Illustrated Journal – 2 Feb 2023

Illustrated Journaling

For a long while, I’ve been playing around with hand lettering, using my writing in art, and the idea of marrying together writing and drawing. Today, I started a new sketchbook dedicated to this idea and exploration. I woke up this morning with the concept clear in my head, and so I did!

A sketchbook is a perfect place to experiment and try things out. I’ve already got various notes on this page reflecting on what is working and what isn’t. And there’s some reflective journaling too. My handwriting is a mess. That Distress Ink-ed dot grid paper looks really grubby. The Inktense pencils and the use of a water brush may not have been a good idea on the sketchbook paper. However, it is a sketchbook. It’s not meant to be anything other than a place to explore, experiment, and unearth hidden thoughts and ideas.

The last paragraph had a lot of negatives in it. I do like the border, and this is something I’ll continue to do. The idea of collating notes onto a page intrigues me; even adding pockets and other things from junk journaling could be an idea. Places to store notes about ingredients and so on. I enjoy researching all kinds of things, including foods, ingredients, spices and condiments.

Food illustrations

What is new is me drawing food! I don’t know if I’ll ever draw a plate or bowl of food, but the ingredients or various elements interest me. So I’ve written a note to myself to see if I can make patterns or motifs for my more abstract, non-representational work from them.

I also must learn that colours can be imperfect; close enough is good enough! The ginger jam (more correctly, ginger preserve) was troublesome. But it’s good enough for now.

Soothing fraught emotions and thoughts

I’ve been relatively open with my mental and emotional health challenges, to a degree at least. And I thought it would be an excellent idea to combine that with food, and maybe more.

Art and food are two ways I can soothe and comfort myself. On good days, I’ll be adventurous with cooking. It may be a takeaway delivery or something quick and easy on bad days. On the in-between days, comforting food is the go-to, often more traditional recipes.

Cooking is always a challenge as a singleton. However, the motivation to cook and feed me wholesome and healthy food can be a considerable challenge, especially on my fraught and frazzled days.

Where will this lead?

I don’t know. I know it’s a personal project, but a friend and I have talked about collaborating on a project about cooking. So this may be a way of kicking the project off, even though I am still determining where it will go. If nothing else, it will give me a way to draw new and different things, explore various techniques, both in art and cooking, and reflect on all kinds of things. I’ll get to practice my handwriting and hand lettering as well. And perhaps work out how to create a pleasing layout!

This will, I trust, encourage me to take more care of myself in terms of nutrition. In addition, adding daily entries for at least one meal will hold me accountable.

A variety of meals/dishes will be required too and so will stop me from eating the same old things again and again! That’s a rut I can get stuck in. Also, if I find something I enjoy, I will eat it again and again, day after day, until I become sickened by it! That is not good either!

Am I overloading myself with projects?

I have a book to do for Creative Haven by the end of June. There are some self-published colouring books that I’d like to do too. Then there’s my creepy-cute monsters project. YouTube. Writing. And more!

I often can’t see the wood for the trees. Being able to prioritise has never been a strong skill of mine. However, I do need variety and options of what to work on. Otherwise, the work can become stale and uninspiring to me. And I can so easily get overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, or tasks, to be done. And then there’s the fear of failure, of not being good enough, that results in procrastination.

Also, I know that at the moment, my emotions and, thus, my mental state isn’t the best; new challenges in life outside of art and creativity. But that means that art and creativity are more important to me to help me calm, relax, get in the flow and give my mind and emotions a break!

I’m sure I’ll figure it out. I’m not one for schedules of work day by day and hour by hour. That may be something I need to look into.

But not now. Now I need a mega-big mug of good strong tea! I’m British (Welsh), and we think tea will solve everything!

Super soup…

On Monday, as squeaky and non-existent as my voice was (and still is) I took a phone call from Abel and Cole, a company that delivers organic veg boxes (among other things) to your door.  I used to have boxes from them a number of years ago.   However, the delivery company (a big one) wrecked so many items of produce on so many occasions that I cancelled the boxes.  Not because I was disatisfied with them, not by a long shot, but because of the careless attitude of the delivery company.

Well, on Monday I started up a weekly order of a small fruit and veg box (£12.99, delivered) and it arrived today!  I also got a free cook book (which is full of meat/fish/poultry recipes so will be donated to a friend – I’m a vegetarian!).  My fourth box will be free if I remain with them.

The best thing of all about Abel and Cole is that you can choose to dislike foods, and also decline a particular choice for the week’s box as long as you do it by the deadline they set (for me it’s midnight on Monday into Tuesday).

Blooming marvellous!

So, my box arrived this morning, courtesy of their own van and driver.  In it were potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnips, broccoli, grapes, apples and bananas, all organic!

So, lunchtime, I ‘celebrated’ by making a soup.  Here’s what I did.  There’s enough here for 4 servings for starters or two servings for hungry people.

1.  Finely chop and onion and gently fry in butter in a saucepan.

2. Dice two carrots, one parsnip, one sweet potato and add to the pan and gently fry.

3.  Add a heaped teaspoon of mild curry paste and stir into the veggies.

4. Add some red split lentils (a generous handful), several finely chopped dried apricots, and chopped garlic (as much as you like) and stir to coat with the butter and spice mixture.

5. Add water so that the level is around 1″ above the veggies and lentils.  Bring to the boil.

6. Add some vegetable stock cubes or bouillon powder, salt and pepper to taste.

7.  Simmer until lentils are cooked (around 40 minutes).

I served this with some roasted garlic sour dough bread and butter.  The sour dough bread was a nice contrast to the sweet spiciness of the soup.

Even if say so myself, it was rather yummy and hit the right spot on a cold, wet day at home with me not feeling too good (still no voice, a cough and splutter to add to it too).

It was a nice way to celebrate completing my hypnotherapy essay!

Warming Winter Stew

Aaargh!  Today!

Today has been a frantic day in work.  Problems with mobile phones on in class, one madam actually was on Facebook!  Confiscation and all the hassle that causes ensued.  The noise today has been … almost totally unbearable, as has been the general lack of cooperation and respect.  I’m beginning to think there should be a total blanket ban on mobile phones in school.  They’re causing no end of trouble and disruption to lessons now.  The school does have a telephone system itself and if there is a reason to contact parents, or a reason for parents to contact their little darlings then it can be done via that system.  It always used to work perfectly fine as I remember.  The rules about having phones turned off (not just to silence) during lessons don’t seem to work, and the problems/issues that result from this …

So, I am so glad to be home.  I was met, unusually, by my pusscat who purred and fussed around me until I followed him upstairs to make a huge fuss of him (and he of me) before he settled back down to sleep.

Now, I am sat tippytapping at the ‘puter keyboard and my nose is being comforted by the delicious smell of a winter veggie stew cooking on the hob.

There is nothing like a hearty stew to warm the cockles of ones heart, or to comfort an over stressed me.  I will be making dumplings to go in it a bit later on in it’s cooking.  Then, when all is cooked to perfection, I shall enjoy eating it while cwtched up under a cuddly and warm fleecy blanket.  I’m sure the warmth and the goodness will sooth my frazzled emotions, will calm my jittery nerves, and I will feel so much better.  I already do, in fact, as the process of caring for another living creature and then taking the time to create a healthy, hearty feast for myself has been an example of self-caring.

Stew Recipe

No quantities will be given,  just ingredients … I’m very much an instinctive cook and just seem to know how much to put in by looking.  Of course, I vary the ingredients depending on what I have available or what I fancy.

Onions, fried in vegetable oil.  Today I added some Quorn Steak Strips and fried them until they were browned.  Next I added some roughly diced swede, parsnip carrot and potato and coated them all in the quorn and onions.  Red split lentils and pearl barley were then added and stirred around to coat them in the cooking juices.  Pepper and salt were added and then boiling water.  A couple of Just Bouillon veggie stock cubes, a sprinkling of mixed herbs, a couple of cloves of garlic finely sliced (they’ll disintegrate during cooking) and a healthy dollop of English Mustard.

It will take around 45 mins to 1 hour for the lentils and pearl barley to cook.  Around 20 minutes before the end of this time I will add dessert spoons of dumpling mixture – approx. 4oz of self-raising flower mixed with 2oz of veggie suet, salt and pepper to taste and maybe a few more mixed herbs.  A little milk and water is used to mix it to a sticky dough.  The lid is replaced on the pan and it’s all left to cook for 20 mins or so.

Served with a good shaking of veggie worcestershire sauce, it is one of the most comforting winter dishes I know!

I like to have more parsnips than swede and carrots; they give such a lovely, sweet flavour.  Sometimes I will add brussel sprouts and mushrooms to the veggie mix, but not today.  Sometimes I don’t use the Quorn.  Sometimes instead of putting potato in the stew, I’d boil or bake potatoes separately.  Today it’s a one-pot feast!  And there’s plenty there for tomorrow too!

And now I definitely feel a lot better!

Solstice cuff/bracelet and Indian food


Solstice cuff/bracelet

I finished the above cuff a little earlier on this evening.  It’s not a good photograph; I’ve not managed to work out how to photograph my jewellery well, yet.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon and evening working on it, the same this afternoon.  I got so engrossed in the intricacy of the work and the enjoyment of it that I lost track of time and finally made it to bed around 1 am!  It certainly stopped me from being bored!

It’s most probably around 7½” long and around 1½” wide.  Silver ‘Japan’ thread, various metallic threads, sequins, and silver-lined Japanese seed and bugle beads were used to create the pattern on the top and to edge the piece.  Black felt is used as the background as it doesn’t fray and gives a wonderfully dark, matt background in contrast to the sparkle and shimmer of the surface decoration.

The design flows out of me intuitively.  Curves and spirals feature in much of may artwork, and this is a piece of art to be worn for sure!

The blue, green and silver seem appropriate to me at this time of year, reminding me of the sparkling snow, the bright green shoots that will soon appear as the world turns on once more.  Blues and purples just remind me of the winter night sky, sparkling stars and glowing Moon set into its velvety darkness.   I’ve called it the Solstice cuff as is an expression of how I feel at this Solstice.

It’s been a long time since I created any textile jewellery.  I seem to have lost myself in watercolours and pens and pencils and abstract art for a long time.  Sometimes it’s nice to do something different.  I certainly reminded myself of how much I enjoy creating such things as this cuff.

Indian food

While writing this entry, I have some pans of Indian food cooking on the hob.  The smells coming from the kitchen are delicious, even if I say so myself!

I’m visiting friends tomorrow and taking the food for the day with me it seems.  Dahl and potato curry flavoured with fenugreek and garlic are the two dishes I’m making at the moment.  My friends’ daughter asked me to make a bucket of dhal, and so I have, though the bucket is the largest pan I have!  The potato curry also has peas, mushrooms and aubergine in it.   In the morning, most probably, I will make bhajees and pakoras as well as the mint raita.  Onion bhajees of course, but also onion, aubergine, pepper and mushroom pakoras will be made.  I’ve cheated and bought naan breads and ready cooked popadams.

Why Indian food?  Well … I’m rather good at cooking it, apparently, and also its a total change of flavour for those who have feasted on the traditional Christmas vittles, something I’ve not done.  When I take the time to cook for myself, I often cook Indian food.  However, I’m lazy when it comes to looking after myself properly, and that is something that will have to change sooner rather than later.

I enjoy cooking for other people, and I don’t do it often.  I’ve become more of a recluse than ever in the last couple of years, and that is worrying me.  I had to go out shopping today in order to cook this wonderful yet simple feast.  It was strange being where other people were.  The snow here gave me the excuse to stay home and not bother with other human beings much at all.  Now the rain has come, the thaw has begun and I have few excuses to stay away from people.

Well, I’d better go and stir the pans on the hob, or rather stir the contents of the pans, now that I’ve stirred up some inner issues within me.