Join a Hangout…

Since my son and daughter-in-law have moved to Seattle, we have been doing Google + with them each Sunday evening. It has really helped to heal my heart since they are SO far away. I can’t touch them, but I can see them and I can get a sense of their mood and also share the joy of seeing them smile and be happy together in their new life.

But Google + has a lot to offer in terms of visually sharing of ideas and information too. For instance, my maid of honor of 32 years ago, Claudia Altemus, came for a visit back in May and she had recently purchased an iPad. She is hesitant to use it in many ways even though the potential is there for blogging, reading, emailing and chatting with me online. So I called her one day and talked her through the process of getting the app loaded and within a few minutes she could see me and I could see her. She was SO excited. She showed me her newly planted garden, her wonderful house that there never thought they would be able to own, her kitchen her hubby renovated for her and her sons that I hadn’t seen in almost 20 years. (my how they had changed!) So now, we have a date, each Thursday to “visit” online and, being visual people, we have really enjoyed catching up and seeing one another each week. AND it is free! No cell phone minutes are used but, on my phone the data minutes are used.

So this has Herb and I thinking of other ways that Google + could benefit us in our jobs. Herb just finished a river “camp” experience with Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River and had the students create a google map and gave each of the kids a digital camera, they photographed their trip down the river and then used those photos to insert into the google map of the Shenandoah River. Another link you might enjoy is this one of a video a kid took from his canoe. He now is thinking of how this could be expanded into using smart phones to have the kids join a hangout, sharing in real time as they go down the river in a hangout. Their parents could join the hangout and watch as they either post photos or share video or tweet them messages as they float. Tweeting, however, would be a separate thing altogether and honestly, I just can’t really understand why people do that one, but for a river trip like this, I totally get it.

From the artistic perspective, I think that I could do critiques live on the web and share discussions with other potters. What made me think of this was that, Claudia and I basically did this with some of my mugs, discussing the handles and what constitutes a good handle. I could also have days that I just do a hangout in the studio and share my throwing of several items or even decorating the forms. It might be boring for some while others might really enjoy spending a day in a pottery environment without the dust.

To get information on how to start a hangout there is a great post here which has saved me from having to look at it and show you a step by step. All the smart phones have this capability and what is cool, is that the cameras on them allow you to both show yourself and then switch to a back camera so that you can show the item you are discussing.

So if you haven’t used this cool web tool yet, check it out. And if you would like to join a hangout or invite me to a hangout because there is something that you would like to see me demonstrate, send me a note and let’s set it up.

 

Vintage Woodstock Festival

Laughing Orange Booth

You would think that a Vintage Woodstock Festival in Woodstock, VA would really be about sitting in the grass, smoking weed, in a downpour of rain, listening to Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, Joan Biaz and Joe Cocker, but this Vintage Woodstock Festival was all about eating some carnival type foods and listening to a local band called the Worx, which were amazing.

music

The weather was unbearably hot and there was a threat of rain. I actually hoped we would get the rain so that it would cool things down some. But we got a sprinkle and a bit of reprieve from some of the humidity, but not much.

court house steps

I really enjoyed seeing and meeting with our local residents of Shenandoah County and letting them know that I am here working everyday and if they need a gift or and item for their garden they are more than welcomed to stop in and see me and my work.

I handed out a lot of business cards and did sell a few items, but getting my name out there is a big deal. I think it is also important to do the local festivals so that people start to see that “hand made in America” is a little more expensive than Walmart or Target. I actually had a few conversations to that effect and hopefully educated some people that if you want nice things they are a little bit more costly.

court square

For the most part though, I think everyone really liked the work and I anticipate to start seeing more and more local traffic here at the house. I was also able to tell people about the upcoming Artisan Trail that we are working on here in Shenandoah County that we are hoping to be activated before the end of the year. This will be another post later but it is really exciting to be a part of this new venture for our county.

Prior to the event, I mailed out about 50 postcards to people that had bought my work, both here in the county and from the DC area. I saw a lot of those people so that marketing strategy is a good one. I think because I took the time to handwrite the cards and put a note on them that I hoped to see them there made a difference too. I am still learning about marketing the business and while social media is great for getting the word out there, there is still the old fashioned post card that will do a good job for you if you take the time to apply the personalization.

The next local event that I am looking into is the Ole Time Festival in Edinburg, VA. I’ll be posting as I get more information on that one but lots of folks last night said that would be a good one for me to do in the fall.

Etsy Unplugged…

Tomorrow is the Vintage Woodstock event that I posted about a couple of days ago and I’ll be packing up my items to take to the town square to set up tomorrow evening. But those same items are still listed in my Etsy shop. At least they are at the moment.

When I do an event, I haven’t figured out what the best approach is to keeping Etsy items listed and taking them live to a show and literally put them in people’s hands. I usually have my new smart phone with me and could easily access the Etsy site right after a piece sells in person and take the listing down. This makes me really nervous because I am at the show and am worried that the items are selling and my not knowing it and then sell the same item in person.

So for now, it seems the easiest solution to this is to deactivate all the items on the Etsy shop, put a message in the top of the opening page and then the day after the show to reactive what hasn’t sold in person. I haven’t had this be a problem yet but I am really worried that it will and with many of my pieces being a one of a kind item, it would really stress me out to try and duplicate something that is in the photo on Etsy. So tomorrow, Laughing Orange on Etsy will be unplugged for a day and then will come back online on Saturday. Thanks for everyone’s patience and in the meantime, I hope I put a lot of things into the local public’s hands and they get to know me better so that they will come in person to pick out items that they would like to purchase.

Water Usage…

 

 

 

My oldest son was home for a visit back in April. They moved to Seattle last November after their October wedding. They love Seattle and I am hoping to see their new home this summer when I take a trip there myself. The story that my son told that I thought was fun about their new home, other than Seattle being an incredibly “green” city, was that his new bride had embraced this green-ness by competing against the other residents in their apartment building with overall water usage. The funny part of this is that the other residence weren’t aware they were in a contest. Thomas and Bell live in a building that houses about six apartments that all share a garage like space on the bottom level for their cars etc. Each apartment’s water meter is also in this garage and as they would come into the garage, Belle would look at each apartment’s numbers on their perspective meters. She was trying to gauge how much water they were using in comparison to her neighbors. When she realized that the numbers didn’t reset at the beginning of the month, she kind of gave up because it would mean that she would have to set up a spread sheet and do a daily check of the numbers to see if they were ahead or behind. I just got a kick out of this story and the competitiveness of my new daughter-in-law.

Belle came to visit this week and I brought up this story and we laughed about it. She then said that I would be disappointed with how she washed dishes after I shared how I had noticed other people’s dish washing habits. I’m now wondering how this trend has come about and if people even think about their water usage in terms of what is going to save them the most. The way I look at it, every drop that comes out of my faucet is paid for by me and I want to make that money count with every drop. So, I thought I would share how I try and conserve water in my house and see if I can get any of you to help all of us to save even more water.

This trend that I spoke of to Belle, and which she confessed to doing, is washing dishes with the faucet running the entire time, no stopper in the sink and a continual stream of water going down the drain. I have witnessed this on many occasions, mainly with my kid’s generation.

When I was growing up, you would clean out the sink, and add the stopper and then fill the sink with your hot dish water and soap. Your companion sink, either to the right or left, depending on how your set up is, is filled with hot rinse water. As you wash your dishes you then dunk them into the hot rinse water and stack them into a dish drainer. NO additional running water. I would estimate that you probably are using about 3 gallons of water total. Two for the washing and maybe a gallon for the rinse.

In times of drought here in Virginia, I have used a plastic dish pan in the sink to wash the dishes in and rinse the dish above that dish pan of wash water capturing ALL the water and then that water in used to put on the garden in the evening to help keep a plant alive during those dry spells. I believe this is probably the best way to truly salvage all the water and not let any of it go down the drain.

I’m told that using the dishwasher is absolutely the best solution because it uses the water in the most efficient way. However, I see people washing their dishes in the running water method BEFORE they then load them into the dishwasher. While most dishwashers, mine does, should be able to handle the dirty dish without even rinsing off the foodstuff, I understand that some don’t and the dishes may need a little help before they go into the dishwasher but I believe that you could probably get away with a good scraping with a rubber spatula into the compost or trash instead of involving any water at all. I worked at a YWCA camp one year in college and each table had a rubber spatula that the kids were required to “squeegee” their plate before stacking them up, eliminating the extra pre-washing before loading them into the commercial dishwasher in the kitchen area.

I use a lot of water conservation techniques in my pottery too. I have a dishtub in the utility sink in our basement and try at all costs to avoid any of my chemicals going down the drain. That dish pan gets really full of waste water and maybe gets dumped out into my grass once a month. That same water is used to wash out brushes, containers, glaze buckets and even rinsing off my hands before I finish for the day.

Drinking Water Brochure Outside

Drinking Water Brochure Inside

 

This topic could obviously be a completely new post due to all the chemicals that get flushed down the drain daily and end up in our watersheds.

My hope is that you will share your dishwashing techniques with me and help others to think more about their water usage and maybe even get into the competitive spirit of my sweet daughter-in-law, who is having fun trying to save the planet in her small way in Seattle. Good luck Belle and I hope you can figure out a way to get your neighbors involved in your game! I really love the spirit of this idea!

Vintage Woodstock Festival

 

 

 

Just a quick post this morning to let everyone know that I am doing an event this Friday night in Woodstock, VA called Vintage Woodstock. I have never been to this event, but it is local, and I am trying to be as local with my new work as possible. If you are looking for something to do this Friday evening, head to Woodstock, and stop in and see my new fairy garden items and new mug designs.

I’d love to see you there!

 

 

 

Warning: this posting could save your life!!!

Salad Greens in Cold Frames

Many of you remember in late 2010, I built and planted cold frames in my backyard after reading Eliot Coleman’s book “Four Season Harvest”. I wanted to see if I could also have fresh greens year round living in Zone 6. I didn’t realize just how wonderful it is to have these fresh lettuces and greens and the different flavors that they have. They are, or seem, much more tasty than those that you can get at the grocery. And there is certainly so much more variety than I can buy locally. At least in my local grocery store.

This spring, one of my favorites was this salad green mix called Elegance Greens Mix from Johnny’s Seeds. This mix included Pac Choi, Red MustardMizuna, and leaf broccoli. In addition to this mix, I also have a deer tongue lettuce, a butternut lettuce, a romaine and claytonia and spinach and chard. All of which, when you cut and mix them in a bowl with some salt, pepper and olive oil are unbeatable.

So last week sometime, I cam across a Facebook posting about a documentary called Forks over Knives and added it to my Netflix que. It is a documentary that discusses a strictly plant based diet and how if we were all to switch to this that many of our diseases would disappear and certainly our obesity rates would plummet. In the film, one of the scientists did a decade long study comparing the diets and disease rates in other countries as compared to the US. Many of the countries didn’t have the same diseases that we have here in the states and now that many of them are adopting the western diets they are now seeing the diseases come into their populations.

In the film, they follow at least three people who have serious health problems and you watch as they spend time with a physician who helps them eliminate their meds by changing how they eat. The physicians actually take them shopping and show them how to prepare the foods. Each of the people lose weight, feel more energetic and aren’t dependent on a pill to change how they live. I think that we have become so dependent on medicines to help us to fix our health that it never occurs to us to just try to change our diets. Or eliminate things from our diets. The food industry as well as the drug industries are making money from our dependence on all their products. I would much rather give my money to Johnny’s Seeds for my lettuces and vegetables than to the drug companies and for genetically modified foods.

I have been trying to shed a few pounds with the upcoming wedding of my youngest son and had been trying to eat as many of the lettuces up before the summer heat takes over and takes them away for a few months. I have been also using the spinach in smoothies that I make for myself in the evenings as a healthy snack. I use a sugar free vanilla ice cream, just a scoop or two, a couple of dollops of fat free yogurt, a handful of almonds, about a cup of frozen blueberries and a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach leaves. When the mix is blended I throw in ice cubes to give it a frozen drink feel and I have to say it is yummy. After watching FOK though, I think that I need to find an alternative to the ice cream and yogurt.

I’m not sure that I can totally go to a full plant based diet, but I know that I can cut back on the my meat intake. I know that if all of us were to have even a couple of days a week that we eliminate meat that our planet would be better off. The film goes into some of the statistics of ratios of cows on our planet to people and the aspects of taking care of all those animals.

I highly recommend this documentary! It certainly opened my eyes to myths that I think we all have about some of our foods and what effect they have on us. And I certainly wish that many parents of small children could see this and the kind of future that they may be facing in a world where it seems our food is not so good for us anymore.

In the meantime, I’m going to check out the recipes and see if I can find something yummy for lunch to have with my salads. Anybody want to join me?