Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Nice Jake Allee video on making a darted textured pitcher

Lots going on with this pitcher and Jake shares his technique and his design choices. And I thought I was the only one who found that inside old ball point pens are hidden wonderful pottery tools! LOL

Jim is off getting the car serviced and I'm house bound waiting for our sons wine delivery, writing checks and other paper work. I got most of my hand watering done before breakfast but I'm in the house till the wine arrives or Jim gets back. Then I'll be going out to plant, since there was no time for it yesterday.

This afternoon will be for planting, since yesterday was a day to get Bodhi to the vets early for a day of teeth cleaning, shots, blood work, etc, breakfast out, then on to Ashland for a bit of play time which only amounted to peeking into 3 shops (the Tibetan Buddhist shop was the best!), and a big food shopping binge at the Market of Choice and Shop n' Kart which is the only place around selling great cheese blintzes. Guess what we just had for breakfast? :-) I got a few great cheeses - really splurged. But our daughter gave me a list of the 5 great cheeses you have to try before you die. So I'm going to indulge. They're ordering a couple on the list and we'll get back there Friday to pick them. One tiny piece of cheese was as much of one of Jim's bottle of wines! It's better be good; but I reminded Jim that the same volume of good caviar is even more expensive than that tiny piece of cheese. I sure hope it's worth it! I'll be trying it as soon as the pear ripen.

Then we drove to our sons place on the river and I did a bit of hand watering and weeding there, and then back to the vets to pick up Bodhi. Too bad he can't smile, because his teeth are glemingly white! Then we headed home to unpack all those groceries, make dinner, cover a few tender plants for the night,  and retreat to the bedroom for rest, email and some Yard Crasher TV and blessed sleep.

Time to write the last membership check. Our daughter says I need to slow down, so this is part of my slow down time.:-)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dave and Bonnie Deal Raku

If the embedding didn't work, here's the link:

Enjoy the exquisite Raku pots that this Pacific North West couple produce.
I would definitely not recommend his no tongs, hands only, pot removal technique for the uninitiated. 

As for me, I'm a day late finishing planting the last 3 perennials; and it's too hot now to do it; but at least I did find time to cast a few the past few days and enjoyed a lot of great time with the family at the river house. We even saw an adult bald eagle flying by the river in the late afternoon.

There was morning garden time today to hand water, dead head and pick some lettuce and snow peas for tonight's salad. After 3 days of rich, delicious party food and great wines at our son and daughter-in-laws ranch the past 3 days, we're ready for a salad and a simple grape tomato pasta dish tonight. 

Jim is off to the store for the grape tomatoes. There are small, green cherry tomatoes on a couple of my plants so it won't be long before we'll be eating our own. 

My garden charts/calendars need updating, and there's a few other things I need to attend to now while I watch some of the French Open tennis that I taped. Hopefully after dinner, it will be a bit cooler and if I have the energy to get out there, I'll plant one or two of those perennials and/or install the last plant hanger for the cascading tomato plant. Problem is that lately, by the time dinner is done, I'm too wiped to do anything more physical than typing and using the TV remote!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dreaming of mojitos

Feel like I've been in a sauna all day! It was still hot out there at 7pm! The forecast was for high 80's but I think it wound up well over 90 today. At 8:20 pm it's 88!

I finally found some okra starts at the farmers market along with a few more goodies  to eat and plant. There were a lot of interesting vendors there, even one man sharpening knives. There was only one potter selling mugs and sponge holders, many ethnic food vendors, several artisan bread bakers. various honeys, home made jams, soaps and too many other goodies to list. 

Some growers had plant varieties that none of the local nurseries carry - things like borage which I bough, and other more unusual herbs and veggies. I bought a really nice coreopsis which is a different variety than I've seen anywhere else. I bought that, as well as a luscious, purple penstemon which the hummingbirds are going to love. I was like a kid in a candy store! Good thing I've run out of space to plant for the most part or I would have filled the car.

They had organically grown starts for most of the heirloom and other tomatoes as well as many of the other veggies that I started myself, so next year I think that I will buy most of them at the market and only grow the two tomato varieties that nobody sells One vendor was selling morels and other wild mushrooms but I didn't think they'd go with the crab cakes I was making again for tonight's dinner. I don't know if the morels will be around next week, but I will splurge if they are and make sure the dinner I plan that night would be perfect for some  morels sauteed in butter with minced shallots and a bit of pale dry sherry.

After one last stop at Fred Meyers for a low planter for the outdoor coffee table, and more potting soil, we headed, unpacked the car, and had the lovely croissants I bought at the farmers market. Then we drove to our sons place where I pulled out some old, going to seed lettuce and planted one of the okra plants,  pruned a few tomatoes, did a little weeding and a bit of hand watering.  The fishing pole still has not gotten out of the car - but it will soon, I hope.  I was too tired and too wilted from the heat and just wanted to get back into an air conditioned car.

After stop at the grocery store for some corn on the cob for dinner and a few more groceries, it was time to go home and stay put for the rest of the day.

After dinner I got the last three planters of annuals planted and hit the shower. Tomorrow is another day, and I'm planning on a  very early start planting these last 6 perennials. I'd also like to get two hangers installed on the fence for the Hummingbird feeder and a cascading, cherry tomato which I potted tonight. Then I can finally look forward to some summer fun in the pool and some happy hour, poolside mojitos and margaritas this summer. The mint is on hand, and I bought some limes today, so Mojitos will be part of poolside happy hour early next week. Oh yeah!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A visit to the studio of Grayson Perry

I'll bet that he knows where everything is amid all that clutter!

After a few days of needed rest, helped by mother nature's blessed rain, I'm ready to get back to  the last of the planting.. This body is still feeling the effects of over work, signaled by a scratchy throat, swollen glands and general exhaustion the past couple of days  I'm not going to go at it with such fervor this week. There's very little more to plant, just leeks at our son and daughter-in-laws garden and a few leeks, two perennials and a some bedding plants here. And I will do it in small doses over a couple of mornings, leaving the bulk of the afternoon free for grocery shopping, cooking and maybe even some studio time.

Yesterday was spent on paper  work, a meeting about the drip system and new timer installation, which still needs some work,computer clean up and spending a couple of hours making some slab and impression templates to play with when the planting is done and I can get back in the studio.

Today I'll be doing some hand watering here, planting,  feeding, some hand watering and weeding at our son's place, and walking down to the river to cast few afterwards, if I'm not too tired, and making a crab cake dinner. It should be a good day!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

It is done

 It is done! Every inch of plating space is planted at our son and daughter-in-laws place, and waiting for nature to now, do her job. For me,  it will be time to just feed, weed, water as needed and critter check every other day or so.

My fishing pole never left the back of the car yesterday. With rain in the forecast for today, I decided to finish their garden. I was determined to be done with all or at least 99% of my spring planting in both gardens by the end of this week.

Today's rain puts off finishing my own little bit of planting. Yesterday morning I re-potted all the orphan tomatoes here before heading to our sons place. It was a perfect day yesterday and I pushed myself to the max; but felt so good to finally have every inch of that vegetable garden planted. I even had a couple of leek seedlings to bring home since there wasn't a spot left, that I could find to plant one more thing!

As soon as the rain ends, tomorrow or the next day,  I'll plant my few leeks and a couple of fill in bedding flowers and my garden will be done other than waiting to see if one of those orphan tomatoes winds up being an Opalka tomato. If it is I will probably just plant it in a pot and give the rest of those orphan seedlings away.

Other than cooking, today is going to be a day of rest. There's one more clay court tennis final to watch and a paper pile to deal with. My garden notes and feeding chart were completed last night, so I can dig into my paper pile and make a dinner and shopping list for the week. It's roast chicken dinner tonight - perfect for this rainy day.

Jim said this years gardening made him think of the Pope who kept asking Michelangelo, "when will it (the painting on the Sistine chapel), be done.  My answer is, "It is done, well, almost!". Blame it on the rain.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A extruding project video

Found this video while perusing Pinterest this morning. I don't see any reason why someone couldn't just make square slab and do the same project,. This spiral  shape could be used to make small boxes, smaller jars, bud or larger vases, lotion dispensers, cruets, etc.

Still can't find any okra starts after visiting a couple of nurseries the past couple of days. I have some okra seeds, so I'll get them soaking and plant them in both gardens tomorrow, along with some nasturtium starts that I bought yesterday.. They're good to plant near, but not too near, squash plants since some insects which attack the squash prefer the nasturtiums. Plus, the nasturtium flowers are edible and the leaves may be as well. I'd have to double check that..  It looks like I will be finished with the bulk of planting as I hoped, by the end of this week.

It was over 90 F yesterday, so I quit after about an hour and a half of garden work at our son's place. I'll have to finish over there tomorrow. Since it's going to be even hotter today (an expected high of 95F), I'll start some planting in my garden right after an earlier, than usual breakfast. This just may be the day I get in our pool. It's been over 2 years since we've been here and I've yet to go in the pool or the spa. That's quite a shift from my youth, when it was hard to get me to come out of the water. I never understood those girls sitting by a pool tanning themselves when they could have been doing an imitation of Esther Williams doing water ballet or being brave enough to dive off the high board. Such fun memories, except the time I was either courageous enough or foolish  enough to attempt a back dive off the high board and let's just say, I had an unsuccessful, painful landing on my back.. Guess that's another reason to call it a back dive!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Interesting Ukrainian slip decorating video

I don't speak Ukranian, but a picture is worth 1,000 words, so enjoy and if anyone understands Ukrainian, maybe you can tell us what he's saying!

This morning it was planting time at our son and daughter-in-laws garden. With the exception of one tiny spot, all 6 of their raised beds are now planted. I will have to get back there tomorrow to replant a few bush beans since some hungry birds have decapitated a quite a few of these newly sprouted beans.

Today I set up a couple of cucumber lean to's and planted  a couple of mounds of cucumbers, as well as some chili peppers, basil and a couple of eggplants. I ran out of mushroom compost, otherwise I would have planted a few other things in the flat area of their garden Weeding and watering topped off the garden work there.

I had to stop on the way home to get another bag of mushroom compost and pick up a couple of food items.
 Once home, car unpacked, I crashed in the bedroom, turned on the TV and fell asleep watching some clay court tennis from Russia. Now it's time to think about tonight's dinner. 

Last night I made a delicious, old fashioned meat loaf, with a new recipe I put together  after reading a whole bunch of classic ones on line, and loosely remembering my mothers meat loaf. It turned out very well and will now be my new "go to" meatloaf recipe. The nice part is that there's enough leftover for dinner again tomorrow night.  Tonight's dinner is bratwurst, boiled, buttered parsley potatoes, corn and applesauce. After a heavy duty gardening and shopping time, I'm opting for this easy, no fuss dinner tonight.

If anyone wants to look at my meat loaf recipe, you can find the link to my other blog in my blog list on the right of this blog page.

Our in the car lunch of pistachios and a tangerines on the way home, doesn't make for a filling, meal,  so I'd better post this blog and get my achy tired self into the kitchen and start cooking some meat and potatoes.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Nice slip decorating technique video

I like this idea of trailing the base slip while the wheel is rotating. It seems to give a nice, even coverage and less messy than having to pour it later on. Fun technique.

Enjoying a very lazy Mother's day morning. Jim says he's going to be serving me a bagel, cream cheese and smoked salmon breakfast in bed, so I'm sitting here watching a Sharapova/Halep  Madrid Open clay court tennis final while doing email and looking forward to a bit more of this lazy time before I have to go get out of this cozy, warm bed, hit the shower and get outside and uncover all my tender veggies.

This is the last night that I'll have to cover the tenderest veggies and basil,  and am looking forward to seeing my garden without all of the remay shrouds.

Since we celebrated Mothers day with an early Mothers day dinner two nights ago, I'll be cooking a Sunday, comfort meal tonight - meat loaf, mashed potatoes and buttered ginger carrots.There's nothing like mashed potatoes to touch a mans heart, well almost!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Here's a nice little video showing how you can use some of these antique wood stamps to create your own plaster stamps.

While doing a bit of organizing in the studio earlier, I took a photo of my own collection of these antique stamps. The square ones are my favorites and they're the hardest to find. You can find a lot of them on ebay and probably Etsy as well. Years ago, when I bought so many of these, you could find them in a lot of antique shops and may still be able to do that. Some stores that sell Indian gifts would also be a good place to search these out.

It took two days of working between intermittent showers but I finally got all my planters planted and fed. Jim celebrated Mothers day early by bringing me flowers and taking me to my favorite restaurant in the valley - Sammy's Cowboy bistro, last night. The name does not match the great food this lady chef cooks. They have their own gardens where they grow a lot of their own vegetables and flowers. She is to my mind, the most creative chef here in the valley.

I picked our first snow peas two day agos which I'll use tonight in tonight's yaki soba noodle stir fry dinner  . Most of my raised beds are planted except for one square. I've got a bunch of "no name" tomatoes which are too small to identify, so I'm holding off on planting that square. Our son and daughter-in-laws garden is well planted, except for the cold tender things which I'll plant Tuesday. Right now all those tender herbs and veggies are covered for the next cold evenings.

By mid or late week, I'll be done planting at my son and daughter-in-laws garden. Warmer days and more importantly, warmer nights are coming which will allow me to finish all this planting and get most of the remay put away till next spring.

I spent time during the rainy spells to cut out red plastic squares to put at the base of the tomato plants and I got those installed on all my tomatoes and have enough cut out for our sons garden. It's said that putting this red plastic down increases the tomato yield by 20%. Hope it's true. You can never have enough vine ripened tomatoes!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Another gardening day and outrageously delicious Gorgonzola wine cream sauce recipe for pasta.

 Got a lot of gardening time in my back yard yesterday and all the planters are now filled and planted. I'm still having to cover a lot of things at night because of the cool evenings. The plants are doing well with all this extra care.

Planting here and a trip to the store to exchange a pot for a larger one and cooking used up all my time and energy and I never made it to my son and daughter-in-laws garden, so I'll be going over there today for some planting and other garden chores.

After another heavy gardening day,  it's going to be an easy dinner of salad, Italian sausage and spinach fettucine with the leftover Gorgonzola sauce and Italian ices for dessert.

There's a 70% chance of rain in the forecast for tomorrow, so I might actually get into the studio for a while.

One of my readers requested this Gorgonzola sauce that I mentioned in yesterdays blog. If you didn't read the blog, Jim said it was the best pasta dish he's ever had. It really was that good!
  • (I halved this for the two of us and had enough sauce leftover to use as a pasta side dish tonight with a mild or medium Italian sausage).
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 4 oz Gorgonzola Dolce (must use this. It's much creamier than regular Gorgonzola. I buy mine on line from Murrays cheese in New York, but it you might have a good sour near by)
  • 2 Tbs  freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese,  
  • Optional: extra Parmesan to pass  around.
        finely chopped or snipped flat leaf parsley as a garnish.

        Slice or finely dice the Gorgonzola cheese and set aside.
  • In a large sauté pan, heat the cream, wine and stock over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble. Lower heat and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by about one third or lightly coats a metal spoon.
  • ** If you baby this by keeping the heat a bit higher than a simmer it will be ready in about half the time. I used a high heat rubber spatula to stir it very often, till it lightly coated a metal spoon.

  • Add the Gorgonzola and Parmesan and stir until the Gorgonzola has melted and the cheeses are fully blended. Adjust consistency with additional cream if necessary.

  • Season to taste with Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of grated nutmeg.  (only use enough nutmeg until you can taste just a hint of it. For me that may have been something like 8-18 grates on a nutmeg grater).Serve right away.
NOTE: You can serve this with mushroom or other ravioli, or rigatoni, penne, ziti, spinach fettucine works if you use it as a side dish with fish or simple grilled chicken, or pork. An added 1/4 of a cup of chopped walnuts would be a nice addition to the mushroom or squash ravioli dish. If serving this sauce with one of the tube pastas, some halved, grilled, cherry tomatoes would make a lovely addition. 

I used fresh mushroom ravioli that I bought at Costco. It was very good. The sauce takes about twenty minutes to cook and the fresh ravioli about 3 minutes.  A salad first made for a complete and lovely dinner.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Hannah McAndrew and Doug Fitch kiln unloading

Here's another video thanks to Dough Fitch and Hannah McAndrew, unloading their wonderful, wood fired, slip ware.

If you interested in my garden and kitchen efforts of today, feel free to read on. 

We set out after breakfast for some more planters, and new mouse for  my computer. I got the new planters prepped, filled with potting soil and set in place.. I bought a bird bath and got that set up as well. The back yard is going to look great once we get a few weeks of warm nights so these annuals can take off.

A pot I bought for my little gardenia was too small, so  I'll be back at the store tomorrow to return it and get a larger one. Tomorrow I'll get them planted along with a  few bedding plants in the front yard. 

I'm waiting for this spell of cool evenings to give way to warmer nights next week and then I can plant the rest of these tender plants - some here, and most at our son and daughter-in-laws garden. They have 9 raised beds and I only have enough extra remay for two of  them.

Before dinner I covered all the tender veggies with  old studio towels and  heavy duty remay. After all the days garden chores, I managed to bounce back after a short break and make dinner - salad with greens from our garden and mushroom ravioli with an amazing gorgonzola dolce, cream and wine sauce. Jim said it was the best pasta dish he's ever had - definitely a keeper recipe . And of course he brought out a lovely Italian wine to offset all the cholesterol in that amazing sauce!

Tomorrow I'll get the rest of those  new planters planted  and maybe head over to my daughter-in-laws garden. I want to set up a cucumber trellis and build a couple of mounds for summer and winter squash over there.  It's been a real juggling act planting two gardens with this crazy weather, but I think I'm managing it pretty well, so far.

Tonight, I promised Jim and myself that I'm done with adding new planters this year.  I would have been in the studio this week, but I just couldn't resist buying those star jasmines and a few more annuals and perennials, which then necessitated a three or four day search for the right shape, color and sized pots for those jasmine.. And so goes my garden passion this time of year. The clay is beckoning, in fact, nagging at me lately, so  it won't be long before I'll be covered in it instead of all this compost and potting soil.