Cheers!

A happy last day of 2008 to you all!

I was a little sad leading up to today, because I had high hopes that the boyfriend and I would be able to take some time off, pack up the car and take a little road trip to Upstate New York to see my family for New Years. Yet despite the vacation time request, when his boss posted this week’s schedule his name was listed on every single day! What a big bummer.

To make it up to me, he offered to cook dinner (I don’t know what yet, although he was talking up his sesame encrusted red snapper…) and charged me with making dessert.

I started looking through cookbooks last night in search of the perfect new years sweet to accompany an unknown dinner, but nothing struck my fancy. I suddenly realized, “Duh! I’ve been reading cooking blogs nonstop! Why not look there?” A great idea, but I was quickly overwhelmed by the mad creations of master pastry chefs! I sure wish I had the talent to create Cannelle et Vanille’s Caramel, Green Apple and Milk Chocolate Mousse, or the know-how to recreate La Tartine Gourmande’s decadent Special Occasion Cake.

Finally, after much searching for a simple recipe and drooling, I settled on trying Tartlette’s Espresso and Dark Chocolate Pots de Creme. It seems basic enough, and I can make it ahead and chill it until after dinner. Plus, who doesn’t want to start the new year with espresso and dark chocolate!?

I’ll tell you how it turns out! Happy New Years!

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Published in: on December 31, 2008 at 10:56 am  Comments (6)  

Love-ly Letters

I’m baaaaack! And I’ve missed you!

Even though I’ve barely been blogging for a year, when I take a break I realize what a joy it is to do a little bit of “fun” writing every day.

So what that I spent over eight hours today either taking notes or crafting a front page news report on tax battles? A few hours later and I’m ready to type away again. This writing is like a spoonful of buttercream and caramel after a day of porridge and potatoes!

Speaking of sweets, I got a sweet surprise this holiday from the new boyfriend! Several months ago, we were in a craft shop in New Jersey and I started mooning over some earrings I couldn’t afford. He quietly took note, and presented me with the loveliest pair of amber typewriter key earrings this Christmas, courtesy of Cadence Designs on Etsy! I love that, besides being pretty, handmade and completely unusual, they’re also a nod to my love for writing. Perfect!

(And, as if that wasn’t enough, he also gave me a handmade journal and broke out the circular saw and measuring tape to make some specialized pottery throwing bats for me! What a guy!)

Merry Merry

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Yeah, I know I said I was on break. But I just wanted to share this lovely Etsy front page, called “Dance with Life,” featuring my gold dip trio. It’s part of the Etsy “Community Art Project” and I was very flattered to be included!

On a more personal note, I had a lovely Christmas today with my boyfriend’s family (my own family is, I believe, celebrating the 5th day of Hanukkah with a very traditional movie and Chinese food dinner!)

My Christmas actually began at 7:30 a.m., not with checking the tree for presents, but with the sound of my boyfriend trying to wet-vac all the water off the basement floor which had seeped in around our air mattress in the night. Turns out that rising temperatures had melted the snow, which caused a small flood and threatened to turn our temporary bed into a lifeboat.

After that rocky start, our day definitely picked up. There was the exchanging of many presents and much hearty Dutch Pennsylvania food. We also managed to fit in a walk down to a nearby creek before I had to leave for a night shift at the newspaper. The news knows no holidays!

Hope everyone had a wonderful day filled with much love and family goodness! Catch up with you next week!

Published in: on December 25, 2008 at 9:05 pm  Comments (2)  

Spend time with the family… or else!

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My kittie looks kind of pissed, doesn’t she?

Probably because she and her mother haven’t been getting a lot of attention the past few days, and probably won’t be getting lots until the end of the week. Since I’m going to be busy (I’m working every day this week, celebrating Hanukkah AND spending Christmas with my boyfriend’s family), I think I’m going to take a week off from the blog, invest in a laser pointer and spend that time making my cats race around in circles until they collapse in a panting heap. It’s quality family time!

So I’m going to wish you all a warm and happy holidays, and take a little break. Oh, and thanks for the people who wished me well yesterday. I didn’t actually wind up getting yelled at today, since some people had a chance to chill out over the weekend. Plus I soothed feathers with the promise of follow-up stories and photo-ops. Amazing what those can fix!

Anyways, bundle up, watch out for those icy patches and I’ll see you again next Monday. Have a fantastic holiday if you’re celebrating one (or more) this week, and to all a good night!

Published in: on December 23, 2008 at 1:49 am  Comments (5)  

Corrections

Maybe it’s upsetting to make a mistake no matter where you work.

But when what you do is broadcast immediately to tens of thousands of people in big block letters… well, errors and typos are the kind of thing that keep me awake at night.

I think the most nerve wracking part of writing for a newspaper is coming across a “fuzzy” fact, late at night, on deadline. You look down at your notes and you’re not quite sure you have it right. I mean, the notes say one thing, but something about it doesn’t seem to jive. It’s too late to make a flurry of calls, and no way to write around it. Leaving out the fact could, by omission, imply something that isn’t true.

In the end, I usually decide to trust my notes. It’s better to go by a source then to simply write what “sounds right.” The person who gave me the information might have made an error, but at least I can attribute the facts to them.

Of course, it’s a hard case to explain to the Monday morning quarterbackers when you do miss the mark. When I come into work and find a note from my editor and an email inbox stuffed with preachy accusations… I’m usually tempted to call out sick on the spot.

But I’m learning to roll with the punches. Even the most meticulous news operation makes mistakes, and it’s a part of the nature of the game. I’ve yet to see a newspaper without a corrections page. I’m learning, more and more, that I can take a beating, shake it off and go with my life.

Which is good, because there are only so many mornings I can spend hiding under my desk!

Published in: on December 21, 2008 at 11:59 am  Comments (4)  

Gifts

Speaking of my boyfriend… he doesn’t read this, so I think it’s okay to share what I’m getting him for Christmas. It’s a piece by our talented studio manager (and boss), Jen. It’s not quite the same as the piece pictured above, but I think that gives you an idea of her work. I’m getting a little flask with a cork and top, one he’s had his eye on since it came out of the kiln…

She keeps asking me questions about selling online, so hopefully we’ll be seeing more pictures of her recent work up here soon!

Published in: on December 19, 2008 at 7:29 pm  Comments (2)  

Feelin’ Good

Almost nothing makes me want to bite my nails with nervousness more then waiting to see if one special piece will survive the kiln. That’s why I usually make dozens of the same kind of thing at a time, so if a couple are lost I’m not too broken up about it.

But for special custom work, sometimes you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

I really lucked out this week with a custom piece that just came out, and I’m really pleased with it! I’ve been talking with the buyer for several months about the design, but when it actually came time to make it, I hurt my back and got in that car accident, so I had to put it off.

Then it was a nerve-wracking fight to the finish to get it done on time. I forced myself  to throw more than 7 lbs of clay on my first day back on the wheel (a feat even on a good day) and had to dry it super quickly to get it in the first firing on time. The quick dry resulted in a tiny crack at the bottom of the bowl, which really had me fretting and pulling out some hair.

When a crack like that shows up, it can either expand and wreck the piece in the glaze firing, or stay small, fill in with glaze and come out totally fine. You should have seen my sigh of relief when it turned out to be the latter! The gods really smiled upon this one!

And how nice to be able to give someone something really one-of-a-kind, that someone in their family can really use and cherish for years. I hope it brings happiness for a long time to come!

Published in: on December 16, 2008 at 11:10 pm  Comments (4)  

Treasury

I was in the right place at the right time and snagged a treasury tonight! Feel free to click away and enjoy!

Published in: on December 15, 2008 at 11:18 pm  Comments (3)  

Aaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!

…Is approximately the sound of my head exploding.

“Sure, Amy, of course!” I though to myself earlier this evening, as I drove home from work. “It’s entirely possible to finish your entire photoshop final exam in a single night, then come home, package up all your new orders, photograph all your newly fired Shino cups and list them on Etsy. No sweat.”

For the record, I did actually get it all done. But after I finally finished packing up all my orders (using every last scrape of news sheet in the house… a resource which, as a newspaper writer, I thought was infinite) and then turned on my computer to find ANOTHER ORDER… I nearly lost it.

Which is silly, of course, since orders are obviously awesome things. But it’s exciting and happy when they come every couple of days. It’s more like “pull-my-hair-out-and-think-holy-sh*t-what-did-I-get-myself-into??” when you’re getting slammed with a ton at once.

But on the good side, I’ve learned a *lot* of lessons this season about running a pottery business. Next year, I’ll know that summers are for creating and listing, listing, listing so I don’t get caught in these week-before-the-holidays all-nighters.

(Or maybe I should just start drinking more coffee!)

Published in: on December 15, 2008 at 2:27 am  Comments (5)  

Two cups of coffee

I’m not a big coffee drinker.

When I drink one cup, I start to jitter.

When I drink two cups, I go grocery shopping, vacuum the floor, wash the dishes, start cooking dinner, then change my mind and cook something different, wash and bleach the cat litter box, change all the sheets, switch the lights to energy saving bulbs…. and then head out to the studio to start throwing pottery. In less than three hours.

Yeeeeeeah. And I’m still twitching.

Published in: on December 13, 2008 at 5:45 pm  Comments (5)