I know I’m jumping the gun, coming at you with the Spring Sprites, but I understand that some of you Northern Hemisphere folks are just jonsing for warm weather. Sure, snow in December is magical and beautiful and all that, but if I remember correctly, mid January to early March is when one would wish spring would arrive on the double. Maybe the Spring Sprites here will help summon warm winds your way and soon!
Here’s Fern with her pet lamb, eager for meadows to bloom with wild flowers.
And introducing Iris with the spring chick and Bluebell with her doll Mr. Bun.
If they are not the very essence of spring, what with their jaunty colored sweaters and dresses, I don’t know what is!
Every now and then I like to regress back to my childhood and paint something from an old tome of fairy tales. Today’s selection is about a very particular little girl who likes her things just so. Tresspassing be darned!
I’m always on the lookout for an unconventional matryoshka set. My favorite so far has got to be the house-shaped ones!
I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit of a snoop and am always aching to see how people arrange their things inside their homes. Here’s a little peek of how the three bears set up their domicile.
Some details…(yes, that’s a Jackalope!)
My absolute favorite element in this project is the cuckoo clock!
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Windsor & Newton’s Cotman brushes rock. Without it, I wouldn’t attempt to paint something on such a lilliputian scale!
The clothes on the three bears and Goldilocks were loosely based on a Schwarzwälder (black forest) cake I was planning to make. The cake never did materialize, but this set of dolls did!e
The Magic Mushroom trio appear in your garden every now and then to make sure everything is growing well!
They come equipped with lollipops for good gardeners, seedlings, a field guide for those who always wanted to take up gardening but was afraid to, fresh toadstools to brighten up a landscape, and jaunty hair accessories featuring their favorite garden critter!
(I couldn’t resist plopping them into my musroom terrarium!)
These boys are fearless, daring, and minus the common sense factor in their genetic make up.
George is on his 18th motorcycle—having dented or demolished 17 others in his world famous tour-de-force stunt.
Harley isn’t afraid of taking off in his jet pack…it’s the landing he’s more concerned about.
James has performed one too many pyrotechnic stunts to notice the many small fires ablaze on his person. Donnie is unfazed by overturning his car in a car chase sequence. Cal is still smiling after noticing there are no safety nets for him during the 12-story swan dive off a building. These are, afterall, the trademark of stuntmen.
I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited about Tim Burton’s vision of “Alice in Wonderland” that’s hitting the theaters soon…in 3-D! Of all the Alices out there, the only one I liked at all is Jan Svankmajer’s stop motion masterpiece (although it can do without the voice overs) because it’s all kinds of creepy. I have high hopes for Tim Burton’s version, since he has just the right touch of the macabre and charm. I’ve painted an Alice set before (“Curiouser and Curiouser”), which I’m not happy with, so a 2.0 version is created.
Since this set is named after a Cheshire Cat quote, I decided to put him in Alice’s pocket.
Well, I’ve already got my 3-D glasses spit-shined to a high sheen and ready to hit the theaters!
It’s really no wonder that Miss Lemon Meringue Cupcake won first place in the annual Miss Cupcake Pageant. Her cupcake is all about sweetness, tartness, and light. The fact that she uses meringue instead of some ol’ butter cream frosting is pure genius (and forgiving on one’s thighs).
Runner up Miss Strawberry Cupcake was a crowd favorite, but alas, her chocolate strawberry cream cupcake is no match for Miss Lemon Meringue.
Third place goes to Little Miss Blackberry Cupcake, who had tried to balance the sweetness of the cupcake with the tartness of the blackberry. She would have won first place if she hadn’t sampled all the cupcakes by licking the icing off all of her entries save one.
Lemon meringue cupcakes
This recipe is from my new favorite blog: http://cupcakestakethecake.blogspot.com
125g unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
grated rind 1 lemon
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 cup lemon curd
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 180 deg.
Cream the butter with sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add lemon rind and juice and mix well. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined.
Sift flour and baking powder together and add to the mix, alternately with the milk.
Spoon into 12 lined muffin tins, filling almost to the top.
Bake in oven for 25 minutes until cakes are lightly browned and cooked when tested with a skewer. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks. When cool, scoop a small piece of cake from out of the top and place a spoonful of lemon curd. Top with meringue and brown with a blowtorch, if desired.
To make meringue:
Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites at low speed until they foam, add salt and cream of tartar, increase speed and beat to soft peaks. Reduce speed to low as you prepare sugar syrup.
Bring the sugar and water to a simmer, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat and cook until soft ball stage (240F or 116C on a sugar thermometer).
Slowly drizzle the syrup into the egg whites, beating on low speed. Try to avoid the edge of the bowl and the wires of the whisk. Increase speed to medium and keep beating for 10 minutes, until the mixture is cool and the egg whites form stiff, shiny peaks.
Makes 12 cupcakes.
Now whip it!
Shape it up!
When something’s going wrong
You must whip it!
You gotta love a band who unabashedly wears funny hats and uses moog synthesizers.
Also, I’ve decided to celebrate the new year with a yell…a rebel yell that is. Three punked-out sets are added to the etsy shop: “Anarchy Now!”, “Rocker Chic,” and “Ink’d” are now available.
2009 was an uneventful year. Things were not going smoothly in the beginning, but then it started to shape up. I got to meet my brand new niece, live in the wild for a few weeks to see just exactly what I was made of (thankfully not of perishable stuff!) and got myself unexpectedly engaged. But most of all, I was able to find something to channel my creative outlet instead of wreaking havoc. Painting matryoshka dolls proved to be a lot more fun than I had originally anticipated. And so, here they are.
This new year will bring me back to NYC for a little while so I can pamper and dote on my bulldog Bo, hang out with my homies and catch up with the fam. I am looking forward to that. On the flip side, I’m NOT looking forward to saying goodbye to Anthony for a few months so he can embark on yet another treacherous kayaking expedition, this time from Cannes, Australia, to Papua New Guinea. Most people’s idea of a vacation involves room service and all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. Anthony’s is to acquire heat rash in a kayak and beat off crocodiles with a paddle. To each their own, I suppose.
Did you all make resolutions? Something you will want to accomplish in the new year? I hope you will all get what you set out for. I find that, if you are determined and pushy enough, you usually CAN get what you want out of life.
Happy New Year!