Friday, December 26, 2014

For the Shino lovers

Here's a link to Great glazes, featuring Malcolm Davis's wonderful carbon trap shino recipe and a very long list of techniques to use with this glaze. I also found it interesting that the person posting the article says that they have been firing this glaze very successfully to cone 6 R as well.

 Great article on shinos and long list of how to use this amazing glaze.

Like so many others, we've been celebrating the Christmas Holiday with a lot of rich a lot of abundant, and not so healthy eating. So today, we've all decided to take a break and choose some lighter fare for lunch and dinner.

The grand kids had a great Christmas. Santa was very generous with new bicycles and new musical instruments - yukele for Brandon, mandolin for Aidan and electronic drums for McKenna, a beautiful new Yamaha upright piano for their mom, and a large assortment of other gifts. Present buying was easy this year because we gave them money toward their new Apple computer funds, as did the other grand parents.

Jim and I were going to go out after breafkast to do a bit of shopping; but I realized that there are going to be a lot of people on the road and in the stores returning Christmas presents, so I think we will stay put today. I have a couple of days worth of news papers to read, as well as some magazines that have been sitting here for a couple of weeks.  I also  want to dig out my begonia bulbs if they're still showing signs of life and mulch my jasmine vines which didn't make it through last winters unusual cold that gave us temperatures around 7 degrees for a week. That intense and long cold spell killed a lot of everyone's shrubs.

 It's going down to 30 tonight and the in 20's in a couple of days, so winter has begun in earnest. Time to see if I have some hot chocolate and mini marshmallows in the pantry.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My soap whoops

This is my latest soap, a feathered mantra swirl. I love the colors and the pattern came out very well; but I inadvertently left out the lavender essential oil, because it had spilled and I didn't know it. I have now idea how a tiny mis en place cup could tilt enough to empty about 90% of its contents then right itself up! And of course, I could smell the oil, and seeing the almost empty cup I assumed I had added it. It was only when I was removing my several layers of paper at my work station that I noticed that the oil had spilled! So now, I have a pretty, but unscented soap. My friend Kay's daughter and grand daughter are allergic to scents, so I'll have someone to give some soap to, and I'll enjoy it without the scent.

I'm eager to try this one again but I'll have to wait a couple of weeks to get a proper separator for my larger mold, since the supplier's Etsy chop is closed till the 20th and maybe longer. For making this soap in my smaller mold I made my own separators out of cardboard. It worked well enough but the spacing wasn't exact, so I wound up with not enough white to fill the mold as much as I would have liked. That's why I used the larger portion of colored leftover with the little bit of white leftover and poured it into a couple of oval  guest sized molds and did a spoon swirl with my chopstick. Lesson learned!

Yesterday a couple of friends and I went out shopping for Christmas presents for  several children from a few  disadvantaged families, and today my hip is needing a rest after all that walking on hard floors for a few hours. Our women's group is doing a great job making a nice Christmas for many local children. 

I have plenty of paperwork and computer work to do, so all is good, and I may be playing mah jongg if my friend Kay is going. She's in the middle of packing to move in a few weeks and may opt to skip it this week, and I may do the same.

I'm having a weird glitch in my computer that I need to find a fix if I can figure out how to do it. When I open my Adobe elements program, a message comes up that I have files to burn on one of my drives. And since that has happened, the program won't open correctly. It's bizarre! When I put a blank cd in to try to copy some of those files I get another error message telling me there isn't enough room even when I only try to copy a single, small file.  I'll try a different type of disc and see if the problem still exists. Even when I put a music cd in that drive, the list of files that it says I need to burn shows up as part of the contents of that music CD! And part of that problem is now the Adobe Elements won't recognize my camera, and a whole new page shows up on my desktop that only allow me to download my most recent files, and if I get out of it, next time they don't show up and my only other option is to download every photo on my camera to another folder it creates. So now I have to delete that folder because my C drive already needed a good cleaning and that made it worse! 

Computer clean up and fixes will keep me busy for quite a while as well as some kitchen cooking time.  It feels like it may be a  good night  for some New England clam chowder, or as Jim is suggesting, going out for Mexican food. Right now it's time to make some oatmeal.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It's the most wonderful time of the year

We're definitely getting into the spirit of Christmas. The tree was decorated before Thanksgiving, only because neither Jim or I could get the boxes of decorations down from the rafters in the garage or get them back up after I decorated the tree; and since we had the handyman in to do some other things, I got the tree done early and Jim completed the village at the base of the tree a couple of days later.

Big winds are upon us along with a lot of heavy rain. They're saying that elevations over 6,000 feet may get up to 4 feet of snow! Our power went out just after I got up this morning and the winds knocked all of our outdoor wreaths down. Our power went back on after a half an hour or more but it's still out in other parts of the valley. One of our big wreaths wound up in a neighbors yard! It looks like these winds and rain are going to be here for the rest of the day and maybe into tomorrow. Some places here and in N.California are getting hurricane force gusts. Jim said a part of one of the neighbors fence looks like it's going to fall down.

Today is going to be a cooking day for me. Yesterday I mistakenly took out 4 lbs of ground beef instead of two, to make a meat loaf for dinner and didn't catch it till the meat was half defrosted. So, I'm making a bolognese sauce for pasta with half of it and if the power is still on by later this afternoon I'll make the meatloaf and put the bolognese sauce in the freezer.

Yesterday I had planned to make soap, but got invited to the Mah Jongg group as an observer and to learn a bit more. I got some clarification on some of the Mah Jongg card information, and  I think I have the basics down, so Mah Jongg is going to be one of my brain exercises, keeping myself sharp, activities for my old age. I've even ordered my own set so my friend Kay, who got me into this and is also a newbie, and I can play/practice together.

Pottery is still in limbo as I await the surgeons call about his analysis of my Xrays.  As of Monday, they were supposedly still analyzing them - translation "they're at the bottom of a pile that they haven't gotten to yet!". My doctor already told me what the problem is, so I just need to know what, if anything, the surgeon is going to do to fix it.

So I'll keep busy with cooking, maybe some holiday baking next week and soap making. It's Thursday and I just finished going through the Sunday papers. Jim keeps saying "we're supposed to be retired, but we're always busy". No kidding!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Touching base

Here's my first cold process soap. Soaping is currently my creative outlet out of necessity and choice as well. I created the base recipe; and this soap was made just for guys in the family and a few friends. I was my first swirl recipe. Next time I'm going to add a piece of dowel to my coat hanger which I used to make this swirl design. That should give me a bit more spacing of the swirled colors.

Next on my list will be a lavender soap, which II'll be making as soon as my wire cheese/soap cutter arrives. Cutting with the old miter box didn't work , nor did the free hand cutting, even though I measure well.

After a merry mix up between doctors offices, the surgeon finally go  my Xrays last Thursday.. I called yesterday and they're still analyzing them. I think it's more that they're down the line in the work load!

Our son and daughter-in-law were here with a group of friends who all flew up from L.A. to celebrate our son  Sean's 50th birthday. It was one big celebration over a long weekend. Sean pulled out the best from his wine cellar to share (some incredible, serious collector Bordeaux's ).. We ate and drank incredibly well - too well!

Besides indulging in great food and wine and celebrations this past week, I've also been working on more soap recipes, ordering supplies, getting everything catalogued, moving  my soap making from studio/garage to the kitchen which necessitated re-arranging some kitchen cupboards.

My friend Kay who got me into playing Bunco with some of the ladies of our Eagle Point Women's club, now has gotten me into Mah Jong. I've had my first and am studying a little every day. I even ordered my own Mah Jong set. There's a lot to learn . Seems that after 5 years one is still considered a beginner, so I think this will be a good exercise for these aging brain cells.

This is a new phase for me, and a big change from my preferred  "nesty" way of living and working. But after two and a half years of pining away for my North Carolina friends and lifestyle, it was time to find some outside activities and get  to know, and play with some of these lovely and interesting women.