Sunday, November 15, 2020

New 2020 Tea Towel Pre-Orders by Monday November 16th

This poor little neglected blog. I've been focusing lots of my energy on my Email Newsletters. Friday I sent out an announcement about my three new Tea Towel Designs - each in 4 different colors. I design these Tea Towels myself - my website is the ONLY PLACE IN THE WORLD where you can get these Tea Towels (except for our booth at the Amherst MA Farmers Market). 

Here's how I design them......I draw the designs out in black Flair felt tip marker or paint in black gouache on paper. I scan the sketches and bring them into Adobe Illustrator. In Illustrator, I do lots of computer manipulation and resizing of the different motifs and put them into the size format of the tea towels. I use a Wacom Pen Tablet at this point. Once I have the different design elements in, I move them around and resize to fit the Tea Towel format. Then I build a pattern repeat (if there is one needed). I export the Illustrator document into a jpeg format and import it into Photoshop. Then I can upload the digital file and do a test print. Once I see that the file prints perfectly, I do several different colorways and test them. Finally it is time to do a real print run. 

As you can imagine - when you look at the designs below and if you know Illustrator - these darn tea towels take FOREVER to design. I only have the energy to do the fabric design once a year because I find the computer illustration too tedious. I'm working with an old version of Illustrator and a very old laptop. If I upgraded both the Adobe Creative Suite and my computer, it would be faster. Unfortunately Adobe has changed their pricing and structure so that you have to pay $50/month forever to have the program (if I am correct? that was last time I looked) and a new laptop isn't in the cards right now. And so, I sally on with antiquated equipment! 

I forgot to post the photos of the new designs. Here they are......

I am taking orders through Monday evening at midnight. After that, I will order the fabric and then sew up the Tea Towels. If you order you will get them in time for the holidays. Your credit card will be charged when you order. 

This is something new I am trying. In past years, I have only sold the Tea Towel leftovers from the Farmers Market season. That method has never given my Online Shoppers much of a choice. By doing the pre-order, I can order the amount of fabric I need and not be stuck with lots leftover fabric sitting in my dining room waiting for months until the Farmers Market opens again. 

So far, there has been lots of interest in these and I am very thankful for the support my followers have shown! Hop on over to my website to order by Monday evening the 16th of November at midnight Eastern Time. (I may order a bit of overflow fabric to have on hand for those that haven't heard about this offer. I will order extra fabric of the colors that sell the best.) 

I only ship to the US at this point. Sorry to all the overseas and Canadian readers. 

Thursday, November 05, 2020

I Love Soup - French Onion Soup Recipe

In the colder months, I could live on soup. I've got a bunch of favorites I turn to over and over again. Lamb and Lentil Soup, Potato Leek and Scotch Broth are two that are favorites here at our farm. When I can score some farm raised beef bones from fellow farmers, I make beef stock. Last week, our neighbor Debbie was cleaning out her freezer and she passed some on to me. It didn't take me long to decide what I was going to make. 

This recipe came from Lisa White who is married to Tom White, a local potter. We went to a fantastic Pottery Open House a few years back and Lisa served the soup to guests. It was so delicious I couldn't stop thinking about it. I finally got up the nerve to ask for the recipe and today I'd like to share it with you. To make it easier to eat, I cut the toasted bread up into small pieces and then cover with cheese. The pieces are then floated on top of the soup. By all means, do it the traditional way if you prefer. Gruyere cheese is traditionally used but I use Swiss because it is easier for me to find at our grocery store. I have also used chicken stock instead of beef stock and it is delicious although not as traditional. 

The Potter's Wife's French Onion Soup

1/2 cup butter

4 large onions

2 garlic cloves - chopped

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons thyme

salt + pepper

1 cup red wine

3 heaping Tablespoons flour

2 quarts homemade beef broth - HOT

several slices good quality country style bread

several slices swiss cheese

Slice the onions into pieces approximately 1/4" thick. (I use my Cuisinart.) Carmelize onions in butter with garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper for 30 minutes. Add flour and brown. Add wine, stir with a whisk and cook until wine is evaporated. Add heated beef stock. Simmer for 15 minutes. 

While the soup is simmering, toast the bread. Butter the toast. Cut the bread into approximately 1" squares and place on a cookie sheet. Arrange them closely together. Place the swiss cheese on top of the toast. Broil until bubbling. 

Fill the bowls with the soup. Float the cheese covered bread on top of the soup. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Fiber Optic Comes to Leyden - A Last Mile Town in Western Massachusetts

If you have read this blog for any length of time, you know we live in one of the most rural counties in Massachusetts. For years, I struggled with a dial-up connection internet connection. I started this blog in 2006. It was definitely a labor of love because it took forever to upload a photo or do a post. Eventually I got something called an air card which gave me a bit faster connection. At the Leyden Town Hall, they eventually installed some kind of high speed service. I spent many hours sitting in my car uploading blog posts and photos. Eventually I was allowed to sit inside the Town Hall and use their wifi. 

This went on for many many years. And then miraculously via the power of State Senator Stan Rosenberg's office, in 2013, we got DSL service. You can read all about this here

Since 2013, the world has changed. Internet speeds got faster and faster. More services were done exclusively on-line. Rural towns in Massachusetts and in states throughout the US were being left behind. And then the Pandemic hit. The digital divide became more and more obvious. Julia's college courses moved on-line. She constantly was bumped off or missed Zoom classes because of low speed and poor interconnectedness. The State of Massachusetts thankfully took the initiative to make available 5G high speed internet at many of the small Last Mile towns to help students and other residents. We went back to sitting in the car to upload photos, update the website, and Julia to work on her homework and watch classes. 

Our story is familiar to so many residents of rural towns. Happily, we have had an excellent outcome. After many years of work by tireless committee members, fiber optic broadband is being installed to homes who want it. The fiber optic cables began being installed in the spring. A couple weeks ago, they were attached to our home. Miracle of miracle -- I never thought I would see the day. At first we could only access the internet from the one room in the house where the wire was installed. Last week, a smart tech guy at Whip City Fiber helped me figure out that we needed a wireless mesh system to move the signal past the enormous stone and brick chimney to other parts of the house. It's a one time investment even if it was unexpected.

We are up and running now and we're feeling like we are part of the modern world. Thank you to all the Leyden Broadband Committee Members who have worked on this for years and years and years. Our farmhouse and other residents of our road were lucky to be in the first wave of installations. If you live in Leyden and have ordered service, hang on. It's coming and you will be happy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

End of October 2020

We are coming to the end of October. It feels it. The days are getting noticeably shorter. Some days are cold, clammy and the wood stove begs for a fire. Somedays the sun is out, the sky is a beautiful blue, and it seems like winter won't come. 

I can feel the year change in my moods and thoughts. I am not very affected by seasonal affective disorder but I live with someone who is. I know what a struggle it can be. 

When the days get shorter and the weather cools off, I feel a certain energy come my way. I was noticing it the other day and thinking what the heck is a matter with me. I have a list of to-dos a mile long and I actually feel like I can conquer some of them. I'm lucky -- and maybe you are too -- that I have plenty to do inside whether is be making or cooking or potting or sewing or..... 

I thought back to July and August when the days were very hot and humid. I was exhausted constantly and found that only a nap after lunch would get me through the day. So I gave in and napped. It was the heat that was doing this to me. I see why siestas are so de rigueur in Italy and Spain and other hot climates.  I suppose I could get an air conditioner for the summer and that could help but considering I have to be outside tending my garden and making pottery in a shed that has no air, it would be a waste of money. 

The sunflowers are done for the year. The birds have been out there picking them clean. The sunflower patch is so much fun to watch now - little birds diving in and out. I wish I could catch a photo of them but it hasn't worked out yet. Here are the sunflowers decaying now. I will till them into the earth next spring and we will begin again. 

I'm looking forward to really getting things done this winter. For now, I've got to keep making some pottery and sewing some tea towels so I can do another On-Line Sale. Sadly, I won't be hosting a Holiday Open House this year. I just don't feel comfortable filling my home with folks that I don't know their health situation. This year of 2020 has taught us all to be flexible and adapt and that's what I am trying to do. 

We just heard from Kevin Ford, our sheep shearer. He is coming in a few weeks to shear the sheep. Mark has started moving some of them to the winter barns in prep for shearing. Still more to go but there is time.

On a good note, the Amherst Farmer's Market where we vend every Saturday has been a breath of fresh air this season. Our booth has been busy selling both our farm-raised lamb and my pottery and tea towels. If you are up for a drive, stop by and see us. Hours are 8 to 1:30 every Saturday through November 21st. There are lots of fantastic vendors that you can meet and purchase from. Once the market is done for the season, lamb will be available here at our farm. 

With that, I'll close for now. Hope everyone is hanging in there. 

Friday, October 09, 2020

My On-Line Pottery Shop Update Sunday

A quick note tonight to let you all know that I will be updating my On-Line Pottery Shop on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. EDT. I will have lots of new pots - pitchers, vases, mugs, platters, and more. I've been working on these pots since late spring. Here are a few that will be available.

I use a white clay for my pottery. Each piece is thrown on my potter's wheel or built by hand from slabs that I roll out in my studio. Once the pot is thrown, I let it dry slightly and then apply handles if needed. These handles are pulled by hand. When completely dry, I use a sponge to clean up the piece. 

Each piece's decoration is completely different. I assess the shape of the pot and then decide upon the flowers and motifs I will use. Each color has to be hand-painted 3 times in order to obtain the strong color that I prefer. I outline each shape with thin black lines using a very fine liner brush. 

Once I build up enough pieces, I fire the pieces in my pottery kiln. When the pieces cool, I unload them and then paint each one with 3 layers of a clear glaze. It's all very time consuming but I really do enjoy making ceramics. 

Stop by my On-Line Shop on Sunday to check out the new pieces. Here is the link

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. 

Monday, October 05, 2020

Fruit Crisp Recipe

It is "crisp season" here in western Massachusetts. Crisp as in the coming weather and the fall of the deciduous trees' leaves and crisp as in fruit crisp - that typically American dessert of fall and winter. 

For years, I searched for the perfect fruit crisp recipe. Every time I made one, it wasn't quite to my liking. One evening we were invited to our friends Peggy and Clara's house and they served the absolutely most perfect apple crisp. Clara passed along her recipe and each fall I make it. It is perfect for after dinner or breakfast the next few days. I've made it with apples and peaches, and plums, and frequently throw in odds and ends of frozen raspberries, blueberries, even grapes. Here's Clara's recipe and following are two picks of mine for most favorite local fruit orchards here in the Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts.

Clara's Fruit Crisp

For the crisp topping:

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup flour

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup walnuts or more

For the fruit:

6-8 cups of peeled fruit

juice of a half a lemon (2-3 Tablespoons)

1/4 cup white sugar

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

pinch of salt

1. Mix the topping ingredients together. 

2. Peel and slice the fruit and place in a buttered deep pie plate or casserole dish. I use a deep pottery dish that is 10" wide. Add the remaining ingredients and still to get the cornstarch to smooth out. Sometimes the dish is really full of fruit and sometimes not. Scatter the topping over the fruit and tamp down slightly. Using a knife, put a few airholes in the topping.

3. Bake at 375 for about 45-60 minutes. Fruit should be cooked through and bubbling up on the sides. Let cool slightly. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or just plain. Very nice for breakfast too. 

And now for a couple recommendations.....

The apples are beginning to ripen here in western Mass and luckily for the fruit growing orchards, folks can socially distance and pick apples safely. There are many orchards to choose from. Here are two of my faves:

Apex Orchards in Shelburne where the view is unreal. They have recently built a new farmstore and if you don't want to pick, there are plenty of varieties of already picked fruit.

Clarkdale Fruit Farm in Deerfield is a fourth generation fruit farm that has over 100 varieties of apples, peaches and more growing on their hillsides. In the fall, they offer mixed bags of all kinds of fruit perfect for pies. Clarkdale was the orchard that my mother-in-law Betty always bought her fruit from and Julia and I have continued that tradition visiting their stand each year before Thanksgiving. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A Virtual Tour of Charleston Farmhouse in the UK

A heads-up that there is a great opportunity to support Charleston Farmhouse, the Sussex, England UK home of Bloomsbury Group Painters Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell. On Thursday, October 1st at 2 pm EASTERN TIME (7 pm BST), a Virtual Tour is being hosted by Artist/Decorative Painter Annie Sloan and Curator Dr. Darren Clarke. 

The Bloomsbury Group began in the early 1900's and encompassed a large number of artists, authors, and intellectuals including Grant, Bell, Virginia Woolf (Vanessa's sister), Lytton Strachey, Maynard Keynes, Roger Fry and more. Charleston Farmhouse became a mecca for their large group of friends (read about them here). Over the years, the rooms were hand painted with innovative treatments which have inspired textile and other artists for years. In the 1980's after the death of Duncan Grant, the home began to be restored. For years, it has inspired visitors with its beauty and quirkiness and has been featured in many, many books and publications. 

I had the good fortune to visit Charleston along with Virginia Woolf's home Monk's House which is now owned by the National Trust over 20 years ago. I look forward to seeing it again - if only virtually - on Thursday. 

The talk has a sliding scale of 20, 30 or 40 British pounds and a video of the talk will be available for a week after with your paid ticket. Purchase tickets here. Hope to see you at Charleston. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Things I've Been Doing Since May 2020......

Hello Blog Friends! It has been a very long time since I have written here. So long that the blog platform I use has changed its format and I am bumbling around trying to figure it out! We humans all over the world have been living (with a little luck and care) through the Pandemic. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would write such words but here we are in the Autumn of 2020. The days are long with more and more news in the news cycle. It seems to be going faster and faster - sometimes I feel like I have news whiplash. But you all know that. 

I haven't written here, nor have I written any newsletters since May. I haven't felt like I have had anything to add to the world. What I have done is kept my family close. I've cooked a lot of meals - finding comfort in making and feeding my family. I've also been making a lot of pottery in my pottery shed. 

And I have planted, weeded, mulched, and harvested from my veggie and flower garden. The sunflowers and flowers and veggies are pretty much over for the season but there are dribs and drabs of color as you can see in the photo below. 

Like many former bloggers, I have stayed active on-line but have turned to the Instagram platform to share what I have been up to.  I did a 100 Day Project (#100DaysofPottery) which kept me creating, going and photographing. You can check out my project HERE

Most recently, I have been sharing photos of my sunflower garden which I used to share here with photos from my DSLR. I haven't picked up that camera since MAY! My phone is just too easy to use. You can see recent photos of the sunflowers on my feed HERE. I have added a couple videos on a IGTV channel which you can see HERE

We (Farmer Mark and I) have been doing the Amherst Farmers Market since May when it started up again. The Town of Amherst moved it onto the green grass common as opposed to the parking lot. There are lots and lots of health and safety precautions in place. It has been really nice to see people and help them feed their families with our pasture raised lamb. The market continues until the middle of November. I would love to see you if you are local or up for a drive. 

I've been bringing my pottery and tea towels too. It has widened our customer base because there are limited folks who will purchase lamb and so some new eyes have found my sense of color and pattern appealing. I love talking about color and pattern and the handmade and also about cooking lamb so every Saturday has been a bit of fun. 

I will try to post more here on the blog this fall. I miss hearing from you all and reading your comments. I hope you are healthy and safe. Drop a note in the comments to tell me how you are faring during what is now the new normal. 

XO to all of you -- my internet friends.     

Friday, June 12, 2020

Mahboubeh, Persian Tulips, and Lamb and Rhubarb Stew

I am re-posting this story here today. It was originally published on May 14, 2011. It is rhubarb season here at the farm and at this time of year, I try to make this recipe for Persian Lamb and Rhubarb Stew. The recipe comes with a pre-amble which it seems I used to have more time to do. 

The rhubarb in my garden is at its peak right now and I am going to make this for dinner this weekend. 

Originally published May 14, 2011

When I was in high school, my family hosted an exchange student for a year from Iran named Mahboubeh M-M. It was 1976 when Iran still was ruled by The Shah and before the Iranian Revolution and Hostage Crisis and the start of ABC's Nightline. It was one of those life-changing experiences for both Mahboubeh and my entire family. She couldn't speak a word of English, was a practicing Muslim, and she had never looked a man in the eyes. I can only imagine how scary it was for her to arrive in the U.S. We shared a room where she immediately figured out which wall was the East side of the room. She put on her hijab, lay down on her prayer mat and prayed what my 17 year old brain thought was all day long. The year with Mahboubeh was an awakening for me. Although I can easily admit that I wasn't always happy with my "new sister" reigning in on my senior year in high school, I now look back on it as to the year my life began to grow past my small town upbringing. The world is a large place full of different religions, morals, foods, and cultures and although we don't always get along with everyone, it is vital to remember that people all over the world are basically the same. They love their families and friends, are proud and fierce over the safety, health and love of their children, and have hometown pride.

The year with Mahboubeh awakened my family to Persian food. I grew up eating pretty bland typical 1970's fare. Food was always important to us even if it wasn't "gourmet." One of us was always baking some kind of sweet thing. German food was about as exotic as we got due to my German Grandmother Frieda's influence. Food was the way Mahboubeh was able to bond with us and become part of the family. She had never cooked before but had obviously watched her mom. She missed the spices and meals she had always eaten and my mom gave her the opportunity to learn to cook and share her country's food with our family. In town there was a Doctor Minoui who was Iranian. His wife took Mahboubeh under her wing, sharing Persian recipes. Soon Mahboubeh was cooking stews, sweets and our very favorite Persian dish - a potato-crusted rice called Tadik. Mom began buying saffron and the exotic spices wafted through our house every weekend. Mahboubeh's cooking adventures were the secret to her learning English and becoming part of our family. By Christmas, she could speak English quite well and we all settled into a typical family routine. Dad was in love with her cooking but I don't think she was ever brave enough to look him in the eye.

Mahboubeh returned to Iran after her year in Dover but not for long. She returned to the States, went to university in Houston, married a fellow Iranian, and had three children. She is a pharmacist and still comes to visit us for family rites of passage. Her daughter Shandiz has come to New England for extended vacations and is great friends with my older nieces and nephews. 

1976, The Year of the Mahboubeh, had an everlasting effect on all of us. It was the year I became more aware of foreign lands, foods and exotic motifs and textiles. My mom has passed on many of the gifts Mahboubeh's family sent to us including woolen shawls and metal serving trays. I treasure all of them and frequently use them as props in my photos.  

As I travel through my life, I frequently think back on that important year when my life opened up to all things Persian. In my gardening life, I discovered a love of tulips only to later find out that they grow as wildflowers in Iran. Although I can't grow them here at the farm like Jane can (the deer and sheep think they are lollipops), I do have a few little bulbs that somehow persevere every year despite complete neglect. They are called Flaming Parrot Tulips and this year I beat the critters, plucked them from the garden and have been enjoying them in a vase all week long. My kind of show - frilly, colorful, and over the top!

And now onto the recipe of the week. Always looking for interesting ways to cook lamb, I stumbled upon an odd recipe in a small paperback book called Persian Lamb and Rhubarb Stew. This week with the arrival of the yearly rhubarb harvest, I decided to give it a go. I ended up changing it up completely. With the help of my friend Kay, I turned it into the recipe below. Although it seems a mighty odd combination, upon googling "lamb rhubarb" you will find that it is a classic combination. 

My advice is to let the stew sit for a couple of days because it sure does improve with age. And make sure you use golden raisins - otherwise the stew will look like there are lamb pellets in it! (Most likely only a sheep farmer would think of this!) Enjoy!

Persian Lamb and Rhubarb Stew

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 pounds lamb shoulder – bone-in
    (lamb stew meat can be used although the bones will add more flavor)
1 Tbsp tomato paste or a small can (14 oz.) Italian tomatoes
1 pound rhubarb – cut into 1 inch pieces with stringy bits removed if the skins are very thick
1/2 cup raisins (preferably golden)
2 Tbsp sugar
¼ cup minced mint or parsley or a mix of the two – whatever is easier – for garnish

In a dutch oven, brown the onion and garlic until onions are translucent in 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and cook until spices begin to smell lovely. If it begins to stick, add a little bit of water to create a bit of a sauce. Set aside onion mixture.

Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to pan. Brown the lamb on all sides. Remove lamb from pan. Clean excess fat out of pan. Return the onions, spice mixture and lamb to the dutch oven. Add the tomato paste (or tomatoes), salt and pepper and add water (or lamb stock) to the pot so that it is half the way up the lamb shoulder.

Bring to a boil on top of stove. Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in a 250 degree oven and cook for 3 hours, turning the shoulder roast half way through. Alternately, cook in a slow cooker for 5 hours on low.

At the end of the three hours, remove the meat from the pot and pull the bones out of it. If the meat is not falling off the bones, return to the oven for another hour. (Save the bones for lamb stock. Store them in the freezer if you don’t have time to make the stock just yet.) With your hands, shred the meat which should be falling apart into chunks. Add the sliced rhubarb, the chunks of cooked meat, the golden raisins and the sugar back to the pot. Bring to a boil on the top of the stove and immediately return to the oven and cook another hour.

Remove from oven and taste for spices. Add more if you want a more intense flavor. If the flavor is too sour, add a touch more sugar. If the stew is too saucy, simmer with the lid off to reduce the stock. 

This stew really does improve if it sits in the fridge for a couple of days. Serve over basmati rice, couscous, or rice pilaf garnished with the parsley and mint. A green salad would be nice with it.


Sunday, May 17, 2020

Pottery, Digital Divide + Interesting Videos

Two vases - one from 2019 and one from 1997

Thank you so much everyone for the support of my ceramics. On Thursday, I added 32 new pieces of pottery to my website and in a flash they were all sold. I was overwhelmed and definitely encouraged that folks wanted to support me and my work. I got quite a few notes from people saying they wanted to purchase but everything was sold. That is a good problem to have I admit. I wish I could make more and make faster but it's just not possible. I'm a one woman business and my time is split in many ways. My 100 Day Project has really helped to keep me focused on my ceramics. Although I haven't posted 100 Days in a row, I'm keeping it up even if I have to miss a day or two because of other commitments. 

All this said, this brings me to the digital divide in rural America. Ever since people have been working from home (March 24th in Massachusetts), our internet has gotten slower and slower. I can barely stand to write a blog post or newsletter nor look for interesting things to read and share. It makes it so difficult to compete economically and socially with those who live in cities and suburbs where there is fast internet. The phone lines that bring us our internet were installed in the 1940's. These lines bring us the connectivity to the outside world. 

The State of Massachusetts placed some kind of high speed 5G service at the Town Offices so I am back to sitting in my car to work again. In order to get my ceramics on-line (photos take forever to upload at our house) and to ship them via my shipping platform, I've had to go to the Town Offices. Not complaining (really) - just stating the facts. 

Julia, our college student daughter has been finding it very difficult to take on-line classes since her college has gone 100% online because of the Pandemic. She frequently gets bumped off her Zoom meetings due to the slow internet speed. Julia doesn't drive so she is confined to home unless I have the hours to sit with her in the car as there is no place to sit outside at the Town Office Building. Her personality and learning style is not one which melds with on-line learning so I really don't know what she is going to do this summer or fall. I know there are so many people in the same situation. We've just got to be patient and see how everything goes and the Pandemic goes on. 

I have recently enjoyed these two videos about two different designers' homes. 

Robert Kime from House and Garden UK

Johnson Hartig of Libertine's home on Quintessence

Here is one from the UK - cows going out to graze after a winter in the barn. Such joy in seeing them run. It's probably how a lot of folks are going to feel when they are able to start moving around in public again.  

How are you faring these days? What is motivating or frustrating you? I hope you all are well and safe and healthy. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

New Pottery for Sale Thursday May 14 + Thoughts

Big News! Tomorrow, Thursday May 14th, I will be adding about 40 new pieces of pottery to my online webshop. Here is the link to check out my new pieces. The sale goes live at NOON EST on Thursday. 

Here are some of the pieces I will be adding to the shop. I am still making and hope to have Shop Updates more than once a year. 

I've been posting over on Instagram many of the new pieces as they have been decorated. I started doing one of those #100daychallenges which really helps me to keep working and going at it. I am going to continue to decorate and make more pottery as the months go by. 
Honestly though - I must say that I wonder if I am wasting my time making these pieces. So much time goes into each piece - especially with the hand painting of each design. Here are some of the things that go through my head as I paint......
• OMG - is anyone actually going to have any money to purchase this stuff during/after this Pandemic? Will the world go into a financial depression like the early 1900's? Will history repeat itself? 
• How relevant is my art and life considering that people are sick and dying in massive numbers all over the world?
• If people aren't interested in my pottery, what am I going to do to make a living? How am I going to replace that income? 
• Chances are I will not be able to have a Holiday Open House next December. 
• In these days of mass-produced junk, does anyone appreciate the one-off handmade object d'art that costs way more than a $3 mug at Target that is designed by some hip young thing or even Liberty of London. 

As you can see, I have lots of doubts and insecurities about my art. I think most artists do. Do you? I also think that the Pandemic is causing so many folks to reassess their lives and what they want out of them and where they will go next. This is a natural thing to do in times like these. I think back to other difficult times in our history - 9/11/2001, the financial meltdown of 2008. Those times shaped so many people's lives and futures. I worry about the young adults who are graduating college with huge student loan debt. Where will there be jobs? How will they pay back the loans they took out to make a better life? I think about all the small colleges throughout the USA - how are they going to keep their doors open if students don't enroll? Where will all those people find work who have been employed by those institutions? I worry about the different people in the USA and all over the world living in densely populated areas who can't get proper medical care. Oh gee, it all is just so much to take in and process. 

I know how fortunate I am to be able to walk out my door without a mask on.... to gather eggs from my chickens and eat one for breakfast, lunch and dinner.... to be able to stack wood for a fire that will keep us warm next winter..... to have a space to plant a garden to reap food and flowers and beauty from. How fortunate am I to be living in quarantine with two people I love and enjoy their company? How lucky I am that no one in our extended family has fallen ill yet?  

Through all of the thoughts, somehow, I keep making and painting the pots. Although it is not the road to riches, it is where I am now in my creativity and design life. I can spend hours lost in the colors and the patterns and the shapes and the object. I think about pots to come, patterns to come, ideas to try. It's easy for me to think about those things - it is how my brain works. It isn't as easy to think about how I am going to sell the output though.

So those are my thoughts for today. Check to see more pots tomorrow over on my website. As always, I appreciate your support of my work and life - whether financially or spiritually through your comments and through your reading. 

I hope you all are well and safe and enjoying the new spring color. 

New 2020 Tea Towel Pre-Orders by Monday November 16th

This poor little neglected blog. I've been focusing lots of my energy on my Email Newsletters. Friday I sent out an announcement about m...