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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The most dramatic sunset we have ever seen.

Hello Everyone. Did you have lovely Christmas? We have spent relaxed and cosy time together. Christmas and Easter are only occasions I can totally relax away from the work. So, they are really precious to me. I was totally unwind. We have enjoyed nice meals and good wine, champagne and cider to accompany with. Of course, we have done lots of cooking and baking too.

I usually don't drink as much as I like to, because my only tool is my brain. I must keep it as sharp as possible. But I have enjoyed extra glasses here and there. Bliss!

London market opened this morning, and I have one stock I like to trade if the condition becomes right. So I, a kind of, kept an eye on the movement. But otherwise still off mode. The first reporting starts on the fourth of January, so I like to take it easy until then.

I have played along with clay too. Everyday, I worked on a model or two, and started having desire to make something. I will upload pictures later. But now I like to share the most dramatic sunset we have ever seen, with you. We took photographs from our bedroom. A front line was moving toward us as sun set. It changed gradually, and the sky became dark.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Cemetery spire in winter sun

Hello everyone! Today is the last day in London market, and it won't open until 27th. A rare occasion for me to be able to totally switch off.

Yesterday afternoon, we went to my favourite spot for a walk. Canterbury cemetery!

Canterbury cemetry

Gate with Celtic cross

We met Ken with norovirus! Well, not exactly, but he and his family had it one after another, and grandparents visiting their house right now are coming down with something. Scared! He kindly stepped back when he told us about this. We both had swine flu last Christmas, and couldn't eat anything or drink for days. I took two weeks to recover. So, this year, we are trying to keep fit over the holiday. You, too! Take care!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas cards

As cards arrive from abroad, I catch up with the news of the year with the friends who, otherwise, have no contact with. I have friends whom I haven't met for about 20 years in Spain, Germany and Japan, and for fewer years in other parts of the globe.

You might think at the age of Internet, I should be able to communicate with them more than once a year, surely. But some of them are not connected to Internet (yes), and even those who are on Internet, we just exchange cards not to get into our personal daily lives.
There is a children's song in Japan, in which a goat sent a letter to another goat, but he ate a whole letter before reading it. So he had to write back to ask the sender what was the matter in the letter.

Last Christmas, one Japanese friend living in Spain wrote that her mother was diagnosed with cancer. I imagined how difficult for her not to be able to stay with her mother at the difficult time. So I wrote my feeling about it on this year's card. She apparently sent me a card before mine arrived there, telling me that she had a fantastic year.

Antler pendant top
It is a bit comical, isn't it? Perhaps, I hope, her mother has fully recovered. She tells me that her daughters learn English at school, so she wants to make a trip to UK with them, and come to see me. How wonderful! After 20 years, I would long to see her again. But I don't know how we can manage to get this happen with annual exchange of cards.

Nostalgic, that's the word I would use to describe the relationship.

Just like you, I am so used to Internet, and my life evolves around it. My work, my relationship with friends and family totally depend on it. I do most of my shopping and banking on it. our entertainment in on it. Mike and I communicate via skype most days while we work, and we sometime send emails each other, even when we both are in the house.

But, with those friends I mentioned, I suppose annual card swapping is the most comfortable way for us to communicate. The speed and tempo of our lives are so different. It is such a shame to drag them into our digitalised life, indeed. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Winter flowers and Pearl's evening

Hi, everyone. Even though I intended that last week was my last day work before Christmas, I was working this morning again due to lots of issues in EU, as well as volatile movement in the market. In true sense. I never take off time except for the days when markets are closed. Even so my work life balance is not bad, because I work from home. Instead of commuting or having a chat with colleagues, I hang laundry and walk dogs.

 There are a few flowers in our garden right now.I found them whilst hanging laundry, so there is a good thing with hanging laundry on a cold morning!
Algerian Iris

However, I heard Merkel is off for holiday, I should be following her. I took an afternoon off, and took a saucer to our friend Cynthia. I threw the saucer on a wheel separately, so I guessed the size. It seems it was a bit too tight. Cynthia said the cup has been on the table to look at because it is pretty. I begged her to use it, and to tell me how she feels about it.
Cup and saucer
I got a chill this evening, so I didn't work on the head I made yesterday. Instead, we watched an old episode of Poirot on TV. I love the style and house decoration.In the meantime, what did our princess Pearl do?
She slept,
Oh? Is she going to wake up?
No, and she slept.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Moomin sheep! and 10 minutes pasta sauce from scratch.

I changed him again! I wanted to make his tummy rounder, and neck slimmer. So I severed his head! and removed arms, and adjusted his waist line and neck line. How about that? Do you like him? I like him better. Then I made his arms lifted, just because he looks chirpier this way. Compare with yesterday's.
Sheep side

This paper flax porcelain clay is doing what it says it does. I attached bone dry to moist parts yesterday, and they seem ok. Today I reattached his head to body, that seemed fine, too. So far I am happy with it.

Sheep front
Next one is this. It stared something cute, and ended up with something, which Mike called 'spooky' lol! Oh well.

Penguin? Bird?
Spooky thing!

---Midori's very quick cooking corner----

Mike comes home and prepares lunch for both of us, although I work form home. Yes, I know I am very lucky. But today, the beginning of my holiday, I cooked lunch for a change. My cooking is very quick. It is pasta with bacon, garlic and cherry tomatoes fried in olive oil. There are two points you should follow, then you can't fail. First, buy very good quality bacon. Dry cured lightly smoked from outdoor raised pigs is our one. Second fry garlic until it becomes light brown. Well, if you could get ripe tomatoes, that makes a big difference, but in UK in December, we can't expect that.... Yummy!
Midori's 10 minutes sauce for pasta

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Paper flax porcelain clay experiment

The last Sunday before Christmas was spent mostly cleaning parrot cages and house. We have three large cages, so it was a whole morning job, even though I started before breakfast.

After dinner, I tried to make a whippet, and failed. But I was eager to make something, so I added a body to 'Moomin whippet' I made last week 
Mooomin whippet found fleece body
Back side
This clay is called paper flax porcelain clay. According to Jane who recommend 'paper clay' to me, even bone dry parts can be attached to moist parts. So here is my experiment. As you can see from the image, the head part was bone dry; it is white. I attached the body to the head this evening to see what will happen. It felt to me fine. There was no peeling off, which happened when I used ordinary clay when it was too dry to be worked.  

Mike baked polenta muffins with Italian twist. Ingredients are ground almonds, polenta as well as other usual things.
Polenta, ground almonds and egg yokes
A bit gritty (intended) and they didn't rise much (because of heavy ingredients?), but taste was good. They remind me Madelaines. I ate three, and Mike tried to appear to be shocked for the third one, but he also ate three!

Our tree. Christmas is coming. Beaper the grey parrot, stopped whistling 'I wish your merry Christmas', even though that tune is his favourite. Typical! He usually starts after February.  
Our tree

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Priggy on bathing costume, wine, and today's Pearl

I am Priggy.
Monster have got a new name now. His name is Priggy. Mike is godfather, I am mother, and pearl is his sister. He now wears his bathing costume.

I wanted to underglaze his costume, but the clay has dried too much. The problem in winter; radiator dries clay too quickly and too much. I have to bisque fire him before decoration.
Priggy's lion's tail.

We had a busy day today. After all, it is the last weekend before Christmas. This year, we decided to spend Christmas alone and creatively. To do that, we went to Majestic Wine, and stocked our cellar first (Em, just a cupboard).
Today's shopping
Although I am much smaller than Mike (clothes for 11-13 years old, or size 8), I drink more than him. Oh, don't take me wrong. I usually drink only a glass of wine or cider a day, and maximum two glasses a day. But I drink everyday. Sometimes twice a day at both lunch and dinner, dependent on the food I have. If the definition of alcoholic is based on frequency, I might be one. But I really know I am not when I saw one of my friends took the wine bottle we couldn't finish into the hotel room, and held at the neck of the bottle (she had never let the bottle go!), and drank it all in a teacup by herself, while another friend and I drank tea. That's alcoholic! 

My advice to her was when she meets a man at the first date, she should never keep holding the bottle of the wine in front of him.

Mike pouring Dom Villargeau Giennois

Now, I will go back to our story. I initially wanted to buy a case of Sancere and Puilly-Fume, and some nice red which goes well with roast beef. When I was looking at Sancere, Mike eavesdropped a wine adviser was telling another customer, that Domaine de Villargeau, Coeaux du Giennois is located between Sancere and Puilly-Fume. It is very similar taste to Sancere, but cheaper. So I dropped Sancere, and picked what he heard. To check on that taste, Mike had it with coley, I with Alaskan wild salmon this evening. It was round taste with a depth. But the best Sancere I had had deeper taste. We will try with different dishes.
Ovened salmon, Pea butter rice, spinach and broccoli

Last but not least, today's Pearl corner. She embarrassed herself when she found a cat on the road during afternoon walk. She squealed so loud that I saw several lace curtains twitched. But after dinner, she was like pictures below.
There is a doggy in TV.

But I am sleepy. ZZZ

Once I fell into sleep, Dad went to spoon-feed our parrots.

But this is more comfortable than being on dad's lap.

He came back and claimed his chair. Oh well.

Night night everyone.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

I am attached to the monster with a horn.

Nameless little monster
Hi everyone! Although I said that I would not fire him yesterday, I changed my mind. I am attached to his goofy face with long eyelash. I wanted him to become 'alive. So I made a body this evening.
The body looks like a bit bowling pin.
I am thinking to 'dress' him, too. I have got an idea already. Grin.

I usually don't write about my day work here. But this is a bit funny, at least, to me, so I mention here. One of today's big news is that Christian Noyer of Bank of France, said that UK should get downgrade before France. Hahaha. I could see the French are getting desperate and want to blame somebody else, otherwise the governor of the central bank is unlikely to say anything like this, which you would hear more often in play grounds. Just in case, you are not aware, France is facing downgrade; they might lose AAA rating.

I was following the news, and head of business in The Telegraph wrote an article on this, which starts with 'Gallic pride'. I read it as 'Garlic pride'! I felt his accusation is about this level! The telegraph article.

By now, you might wonder how 'the lady of the house' is doing.

Warning!We don't have lavendar coloured wall- Mike took pictures without proper setting.
She insisted that she is going to sit on a chair while I was watching business news on TV after dinner. So I gave her my chair and got another one for myself.

We had a light dinner today because Mike had a long business lunch, and I ate one too many fried chickens at lunch time. But we got hungry later (typical!), and ended up nibbling everything possible in the fridge and cupboard. We must go to super tomorrow. I hope there won't be much snow tomorrow.   

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

A horn grew on 'moomin' and naughty Pearl

The chap I showed you yesterday became this. I will probably not fire him. I am trying to feel which direction I like to take, at this moment. So there are some experiments going on. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I have to make an effort to create at this moment. My hands used to move freely without me thinking, but now, first I have to think what I would do next.

It's time to let you know what Pearl was doing today. In the morning, she got her neck stuck in the hole of her blanket (she chewed the blanket and made the hole), when the door bell rang (there were lots of visitors today, and this was the first one). She was actually standing on the edge of the blanket.

Then, this photo was taken this evening.
Rubbish were dropped everywhere.
You may not be able to see what is going on. Ok, here is a more clarified image. It is the photo of the crime with the evidence attached!

Self-rubbish-scattering system powered by Pearl

She must have helped herself into the rubbish bag in the parrots' room upstairs. When I called her for dinner, she came down with the rubbish sac attached around her neck! On the stairs and floors, seed husks and chewed paper were scattered everywhere. She didn't seem to be bothered with her new neck decoration though!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Another creature from Moomin world

Hi, everyone. I hope you didn't have much damage from the storm last night.

The head
This chap is my creation of this evening. I liked 'Moomin whippet' that I made a couple nights a go a lot, so I tried to make a bigger cousin. I enjoy making goofy off-beat character recently. Then I realised Mike is also goofy and off-beat too!

I didn't update yesterday, so here is yesterday's photo.

Pearl sleeps at night

And today's photo.

Pearl sleeps in the afternoon
Night night, everyone!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Moomin whippet with paper clay. Mike bakes and cooks a lot.

Hello everyone! I hope you have had a nice weekend. Today I finally set up my studio with Mike's help in the dinning room, and made a small sample with new paper clay. At first I struggled to return to creative mode, but managed after for a while. I think it is important for me to create something often to keep an edge. The sample I made is this! Mike named her 'Moomin whippet'! 
Moomin whippet
I long for having a real studio, but at this moment, we have to make do with the dinning as a studio. It has ceramic tile floors and close to water and garden door.

We moved the dinning table to the lounge, and moved a work table to dinning.

He said 'I am doing a job for two people' while I was happily snapping photos. I said.' I am journalist' LOL
Voila! My studio.

Recently I have uploaded lots of food pictures. It's because we actually care so much (too much?) about food. It is definitely our main topic!

We did quite lots of baking and cooking today. Mike cooked English breakfast for me at lunch.
Bacon went to the oven
Without bread, but with a glass of red wine!

Then, he baked a carrot cake with lots of walnuts (my favourite!) and cinnamon (another favourite of mine!). I suggested that we could put cream cheese on top of a slice each time. (I just didn't want to wait...) Marmalade which he added was made by me last year. I made it too much and we used them instead of orange peels.
Mike's carrot cake with marmalade and lemon zest
Lots of walnuts!

I also made honey roasted peanuts. It is very moreish.
Microwave 1Tbs butter and honey each, and stir it onto 1 cup of peanuts. Roast them for about 15 minutes at 160C in the oven.
Once cool, store them in an air tight container.

Mike cooked fried rice and spinach for two meals, and broccoli. We usually cook for two meals or even more to save time.