Bread baking challenge week four – cinnamon rolls

Recipe readingThis week marks the halfway point for my little bread baking challenge. It also marks the sweet rolls chapter ummmm… This was probably my favourite chapter to illustrate in the book because I got to draw cinnamon rolls, sticky buns & cinnamon raisin swirl bread. I definitely want to try and make all three of these recipes (& more!) but I’m sticking to my one bread from each chapter for now. US of Bread sweet rollsCinnamon rollsBelow is the chapter opener. I could imagine this page as a scratch & sniff… imagine the aromas of zesty orange, sweet vanilla, creamy chocolate and spicy cinnamon…Sweet Rolls US of BreadI was really excited about making the cinnamon rolls. There’s a little local cafe near us called cinnamon square where I’ve visited a handful of times, they do delicious (and huge!) cinnamon rolls.
Making glazeThe cinnamon rolls were probably the simplest bread I’ve made from the book so far. I made them on a Saturday morning and they were ready later in the afternoon.Baked cinnamon rolls

cooked cinnamon rollsThe only thing I would’ve have done differently is probably sifted the icing sugar for the glaze as it was a tiny bit lumpy, it didn’t affect the taste though. The orange zest was amazing in the glaze.
Galzed cinnamon rollsChristophe & I decided to taste test (but of course!) one each and I left a few aside for mum, dad and Avie, the rest I’ve frozen in pairs so we can defrost them when we want a sweet treat. I love that cinnamon rolls are a very indulgent sweet treat for the odd occasion and not a regular dessert.
Sticky bunsHere are the illustrations for the sticky buns and the cinnamon raisin swirl bread. I can’t wait to try these!Cinnamon raisin swirl breadNext up is the ‘Quickbreads,’ chapter. I haven’t decided 100% what I’m going to make from this one as there are a few tempting choices. I’m sure you’ll find out next week :)

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A day in London for Christophe’s birthday

Carrot Cake from hummingbird bakery bookLast Thursday it was Christophe’s 28th birthday. I made him a carrot cake from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.  I made it on the Wednesday in between doing some work and sending emails on my laptop in the kitchen. Turns out flour and laptops aren’t the best combo so my laptop ended up covered in flour, oops! It was worth it though.Somerset HouseOn the Thursday we headed to London for a day out. We ended up doing so much! Our first stop was The Courthald Gallery to see ‘The Radical Nude,’ by Egon Schiele. Egon Schiele is literally the king of line in my opinion and his work is so inspiring. I think we both wished there was a little more to see. The artwork of course was amazing though so I think it was worth it. Whilst we were at Somerset House we visited the AOI Illustration awards. I saw some of my fellow ‘Artworks’ artworks. Laurindo Feliciano’s pieces were gorgeous and it was cool to see the art in it’s editorial form and blown up on huge scale too. Andrew Davidson’s original artwork for Harry Potter was truly beautiful. I also saw my old tutor Geoff Grandfield’s book covers for The Folio Society, I want to buy the set just to have them on display.Courthald GalleryAfter seeing the exhibitions we went to Tower Hill to see the poppies at the Tower of London. They were really something, if you’re near the area I would highly recommend a visit.Tower of London

Tower of London poppiesAfter going for some drinks and having a bite to eat our last stop was the Apollo Victoria to see Wicked. A bit of a strange choice of show for us, it wasn’t really my cup of tea but the set was lovely and it was an interesting story. WickedChristophe & IHappy birthday my lovely Christophe! :)

xx

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A few studio pics & dream-list of personal illustration projects

DoodlesI’ve been working on some lovely commissions lately including a new book cover for German publishers Rowohlt and a fun piece for Boots Health & Beauty magazine. I can’t share anything final yet but there’s a few sneak peeks in this post. Elsie in the studioI’ve also been thinking a lot about new work and things I would like to create and work on. For a couple of years I’ve been working on a little dream-list in my mind of all the things I want to do and new avenues to take my illustrations. So far my list is just getting longer and I haven’t set aside the time to work on it and actually get anything done because there’s been no sense of urgency or deadline so it’s just kinda oh yeah I’d love to do that but never actually getting round to doing any of it. Working on..After working on my little 8 loaves bread challenge I realised that if I set myself a task to do with a deadline in my mind, I’m much more productive. (Probably why I enjoy working as an illustrator…) I thought I’d finally get round to working on my dream-list of self initiated illustration projects and give myself a time-scale to complete it in. I’ve chosen three to complete (and two of them go hand in hand) and my deadline is by the end of this year. They’re all things I’ve been meaning to do for ages so now it’s time to get them done! I’ll be working on these projects in my spare time alongside finishing up a book project and working on any other commissioned work I might get.

1. Work on a large scale illustration drawn directly onto furniture

I love working on more unusual illustration briefs (like the egg for The Lindt Big Egg Hunt & the giant sketchbook for Make Believe) so I thought this time I’d set myself one. We have a kitchen table that I half painted and abandoned – we now always cover it with a tablecloth. I would like to dew directly onto it. I’ve chosen a theme of ’10 years,’ to celebrate mine & Christophe’s 10 year anniversary that was in June this year. The table will be covered in illustrations that mean something to us or represent things or moments that we’ve experienced together in the 10 years we’ve been together. I need to completely sand down the table and re-paint it white and I’d like to draw onto it with black fine line pens & markers. I’m hoping to work on a stop motion video of the illustration from start to finish with a friend of mine.Circus elephants

2. Create an illustrated fabric…

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. When I first thought about it I wanted to create fabric to be used to reupholster furniture. I would still like to do this one day but for now I think making little steps in the right direction is a good start. The above drawing is my starting point for the design and my aim is to create a circus themed pattern that will be digitally printed onto fabric.

3. ….to make into a dress (with the help of my mum – who used to be a dressmaker)

I’m a dress girl all the way so with my circus fabric I’d love to design and make a dress with the help of my talented mum. I love T dresses with empire lines so this is what I’d love to create with my circus fabric.

I’m also hoping that writing down my goals will help me to achieve them, it feels a bit more definite when it’s written in black and white. I’ll be sharing progress photo’s and sneak peeks as I go and hopefully the final products by the end of the year too!

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Healthy & happy – Beetroot & mint houmous recipe

Beetroot houmous livelovedraw.comToday is the first post from Healthy & happy eating with B and we’re bringing you a yummy recipe for beetroot & mint houmous.You will need To make this recipe you will need:-

  • 200g cooked beetroot
  • 400g tin chickpeas
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1 small lemon zest & juice
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Beetroot & mint houmousInstructions: Drain the juice from the tin of chickpeas and the juice from the beetroot (if using vacuum pack.) Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor a hand held one works great!Brooke eating houmousServe in a bowl topped with sunflower and pumpkin seeds for some crunch and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Eat with colourful veggies, crackers or simply add to your favourite salads.Eating houmousEating beetroot houmousIt’s a great snack for watching movies and having people round as you can all dig in.Me & Brooke making houmousWhilst we were working on this recipe Brooke reminded me I use to have hair the colour of beetroot! See below for evidence… It also resembles a mushroom ;) This photo was taken 12 years ago and it just goes to show, some things never change. We both still love food!! …Although hopefully I don’t chew with my mouth open anymore!Brooke and IHope you liked our first simple recipe. I’m not the biggest fan of beetroot but I love houmous and this recipe was a really nice alternative to classic houmous and it tastes awesome with a green salad. It’s a good way to sneak some beetroot into your meals if (like me) you don’t normally eat it. One of your 5-a-day Beetroot contains potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B6 and C, folic acid, carbohydrates, protein,antioxidants and soluble fibre. A pretty convincing reason to try this recipe, no?

xx

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Bread baking challenge week three – bagels

BagelsThese last few weekends have been spent working on my bread baking challenge and last Saturday was no exception! The third chapter in the book is centred around ‘rolls’ and I chose to make bagels. My lovely friend Toobie came over and we baked (and ate) them together. Up until this challenge I hadn’t really done much baking, just the odd cake here and there but I’m really starting to love it. I love baking with someone it’s such a fun thing to do on a dreary day and it’s nice to share the rewards with someone else.Toobie kneadingI must admit I felt a bit intimidated initially after reading through the recipe and the process of making the bagels but once we’d started we discovered it was simpler than anticipated. Something I love about ‘United States of Bread’ is the thorough instructions.  Bagel-bakingThe bagel forming part was really fun! Our major flaw (and I probably shouldn’t be telling you this…) is during the time we were letting the dough rise we went and sat down to have a coffee and a catch up and give Elsie a cuddle. Oops, big mistake. When we went bake to our bagel baking after washing our hands we kept finding little hairs only to realise we hadn’t brushed down our clothes and boy, that dog can moult! This week I learnt: don’t play with pets in between baking.
Making bagelsMaking bagels has probably been the funnest bread to make so far as the step by step making was really satisfying. I loved boiling the bagels in honey and water (they felt like real bagels after this!) and then Toobie sprinkled them with poppy seeds. We had a great production line going on!
Poppy seeds & bagelsHere’s the illustration of the chapter opener from the book…Us of Bread Rolls chapter…A photo of us about to devour the still slightly warm bagels. Ummm yum. Me & Toob bakingAnd of course one more (if a lightly blurry) photo of our finished products. Bagels from roll chapterOh so fun! And talking of fun I literally can’t wait for this weeks bread. It’s from chapter four – sweet rolls and breads. Cinnamon Rolls! If these turn out well I think the biggest challenge will be to not eat them all. I’ll be upping the exercise just in case :) Pop back if you’d like to see my attempt!

Thanks for reading and happy weekend to you!

xx

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Diary of illustrating a cookbook – part four with unused sketches

Illustrating a cookbookIt’s been awhile since I wrote an entry in this series and this is the final one! Even though the title is part four I’m probably not quite there in terms of this project – there’s still a little bit more to work on but we’re definitely getting there! When I look back on my first entry the project has altered a bit from the list of illustrations I initially had. There’s been a few more added and my deadline has also been extended as final artwork was due to be complete in October and we’re now looking at December. This seems to be quite common (in my experience, so far) of working in publishing. There seems to be more flexibility with time which I would speculate is because of the line of communication and feedback needed from designers, editors, publishers and the author of course! On this particular project it’s also because the book is rather large (over 300 pages & lots of illustrations!)Nutella pull apart bread

An exciting email came through a few Fridays ago with some feedback on the interior illustrations I’ve been working on and a mock up PDF of the entire interior of the book. It’s so rewarding to see the process of how the book comes together in its more final stages. I love seeing how Ashley, the designer has laid out the pages and the colours, borders, fonts etc that have been chosen. I must say the colours for this book are beautiful and I can’t to see the finished book in all it’s glory!Popsicles

Once I’d seen the illustrations laid out there were a few things that I wanted to change alongside a few amendments from Ashley and the author. (Another good reason to see the interior at this stage.) Given the team effort I’m hoping the illustrations will look their very best! I’ve just finished drawing 14 new illustrations, the layout has to be approved by the editorial team and then colour, colour, colour! I’m quite excited about the colour element (can you tell?) I love how colour has the power to bring the illustrations to life!Smores

Within this post are a couple of the illustrations that aren’t being used in the end. I decided to add some colour to them and share them here, hope you like them!

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Healthy & happy eating with B

BrookeGood morning! Today I’m so pleased to share a new series I’m working on with my friend Brooke Lightley. In between my bread baking challenge I’ve still been on my quest to get healthy by making changes to my diet and increasing my exercise. I’m working with my friend Brooke on a series of posts focused on healthy eating. Brooke is a professional chef and has been working in the food industry for 10 years. We’ve decided to combine our joint love of food and new passion for healthy living and team together. Over the upcoming months Brooke will be sharing her foodie knowledge and chef skills with me in the kitchen. Together we will be cooking clean-living inspired dishes and sharing a recipe each week from our creative adventures here on the blog. We’ll be cooking simple, quick and easy recipes that fit in with busy lifestyles. Below are some of Brooke’s previous (beautiful) dishes and a little story about her adventures with food.Brooke's foodLindsey and I are old school friends, so it’s great to be doing this project about things we love and are passionate about! My earliest memories of food would have to be of my grandma, visiting her home in Wales. An old Granny teapot on her kitchen top filled with homemade lemon and ginger squash, date and walnut loaf, Christmas cakes in august! Proper spagetti Bolognese not like I’d seen from a jar. Seeing the happiness her food brought to people!Brooke researching recipes

I finished school and went straight to catering college where I completed my NVQ level 1, 2 & 3. College was good fun but I needed a chef job as my tutor had said to me “are you still working at the knicker shop? you need to get a job in the kitchen otherwise you’ll never know if you wanna be a real chef.” So I got a job in a pub and soon realized that microwaving was not cooking, I changed jobs and starting working with fresh produce, working at the Rose & crown with two talented young chefs. I worked my way up the ranks of kitchens and am now currently Sous chef at The Old Orchard.Brooke in the kitchen

Over the years, being surrounded by such lovely food has crept up on my waistline, and with the Daunting age of 30 approaching and never worn a size 12 , it’s about time I did. In March this year I joined an exercise class and re-educated myself and began building a healthier relationship with food. Since then exercise has become routine, bad habits with food have gone and I’ve never been happier! I’m nearer to that size 12 than I’ve ever been. Brooke-writing

I’m really looking forward to getting Lindsey in the kitchen and doing some cooking and creating some wonderful dishes. It’s also a great opportunity for me to work with Lindsey as I hope to start my own blog in the near future. 

I hope you enjoy these posts, I can’t wait to learn new things from Brooke and get cooking some fresh and healthy meals. Our first food post will be coming soon so keep your eyes out!

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Bread baking challenge week two – Sourdough

Us of Bread Sourdough chapterToday I’m back with my second bread attempt from Adrienne Kane’s United States of Bread book and a few new illustrations from the Sourdough bread chapter (above is the chapter opener.) The biggest thing I’ve learnt this week is the patience(!) involved in baking bread.Sourdough starterLast Saturday (when Avie & I baked challah) I also began my first sourdough starter by mixing together one tablespoon of flour and one tablespoon of non-chlorinated water. For 7 days I set my alarm and each day I discarded half the mixture and added in another tablespoon of flour and water. In the book Adrienne talks about how sourdough starters can be decades old and are sometimes gifted from a grandparent or a friend. I found this fascinating! On the 7th day I had to make a sourdough sponge (using a tablespoon of the starter) which was to be left for 24 hours. Once ready it was time to begin following the recipe for my desired bread. I chose the dark rye, raisin and walnut sourdough, yum.Sourdough-rye-raisin-walnut-loaf

Considering this was my first time making sourdough bread (and only my 2nd bread attempt ever!) I think it turned out pretty well! The outside had a firm crust and the inside was soft. I loved the combination of the raisins and walnuts, sweet and crunchy! I’d definitely try making sourdough again as the taste and texture is something quite special, I think it’s worth the effort and time spent nurturing the starter before the baking.Sourdough fresh out the oven…Here’s out it turned out!Rye & raisin sourdoughThe next chapter in the book is ‘rolls,’ and I’m planning on baking bagels! I’m very excited about these but again feeling nervous! I think this is why this challenge is good because I’m such a novice and really have no clue. There’s only one way to learn though!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend and thanks for reading.

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Ask an illustrator special feature – part two

Ask-an-illustrator part twoWelcome to part two of ‘ask an illustrator.’ If you missed part one take a peek here for advice and tips from Emma Block, Kerry Lemon and Tilly from running for crayons. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did, I find it so insightful to hear from practising artists and learn about the way they do things. A special thanks to all the talented ladies for contributing to this feature. Today I’m welcoming to the blog Anke Weckmann and Stacie Swift…

Meet Anke. (Although I’m sure many of you will already be familiar with her delightful work.) Her work is simple yet detailed and showcases carefully selected but wonderful colours. I love her feature ‘fashion fridays,’ you can keep up to date with it on her blog. After following Anke’s instagram I’ve also been really encouraged by her healthy living posts. Below was my question to Anke…

By Anke Weckmann“Anke your work is incredibly inspiring (I’ve been a fan for many years.) I’m also really inspired by your healthy attitude and I’m interested in how health fits in with your freelance work and working from home. You’ve mentioned on your blog some of your healthy habits including yoga and your instagram is chock full of delicious looking healthful meals. Can you give us some advice on being healthy whilst working from home, how it fits into your daily life/what you do and how it has affected your freelance job?”

It’s easy to get completely absorbed and just spend all day and night drawing and never leaving the house! So I make exercise part of my daily schedule and I make it as high a priority as my work. Over the years I’ve come to love it because it gives me so much energy and is such a great stress relief. My main motivation is to stay as pain-free as possible. Before I finally joined the gym five years ago I was suffering from chronic migraines and RSI in my shoulder/arm/wrist to the point that lifting cutlery was painful. This was from working non-stop for years without weekends or evenings off – definitely not a good idea! It took me about a year to get pain-free, especially yoga has been amazing because it strengthened my shoulders while also stretching and hugely improved my posture. I also really love to get outside for a run and going to Zumba classes – it’s so nice to jump around and sweat after sitting still at my desk all day! Despite exercise I have been spending too much time sitting which caused me some back problems this summer, so now I try to avoid sitting whenever I don’t work.

Exercising automatically led me to eat healthier over time. When I started working out I was more of a junk food vegetarian – I was trying to eat healthily but still had a fair amount of chocolate and chips, especially when deadlines were looming. I’ve now been a high-carb vegan for a year and it’s been amazing – I have so much energy and enjoy all my food so much. Working from home helps of course because it’s easy for me to go to the kitchen and make a smoothie or chop vegetables for a giant salad.The Letter By Anke WeckmannCheck out Anke’s website to see more of her beautiful artwork.Anne by Anke WeckmannLast but certainly not least we have the very talented Stacie Swift answering a question for us. Stacie works with her rather furry feline team (Bobcat, Birdie and beans) you can meet them here to produce art prints, stationary and custom illustration. Her motto is ‘Good design. Good fun,’ and I think this is evident in her striking, brightly coloured illustrations. I’m a big admirer of her patterned greetings cards range and her typography pieces, oh and one of her more recent designs for her bunny rabbit tote bag, so cute! Enough gushing though let’s chat with Stacie… Read more

Bread baking challenge week one – Challah

baked challahHappy Friday and here’s to the weekend! If you missed my post on Monday I revealed a few illustrations from United States of Bread and talked about my goal of baking a bread from each chapter of the book. There’s 8 chapters of bread recipes so I’ll be baking 8 breads. My aim is to bake a loaf a week but after realising how time consuming bread baking is I’m a little dubious on that one but we’ll see.Us of Bread Classic loavesHere is the pattern from the first recipe chapter on Classic loaves.

Basic-white-loafThe above drawing is for a recipe for a basic white loaf. Whilst I was working on this project I had a little desk set up next to my drawing desk where I set up a chopping board and loaf of bread. It was (deliciously-smelling) torture! At least I had the reward of the bread once I’d completed my drawing though. Bread rewards can’t be all bad…Wholewheat breadI mentioned in the first post that I planned to bake the first bread with my sister Avie and we chose the recipe for challah bread as it is a favourite of ours. We learnt that challah is a celebration bread made with oil and not butter which is a nod to the Jewish tradition of not mixing meat and milk together as challah is often eaten on a Friday with dinner. However, we decided to bake our bread on a Saturday so it gave us enough time to do everything. It was a perfect day to do it as the weather was raining so we stay snuggled indoors and baked.
Challah bread

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