Saturday, 14 April 2018

Beetroot Chocolate Cake


Today I completed a food-related goal from The List:
075. Make something delicious using something I usually hate the taste of
I opted for making beetroot chocolate cake, as I'd planned all along.

Now let me tell you, ordinarily, I can't stand beetroot.

I hate the smell of it, cannot bear the taste of it, and honestly the only thing it's got going for it is the colour. But you can't eat colour.

You can, however, eat cake.


I used this chocolate beetroot cake recipe from Allrecipes.co.uk, though I didn't bother with the vanilla essence, and swapped out the plain flour/bicarbonate of soda for self raising flour...and completely forgot about the salt. Oh well.


My cookery skills are pretty chaotic and messy, and I didn't have a tin the right size so I ended up making a big cake and six cupcakes. The big cake took forever to cook through--about 25 mins longer than the recipe said! I think I put too much mix in the tin...


After letting the cakes cool, I covered them in chocolate ganache. I didn't realise how simple it was to make! The most complicated parts are chopping up the chocolate and making sure the cream doesn't boil.


Covered the cupcakes in little decorations just to use them up. I had way too much ganache left so ended up making two little desserts in ramekin dishes, with the leftover ganache on top of broken up digestive biscuits, which Dad and I ate for pudding, with the leftover double cream!

As for the beetroot cake itself, I've only eaten one of the cupcakes so far, but enjoyed it! The cake tasted extremely chocolatey, and I couldn't taste any beetroot at all :)

So mission accomplished, but it was so chocolately I don't think I'll need chocolate for another month!

Monday, 9 April 2018

A Complete Pair

Things That Hurt When You Tread on Them

At the start of the year, I tentatively declared my photography project, A Strange Pair, finished. There was still one more photo I wanted to take for it, but I'd been unable to get my hands on one of the objects I wanted for it, and had reached my goal of 21 photos.

So I called it finished and forgot about it.

Sometimes forgetting about things is all you need for serendipity to throw what you want into your path, because whilst volunteering the other day, I came across a little Lego kit.
It had one brick of the size I wanted.
And it was the colour I wanted, too.

So at long last, I was able to take the stupid photo: Things That Hurt When You Tread on Them.

This project is finally complete! 

There are now 22 photos altogether, each one featuring two objects paired for unconventional reasons. This is based on information I found in a book on psychology, relating to the way a group of schizophrenics categorised objects (see my post Stop! for more information).
I found this utterly fascinating, so explored the idea of unconventional categories through this project. Thinking outside of the box for pairs/categorisations was as challenging as finding that damn Lego block...

And now it's done!
This counts towards goal 12: Complete 3 photography projects, along with my still in-progress project, State of Mind.
One down, one and a half to go!

See all photos taken for A Strange Pair here.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

5 Anime Sonnets (and Two Random Others)


It's the end of the month, and with it I bring my final seven sonnets for a goal on The List:
027. Write 1 sonnet per day for 1 month
Honestly it's a relief to finish these. Sonnet-writing is not as fun as I seem to remember. Nor as easy.
Originally I'd planned to do something fun for this last week and write sonnets about anime, but the first and last ones here...aren't. But they're still kind of light-hearted and silly...

Daylight Savings Messes Up My Body Clock (And My Brain)

Alas, I planned to write of anime,
Of characters fictional and adored,
Yet as I sat down to my great dismay,
My brain did refuse and my thoughts all snored.
Tis folly to write with a mind like this,
With a head so clouded by cotton wool,
All quick-witted phrases have gone amiss--
My mind is no longer a sharpened tool.
Yet this foolish errand I shall not yield,
For on the morrow I will try again,
In hope that my thoughts do fly far afield,
To write wittily with digital pen.
Today there is something to place the blame:
Daylight Savings is its infernal name.

(This happens every damn year, and it always takes a good week for me to get used to everything being an hour different...)
 

An Egg By Any Other Name Could Not Be Beat

Do you see the great unbeatable Egg?
Wrapped up in his spandex suit of yellow,
Red gloves and boots on each strong fist and leg,
With his white cape he's a superb fellow!
See at his side the serious Toaster,
Young, that cyborg disciple of metal,
Admired is he: a boy of the poster,
His verbosity does the Egg nettle.
Yet together this duo save the earth,
(Albeit the Toaster often gets wreck'd)
Such heroes as these are of immense worth,
As monsters defeated, the sales are check'd.
For the best bargains are found before lunch,
So the Egg beats the monster with one punch.

(A sonnet about One Punch Man, because it's ridiculous and I love it)

Saturday, 24 March 2018

24 Hours and the Sky: 8 Sonnets


Here I am again with more sonnets! This set of 8 is based around the sky and times of day.

Sun

A warm soul is he of many faces
Limpid and pale on a chill winter's morn
Yet when the spring comes how fast he races
To summon the daffodils from the lawn
And summer's image is so hot and bright
His broad beam inviting a sleepy trance
How golden he turns in the autumn light
As leaves of all colours take up their dance
But oft does he hide in a shroud of grey
Dull in his journey from dawn until dusk
Sometimes he burns those who walk at midday
Sparing no saint nor thief nor soul at busk
This giver of life fickle in his ways
Is predictable in his yearly phase


Moon

Ancient yet youthful is her form so pale,
Sometime rotund and sometime slight as fae,
As thru' the night's velvet skies doth she sail,
To aid the trav'ller who has lost his way.
On winter nights she wears rings of all shades,
A halo remains in spring's coolest air,
In summer she late arrives in the glades,
And autumn's harvest sees her smile so rare.
Yet some nights she shyly hides behind clouds,
Or turns her dark back to the weary soul,
And lamplight must govern the nightly crowds,
For darkness is friend only to the mole.
Again thru' the sky this pale lady rides,
This lighter of ways, mistress of the tides.



Stars

At moonrise in countless number you'll see
Kings and Queens of such marvellous brightness
Fine jewels in each patch of night velvety
Distant monarchs each with their own lightness
How far they are from our homeland humble
Yet strong enough that we know each by name
And even should one form take a tumble
We know its path: can calculate its aim
Tho' with each sunrise these royals do fade
Obscured behind the daytime's lightened skies
After the sun has made his grand parade
They reappear to soothe our weary eyes
Eternal bodies so noble and bright
Those Lords and Ladies of infinite night

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Hands Over


At long last, I have finished my hand-drawing goal:
01. Fill a sketchbook with artwork/studies of only one subject
I chose 'hands' as my subject because I have always struggled to draw them, and after struggling some more back in 2015 when I started on this goal, I gave up, only dipping into it every so often to scribble down a hand sketched from a reference on google images.


Then at some point towards the end of last year/beginning of this year, I began making more of an effort again. For a while I drew a lot from the timed exercises on Line of Action (which you can see in previous posts) which really kickstarted my drawing again!


But I soon began drawing from my own references, too (as in this post) and filled my camera roll up with hand photos I'd snapped on my phone!


I attempted drawing without a reference, but that turned into drawing with a reference (of my own hand) because it started going badly very quickly!


In fact, some days my attempts still go pretty badly!

As for whether I've improved, here are the first and last sketches from the book:

First Hand

Last Hand

I have definitely improved!

After starting this goal so long ago, it's a relief to finally get it finished! In the process of drawing, I've found that pastel pencils make really light work of shading (but are a pain in the butt when they break). I've also found that my favourite pencil to draw with is a 6B watersoluble graphite pencil, like these ones by Derwent (and no, they aren't paying me to say that). It's easy to achieve a variation of shades, and being able to shade larger areas with the side of the pencil gives me more control than if I was using a traditional pencil. So I'm kind of glad I've got two of them!

Over the course of this goal, I have drawn over 150 hands! I haven't posted all of them online. Some are just little doodles from trying to draw cartoonish hands, where I didn't really put any effort into drawing, so I didn't post them. But everything else is are here on this blog.

You can see all the sketches I posted by going to my Goal 01 Tag.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Seasons and Sweet Things

Continuing on from last week's post about my month-long sonnet-writing challenge, here are the next eight!

Too Tired to Think of a Topic
Oft are there times in life when effort fails,
When the siren song of sleep is too great
And still falls the wind from the mind's white sails.
Whether the hour be early or too late,
Hard is the journey when the currents freeze,
And thought's great ship is trapped on oceans grey
As all on board await the wakeful breeze--
Yet drowsily long for the end of day.
But some may resist the lure of pillows
From time to time when oceans rise and fall,
And in fresh gusts of wind the sail billows,
And thoughts fly free amidst the seabird's call.
When sails fall and this vessel longs to sleep,
The answer is to concentrate, breathe deep.

(Because I was too tired to think of a topic)


Spring
Gentle her footsteps that herald warm light,
And quiet the sighs that rustle fresh leaves,
And tho' in her wake bloom flowers so bright,
That breath can turn cold and howl 'round the eaves.
For sometimes through meadows sweet she will rage,
And force newborn lives to shudder and hide,
Heavy her tears soak the travelling sage,
And spoils fragile blooms at winter's graveside.
Though often is her temperament harsh,
With her kind light are warmer days proclaimed,
For new life grows upon the cruellest marsh,
Under the care of that nature untamed.
So when the wind howls and rain blots the sky,
Know it is she who makes blooms multiply.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

A Dress for Every Season

After beavering away with my sketchbook, I've finally completed the last four pieces for my outfit/costume design goal!
053. Design 50 outfits/costumes
Having four left to design, I chose the seasons as my theme...

Spring Flower (47/50)

+ Dress: Spring green pencil dress with clear vinyl  3/4 circle overskirt embellished with fabric daisies.
+ Jacket: Cropped short sleeve clear vinyl with fabric daisy embellishments.
+ Belt: Broad white elastic with daisy buckle.
+ Shoes: White canvas wedges with daisy embellished rubber mesh in side-panel and daisy design embossed on wedge.




Summer Days (48/50)

+ Top: Cropped red flouncy top with butterfly sleeves and embroidered trim (yellow suns and red edging on gold leather).
+ Skort: Flouncy red shorts/culottes with gold leather overskirt and waistband (embroidered as on top). Side zip.
+ Sandals: Knee-high flat 'gladiator' style in gold leather with yellow embroidered sun at knee.




Autumn Leaves (49/50)

+ Hat: Green slouchy knit with spikes (like on conker shell)
+ Shirt: Green fine knit with high neck and frill sleeves
+ Cuffs: Green moulded leather, like conker shells
+ Dress: High-low hem, sleeveless, made of red/orange/yellow fabric leaves on orange tulle
+ Trousers: Green moulded leather, as on cuffs.
+ Coat: Red/orange/yellow tartan wool with blanket fringe, longer at back. Green leather shoulder/elbow patches/buckles (as on trousers).
+ Boots: Green leather (as before) platform wedges with leaf cutout in wedge.


Winter Nights (50/50)

+ Hat: White faux fur embellished with blue tulle yoyo, silver sequin star and clear plastic 'icicles'.
+ Coat: Floor length white velvet with high collar and 'icicle' spile detail on shoulder, silver star buttons.
+ Dress: Ankle-length ice blue tulle with silver sequin star embellishments. Rolled collar and front button fastening.
+ Corset: Silver leather with silver sequin stars.
+ Shorts: Silver leather, zip at back.
+ Shoes: White velvet courts with clear 'ice' platform and 'icicle' heel; faux fur trim around foot and sequin star motifs on toe/heel/side.


So that's the last of my fifty designs!
I think the spring one is probably the most 'fashion' of them all, though all four of these have more of a fashion feel than the majority of my designs--probably because the majority were costume designs rather than fashion.

I'm not sure if I would make any of these designs completely, though there are aspects of a lot of them that I'd like to create! Starting right at the beginning with my 'Garden Punk' design, I seem to have come full circle back to a nature theme with my more recent succulent inspired designs, and the nature themes in these seasons designs. I don't know if that says I'm repetitive, or that nature is everywhere, and a great source of inspiration!

Either way, my designing is Done.

Now I can cross the goal off the list. Hurrah!

You can see all my designs for this goal on my Goal 53 Tag. Which would you choose to make?


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Blessed Bling: Three Dresses

Another goal that I have nearly finished now is goal 53: design 50 outfits/costumes. I posted some plant-inspired designs the other day, and here are three more.

This time I took inspiration from religious reliquaries. These jewel-bedecked reliquaries and remains are utterly fascinating, and the colours and decoration make them a great source of inspiration, if a little morbid! (Check out my Morbid Curiosities board on Pinterest to see what I mean!)

Relinquished Reliquary (44/50)

+ Dress: Long-sleeved, high-necked fishtail dress of deep red velvet and gold lace. Strapless red velvet bodice/top of skirt, shoulders/high neck/sleeves and bottom 2/3 of skirt from gold lace. 1" woven gold trim on velvet.
+ Necklace: Large cut glass gems (blue, purple and red) on gold filigree
+ Belt: Moulded gold leather with glass gems as before.
+ Boots: Open toe slingbacks of moulded gold leather with gems as before.


Hallowed Heart (45/50)

+ Dress: Blue velvet bodice and skirt with powdery blue-grey silk puff sleeves and underskirt. Gold trim on waistband and around red and purple glass gem & filigree-encrusted heart on front. Skirt decorated with red and purple gems on gold diamond-shaped filigree.
+ Necklace: Chunky filigree and red/purple glass gems
+ Sleeves: Filigree and glass, covering back of hand
+Boots: Blue velvet thigh-high open toe boots with heart detail on foot and heel, red/purple gems on gold filigree on leg.


Cherished Chalice (46/50)

+ Dress: Deep purple velvet mermaid dress with lavender-grey long hem and high-necked 'undershirt'. Gold woven trim and straps encrusted with emerald green and ruby red glass gems.
+ Bangles: Gold metal with green and red gems.
+ Necklace: Choker of green and red gems on filigree.
+ Shoes: Open toe purple velvet sho with gold trim/heel/sole and red and green gems.



Despite what a pain in the butt it was to colour all the detail on these, I'm really pleased with how these ones turned out. Had I the money (or the skill, or the motivation) I would make these and probably actually wear them (even if it was only to the shops...!)


Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Hands Together


I am still (yes, still) working on the very first goal of The List: to fill a sketchbook with studies/artwork of one subject.
This ended up being a study of hands, and I am just fifteen pages away from filling the sketchbook!

In the meantime, I'm still drawing from references...


Most of these have been photo references, and I have had a few 'bad' days of drawing, where it all went to hell pretty quickly (eraser? What's that?)


To challenge myself, I also tried drawing 'from life'--using my own hand to draw from (except I was holding a stubby pencil rather than a cigarette! That picture was drawn after failing at drawing a character with a cigarette, and wanting to practice).

It's starting to get a little easier to draw hands, though given a blank sheet of paper and no reference it would probably still look a mess! But I'm definitely getting better!

Monday, 12 March 2018

Succulent Gals or Spiky Ladies?

After designing costumes for characters from Folk Tales of the Sea People as part of goal 53 (Design 50 outfits/costumes), I set my sights on designing outfits based on other subjects.

As I looked around my room for ideas, my gaze alighted on the sunniest corner, inhabited by a small family of succulents, and over the following days, these designs happened.

As usual, you can click to view them larger :)

Aloe Girl (37/50)
Inspiration: Aloe

+ Dress: Green halterneck with velvet bodice and skirt/collar formed of lightly padded matte vinyl 'leaves'.
+ Sandals: Light brown flat sandals lacing up to the knee.






Spiky Soft (38/50)
Inspiration: Cactus of unknown type

+ Dress: Green bardot/halterneck hybrid. Jersey bodice with long spikes on straps. Balloon-like skirt of moulded fleece (like bumps on cactus) to just above knee.
+ Boots: Green rubber thigh high heels.