I wanted to share a few of my all time favorite documentary shows. I'm mostly a fan of history series, and mostly BBC. When I find one I like I tend to watch it over and over, often I'll put them on in the background while I'm doing other things. Many of these can be found on Youtube.
Tales From the Green Valley: A group of historians and archeologists live for one year on a farm as if it's the 17th century. A real favorite around here, both my boyfriend and I love this show. We've re-watched it a million times, it's so cozy and comforting and just nice.
Edwardian Farm: Similar to the above show, only in the Edwardian era. It also has some of the same people, and the same cozy vibe, though it's different in other ways. There are actually a few more in this "series" but I think this is the best besides Tales From The Green Valley.
Victorian Kitchen Garden: Made in the early 80's this series attempts to run a manor house kitchen garden as it would have been in the victorian era. Another super cozy, but very informative show. I learned to much! For instance the Victorians had special tools for everything, even harvesting asparagus. (there are also two more in this series, Victorian Kitchen and Victorian Flower Garden, both also great!)
The Day The Universe Changed: Another great series from the 80's, this program is a little hard to describe but I'd say it focuses on history and science and the steps along the way that take place in order to advance science. It's whimsical and quirky in a way that I don't think you get any more with shows like this (not that there really are any like this now).
Cosmos: is beloved for a reason, and that reason is Carl Sagan. This science show is presented with such a sense of delight and heartfelt wonder that it's hard not to tear up sometimes.
Crusades: A series presented by Terry Jones (from Monty Python). As entertaining and funny as it can be, it also deals sensitively to the cruelty and pointlessness of the crusades, and makes a case for how we are still living with that history from the Middle Ages.
Lucy Worsley: A History Of Home: Really I could have picked any of the many shows presented by Lucy Worsley, she is delightful! She is a curator of Historic Royal Palaces, her shows mostly focus on the lives of the historic royals, and more general history of home, food, and clothes, etc.
There you have it! Let me know if you also love any of these, or if you know of any others along the same lines that I should check out!
Not too much to say about the books read this month. Again I liked most of them okay, but didn't really enjoy reading any them, I couldn't get lost in them. At least in the first two fiction books I read I wanted to shake the main characters and tell them to just stop. Again I don't believe you have to like the characters to like a book, and I think you have to judge protagonists decisions as if they are true to that character and not something you yourself would necessarily do. But right now I'm feeling really tired to characters who act in a way that I can't relate to or understand.
Books I read in July:
• The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
• Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
• The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
• What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
• You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh
Audio Books listened to in July
• Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan(worth listening too/reading even though I saw the Netflix series)
Movies & TV Watched in July:
• Jessica Jones Season 1
• Penny Dreadful Season 1 (don't think I'm going to continue with this one)
• Jane the Virgin Season 1
Yoga:I felt like I needed a change up from my running-working out routine, so this last month I've started doing yoga post run. I'm so glad I did! I've been feeling more calm and focused instead of completely spent before I start work in the mornings. I've been practicing along with Yoga With Adriene videos, she's great!
Slow Home Podcast: I've been working my way though this podcast (after binging the Gilmore Guys podcast, and finally catching up to them!). Some good conversations about slowing down and minimalism.
Citrine: I went to a crystal show last month specifically to find a nice piece of citrine (pictured above along with rose quartz). I in no way believe crystals they have magic/healing properties, but I do think they are beautiful and interesting, and if I can bring something that does that into my home that will make me happy, and that can be healing.
Between illustration projects I've been having so much fun the last few weeks carving and stamping on fabric. It's been so nice making physical objects again! They have always been a part of my practice, but after taking most of this last year to focus on my illustration work I realized that making things is actually also part of my wellbeing as a person.
I haven't printed since college (I actually majored in fine art printmaking; lithography, engraving etc.), but recently the truly hand made and imperfect has been so appealing to me. Not to get too deep into it but it's all tied up in the total exhaustion I've been feeling the last few years with with mass appeal consumerism and the feeling I need to keep up with that in my industry (if you can call it that). It's a bit self imposed maybe the the pressure is there.
Anyway I am over it. I like small batch, I like different and creative.
I've had soo many ideas since I started lino cutting again of things I want to make. I need an outlet for this type of work and I'm considering opening another wing of my shop (or maybe opening a different one?) for printed home goods. Really I see it as nice balance for my illustration work and a way to rejuvenate my creative juices when I'm feeling burnt out in one area.
In case you want to know I'm using these carving blocks, and this ink. The brayers I already had, I believe they are Speedball as well.
We went for a restorative hike a few weekend ago at Silver Star Mountain in Washington. I felt like a walk though alpine meadows up above everything was just what I needed. It was misty and moody, and all the wildflowers were out, it was wonderful! Although part of the draw of that hike is the amazing views from the top of the nearby major mountains, which of course we couldn't see though the clouds, so we'll have to go back on a clear day.
We finally had the time and energy to paint my studio! When we moved in and the past few months it was a dark blue, which wasn't bad at all & was fine to live with for a bit, but having rented for years my dream is to have all light colored walls! Actually most of the house is already painted a lovely light warm grey, and there were a few buckets left in the cellar, just enough to paint my studio. We also painted the door and all the trim around the windows etc fresh white. Now it feels so much more open and cheerful!
This is only step one in making the studio of my dreams, which is why it looks so bare I suppose, the arrangement is workable but temporary. Next on the agenda:
- A new desk. I've been drawing at that drop leaf table for years, and it works fine but it's less than ideal. Because it has a curved edge and a seam in the middle the actual working area is tiny.
- I'm not crazy about that big shelf unit. It's very useful, but I'm not sure it's really the most convenient way to store the things I need. I'd like to figure out a better system, but I have to think on what that might be for a while.
- I'd like to get some plants and a comfortable chair to put in the corner for times when I don't need to be at my desk.
Long term I want to strip the wallpaper (yep that's wallpaper under that paint) and to strip and refurbish the windows (something we want to do to the whole house) but that's a big job so it'll be a few years down the road. In the mean time I love my studio and I'm just so happy and lucky to have a room to work in that isn't also my bedroom/living room/dining room/kitchen as well!
If you follow my Instagram then you may have seen the sketches of these back in December. I had the idea of making an alphabet of fancy foods, or really just some of my favorite foods. It's languished somewhat because I couldn't decide how I wanted to paint the sketches. I'm pretty happy with these, but they're still not quite right...maybe if I did it with more limited color? One or two? I don't know! Anyway, I wanted to share them as they are now and maybe I will either finish the alphabet, or start again in a new style. Process!
Not a great reading month, I didn't really enjoy most of the books! I did enjoy and would recommend reading South Riding, but it was just so sad! No necessarily a bad thing but I just wasn't in the mood. My favorite from this month was an audiobook, First Bite, I thought it was fascinating, thoughtful, and refreshingly no-nonsense. I Await the Devil's Coming Was interesting because of the time and place it was written (by an 18 year old in Montana in 1901), it was sometimes funny and sometimes alarming, but I can't say it was fun to read (especially since I'd just read about the rest of the authors sad life in the books forward). I liked it but I doubt it would be for everyone.
What I read in June:
• South Riding by Winifred Holtby
• Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm by Thich Nhat Hanh
• From The Short Novels of John Steinbeck by John Steinbeck I read: The Pearl, The Red Pony, & The Moon is Down. I'd already read the others.
• The Seance by John Harwood
• Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1) by Jacqueline Winspear
• I Await the Devil's Coming by Mary MacLane
Audiobooks I listened to in June:
• First Bite: How We Learn to Eat by Bee Wilson
Movies & TV Watched in June:
• Pretty Little Liars Season 6
• Jessica Jones (the first half of) Season 1
• Plus some Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown
How about you, did you read or watch or listen to anything good in June?
I had the pleasure of illustrating and lettering this set of wedding invitations for a couple in Australia last year. They wanted a forest theme since their wedding was going to take place in a pine grove, and they wanted to be surrounded by animals, including their two cats. I love the personal touches people ask me to put in their invitations! The set included the invite, rsvp, a map, and a thank you note card.
I also designed a few patterns for the backs of the map etc.
Some friends of ours got married in June, and some mutual friends of ours asked me to create a beautiful document for them and all the witnesses at the ceremony to sign (aka all the 80+ guests). I thought it was a lovely idea and together we settled on a fairly simple design incorporating an important phrase of their vows and calendula flowers, the main flower at the ceremony.
I did manage to get one non-blury snap a the party after the bride and groom, and a bunch of guests had signed.
I was craving some kind of baked good like crazy the other day, sometimes at 4pm nothing but buttery cabs will wake me up. I happened to have all the makings of oatmeal cookies, which aren't usually a favorite but I wasn't about to turn my nose up at either. This is a pretty standard recipe, but I made it "healthy" and "interesting" by using WW flour and dried apricots.
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine flour, baking soda and powder, salt and spices.
Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla.
Mix in flour mixture until well incorporated, then add oats and apricots.
Drop tablespoon fulls onto parchment lined baking sheet, flatten slightly.
Bake about 10 min. Let cook on the baking sheet for a min before transferring to cool on a wire rack.
Eat several right away, you've earned it!
I've been exploring a more simple way to draw faces for a few months now and I have to say it's improved my working like a lot. It's so freeing! I also think it makes my illustration work look way more cheerful, and it's easier to get different expressions with this more simple style. I fought it for a while, I feel like there is this weird unspoken pressure to not change and evolve your style, to stay "on brand" and consistent. But that is just not me! I am always changing, and hopefully improving, and my drawing is too!
June was a good month. it was an especially good month for making stuff & feeling empowered because of it. Most of the empowerment came from realizing that I can mend my own jeans and now I'm safe from having to buy new ones for a while! This feeling of self-sufficiency led to my first experiments in fermenting vegetables...
I've always been deeply apprehensive about fermenting, but something switched in my brain this month (possibly from being in daily contact with sourdough starter?) and I felt like I totally could do it! I love kimchi but it's pretty expensive to buy and easy cheap to make. The more I read the more I realized there's not much chance of poisoning myself either. Also, it's not an all day process at all and pretty forgiving as far as ingredients. I used a mixture of this recipe and this one and it took an afternoon of mostly waiting while cabbage salted.
This is my second jar, the first is eaten! I'm going to let this one ferment a few weeks in the fridge though.
Now I'm ready to ferment everything: sauerkraut, gingerbeer, and mead are high on my list. I'm also thinking about pickling? We'll see.
I've still been making bread like crazy. I've got the technique to where it doesn't feel like the main event of the day and I don't have to keep looking at the steps in the book. I feel like I can add more variation now and work on getting a really good loaf. I'd say mine "will do", but they still end up with too tough and done a trust on the bottom & not enough rise in the bake, so I want to work on that.
I made a earl grey & apricot cake last week. I over baked it a bit. Oh well it still tasted alright, even better dipped into a beautiful tea mixed by my friend the tea maker.
I'm finally able to pick flowers from my garden and fill every spare jar and the few small vases I have!