Sunday, April 26, 2015

Friday fun...

young black feral in tree 
It's been rainy pretty much this week... so our backyard is muddy and wet.  The young black ferals like to climb the trees... sometimes chasing squirrels, sometimes just playing around.

A few hand-built pieces done at home: more fun with relief carving in clay

candle holder that have "luv U" and a soap dish with a flower on one side

same soap dish with inside carving

closer view of flower carving

I also did a few carved jewelry pieces...

These are just carved in greenware... and have only 2 coats of under-glaze so far, then they'll be fired to bisque, then glaze only on front side and fire again. The unglazed side can be dabbed with essential oils... and used as a necklace, key holder, or whatever.

We had a workshop with a visiting artist today. We're creating a clay mural that when finished will be put up on one of the studio walls. It's about 4-5 foot long by maybe 18 inches tall. We laid out the slabs and worked some on the landscaping part today. Tomorrow we're supposed to complete it. If we do finish it, I'll try to get some pics to post.  Some of the things I learned today was working with Sodium silicate and pouring slip molds.

I also recovered my under-glazed tiles from the kiln and hope to get them glazed with a two translucent glazes I bought - a celadon (green) and a snow (blue). We actually learned a new glazing technique from the workshop. It involves pouring on under-glazes with a spouted bottle, then spraying it off with a spritz bottle, let it dry, then do it again with another color. 

bisqued tiles

On another thought: My daughter called yesterday evening to ask me if DH and I would be interested in watching her *sky dive* one day soon. My first thought was, "WHAT?" "WHY?" "WHEN?"

As it turns out, she is considering joining a bunch of people from work who decided to do this. We never knew that she had ever considered doing this. I had - when I was a lot younger - but now, the interest has flown (no pun intended). I told her that she needed to think this over carefully and if she really wanted to do it or would regret not doing it, then sure, go ahead. But it wasn't a decision to be taken lightly as there is *risk* involved.

As a mom, I would have loved to have said, "Oh God, no! Please don't do this", but I know that it really must be her decision... 

*new post on "Mulberry Days"...* 

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Blog Alert!

Just a note to say that I started a new blog - one where I probably won't post as often - but it will primarily have to do with *old age and retirement issues*.  Here at "Older, but better...?" I tend to smush everything together... and will probably continue to do so as that's the way life is. But if I have something that I feel needs to be addressed regarding age and retirement, I will try to focus the emphasis on this new blog... which is called "Mulberry days...".

Please feel free to drop by and visit. I'll try to keep it upbeat!

Friday, April 17, 2015

just stuff...

St. Augustine lawn... 
The new lawn is doing pretty well as it's been raining quite a bit since we put it in. We hope it gets established before the real heat of summer starts taking it's toll.

pink dogwood
My friend took this picture of her dogwood blooms on her property in Anna, TX...

and a pic of Molly - one of our 22 year old cats.  She was climbing over my lap on the sofa on her way to my water glass on the side table. Fortunately for me and unfortunately for her it was empty. They have a flowing water fountain in the kitchen and a water bowl in both the bar and the bathroom, but prefer to sneak a drink from any available glass.  I've told them it's really bad manners to do this, but it hasn't made much of an impact.

and lastly a picture of a sign we found on the Internet that we put up by our front door. I'm not sure that it actually inhibits solicitors, but it gives some people a good laugh.

Still no pics of greenware at the studio (works in progress), but I will *try* to remember to take some tomorrow.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

carving clay...

a flower... and a cat sitting on a fence under a tree
Well, I still haven't been back to the studio to work... so no pictures from there, but I did try my hand here at home at "carving clay"... thus, the 2 tiles above. It's kind of fun, but takes a bit of time. I'm sure there's a process to follow, but since I don't know it, I just experimented with my tools. I'll leave these to be fired next Saturday, but don't know if I want to under-glaze them first. Have to think about that. The flower would be nice with white petals and a yellow center and the maybe a black cat with a white moon? (or I could just leave them bisque?)

smaller disks - a tree with roots and a dove
(I can see that the dove's beak is not very easy to see.. but it is there)

Besides these, I have finished quilting 3 small quilts... except for the binding. I don't know how to do this, so have to wait until my friend shows up next week to show me. But the machine quilting itself wasn't bad at all.

Bummer: Our car has been in the shop for the last 2 days. The "check engine" light came on over the weekend and unlike Penny (on the Big Bang) we couldn't ignore it. This is actually my car (DH has a truck) and this car used to belong to my mom... so it's 20 years old this year. But it's a Grand Marquis and drives really well for the most part (Mom never traveled very far in it). Anyway, it did have a few problems that needed to be attended to ($$$), but we're hoping it will last another year or so... so we did fix her up. 

This on top of the new lawn means we won't be doing much of anything else for a while. 

Do any of you watch "America's Test Kitchen"? Well, on it they have a segment where they test various kitchen equipment and let you know which came out on top. A while back they tested French Press coffee makers - about 6 different ones. My daughter and her family really prefer French Press over other methods and apparently the host on ATK does also (DH does not - he doesn't like the foamy residue).  Anyway, the one that topped all the others was a Bodum Stainless Steel French Press because it had silicone around the strainer which kept the grinds from coming through better than the others and also because the Stainless Steel kept the coffee hotter longer than the glass ones. Anyway, I thought this was interesting. Since we use both a Keurig and a Nespresso, we don't need a French Press (although I do have a small one for when daughter comes to visit).

Reasons to be happy: 

1. Feral mama cat had kittens in our yard. We think 3 or 4 - didn't get a good look - but one was not black but actually looks a bit like ol' Sam???
2. Spotted Sam in the neighborhood... so he's OK (despite the trauma).
3. Have a new lawn (despite the $)... and it looks nice.
4. Have a working car (despite the $)... so I can return to studio.


5. The weather is wonderful... and our backyard is green again!

Be happy!!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"... grandma's baby"

My little grand daughter is 2 years old... and at such an interesting age. Her little mind is processing so much so quickly that it's hard not to be fascinated by the things she says and does (and of course being her grandmother gives me *braggin rights*). This Friday when she was at the house, she was running around playing with everything... and pulling me around to play with her... either with a ball or some other toy. Have to say that my own kids were not as active as this child... she never stops (except for ice-cream)!

 Anyway, at some time during her visit, she momentarily climbed into my lap and curled up. I immediately began rocking her and singing a little tune. When the moment was up, she looked up at me, climbed down, and ran over to her mama (my daughter-in-law) and said in a quiet secret voice, "Mama... I'm grandma's baby..." To which her mother acted surprised and said, "oh no... you're my baby."  And you could see the delight on her 2 year old face as she looked at her mama and repeated, "I'm grandma's baby!"  We all laughed. But it was one of those moments where your heart does a little flip.



Update:  A Sam sighting! Remember Sam, the semi-feral Siamese with the beautiful blue eyes who has been around the neighborhood for years.  His story is here. Anyway, we hadn't seen him since he was taken off, neutered, vaccinated, and treated for his various cuts and scrapes. The neighbor who took him had brought him back, kept him for 24 hours, and then released him. We were worried as there had been no sightings and it's been about 2 weeks. Perhaps he had crawled off somewhere to die? But no! We saw him yesterday! We now think he is keeping a low profile and recuperating (smart cat). So happy that he is OK!


Another update (not as exciting as the Sam sighting): we had to have another lawn put in. Our front lawn as well as many in the neighborhood was not adjusting well to the drought and winters - it was mostly weeds (and pretty little yellow dandelions!). Anyway, we finally bit the bullet and had St. Augustine put in. It looks much better... (it should - it wasn't cheap).

And lastly, I know that I planned to take some pictures of our latest projects in pottery and post them, but alas, I forgot. We're pretty busy trying to finish up everything as the last day of class is May 9th. Then the summer session starts again in June. But I will definitely (?) try to remember to do this next week (?). 

Wishing everyone lots of sunshine and wonderful spring weather!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

tea cup stain solution...

For those who may not know, I tend to drink a lot of tea... coffee too (and although neither is allowed now on my IC diet, I do still cheat now and then)... but both stain my china cups.  Recently I got to the point where the tea and coffee stains were embarrassing when serving. 

So I *googled*  how to get tea and coffee stains off your china. Many of you may already know this, but it's pretty simple. Just make a paste of baking soda and water and rub vigorously... a voila! no stains!  They do say that if you have a stubborn stain, to add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to the paste. Mine worked without doing that. 

Now that Easter is over, I'm guessing the next actual holiday is the 4th of July (not counting my daughter's birthday in May). And since we don't really do much on the 4th (our neighborhood has a 4th of July parade and occasionally our son has a bar-b-cue), but we (DH and I) don't plan anything (we do set out our flag!). So unless I've forgotten something, we should have a few months of relative quiet. We like quiet.

Actually Easter itself was quiet. Kids went off to the Hill country to celebrate with my daughter and her family there. I made some stuffed artichokes here at home and served them with our dinner of NY strip steaks, a cauliflower and broccoli casserole, and home-made cheese biscuits. Their Easter Brunch menu (of which we got pictures) was much more elaborate, but our meal here was good. We may all try to go down to the Hill country next year... but it's hard when there's no one left around to care for the cats.

stuffed artichoke ready to steam...

On the pottery front: our hand-built kilns are drying... and will need a lot more time to dry before firing. But we've started on the next project - which is hand-built decorative urns. I have already finished the main body of the hand-built one and am working on the lid and decorative part now. Hoping (if there's time) to also throw one on the wheel... but we'll see. Going in this afternoon to the studio. May take some pics to post later. 

The weather has gotten quite warm quickly. We haven't turned on the air-conditioner yet - like to get through May without it. Open windows (when we're home) have worked so far.  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

a place marker...

Busy today... so I'm just posting this place marker.  Came across these posters recently and couldn't stop laughing, so I'm sharing them.

Don't you just love'em... the way they make you laugh?