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Popular Posts

Caution: Legs May Appear Larger than They Are

Today while I sat and watched Little-Miss-Can’t-Stop-Jumping have her piano lesson, my mind wandered away from the music without my realizing it. Quite by accident, my gaze had landed on her legs and for a moment I sat there astonished by their extraordinary length. I had flashbacks to her infancy when her folded little legs couldn’t even clear the edge of her car seat.

avi's legs

It’s not a surprise she’ll be tall. At one ounce shy of 10 pounds at birth, the doctors made sure I knew what I’d be in for. They predicted 5’10” at least. Chronic neck pain aside, that’s ok by me. But that’s not my point. It’s a forest for the trees thing – the day to day grind distracts me away from observing the passage of time. They grow, I know. I just have to remember not to blink or I may miss it.

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“Hic, Haec, Hoc” or: How to Memorize Practically Anything

I used to teach Latin. When I was an undergraduate, my Latin professor and head of the Classics Department was so impressed with my command of Latin that she offered that I teach the Beginning Intensive Latin class. As it happened, another (significantly less generous) professor was slated to teach that class and he wouldn’t budge. To appease us both, she let him keep his class and gave me the Advanced Intensive Latin class instead.

I think I was only 22 at the time. That was a big deal for me.

Significantly older now, I look back on that particular class with a proud memory. I barely slept for the duration, as I was either planning class or writing or grading tests. I had been teaching High School Latin for a while and I enjoyed that, but what I loved most about teaching college level Latin was that I didn’t have to get involved with students on a personal level. I could teach for the joy of the language. If a student couldn’t recite the principal parts of laudo, what did I care? I preferred the more impersonal nature of the teacher-student relationship at the college level.

One of my best tips for learning the seemingly never-ending string of paradigms that Latin requires—or anything else for that matter—is to make use of as many senses as possible to aid memorization. Looking at the printed word uses your sense of sight (brain is working). Saying the paradigm out loud adds speech and hearing to the mix (brain is super-duper-working). If Latin could be tasted or touched, I’d have recommended those too. When I was first learning, I’d turn my paradigms into songs and sing all day long.

Thanks to that, my husband—who never studied a stitch of Latin—can recite the entire Hic Haec Hoc paradigm to this day.

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GIVEAWAY - Mockingbird - 5x7 Photograph by CatLudwigStudio - CLOSED

And the winner is…..(chosen by Min:1 / Max:54 Result: 51 = Bella! Congratulations, Bella, and thank you to everyone...

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And the Oscar for the Best Packaging Goes to…

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my producer, agent, speech coach, set designer, and director without whose support and constant belief in me, this groundbreaking documentary would never have been possible.

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“Who wants pie?”

Have you ever seen any of the old Jimmy Neutron episodes where Jimmy’s father, Hugh, wiggles out of an uncomfortable moment—in which he’s invariably reprimanding Jimmy for something or another—by saying (in his ridiculous voice): “Who wants pie?” Well, I can’t seem to serve my pies without copping Hugh’s accent but luckily, in my house, everybody wants pie.

The most remarkable Yael, of FabricCrafts and Pazzapazza has encouraged me to share my recipe for apple pie and since Sheva has also blogged about one of our favorite recipes this week, I thought I’d chime in with the details. We did have all those apples, you know.

The Crust
2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups of shortening
8-10 tablespoons of cold water

pie ensemble 
Stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until the pieces are pea-sized. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over the mixture and gently toss with a fork. Repeat this using 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough is moistened. Divide dough in half and form each half into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, flatten 1 dough ball and roll it flat until it forms a 12-inch circle.  To transfer it to the pie dish, drape it on a rolling pin and trim it evenly with the rim of the dish. Roll out the 2nd dough ball the same way. Cut slits (or fancy schmancy shapes like I did) so that the steam can escape during baking.

cutting hearts

After the filling is in the pie (see below), drape the top crust on top and trip it to 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pie dish. Fold it under the bottom pastry and crimp the edge to create a fluted edge.

The Apple Filling
7-9 ripe apples
3/4 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

peeling an apple
Peel, core, and slice 6 cups worth of ripe apples. In a large bowl stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add apple slices and toss until coated. Fill pie crust and cover with remaining pastry as explained above.

To prevent the pie from burning while cooking, cover the edge of the pie with aluminum foil. You can simply fold the foil in half and rip off a smallish half circle right at the fold and then drape it over the pie. Bake covered like this in a 375° oven for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 25-30 minutes until the pie finally looks like a pie.


Inaugural Giveaway – glazedOver Tiny Tea Bag Bowls!! CLOSED

And the winner is…..(chosen by Min:1 / Max:72 Result: 42 = CaitThroop ! Congratulations, Cait, and thank you to everyo...

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Can You Spot the Difference?

Mango beforeMango after

Heh, heh.

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Primordial Fire

It is an eerie sensation to walk into the studio when the kiln is ablaze. I can’t resist conjuring up imagery from Dante’s inferno. I know t...

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How Do You Like Them Apples!

It’s apple picking season here in New York and once again, we took the girls to our favorite apple orchard. The farm management got savvier this year and made the apple buckets a wee bit bigger and adjusted the price accordingly. But that’s ok, I’ll just make 16 pies. And strudel, and cider, and baked apples, and apple sauce, and apple fritters, and apple turnovers, and…

On the tree, not the groundAvi takes a bite

We had to walk quite a distance from the entrance to find some trees with apples still on the branches (rather than rotten or half eaten and lying on the ground).

Age of Apples 2008Chillin with the booty
Apple Girls 2008Apple Girls 2009

Some people do the age progression photo album assembled from school pictures. We do the hatchback-pose-with-the-apple-bucket age progression album instead.

We’re so clever.

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A Custom Order for Vered

Perhaps you have come across Vered Skolnik’s exquisite Etsy shop, veroque. All of her work involves intricate woven bead creations that are as much a marvel in design as they are a delight to behold. My daughter and I can spend forever just clicking through her entire shop. And she recently launched a second shop, ByTheBelt, which is no less impressive.

A few weeks ago, I was tickled positively pink to get an email from Vered asking me to make her a ceramic dish that she could use to hold beads as she works. She said she was flexible in the design and left it to me to come up with something, as long as it had a few sections to keep the different colored beads separate from each other. She gave me full creative liberty, what a bunny!

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. Of course, the glazing can bubble up during firing, another piece can fall on it in the kiln and smash it into tiny, tiny pieces, I could accidentally drop it on the floor taking it out of the kiln…anything can happen. But so far, right now,'s the cat's MEOW!!

vereds dish 2vereds dish

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The Kid with the Halo

Bay Shore Kindergarten 1974

This past weekend, my daughter stumbled upon my kindergarten report card. I had Dr. Maas for a teacher (my parents were convinced that she went for the doctorate only because without it, we’d all have to call her “Miss Maas” which was just too much to ask of a class of kindergarteners).

Report Card-A

I remember only certain (and mostly questionable) things about being in her class. By today’s pedagogical standards, her discipline tactics would force a gasp to leap off your lips quite involuntarily. Judging from her comments on my report card, though, it seems she had her finger on my pulse quite accurately.

Report Card-B

She wrote…
“As you know, Jill is doing superior work. She sets extremely high standards for herself and may become distressed if she feels she is anything less than perfect. Jill responds well to praise and encouragement, however, so her own successes seem to have built a bulwark against the tension you were concerned about earlier. Jill is highly individualistic, and I suspect she will derive much satisfaction from grades 3 and 4 upward when she will be both ready and eager to plunge into sustained individual projects.
“I feel sure Jill will be able to forge ahead in first grade and achieve a superior level of success if she is not permitted to lapse into disproportionate negative emotions over small events. Your attitude was most helpful this year in this regard. Your continued cooperation will be beneficial.”

Funny how key character elements can be manifested at such a young age, and how apparent that can be to the observer.

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A Lunchbox Worthy of the Cause

I'm not one to purchase anything in a museum gift shop, but on a recent trip to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, I was won over by a Rosie the Riveter lunch box because:
(1) my kid needed a new lunch box, and (more importantly)
(2) it was a Rosie the Riveter lunch box

I don't think I'm the exact personality type to have been a suffragette, but I can promise you, I'd have been a riveter.

Rosie The Riveter by The Four Vagabonds
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Never Too Young to Learn to Fly

Maybe we overdid it and pushed our children a little too much. But in our fast paced, ever expanding world, all sorts of life skills are not only advisable, they are practically essential for success. So with this in mind, we decided to give our children flight training starting from an early age.

You can argue that we got carried away with a little over-aggressive parenting, but we feel that we’ve done the right thing. Luckily, the financial outlay has not been debilitating as we negotiated a reasonable, per-minute rate. The kids too have responded well to this initiative and have easily adapted to my husband’s accelerated aviation boot camp.

To preempt the skeptics, we’re letting all of you in on our award winning “Fly, Be Free” program. Here are the operational components you will need to start your own program:

· A queen or king size bed
· A few soft blankets
· Many pillows
· A runway of at least…what, 6 feet?
· A burly-type guy able to toss approximately 70 pounds across the room
· A camera
· A kid or two

That’s it! Here are some shots of the solo flights.

The Young Cadets (Sheva and Tali)
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Good to the Last Drop, Part II

In my Good to the Last Drop, Part I post, I described how I recycle as much as I can of the scrap clay that I generate while making pottery. Any excess clay that has not been fired and is not contaminated gets thrown into a plastic bin where I reconstitute it into reusable clay. After many days of throwing scraps into the bin and pouring water on top, the clay becomes what potters call “slurry”, that is very drippy, liquid clay.

In the large Chicago studio where I first learned the craft, they had an alcove with two large plaster covered surfaces which they would use to dry the slurry into usable clay. They would slop about 5 inches of slurry all over the plaster surface and then let the plaster slowly absorb the moisture and convert the clay for reuse.

Alas, I currently have a small studio and I cannot spare even an inch of table top space for a plaster surface, so I use small wooden bats to accomplish the slow absorption that the plaster does. Rather than slopping on several inches of slurry, I create little bridge shapes of clay.

The bridge shape not only allows the wood to absorb some of the moisture from the clay, it also allows a maximum of the clay's surface to air dry around and through the exposed external surfaces. Left uncovered, my clay bridges dry sufficiently in about 4-6 days depending on the temperature in the studio.

Have you seen the movie Amélie? One of my favorite scenes is right at the beginning where Amélie’s favorite things are chronicled documentary style. Among other things, she loves peeling dried glue from her fingers, she loves putting raspberries on each finger and eating them one by one, she loves cracking the sugar shell on a crème brulee, and she loves sticking her hand into a big burlap sack of dried beans at the street corner shop.

For the tactile oriented (and I include myself in this group) Amélie’s list makes us giggle with recognition…of course, we are all like this. Well, with that in mind, I want you to imagine the tactile sensation of digging down into the cold, wet slurry bucket to grab a handful of clay, shape it into a bridge, and carefully place it down onto a wooden bat so that it doesn't collapse. Mmmm, yummy.
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Brutal but Effective

We were living in Chicago while I was doing my graduate work and I blame my occasional migraines on my tendency to internalize stress. I’d get several migraines per month and each one would kill a whole day’s productivity. That was way beyond tolerable levels when papers and class work were constantly piling up.

Every day after class and work, my husband and I would go jogging along Lake Michigan and then we’d jump in the lake for a refreshing swim reward (carefully dodging the dogs leaping into the lake in pursuit of freshly-tossed tennis balls). One afternoon, after a particularly grueling migraine jog, we were astonished to discover that the reward swim in the lake scared my headache away completely. Just like that. One dunk in the frigid waters of Lake Michigan was all it took. Eureka!

The next chapter is about how my husband discovered that making me dunk my head into a kitchen sink filled up to the top with water chilled in a bag of ice has the same effect on a migraine as a dip in Lake Michigan. (Not sure if I resent him more or love him more for discovering this.) I have to bend over upside down (out of the question with a migraine, of course!) and hold my head submerged to cover my entire scalp for a count of ten seconds. Then I stand back up again and cry while he wraps a big towel around my head and hugs me. I do it three more times, (crying and getting hugs each time), and then I’m done. No more migraine.

Just throwing it out there, do with it what you may.
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Laura Slocum and a Global Embrace

This past January, I opened my pottery shop on Although I had been an artist and writer among other things, I had never been a...

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Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

This past Sunday, friends of ours invited us to join them at their daughter’s equestrian competition. We gladly accepted the invitation as the girls had never been to one before and we thought they might enjoy watching the day’s events.

By way of introduction to the genre, my husband gave the girls a verbose “Horses 101” primer so that they could get a sense of what the whole thing was about. By the time he got to the point about safety around horses, they were only half tuned in. He was telling them how to always keep a safe, half-a-horse distance between themselves and the horse's rear. He explained, “Horses can be easily startled and they may do this—," and he picked up his leg to illustrate how they kick. But he never actually got to complete the lesson, because his lengthy oration was abruptly interrupted by communal shrieks and screams, a loud crash, and a crowd—20 feet away from us—fitfully clamoring to clear out. When the dust settled, we discovered that the commotion was caused when a startled horse fell on the woman who had been seated on her lawn chair just behind him. Miraculously, she was ok, though her lawn chair suffered a severe blow.

After that, the girls enthusiastically tuned in for the remainder of the lesson.

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Breaking Rules and Sleeping Over

Sheva, our 10 year old, is such a good egg. As a toddler, she would exhibit pathos and intelligence beyond that which seemed appropriate for her age. I'll never forget how once--before she was even speaking yet--I was lying on the carpet exhausted from the day's strain and there was little toddling Sheva carrying over a pillow for me to place beneath my head. In Hebrew, to say: "that was touching," they say: "it pinched my heart." Sheva pinches our hearts daily.

As a principle, we are opposed to sleepovers, but when Sheva asked if we could reconsider our long standing rule, we quickly agreed. For a good egg, rules should be broken, no? The party was a huge success; the girls had a great time. Sheva asked me kindly not to orchestrate every move, and I definitely get extra parenting points for dutifully acquiescing. One thing she did request was to decorate cupcakes which you can see in these photos. That was a highlight, and I just want to say: "Long live the disposable tablecloth!" Or rather, "Short live the disposable tablecloth!"

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Buttoning it up

There once was a seamstress,
Who lived near the Rhine.
She refinished a ceiling,
Made it look like washed pine.
She needed some buttons,
As odd as could be,
To add to her bags,
And gosh! she asked ME!

Fire Away!

Today I woke up to find that everything I had hoped would be bone dry by morning in fact was, so I just closed the lid on this next bisque load and fired up the kiln. There are a few shelves stacked beneath this one with more bowls and stakes and some bud vases, I think. Funny, I must have a version of kiln load amnesia…once I pack it, I forget what I’ve put in there.

Clay work is time consuming. I think what most people don’t realize is that drying the finished piece from its wet, plastic stage to sufficiently bone dry for bisque firing takes a long, loooong time. For smaller pieces like my tiny bowls, I can sit them in front of a fan to speed up the process with no ill effects, but for flat pieces and larger pieces especially, drying must take place slowly under plastic covering and over the course of several days to prevent warping. This is because the water content of the clay is evaporating and bringing the clay particles themselves closer to each other in the process. If a piece is exposed to air and dried rapidly, the clay particles align quicker on the top than they do on the bottom and this is what causes the warping. In some cases the warping only shows up after the bisque firing (surprise!), so I’ve learned to be very careful and patient during the drying stage.

Next, adding color glazes. Stay tuned!

One of the many benefits of being the first to finish getting ready... leaves time to catch a few ants.
(No ants were harmed during the taking of this picture.)
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Got a blender?

Strawberry Peach Smoothie
8 frozen strawberries
8 frozen peaches
1 cup skim milk
¾ cup orange/mango juice
¼ cup vanilla yogurt
1 T flax seeds (ok, that’s optional but GOOD for you!)

Throw everything in the blender and wait patiently. Go find the straws or something.

attempts to get a reluctant eater motivated

Planting with Broken Pots

As you may know I've spent the last several months making a truckload of ceramic garden stakes, so I thought it just might be appropriate for me to actually *plant* the herb garden too. I use fresh herbs in my cooking all the time, so why not?

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I have a terribly black thumb. Nevertheless, I'm keeping my fingers crossed (sans the thumb) that my herb garden will somehow not know that it was me who planted it. My daughters helped me and the jury is still out on what color their thumbs are, so with any luck together we’ll fool the basil.

As an usual accent, we lined the edges of the garden with broken pottery shards. That was particularly fun - we took some of my old unusable or flawed pottery pieces and we smashed them down onto concrete. I'm sorry that I didn't think to record the delicious sound that was an indescribable sensory delight. It made the girls giggle and the neighbors peek over the fence to see what we could possibly be doing! (There goes the neighborhood!)
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Good to the Last Drop, Part I

In an effort to minimize waste and in the true spirit of recycling, I save every bit of excess clay that I generate. Here are some scraps from smoothing the edges on my garden stakes. They are so picturesque in their own way; I often frustrate my creative juices trying in vain to figure out what could be done with such perfectly delicious curlicues of clay. Just for indulgent fun, I once even plunked some down onto a kiln shelf and bisque fired them! Of course they emerged more permanent but alas, they still refused to communicate their purpose to me.

My kids like breaking them up into little's almost as much fun being the first and lucky person who gets to drag a knife across the top of a new tub of butter. My kids fight over that one. I think I'll buy two tubs next time just to avoid the conflict. And maybe an extra one just for me.
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A funny thing happened to me on the way to the airport

I've been invited to join several other artists selling their wares in the gift shop of the Flushing Town Hall Cou ncil on Culture and t...

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Mother’s Day

My first experience celebrating Mother’s Day as the mother being celebrated (as opposed to the daughter celebrating her mother) was when I w...

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Watch me

This is my favorite watch. I probably shouldn't but I wear it every single day as long as I'm not getting covered in clay. It is handmade by a company called "Shablool" which in Hebrew means "snail" - funny name for a watch maker, don't you think?

I bought it several years ago during a trip to Israel. Well, that isn't really true...I picked it out and was admiring my newly spectacular wrist for a moment but when I went to pay the bill I discovered that my brother-in-law had already paid for it. Is it ok to fall in love with your brother-in-law too?
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My perfect vibe

Vered Skolnik of recently put together another most gorgeous treasury, only this time she called it "Her Morning Elegance" and added a link to the YouTube video of Oren Lavie's song of the same name. It is the most remarkable of compositions in every way; I've been watching it over and over obsessively. Here is the link ~

Please tell me I'm not the only one whose heart melts watching this.
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It's getting hot in the studio

I just fired up the glaze kiln...three shelves worth of tiny bowls, mugs, planters and garden stakes. This time I've added more herbs to...

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Busy Hands are Happy Hands

Loads of bisque ware to glaze this week

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Happy Customer

Recently the amazing bought my last four Sand and Sea Tiny Tea Bag Bowls. Not only did she leave me stellar fee...

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Career Day

"What are you?" was the question most asked as I sat throwing at the pottery wheel at Lincoln Avenue Elementary School's annua...

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