit due to a broken crown. By the time dinner was over, I was too tired to do the computer job I had planned for the evening, so I just caught up with email and did some computer filing.

Before breakfast this morning, I looked through some of my pottery books for slip colors; but didn't find quite what I was looking for, so I'll continue that after dinner. If I can't find what I'm looking for, I'll just have to do a bunch of testing on my own. I want a medium dark blue; but not the Noxzema variety, so I'll probably have to test some cobalt with modifiers like iron and manganese. The greens should be easy, and same for some of the other accent colors.After breakfast and some household chores, we headed out to do some shopping for Christmas baking supplies and a few other groceries. By the time we got home and put groceries away, it was time to make lunch. And there went half the day.

I managed to get a few hours of afternoon studio time to slip and sgrafitto a couple of pots. After adding some more water to the slip, and re-weighing it, I found that I made it a bit thinner than I wanted; but I went ahead and used it on the interior of shallow bowl and the exterior of a bowl I slipped yesterday with the thicker batch tomorrow, it will hopefully have settled a bit and I'll pour off a bit more of the water and try to find a thickness somewhere in the middle between the too thin one today and the thicker one from a couple of days ago. I'm not sure what other slipware potters do when they get a blob of thick slip, but I sanded a few of those off. This is going to be a bigger learning curve than my super thin soda fire, flashing slips! I also realized that I want to make a thicker batch for brushing, since it took about 3 or 4 coats with wait time in between, using todays thinner slip.

A couple of deliveries of very large boxes of Christmas presents,which had to go in the garage, put a stop to studio work because the garage door stayed open long enough to make it too cold to stay in there and I retreated back to the house to turn the oven on and do some dinner prep.

I got the roast chicken re-heating and just when I planned to continue researching those slip colors, a delivery of 4 or 5 boxes of essential oils arrived which have to be opened and checked and turns out we are missing some of our order, and on top of that, they shipped me an order meant for someone in Tahiti! So first thing tomorrow I need to get on the phone to straighten that out. It has definitely been a smorgasbord, multi tasking, kind of day.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Studio morning

I'm fortified with a high protein, not very healthy, breakfast (egg salad sandwich), and have my studio "to do" list for the morning, and my grocery list for this afternoon. I figured that I'd better get my Christmas cookie making ingredients this week, because experience has shown that if I wait too long the grocery store shelves will be pretty bare in the baking section if I wait too long.

With the grand kids in town over the holidays, I'll be baking a lot more cookiies and gingerbread men.

Since I've been mostly doing anything and everything else in the studio, but make pots, because of lack of space to store any more, on today's "to do list", is the job to see if I can tighten up the storage room by re-arranging what on some of the shelves by stacking things that can be stacked, and clearing off the slab roller which at this point has become a temporary spot for storing non studio things like the pot rack we removed from the kitchen, among other things.

Once the slab roller is clear, I can start thinking about doing some slab work. 

I will throw one thing today- a new lid for an antique advertising jar that's I've had for over forty years. It's my well used, flour jar. I broke the glass lid a couple of days ago and decided to throw one with the new earthenware clay and glaze it blue to match the blue "Borden's" lettering on the jar. I'm not sure what that jar was orginally for, but I suspect it may have been for dried milk, or????

Since I have enough leftover margarita mix, and we've had enough meat the past few days, tonight's dinner is going to be quesadillas, guacamole and margaritas. After dinner the plan is to do some computer work. The job I've been putting off too long, is to transfer all my document, music and photo files from the stand alone hard drive to my smaller laptop.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Here are the last two photos of the village under our Christmas tree. The bakery in the top photo is one of my favorite pieces and Jim was happy to find this pretty church this year. I found him an old Barclay pastor, lead figure to put in front of the church. The whole village looks even better this year since Jim took the trouble to light up all the buildings.

Yesterday's studio plan changed when Jim suggested we put up some outdoor Christmas lights. Hauling out the step stool, and then finding out that we couldn't get it in a good, stable position because of other shrubs near by, we wound up teeter tottering (me) on a very wobbly stool that wanted to sink into the over saturated soil, with Jim trying to keep it and me from keeling over. We just threw the first group few lights as high as could be reached. We got the lights on half of the evergreen tree only to find that the male plug, would not fit into the next two sets of older lights which only have two small female openings. Because it was too cold and getting late, we decided to deal with the problem today.

This afternoon Jim removed those lights and put them on the adjacent, weeping cherry tree, and I used the other two sets on the Japanese maple we had planted this fall. Just those few sets of clear lights on opposite ends of the front yard, really brightened up the house for Christmas.

Cooking a roast chicken dinner and some computer filing and email, took up the rest of the afternoon.  Now it's time to relax and finish watching the original "Miracle on 34th street.", and afterwards I might even have time to read some of the Sunday paper. It's been a good day.


Saturday, December 08, 2012

More Christmas village photos

Here are two more shots of our under the tree village.

It's been a computer morning, trying to figure out what stains to buy. Different sites, showing the same Mason stains, had color charts that did not match. So, I was checking a lot of sites, and googling the numbers to see if I could find a consensus. I finally gave up and ordered a few yellows and greens and will hope for the best. 

Once my hair dries I'll get to the studio. Meantime, I'll get some dinner prep done. It's a Saturday night Nachos and margaritas menu, so I just have to chop serrano chiles, grate the cheese, dice the tomatoes and make a batch of margaritas. With all that done, dinner will be quick and easy.

Even with the studio heat on for two hours, it was still cool and very damp in there yesterday; but I managed to get the new under glaze test tiles glazed with 2 different clear glazes, and a third one with is a 3% rutile version of one of them, and got up to date with the glaze and slip notes. I also did some pot sketches. Things are going very slowly, but at least they are going, even if it is at retirement pace!

Friday, December 07, 2012

More Christmas village photos

Here are a few more of Jim's under the tree village scenes.

It's been a busy morning of email, cooking a big breakfast and doing some sketching and now I'm heading to the studio for a couple of hours to glaze those latest under glaze tests, and maybe slip a couple of pots.

After lunch we have to go out to buy some Christmas lights. We've decided that the 3 wreaths we put up outside, are not merry enough, so we want to get at least one (I'm opting for more), set of lights to put on some of the landscape shrubs to perk up our outdoor Christmas decor. Like some of our other elderly neighbors, we're not prone to getting on roofs or ladder anymore to decorate for Christmas. We leave that to the younger neighbors.

By the time we get back and set up the lights, and if all goes quickly, I should get another hour in the studio before I have to start on dinner. Tonight's menu is pork cutlets pounded thin and coated with flour, dipped in egg/milk mix and panko crumbs and fried, candied sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli - maybe with a cheese sauce if I have time.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Another under the tree photo

Here's another section of our under the tree village setup. I love the cold frame (a gift from our daughter Erin last year!). Jim does a great job with this every year and so far, Bonnie kitty, has not been too tempted to jump on the table!

My studio time has pretty well been almost non existent the past couple of days. We've just been too busy with other things like Holiday and other shopping, a great dinner at a local Pan Asian restaurant, a visit and lunch with a friend and getting started with her help on all these essential oils Jim and I have started taking, cooking and household chores.

The craft store Michael's usually has a 40% off coupon every week, so it was a good time for me to buy another decent brush for the studio. The good ones are pricey and I was tired of cheap brushes which lose hairs every time I use them, so I've been slowly buying a good selection of decent brushes.

With all those other activities filling my time, the only studio time as an hour yesterday morning trimming a couple of pots, and another hour,  the day before doing some sgrafitto on a couple of pots. But, I have spent some time doing some pot sketches, so I wouldn't feel so guilty about not being in the studio.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Jim finished the village setup under the tree and it looks great, even though it's on our smaller kitchen table; but I think next year he may follow my advice, and use the bigger table. :-) This year he managed to get lights working inside all the buildings and it's really a lovely sight, especially at night.

The last under glaze tests are being bisqued. I loaded the tiny test kiln last night and turned it on at 6am, so it should be done around dinner time; and I'll be in the studio all day. There are test tiles to clean up, slip to weigh (hope the specific gravity is finally right!), and throw a couple more test cups and plates.

Since I pretty much have the whole day for work, I think I'll spend some time putting more things away; or more specifically, trying to find garage space for non studio items that are taking up valuable and limited studio space!

The bisqued soda pots are taking up a lot of available space, but we haven't had 3 clear days, which is what I need to start those firings,and it looks like
he next ten days are no different than the past couple of months! I might just have to pack up some of those pots since they're taking up my one and only ware cart, as well as valuable space on my slab roller, which is my only work table!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Sunday dinner and studio time

Yesterday I got some decent studio time and prepped a bunch of new under glaze tests ready for bisque firing. The tiles on the upper shelf  have already been fired to cone 04 and I want to re-fire them later to cone 03; but first, these new tests on the near shelf have to be bisqued in my tiny test kiln, then glazed and fired. Then I can re-fire all of them to cone 03.

After sitting a few days and testing the specific gravity, my basic white slip still wasn't thick enough , so I made up two more small dry batches, added them, re-sieved and still I'm a bit off. It looks quite thick but doesn't meet the 720 gram weight per 50 ml that Ron Philbeck recommended. I'm not far off so hopefully a day or two with the cover off the bucket it will be right. At this point, I'm wondering if he adds some Darvan 7 to thin it a bit for pouring. HMMMM????? 

After cleanup, and unpacking and setting up my new studio clock, it was time to call it a day and cook dinner. The clock is a self setting atomic one. It was really cool watching the hands automatically go around setting itself.

This morning has been spent on kitchen and other household duties; but tonight's dinner is all prepped (meatloaf, pan roasted potatoes and honey and ginger, carrots). I'm finding that doing this early dinner prep works really well with meals requiring a bit more time; and then I have most of the afternoon for the studio, to make some more test tiles.