Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rainy day busyness

This is a new one! Can someone tell me why my right side up photo suddenly got turned sideways when uploaded to this page? I tried a few times and there doesn't seem to be any setting that I can see to let me turn it once it's on this page.

Here's last night dinner. The stuffed cabbage tasted particularly good on a cool, damp, night. Best part is that for all the work, we have another meal tomorrow. Tonight it's just simple garden picked salad and cheese raviolis with marinara sauce - just trying to balance out these meat meals a bit.
Feeling sleepy and lazy today; but did manage to get out to breakfast with Jim, do some pick up shopping, and finally get to the library and get a library card.  I also got out in the rain to pick my lettuce and have the dinner salad ready. So now I can take a little break.

The local library has a real slim selection of pottery books (I think I counted about 3 or 4 that were instructional) on hand, but they gave me the information to check all the library materials available throughout the county and any of them can be ordered and sent to my local, little library.

Fortunately, one of books they had was "Tin-glazed Earthenware", which looks promising, so I'm going to start on that in a bit. At first peek, it looks like there's some good technical information and recipes as well and photos of some nice work.

We have all the Halloween candy ready and a lot of it since neighbors tell me they had over 150 kids in our neighborhood last year. One neighbor said that they bus them in. Don't know if he meant that literally, but it's a good place for them to come - lots of houses in a golf community, all close together, so you can get lots of goodies without much walking. So bring on those cute little ankle biters - we're ready!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Foggy valley

Foggy morning, which is pretty typical for the Rogue Valley in fall and winter. When we lived here in the nineties, our property was above the fog, and below the snow line. We were used to the fog in the mountains of Western North Carolina. It can be a very beautiful sight as long as you don't have to drive in it.

Yesterday we were fixated on the TV, following this record breaking storm. It has been devasting to many and several deaths are associated with it; but I think it could have been even worse if those winds had been even higher.

I did manage to get my glaze and slip tests follow up notes done and made a lovely dinner, and the only studio chore I got done was to load the two bottom kiln shelves and load the test tiles; but didn't get around to weighing out another one. That was just as well, since going over my notes, I realize there are several more followup tests I want to re-batch, and I have bisqued tiles on hand,  I'll put this firing off till those are done.

Right now I've got a big breakfast started - kielbasa, artisan bread toast and fresh pineapple. Then I'll be off to the studio to start weighing out more glaze tests. This afternoon is spoken for. I'm making stuffed cabbage which takes a while and while that's cooking I should be able to sneak back to the studio for a bit.

Hope all my eastern friends came through this with little or no damage.

Monday, October 29, 2012

This is my new toy/design tool. Since earthenware is such an unknown to me, as well as decorating with under glazes, it seemed wise to do some colored sketches of possible designs and color combinations. I found these permanent markers at Walmart  and even though many of the colors don't come very near some of the under glazes I bought, I think it still gives me a good idea of what I might like. I made the two strips of the actual, applied colors on paper so I could see if they matched the colors on the pens, pretty close on some, not on others.

Here are a couple of pictures of my crude colored drawings, using the same mug shape and design, but just using different color combinations. After doing the drawings, I realize that I would make some changes in placement of some of the colors; but I like the color combinations for the most part. So I'll spend some more evening time, looking at some of my saved sketches and try them with various color combinations.

I've been busy this morning with repair men who replaced a part on one of the knobs of the new range top. They also fixed a problem with the simmer, which wasn't working; and now I notice that the flame is too high, so I had to get a call in to them about coming back.

Then there was an order to call in to Skutt to replace those bricks damaged in the move. Now I'm just waiting for the studio to heat up so I can load those test tiles. I've decided to put firing off till tomorrow because there's just yet, another glaze test I want to try. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Louisiana seafood boil

Enjoying a slow down day after some hard partying last night at our son and daughter in laws house on the river. The guys fished earlier and had a great day, so we started with some great dips Nic made, and a spectacular salmon mousse that Sean made. And as usual,  he opened up his wine cellar and we had some great wines, which is why I'm moving so slowly this morning!

The rest of the cooking was done by Alan Jackson who owns those ten wonderful, gourmet take out, deli restaurants "Lemonade". The Louisiana boil pictured here was an amazing dish filled with lobster, clams, mussels, baby red potatoes and chunks of sausage. Nic also made a separate mussel dish with saffron and other goodies. Her sauce was amazing! Alan also made this pasta, and garlic bread which I passed on since I got a peek of the dessert that was coming. The dessert was a heavenly chocolate and caramel cake with ice cream on the side. Not only was the meal unbelievably good, but Alan packed up the leftover seafood for Jim and I for tonight's dinner. Tell me that I haven't died and gone to heaven!

Yesterday I stopped at Walmart to buy a set of colored magic markers. I've been making sketches for the new earthenware, and I wanted to take some of those sketches and color them in to get an idea of what underglazes colors might work for some of those pots. I only did one this morning and all I can say is wow!. This is going to be a good tool for me to play with and will save a lot of time and waste of the expensive underglazes if I can use these markers to find color combinations I like on paper first. I'll try tomorrow to take a photo of what I did this morning and maybe when I get through this pile of Sunday papers and old snail mail, I might do some more coloring tonight.

A couple of perennials I ordered in the spring arrived yesterday morning, and since today is going to be the warmest day and the only no rain afternoon this week, I need to get out to the garden and plant those this afternoon. There's always something to do and I never understand retired people who are bored! I never have enough time or energy in the day to do all the things I set out to day on any given day! Have a great Sunday everyone!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Kiln damage

 I cleaned out the broken pieces of fire brick out my Skutt kiln yesterday and then checked to see if all this brick damage pointed to damage to the elements, and fortunately, it appears that they're OK, so I will be able to fire those recently glazed under glaze test tiles Monday. The parts for the small Cone 10 test kiln were ordered yesterday, and hopefully will be here later in the week. As you can see, the movers really trashed this kiln.

This kiln has been moved 3 times and the other two times, it was moved without any damage. As usual, I took care to pad the lid well and wrap the edges tightly. This time we used United Van Lines and I've never had so much severe damage to my household furniture, and kiln, nor had so many items missing. They will never get my business again. First thing Monday morning I'll be calling Skutt to order replacements bricks.

My pumpkin bread is out of the oven and the whole house is still smelling of cinnamon.  I love to bake on these chilly, wet days. It's a small comfort when you feel chilled to the bone.

Tonight is a Louisiana seafood boil at our sons house on the river, which we're really looking forward to! They went fishing this morning, so there may be even more goodies if they had a good day; but often, after rain, the fishing is not the best. Their friend and house guest Alan,  a well known LA restaurant owner and all round very nice guy, is helping in the kitchen. Sean tended the wood fired pizza oven for over 4 hours yesterday (takes at least that long to get it hot enough to hold the heat long enough to cook a bunch of pizzas). He cooked the pizza while a helper former them, and Alan made the most amazing arugula and walnut salad that I admittedly and unashamedly pigged out on. I need to get that recipe; but maybe like many great cooks, he just winged it!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Test kiln disassembly morning

Spent this morning on the phone with Olympic, dealing with kiln sitter and switch problems and  earlier with gas range top repair followup. I now know how to take apart the tube assembly so I'll be able to replace the sensor rod when the parts arrive from Olympics later next week. My old AIM C10 test kiln never had to have that part replaced and that was over 20 years old. I got it when they first came out with those small C10 test kilns. The infinite switched needed replacing many times over the years, but that was the only thing I had to deal with. When we moved, I gave that one away and kept the newer Olympic version, since I just didn't have space for both of them.

The range top manufacturer Euro Stoves, as of this morning, hadn't been able to find someone to come out here to install a new part and adjust the burners on this Capital Culinaria range top. I just heard back from them and they finally located a company in Medford called Appliance doctor who will be calling me about setting up an appointment. Slowly, all things eventually get done.

Yesterday we were out and about with some shopping chores - picked up some clay, darvan 7 and another under glaze, then back to Trade Joe's for more of their gluten free bread which is very good. We tried the same bakery's gluten free bagels this morning and they are also good - not much different than the typical supermarket bagels. Then it was off to the mall where Jim was looking for slippers. He didn't find what he wanted, but I was able to get the off white turtleneck sweater I wanted. We had a piece of pizza for lunch and I was happy to find it's the same place I loved years ago - a real New York type pizza. Jim loved it too, so we might just stop there periodically on our way home for that pizza.

One last stop at the Farmers market for some lovely wood oven baked bread, freshly picked chanterelle mushrooms, home made tamale treat for Jim, which turned out to be really great (he gave me a small taste), home made apple strudel that was fabulous, and the  biggest head of Savoy cabbage I have ever seen. I was thrilled to find it because I have the best recipe for stuffed cabbage which calls for this cabbage.  That will probably be dinner early next week.

Tracey, I picked up the pumpkin bread mix at Trader Joe's that you recommended, so I'll be trying that next time Jim wants boiled eggs for breakfast.

Apple finally sent me my password re-set email yesterday afternoon, so I was able to register the new iPod  Touch and get my music, photos and apps on loaded. I think I'm missing some music files, so that will be another project for later today. After dinner, it was time to vegg out with some email and TV. We're on the 3rd replays of the Midsommer mysteries on Netflix. We never seem to tired of them, even though we've seen them so many times.

Our son and his family are in town, so it's pizza at their place tonight. They have a great, wood burning pizza oven and do a great job with them. He and his wife are both foodies and good cooks, so they're constantly refining their pizza dough and toppings. I think they have that dough recipe pretty spot on right now. I'm not sure what the rest of the weekend holds other than more good family time.  Our son and daughter in law usually have something going every day when they're up for a long weekend, so I may have to wait till Monday to fire these tests in the larger Skutt kiln.

What I do think I can do, if I get studio time tomorrow and Sunday, is make up a decent sized batch of white slip, and the best clear glaze in those tests - Ron Philbeck's version of  a Gail Kendall recipe, which I think was originally Worthington clear, throw a few more test tiles and a few simple cups for the next round of testing. I also want to make a batch of that clear with 3% rutile. I really liked the softer cream color for some work. The other glaze I want to batch is Amber Assault, from the Linda Arbuckle hand out. It's a lovely honey yellow color. Those 3 glazes will be a good start. My new under glazes tests have all three of these glazes over them. I'm really eager to see how those under glaze colors turn out with the two colored glazes over.

I wasn't thrilled with the one black slip I tested - not very black and definitely a less desirable color with a clear glaze over, so I may just explore using a black glaze instead, and try some other combination for the black slip. I'm trying to exercise a lot of restraint and not get too carried away with buckets and buckets of glazes and slips!

Since I haven't fired the larger electric kiln since it's been hooked up at the new studio, I'm hoping that the move and the brick damage that occurred, is not indicative of any more serious problems; but I'll find out soon enough. I think I'll load it this afternoon with the next groups of glazed tiles and just turn it on to make sure the elements are working, and then hold off the glaze firing till next week.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

  East Folk Pottery from Augustin Doublet on Vimeo.

This is a lovely video of Alex Matisse's pottery and his beautiful, wood fired pots.

Yesterday, like so many other days, I had a plan, but then a phone call or a delivery, shifts the plan and one thing leads to another. I did get those under glazed tiles glazes, marked and cataloged, but I did it in shifts. Midway through that job, the doorbell rang and my new iPod touch arrived; and I couldn't resist opening the package; and that's when I got detoured for over an hour.

Problems setting it up because some how, changing my user name and address on my Apple account a while back caused problems, and it kept refusing to let me in. Over an hour of frustration later, calling Apple and speaking to a tech and then to the security people, I still didn't have a password change, because their policy is to wait 24 hrs, even when you pass their security test. So some time after 3 today, they will email me that information and hopefully that issue will be resolved.

The rest of my day was making what Jim called a great dinner - super thick, grilled bourbon pork chops, sauteed summer squash, zucchini and red onions, and a baked potato - quite simple really. These days, after dinner, unless I'm firing a kiln, I just vegg out and do some emails, some on line ordering (yesterday it was vitamins from Vitacost - a great place to order vitamins by the way), paper work and play with our kitty Bonnie, who seems to have a built in clock. By 7pm every night, she leaves her refuge in our bedrooms and  comes calling for me to play. I do so love my life!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Studio day

I slept in this morning, so I'm running an hour late on everything, and blogging in between bites of my cinnamon raisin oatmeal breakfast. First thing I did was to harvest lettuce for a light salad lunch, then do some email.

I've been doing everything else but pottery this week, but don't feel more than a smidgeon of guilt about it!

Yesterday was a day to go to town - specifically, for another visit to Trader Joe's for more of those delicious packaged soups (my new discovery thanks to a recommendation from my lovely daughter-in-law), and some other goodies like Thai red curry sauce that a blogger friend recommended.  Another stop for Halloween candy, as well a my need to buy a new surge protector since the one I had in the bedroom literally went on fire after I knocked a glass of water over at 2 am yesterday, filled in the afternoon.

 In all our years in Western North Carolina, we never had a single trick or treater coming around at Thanksgiving, so this is going to be a very interesting and probably tiring experience answering the door 150 times, which is how many Halloween packets our neighbors said they gave out last year before they ran out!

If the frozen pork chops I forgot to take out the freezer last night, defrost in time, I'll be making bourbon pork chops for dinner.  So now it's time to get out of these pj's and get to the studio and finish glazing those under glaze tests.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Test tiles and lamb shanks

Just finished the morning chore of cataloging all those earthenware slip and glaze tests. I tested these on two red earthen ware bodies  - Lagunas R2 and Georgies new V.  I didn't like throwing with the Georgies body. It was like throwing pure iron oxide with a bit of clay thrown in - very sticky, and  a mess to clean up (think of a temmoku or saturated red iron glaze).  There were three base slips that I batched and fired, and a few clear glazes, and some colored variations of those as well as a couple of other glazes.   

The Arbuckle slip created some minute black specks under more than one clear , which resembled illlmenite. The other, slips,  Pinnell,  and a version Ayumis that Ron Philbeck used, worked better. I did some color variation with rutile for a cream and liked those.. I think the warm cream slip would be a ie contrast with some sgrafitto through the white slip. I didn't get the Pinnell slip thick enough so I have to redo those tiles for a good comparison for the Ayumi slip.

Some of the colored glazes show promise, particularly Arbuckles honey which I will definitely test, as is, on some pots. Most of the glazes I tested are a better when thickly applied. Some of the glazes I want to re-batch with some opacifier. I have a full sheet of follow up notes, so I'll be getting to later or tomorrow.

My pre-dinner prep is done, so I can get a couple of hours of studio time before I come in to start on our braised lamb shank dinner.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Earthenware test tiles

Here's a bowl of the fired Cone 04 test tiles, which I have to catalog, make follow up notes on, etc. Yesterday was an all day shopping and cooking and gardening day, and today was spent dealing with computer and camera problems, most still not resolved.

The computer now isn't recognizing my camera, and it took hours of searching to find out that its configuration information in the registry is incomplete or damaged; but of course there's no other information to tell me how to fix it. I did manage to get some photos off the memory card, but I find it a lot easier to just download them into Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop Elements. Of course, the error message could be wrong since Bonnie kitty knocked my camera on the floor two days ago and it could be something internal! :-(

I will be doing more Google searching for registry error message that after dinner. So the tile notes will probably have to wait till tomorrow.

Then there was the blue screen of death again and I have no idea what caused that! It's been an interesting day. Computers, cooking and taking time to do early voting has eaten up the day.  Lord, I've been in my pj's all day!

All voting in Oregon is write in, which is very convenient, so I had to spend a lot of time trying to find out who some of these candidates are for judges, and a bunch of other state and county jobs. That took about another hour out of my day; but it's done and will be in tomorrows mail.

Now it's time to start an easy dinner, thanks to some of the things we bought at the opening of Trader Joe's yesterday. They certainly have a lot of frozen and packaged foods; and we came home with two shopping bags full of goodies. Our son and daughter in law had recommended their packaged tomato soup. There were two to choose from and I bought one of each. They also recommended the tamales, something Jim loves, so that's what he's having for dinner and I'm not a tamale fan, so I'm having the chile rellenos, and all I have to do it heat up some re-fried beans topped with cheese to go with it.

Hopefully I can resolve some of these computer and camera issues tonight. In any case, tomorrow is going to be a studio day and these other problems will just have to wait. Jim keeps telling me to buy another laptop; but my stubborn streak moves me to fix it. Maybe I just like to grumble!

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Trader Joe's morning

That little test kiln is still acting up, but jiggling the knob a couple of time, did manage to get it going again, and it finished firing around ten o'clock last night. I'll unload it later. The tiles were a bit too hot  bit too hot to handle an hour ago. I could see that a couple of the re-fires still had some pinholing. These were bisqued at 04, so the problem is probably that they need a slow rise for the last couple of cones to allow those little buggers to settle down. I think the next batch I fire will be in the larger kiln with the digital controller. I'll re-dip a couple of those problematic glazes and see if there's a difference with a more controlled firing. I haven't fired that kiln since it's been moved, so firing it just with those tests, will at least let me know that all is working OK - I hope!

I'd post some pics but computer is not recognizing my camera now. I'll have to re-boot once Norton is finished defragging and backing up and see if the Norton re-install or the  Malware software update has screwed something else up on this laptop. :-(

Bread making, cooking, garden chores and dealing with  Norton anti-virus software issue took away studio time yesterday. I finally had to uninistall and reinstall it and finally was able to back up files; but now I can't fnd the files in the drive it said it backed them up to. AARGH! So I'll do another backup today and if it's still a problem, I'm going to have to call Norton.

I can't believe the difference gardening in zone 7B. Our sons garden is full of food to harvest - squash, zucchini, watermelons, snow peas, lettuce, bush beans, artichokes, spinach, cauliflower and broccoli. There are even quite a few tomatoes still ripening. The only thing showing signs of damage from the overnight temperatures is the basil. Good thing I made a couple of batches of pesto a week or so ago. My own, newly raised bed garden is thriving. I can't believe how much things have grown in such a very short time. Some of the leaf lettuce starts are already big enough to harvest side leaves.

We will be driving over to Medford this morning for the opening of the new Trader Joe's. My daughter in law says it's a great store, so I can't wait to see what they have. It's been more than thirty years since I've been to one, and from what she says, I'm sure it's quite a different store these days. There's also a new REI sporting goods and clothing store in that same new complex and Jim is looking for a new jacket. So it's going to be a shopping morning, lunch out kind of day.

I should be able to get some studio time to glaze those tiles that I under glazed the other day, after I do some pre-dinner prep. Tonight I'm just going to do a chicken, cashew, snow pea stir fry and rice dinner. With everything prepped and ready, dinner will be on the table in about twenty minutes. And that's is so far, for today.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

 Some lovely work on this video!

First thing this morning, I emptied the tiny test kiln. I'll go through the tests again later when the studio warms up and make my notes. As often happens, there are good results, some mediocre and some surprises. I think I at least one clear glaze to use as a start. It will depend on how the yet to be fired under glaze tests do with the various clear bases over. I'll also want to re-fire all of these higher. A couple are under fired but I knew they could be since they are cone 03.

After breakfast I have to get to our sons to harvest the veggies and make a quick stop for a couple of grocery items. We didn't get there yesterday because the kiln hadn't finished firing. It looks like I need a new infinite switch which I'll order today. A couple of times the kiln just stopped working altogether, and turning off the switch, wiggling it and turning it back on seemed to at least get me through the firing. It made for a long, 13 hour firing to get to cone 04.

When I get back home later, I'll re-check those clear glaze tests and see which ones I want to apply to the test tiles with the under glazes. There's at least one of the clear tests which looked very good. Some of the tests have the tiniest of bubbles, but re-firing those in the larger kiln where I can program a slower firing and a hold at the end, may correct that problem.

Testing always leads to more tests; but this is a good start.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

First earthenware tests firing

Finally got in a good days work. I applied  Amaco's Lug and Velvet under glazes to these slipped and bisqued tiles. I did groups of 3 tiles with 4 of the same under glazes applied, and each will have a different clear glaze over.  There was also time to wad a few more soda pots even though I think I have enough for a firing; but just in case there isn't. I also loaded my tiny electric test kiln and turned that on at 5:45 this morning. I decided to fire those at cone 04. Most  are C04 and a couple of  03. I'll probably re-fire some or all of them at 03 just to see how far I can take them. One of them, a John Solley clear can go to cone 1.

Today I'll batch a couple more earthenware glaze tests. There's a terra sig I want to test as well.Fortunately I still have a lot of leftover slipped and bisqued tiles.. I'm hoping that I'll be making actual pots soon; but first I'll have to decide on which of the white slips I'm firing today, will be the standard.. I don't want to get into 35 glaze buckets like I had thirty something years ago when doing cone 10 reduction. Ideally I'd like a white and maybe a black slip, a clear and an amber and/or honey glaze and the rest of the decoration will be under glazes.

I have to get over to our sons place some time this afternoon. It's been 3 days since I lasted harvested the veggies.That takes at least an hour out of the day. Fortunately, dinner is going to be very easy - Colonel Sanders chicken which Jim will pick up for us, and my home made potato salad. so I'll get a second day in a row with some good studio time. I think that today I'll spend a little bit of that time organizing. There's a table full of stuff that I haven't a clue where it is going to have to go. That studio/garage is literally filled to the rafters; and I need to find a place for those things because that table has been designated for a small pugmill in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another tacky chicken

Here's my lovely, French, tacky chicken. I've had her for over forty years - purchased her at a French boutique, Pierre Deux, in Greenwich village around 1970. She protects this little corner of our dining room, next to the antique French Armoire purchased there, around the same time.

It rained again last night and looks like we may get more today, so no need to hand water. I'm going to get a pretty full studio day - first one since we moved in to this new house 4 1/2 months ago!

I couldn't find the metal pieces at Lowes, that  I need for the wind screen for the Olympic kiln. The only pieces they had were very expensive steel and even the small sizes were heavier than what I want. So I either need to get our handyman to get me a sheet of metal roofing and cut that for me. We can't fit one of those large, sheets of metal roofing, in our car and he can load it on his truck.The other option is to see if there's a scrap metal place in the county and check out what they have.

My studio "to do" list for today, is to continue with the earthenware tests. There are a couple of already weighed out test  glazes, so I'll just be mixing and sieving them and getting them on to bisqued, slipped tiles. I'll also be brushing underglazes on the already bisqued, slipped tiles; but I'll hold off glazing them till I see how the initial glaze tests are fired.

I'll probably load the tiny electric test kiln with the clear glazes which are ready to go; and fire them to cone 03. I figure I'm going to fire these hotter and hotter to see just how far I can take these bodies and glazes. My big concern with earthenware is the leaking issue; and since I love making functional ware, it's something I need to deal with. The water absorption rate on these earthenware bodies at the lowest firing temperatures is way to high and a disaster waiting to happen when using liquids in a not, well fitted glaze. I'm hoping that I won't have to make clay because I sold my clay mixer and it's certainly not something I want to do at my age; and at this stage of my life, I'm not planning to make enough pots to warrant having someone make me a ton of clay!

Monday, October 15, 2012

My tacky side

Tracy Broome on her blog a few days ago was talking about her tacky side and her affinity for Elvis on velvet paintings and other kitschy art. My tacky preference is anything related to chickens, so here I present my newest purchase from a local kitchen shop. It serves two purposes - firstly to satiate my chicken kitsch addiction and secondly it's going to make a nice mold for my new earthenware pieces (no chickens since I can't draw anything but leaves and the most simple, childlike birds!) Squiggly lines, stamping and blotches and lots of contrasting colors of underglaze is probably going to be my direction for decorating earthenware - kind of post modernism meets modern folk art. All will be revealed once I start making and decorating.

I've been busy this morning with making potato salad to go with tonight's Bratwurst and sauteed pepper and onion sandwiches; and now it's time for a late breakfast and then a bit of studio time before I head out to buy some sheet metal to make a wind break for the small Olympic soda kiln. I also want to stop at the local dollar store for some plastic ice trays which I think would be good for setting out under glazes.

It rained last night and we have a few more days of rain and cooler weather in the forecast for the next ten days, so it won't be long before the garden gets put to bed, and we can stop eating zucchini and I can get days in the studio instead of the catch as catch can minute or hour here and there.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

While the rest of the family was out shopping I actually got enough studio time to make cone packs and  draw rings and wad the soda pots for firing in the tiny soda test kiln. These few pots will be more than enough for that 4 cubic foot kiln and still have room for the cone packs and draw rings.

Now that all the repairs, additions and fixes are done with the house, I'm so looking forward to real studio time; and that will increase once I shut the garden down after the first frost. Meantime, we're still getting a lot of food from our son and daughter-in-laws garden, and the two new raised beds that have only been planted a couple of weeks are doing unbelievably well. Some of the lettuce transplants are already ready for harvesting side leaves, the carrot seeds have sprouted and cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprout starters have already doubled in size. Even the lettuce seeds came up quickly and are already a few inches high. I think I'm going to love this square foot gardening method!

I have to stop by Lowes on Monday  and see if they have appropriate metal sheeting, in pre cut sizes that would work as a wind shield around the kiln. The gas company says I have 7" WCP, which is the minimum Olympic says is need to fire to cone 10. So it looks like I'll be ready to go soon!

We got our first rain since spring last night, so I only have to water a couple of pots that are under the eaves. After breakfast we have to drive to our sons place so I can harvest veggies and plant the rest of the garlic.

I took pierogis out of the freezer for lunch and we're going out for dinner and other than that I think we'll just vegg out with our company for the day.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Good news on the gas pressure

I had a lot of phone work to do yesterday while the rest of the family were out and about to Crater Lake. I found out that our  house gas has 7" of WCP, which is the minimum I need to fire the little gas kiln, so that was good news. Next week, when company's gone,  I need to find a place to buy some scrap metal to create a wind barrier around the kiln for firing, so I need to do some web and yellow pages searching for that in the next day or two.

There was finally a call from the manufactures of my range top to tell me they have a call in to a local appliance store about fixing this new range top. They're waiting to hear back from them and said they would call me. It's been about ten days or so and many phone calls before the company actually returned my call. The stove is great, but they do have to do a little fix and some burner adjustments. The burners are so powerful that a small pot of Jim's coffee water boils almost instantly, it seems.

Everyone has gone off to have a heart attack breakfast and I'm opting for a bowl of gluten free cereal with rice dream and banana. Then I'll do the other half of my watering and head to the studio to make draw rings, cone packs and finish the wadding I didn't get to yesterday when everyone got home earlier than expected.

Erin and Jim and going off to shop for several hours.Germany isn't big on discount stores, so Erin is off to Ross for Less, TJ Max, and a few other stores.  Sven, our son-n-law will come back after breakfast and just relax. Like many men, he's not big on shopping, so I think he plans to spend time around the spa and pool with his kindle when he gets back.

Tonight is lobster night, so I just have to bake potatoes and our daughter will make the salad. Our local butcher/gourmet store ordered some  Maine lobsters for us; and he steams them. So we just have to pick them up - a very nice service!

Our daughter and son in law live in Germany, and the seafood is very expensive, so we always try to have  some as a special treat for them when they visit.

That's it for this morning. Time to get on with the next things on my list.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lisa Hammond video

Here's some eye candy thanks to Lisa Hammond and her sumptuous wood/soda fired work.

Jim and our daughter and son in law are heading to Crater Lake this morning; and I'm opting to stay home. The hip and knees are a mess, so I'm going to get myhand watering done, do some treatment on the knee and then head to the studio to separate the bisqued soda pots that will all take the same colored liner, and make a small batch of liner and get them glazed.

Company is here till Sunday, so we're taking them to a couple of neighboring, charming towns,  like Jacksonville and Ashland, and getting some good and new dining experiences. Since we had such a big, rich dinner last night, and Jim and the kids will be eating lunch out, tonight we're opting for a light dinner of cheese, fruit and other nibblies, and of course, some lovely wines.

Yesterday I solved one of my computer problems. I got a stand alone, plug and play, cd Multi dirve, and I was able to reinstall Paint Shop pro, which is now working again. While at Best Buy I also pre-ordered the new Ipod Touch, to replace the one that went walkies, during our move. I still can't solve the printer problem on the old desktop but it works fine with this laptop. These days I don't use the printer much, but I had $125 worth of reward coupons from Best Buy, thanks to all the new appliances we had to buy for this new house,  that I had to print out to go toward the new Ipod Touch.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Company preparations

Never got to Costco yesterday. We were too tired from our Ashland farmers market, grocery store and Best Buy shopping. So we went after breakfast this morning. I decided to go through the whole store, stocking up on a variety of food staples and nibblies to have on hand for our daughter and son in laws visit.. Jim picked out his wines and headed back to the car, leaving me to do the rest of the shopping.

It took me a while to get to the unpacking and put things in the freezer, because when I opened the back of the car, one of the bottles of wine rolled out on the driveway and made a huge mess as the red wine  shared it bouquet on the pavers and the bottle exploded in a million pieces, landing far and wide. So I headed to the  studio to retrieve my vacuum and spent about a half house vacuuming, sweeping and washing down the driveway, and then sweeping it because the washing down removed a lot of the filling between the pavers - not how I expected to spend that  part of my day!

After that cleanup I got the lobster bisque I treated us to at Costco, heated for what was now a late lunch. Then I got the rest of the things put away and started on my garden chores. My other stop before Costco was the local garden center where I picked up some garlic bulbs and an artichoke plant. Getting those planted here and at our sons place will be on tomorrows "to do" list.

Since I'm still dealing with this flu bug, I'm giving myself a lot of rest periods. I actually got to read the Sunday paper on the day it came, ordered myself a pasta drying rack and spent a lot of computer time using Dell's free diagnostics on my ailing, Dell laptop. Seems my cd/dvd, etc. drive is dead, and a wi fi internal piece of hardware is also not working properly. It would be around $100, plus paying for someone to fix it; and I'm just wondering at this point, with a 3 year old well used laptop, that suddenly had two hardware items going belly up, and no guarantee that the motherboard itself isn't ready to expire. So I think my next step is to look at the cost of new laptops; and just hold out as long as I can till Windows 8 is installed on the newest ones.

Meantime I'll make sure all my documents are backed up daily, on to my stand alone hard drive and get them backed up to this second laptop and on to my ten year old desktop which also has to have a network card replaced, but otherwise seems to be still going strong.

Our daughter and son in law arrive Tuesday and maybe our son in law who has amazing computer knowledge can give me some advice with all these computer woes. Tomorrow will be spent getting the house tidied and doing my least favorite household chore - cleaning the refrigerator, a job I should have done before I filled it to the brim the past two days!. I'll tackle that chore right after breakfast so I don't have to spend the whole day dreading the prospect.

Our daughter requested lobster dip, but I couldn't find any at 3 different stores, so I bought a lobster tail at Costco and now I'm going to use Google, the repository of all wisdom, to find a recipe, so I can make that tomorrow.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

My first effort at making a classic apple tartin looked pretty dismal. It looked a lot better when plated with the ice cream and fortunately, it tasted great. The problem was that when I inverted it, the crust broke and the apples had stuck to the bottom of the pan. I might have cooked it a big long. Since Jim loved this classic French dessert, I need to get myself one of those tartin pans instead of using a deep frying pan which was what I used.

My new range top burners are very powerful and it took less time to get the sugar/butter mix darkened.
I still haven't heard back from the company about sending a service person out to deal with a couple of issues with this unit, so I will have to call again today! So far I've made at least 5 calls to the dealer and company and a few emails and have yet to hear back about the status of their last promise to find a service person in our area. Needless to say, my patience is starting to wear a bit thin!

Yesterday I made banana bread which we'll have with boiled eggs for breakfast this morning. I'm still dealing with the flu bug/cold hanging on so cooking, necessary garden work, computer work and paperwork has been it the past few days. And of course, I have all these garden fruits and  veggies which keep coming and coming, so every day I'm spending time looking up new recipes for zucchini, apples, tomatoes,eggplant and now snow peas. The local news suggested that gardeners pick their tomatoes yesterday, so at some point today, I will be making tomato soup - probably a simple, spicy easy and quick recipe if I can find one.

The painters were here yesterday and did all the touch up work - interior and exterior, so that's the last big,  job. The only thing I have left to do is deal with closing down the garden after the first big freeze, and re-arranging the potted plants that had to be moved away from the new raised beds. The gardener will re-do the drip systems once I decide where to put all those planters. After that we can settle in and enjoy our new home and I can get to work.

Today is going to be one of those running around days - first to our sons to harvest veggies, then off to Costco and then Ashland for some gourmet cheeses and other groceries. Our daughter and son-in-law arrive Tuesday so I need to stock their favorite goodies. Our son-in-law is a huge fan of American junk food. We're talking the likes of Twinkies, root beer floats (which I introduced to him), etc. He also loves good bread and good cheeses. Don't we all!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

The range top and hood are installed and at the moment, the drywall person is sanding the repaired areas of the ceiling. That's the good news! The bad is that one of the burners is not lighting and none of the burners are working on simmer; but it sure looks pretty!

I called Euro stove, the range top manufacturer again this morning because they didn't get back to me yesterday about sending out a service person to replace the part that's keeping one of the burners from igniting. So there are still kinks to straighten out on this unit. But it looks good and my plumber said it's the best looking range top he's ever installed. The burners are very impressive and powerful, so they need to make some minor adjustments and that one replacement. I went to one of their forums, and I see that other people are having a problem with the simmer as well; and read that they are working on a fix for it and will retrofit the units once they resolve the problem.

This morning my glands have gone from golf ball size to jawbreaker size, so the intense vitamin therapy and oscillococcinum seems to be working. Other than have to chores, like a bit of gardening and cooking, I'm going to spend the rest of my time watching TV while I deal with tons of email and see what I can do about some of these computer issues on two computers. I think I'll be off to Best Buy as soon as the workers are done here to buy and have them install a new network card on my ancient desktop. The other "must do"today,  is to get to the Dell website and see if they have any solution to my weak wi-fi signal on this laptop.
The painter comes tomorrow or Monday at the touch up those dry wall repairs. Our daughter and son-in-law arrive the following day, so if I get any studio time it will have to be what I can steal on this weekend. We still have all the pots and pans to put back in the cupboards and on the counters once the workers are done; and then there's shopping to do to re-stock the fridge and larder and getting the house ready before our daughter and son-in-law arrive.


Tuesday, October 02, 2012

This is the wrapped up kitchen as of yesterday. The contractor, very considerately, put up a thin plastic enclosure in the area of the kitchen where they had to cut the granite after removing the old cooktop. It did work to keep the dust down which this flu ridden body appreciated!

This morning he and the plumber inserted the new range top. That was the good news, as well as the fact that the plumber looked at the new range top and said it was the nicest one he's ever seen. He was very impressed at how it was put together and the burners. The slightly bad news was that one of the switches that powers the igniter on one the burners  is not working. So about 4 or 5 phone calls to Massachusetts didn't quite resolve the issue. Hopefully I'll hear back tomorrow. Either they have to send a replacement switch for our contractor to install, or they will have to send a repair person from another state.

On a day when I really wanted to rest, I got everything but. The gardener arrived with the new Japanese maple tree, so I had to deal with getting that placed and watered in as well as the other gardening chores. Computer problems are dominating my time even more. Found out that I need a new network card on the old (actually ancient) desktop, need a new dvd/cd drive on this 3 year old Dell laptop and probably a major fix with a wi fi part because the wi fi connection is lost after only a minute or two on line, or if I switch pages; and that wi fi problem is not the case on my other laptop or Ipad, so it's an internal issue. :-(

There were several meetings more with the contractor about the range top and hood and I had to made some modifications on the installation and so did he. Seems whoever designed this house for an island cook top, put the support beam almost directly above where the hole would need to go for the range hood. 

Then there was more time with the gardener while he put in the drip system for the new beds. The handyman had to be called since he was a no show, no call yesterday. He admitted that he forgot but promised to be here today to continue making an adjustment to the raised beds. It's almost 7pm and he still hasn't arrived. By 7:30 I'm going to be in my pj's an in bed watching some mindless TV while doing email.

Before he left, I had another meeting with the contractor about his getting me some kind of metal enclosure made for my tiny, gas, soda kiln. I told him that ideally, it it had to be in pieces that were hinged so I could fold them flat for storage when not in use. He came up with the idea of making something using magnetic strips to hold the parts together. He measured the area and said he'd give it more thought. When  he left, we removed all the sheets that we had put down to protect the furniture from the construction dust, then drove to our sons place so I could do some hand watering and harvest some veggies. Then it was back home, get the mail, put away the veggies, and reheat the sloppy Joe filling in the microwave  for our leftovers dinner. It's been that kind of a day - busy, frustrating, tiring but somewhat satisfying in that some things actually got done and others somewhat resolved or at least close to being resolved.

I'm heading to the bedroom to take my last dose of flu medicine and a fistful of vitamins, getting into bed and check out what's on Netflix. And if the phone rings, I'm not answering!