Friday, 14 May 2010

In cervogia veritas

I already told you about my craving for handmade pottery wich compells me to search on the net for new artist whose work I can acquire.

A while ago I told you about Brandon Phillips' Support your local pottery site and of his wonderful tankard.

Brandon's purchase has paid off indeed and I still use it gladly, loving the heaviness in my hand and the smoothness under my finger, without discounting the well adjusted handle.

What I once said stays true, but...


Why yes, there is a but.

The tankard narrows in the middle and this, nonetheless it gives it that elegant hourglass shape, is a real problem when you pour some beer in it.

The frothy lady always "jumps" over the "bottleneck" and transforms itself in pure foam.

This technical issue has forced me to use that wonderful tankard only for Cider and low body density beers such as blond and white beers.

It was important to find a complementary piece that could fill in for the rest of the beers this lovely country has to offer.

Thanks Heaven there is no shortage of gifted potters on the net, making the search queite easy and the choice absolutely hellish.

So, after much scouting I met Sofia's Dad.

It's clay Jim!

Jim Gottuso is an Italian-american potter located in Kentuky were he lives and works with his family.

You can follow his day by day work his lovely Daughter Sofia ( codenamed The bug") his dogs and his legendary car on his blog "Sofia's Dad pots".

You'll find a hard working, steady artist with a coherent project that delivers high, ethereal shaped vessels with sunny and intricated decorative patterns.

Jim works with thrown porcelain and this alone already gives an idea of his technical level, since, for who does not know it, this white earth is the hardest to work at all.

If you compare it to the heavy, soft, fat mass of stoneware - which requires strenght indeed- porcelain is as easier to manipulate, but only for a few seconds.

This clay, rich in vitrous component that gives it its smooth, glassy almost transparent body, is quick to drying and hardening and seeing the regular tall forms of Jim's pots is a sure proof of the high degree of control this artist shows working with such a nervous earth body.

This potter does not stop to the form though, a long, patient work of decoration (mostly done with a brush) gives his pieces an astounding richness and a striking visual impact.

Such intricated are the patterns that you cannot help but be suprised each time you take the pot in the hand. Suddenly noticing a detail that you did miss the last time.

Nunc est bibendum

When Jim announced on his Blog he would start creating Beer mugs ( his cousin might have pushed him in this) I put myself in stand by and patiently waited for his kiln to deliver.

As soon said kiln opened, I was from the other side of his mail account placing the order.

Jim was leaving for an expo in Chicago in those days, but nonetheless he was so kind to send me some photos so that I could choose and took one of the mugs out from his catalogue so I could have it.

And here is the little one.

Beer I poured inside run flawlessly and the foam stays firm and does not overflow. Naturally the test has been enlarged, as every friday night with sausages, cheese and radish :)

Thank you Jim, your mug is already my favourite.

If you ever drop by bring your mug. I'll fill it up ;)

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny

When I started creating the interior design of my house I forced myself to find solutions that used each single inch of space without interfering with the peculiar way the light works inside the flat.

Working inside a tiny space is a challenge inside the challenge, because the less you waste the more you have to use.

Allow me to introduce you to a colleague of mine in this quest.

Gary Chang lives in a flat of 24 rooms in 25 squared meters.

Impossible? Take a look:

Wherever you are I want you to know that you are my hero Gary. I'd have so much to learn from you.

Allow me a question though.

Behind wich wall can I find the loo? ^_^

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

One year

I live since long ago in rarefied periods of time and I realize that it is never the same.

I'm almost two years in my house it has been about five years since I moved to Belgium and I'm one with her since a year, but it's so untrue.

In reality I've been exiled from centuries, just months that I have a home and seems like a couple of hour ago that she entered my chat room for the first time that morning in April.

Being apart is not easy and we have really little time just for us. As such our first year sums up to few, precious weeks together.

We learned to go along with it, enjoying at the best those precious moments stolen from our everyday life.

Thus it was important to me that our first anniversary was special and with the help of Karim and Raphael, my flemish coworkers, I started planning a Weekend in Antwerp since February

The town has everything to please, its monuments, museums, its rich and full past. But it was not enough, I wanted more.

Karim, having been a student in that town, directed me to the floating hotel "Diamond princess" ( a old line ship converted in hotel) and to the "Docks" one of the most famous fish restaurants in town.

Our hotel had a long list of fans on the net, but a couple of them were more than explicit in denouncing the noise that the disco club on board made and that forbid you from sleeping.

I was adamant (twice) in my request of a room that was far far away from said disco, and where did they put us? Right under it.

One fight at the reception later and me and my Lady enterd the starboard suite. Confortable and silent room with a lovely sight on the harbour.

Raphael did show me the "Lakonia", a wellness center that gives you private artificial islands for your sole enjoyment and hidden from other's sight.

Both choices were well appreciated and the restaurant of Karim, with its steampunk setting, right out from a Jules Verne book were in par with the rest of the day.

Second day has been spent raiding town, its museums, its story, its restaurants (slurp) all under a bright sun and a clear sky as rarely seen in this part of Europe ( you got to get lucky sometimes).

All beautiful, all short, too short.

One year has passed and I count the days till our next gathering, already knowing that they will be long as months as much as our days together count for minutes.

Happy anniversary Love.

Saturday, 10 April 2010


First Murphy's law: if something can go wrong and so on and so on.
Being the origin of the problem does not help the least, so I should not complain since it is me who forgot my camera at my brother's during the last visit.
And I would not even have a reason for, hadn't I sold my mobile phone before leaving and being as such unable to report next week's house modifications in any way.
Bad? Wait, it goes worse.
The HiFi system I was expecting for last week has been sent back to the production chain, since, apparently, a new European Law made it's use unsafe ( I bloddy cannot believe it).
As such the living room cannot be completed till end of the month. Joy.
Oh well, I suppose I could do something else if I ever can get hold of a camera.
Honestly... -_-"

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Elefant's graveyard

Although is quite true that my veneration for Ikea is bordering dependency, not all my furnitures were made in Sweden.

When I arrived in Belgium I was simply broke so nonetheless that my first furniture was bought ( the couch) for everything else I had to find somewhere else.

In Belgium, as much of the rest of Europe ( except Italy) a solid tradition of flea market and second hand shop is well established. Just as an example almost all I used to have in the kitchen, chairs included, was second hand material and if I did not buy them, the street itself lended me a hand.


Easy, remember the old TV rolling table?

Help yourself

Once I built the new furnitures, the old one was simply useless. Not even parking it in the cellar would have helped.

Here in Matonge you simply put whatever you do not need anymore on the street with a label "Help yourself".

All of my furnitures in the living room arrived like that and the old closet as well. In fact this is the second table I find for my living room.

As such arrived all of my first furnitures and that is because in our society, we get rid of things not because they are broken, but because we do not need or like them anymore.

That said, if I do not like them anymore, it does not mean that someone else could not use them. Thus many put their former belongings on the street this way.

Do not believe that they get wasted though, at worst one hour after everything is gone and someone is placing its new furniture in his or her house.

After all, if you do not need it, why not share it?

Thursday, 18 March 2010


I'm weak, I know.

But it is so goooood ....

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Let's clean this up

The arrival of his majesty in my living room has started the workseason for this year.

My old TV furniture was simply not anymore up to the task and something new was needed. Besides my DVD collection was shamefully squatting inside my library and thus a new solution was needed.

Just a furniture?

Just one, easy peasy, maybe two or more elements combined together, but really nothing more.


Coupled with some amplifier for the TV set and some shelves, this is all that will be needed to fill up that room side.

That was the idea till I realized that my bank account will not be able to cover the amplifiers this month and that the Gordian knot of cables was way past being out of hand.

This is why I pushed amplifiers and shelves to next month and modified a little the original project on the furniture.

Nothing too fancy, relax! just a couple of planks, some paint, more metal Ls, couple of screws, steel cab...


I'm back to being myself again ^_^

Here I go again

Main issue of multiple soket outlets is that they use a lot of space. Main issue of cables is that they never stay put.

As such they have both to disappear.

Only method I could come up with is to hide them behind the furniture, that said leaving them on the floor would have been a terrible solution. So I came up with an "extension" of the furniture.

The structure is made by three Ikea Besta elements ( I'm really going to bill them the commercials I do, I swear) screwed together.

It is a stable and solid solution and the elements are quiet sturdy ( and heavy, as I found out bringing them up the stairs).

The two side elements would have wooden doors and be assigned to DVD storage task. The central element will host the geeky goodnes of DVD player, gaming consoles and so on.

Central element has glass doors, that to allow the remote controls to work even when they are closed.

Let's go to work

Before fixing the three elements together I planned the heights of the inner shelves, since I would have to cut a dent to allow cables to pass through them and since a hole behind would have been necessary for the cables to pass through.

I then screwed the furnitures together and found a fail in my plan.

In fact the router will be inaccessible in the future, so I had to bore a second hole in the left furniture to be able to access with my hand and reset the bugger in case of need ( the wooden doors will hide the uglyness of this solution).

Since everything was working I started the extension.

INT check, failed

A bad mistake I made was to use some plain wood planks instead of MDF wood, so, nonetheless I chose the planks with uttermost care, I found that they were slightly curved.

That will be needed for the TV set cables

This asked for more screws, some bending and a lot of filler.

Once sanded and painted it is far from perfect but quiet acceptable.

Seen that the sockets will be lost once the furniture is in place, might as well exploit them now.

That for, two wide, multiple sockets have been bound to the furniture using steel cable. I agree it is crude, but it works and I could ask for nothing more.

Once all cable were bound together here is the first result.

Work in the living room starts again next month as soon I will be able to afford the audio system and the shelves.

Let's see how I can busy myself till then :)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Wonderful, no, really, I mean it...

... That said enough is quite enough.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Starting off the season

Here we go, season has started again.

This year would have been a finition year, no big works, foundation have been made, thus just some fine tuning would have done.

This is what I was thinking until the first days of January, when I noticed some colored points in a corner, top of my bedroom.

Since I did not paint it was pretty clear that it could not be colors and as such...

Return of the memesis

When I used to live in Pisa, as a student, mouldy walls were a recurerent problem , since my flat had three outher walls and Pisa was a pretty moist town.

One thing I suddenly realized is that here in Brussels I pretty much live in the same situation and so when I started to move the furnitures, I found an alien life form that looked at me quiet surprised.

Two days of bleach and curses later the walls were clean again, but the issue remained.

Were is this moisture coming from?

A quick check outside the house answered only partially. It is true that the concrete that holds the red brickworks is ruined, but there were no traces of water to be seen at all.

Should we open a window?

To be true the issue was easier than thought. Living five under a roof for two weeks, heating always on, shower running and nobody that opened the windows ( Yeah right, it was -8 Celsiu funny guy!) did the trick.

Proof be that since I live alone again, no trace od mould appeared again on the walls.

That said I decided that playing safe would have been for once good and after quick consulting with the southern Lord of concrete ( would be my father in case you did not get it) we decided to cover both internal walls.

Isolation will be provided using panels of extruded polystirene or corck ( harder to find, but more natural) covered by a layer of either wood planks or plasterboards.

Woood would have the advantage of being at the same time warm and nice to see ( and chuckable... If you'd be able to chuck wood) but plasterboards would have the huge advantage to be able to be painted whatever color I would choose.

We'll see. Everything will have to wait Juni since we will need complete dried walls to start or it would be all for nothing. It is as well possible that in May we start covering the sides of the external wall with bitumen squares, whish would mean Yet more isolation.

That's it?

No, not really. There is a lot of time till Juni which will allow to finish the living room.

Yep, because I hardly informed you of the arrival of His Majesty.

Thanks to a series of financial helps and after months and months of doubts, the penguin's lair has gone Full HD, which means I have to finish the second wall of the living room and find a solution for the cable junkyard once and for all.

Arrrrrgh! The horror!!

In September it will probably be time to attack the corridor and decide if I want to redo the floors as well.

A couple of minor issues in the kitchen (sigh) and bedroom will fill the remaining time.

As you see it will be a funny year

For you

For me 't will be jes' work ^^"

Monday, 11 January 2010

Pennies /1

Chatting with the one I love:

Me: Do I make an ass of myself if I say that I would sell my home to be in bed with you right now?

Medusa: I would buy your home to be in bed with you right now as well

Me: I see some kind of interesting solution here....

Sunday, 10 January 2010

New year's resolutions

It was a wonderful Christmas, like few you will ever have in your life.

I spent it in Brussels with my whole family ( except for sister in law wich stayed, sick, in Italy and was sorely missed :( ) and she whom I do love.

Many things happened, many memories were made and will probably never leave me completely.

The Christmas tree that my lady conceived and sketched ( and was built by unworty myself)

Its trembling candle lights that filled our cold, snow colored nights.

The new ethanol fireplace that took the place of the old furniture and after a couple of minutes of perplexity has quickly become the love affair of both my parents ( which spent every night after the eve looking at me like "Well? What about some fire son?" )

The Christmas market on St Katrien's Square, were I have found my ususal food interest and have found out in the worst possible way that my beloved is freightened by heights ^_^

Guess were I did find out?

The food slaughters at lunches and dinners, with both my parents that reached the conclusion that "too much" was not even "nearly unsufficient" ( which led us to some interesting Python like digesting session punctuated by moans and groans)

Grand Place, that was clad in the most brilliant light vest and whose blue lighted Christmas tree was better seen reflected in my lover's eyes.

Last year's night, spent fighting a polar cold on top of Mont Des Arts while we waited for the most incredible firework show I ever attended to.

Now I'm home alone again, everyone is gone and the silence I hear feels somehow oppressive, while I miss the voices and the noises of my guests.

I look outside the window at the snow that covers the roofs and enjoy the last hours of freedom before monday morning and before going back to work.

The idea is not too frightening and I'm looking for a new year in your company.

My house starts 2010 with a schedule filled of works and renovations, triggered by some curios incidents ( more on that later)

Stay with me.

You will not regret it ^_^