make it hot


This is my attempt at motivating myself to start making things with my hands again.
Maybe sometime this weekend I can get a few hours in on this puppy. I was having problems with heating last time I fired her up, but I hope the problem is either gone or can be fixed easily.
Let's hope I don't have to order any parts or anything.
I'd like to start working with the "watercolor" enamels I got for Christmas and maybe make a sweet little dish or two.

My "studio" (what was once our dining room table, since the wedding I've moved my workspace to the spare room desk)

Lumps of hard glass enamel make shiny smooth dots and swirls.

Taken during the fourth firing on this piece - melting lumps at 1500F. When they're smooth and molten, I stick a long sharp tool through that little opening and drag it through the melted glass.

Et, voila! It comes out like this:

This is another one I made that night. The two biggest pieces yet. They're about 8" wide and because my kiln is so stout, I couldn't enamel the back. It still looked sweet though, and I painted some varnish on the back to seal the copper fire scaling.

Her are more pieces that I made as gifts for those of us who helped us so tremendously during the wedding. Hopefully they're all being displayed with love in their new homes.

I don't like the idea of the little initials on there so much anymore. I think if I start making these for reals I want to have some other kind of non-alpha marking to brand them. A specific color swirl or dot combo? Another metal piece but twisted into a shape of sorts. A number?
Maybe I could number all the pieces I do, big and small, and that could be their name identity.

I hope that someday I can make a little extra money selling these on etsy. People love their copper enamel jewelry over there and I have found very few people selling larger pieces like mine. Certainly none with swirl and cloisonee work. Walking the Spring Arts Festival this year I wished I could build up an inventory to sell like that. Perhaps sometime this year I can do art walk in St. Augustine, or here in Gainesville?
Someday, maybe.
I always have to remind myself to start small, and keep loving what I do. No need to turn this into a chore.


The Luck of the Irish

You probably don't know that Collin and I are ridiculously scotch-irish, but we are.
With a surname like McLeod, it's pretty much given away. I've always felt lucky that Collin's last name allowed me to still represent part of my heritage after our marriage. It's probably a big part of why the decision to change my name was so easy to make.

I do consider myself a generally lucky person. Come on, my cat is even named Lucky! Celebrating St. Patrick's day was a yearly tradition for both of us. Growing up two blocks from my paternal grandparents meant I got to go for a dinner of corned beef and cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Nothing fancy, just dinner as usual - but somehow special. Really I'm just another white American girl. But on St. Patrick's day I can remember that of the many families that make up my tree, most hail from the same corner of the globe.

That photo is us two years ago. Yes, I did just erase that last sentence after looking at the file name again to see that it was indeed from 2007. More and more it seems I am reminded of how fast time passes and small the world really is.
That year, Collin's parents took us on vacation to Epcot for a day with a night in a nice hotel before hand. Now, we're in Gainesville so it's not really that much of a trip but any time spent at Disney is what I call a vacation. Epcot is totally my favorite Disney park. I know, you say, "it's boring" but no way! The World Showcase is amazing, and Future World has its finer parts. I went on "Living With The Land" (a ride inside - you guessed it - "The Land") for the first time on that trip and they have the most amazing hydroponic fruit and vegetable gardens. Big trellised pumpkins trained into a Mickey-head shape, canopies of tomatoes and conveyor belts of organic herbs.
Good fun, that trip.
We spent lunch time in the UK of the World Showcase and ate such things as pasties, pastry-topped meat stew, and plenty of green beers.
Thankfully Erin and I thought ahead and made reservations.
I say "thankfully" because food will always play a big part in my celebrating St. Patrick's day. I'm not sure if I only make these dishes once a year because I only crave them around this time or if it's because I want to keep them really special.
Last year was a dinner for two; a quiet night at home after work.
This year was a party!
My fellow Irish lady Rachel (former roommate and actual Ireland traveler) helped me put together a feast for our friends. This past weekend was incredibly fun. Cooking and sharing food with people we love, that's all I need.

The menu for the night was delicious! I have to say, we were pretty creative in altering some recipes to make them party friendly. Things started later than dinner time so that the night could run late and give those working enough time to join us. Traditional whole corned beef and steamed cabbage wasn't going to work too well. I'm not sure how appetizing all of that would be to those who didn't grow up with it either. Instead, we came up with this:


Shepherd's Tarts
corned beef and peas in pastry shells, topped
with mashed potatoes

Cabbage Hand-Pies
pastry pockets filled with cabbage, potatoes and mushrooms

Reuben Braidscorned beef, sauerkraut, 1000 island dressing and
irish blarney cheese in a braided crescent roll dough

Herbed Cheese and Crackers
okay, not Irish in any way - but tasty!


Banoffee Pie
toffee and fresh sliced banana in a graham crust, topped with
banana pudding and fresh unsweetened whipped cream

Shamrock Sugar Cookies
a not-too sweet sugar cookie with royal icing

Car Bomb Cupcakesguinness chocolate cupcakes filled with Scotch whiskey ganache,
topped with a Bailey's Irish buttercream frosting
Edits were made to this recipe from smittenkitchen


Black and Tan
guinness stout + bass ale

harp lager + bass ale

Half and Half
guinness stout + harp lager

Irish Car Bomb
guinness + a shot (1/2 whiskey + 1/2 bailey's)

Black Velvet
guinness + champagne

People ate a lot of food, drank good Irish beer (of which very few were green), and in general had a good time. We'd downloaded some music; the Chieftains, Dropkick Murphy's, the Pogues, and the like.

We had plenty of leftovers to share with those who couldn't make it. We even had some left over for ourselves (but not so much that we had to throw any away). Perfect.

Next year I'll be making the car bomb cupcakes again. They are now a McLeod family tradition.
I loved the reuben braid even though I don't like traditional reubens. It was the absence of the rye bread for sure. ick.
On St. Patrick's day proper I used the little leftover meat we had to make some corned beef hash with eggs and blarney cheese. It hit the spot after already chowing down on dinnertime favorites.

Slainte to all the Irish among us!

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields.