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Wednesday 30 November 2011

Bushbaby, monster in the woods, faun and minotaur

Hello everyone. We had a flop on the Christmas sale. Oh well. We did post-analysis, and forgot about it.

Meet my Bushbaby. He looks so funny. If somebody could brighten up my dark autumn days it must be him! I made him on the spur of the moment as usual. When I saw his face, I knew that he is the kind of character I like to make. Funny, off-beat and some presence. When you look at him, you can't help smiling.


I intend to keep him as my companion. He took a windowsill position in our bedroom.
Chunky from side

This glaze mix took a lot of tests and time. I liked it a lot, but the results were not consistent. For example, these below are also same glaze mix, and they all look different. Monster is lighter and faun is darker coloured than the Bushbaby. Of course, Minotaur on the banner is also same glaze mix.
Little monster in the woods
Because of the inconsistency, I may not use it again.


We are bushbabies too! Can we go to your bedroom? ( No!)

Monday 28 November 2011

Christman sale at Kent Adult Education

There will be Christmas Craft Fair at Kent Adult Education Centre at Canterbury tomorrow. It opens at six o'clock in the evening. Please come if you can.

Christmas Craft Fair at Kent Adult Education

We have attended the Christmas fair last year too. It was our first ever sale. When we woke up in the morning (it was held in the morning last year), we found snow on the ground. We were not sure if there would be a sale due to snow fall. But when we got there, everyone else was already setting up their stalls.

2010 On the day of Christmas sale

We had begginers' luck on that day.

2010 Christmas craft fair

Mike proved himself useless on that day except for driving and carrying goods. I overestimated his ability in sales. He had absolutely zero ability. I thought he has done so much shopping in his life, so he would know what he should do. Wrong!

Lynne and sally

In a small sale room, he sat on a chair with arms and legs crossed toward the entrance of the room, like a Soviet Union safeguard whom I saw in Moscow before the regime collapsed. Prospective customers had to walk away to avoid his toes. Would you believe it?  He didn't serve customers until I nudged him. And even so, he looked away from them..... All of the time, I was hot and sticky putting our ceramics out of the boxes, and making price labels, asking the customers if they need help, wrapping, and taking money, giving them changes, keeping a record and all other things needed to be done. Ha!

If there had been nobody else, I would have sharply told him what to do, or more likely I would have kicked his bottom out of the chair ! But all I could do in public was to gently suggest that he should serve the customers. Then he said 'No, I will wait until they will talk to me'. Yes, you guessed right. Nobody asked help to this unwilling guy. They all asked me helps. 
Mask, horned devil

So, when we came home, I was silent with fury! Mike was very happy and bubbling. I quietly told him what he deserved to hear at the beginning, but the, I got too angry to remain calm, so I went on a full blast at him! I also fired him a la Sir Alan!

Let's hope I don't have to go through this negative emotion this year. To be fair, he is much better already. He has helped gathering his ceramics and priced them yesterday; I did everything last year by myself. Wish us luck! 

Sunday 27 November 2011

The curse of solar panels

Hazel nuts
You might wonder what hazel nuts have to do with solar panels. Well, we got our solar panels installed in late September. Since then, we changed our way of life. We try to use our electricity most when sun is out and our panels are generating electricity. It had been relatively easy until this month. we had a marvelously sunny October, and the length of daytime was ok. But now it is not so easy.

I am on the roof!

When it is bright, I run the laundry machine, which takes one hour, and dishwasher, which on economy programme takes a whopping three hours. Then I try to cook something, which doesn't require my constant attention, a stew or soup, sometimes rice too. Vacuuming is a must as we have so many critters indoors Then if there is still sun up in the sky, I will try to iron Mike's shirts. But the feeble winter sun has usually disappeared by the time the dishwasher finishs the programme.  

Mike wants to climb.
Before the solar panels, I had never ironed Mike's shirts. He used to do it in the evening. I seldom cooked anything during daytime.

I usually work from 8:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon. I also take dogs out for walks four times a day, as I have to take them separately. I often spent walks thinking and planning for my work. During winter time, it is my responsibility to look after our chicken, Pumpkin, as she goes to sleep before Mike comes home.

Obviously when I was very busy with important issues at work, and also live webcasts to watch, I did nothing. But when I could spare time, even a short time. I do household work which needs electricity. This has increased my workload a lot.
He goes up again!

Apparently summer is different. It is still bright when Mike comes home, and also we can start the laundry machine much earlier than now.

I must admit that I am far from domestic goddess. I am much happier working than doing household chores. I prefer eating out to eating in.I don't like cleaning. I only do because nobody else does.

You might think I should just ignore the solar panels, and revert to the life before them. But we set a target to get the capital back in a certain time span. You see, we bought Sanyo's small panels which are more expensive than others due to our small roof. From investment point of view, it is important to use as much of the electricity generated as possible. I know it because investment is my work. I also know that this scheme should give us a very good return with low risk. I am also a woman of principle and strong will and drive. Once I decide I usually stick to it and complete it.   

So here is my dilemma. And now I can hear you say I haven't explained the relationship between hazel nuts and solar panels.  Here is the point. We used to roast our own hazel nuts, which are my favorite, every night until they ran out. But because of the circumstances explained above, there is no time to use the oven during daytime in weekdays. Only weekends, if it is bright, I could roast the nuts. This is the curse of solar panels.

Mike has his own blog on our solar panels. Here is the link


Friday 25 November 2011

Autumn soup and dog walk in the campus

Today's lunch was my healthy pork escalope soup, Serrano ham and wholemeal sesame bread with seeds from Waitrose. Ah and a glass of Green Goblin cider. Mike had same bread but grilled with cheddar cheese and Serrano ham.

My lunch
I cooked this soup yesterday with solar power. This is very healthy soup. I used pork escalope instead of other fatty parts. Carrot and Charlotte potatoes were initially cooked together, and then tofu and Chinese cabbage were added. That was my lunch. For dinner, I added several shiitake and a leek. When we eat, we added microwaved broccoli on top for colour. Flavouring is a bit of sugar and a bit of soy source. And also a bit of white whine makes nice flavour. Simple but versatile, as it goes well with either bread or rice. Perfect for autumn days.

I finished all.
Desert was simple. A piece of Lindt 85% chocolate and black coffee. The box of champagne truffles were already finished this morning. Mike refused to try even one, even though he loves chocolate so much. This must be love!

I finished my work early today. Sun was shining, so I decided to have a longish walk to the University with Pearl.
A bench at the labyrinth

Pearl found two squirrels! Her ears are sensors!

Silver birches
 After tucking the parrots in for a good night sleep, we watched third and fourth parts of Downton Abbey recorded. Glad to know that Mathew and William were safe!

Thursday 24 November 2011

Finally my new listings are up and late afternoon walk

Westgate court Avenue
What's that? (looking at a dog on the other side)
I finally could manage to upload a couple of new listings into my Etsy shop despite that Royal mail site is still broken. What happened to them? But they put a pdf price list, so I was able to figure out postage for shipping. Phew! Two chameleons went up today. It took me so long for these two chaps this evening, I was too tired to do the rest. So other ones will be up on my shop tomorrow evening.

I took Topaz for a walk to Westgate court Avenue late afternoon. I like walking there. Trees have lost leaves, and Topaz was busy finding something (probably not good things!) under the leaves on the ground.

I found peculiar looking mushrooms. Lavender coloured ones.

But Topaz was more interested in an invisible squirrel!


Wednesday 23 November 2011

A la Vogue, new face pendant listing and still broken Royal mail website

Hello! yesterday evening, I did some photo shoot a la Vogue!

Face series
Aren't they pretty? I finally started having a feeling for shooting photographs and setting up a shop. I did enjoy this photo shoots. Yes! it is so important to enjoy the process.


I bought this silk purse a long time ago, so long that I don't even remember when it was. These three silk roses were made for my wedding dress by my mother.

My mother is good at sewing even though she has never formally learnt. She understands how to make things when she looks at finished products. Mike is also similary talented, not in sewing though, but engineering. He can make things from scratch.

Royal mail website is still down, believe or not! after 48 hours. So I still can't list my new items into my Etsy shop, except for one face pendant, which is same postage as other face pendants.

New listing
She is so cute!
 I love this girl's face. She looks so cute! I made lots of funny faces, but she is one of my beauties.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

New lisitings to Etsy shop is failed by Royal mail!

Yesterday evening, I prepared a couple of listings for my Etsy shop. I am slowly getting used to how it really works.

I took some photographs of them, wrote descriptions of them, measured them up, and then went to Royal mail website to find out postage. Doh! The site was broken (and it is still broken after 24 hours.) They insist they can't find postage for my specific weight!!!

What I wanted to list were these cuties.

Chameleon-paper weight
This is about 13cm from mouth to tail. I used him as a paper weight at my Open House. His cheeky smile attracted several visitors. He is also Mike's favourite.

This is how he looked before bisque firing. The little one facing to him on the left is a brooch for sale on Etsy.

Chameleons in making

Short legged, long legged and horned chameleons

I made four little ones. None is same. The difficult part was attachment of legs. Funnily enough I make the tail part first. Secondly, face, third, body, and finally legs. Then I assembled them.

This is a little horned chap. As you can see his tail and body were supported until the clay became harder. And don't miss his adorable face!

My tail is heavy

Am I adorable?

I wanted to make a larger one, and made this one (below). As everything I make, inside is hollow. Unlike some clay artists, I make everything hollow from the start.

Well, as soon as Royal mail website comes up, I will figure out postage, and list him as well as other chaps on my Etsy shop. 
Chameleon medium size with drippy tail!
He is about 15cm long, and has a cute quizzical face. Any doubt? have look at this photo!

Quizzical? Moi?

Monday 21 November 2011

Foggy Monday and Cuttlefishlove's Kanzashi

Hello foggy Monday. How do you get your day started when fog is so thick that you really can't see three meters away?

Well, I hug my puppy... well, she is not really a puppy any longer. She is older than three year old, but we got used to call Pearl puppy because she is the youngest of the family. I try to suck all her essence of life. She tries to sniff my ears, neck and mouth. Ticklish! Then I feel a bit better. About eleven, finally fog was melted. But there is no blue sky visible, just cloud. I have taken our dogs for quick walks. I feel even better now.

Pearl, our 'puppy'

I received a message from a lady called Emily in Brighton. She said that she likes my little ceramic creatures. That is very nice! She makes beautiful flowers from silk kimono fabric and other fabric.

Kimono fabric is woven very strong, and traditionally they were re-used until they became small patchwork pieces. Kimono, unlike European clothes, are cut straight, so it is actually very easy to be remade to something new, like futon, cushions, children kimono or something else. Her site is here.   (http://www.etsy.com/shop/cuttlefishlove)

When I used to keep lots of finches, I would buy lots of cuttlefish bones for them to nibble. So her username puzzled me. lol I asked her what is the reason behind it. I haven't heard her reply yet.

Mike went to ceramic course this evening. Even he seemed a bit down. I could tell because he didn't have usual appetite. lol  He said walking in the fog makes him feel down. Ummm, we had better do some creative things to beat autumn depression.

29th October.

Sunday 20 November 2011

BLue sky, cheese washed by brandy 11 times and throwing

Maple leaves

Hello, this weekend was sunny and uplifting!

Beautiful tree in the University

I usually struggle from SAD in both October and November. I felt something dark and heavy was coming over my head last Friday. Suddenly I can't wake up at usual time in the morning. I started losing focus on my work as well. Sunshine blasted off the heavy feeling.

Starlings on sliver birches

Saturday, we went to bank, Boots, Asian food shop and super, where we found 'Bert Eppoisses Bourgogne'cheese. It is typical French cheese with rind washed, but this was washed by brandy 11 times! We bought the last piece, and it was so soft, and a sharp knife was needed to be lifted from the board. We bought a petite Parisian to go with it. Lovely smell and nice taste. although dish washer became smelly too after we put the plates we ate cheese on in.

Bert Eppoisses Bourgogne

In the evening I threw a tea cup, a jug and a saucer that our friend Cynthia wants. She bought one of my coffee cups in the Open House. This saucer is for the cup.

Matching coffee cup and creamer
My uplifting Jet pic!

Friday 18 November 2011

My love for champagne truffles

From Brussels

Mike went to Brussels on a business trip yesterday. He was picked up at six in the morning, and came home about half past seven in the evening. He opened the door and said 'Bon jour!', I questioned, 'Isn't it "bon soir"? hahaha, He told me before that his French teacher was so pretty and sexy at school, he couldn't focus on his learning. lol  What an excuse!
Champagne Truffles
He got me a box of champagne truffles. I am very fond of truffles, especially with some alcoholic ones. After eating my tongue feels typical tinge with champagne taste! Ahhhhh, heaven. I can eat lots at one go, but Mike kindly? suggested that I should eat moderately.

Thursday 17 November 2011

My sentimental rabbit carol singer

Carol singer

I made this rabbit for myself. Having said that I made everything for myself. Last year I made small carol singers, a rabbit and a piglet, size of thumb, for our Christmas. The image came from the Wind in the Willows. I always liked the illustration, especially that of young animals singing carol. 

It's so cold at night. You knock the small door, and there Ratty and Mole appeared, offering you a hot chocolate! You stared regaining the feel in your icy hands. The ice on your whiskers started melting. I could almost smell the chocolate.

Last November, we collected the little pair of carol singers in the evening before the Christmas sale at KAE. On the day heavy snow fell, so we hurried up to the site. Before going, I quickly picked them up and wrapped them up and took them to the sale. A very kind looking lady smiled at them, and she bought them and one of my snow plate. I was so glad they went to a nice home. I liked her face so much that I wanted to be her friend instantly. 

 I didn't have time to see them in detail in daylight or to take photographs of the little pair. 

The first thing I made after Christmas was this rabbit singer and piglet in much a larger scale the original ones. He is about 18cm high. Sadly, the piglet didn't make it to kiln.

I exhibited him at Open House, and several people commented fondly on him. He was for sale there, but nobody bought him. We will go to Christmas sale this year again on the 29th November. I haven't decided if I would take him. Probably I will. But I am happy in either way. If he stays with us, the first thing I would do after Christmas is to make his companion piglet. This time I will be very careful in drying process. And on a snowy night, I might offer them tiny cups of hot coco, just like in the book.