Tuesday, May 31, 2005

MonsterTruck Heaven

Robin gave the girls a chance to catch up on work and took Hugo and Xavier to this testosterone charged event. As I wasn't there, I'm injecting my own touch of femininity with this imagined pink truck.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Ahoy there sailors!

Yesterday Tom went off for a week's sailing with the sea cadets on TS Royalist. It's a fantastic opportunity and I'm sure he'll love it. We'll have to keep our fingers crossed that the captain doesn't decide to nip over to France, as in usual Oakley fashion, we discovered at the last minute that Tom's passport is out of date. The picture is a bit of a cheat as it's a very old sketch I've had knocking around.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Present from Hugo

Click here for a bigger pic

Hugo came back from the Isle of Wight yesterday evening, having had a great time bonding with his classmates. He spent his money on tooth-rotting rock for all the family apart from me, where he was surprisingly sensitive to my tastes and presented me with a beautiful shell. I thought I'd illustrate it using some techniques I've been itching to try out.

Illustration Friday - ENVY

I thought I'd try to do something very quickly this time as the my last effort was very time consuming. This quotation from Gore Vidal has always amused me, so a quick scribble of his high cheekbones and we're done.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Colour version of AQUATIC

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This is the last time I economise on paper. The printer's free sample didn't stretch properly and was a sod to paint on, but I was too impatient to get going to go and buy better paper. So the end result is more laboured than I would like, but there are bits that I like. Time to think about the next challenge.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Illustration Friday - AQUATIC preliminary drawings

As a child I was enchanted by Charles Kingsley's 'Water Babies'. This together with a couple of great reference photos of Xavier underwater is what triggered this idea.

I'm off to buy gummed tape so I can stretch the water colour paper. I've had so much on this week that I don't think I'll get the full colour version of my illustration done in time so this will have to do.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Another very easy recipe

Asparagus penne
We had this to eat for lunch on Saturday. It's tasty and very easy, ideal for a quick lunch. There is a risk that you might not cook the asparagus for exactly the right amount of time but the whole point of this recipe is that it's very easy and there's hardly any washing up. I'm sorry about the mixtures of weight systems but I think of some things in imperial, some in metric and some in handfuls.

Recipe serves four

400 g of Penne (similar weight and type of pasta such as fusilli would also be fine but it must take no less than 8 minutes to cook so none of that quick cook pasta)
2 bundles of fresh asparagus ideally room temperature
1 fresh unwaxed lemon
4 oz approximately of good butter (such as Lurpak)
Sufficient freshly grated parmesan to allow everyone to have a generous helping. Don't even think about using that horrible pre-grated stuff. This is an easy recipe so how hard is it to grate a bit of cheese? And if you don't have one, go straight out and buy a microplane grater.
Freshly ground black pepper

Snap the woody parts off the asparagus and save for another use if you're so inclined or throw them away. Cut the remaining asparagus into lengths similar to the length of the penne.
Remove the zest from the whole lemon and put into a microwavable bowl or jug. If you don't have a zester either grate off the zest or use a sharp knife to pare off the zest and and then cut into thin strips. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice of half the lemon into the bowl with the zest. Add the butter and while you're dealing with the next bit gently melt the butter lemon mixture in the microwave

Get 4 litres of well salted water boiling away in a big pan. Put the pasta in the pan and start timing once the water is bubbling away again. Five to eight minutes before the pasta is due to be cooked (the shorter of the two times quoted on the packet) add the asparagus to the pan. You'll have to use your judgement here. I had rather spindly asparagus which was also refrigerator cold so I allowed six minutes. I'd have allowed seven for chunkier asparagus and if mine hadn't come straight out of the fridge I might have given it a minute less.

Whilst the pasta and vegetables are boiling, taste the melted butter lemon mixture and add more lemon juice or butter if you think it needs it, I usually end up using the whole lemon. Add some freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Test the pasta at the due time and give it a minute or so more of cooking if it needs it.
Once the pasta and vegetables are done, drain them in a colander, then put them back in the pan and pour in the lemon butter mixture and toss until everything is evenly coated.

This recipe also works well subsituting the asparagus with brocolli florets (making sure you peel off any tough outer skin).

Serve onto pasta plates, hand out grated parmesan and a pepper grinder and enjoy!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Mr Floppy

Hugo left this morning for his primary school final year trip to the Isle of Wight. We have a tradition of embarrassing the children when they go away by hiding cuddly toys in their bags. Mr Floppy is a great favourite and has travelled the world extensively, however we were in such a rush we didn't have time to get up to our usual tricks. So I sent Hugo a letter saying "I was very disappointed that we didn’t have the chance to hide Mr Floppy in your bag, he was keeping well out of the way at the bottom of Xavier’s cot. His view was that he’d already been to the Isle of Wight twice and that it wasn’t a patch on New York so he didn’t want to go for a third time. In case you’re missing him I’ve included a little sketch of him."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Illustration Friday- NOURISHMENT

Five Red Books

Although Flo has a great love of food she also likes to nourish her mind.

This refers to the family story of when Flo was about three or four and just about understood the idea of Father Christmas leaving presents. Leading up to Christmas, whenever we asked her what she wanted, she always, without fail, said 'Five red books!'

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Lunch in May

This recipe is something I multiplied up several times over when I had friends with children coming to lunch and I wanted to cook something that both adults and children would like. It also had to be incredibly easy because I wanted to focus on preparing the accompanying Jersey new potatoes and salad and getting the English asparagus and hollandaise sauce just right.

Orange-Glazed Chicken with Coriander
Serves 4 people or 2 very greedy people.

4 chicken joints (quarters)
2 heaped teaspoons whole coriander seeds
4 tablespoons of really good coarse cut Seville orange marmalade.
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 teaspoon lemon Juice
Salt and freshly-milled black pepper

Pre-heat oven to gas mark 5, 375 °F (190°C).

First crush the coriander seeds finely in a pestle and mortar, or grind them in spice grinder liquidizer attachment if you have one, then mix them with the marmalade, garlic and lemon juice.

Skin the chicken joints and place them in a roasting tin. Then make several cuts in the flesh, using a sharp knife, and rub salt and freshly-milled black pepper into them. Next spread the marmalade mixture all over the chicken joints and into the cuts and bake the chicken on a high shelf for about 40-45 minutes. When I did it I used chicken drumsticks
and chicken thighs and I didn’t bother to skin them but needed to cook them for longer partly because I had two full roasting tins of chicken joints which I needed to rotate from top to middle shelf and also to make sure that the chicken skin had a yummy bronzed, crispy sticky finish to it.

Finally, don’t reveal the recipe to your guests, it tastes as though you’ve spent hours developing this most delicious, subtly flavoured dish and they will enjoy it all the more being kept in ignorance.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Another playgroup art material challenge

Took five minutes to try to see what I could do with very watery Early Learning Centre paint pens.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Forty mile sponsored bike ride

Today was perfect for this ride - sunny, blue skies but not too hot. Xavier happily sang, slept and commented on the colour of cars and tractors from inside a trailer towed by us on the tandem. For most of the ride Tom and Flo rode ahead because they were mortified at the thought that someone might see them with their parents!
See the local newspaper here
see us here!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Annie Oakley's birthday

A picture of my lovely nephew Daniel for my sister-in-law's birthday. (And, yes that was her name before she married.)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Wax crayon challenge

I was at the Rudolf Steiner mother and toddler group this morning watching Xavier draw with the truly awful brick-shaped wax crayons they always have there (which presumably for some 'Steiner' reason only ever come in red, blue and yellow).

I've disliked wax crayons since at the age of four my schoolteacher habitually handed us out one crayon each of any random colour. One day I drew what I thought was a magnificent rendition of a horse's head but was eternally disappointed that my drawing was in blue crayon rather than black.

Today I thought I'd confront my demons and see what was the best I could do with the available materials. It was an interesting exercise, but I won't be raiding Xavier's artbox for the wax crayons!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Thank you to Shulay

I kind of think a blog needs a picture or avatar but who would want to look at a photo of my middle-aged sagging face, so I'm using this wonderful flattering portrait that my dear friend Shulay drew of me many years ago when we were girls behaving badly at the Royal College of Art. I think the pink marks round the edge of the picture might be splashes of red wine!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Jenny's wonderful fish pie

This picture is a thank you to my friend Jenny for a lovely evening last night. Supper was the most delicious creamy fish pie followed by berries and cream. Afterwards all the adults and children had great fun playing a game where each person had to sing the first line of a song which started with each letter of the alphabet in turn. If you look closely you'll see some of our answers

Thank you Jenny

My first illustrationfriday.com entry - MISCHIEF


This week's illustration theme reminded me of an incident when my daughter Flo was a little girl. I think the picture tells the story. I did in fact need to use my two year old toddler Xavier as the model as Flo is now fifteen and applies her own lipstick impeccably. I hope you like it, I've had fun producing it.