Pretty as a Peacock …

It’s taken me a few days to decide how best to paint this stunning bird. At first I was going to see if I could somehow incorporate spring blossom into its tail, then I was going to try to attempt to turn the tail into some kind of landscape. In the end, simplicity won and I’m really pleased with how the colours have mixed with each other on the paper:

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A Feathered Friend …

This is my first attempt at blogging via my iPad so please accept apologies in advance if it all goes wrong!
It being the start of our 2 week Easter holiday, I had time to paint this morning and I chose a recent visitor to our garden, as the subject. We have been lucky enough to have a pair of Blackcaps visiting us recently, gorging themselves on the fat filled bird feeders in our garden. Whilst not the most colourful of birds, I think them all the more handsome in their sepia toned plumage:

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I’m quite pleased with the result as I don’t normally attempt ‘realistic’ paintings, fearing that I’ll not be very good at them. I guess that, like most things, with practice I’ll improve.

Food for a Birthday Celebration …

It was my husband’s birthday during the week and we had a celebratory meal with our boys and our parents yesterday. It was a real luxury to have the day to prepare so I really made the most of it.

Our main course was a delicious chicken and herbed rice dish, served with raw green chilli as an optional extra. To follow we had a choice of three cakes. First off were the lemon slices, these were a very simple tray bake that had been sliced and then drizzled with a lemon icing.

Next, there was a Fruit Loaf, the recipe being from Paul Hollywood and was a real success. The fruits kept it moist and the lemon icing gave sweetness.

Fruit Loaf

It was no bad thing that both the Lemon Slices and the Fruit Loaf weren’t too sweet as our Rocky Road Cupcakes more than balanced them out:

Rocky Road CupcakeUnderneath was a Chocolate Cupcake, on top was a frosting that was a combination of melted marshmallow, cream, butter and icing sugar. The ‘Rocky Road’ was melted chocolate which had a variety of sweet things sprinkled and dribbled over it. Whilst these cupcakes required more time and effort than normal, they were definitely worth it!

Gorgeous Gerbera …

This is one of my favourite flowers and when I saw this stunning example being sold as a plant, I couldn’t resist. The main colour of the petals is made all the more beautiful by the vibrant edging:

As I’ve been catching up with editing photos this morning, I decided to have a bit of fun:

 

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.Which is  your favourite? I really like the depth of colour in No. 4 as well as the ethereal nature of No.5.

Flowers, Sheds and New Recipes …

This could possibly be the worlds most romantic gesture and I don’t think I’m exaggerating! Not only is my husband investing in a brand new shed (we thought our current one was going to collapse soon after we moved in here 12 years ago, we then thought it would collapse when we rotated it 90º a few years ago but it still held strong) but he has offered me a 50-50 share in it. He has spent much of the weekend clearing and sorting through our current shed, he has 3 weeks till the new one arrives and there’s lots to sort through. The plan is that I’ll be able to paint in there when it’s warm enough (might have to invest in a small heater …) instead of having to clear all my painting gear away from the table whenever we want to eat. Needless to say, I’ve had LOTS of ideas regarding the decor, something along the lines of my painting today springs to mind:

ShedWhether I manage to sneak in some bunting, fairy lights and flowers remains to be seen…

Last weekend, I bought a few new plants for the garden, there was such a lovely display of hellebores at the garden centre that I ended up buying three of them. I’ve not managed to take photos of them in colour that really do them justice, so I resorted to black and white, this is my favourite:

Despite forecasts of snow, there is definitely a sense of spring in the garden: For some reason (I am really not sure why, maybe just because I could) I threaded shells onto some string this week and hung them in the garden. We’ve collected hundreds of them over the years, each time we go to our favourite beaches in North Devon, we collect a few more. Anyway, at least they are seen displayed like this instead of being hidden away: I love the simplicity of these flowers:Food wise, we’ve tried out some new recipes this weekend. Yesterday, I made us a ‘Heston’ inspired dinner. We had home made pasta served with his take on a Carbonara Sauce. It was really tasty and as I had help with the pasta machine (from my youngest), it was really straightforward to make:
As the carbonara sauce required 6 egg yolks, I literally had no other option than to try Heston’s meringue recipe! The sugar in his recipe is half caster and half icing. The result was an incredibly smooth meringue mixture. I did then add some vanilla extract which wasn’t in Heston’s recipe but I do like it in meringues. We then added a spot of cream, raspberries, maltesers and really small marshmallows: 

 

Today, we had Pulled Pork served with a Spicy Sauce, Red Cabbage Slaw and Real Ale Bread Rolls (another Paul Hollywood recipe):

It was a delicious combination, we will be having the leftovers for our lunches over the coming days, it was a great way to use a slow roasted joint of pork.