Archive for April, 2011

Long weekend with not much to do… Mine has been like that this Easter.           Especially with this southerly and all the rain that has rolled in – Which makes leaving the house not so fun.

It got me in the mood for baking. Which not only indulges in my need to make something, but also heats the rest of downstairs that the fire doesn’t always get to right away.  After the success of my easter biscuits – They were gobbled up really fast. I thought I’d make another batch… But this time pinch an idea I saw a while back, that I have just never quite had the time to try out. Pantone biscuits!

The original idea comes from a blog by Kim Neill.  I originally read in an article link on Poppytalk

I used the same gingerbread and royal icing recipe I used for my easter biscuits, as its one I love – Though this time I added an extra tablespoon of ginger to give them an even stronger ginger kick.                                                                               The great thing about the shape of these biscuits is that they are really fast to cut out in a grid… The time consuming bit comes in the icing. I started by piping a divider line on the biscuits in white icing and then painted in the gap.  Then I mixed each colour individually, a tablespoon or so at a time before painting these on too. Once dry, I colour matched them with pantone swatches I got online – As I have finally given my loaned pantone flip book back. So the colours are approximate… But they still taste pretty damn good!                                                                        One of the reasons I hadn’t made these sooner was my lack of owning an edible food marker.  Well mixed food colouring works just as good w a small paintbrush I must say, though it gives them a bit more of a home made look – But this could also just be my scruffy southpaw writing!

This is the biscuit recipe I used.

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So I came across an old viewmaster slide upstairs today – I’m pretty sure the actual viewmasters we used to own, plus all the other reels were given away years ago… I guess I may have hoarded this one as it was my favourite.If you hold it up to the window the pictures are still bright and clear – Rainbow Brite has these lovely solid rainbow colours in between dark indigo and grey shades.

However photographing clearly has proven a we bit more difficult… The clear OHP type panels also show anything behind them so hold them up to the window – you get trees. Put it on the table – brown woodgrain. I held it up in front of a blank white photoshop page and it was really clear… Until I photographed it and the monitor flicker showed through.  Have resorted to white paper, but it doesn’t show the brightness of the true colours; I guess I should make a lightbox.                         Then there is the fact I didn’t bring my decent camera w me this visit so am stuck w iphone snaps – It just cant get all the close up detailing in focus, So I guess I’ll just have to wait till I’m back in Melbs… Unless anyone else has a way smarter and prob. way more obvious solution?

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Egg day treats

Today I felt like bakingSo I made these delicious gingerbread treatsJust in time for egg day

Here’s the recipe :

Gingerbread Eggs

2-2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 cup (220g) firmly packed Soft Brown Sugar
150g butter
1 egg, beaten

1Sift flour, baking soda and ginger together and place in a bowl or food processor. Add Soft Brown Sugar. Add butter and rub in with fingertips, or pulse in food processor until resembles fine breadcrumbs.

2Add egg and stir or pulse to mix. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour to the mix (the more flour you incorporate, the harder your biscuits will be.)            Wrap in gladwrap and refrigerate for half an hour.

3Preheat oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.                    Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface, or between two sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick. Using cookie cutters -or freeform like I did-  cut shapes and place on tray. Leftover dough can be re-rolled until all the dough is used up.

4Bake gingerbread men for 8-10 minutes or until cooked and golden. Remove from oven and cool on baking rack. When cool ice w piped Royal icing.

Royal Icing :

1 Egg white

1-1/2 cups sifted icing sugar – depending on how runny you want your icing.

Beat the egg whites and the sifted icing sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until combined and smooth.  The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. You can add a few drops of food colouring when mixing if you want colour, but I quite like it white. Thin piping sets really fast, but runnier or thick icing may take a couple of hours to really harden up.

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So I haven’t been able to do much painting, drawing or writing of late due to hurting my thumb. But I have been able to make chutney thanks to this wonderful kitchen gadget of my mums, which does all the ouchy chopping bit for me!I love love love chutney – This time I made an apple and smoked paprika one, with roasted fennel seeds. Its a really interesting flavour, and came out this gorgeous deep pinky red thanks to all that spice.  The fennel seeds smell amazing when you roast them, but you really don’t need very much as the flavour could be quite strong.Actually, I did do a tiny bit of writing for the sticky labels… Straight after lunch once the pain stuff I’ve been taking kicked in.Here’s the recipe if you’re interested :

Apple and Smoked paprika Chutney :

900 mls cider vinegar (I used a mix of malt, and white as it was all we had in the cupboard)

1 kg of peeled and cored apples (peeled and cored weight) – Actually, because I chopped these small in the blender I didn’t bother peeling them.

225 g onions, peeled and quartered

450 g sultanas, or currents

700 g soft brown sugar

1 1/2- 2 Tbsp Smoked paprika

2 tsp freshly roasted fennel seeds, ground

1 tsp sea salt

1Rinse and core apples, peel if you want. Then chop until fine in a food processor with 1/2 cup of cider vinegar and the onion.

2Add the remaining vinegar, and all the other ingredients to a large heavy bottomed stainless steel pot (make sure to use your largest pot, as the chutney will spit and is Uber hot!)  Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, until the apple is tender and has thickened. I found the longer I had it on the stove, the more intense the colour became.

3In the meantime, prep clean glass jars in the oven.

4Once the chutney is thick enough (to your liking – remember that it will thicken some on cooling), ladle hot sauce into hot, sterilized jars.

You should really leave it to sit for a couple of weeks as the flavour gets better with time, but I’m impatient and use it right away.                              I got seven decent sized jars from this recipe, though I didn’t really weigh my apples – I just used what I had collected.  It needs to be refrigerated once open. Otherwise will store in the cupboard for a good year or so.

Hmmm… looking at the collection of chutneys I’ve made and stored so far, I think I may need to give a few more away this time!

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10 things

I’m left handed.

Lately, I live in two countries. I am getting really sick of airports and customs.I am 28.

It really rarks me up when ‘little’, ‘young’ or ‘wee’ is added before my name.When I am not being a mother, I am an artist – I paint. It stops me being grumpy.

On Mondays, I’ve been learning Trapeze and Tissu at NICA – I do not want to be in the circus.I have a thing about kitchens… Cooking makes me happy.

I hate 80’s music.I don’t really like using the phone.

I’ve done something to one of the joints at the base of my thumb.                       I’m in the process of getting blood work and x-rays done.  I have to go see a specialist because my GP doesn’t know what is wrong. I have to rest it a lot.      Some days I have trouble holding a paint brush, a pen; picking up an a4 notebook. It hurts to use a knife to chop, or even just holding a cake fork when I’m out having coffee w friends.

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I was woken up this morning, like most mornings by my two year old barging into my room and pulling all the duvet off my side of the bed.                                         You sure do wake up quickly like this, especially while we are back here in Wgtn again – Where today is freezy cold and its pouring with rain outside.

Hmmmm, great way to start the day? I hear you thinking. Actually that part is next. Determining that yes, I am really awake; I get to be left in peace long enough for coffee and a brief browse through my email. First message in my inbox this morning ‘Congratulations. You have made a painting sale on felt…’ So this for me, is a great way for my rainy Monday to start.  Because right now, with the frustration I’ve been going through not being able to pick up a pen or a brush (I’ve done something to the thumb on my painting hand – And I have to rest it, which is hard) Its a really really good thing to know there is someone else out there that likes my work!

So next week, when I get back to Melbourne, This baby is gonna be all packaged up and jetted off to Canberra.  And hopefully by then I may be able to pick up a brush again!

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This is the newest orchid paining I’ve just completed while back in Wgtn – Well, It just needed its top line work…The rest of it I painted last week at our new apartment in Melbourne.  Was so close to being done though that I thought i’d bring it with me to finish off.

And here is an older one I found with the other couple of small orchid works from the previous post. It was only half done, so I’ve added some more detailing and top line work to complete it. Really happy with how its turned out, it’s a very small and delicate piece, only 15x19cm.

Actually, because it wasn’t finished with the others, I had forgotten I’d done it at all. So really is a bonus painting. Win!

Have just loaded these two up to my felt shop : www.mightymouse.felt.co.nz – Enjoy!

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So I was leafing through one of my many hoarded books on orchids that I left, much to my mothers dismay, at their place in Wgtn – Rather than doom them to sit in a storage unit for untold time, like all the other house-load of stuff that was left behind when we relocated to Melbourne “for a short 3 month contract” almost two years ago.                                                                                                             Anyways, halfway through the book a couple of paintings fall out – Ones I completed over a year ago, and have been hunting for every trip back to Wgtn *with no luck* since.

They’re just small pieces, done in my old style without a white border; But they’ve fully just upped my afternoon – Which was already going pretty fantastic, what with the sunshine and amazing coffee.                                                                     Finding things you thought were lost is just great!

Have just loaded these two up to my felt shop : www.mightymouse.felt.co.nz – Enjoy xoxo

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So one good thing about our new apartment, With its white walls that have no hooks, etc in them; Is that it is fantastic for random staged photographs.                  I had a go at playing round with this last week, as our photo contribution for a larger family project.   The photos all contained Black and White, as well as colour components.

Now that the weekend has been, and I won’t be ruining any surprises, I can put up a couple of the pics out of my set taken.

My photos were fully staged.  I got D to photograph me against one of the white walls upstairs, then I photoshopped in the cut out images I had painted onto lightweight paper and individually photographed.

I actually created these as test pieces to paste up on some of the brick walls close to the new apartment. I have a great love of street art, and how it evolves over time. I’m interested in watching how long a paper pasteup will last out in the weather, and how it will deteriorate.  I love the idea of creating ephemeral work, and the traces it might leave behind.

I really love how these turned out with the mix of greyscale and bright colour.  They print up really beautifully on canvas too.

Cant wait to go paste up the actual paper images when I get back to Melbourne in a week or so – So stay tuned!


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Cartoon cutouts

I spent last weekend making cardboard props for a staged photo.

I love working with cardboard cut outs… I’ve always suspected you could make the most awesome character for a costume party just outa an old box and a bit of paint.

…Half cartoon, half real. Total awesomeness – I’m so doing this rather than hiring something next time I get invited anywhere I need to dress up!

Hmmmm, I wonder what I should make next?

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