Busy Busy Busy

As I suspect for everuone that makes/crafts, the run up to Christmas is the busiest time of the year.  Generally I will spend just a couple of hours a week at the lathe during Monday to Friday and then depending on want I will spend a Saturday or Sunday in the workshop.

Since the beginning of December I have been in the workshop most evenings, whether it’s for pens or bowls for commissions, pens for stock or the rare occasion when I get to make/try something new.

All orders for Christmas now complete, I have one pen left to make for a family gift.  I have been playing with making snowmen and other Christmas related turnings.  Well, I say “men”, I have made two snow people this year.  I started with with the standard snowman with a top hat and he lonely.  I named him Horace and made him a wife during the same week.  She is called Mrs Wimp.  I haven’t taken photos of them yet, I will when I have some light and time.

I also got some time to play with the Joyner Off Centre jig that I received a while ago from the Ruth Niles website.

pendant

It took me a couple of hours of playing to get the pendant you see above, and it proved to me that I need to be even more accurate with the placement of and the depth of the cut. For a first attempt though, I am happy with this.

Final play for the moment is the hanging bauble below.

bauble

The top and bottom are dyed beech, I have no idea what the wood is in the middle.  I actually made two top and bottom finials, the first ones were too chunky (bottom) or too small (top) and just didn’t look right.

During Christmas week I am aiming to complete a project “challenge” that Martin over at The Black Dog Workshop set for the workshop members yesterday.  I won’t give it away, but it’s not a christmas ornament!

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I’m Forever Blowing Baubles

On Wednesday the 30th we (myself, my wife and our friend) made a two hour journey to The Glass Hub near Stowbridge in Wiltshire.  We were booked in for a short glass blowing course to make baubles at the studio.

Arriving excited we were quickly offered a brew and we watched while the previous attendees finished up their baubles.  Fairly soon after it was our turn and I was barely able to contain myself.

Re-heating the glassI have seen glass blowing on a number of occasions, I think the first time was in Gozo in 1994, and then in various places, mostly touristy, when visiting.  It’s one of those fascinating crafts that takes skill, patience and speed.  But not as much speed as I expected!

The pace of actually making the bauble was such that the instructor was able to chat and explain what we were doing at each stage and what would happen next.

Choosing colours was the first issue for me, so many to choose from.  I eventually went for a blue base with white flecks and silver sparkles.

These were rolled onto the bauble in three stages, twice into the blue and then white and then silver, re-heating the bauble between each roll.  Then onto the rolling and actual blowing, which took much less effort than I expected, a controlled blow with the instructor controlling shape and the movement with her hands and a pair of tongs.

img_2657The whole process took about 20 minutes and at the end the bauble disappeared into a cooling kiln for a controlled cooling for 18 hours.  Due to the cooling time we were obviously unable to bring the baubles home with us but they should arrive via the postal service on, hopefully, Monday.

We made five baubles in all (Pam made three!) in our short two hours that we were there.  The only downer for the whole day was an accident on the A36 in Salisbury which made the drive home over three hours.

If you have ever fancied glass blowing then these guys and girls are awesome and I would highly recommend a visit! We all left saying that we will definitely be back for a longer course when the weather is better and we can camp over.

According to the website they do glass slumping and glass fusion too.  I am really trying not to look on the internet at the price of furnaces and cooling kilns…

Not A Diet – Update

It has now been more than five months since my “revelation” about my weight and my decision to do something about it.  Back in June I mentioned that I was 17 stone 13 pounds when I started.  I am happy to report that as of now I am 15 stone 3 pounds.  That’s 213 pounds or 96.6 kilos.

I still have some way to go, I have modified my target from 14 stone (196lb) to about 12.5 stone (175lb) which will still take me some time, but I am up for it.

The change of diet has worked quite well.  I have settled into a porridge pot for breakfast, the apple & blueberry and strawberry, raspberry & cranberry having settled in as the preference from the sweet cinnamon when I started.  Lunch normally consists of a mug shot (sweet ‘n sour or sweet ‘n’ smoky BBQ noodles for preference) with two or three dark rye Ryvita and Belvita biscuits.

Dinner is often a healthy home made affair which my lovely wife cooks from recipes she is finding all over the web, but primarily at allrecipes.

Calorie count most days struggles to meet 1,200 units but this is easily supplemented by a bit (50 grams ish) of the beautiful New Forest Rum and Raisin ice cream.

I paid a visit to the doctor a couple of weeks ago for spirometry and the practice nurse confirmed that I do have mild asthma, aggravated by exercise.  This would explain why I couldn’t breathe when starting the Couch to 5K a few months ago.  I have an appointment with the Asthma nurse in January so, with a bit of luck I should be able to deal with any issues when running and can start that again, along with some sessions at the gym.

Wish me luck!

Mum’s Rice Cooker Jambalaya

Serves 4 – 6 people

4 tablespoons plain oil

225g smoked sausage, sliced

750g chicken pieces

1 cup finely chopped onion

3 sticks finely chopped celery

1 chopped red pepper

1 chopped green pepper

3 cloves finely chopped garlic

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground white pepper

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tin chopped tomatoes

250g raw prawns

480ml chicken stock

360g basmati rice

5 spring onions

Pen Maker

If you have visited the homepage of this site then you may have noticed some strange photos appearing in my feed from Instagram.  These are the pens that I make as a hobby.

I make quite a variety of pens in both wood and acrylic, fountain, roller, and pencils.   Here’s a few examples of my pens:

You can click any image for a larger version.

If you’re interested in any of these pens then please visit me over at my dedicated website Turning French.  I am still working to get the site up and running fully but there will be type information and pricing as soon as I can do it.  You can also contact me through that site.

tf

Risking The Morning Commute

So, for the first time (this year), this morning I actually needed to make use of the headlight on my motorbike coming to work.  ‘Big deal’ you might think.  ‘Whoop-de-do’.  I would agree with you, but for a couple of minor points:

  • I started “early” this morning, had to be at work for 0700.  I won’t normally ride the bike on an “early” shift.  This may be a habit formed from the extremely loud pipes when I had my Harley.  Starting the bike at 0630 is quite loud and I worry that the neighbours are going to complain.  The Teapot (above) isn’t as loud as the Harley but it isn’t quiet either!
  • I wasn’t really awake and it was still dark.

Thankfully the commute is about 8 minutes on a bad day.  No incidents to report on the whole three mile journey.

The sun came out this morning and I decided that I could take the “long” (about 20 minutes) ride home and enjoy the bike.

Now it’s raining.  F***!

I might just go for the longer ride anyway, I can always get changed at home.  I hate arriving at work wet as I don’t tend to bring spare clothes to work and I would then have to work (hahahahaha….) in wet clothes for the day – or at least until they dried.

Still better than bringing the car in though!

The Diet

I want to say right here, right now that I am not on a diet. I have never been on a diet and never will be on a diet.

Say a word too many times and it loses all meaning. Tartlet anyone?

So, how am I losing the weight that I gained to get me to 28 stone? I had a complete change of diet. A diet is what you eat, not what you don’t.

Breakfast is usually a porridge pot or Muesli, somewhere around 200 calories. Lunch will be salad or if I am at work a mugshot with a couple of ryvita, combined with a couple of Belvita breakfast biscuits. Around 300 calories for that lot.

Dinner is then a normal evening meal, but, instead of a jar of curry mix poured over chicken it will be something made from scratch. Depending on mood his will be anywhere from 185 to 600 calories.

It is well documented that an adult male intake should be no more than 2,500 calories. Some days I am struggling to make 1200, the absolute minimum required to survive.

If you a trying to lose weight do NOT “go on a diet”. Change the diet you already have.

One of the biggest motivators for me has been to log everything I eat on MyFitnessPal. It will total my calories, take account of excercise I do (via my iPhone of Apple Watch) and will tell me when I am approaching limits for sodium, carbs, fat etc.

If you choose to use the app, go for it, but bear this in mind: for the first week make no changes to your diet, just get used to logging. Then look at where you can save a few calories. Instant Coffee with one sugar is 97 calories. Three coffees and a belvita biscuit is not a good breakfast! Perhaps if you need the coffee you can drop the mid afternoon choccy bar and substitute it with a piece of fruit or a measured quantity of nuts…

Oh, and eat breakfast. Every single day.