Monday, 31 December 2012

Doodle Olympics Closing Ceremony - Featuring A Magical Land & A Kangaroo

Okay so the end of the Doodle Olympics challenge is finally here, I've managed 366 doodles this year alongside all my other drawings and paintings. Some of them have been pretty poor, but I'm looking forward to going back through them and picking out the ones that could become a starting point for something else. I also have to admit that the doodles didn't always happen daily, life can get in the way, so some days I needed to do more than one – whoops! As far a challenges go, I've really enjoyed this one and it's nice to have my drawing hand wriggling again. 
Wishing you all a Happy 2013! Happy New Year! :)

Day 355 of the Doodle Olympics – A Christmas Market... a little one.

Day 356 of the Doodle Olympics – Singing Christmas carols.

Day 357 of the Doodle Olympics – This is my second rabbit on skis, but I wanted to draw one at a slightly different angle.

Day 358 of the Doodle Olympics – The Christmas Tortoise – obviously.

Day 359 of the Doodle Olympics – Little Red Riding Hood, although it's a bit hard to tell without any colour.

Day 360 of the Doodle Olympics – A hanging bauble Christmas tree. I just wanted to sit decorating baubles :)

Day 361 of the Doodle Olympics – A cute little sweet and cake shop that I doodled whilst watching The Bourne Legacy – It's all about creating a balance!

Day 362 of the Doodle Olympics – Fiance informed me that my rabbit on skis looked like a kangaroo, I pointed out the tail was wrong. However I decided that I always draw rabbits, mice and bears, so it was about time a kangaroo made an appearance.

Day 363 of the Doodle Olympics – Some days you just want to draw a dickie bow, and that means you either need to draw a bear, a penguin, or some kind of composer to put it on.

Day 364 of the Doodle Olympics – I admit this is a bit Cars inspired, but I just wanted to draw a car, I hate drawing cars.

Day 365 of the Doodle Olympics – A magical land doodled up in front of Big Bang Theory.

Day 366 of the Doodle Olympics – The last doodle of the year! Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Bears In Jumpers & A Rockin' Robin

Day 348 of the Doodle Olympics: Bears in Christmas Sweaters! 

Day 349 of the Doodle Olympics: As much as I enjoy drawing animals, and as much as I love dogs, I find drawing them tricky!

Day 350 of the Doodle Olympics: Boy river rafting.

Day 351 of the Doodle Olympics: Bunny doing a bit of night time skiing!

Day 352 of the Doodle Olympics: Rockin' Robin - *snigger* :)

Day 353 of the Doodle Olympics: Squirrel in huuuuge spectacles.

Day 354 of the Doodle Olympics: Little Piglet has fallen down on the ice, I don't think he cares though, he's having so much fun! :)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Book Review: Tea With Bea

As I eagerly await the arrival of the second book from Bea's of Bloomsbury – Afternoon Tea With Bea – published next year, I thought that now, as we begin thinking of all the delicious things that we could make for Christmas, would be the perfect time to review the first book, Tea With Bea, that was published September 2011, just in case you missed it. 

Bea Vo is an American living in London and the owner of the famous Bea's of Bloomsbury, that has been serving delicious treats in the heart of the capital since 2008. Bea is a pastry chef and has worked Nobu and Asia de Cuba.

Some people say that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, and just so you know, those people are lying. Just looking at the front of this book is enough to make your mouth water, unless of course you have a weird aversion to chocolate, sugar, and all those other tasty things that are ridiculously good for you. 

The book begins with a general introduction followed by crucial pastry pointers to make sure you get the recipes right. It lets you know how to use the book and reinforces how imperative it is to follow all the steps because they have already been streamlined.

You are given guidance on how to make the perfect tea and coffee, including recipes, as there seems little point in making perfect treats to eat if you are going to settle for a substandard beverage. It's all about making an effort to get it perfect. 

With the formalities over, the recipes begin. The first chapter covers cookies and bars, including; Snickerdoodles, Lemon Verbena Semolina Cookies and Killer Valrhona Brownies. The instructions are indeed streamlined and therefore easy to follow. However there are also various interesting details scattered throughout that broaden your understanding of baking. It might be information on the best chocolate to use, or the reason why you shouldn't leave eggs and sugar together for long (the sugar absorbs water, so dries the egg which results in the egg scrambling). I've actually tried the chocolate chip cookie recipe and found it hugely successful, they were large American style cookies, good enough to rival any I've eaten previously – they certainly didn't last long! 

The next chapter is Scones and Small Treats, which includes more delectable delicacies that feel more grown up, including the Ultimate Afternoon Tea Scone (which I must try considering how appalling my last attempt at scones was), Almond Cherry Muffins, Gingerbread Guiness Cake, Vanilla Marshmallows and Sea Salt Caramels.

Chapter three covers recipes for tarts, beginning with two pastry recipes that are used throughout as the bases for the tarts, Pâte Brisée Dough and Pâte Sablée Dough. Tart recipes featured include Golden Bourbon Pecan Custard Pie and Milk Chocolate Sesame Cream Tart. Again details are included throughout the recipes briefly explaining the science behind the ingredients but are always written in an accessible way.

The book then moves on to Cake Bases and Fillings, where there are what feels like an endless list of recipes. The fillings include; Lemon Curd, Vanilla Pastry Cream, Coconut Pastry Cream, Green Tea Pastry Cream and Italian Buttercream, while the cake bases include; Vegan Chocolate Cake, Wheat-Free Valrhona Cake, Espresso Bourbon Cake, and Almond Frangipane Cake. The cake bases and fillings appear indulgent enough as they are, but they are then taken further in the following chapter, Special Cakes, where they are embellished and turned into delights such as; Espresso Bourbon Cake with Mocha Buttercream, Gingerbread Guiness Cake with Poached Pears and Cream Cheese Icing and Vanilla Coconut Cake With Lemon Curd and Cheesecake Filling, to name but a few. 

Should your eyes still have room for more delicious goodies, the final chapter offers a small selection of cheesecakes, including Ameretto Cheesecake with Caramelised Peaches, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cheesecake. 

The book has a wonderful balance of recipes and flavours that happily represent tradtional British afternoon tea (Scones and Shortbread) and both traditional and contemporary American tea (Banoffee and Peanut Butter). It feels like you are getting the best of all afternoon tea. 

Tea with Bea is great value, containing well over fifty full and base recipes. It exudes elegance and indulgence thanks to its ornate design, feminine title typeface, gold, black and earthy tones, and beautiful full page colour photographs, (by Kate Whitaker), that accompany each recipe throughout. This isn't a book about cute pink cupcakes and girly sprinkles, these recipes feel high-end and strictly for the modern lady (or fellow), and it's certainly as good as the cover looks.

Tea With Bea
Bea Vo

RRP: £16.99
CICO Books -

  • ISBN-10: 1849751439
    ISBN-13: 978-1849751438
  • Please note, I was given a copy of this book, but was not paid to write the review.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Swimming Swans & Milking Maids

Day 341 of the Doodle Olympics – Six geese–a–layin!! 

Day 342 of the Doodle Olympics – Seven Swans–a–swimming! With inflatable water wings and swimming caps! 

Day 343 of the Doodle Christmas – Zombie bear is making another appearance and he is getting ready for Valentines day - yikes! Would you like a chocolate?

Day 344 of the Doodle Olympics – Hurrah, Zombie Bear has realised that he was getting ahead of himself and has come back to Christmas.

Day 345 of the Doodle Olympics – Some days I just don't want to draw, however I'm always open to a terrible Christmas pun! Apparently, according to a google image search, this is a dutch hoe, it's the only hoe I've ever known... well... ;)
Day 346 of the Doodle Olympics – Angel Russian Doll.

Day 347 of the Doodle Olympics – Back to the Twelve Days of Christmas... Eight maids–a–milking! What do you mean it looks like I was trying to avoid drawing eight maids... they are all there – just! ;)

Friday, 7 December 2012

Book Review: Bake Me I'm Yours... Christmas

We are now well into December, the tree has just gone up and in our house and that means one thing, it's time to start thinking about baking. 

I do love a christmas baking book, there is just something about the effort that goes into the decoration that makes food extra special at this time of year.

Bake me I'm yours...Christmas is a sweet little compact book containing festive projects for cookies, cupcakes, brownies and sweet treats guaranteed to delight young ones and big kids alike. 

The book is divided into various sections, beginning with a handy page listing tools and equipment followed by the project section, which is divided into Festive Favourites: ideas for large cakes, Tasty Treats: cupcakes, brownies and small treats, Delicious Decorations, and Perfect Presents – further small treats. The projects section includes full page images of what the finished treats will look like, as well as step-by-step instructions on how to complete the decoration.

The next section provides you with all the recipes you will need for the projects, including essentials like traditional sponge cake, chocolate cake and fruit cake, brownies, ganache and gingerbread, as well as recipes for less common items such as sugar paste, flower paste, pastillage and piping gel.


The instructions are short, simple and concise, and each of the cake recipes also comes with a useful table that tells you the quantities of ingredients that are needed for the various sized cakes, so you can make any of the projects in any flavour. Extra tips are also suggested throughout under cute little holly leaves. 

The final section covers techniques which offers basic advice on cutting, filling and coating cakes, how to bake cookies successfully, decorating and modelling with sugarpaste, how you can use royal icing, and tips on working with chocolate. 

It may initially seem a little odd to start with the decoration and finish of a project at the beginning of the book, before you are told how to bake it, but having the baking in it's own section does save the recipes repeating each other, you can simply pick out the parts that you need. 

This book isn't overflowing with new information but has just enough guidance and is easy to follow. The accessibility of the book means that it's ideal if you would like to bake some Christmas goodies with the family, as young ones will be drawn to the bright photographs of cakes decorated with angels, and christmas tree bauble decoration cookies. It's also a great book for those that would like to make gifts for loved ones, that are new to baking or intimidated by more substantial baking books. 

It's time to let the baking begin! Merry Christmas!

Bake Me I'm Yours... Christmas is published by David and Charles, RRP £14.99, also available from RU Craft priced at £7.49.

Please note that I wasn't paid to write this review but I was given a copy of the book.