Monday, April 30, 2012

Changing Things Up

Update on the kids' tournaments this weekend... Caitlynne's softball team came in third place and Christopher's volleyball team came in second place.  Caitlynne was the catcher for all four of the tournament games and she was such a trooper because, not only was it very hot, but the games were played on Astro-Turf.  Christopher did not get to play as much as he had hoped but the games were very close so it is understandable that the coach chose to play the more experienced players.

Before the events of last week, I was working on making a few changes in our home.  I know it drives Kevin crazy when I start moving perfectly arranged  furniture, art work and decor with no explanation other than "it just doesn't look right there".  Sometimes I will walk around the house with a pillow or a picture in my hand, just looking for that perfect spot.  Fortunately, I was able to get a lot done while he was on travel and I think I am  finished (for a while anyway).  The fun part will be when I ask him, "so, what looks different?".  First, he will look at my hair and, not seeing any change in cut or color, panic will set in as he frantically casts his eyes around the house trying to figure out exactly what is new or different.  

I bought a this table for the area between our pantry/hall and the dining room.  This piece is about 110 years old and came from the Shanxi region of China.    
The detail of the carving on the drawers is amazing.
The flowers in the vase on the table are from my backyard.  I have no idea what they are - everyone refers to them as "parrot flowers" - but they are very striking (as well as free and longlasting!).  
The table in the photo below came from someone in Nichada who is moving to Beijing and did not have room in their shipment for it.  It was not free but I got an amazing deal on it.  I put it in the area between our dining room and the family room (across from our china cabinet).  I am still searching on Pinterest for ideas for something to put underneath the table - that space just seems so big!  
I have seen a lot of photos on Pinterest that show trays being used on counters & coffee tables to "corral" accessories and I wanted to get a tray for the top of this table.  I had my eye on one from Pottery Barn but it was almost $60.00, which I thought was just a little too pricey.  I waited patiently (probably for the first time in my life!) and after some searching, I found the tray in these photos at a stall in the Chatuchak Markets for $18.00.  
The painting detail on the table lamp is so pretty and makes the lamp a work of art.
It just kills me to post the three photos below and I am sure my mom will gasp in horror when she reads this.  I am an accomplished seamstress and I really do like to sew. However, because I don't have my sewing machine here, I had to HIRE someone to make these pillows for me.  Pillows are probably the easiest thing to sew but, without my machine, I couldn't make them.  I even looked online at some "no sew" pillows but the fabric I chose was not cheap so I did not want to go that route. The pillows are gorgeous though and the look (based on a Pinterest posting) is just what I wanted for that sofa.  Kevin is going to read this post and ban me from Pinterest!  
A new mirror to help fill up the huge wall in our entry way...
And a few prints for the living room...
These were the black picture frames that I was going to pattern with gold spray paint but the gold paint on the frames "disappeared" into the gold paint on the wall and it looked weird.  So all black they shall stay!  

Have a great Monday and Happy May 1st!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Great Neighbors and Friends

This is a short "shout out" post to recognize the wonderful neighbors and friends that our family has here in Nichada and back in the U.S.  Everyone has been so kind to express their sympathy about Simpson's death and to offer help/conversation.  That support has made a very trying time so much easier for the kids and I.

I am especially lucky to have great friends in Nichada and Premier Place 2.  I am very grateful for my neighbors, Loraleigh and Jen, who took Simpson so quickly to our vet, tracked me down and then went with me to the temple for his cremation.  I don't know what I would have done if I had been on my own.  Two other friends, Trina and Rufie, were with me when I received the phone call about what happened and drove me to the vet right away.  Another friend, Julie (baker extraordinaire), sent over delicious blueberry muffins for us to snack on.  My friend, Wendy, graciously agreed to take the rug that Simpson died on to the cleaners and then went out with me for a "margarita" lunch.  Sandy, Kelly and Charlotte gave us the most beautiful flower arrangement to brighten our spirits...
It has been a sad week but we are doing so much better than I ever would have thought possible.  My main concern right now is Sonder.  He is not eating much at all and is very sad and depressed.  I am totally overindulging him - lots of treats, rides in the car & golf cart, and tons of snuggles.  If that is what it takes to ease his sadness, so be it.  I took this picture a few minutes ago and the look on his face just breaks my heart!
In the last few days, we have met a lot of dogs while out on our walks and Sonder is so good and well behaved with them.  Previously, whenever I was out with my two dogs, I avoided anyone walking their dog(s).  I didn't have confidence that I would be able to control my two dogs if things went south  - not that I had any reason to think it would but I was being careful.  Now, it is such a social event  for Sonder and I to go for a walk.  As long as he behaves, I am more than happy to let him sniff and mingle with the other dogs.  It gives me a chance to connect with friends as well.  Kevin will be back in a few days and I hope that will give Sonder a sense of comfort and familiarity and that he will slowly return to his old self.  I wish we had a dog whisperer here in Nichada!

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fun With Ceramics & Glazing

Wednesday evening, I had my third ceramics class.  I thought we would be making more pieces  to be fired for the first time and I had a few ideas about what I wanted to make (a bowl or a wrapped vase). However, our instructor wanted us to glaze the pieces we finished in our previous classes so she could fire them for the second time over the weekend.  She wanted us to see the colors and gloss of our finished work before we continued on and made more pieces.  Based on what she said, it seems that although you chose a color(s) of glaze, the color of your finished product is really unknown until you open the kiln after the second firing.  The glazes can vary in color based on the amount of glaze applied, where the piece is placed in the kiln, how many pieces are being fired, and how hot the kiln is (or isn't).  

Glazing is the process of applying a layer or coating of a substance to a ceramic piece and then fusing it to the piece through firing in a hot kiln.  If I remember correctly, I think the kiln is run at a temperature of 1000 degrees Celcius.  Quite hot.  The glaze is used to color, decorate, strengthen and/or waterproof a ceramic piece.  We used liquid glazes which contain various powdered minerals and metal oxides.  Since our pieces were not that large, we applied the glaze with brushes but glaze can also be applied by dipping, pouring or spraying.  We had to apply two coats of the glaze but it soaked very quickly into the porous clay and was dry in no time.  

The glazes were in plastic bottles, much like finger paints.  However, the color of the glaze in the bottle was not an indication of the color the piece would be after the second firing.  For example, I chose to glaze my pieces using a variety of blue glazes - I think I used teal, aquamarine and sapphire.  However, as you will see in one of the photos below, the glazes were grey upon application.  I even got a little daring and used two different colors on one piece - aquamarine for the first coat and then sapphire for the second coat.  Our instructor had a few samples of pieces that she had made using two different colors of glaze and they looked so pretty so I thought I would give it a go. 

I had four pieces to glaze - a 5x7 picture frame, a 3x4 plate, a 5x7 plate and then a much larger plate (about 9x11).  

I made the larger plate last week and it looked really great after the first firing. 
I love the detail of the stamps I used for texture and design.
The photo below shows the glaze applied to about 1/2 of my larger plate.  I applied the aquamarine glaze first and then the sapphire glaze.  
This photo shows the larger plate completely glazed and ready for the kiln.
I think I used the aquamarine glaze on the picture frame and the sapphire glaze on the smallest plate.  I did not get to start to glaze the medium sized plate but it might be good to see how these colors turn out before I glaze anymore pieces.

As much as I enjoy sharing my misery, I promise that I will stop posting these "cut and pastes" of our weather forecasts.  However, I thought the forecast this morning was interesting because April is said to be the hottest month here and the extended outlook shows such a noticeable and  definite cool down beginning May 1st.  I can only hope it is accurate!  

Bangkok, Thailand Weather

Updated: Apr 28, 2012, 4:30am

TodayApr 28Sun29Mon30TueMay 1Wed2Thu3Fri4Sat5Sun6Mon7
AM T-StormsMostly CloudyPM T-StormsPM T-StormsScattered T-StormsScattered T-StormsScattered T-StormsScattered T-StormsScattered T-StormsScattered T-Storms
AM T-StormsMostly CloudyPM T-StormsPM T-StormsScattered T-StormsScattered T-StormsScattered T-StormsScattered T-StormsScattered T-StormsScattered T-Storms