Archive for the ‘ Outside the Studio ’ Category

Well, August snuck right on past without a post!  I spent most of it in the studio, but in the past couple of weeks life has gotten a little more interesting.  Just a little.

The gardens have exploded- either with weeds or with things like this enormous sunflower- I think this thing is 10-11 feet high!



And time for all the pumpkin things like these baked pumpkin doughnuts which were pretty tasty, especially on a floating blue RSE plate (heh heh).

(recipe here:  Baked Pumpkin Donuts)




Zombie walks are becoming a thing.



And it’s back to school time!  Here is my daughter getting ready for an anatomy class in pre-veterinary medicine:



In the studio world, I am getting ready for the 41st Annual Norman Bird Sanctuary Harvest Fair!  My most favorite show of the year.  I hope to see some local friends and customers there!

I will start off today by covering some RSE information since that’s why most of you are even reading this right now *wink*.

I usually take a break until about now, but as I’d mentioned before I am taking a longer break to recharge the creativity. Also we decided it was a good time to finally re-finish our basement which has been finished, then flooded, then finished and flooded again. After the last time we completely gutted it- down to studs- and finally put in a sump pump. DUH. So. I convinced Mr. RSE that we were NOT going to mess around with drywall; yes, we’ve done it in the past, but it’s a horrible thankless job and the walls are funky in the basement. By funky I mean…creative. Lots of weird angles and planes that don’t quite meet up. So we hired someone to do it! LUXURY! That’s done and then we painted. I went with this color scheme:




That medium gray on the long walls and that eye-popping teal on the short walls.  It looks great!  And then I was going to hire someone to put new flooring in, but good old George went and ate some bad stuff and earned himself a 3 night stay at the emergency vet’s, so there goes my floor fund!  So now it will be sad old me installing vinyl plank flooring through all 300 square feet down there.  Don’t get me wrong- I loved the last floor we had down there which is the same stuff- I just hate installing it.  I’m dreading it but will probably start on that next week.  UGH.  UGH.  UGH.

So I said all that just to bring up the fact that during this renovation, ALL the stuff that was in the big basement room is now stuffed into the room that I store my pottery in, and take photos of them to put up on my sale sites.  I had originally planned to put a few things up here and there throughout the winter, but nooo.  I can’t get to any of it.  I’ll announce on Facebook when I finally do, though!  I do have to get back to work by the end of February regardless.


Winter. BRRRRR. It came late but wow- it’s hit us hard! We are in between snowstorms today but our forecasts keep threatening negative numbers so of course I worried about my girls.  Now, they have two things working against them in the cold weather.  First, I strongly believe that cold weather coops housing winter hardy chickens (which mine are) should not have supplemental heat.  I feel it lowers their ability to deal with the cold.  I am also absolutely petrified of fires, and heat lamps and heaters are notorious for starting fires in chicken coops.  Second, I promised my husband that this time around, no matter how bad the weather got, I would not bring them inside (my city boy husband could NOT deal with the stink and dirt that chickens produce when confined in the house).

I was not counting on these extra cold temperatures though!  We do not often deal with single and even negative digits.  So I broke down and decided to come up with a fairly safe heater for the coop.  I was determined to use things I had around the house because- oh yeah!  I was also battling the flu!

I found a large clay flowerpot and saucer that I had painted with latex paints once upon a time that are now flaking off like crazy.  I would not recommend this normally, but I wasn’t going to go shopping for a new clay flowerpot in the middle of January with 102* fever.

Because we have had lots of different pets, we had some reptile heaters lying around.  The clip on dome lights with ceramic bulb bases (important not to use plastic ones) and ceramic heat emitters that look like this:




I took the clamp part off of the dome, screwed in the ceramic heat emitter (100 watt), and threaded the cord through the hole in the bottom of the flowerpot with the heat lamp inside.  It fit perfectly:



I clamped the cord to keep it from falling back down (I used washers to help distribute the pressure on the cord), then set it upside down on top of the saucer and left it on the stove all day to see just how hot it got.



I’m known for pulling bread out of the oven without hot pads, and this got hot enough where I could barely pick it up without burning my hands.  In other words, pretty toasty but not dangerously so.   So I set it up in the coop, but instead of the on saucer which was precarious, I set the flowerpot on top of a couple of old brick pavers to help absorb and distribute the heat.  I set it up under the “poop shelves” under the roost.



In a perfect world I would chicken proof  the cord which I still need to do- just stringing it through some thin PVC will do the trick.   It seems to be keeping the coop about 15 degrees warmer than the outside air which I feel is just enough to keep them from seriously suffering from cold, yet not enough to lower their resistance to it.  All just guesswork- nothing scientific about any of this.  I have it plugged in to a thermocube which turns on at 35 degrees and shuts off at 45.  Judging from the number of poops around this thing, they seem to enjoy hanging around it during the day for a little warm-up.

And there you go!  Disclaimer:  I am not saying that this will not start a fire in your coop, or light up your hens, or is not a stupid thing to do- this is just something I came up with out of desperation, out of things I had laying around the house.

Birthday weekend!

I’ve been quiet on the blog recently- I was wrapping up two preorders and that kept me pretty busy up until the twins’ 18th birthday on Saturday!  What fun that was!  They designed their own cake:



They invited a bunch of friends, and they wanted to have a “bunch of dumb party games” so they played “doughnut on a string”


Volleyball (maybe not dumb but that’s the sport of choice at Casa Gonzalez).


The old classic “pass the orange” game:


And a bunch more.  What was really perfect about this day is that despite nothing but rain for the week’s forecast- including this day- for some unknown reason the clouds parted and the twins had a nice sunny day that lasted exactly as long as their party!  Then it rained again.

Then came MY birthday two days later.  I turned 50.  Gulp!  This is the first milestone birthday that really hit me.  I’m getting old!



Hurricane Sandy was far from a direct hit from us and we were lucky to have escaped most of the destruction;  not so for the H.M.S. Bounty.

My thoughts are with the crew members; survivors and those who were lost, and their families.


I have an immense love for tall ships;  deep down inside I am a true romantic.  I grew up in the deserts and mountains of New Mexico and did not move to the Ocean State until I was 36, so it hasn’t been a very long relationship.  The first time I ever saw a tall ship was when a fleet of them came to visit Newport in 2007.  Ever since then, I have devoured Patrick O’Brian novels, watched all the Pirates of the Caribbean umpteen times, visited the USS Providence berthed in Newport and built here in Portsmouth.  I get this thrill in my chest and I break out in goosebumps whenever I see a tall ship.


This is one of my favorite poems:


I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

By John Masefield (1878-1967).

When the Tall Ships came back for a visit this summer, a friend of mine asked me to bring a care package to her brother.  He was second mate aboard the H.M.S. Bounty- the one ship I was most excited to see (the square riggers are my favorite)!  We met him and many of the crew.  He was very kind and offered to give us a personal tour of the ship, but as we could see he was very busy, we declined and just toured her ourselves.

I didn’t hear about her troubles until Monday when my friend posted that she was worried about her brother and the crew- and ever since then I can’t stop thinking about them.  My eyes are welling up as I write this.  And yes, I am crying for the crew, the horrible ordeal they suffered, and the friends and families of the crew member who perished, and the captain who was lost at sea.  But I’m also crying for that beautiful, beautiful ship and I tell myself it’s just a boat.  Yes, I am grateful for the survivors and for their heroic rescue by the US Coast Guard!  Still, I can’t help but mourn the loss of this ship.

This is how I will remember her:

It’s that time of year again!

And this time, RSE’s mascot Russell (the frogdog) has entered a costume contest at Facebook!!

To vote, click on the facebook link below, then click the small red “vote” under his photo- but not the big orange button which takes you to the main contest (you may have to “like” the Petco page before voting).

You can vote once a day.  Russell and I both thank you!

Here is the link:    Russell the Frogdog

Shhhhh! I’m working!

Wow- I’ve kept my mouth shut for a whole 2 weeks!  Okay, maybe not on Facebook, but I’m starting to see cobwebs here and I’m not sure if it’s because of the season or the lack of posting!

I’ve been busily at work at your custom orders (thanks again!) and will be busy up until December, getting your goodies ready in time for the holidays.  Apart from a few items I had ready and shipped out immediately, the first packages will be going out early next week!

That is not to say I haven’t taken a break now and again to enjoy the beautiful fall weather here in New England- here are some recent photos!

These first two were taken during my son’s Eagle Scout project, on the path to the canal he was rebuilding.  Before and after:


Yes, it really is the same canal!  Some other fall pics:

These wild turkeys think they run the place!  They won’t get out of the way!

And finally, we went to our beloved Simmons Farm’s pig roast fundraiser, and I took a rather gruesome photo, so for those of you with fine sensibilites, I include a link to the photo so you won’t be surprised by it:

Roasted Pig photo


The Birthday Weekend

The end of June is a crazy time of year in the Gonzalez household- the twins’ birthday and mine are 2 days apart!  Their birthday was Friday, but since this weekend is the America’s Cup in Newport this year (part of it, anyway), poor John had to work on his birthday, and Saturday and Sunday.  We took a cake to West Marine where he works, but he’s still exhausted and none too happy to be working!

Katie was upset to be turning 17, but was wishing with all her heart she could be 13 again.  Also- she was a little preoccupied as her boyfriend’s baby sister was born the night before!



Yeah…. I wish I was turning 13, too!  Heck, I’d settle for 23, really.


^ This chick! ^

She laid her first pair exactly a month ago.  The eggs take anywhere roughly from 65 to 120 days to hatch depending on temperature, so I expect in a few weeks we will begin to hear the “schwucka schwucka” of little sticky feet.  Methinks we may be overrun with baby geckos.

This is Katie’s senior project, breeding crested geckos, which was started 6-8 months early because of the time it takes from initial introduction to actual hatching.

This is dad:

He’s a dalmatian.  He’s missing a tail, because this species will drop its tail when provoked, but does not grow it back.  He dropped it at some point before coming to us, but he gets along just fine without it.

Here is the first set of progeny:

Katie hasn’t named them yet.  I offered up “Humpty” and “Dumpty,” but I don’t think she liked my suggetion much.  They are dirty here from being laid in sphagnum moss.  They always lay eggs in pairs, about a month apart.  I’m pretty excited about this project… stay tuned for baby pics, hopefully!

JULY 2:  UPDATE:  Well, a third pair was laid June 28.  No babies yet, but the first pair of eggs look more like golf balls now than the elongated shape like in the photo above, which was over 2 months ago.  Still waiting!

It was a wonderful experience setting up a table at Simmons Farm’s winter CSA last Thursday;  we will be back again next week!  If there is anything special in the catalog you are looking for, please contact me to see if it’s available and I will bring it with me on Thursday.  Contact and catalog links are at the top of this page.

I had a great time meeting all the CSA members, but I think Katie had a better time getting to know a newborn little friend:

See you on Thursday!



RSE at Simmons Farm!

Rising Sun Earthworks has just been invited to set up a table at our local organic farm, Simmons Farm !

They are trying out a new idea, having different food-related artists and artisans setting up their wares on CSA days. I will be there from 3-6 on February 16 and 23, during Winter CSA pick up days, and if all goes well, will continue once every month or so.  Check the schedule for dates (link at top of page).

We are lucky enough to live just 1/2 mile down the road from this beautiful farm, and we love to visit there.  They have a petting zoo full of tame goats, sheep, ducks, cows and more.  They have both summer and winter CSAs- for veggies, eggs, milk, meat and cheeses.  I’m excited to be invited to participate in this new venture!