Cozy clothes for slow days

 
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Last weekend I decided to enjoy a couple of slow days which were very much needed. I stayed away from the studio, social media and let my paint brushes rest.

Instead I slept longer than usual, wore cozy clothes, ate comforting (but still healthy) food, read a lot, forced my mind to stay in the present, went for long walks in the park and drank a lot of herbal tea.

I find days like these very calming and relaxing. We live in such a noisy world that it can sometimes be difficult to hear our own thoughts. It is important to slow down every now and then. After this weekend I feel much better and more energised. Try it yourself, I can very much recommend it.

 

 

 

 

Plant people project

A while ago I started painting plant people. Especially because I am one myself. Oak trees are my "spirit animal" and I love my ferns so much that I can happily create a little jungle in our flat.

Instagram is a great inspiration for plants and plant people. Somehow I always find myself looking through "green accounts".  So I decided to continue this illustration project and I will be sharing the paintings with you here on my blog.

In the meantime I am posting some of the previous illustrations.

 

 
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Recipe: Summer Salad

 
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When the weather gets warmer I prefer to eat more salads and sandwiches rather than warm, cooked food. At the moment one of my favourite recipes is "tomato-strawberry-salad". I know this combination sounds a little strange but I promise, it tastes lovely.

The sweetness of the strawberries and the nuttiness of the olive oil balance out the sharper flavour of the tomatoes.

Ingredients: (one portion)

- three big tomatoes

- eight strawberries

- 3 tbsp olive oil

- a dash of apple cider vinegar

- fresh basil to taste

- fresh mint to taste

 
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Slice the tomatoes and strawberries. Mix them with the olive oil and vinegar in a bowl.

Add the basil and mint. This is so simple and your taste buds will be very happy.

This tastes especially lovely with toasted sourdough bread. Enjoy!

Recipe: Cinnamon Noodles

When I was a child "Mohnnudeln" (poppy seed noodles) was one of my favourite foods. They are sweet, filling and can be eaten as main course or dessert.

Inspired by this classic Austrian dish, I created cinnamon noodles for you. A simple potato noodle recipe with a twist.

 
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Ingredients (for four portions):

- 500g potatoes

- 100g flour

- 50g butter

- 1 egg yolk

- a pinch of salt

- 50g caster sugar

- cinnamon

Boil the potatoes, peel and grate them. Put the grated potatoes in a bowl adding the flour, butter, salt and yolk.

Knead the ingredients. Roll out the dough and cut into 3 - 4 cm long pieces. Shape them in your hands until they look more or less like slugs. (I know, I know... could not think of a better word)

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and let the little potato noodles simmer for about 5 minutes or until they start floating.

Take the potato slugs out of the water and set aside. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a pan.

Fry the noodles in the pan on low heat until they get slightly crispy. Add sugar and cinnamon to taste.

 
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Eat immediately and enjoy.

 

Project: Painting Food People

I love all things food, cooking, food packaging etc. and recently I started a new project called "Painting Food People".

I am going to illustrate chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and also food photographers and -stylists. Today I am sharing the first illustrated portraits with you.

Maya Jankelowitz from "Jack's Wife Freda":

 
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The inspiring Sophia Roe. You can find her here.

 
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The cook, writer and broadcaster Rachel Khoo.

 
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Who do you want me to illustrate next? I am very grateful for your suggestions.

Bank Holiday Weekend: Brunch Ideas

A sunny bank holiday weekend is almost like a unicorn. Even though I fully intend to enjoy as much sunshine as possible, it is very likely that I sleep in a little bit longer.

As breakfast turns into brunch, I need something more substantial to eat than a croissant and coffee or a little muesli. In preparation I have researched some brunch ideas to ensure that I have all ingredients in the fridge.

Since I am a food and lifestyle illustrator I follow a lot of food related accounts on Instagram, where I found my first recipe inspiration on the Waitrose account.

Griddled salmon with watercress and walnut pesto: You can find the recipe here.

 
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Recently I discovered the food blog Halfbaked Harvest by Tieghan Gerard. Her recipes and creative presentation are truly a feast for your eyes and stomach.

The baked egg crepes with spring herbs and avocado (yes, avocados have to be present for brunch) have especially caught my eye. You can find the recipe on her blog.

 
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Is there a better way to start a long weekend than with great food and in lovely company?

I am heading out into the sun now and wish you a relaxing, happy weekend.

Japanese hotpot - illustrated recipe

When I tidied up my book shelf yesterday I found a little Guardian food booklet on soups and stews by Allegra McEvedy that I collected many moons ago. Since temperatures dropped again in London and spring is temporarily on holidays, I tried out the recipe for the Japanese hotpot.

It was really tasty, so I illustrated it here for you because I believe that healthy, good food should always be shared.

 

Ingredients (6 servings)

- 400g jasmine rice

- 2 tsp red chilli, chopped

- 3 garlic cloves, sliced

- a few slices of ginger

- 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

- 300g bok choy, quartered

- 400g tofu, cut in 3 cm cubes

- 150g sliced shiitake mushroom

- a head of broccoli, cut into florettes

- 1/3 daikon radish/mouli, peeled and sliced

- 3 sliced spring onions

- 2 tbsp miso paste

- 2 tsp light soy sauce

- Juice of 2 limes

- a handful of coriander (or parsley if coriander happens to taste like soap to you, like it is for me)

 
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1. Get your rice going, then put the kettle on again with a little bit more than one litre of water for the miso paste.

2. In a little bowl, mix the chopped chilli, garlic, ginger and sesame seeds.

3. In a sauce pan big enough for all ingredients make layers of the bok choy, tofu, mushrooms, broccoli and daikon, sprinkling a little of the chilli-ginger-garlic-sesame seed mix in between each layer.

4. Dissolve the miso paste in one litre of nearly boiling water.

5. Add the spring onions to the pan, then pour in the miso and cover with the lid.

6. Turn the heat up high. When it comes to the boil, let it simmer for two minutes before turning the heat off.

7. Pour in the soy sauce and lime juice to season, and scatter with chopped coriander/parsley.

8. Serve in bowls and offer the rice on the side.

 
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An artist's guide to denim

Yes,  it happened again. London is once more skipping a season and moving from winter right onto summer. Personally, I love all seasons and my favourite is autumn. But for the moment I am very much enjoying the sunny weather, warm evenings and the fact that I do not have to wear too many layers when going outside.

I am definitely a trousers kind of person. Simplicity and practicality are key and most days you can find me in a uniform of jeans, white (t-) shirt, flat shoes and good knitwear. Jeans are a classic wardrobe staple and I love how versatile they are. They can be casual, comfortable but also dressed up and sexy. I wear them all year round and only buy new ones if I absolutely have to. For one, shopping is not one of my favourite activities (buying art supplies exempt) and in addition I literally wear my jeans until they fall off me. The older they get, the more comfortable they are and the more I love them. Please tell me that I am not alone here.

 
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Most days I work in my studio and often sit on my chair with my legs crossed like a tailor. I move around a lot and want to be comfortable. For this purpose jeans in sweatpants style are absolutely perfect. And they can collect as many paint splashes as possible.

When I have client meetings in a coffee house or else, I prefer high waisted denim which I can dress up with a crisp, white shirt, a black blazer and a nice pair of heels. Lower rise, darker and straight legged jeans are my choice for after work and long walks on the weekend.

 
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As the temperatures are rising, nothing can beat denim cutoffs. Depending on what you combine them with, they can equally look as classy or sexy as other types of jeans. Having said that, my only personal rule with cutoffs is, the shorter the trousers the flatter the shoes.

What is your favourite jeans brand?

(Today's music: Cozy Friday Evening | An acoustic mix by MrOtterMusic)

January juices

Are you a fan of healthy juices? If so, I might have something tasty for you. Always searching for new recipes I recently found the blueberry, peach and oat smoothie from Deliciously Ella.

I am planning to illustrate several recipes over the next few weeks because they look cute in the kitchen and are also helpful. No need to look them up online all the time or note them down in my recipe book.

 
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You can find the entire recipe here, at Deliciously Ella. Enjoy.

January notes

 

I am writing this whilst listening to the New Year’s Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. It is a tradition in our family to watch the concert on TV on New Year’s Day. I especially love the performance by the Vienna State Ballet during the second part of the concert. For me this concert has always been a sign that the cosy, festive season ended and a fresh year awaits ready for new goals and adventures, making the reality of January less gloomy.

The first of January is also a day (not the only one) to reflect upon the old year. I am re-reading my notes from last year which are more like thoughts on goals than new year resolutions. Last year was pretty great and I am very grateful for all the lovely people, experiences and opportunities. Like probably many of you, I also love stationary and it is so exciting to start new journals and note books. My small, black one is for work, to do lists, appointments etc. and my big, mint coloured one is for inspiration, creative thoughts and goals. There is some kind of magic in beginning to write into a new notebook. Over the years I noticed that I tend to make written notes on new projects and art work rather than sketch them in my sketchbook. Are there any other artists doing this as well?

A few months ago I had moments were I felt a little bit lost on my creative path. It seemed my goals where hidden behind a hazy, foggy, white wall. I had difficulties seeing them and I was totally confused. This resulted in unproductive days in the studio and my work/painting style being all over the place. So I took a few steps back, tried to analyse the situation as objectively as possible and did a few things which got me back on track:

-          taking time off social media

-          focusing more on creating than on numbers

-          reminding myself what kind of art has always made me happy

-          reading a lot

-          writing more

-          being grateful

-          back to basics

-          drawing more, sharing less on social media

-          letting things unfold naturally

Now I can see my creative path again and I am really excited for the paintings I will create this year. I would love if you come along. Thank you.

 
 
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Spiced tea recipe

Do you like tea as much as I do? I especially love herbal tea. During the winter I enjoy drinking spiced tea to warm me up after a long walk and to get me into the festive spirit. Of course there are many tea options you can purchase from the shop but I believe it is really fun to make your own spiced tea.

Personally, I find fruit tea often too acidic for my stomach and even though I love black tea I cannot drink it too late in the day as the caffeine will keep me awake at night. The spiced tea recipe that I am sharing with you today is based on rooibos tea, sometimes also called redbush tea. It is perfect for drinking at any time of the day as it does not contain any caffeine and has low tannin levels. Rooibos tea is offered by several companies and easy to get a hold of. My favourite is from Clipper tea.

 
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Ingredients for two cups of spiced tea: 

- two and a half cups of water

- two rooibos tea bags

- four whole cloves

- one cinnamon stick

- two star anise pods

- four cardamom pods

- four slices of fresh ginger

- honey or sugar

- milk

 

How to:

Pour water in a pot, add all the spices and the ginger.

Bring to a boil, add tea bags, take off the heat and let the tea steep until it is your preferred strength (at least 5 minutes).

Strain into your cups, add milk (optional) and sweeten to taste with honey or sugar.

I prefer this tea strong, with a tiny dash of milk, honey and a slice of Linzer torte (might write a post about the recipe soon). If you try it please let me know how you liked it.

Enjoy.

Pre-Christmas baking: How to bake a Krampus

A few days ago my boyfriend came across a recipe for a brioche Krampus on an Austrian newspaper website. In the article there was also a link to a video on how to make them. Watching the video brought back a lot of childhood memories I have not thought about in a while. Since I live in London it seems I had completely forgotten about these traditional baked goods.

So I thought I would share the recipe by Christian Ofner for a yeast-dough Krampus with you and include a watercolour illustration of my sweet baked devil. Maybe you would like to bake your own this weekend. I believe I should explain what a Krampus actually is, just in case.

In many European countries St. Nicholas’ day is celebrated on the 6th December. St. Nicholas rewards well behaved children with little gifts. Traditionally the presents are walnuts, hazelnuts, oranges, mandarins and sometimes chocolate. Krampus is his horned companion (half demon, half goat) who visits the naughty children on the 5th December and “punishes” them. This folklore figure has a long history and is believed to go back to pre-Christian Alpine traditions. Regardless of what we believe in, this baked Krampus will delight your taste buds and made of dough he is not even that frightening. This is what the little devil should look like.

 
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Ingredients:

500g plain pastry flour

7g salt

90g sugar

90g butter

2 yolks (medium size)

14g dried yeast

200ml lukewarm milk

1 egg (for coating the pastry)

Raisins for decoration

  • Put all ingredients together in one bowl, knead them into a smooth ball of dough
  • Cover the bowl with cling film/clean kitchen cloth (cotton) and leave to rest in a warm spot for 20 minutes
  •  Put the dough on your floured, clean kitchen counter and divide in several units each weighing 120g
  • Shape all unites into smooth balls, put on a baking sheet, cover with clean kitchen cloth and leave to rest in a warm spot for another 15 minutes for the dough to rise
  • Knead each dough ball thoroughly and shape into long dough rolls
  • Pinch the dough roll a little bit a third in to create some sort of neck
  • Flatten each unit with your hands, take a dough scraper and split the first half of the dough above the neck into two pieces to create the horn
  • Split the lower half of body to create the legs
  • For the arms make a little cuts on the each side of the torso
  • Put all your Krampus bodies on a baking sheet, leaving quite some space between them as the dough will rise in the oven, moisten a little bit with water, cover with your kitchen cloth and leave to rise for another 40 minutes
  • In the meantime pre-heat your oven to 190°C
  • Beat one whole egg and brush each Krampus evenly with it
  • To create eyes, use raisins and push deeply into the dough
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until brown
  • Take out of oven once brown and leave to cool before eating

They are a truly delicious treat and fun to make with your family or friends. Please find the link to the video here. It is in German but in combination with my instructions the video demonstrates in a few easy steps how to shape the dough units into Krampusse.

Enjoy.

How to be more productive

Listening to podcasts is perfect for painting in the studio. I tend to overthink my illustrations a lot so I find podcasts really helpful in order to get into the flow state. They are also very mind-opening and can teach you a lot.

Lately I have been listening to many episodes of Debbie Millman’s Design Matters. I noticed that several creatives she had on the podcast talked about meditation. How powerful this practice is and how much it has helped them. Since I felt rather restless lately with my creative process I thought I give it a go.

My mind is constantly active thinking about creative ideas and how to put them into practice. I knew from the start that it would be a challenge for me to sit still for a while trying not to “think” but focus on breathing and “being” in the now. Therefore I decided to start with baby-steps only a few minutes at the time and whenever I caught myself drifting off into thought I focused on breathing again or I stopped in order to continue the next morning.

It has only been a few months and I must say that I feel meditation is already making a difference in my daily routine. I am making it a habit to start my day with meditation. It helps me to be calm, focus and become more productive. Sometimes when I start my day later than planned and I feel I have to skip my meditation practice to be in the studio quicker and to “safe” time I definitely feel a slump in my productivity. I am still a novice at this and I am trying not to be too hard on myself. Today I started my morning with a brief meditation session and if you like I will keep you posted on my progress.

How about you? Are you meditating or have you tried it? I would be very interested to hear from you and learn from your experiences.

 

 
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