Friday, October 31, 2014

Another home run

John Britt has hit another home run - this time with his just published "The Complete Guide To Mid-Range Glazes" - Glazing and Firing at Cone 4-7. If you loved his Cone 10 book, (and who didn't!), you are going to love this one. You won't ever have to buy another cone 6 -7 glaze book. There are hundreds of glaze recipes in here and the oxidation glazes shown, are not the typical, flat oxidation glazes we all poo pooed for years, because of their lack of depth, dull surfaces, etc. This is a whole new generation of cone 6 glazes, both oxidation and reduction. There are recipes for ash glazes, oil spots, shinos, crater glazes,oxidation celadons, oribes, iron reds, copper reds,  temmokus, clears, and every other color you can think of. There are also firing schedules to try, glazing instruction, glaze problem solving, and so much more.

In just a quick scan, I can see a lot of things I can incorporate. There's a photo of a cone 6 electric fired pot that looks like it came out of a soda kiln - fantastic! Can't wait to explore that and a whole bunch of other recipes. Here's a link to the book on Amazon. Treat yourself. You deserve it!

On a personal note - never did get to the hospital for my tests. Seems the machine for my barium x-ray upper G.I. scan broke, and the re-scheduled next day appointment was also canceled since they couldn't fix it and now they have to wait for a new machine to be flown in from Singapore. So my next appointment is Wednesday.

Those cancellations suddenly freed up some time and I decided I would finally make some soap. I had my prep list made out, all tools on hand and decided to double check my colorants and got hit with the curse of Mercury retrograde again. Most of my beautiful powdered colorants will not work in melt and pour unless I don't mind the admonition that those colors will fade in 3 weeks. They have to be kidding; but they aren't! So it was back to square one, ordering some other colorants, glitter and another soap fragrance, and sit and wait some more.

In the meantime I went back and watched many more You Tube, soap making videos and I think if I feel up to it, I might just tackle a batch of the cold process soap which requires a bit of skill and critical timing for success. At least I have all the tools and ingredients on hand for that. With Halloween tonight and a dinner party here tomorrow night, my maiden soaping session will have to wait till Sunday or Monday.

After watching all these videos, I feel pretty confident that I won't screw it up too bad (she says with the confidence of one who has never dealt with the possible horrors of mixing lye, soap batches seizing, fragrances accelerating trace, and everything else that could go wrong in the world of soap making!) It may not be pretty when I am done, but I feel confident and hopeful, that it will be usable soap. It might be what they term in tennis an "ugly win" - you played horribly, but you managed to come through with a won.  In my case, since I am going to attempt a 3 color hanger swirl,  which may turn out to be the ugliest mess you've ever seen, it may turn out to be an ugly win - a useable soap that lathers and cleans well, smells good, and is ugly as sin! Or maybe I'll just have beginners luck and come up with a winner.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Biding my time

Aidan with his Saturday steelhead catch. HIs twin McKenna caught one just as big, but her photo got lost in cyberspace!

I'm biding my time after a busy, social weekend. Our son and family were up from L.A, so we had some lovely family time. The weather held for parts of the weekend so the twins could do some fishing with their Dad. Saturday night's dinner  was the planned wood fired pizza with Sean doing his usual great job as pizza master, as well as the steelhead and salad. One morning Sean went duck hunting with a couple of friends, using the newly built duck blind at the new pond and was in 7th heaven. He has always been more of a country boy.. I helped Nicole a bit with her garden cleanup and helped her harvest some more veggies which she took back to L.A.

Sunday, Sean and Nicole's friend Alan took Jim and I on a tour of his new property. Years ago it was a dairy farm and he's loving the idea of  using part of the old barn, which is also being refurbished for goats and making goat cheese. It's an amazing piece of property right at the foot of one of the table rocks with amazing views in every direction. The 100 year old stone house, great barn and out building are going to be quite a show place after all the additions and remodeling. It has a nice pond with bass, which are in low supply due to two otters who are also living in the pond, soon to be evicted. I'd probably be prone to leaving them, since they are such playful creatures who would, I assume, give many hours of viewing enjoyment.

I'm going in for a barium cocktail and some X-rays Thursday morning, so hopefully they'll find out what the problem is. It could be that the hernia surgery undid itself, or I got a second hernia or Lord knows what else it could be. In any case, I'm still avoiding starting any long terms projects till I find out what's up with this body. So I've just been keeping busy with the never ending computer work and little organizing jobs. It seems like my life has been on hold so much the past 3 years and it just doesn't stop. Thank goodness I always have other little, time consuming things I can and need to do to keep my mind busy and my body somewhat active.

Yesterday I decided to go into the studio to at least put some of the recent soap supply purchases away. My soap supplies have now exceeded the space I allotted them on two studio shelves, so I spent time yesterday moving all the scents, oils, colorants, and fats in the house is an area of a flat back cupboard space in the mudroom which makes them easily accessible to move back to the studio or the kitchen. I got my soap notebooks organized, updated my inventory list, and spent time on Pinterest and You tube refreshing my memory of basic soap making techniques. There is so much to learn and remember, therefore lots of note books and to do lists.

Today I found another good soap blog site with some some free pdf downloads for labels, soap recipes that are slow to trace which is very good information since you don't want soap to set before you can do all those lovely swirl patterns. I also download and copied the prep list, and a couple of other charts. I don't know why but she suggested waiting an hour after children or animals were in the soap making area before you make soap. I have no idea about why this is the case.- I also found a recommendation for a soaping magazine. I should have guessed there would be one. It's not available in print, just in pdf files, so I subscribed and ordered an old issue from Etsy that I could download immediately. It has photos and instructions on how to do all those fancy tops on soaps. Modern soap making has become quite an art - quite a change from when farm wives just make soap once a year with wood ash and the lard after butchering a pig in the fall.  I've been adding a lot more information to my soap notebooks all afternoon. After dinner I'll run some recipes through a soap calculator and get an idea of how they will work.

With the family up and doctors appointments and household chores, I never did get around to making the melt and pour soap; but at least all my supplies are nicely and newly organized, my electronic devices now have working emails, and JCloud continuea to back up my computer after one or two bad starts.

After buying several soap fragrances I found that some of them don't last very long, but also found that you can purchase something that will keep them from losing their scent too fast. So now I have to find out who sells it and order some. Who knew vanilla scents can turn the soap brown! I know now and ordered some guaranteed to not do that. I found out that  some colors bleed, so I have to check the ones I have and see if they are suitable for the swirl and other soap designs I want to make. Maybe I should just stop reading before I find more things that have to be adjusted or added! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

3 D printer creates a clay house

 It's amazing what these 3D printers are capable of creating. Can't wait to see more such projects as this technology grows.

As for me, my own creating lately has been solely in the kitchen. The rest of the time has been spent on garden and household things and the never ending computer chores.

The garden is still producing enough to keep me busy in the kitchen so I made a tomato based vegetable soup for lunch with our tomatoes, summer squash and broccoli. Dinner was crab cakes with my easy Remoulade sauce, tossed salad and macaroni salad. The freezers are pretty full and the fridge is beyond filled. I don't think I could squeeze one more piece of food, no matter how small, in there right now.

Our weather has still been warm during the day, 75 today and in the 80's a couple of days ago, but it looks like in another couple of days,  with rain coming, we'll be going down to more normal late October days with temperatures in the 60's - soup and bread baking kind of weather.

Two of my stand alone hard drives are definitely deceased, even though one shows that it's healthy but says I first have to format it, but repeated attempts at formatting only bring up the dreaded  Windows can't complete the format". On top of that the two smaller capacity, working ones won't back up using Norton, so I've given up and started backing up files on floppies, and am also using JustCloud which is a joke. After 3 full days of transferring files (that' 24 hrs a day), it's only transferred 26 Gigabytes of files. At this rate it will a month to download everything! So I am probably going to have to give in and buy another stand alone hard drive, but it won't be a Samsung or a Toshiba, both of which died only a couple of months of using them.

I spent another two days dealing with the problems following the downloading of the latest Apple software for my iPad and two other devices which totally messed up my emails, and made it almost impossible to re-sign up on my iPad or to re-synch any of my devices. So it was another couple of days tearing my hair out over that problem and of course there was no way to revert back to the older software. Mercury retrograde has definitely been  doing a number with all these devices, so I will wait till it's well over before I even consider looking for another stand alone hard drive.

On top of the ever failing computer hardware, I've had some health issues which have to be checked out. I finally found time yesterday  to make an appointment with my doctor next Wednesday.  Since I don't know what I'm dealing with, I'm not planning on getting involved in any studio work or any other projects that I can't complete  in a day or so until I know what the cause of this pain is

Since I've pretty well done as much as I can with all these back ups at this point, maybe I can make time to try my hand at soap making using the easy melt and pour soap I bought which looks pretty simple. All I have to do is add my own colors and a fragrance. I've got the push up containers to use for making my own deodorant and I'd like to find time to do that as well. It's been a few weeks since I read all those instructions so I'll have to go back to square one and read those notes and watch one of those very helpful videos on you tube. I used to think that Google was the font of all wisdom, but I'm thinking You Tube is a close second!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Lovely Monday morning eye candy

I've always loved David and Margaret Frith's work and was happy to find this to share this morning

Jim and I are off after breakfast to do some shopping and other things this morning. I have garden chores at our son and daughter-in-laws place - mostly harvesting some veggies; and our larder needs a bit of re-stocking, so we're off to the organic grocery store, with a couple of other stops along the way.

It's October and we're still dealing with hot days It's going to be 90F today! So my own garden chores at home are just going to be hand watering some things and harvesting a few veggies. Then it will be time for a lunch break. Hopefully after lunch, I'll have enough energy  to get my photo setup back up in the guest bedroom. It's a pain to have to take it down every time we have a house guest, but it's the only place I have to set it up. If I'm too tired, which I suspect may be the case, then the plan will change and I'll taking a nap instead. Periodic naps have definitely become part of this retirement lifestyle.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Patia Davis video

This was a lovely clip to watch with my first morning tea. Love the idea of making buttons from the leftover, slip patterned, slab pieces - really nice.

We had a wonderful time with our daughter Erin's visiting this past week. It felt like we were having an in house vacation - lots of lovely meals and wine at home and out, lots of little shopping trips, and relaxing evenings at home with good food, good wine and good chocolate. We discovered an amazing shop with home made chocolate - to die for. We will definitely be going back there again, but not too often. It's expensive and could easily become addictive!

Erin left this morning for L.A. for a couple of days before flying home to Munich, and now we have to get back to our quieter, retirement pace. The house already feels empty without her beautiful, bubbly, presence. :-(

My old HP laptop has been warning me that I need a new battery, so I ordered one after breakfast and am keeping my fingers crossed that this is the only problem. Once Windows 9 comes out early next year, it will be time for me to buy a new laptop.

My plan to do more work in my office got put off when my friend Kay called and asked me to go look at a house with her. She's been renting and has been informed that the owners will be putting the house up for sale and she has less than 90 days to move. That would be a strain for anyone but it's going to be particularly stressing for an eighty year old widow. She doesn't want to rent again and even if she wanted to, none of the current rentals in our area will take a tenant with pets. 

Both gardens are still producing tomatoes, but they're definitely slowing down with the cooler evenings, which is good because Jim says he's sick of beans and tomatoes. Other than some kale and  lettuce seedlings that came up this week, I haven't planted a fall garden because I want to be able to get back in the studio as soon as I put these gardens to bed after the first killing frost.  The lettuce will be fine till about mid December with my heavy remay cover, so Jim may be getting sick of salad by December.

There's no room in the fridge and the kitchen counters are loaded with tomatoes, so it time to cook them and put them in the freezer. Maybe I'll make some stewed tomatoes, or just make some more pizza sauce - decisions, decisions.