A Quick Picture Before Tea …

I had a small window of opportunity between working and getting our tea ready this evening. I chose to fill that window with the picture below. I may add some pattern to some or even all of the colour blocks but that would be something not to be rushed and so will be saved for another day. I love how these Art Deco style pictures lend themselves to stained glass windows, their design is so simple and yet incredibly effective.

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The Tree of Life …

I had a lot of fun planning and creating this picture. I used the four seasons as inspiration and then looked at some ideas that are in my ‘zen doodle’ book. I’m really happy with the result and may well use the winter tree as an idea for a Christmas card:

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I’m looking forward to developing a few Christmas card ideas. I also plan to work on some more stained glass/Art Deco style images over the next few weeks.

Art Deco …

As I explore different media and different styles of artwork, I become increasingly amazed by the vast  amount of talent and inspiration that surrounds us. One style that I’m currently exploring is art deco, the style, the colours and the artists who both influenced it and who were influenced by it are fascinating. The picture I did today using watercolour, brush pens and ink was taken from a sketchbook of stained glass designs:

I love the idea of ‘weaving’ flowers in to her hair, especially as they appear to be tulips 🌷

 

Cheerful Chicken and a Tricky Trifle …

Yesterday, my parents and my parents-in-law came for our annual triple birthday lunch, both of my children and I have birthdays around September/October and we’ve got in to the habit of hosting a lunch to celebrate all three in one go. I decided to try a new bread recipe – Ficelles with Truffle Oil. These were incredibly easy and satisfying to make, first in my mixer with a dough hook, they then rise a phenomenal amount, they are then cut into strips and left for a second proving. The smell of the truffle oil was amazing, it filled the kitchen. Alongside the ficelles, I served one of my family’s favourites, Lemon Chicken with Herbed Rice. The combination of paprika and flour coated chicken, drizzled with a lemon, soy, olive oil and balsamic vinegar was a winner. To follow, we had a choice of Beetroot and Chocolate Cake and/or Trifle. It’s been a long time since I made a trifle and chose to make all the components from scratch. Vanilla cupcakes were used for the base layer, soaked in sherry, these were followed by raspberry jelly – I used frozen raspberries and leaf gelatine both of which worked a treat. Now for the ‘tricky’ part – the custard. I’ve made vanilla custard before and have never had an issue with curdling. Yesterday however, I did have such an issue. When my second batch curdled, I was convinced I’d have to resort to my tin of ‘Bird’s Custard Powder’ – I decided to look to Google to help me out and after sieving, blitzing, adding a tiny amount of cornflour (custard made without starch is particulally prone to curdling apparently) and gently re-heating, I had a custard that I could use on my trifle. As custards go, it wasn’t the most solid but the taste was definitely there. Our trifle was topped with lightly whipped cream and caramel-chocolate chunks. Everyone seemed to enjoy their food:

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My mum, who’s blog is here: www.leadupthegardenpath.com asked me yesterday about collaging photos, it reminded me that I can do this too, hence my photos of our food from yesterday. If you get the chance, take a look at her blog, she is after all where I get my sense of creativity from!

Trimming and then Trying a Tree …

I spent much of yesterday afternoon trimming our laurel shrub that was no longer a shrub, it was definitely more of a tree. The consequence of it having grown completely out of control was that a great deal of light was blocked from reaching our garden and our kitchen, I only realised how much light had not been getting through once I’d literally cut it down to size. My youngest helped me by pulling branches down as they were sawn off. I think we cut down more than half the height of the laurel and whilst I was worried that it would end up looking very bare, it has turned out to look ok. Once we had finished sawing and chopping, I spent half an hour trying out a simple tree design:

I think this would work well in a variety of colour combinations, hopefully, I’ll try some out this week.

Autumnal …

Now that my lovely husband and my equally lovely oldest son (he made me write the last bit) have equipped our shed/studio with light and heat I have been able to draw and doodle in to the evenings this week. Creating pictures with people as the subject has never been something that I’ve been very confident with however, when I saw this idea I really wanted to have a go myself. Autumn being very much upon us I decided to try some fairly autumnal colours and this is the result:

Spice Up Your Life …

It was time for another recipe from ‘The Incredible Spice Men‘ tonight and it was the turn of chicken. The recipe is called ‘Chicken Breast Made Sexy’ which doesn’t really tell you much about the dish, nor the heat generated by the spices. There were fresh chillies, dried chillies and chilli powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander (ground and fresh), garlic and ginger. Whilst it was very spicy indeed, it was also really tasty, the spices did not overpower the chicken which was in fact the perfect carrier for these amazing flavours:

My spice collection seems to be slowly but surely growing. On the left is a photo of the inside of my ‘spice cupboard’, the labels having made several years ago but the system still works nonetheless. Having seen the idea on the top right in a foodie magazine, I decided to try it myself and now have some of my most used spices in magnetic containers (from IKEA), stuck to my fridge. As these are not labelled in a random order, they are arranged alphabetically: chilli, coriander, cumin, garam masala, paprika and turmeric. The one type of spice container that I was lacking was a spice rack for those spices which I wanted to keep in their original containers, as luck would have it, my oldest son made just the thing in DT at school today. He’s done an amazing job, it looks fantastic, it does what it’s supposed to do and I absolutely LOVE the sheep!spicesAll I need to do now is fill up my cupboard behind the spices, a few oils, vinegars and sauces should do the trick.