Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tea Party – In Space!

Space tea is probably better than Tang, I'd imagine.

I've been trying to push myself to make some more art. Art, art, art, improve, improve, improve. Time for new stuff, and lots of it. And I came up with this. And I happen to think it's adorable!

My favorite part: How did that cookie get a bite out of it?  Hmmm...

I even made a postcard of it, and had the pleasure of recently doling out those postcards at the SCBWI Houston conference, where I:

• Met awesome, friendly, cool, and incredibly talented writers and illustrators from all around. Seriously wonderful people, they are.

• Won a door prize in the raffle! I never win anything in those things.

• Learned a lot from incredible guest speakers like Peter Brown, Paul Rodeen, and Lucy Ruth Cummins

• And last but certainly not least, I won first place in the illustrator portfolio showcase! Hooray!

I was so shocked and surprised when my name was announced that I actually did the double hands-to-my-face-in-surprise move that everyone uses whilst mocking beauty pageant contestants. It was a totally involuntary reflex, I promise.

All this has added up to lighting a big ol' inspiring fire under my illustratin' behind. Way to inspire, y'all!

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Self Portrait (With Cat)

You know how some artists and illustrators draw cartoony versions of themselves all the time, every livelong day, and it's as effortless as breathing to them because that's just how often they're going around drawing themselves?

Yeah, well, I am not one of those artists. I find it far easier and more entertaining to go about drawing cartoony versions of everyone else in the world.

But this time, I think I finally worked up a self portrait that I actually like!

And of course, the cat made it in there, because at this point, drawing her is as effortless as breathing.
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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cutest Mascot Ever!

Just a quickie post to root for my alma mater, Syracuse University, in their quest for basketball domination.

On a whim, whilst watching the last few minutes of the Louisville V. Wichita State, I decided to make a little felt and clementine Otto the Orange (and then I ran outside to quickly photograph it before the sun was completely down).

Can your team's mascot be easily (and cutely) made from fruit? Probably not.

Therefore, cutest mascot ever goes to Syracuse! Go Orange!

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Post Easter Sugar and Macaron Induced Coma Review

Hello, April! Sorry I missed saying hello to you yesterday. Here is a pretty bouquet of posies for you (in a vase that my grandmother made!) to make up for it.

I was busy crawling out of my Easter induced sugar-coma yesterday, and so any April greetings and Easter reviews had to wait for today.

Besides, yesterday was the much loathed (by me, at least) April Fool's Day, and I try to just overall avoid the internet on a holiday celebrated by lies and pranks for which gullible folks (such as myself) tend to fall.

Anyway, this past Sunday was Easter, so I thought I would recap my creative endeavor for this year's celebration. This year I would try my hand at making macarons for Easter.

Famously finicky, these little baked goods, but oh so cute!  I had to give them a shot, and Easter seemed a good time to make egg-based, pastel-colored pastries.

Overall, I think I did very well for a first attempt. In fact, my final batch might have finally come out right. Who knows?  I certainly don't as I hadn't ever even eaten a macaron until this past weekend, so I have no idea what it should be like. But from what I can tell via internet, they seemed pretty danged close to just right...

EXCEPT! (as you probably can already see)

The danged bottoms of my macarons always were ever so slightly browned! Always! Gaaaaah!

And apparently that is a no-no in macaron world. Even if your macarons have feet, and a smooth top, and no hollows. Sigh!

It did not matter what I did to try to amend the browning bottoms. I varied the temps, the baking times, the cooking surfaces (silpat, and parchment, double parchment, and parchment lined silpat), I nested pans, shielded heat sources with pans, repositioned racks...everything!

And they still browned on the bottom. It was maddening, I tell you.

I have come to the conclusion that I need new baking sheets and/or a new oven.  Guess which one I'm going to give a go for the next round of macaron making?

I used the superb Macaron 101 posts by Not So Humble Pie. They are absolutely helpful and highly recommended (especially the trouble shooting page)!

I made three batches of batter: pink, yellow, and green, split into six baking batches. The pinks had hollows, the yellows were a bit underdone, and the greens were pretty much just right. And they all tasted delicious!

I filled them with a vanilla bean buttercream icing. Super yummy! My husband and I gorged on them along with all of our other Eastery treats (see jelly beans, above, and a basket spread, below).

Hence the sugar coma. Hence the late Easter post. Hence it's already April second.

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