Thursday, 25 July 2013

Ice Cream of the Week #2

Goat's Cheese and Cherry:

goats cheese and cherry

Again, another one you'd think would be weird, but again another one that's delicious; it's basically cherry cheesecake flavour.

I used the same basic base of Jeni's, but I'm afraid I really don't like it. The texture is just all wrong, and churning it takes forever. Scooping it up into a nice, firm, one-piece ball is a nightmare, too. So, although the Jeni's flavours are fab, I'm going to go back to Nigel Slater's basic ice cream recipe for my base.

I couldn't find the cherry compote I wanted, and fresh cherries were a tad on the Very Bloody Expensive side, so I went for a soft-set, fruit-packed cherry jam and watered it down a bit. It worked really well. I think I'll go back and give this flavour another go with Nigel's base.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Sunday, 21 July 2013


This week I have been mired in the bog of computer woes. On Tuesday, my beloved iMac decided it didn't want to play ball anymore and just went blank. AAAHGHGHGHGHGH!!!!! Although I could still hear it working OK, nothing at all was coming up on the screen, so I booked it in to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store for Friday morning. The very helpful Genius there seemed quite hopeful of a recovery, so with luck the iMac will be back in early this coming week.

And not a moment too soon, either, as not only do I have approaching deadlines, but...wait for it....I've had to use REAL PAPER for my roughs this week. Proper old skooltastic, although there is a frustrating lack of cmd+z.

Actually, it's been quite enjoyable, although having to plug my scanner in to Hubbo's (hawk spit) PC and commandeer his Photoshop to tidy it all up ready to email off, and all the palaver that entails, is not so.

imac-less working

Thankfully good, old iPad is keeping me connected to the outside world and providing me with Google Image Search when late-night sketching.

Fingers crossed for the return of my big screen pal ASAP.....

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Ice Cream of the Week #1

Now, as you may be aware, when I go down to the West Country once a year or so, I tend to base my day trips around where I can get a decent ice cream. Last month's trip was no exception to this. In fact, I came home dying to get my ice cream maker out again and churn up a few flavours of my own.

My Ma bought me "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home" by Jeni Britton Bauer (owner of a chain of eponymous ice cream parlours all over Ohio, USA) for my birthday a couple of years ago, and, although I OOOooooOOed at all the scrummo flavours in it at the time, I never actually got around to making any. So, first up from Jeni's book: Sweetcorn and Black Raspberry.

Straight up, I've never seen a black raspberry, so I followed Jeni's advice and used half red raspberries and half blackberries. Other than that, I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter, bar actually leaving a few whole sweetcorn kernels in the mix.

Basically, you mix up the ice cream base, and as the cream/milk is heating, you add the sweetcorn kernels to infuse in the warmth, straining them off again once the whole mixture is cool. Once churned, you layer the ice cream up with a simple coulis made from the raspberries and blackberries and sugar, and freeze for a couple o'hours. 

Et voila:

sweetcorn blackberry

Blummin' delish. Now, the idea of sweetcorn ice cream may sound bizarre, but it really, really works. It doesn't seem savoury at all, which, given the natural sugars in sweetcorn, and that its ACTUAL NAME CONTAINS THE WORD "SWEET" IN IT, isn't really surprising.

Tasty as it was, I'm not 100% happy with the basic ice cream base Jeni uses. Whenever I've made ice cream in the past, I've always used this recipe by Nigel Slater, which is egg based. Jeni's is egg-free, using cream cheese for the protein element, along with corn syrup (golden syrup) and corn flour. It tastes pretty good, but takes forever to freeze/churn in the maker and gives more of a frozen yoghurt type of texture when fully frozen.

I shall persevere!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Last Two for Now

And so on to the other two books.

These two are activity books published by the lovely peeps at Autumn Publishing. My AD, Gemma, used to work for SGA illustration agency when I was a member there. We always got on really well, so it was great to finally be able to work on a project together.

These are the first activity books I've done, and they were SO much fun. I particularly LOVE designing the mazes, and could quite happily spend days fiddling about putting in little roads and obstacles here and there!

Anyway, here is the first:

knights cover

Yep, more knights and horses. I'm ya go-to gal for those these days.

knights 3

knights 2

knights 4

knights 6


knights 9

knights 7

The second is superheroes (AWESOME):

heroes cover

heroes 4

heroes 6

heroes 5

heroes 3


heroes 7

I'm so chuffed with how these came out. The paper quality is lovely and the matt finish just yummy. The stickers look AMAZING on their glossy, bright white paper, and I love, love, LOVE the spot varnish on the main characters on the cover (not that you can tell it's there from my photos, but, trust me, it is and it's blummin' fantastic.)

Right, that's all of 'em. I have another two activity books coming out at the end of this month, also for Autumn Publishing, on a historical theme and in a slightly different format. I will, naturally, be bigging those up in due course!

Now to update my long-neglected portfolios and get some postcards printed.....

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Shamless Plugging Time

It seems like an absolute age since I've been able to properly share some finished work and not just limit myself to a sneaky-peek of a corner here and there. Well, that is about to end as the time has come for me to overload, bombard and otherwise hit you over the head with my work. In the last week, I've had four, FOUR, projects published, with another three coming out at the end of this month. It's literally the last 18 months of my life crammed in to a six week block.

The first two books both came out at the end of June and are published by Ladybird. When the initial email came through about the first one, The Red Knight, I think I just went "YES! YES! Even if you are only paying me £2.50 I will work for you!!!!", but then collected myself and answered "yes, please" in my most professional manner.

red knight cover

You may recall early last year when I was umming and ahhing about the colour of the outline here and here, and I'm really glad I chose the darkest of dark greens for Tom's outline, and a dark red for the Knight's. I love how experimenting at the beginning of a project can develop and inform all other projects you do in the future from then on. Now, I do all my outlines in one colour, rather than each part of them - like their hair, skin, clothes - having a different colour. And I am more in love with Manga Studio than ever. It is the best programme I've found for creating realistic ink pen lines.

red knight title page

The all-important title page.

red knight 1

red knight 2

red knight 3

My fave spread, above.

red knight 4

red knight 5

red knight 6

It's so strange finally seeing something in print that you worked on so long ago; this was finished in April/May 2012. There are bits in it that I can see the AD was totally right about that I rankled over a bit, but that's all part of the learning process.

The second book is Dom's Dragon, which I was working on this time last year.

dragon cover

dragon title page

I will never get bored of seeing my name in a title page; it's always so exciting.

dragon 1

dragon 2

dragon 3

dragon 4

dragon 5

I hope my colour ideas come through here. I wanted the beginning of the book to feel cold and icy, with Glow the dragon being the only red thing, but as she warms up Dom's house and eventually the whole town, everything becomes warmer and redder and sunnier, until the last spread is very hot and bright. I think it works, if only on a subliminal level!

The King is reminiscent of Charles II because at the time I was working on the roughs, the summer sun had brought out my Freckle Moustache, and I had somehow styled my hair with a centre parting and curls one day and ended up looking like ol' Charlie boy. He had to go in, as, of course, did bunny slippers.

Most excitingly, these are also eBooks. I'm on a Kindle!!!! Unfortunately, I didn't get sent a free download link for them, but I went and bought them myself anyway. The artwork was actually created on a square format for each page, so there is actually a lot more background on each side of each spread. I think something slightly different is happening with that - possibly eBook related - but I'm not 100% sure what it is yet .... keep you posted.

The other two books out in the last week are activity books published by Autumn Publishing; I'll go in to detail about those later this week, my typing fingers need a rest!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Happy Summer!

Yay! Sunny weather is here at last!

Hubbo and I have just come back from a week in Devon where, apart from the first two nights where I seriously believed we'd be blown away Mary Poppins-style, the weather was pretty good. Perfect for lots of long hikes, National Trust visits and plenty of scones and ice cream. Especially the ice cream.

buckland kitchen




cheese scones

Awesome butterfly-handled teapot. Kicking myself for not buying one.

Orange Elephant ice cream. Salted caramel, rhubarb & ginger and pistachio praline flavours with whipped cream and raspberry goo.