A Very ‘Bristol’ Painting …

There’s not been much time for painting or photographing food this week so it’s just 1 photo today. I’ve been meaning to paint a new image of the Clifton Suspension Bridge for a while now and so I decided on one that would include a hot air balloon:

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A Newt, a Fish Pie and Magnolia in Bloom …

We found a (dead) newt in our back garden yesterday, I was amazed at the range of colours on his belly and so painted an image of him from underneath:

Here are some shots of him:

IMG_2835 IMG_2838My other painting this week was of a dragonfly, it was lovely to flick through a range of papers to complete the picture:

IMG_2827I have a small magnolia tree/plant in our front garden, I bought it several years ago and this is the first time there’s been more than 1 flower on it. The flowers really are beautiful but have never lasted very long so I took several photos of them, this is my favourite:

IMG_2820I’m really glad I did take photos of these lovely flowers as the next day a fiercely strong wind blew them all away!! Fortunately there are now some more buds ready to come into bloom.

Food-wise, we began the week with a fancy fish pie. I never knew that fish pie could indeed be fancy but fancy it was. I used the recipe in Katie Quinn Davies ‘What Katie Ate’ (probably my favourite cook book at the moment) and it was delicious:

We rounded the week off with a Victoria Sponge cake, decorated with whipped double cream, raspberries, melted white chocolate and a scattering of preserving sugar:

flare-iphoto-export-388232242It was fully appreciated by all:

IMG_2851Towards the end of the day yesterday, there was gorgeous sunlight, just hitting the top of the garden. I was sitting on a bench with my camera and was lucky enough to get the following shots:

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Sweet Peas, A Mellow Chilli and Other Yummy Things …

It seems to have rained for much of the time since we built our ‘shudio’, however, I did manage to get an hour or so out there this afternoon. I am attempting to grow some sweet peas, snapdragons, pansies and calendulas from seed. At the funeral of a close friend recently, every mourner was given a small envelope of seeds, I think it is a beautiful way for us to remember our friend – she was a real lover of flowers and all things green and growing. I’m really pleased that the seeds are actually growing as I’m not at all green fingered.

Here’s what my sweet peas will hopefully look like:

These are some of my sweet pea seedlings, I’ll be needing something longer than an old chopstick to support them very soon:

The tiny seedlings to the left in the photo above are my extremely slow growing chilli plants – I was given the seeds at Christmas and am determined to get these 3 survivors to the fruiting stage!

Below, you can see the tiniest Banoffee Pie in the world! They are delicious though and will be perfect on a cake stand with some other miniature desserts, perhaps as part of a celebration:

Patates Bravas is a new dish for me, I used the recipe from ‘What Katie Ate’ by Katie Quinn Davies although I did do a couple of things differently. I had to briefly shallow fry the parma ham as the grill on my oven no longer works (is this enough for me to justify buying a new oven?!) and I poached the eggs instead of frying them ¬†because I’m not a huge fan of fried eggs. The end result was really tasty, a perfect saturday night tea:

Below is a real family favourite – poached salmon. It was wrapped in a parcel with white wine, a small knob of butter, lemon, basil and seasoning. It was then cooked for about 10-12 minutes and was served with basmati rice and carrot crisps.

It’s now obvious to me that I need to catch up a bit – these Hot Cross Buns were made in time for Easter weekend! I think I’ve only made them once before but these were sooo much tastier, being baked as they were, from Paul Hollywood’s book ‘Bake’. He recommended brushing hot apricot jam over the top but I didn’t have any, I did however have some preserving sugar which I melted and brushed over the tops, I then somewhat overdid the ‘sprinkling’ of the sugar!!It has been good fun trying out new recipes recently, the one below being a case in point. My 12 year old loves macaroni cheese (as do I), my husband and 10 year old however, dislike it intensely. When I saw this recipe in ‘What Kate Ate’, I had to give it a go. We had some delicious chorizo in the fridge and this recipe used some of it superbly. This incredibly aromatic meat permeated the whole of the dish, giving it a distinctly warm and earthy taste, the cherry tomatoes kept the dish moist. I have made this recipe since, using bacon instead of chorizo and it too passed the ‘appeals to the whole family test’.Tonight we had Heston Blumenthal’s Chilli, I wanted to see if the extra ingredients (star anise, spiced butter,paprika,tomato ketchup (?!), cumin, half a bottle of red wine) would make a difference. Obviously, it being a Heston recipe, they did. This was an unbelievably mellow chilli, despite the fresh chilli and chilli powder that were included. It took 3 hours to cook but only the first 40 minutes or so required me to be at the stove. It’s definitely a chilli that we will be having again soon:To finish off this week, here’s the view from my new ‘shudio’, the evening before the rains came:I hope to be out here painting much more over the coming weeks, hopefully enjoying some warmer weather at the same time.

By the Light of the Moon …

Being able to paint in my very own ‘space’ is proving to be a real luxury. I love the fact that I can just nip up there to draw a little, to play with some colour schemes and obviously to paint. This painting today was started at the very beginning of the day, I was then able to nip in there for 10 minutes or so before going to work, once I had our tea bubbling away I returned to paint some more, finishing touches later this evening, could indeed have been added by the light of the moon, as the daylight rapidly disappeared:

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As I locked up for the evening, the solar powered lights came on:

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Shu, shu, shudio …

Apologies should be given for the title of this post, bearing in mind that I’ve never been a fan of Phil Collins nor his music. We’ve been having our Easter holiday for the past to weeks and this week we built our new shed/studio (hence the name ‘shudio’ as decreed by the boys). We were really lucky with the weather in that it didn’t rain on us, it has been mighty chilly though and we were all in hats, scarves and gloves earlier this week when we were putting the shudio together. It arrived on Tuesday afternoon, it was built on Wednesday, on Thursday I painted it (in the snow, in April?!) Today we added some finishing touches. I was also lucky enough to do a painting in there this afternoon, more of which in my next post.
Back to the shudio, it has a barn style roof and double doors opening out onto the garden, my half is the window side, so I get plenty of light for painting:

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There’s even a comfy spot for this fella:

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