Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I'm still here, all is well, I've just been teaching this week. Really, it's only been an hour a day (I'm embarrassed to say that's kept me away), with little boy in tow, and 100 degree days, too, so I've been quiet. Little boy took this picture on Monday. I should have kid-made work to show you, plus some pottery news (perhaps) before Friday.

Hope your week is cooler than ours!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

weekend wrap up

Yesterday was a busy, busy day. I enjoyed spending the morning by myself, running to the farmer's market, target, the grocery, and michael's, hither-and-yon, delivering some figs and lady peas to my friend Rayner (of the chemo socks, which I finished just in time for her last round.

It was also a HOT day. At my house (yours too?) hot=cranky. Before supper, I made a watermelon granita (so simple- smush it up, add lime if you aren't trying to stick-with-local, and stick it in a little ice cream machine) with the huge watermelon we'd picked up at the Wednesday market. We are a small family, and 1 of us won't eat watermelon. As the heat rose (and tempers with it), I took a portion of the granita, added lime and 1 oz each of triple sec and tequila and made the very best mar-granita.

After supper we partook of what is becoming my fail-safe antidote to family crankiness. We loaded up the wagon with little boy's bike, Birdy-dog, water for all, the camera, and bug spray and headed toward the river. Memphis is perched on the bluffs of the Mississippi River and we're fortunate that there's nothing but field and forest on the other side. The park that we go to, the Mud Island Greenbelt park, is 1.5 miles long, beautiful grassy park underneath an alee of towering cottonwood trees. There are families, joggers, couples on dates, a huge cross-section of the city enjoys this free, clean, beautiful area. Birdy swims (on the leash, because the current will carry her down to Mississippi in a blink), boy bikes, and parents chill. We stay past dusk, until well after dark, when we're tired and the bug spray starts to wear off. I love my city- I think this is my favorite spot in it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

one local supper- july 23

This was an almost all-farmers-market meal. Vegetable and venison-summer sausage ragu over hollowed-out baby Japanese eggplants on a bed of goat-cheese stone ground grits. Purple cabbage and julienned yellow zucchini slaw, dressed in homemade yogurt-goat feta dressing. All of the vegetables in the ragu (and the stunning red zinnias!) are from my favorite farmers, Jill and Keith Forrester of Whitton Flower and Produce. Cabbage was from Dodson Farms, also located in East Arkansas. Grits come from the Grit Girl.

This morning I got up with the sun and blew $40 in 10 minutes. 2 dozen eggs, goat feta, and soft goat cheese, 6 lb of ladypeas (more on that later in the week) to share and freeze, more baby eggplants, Arkansas Traveler tomatoes, and a bare-root basil to use, trim, plant, and hope for more.

I told Keith about this meal this morning, and in his honor, I'll share the ragu recipe:

-1 big chopped tomato
-2 small green onions (his are purple and white!), greens and bulb chopped -reserve some greens for garnish
-4 baby eggplant, halved, hollowed, and flesh chopped
-1 yellow zucchini and 1 green zucchini, dice (the squares make a nice texture contrast)
-1 clove garlic
-handful of corn kernels (left over from earlier in the week- these may have come from Whitton Flowers, or from another vendor. I bought them some time ago and forgot about it!)
-diced venison summer sausage (or other smoked sausage- this is what I have from my dad's deer camp- it is both free and local)
-marjoram and basil to taste

Slick a saute pan with olive oil, add tomatoes, eggplant, and onions (garlic, too, if you want) and cook for a bit until they start to break down. Add a bit of water or stock to make it saucy. Add corn, zucchini, and fresh herbs shortly before you're ready to plate everything up and/or bake, so that they're still more firm than soft and the herbs still have a fresh flavor.

I cooked cheese grits with goat cheese, pre-cooked the eggplant shells for a few minutes, then layered grits, eggplant shells, and some of the ragu. Sprinkle with goat cheese, bake at 350 for 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle with reserved green onions before serving.

But wait, you say, isn't this a pottery blog? The casserole dish to the right is one of my first ones, from 2001, I think. I use it all the time- a big deep-dish pie plate. The dish that the saw is in is a vintage pottery piece- a miniature covered casserole decorated with pussy willow stems. I bought it at a garage sale for 50 cents and discovered that my boss at the Brooks has a full set! It's from New England and was mass-produced from the 50s until the 70s, perhaps.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, July 25, 2008

a comedy of errors

Sometimes my life just feels that way. Sometimes ALL of our lives feel this way.

Yesterday I did too much. Vacuumed because the coat of dog hair on my dining room rug was really getting to me. Grass out back is shin-high, so I used the weed eater. We have a tiny back yard, so it took 5-7 minutes, 10 minutes max. Mistake. Most of ya'll (friends, family, other blogger friends) know that I had a cone biopsy two weeks ago monday. It was a good thing- removing some bad bits before they got REALLY bad. Yesterday's activity loosened some clots and I was a mess- put on bedrest for the afternoon and night, up at dawn to make an 8am doctor's appointment way way out east of here. Poor Gary had to drive me. And I'm fine, I just have to not do anything that would break a sweat. No midnight dance party tonight. No more weed-eating. No problem!

Before that happened, the first thing on our schedule was to put our dog down. Luther was crazy from day one. Anecdotal crazy I can deal with. He passed that point. Attacking the mail, biting little boy unprovoked, biting me when I tried to keep him from destroying the mail. I've had labs for 10 years. My dad has had them for 20. I've had 2 besides Luther (thankfully Birdy is still with us), but I've never seen a lab like him. After trying prozac (yes, the people kind) for more than a month, and after our kennel (owned by a wonderful couple who specializes in behavior training and offer classes that didn't put a dent in his brand of insanity) refused to have him back, we realized that there was a single solution. We steeled ourselves to taking him in, because when you start rationalizing that you don't really want to add to your family because of a pet, something is wrong.

Because I took our beloved 15 year-old chocolate lab, Pete, down last year, Gary offered to do this one. But his car wouldn't start. Wouldn't jump. Little boy is at a friend's house, we both go to the vet's, go get new spark plugs, blah, blah, pick up the boy. Change it all out, car still won't start, won't jump. So Gary takes my car to work, I call the repair shop and the tow guy. Tow guy comes, starts the car with his big 'ole battery magic thing, says that I can either give him $35 and get a new battery, or he'll tow it and I can have a $200 battery. Here I heave a big sigh. I can't drive a stick. And I've been ordered off my feet for the day. We have a $200 battery (-Edit-and another $170 in new belts, which we found out were falling apart. So I guess it's a good thing the car got towed?). And I'm going to re-learn how to drive a stick (last time, in 1994, at 18, sliding backward down an ice-covered hill in Winston-Salem, NC)

So please, laugh with me. And please don't think that I'm feeling sorry for myself, because I'm not, especially since I just read my friend Molly's essay on mothering during difficulty. My child is a trooper. Today's payday, and I've got the battery covered in this week's pottery sales. We made the right decision for our family, I learned what exactly my limits are, and that my friend Michelle, an OB/GYN nurse in SC, is a fabulous friend to have on call. It's so much nicer to call a friend to find out what to do than to a) bother your doctor if you don't need to (I did), or b) go directly to the ER (I didn't). Here's to the weekend, some nice wine, someone else's cooking, and a fresh batch of kid videos from our neighborhood video store. No pottery news, I'll get back on that next week. Oh! And, this picture is me in 2001, I think. I was 26 and sassy. Short hair did that to me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I've been having fun with the echoes group on flickr. I don't post every day, but I do try to create a little something in a special little sketchbook every day. This is my entry for today.
Early this afternoon we went to the mid-week farmers market and were happy to find honeycomb for sale. Our favorite honey people "grow" organic honey, and little boy has been asking about honeycomb since sometime in May. We bought some opened it as soon as we got home. He was so surprised by the texture and has been clamoring for more. But still, honey is sugar, and one big hunk of honeycomb a day is more than enough for any little going-on-five year old. I haven't had any since I was a child- and I'm thinking about saving the wax for some apothecary-type crafting.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

finished martyrs icon

Finally, the finished icon. I brought it home on July 9, but our scanner was acting up so much, and not printing properly, either, that we broke down and bought a new one. It scans beautifully!

This is reverse-painted on glass. The white highlights and black lines were the first things to go down. The solid backgrounds were the last, then after they dried, the gold leaf went on.

The image is reversed, but that doesn't matter much to me. I'm pleased with it, even though I erased one of the nun's faces with too-wet paint. If I ever did this style again (I might), the image will be much much more simple. 'Cause this was HARD. But worth it.

See the process here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

summer obsession

This time of year, I get a little obsessed with the fig tree in my back yard. I go back, look at it, peer under the leaves, squeeze fruit, chase away birds. In 2004, when we were house-hunting, I peeked over the back gate of this house, saw the fig tree, which was roughly the size of a barn silo (okay, maybe not quite, but at least swimming pool size), and knew that, even though I didn't particularly like the looks of this house, this was the one. Yes, really. Four years later the house is finally starting to look how I'd like, and I'm still in deep smit with my fig tree.

We picked a few precious fruits from it on Thursday, several more on Friday, Saturday, and then on Sunday, I had enough to make this gorgeous, easy, and delicious fig tart for my friend Lisa's final going-away reception at the Cathedral. Today I'll start gathering figs to turn into fig butter to take with me to my upcoming girls' weekend in DC- our hostess dreams of the stuff, which I haven't made in several years.

Every year I do something different with the figs. The first year, it was the butter- we had just moved in at the start of the season, so I unpacked my cuisinart, bought several pounds of butter and little 1/4 c containers to store them in, and went to town. The second year, I dried them all. The third year, I saved them up for my aunt to make preserves out of (WAY too sweet for my taste, but it was the best birthday gift I could have given her). Last year we had a late freeze then drought, so I let the birds eat what we didn't eat out of hand. The crop was pretty measly. This year, I'm going back to the butter. Oh, and this fig ice cream! Recipes, you say?

Fig Tart
1 sheet puff pastry (like peppridge farm)
1/2 brick cream cheese (or goat cheese would be so divine)
a squirt of honey (maybe 1-2 tsp)
1T fresh minced rosemary
quartered fresh figs (I used maybe 20)

-Mix the cheese, honey, and rosemary. You can also add chopped dried figs if you have them to increase the fig flavor. I keep the home-dried figs in the freezer and use them on lots of things. They keep for years.
-Spread the square of pastry on a baking sheet (use a silpat or parchment liner because it leaks!), score a square inside the pastry (1/2 inch from the edge).
-Spread the cheese mixture over the pastry up to the score line and arrange fig quarters over the cheese mixture in a pretty pattern.
-Drizzle with honey (but not much, just a few thin ribbons over the top)
-Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes

Cut in squares after it cools with a serrated knife. Cut carefully and you won't mar the figs!

Fig butter

1 lb butter, salted or not, softened ( I like salty with my sweet)
1-2 c fresh figs
1-2 T honey, to taste

Whirl around in a food processor until the figs are completely broken up and everything is nicely blended. Pack into 1/4 c containers and freeze until you need them. This is SO good on hot french bread. I stole this idea from some caterer friends in Oxford, MS.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

the gift

the gift
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
In the end I decided to add a small serving bowl to the platter- because Lisa is such a dear friend. I "bowed it up" (when I married, the store that many of our gifts came from would call me-it was a small town- to come pick up a gift. They would always ask me if I wanted them to "bow it up" before taking it home) a bit with some of the passionflowers that take over the side of house. Turns out that she has not only a cake plate in this pattern, but another serving dish, too, so now she has a complete-ish hostess set. Which is appropriate for her, she is a gracious entertainer.

This green came out looking a lot like McCarty's jade (except that theirs is matte), which pleased me. The rest of the greens that I glazed looked like this. It was initially disappointing, but over the course of the day the color was "rebranded" and I sold them all! Life is full of surprises, isn't it?

Friday, July 18, 2008

the reveal

First, I want to tell you all what a fabulous man I married. He came home one day this week to vacuum the floor before a relative came over (on his lunch break! He vacuums! And yes, there is a story behind this). Wednesday night he mixed all of my glazes for me, set up a table in the kitchen, and helped me with the unloading, glazing, loading, and firing. What a guy. I am so lucky.

These bowls. I am glad that I did more than I needed in green, because all but one came out like this. I think (no, I know) that the problem stems from too much water in my bisque (the fired piece)meeting too much water in the glaze and it just won't dry. I only have this problem with the greens. It is worse because I layer a second green over the first. I'll refire them and they'll look a little leopardy, but that's fine. I'd like them to be a tad darker, too, but I'll work on that when I've got more pottery to glaze. As of now, I've glazed everything that I have made.

Lisa's platter. Fourth time is the charm, apparently. I wish that I could have gotten a better picture of this (I may yet try), because the greens are pretty. Lisa is moving next week to Kansas City. This is a gift from a bunch of us. She has several of my pieces in this color- the deep celadon with slip-dots on the outside. I think I may have started making this pattern for her. I hate that she's moving.

This was a little experiment. Frances Palmer is one of my favorite potters. She is more whimsical than I am, but her classic forms, simple color, and fluting really inspire me. And I love that all of her pottery is meant to be used. Cake plates, vases, trays and vessels, all refined, but with a purpose of making everyday life more beautiful. She was one of the first potters that I saw and thought- "that's who I want to be when I grow up." Inspired by her whimsy, I snipped the tip off of a bag of slip to pipe these little ruffles on the top of this bud vase. Unless the flower is a tall single stem, the blossom will cover this detail, but I still like it.

And finally. A big batch of berry bowls. This doesn't make me finished, but I'm closer to the number that have been ordered than I was on Monday. YAY! All of these are going to orders, but I promise to have a big batch just up for anyone on etsy before I stop making them for the summer.

Happy Friday!
Oh, I am feeling SO much better. Much more like myself. Thanks for all of the nice comments and emails this week.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

almost 100%

almost 100%
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Last week I got Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, which said everything I knew that it would and left me feeling both hopeless about our collective culture and hopeful for my own family, just as I knew it would. I try really hard to only serve whole food, at home or away, but it's difficult to explain to your 4.5 year old why even "organic" gogurts are bad- for health, the environment, the pocketbook. All he knows is that all of the other kids from playschool have gogurt, oreos, string cheese, boxed drinks (which I hate more than the gogurts, even).

On the whole, I think that we do pretty-to-really-well. I love shopping at the farmers market, buying amish-made butter at the local produce store, and cooking from scratch. I'm looking very forward to our fall and winter CSA subscription. Bread is one place where I have big problems. When I was single and newly married, I didn't buy bread. I made it. Somewhere along the line, I stopped baking regularly. Two years ago when I realized that high fructose corn syrup was in everything, I got really picky about the bread that I buy. But even this one single brand that I can reliably find (all bets are off when it comes to hot dog -soy or kosher, please- or hamburger buns), there are 19-odd ingredients. That is not a whole food. Hello, oven. I hear you calling me.

One good thing about the local summer challenge is that all of the local food is real food. These eggs- from grass-fed chickens. Goat cheese- grass-fed goats. Blackberries (oh, so precious and fleeting) picked by my mother and little boy. I do plan to start using this book soon, because it's always been the bread (I love my carbs) that's hit me hardest- in the pocketbook and in the conscience.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

granola recipe

easy-peasy granola

6c+ Oats- rolled, steel cut, minute, or old-fashioned, mixed with 1/2-1 c dry milk (optional)
applesauce- a cup or more
1/2 c brown sugar or honey
1-2 T canola oil (sometimes we leave this out)
1-2 T cinnamon, or ginger, or pumpkin pie spice
handful or two of nuts (we like walnuts, also add ground flaxseed when I remember) and raisins/dried fruit to taste

We mix all of the applesauce, sugars, oils, spices together in a saucepan and heat until it's combined. Sometimes we use maple syrup, too. The base is always applesauce. If I make it, I use less sugar (I don't have a sweet tooth). If Gary makes it, he uses more.
Pour over your oats (mixed with dry milk for more protein), stir well to combine. If you don't have enough liquid to coat, just add a little more applesauce or maple syrup. I wouldn't add straight honey, because it will burn. I usually do the mixing in a big 9x13 glass pyrex baking pan and load it straight into the 375 degree oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the granola is as dark/toasty as you like, add the nuts and dried fruit. Store in airtight jar until it's gone!

breakfast of bridgmans

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Where to start? I have a kiln load of berry bowls and a special platter cooling off, waiting for me to glaze them today and fire tomorrow. I think (I hope) that this will meet all of the berry bowl obligations I have, but if not, I'll make more until August.

This is the typical bridgman breakfast. Homemade yogurt, fruit, homemade granola. I taught Gary to make the granola because I found myself having to make it once a week- the boys go through it so fast. This little 2/3 cup ramekin is about as much breakfast as I like, but my boys will eat 2+ cups at a time. Last weekend I went through a hurry-scurry of organizing and cleaning, including finding (finally) an appropriate container for the granola. We use half of a big container of rolled oats each time we make it so that we don't run out after a day or two. I used to have a plastic thing I put it in, but I'm joining the flight from plastic. I was happy with this $5 glass biscuit jar from Target.

But the berries. Oh, these blueberries. My mom, my friend Leigh Ann, and I went to Coldwater, Mississippi the morning of July 4 to pick berries. I realized shortly before we got there that I'd been picking at this little family-owned, honor-system, pick-your-own farm. The last time I went was 6-7 years ago when our friend Ildri from Norway was visiting. It's $6 a gallon, a bargain compared to all of the other places. Completely organic (read-they're too busy to bother with spraying or fertilizing plants as self-sufficient as blueberry bushes), and the family will amble on down to visit every once in a while. I was thrilled with the price, but even happier to find out that granddaddy farmer planted the bushes a dozen or so years ago, and each summer a different grandchild gets the proceeds from the pickings to add to his college fund. I think this will be my go-to blueberry farm from now on. I got 2.5 gallons, which should keep us in blueberry pancakes, poundcakes, and cobblers for the winter. I dried half a gallon to use in granola, too. Oh, yum.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

hi there

I'm home, I'm well, and best of all, I'm drugged. I may have new pottery to show you by Friday (um, I have to because that gift I keep breaking is due then). The kiln is firing tonight, even if someone else has to do it.

thanks for all of the good thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

farmers market veggie tray

I thought this turned out so, so pretty. I love the different colors and textures (and flavors). The center bowl is filled with homemade yogurt and goat-feta dip. I took it to a party Saturday afternoon, reprised it for a hospitality hour today, and sent what was left home with a friend who loves veggies. I bought three pounds of green beans at the farmers market and still have 2 lbs to deal with this week. I was happy to share the vegetable goodness.

This blue tray/bowl is one of the first big pieces I made. It's only about 12" across, maybe 4" tall, a shallow bowl that I made to hold the four remote controls we had at the time- something nice to put on the coffee table and corral the things. By the time we had little boy, we were down to 3 remotes. By the time he was walking, he'd permanently lost one of them. Now we're down to one, which only works on the dvd/vcr. We watch less tv and are happier that way.

I'll be gone from this space for much of this week, I think. I'm having a little medical procedure tomorrow and am not sure what the recovery time will be. I'll be back soon, though! Think good thoughts for me, friends.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

the lane collection

Yesterday I was over at my friend Lane's house for her son's birthday party. Our boys are the same age-they met at our library's wonderful story hour a few years ago. She really knows how to throw a fun party for the kids.
Over the past two summers, Lane's built up quite a collection of my bud vases. I was thrilled to see them all lined up on her kitchen windowsills filled with white and pink posies. There's a second set on the other side of the window- similarly lined up and filled. They looked so cute that I had to run home and get my camera!

Happy weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2008

I must be on the right track

It's always nice to see that something you're into popping up on other people's radars, too. I've been making these domed, bee-skep like butter servers for some time. This morning, as I was reading though my bloglines, I was delighted to see Oakland, CA potter Whitney Smith's gorgeous collection of domed pieces. Ye pottery gods! They are exquisite. In the July issue of Martha Stewart there was an article on domed dishes (and that was right after the June issue on bee-decorated items!) that really excited me. And in May, a customer asked me if I could make a domed breakfast plate- decorated with ladybugs! It seems that the domes are in, so I'll be making more. I couldn't be happier to have them already in my line of pottery!

one local supper-july 10

This was so so good. One of my favorite summer dishes that I discovered ten years ago when the Memphis paper ran an article on world-famous Ripley, TN tomatoes. It's a polenta-crusted tomato tart, layered with basil and goat feta. The original recipe called for a cheddar in the polenta and basil-mayonnaise sauce, but I didn't feel like making the mayo today, and I've not found local cheddar. I use stone-ground polenta from Oxford, MS. The Grit Girl, Georgeanne Ross, sells at the Botanic Gardens Midweek Market and brings wonderful stone-ground yellow corn polenta, grits, cornmeal, masa, and now wheat and buckwheat flours. The tomatoes are from Ripley, and the goat feta is made by my favorite egg-and-goat-cheese man.

The salad. Oh, man. I piled up little groups of green and purple (these are SO good!) pole beans, sliced cucumbers that my neighbor grew, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and yellow squash slices around a pile of spicy arugula. We used homemade yogurt-based ranch dressing with garden herbs and garlic either to dress the salad, or in the case of little boy, as a dip for the veggies. We'll definitely be having salad this way again- he cleaned his plate.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

inspiring me

Today I bought myself a little present. Actually, today I bought a roof. That's a big purchase, but not such a present. It required that we leave the house for the day, but a couple of hours after the guys started working, we got the biggest, longest rain that we needed pretty desperately.

My little present of small sketchbook, a tin of watercolors, and some brushes was inspired by some photos, paintings, and ephemera made by some very creative ladies on flickr. I often work myself to death (don't all mothers?), cleaning, caring, pottering, gardening, cooking, without taking time to reflect on what matters, what's percolating behind the day-to-day matters in my life. I hope that participating, even just a little, in this ritual of creation, observation, and reflection will help me bring some balance into my life.

I found myself painting verbena bonerais, a tall, branchy plant that I just love. Some people consider it a weed- it does self-seed freely- and it does have coarse foliage and can be unkillable (though I've killed it many times), but I love its self-reliance, its flexibility, and how it moves so gracefully as the wind blows through it. Purple isn't my favorite color, but I even like this purple, how it pops out from its surroundings. It's been a long time since I've worked in watercolors- more than 15 years- but I enjoyed taking the few minutes to paint and reflect this morning.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

new fiddlehead bowls

new fiddlehead bowls
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I was kindof excited about how these turned out. Yesterday when I was glazing and feeling sorry for myself I decided to play around with the bowls that were trimmed but too dry to pierce. I painted fiddleheads with clear glaze around the base of the bowl in clusters then waxed them. I used my favorite cobalt blue glossy glaze over the top. I also made fiddleheads radiating from the center of the inside of the bowl, but they didn't do so well. This glaze is pretty runny and even the biggest wax application couldn't stop the blue.

There's another bowl upstairs that's dried up and I might fire with the next batch of berry bowls to glaze this way. I don't really need any other bowls (we use the cafe au lait bowls almost exclusively), so these might go into the gift closet.

new day

new day
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Thanks, ya'll. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for your kind comments and empathy. It's nice to be part of a community.

During the school year we have an evening prayer service at the cathedral each wednesday that ends with the phrase : "we look forward to a new day with new joys, new possibilities." As i read all of your comments and well wishes, that refrain echoed in my soul. Today is that day. It will be a good one.

Thank you, friends. I hope you day is joyful.

Monday, July 7, 2008

just when you're ready to say STOP

I've been having a bit of a hard time lately. Last week I got some medical news I'd hoped I wouldn't get. Nothing drastic or dreadful, but the sort that makes you realize that you'll be meeting your insurance deductible much sooner than you'd thought. And pottery is NOT going well. Because I need to meet that deductible, I tried to fire last night. This is the first oops. This is a platter for a dear friend that literally crumbled in my hands. And a half-dozen botanical dessert plates that went with it. They're on top of the first platter for said friend that broke in firing. Eerily reminiscent of that last thing that made me want to quit pottery. But I persevered and fired the smaller-than-I'd-hoped load.

As I'm unloading this morning, I'm finding that the early morning trimming and too-dry pieces are indeed cracked. I had to pitch 3 in the mosaic pile, and a 4th lost its handle as I was waxing the foot. Better to lose it in my hand than a customers, but. . . .

Despite the losses, I decided to get down to business. I was feeling really really sorry for myself. Poor Melissa. Stuff breaks. She has to work to earn money. Oh, life is so hard. Then the dogs and I hear a car in the drive. The car leaves. A 30 second stop. We go in to the front door to find a bag of homemade oatmeal-chocolate-butterscotch cookies hanging from the storm door.

So I'm not all alone, and I'm reminded of my gratitude lenten observance and am grateful that I have work to do, orders to fill, friends and family who love me, and the insight to pull my head out of that dark place, get my work done, and take my child to the children's museum to enjoy his summer. Thanks for the chance to reflect, and thanks for the cookies, unseen friend.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Have you seen Mark Bittman's newest 101 list? Of simple but swank picnic foods? I usually read his column first thing on Wednesday mornings, but this week I just didn't get to it. A friend (who lives in China, no less) emailed it to me, and may I say that this may make up the rest of my summer supper calendar? I'm printing them to peruse as I get to them. While the recipes may take a tad longer than this tomato eaten out of hand, they look as satisfying and certainly more impressive to family and guests. We'll start trying them tonight.

This week I'll have a small batch of berry bowls ready for my pre-order list. I'm going to keep making them until my orders are filled, plus maybe 10 more, then I'm through for the summer. After the big break (my land, that was nearly three weeks ago and I'm still not recovered), I lost my berry bowl mojo. I need the rest of the summer to gear up for teaching again and- gulp- the holidays.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

summer weekend-

It has been a very busy week here-I guess I'll work backward. This picture is from my morning at the farmer's market. The produce is really coming in beautifully for all of my favorite farmers downtown. Everything was blue and purple and green and golden this morning. I spent a little more and bought some organic local bacon to make my OLS meals a little happier for my carnivorous boys, but I am really DIGGIN' the veggies. I got there a bit late this morning- 8:30 (usually I'm there before 7 to catch my egg and goat cheese man, but this is his off week)- boy was it crowded. We all slept in after watching the fireworks on the river-that didn't start until 9:45. It was almost 11 by the time we got sleepy little boy and exhausted parents home. But the 4th on the bluffs of the Mississippi was magical. It was cool (usually it is still 85 and humid at night on the 4th of July here, but last night it was about 75 and breezy at 9). Little boy's never really experienced fireworks before, so they seemed especially enchanted to his sleepy eyes.
My good friend Leigh Ann visited this week-from Wednesday to Friday. She is a PhD candidate in Public Health at Tulane University in New Orleans. She lives in Zanzibar part time, or has for the past few years while she's been working on her dissertation. She is a good college friend, a former Peace Corps Volunteer (she did stints in both Sri Lanka and Thailand) and comes from a family of high hilarity with an emphasis in storytelling. She is a dedicated vegetarian, so I was happy to try some new veggie recipes on her, like this splendid Chard Tart. It was filled with ruby chard, beet greens, goat cheese, and home-grown onions and shallots on a locally-grown and ground cornmeal crust. I got the recipe from Amy of My Land but altered it liberally to fit within the local guidelines. Ya'll should be happy I took a picture before I baked it, because mine wasn't as pretty as Amy's, but my word, it was delicious. I'm going to try it again in the winter with pecans to decorate the top, and try to figure out what sort of herb will stand up to the chard and beet greens' assertive flavors.
While she was here, we took several family walks-my friend is a big walker. This night we took both dogs- it was helpful to have a person for each dog and little boy. Our neighborhood has a wonderful 3 mile greenline park running through it, but the path isn't so conducive to training wheels. The bike gets stuck, with little boy peddling as hard as he can and literally spinning his wheels. I think that our Thursday walk was a 2 miler- leisurely, but still hefty for both dogs and boy.
Birdy dog (Luther is pictured) is 9 in September- she loves her walks but stays in her bed, in the cool of my bedroom, away from the craziness of little boy and Luther, most of the time. She sniffed out this box turtle midway through the walk and gave us a nice opportunity for a little ecology lesson. We learned all about box turtles, and the differences between tortoises and turtles, after this encounter.

I mentioned that my friend comes from a family of hilarious story-tellers. She started a blog on her first night here. I was honored to shoot some pictures for her and play a small role in her second post.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

one local supper-july 2

one local supper-july 2
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
This may be one of the most family-successful meals of this challenge. I have a dear college friend visiting this week, and since she's a vegetarian, this is the perfect time to use up some of my farmers market and garden veggies, because she'll enjoy the dishes more than my boys will. But they all liked this one.

At the top is a layered, tian-style ratatouille. It is alternating layers of eggplant, yellow 8-ball squash, tomatoes, goat cheese, and basil. Topped with homemade breadcrumbs- from either bread I made, or farmers market bread. Plenty of salt and pepper, a little olive oil. If I weren't making this strictly local, it would also have a layer of couscous on the bottom to soak up ALL of the juices- my boys don't like it stewy.
At right is a small salad of julienned kohlrabi and pickling cucumbers in my homemade wine vinegar, a dash of olive oil, slivered basil, and kosher salt. I bought the kohlrabi weeks ago-amazingly it kept just fine for weeks- a great storage vegetable. I'd never tried it before, and it was great! I'll definitely do this again.

Next up: a swiss chard tart as featured on the My Land blog. Revised, of course, to fall into the local criteria.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

space to see

nature's tokens
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
So, after yesterday's big de-junk, I have more space to breath and notice the things around me. We're a family of little details- noticing small things- which explains both the need to de-clutter regularly and, ah, why my kitchen windows still only have half a coat of kilz. Big picture? Let's finish painting the woodwork. And cabinets. Bigger picture? Let's take a bike ride after supper.

The back of my wagon was full- I get a rush off of pitching things. After Gary got home from visiting his mom at the hospital we attacked our books- hard for voracious readers- and thinned them by 15%. They'll be dropped off today.

After our anniversary lunch (marinated fish tacos with avocado creme and grilled summer squash and a glass of nice dry rose`), I made another ten berry bowls. I'm now back to the level I was before the incident two weeks ago. I'll trim them today and hope to finish another ten by Friday. I have a deadline of July 13 for one of the pieces (a gift for a friend who is moving), so it's time to get moving.

Is it really only Wednesday? It has been such a busy week.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

the great de-clutter

Lately it seems taht life gets so hectic that I looked around and suddenly everything was driving me crazy. It felt like clutter was piling up to my ears. Yesterday I'd had enough. Between swimming lessons, dinner plans, early-morning pottery making, and preparation for a dear friend's visit (this is probably what spurred me into action), I did some major decluttering. The entire back of my station wagon is full of clothes, toys, cookbooks (really, do we need 40? How many Louisiana community cookbooks does one family need?), old sheets and towels- and for the first time in many, many months, my trashcan has more than one bag in it. I try hard to recycle, reuse as much as we can so that on any given week, we have a single 13 gallon trashbag in the bin. The recycling bins are overflowing. We usually fill 2 (I also recycle for my mom, since she lives out in the country), but I think this week we could fill 4. I almost want a SMALLER home so that we'd be forced to have less stuff. The reality, however, is that we're collectors. Gary is, little boy is, I am. I'm more ruthless in getting rid of things than my boys, but I do have more than 30 dinner plates and at least a dozen different china teacups and saucers.

The pottery from last month's sale is still in my dining room, waiting to be shot and put up on etsy. I shot the rest of my mugs and small bowls this morning, so they'll be up by the end of the afternoon. Some are discounted from my regular prices, because I'd like to get them out of the house!

Today is my 8th wedding anniversary. I feel just as wired right now as I did on that warm morning 8 years ago. But for different reasons. That was not a de-clutter day. Today I'm ready to get rid of our excesses. To the goodwill drop I go!