31 May, 2012

White and red garden

After the heat, the humidy, and a massive downpour the garden is full of blooms.  The first red poppy is out and white alliums are standing tall in the flowerbed.  Last week I accidentally bought a dahlia for my containers.  White lantana is already planted in a beautiful container and so are begonias and white lobelia.

More container gardening news are coming up soon!

29 May, 2012

Ikebana 2011: classical arrangements

I got my Shoden Ikebana diploma yesterday. It travelled to me all the way from Japan!!!  To celebrate the occasion here is a little collage of traditional ikebana arrangements from last year.  Unlike FREESTYLE arrangements, traditional ones follow a certain "formula".  The branches are separated in 3 groups: sky, man, and earth (shin, nagashi, uke).  The branches are then cut to specific lengths, manipulated (if possible), and arranged to represent an equilibrium of the main elements.  Although classical arrangements look quite "simple", it takes a lot of time to create one.

The number of branches used for a classical arrangement is always odd: 3 branches for the simplest one, 5, 7, 9 and so on.  By now I am quite comfortable with the 5-branch arrangements and looking forward to practicing more complex ones.

Previous posts about IKEBANA

27 May, 2012

My week

What a fun week it has been: lots of gardening, crafting, piano playing, and spending time with people I love.  I enjoyed creating a weekly collage last time and I am hoping to make it a habit.  So this is what my week looked like:

To capture the complete feeling of the week here is Ludovico Einaudi's DIETRO CASA that've been played a lot in our house.


26 May, 2012

Weekly colours

It's Saturday - time for the weekly colour palette. Today's palette is made of colours I've used on my blog for the month of April: Tangerine Tango, Solar Power, and Bright Chartreuse.  I love this bright and sunny combo:

Happy, bright and sunny weekend to all of you!!!

25 May, 2012

Textured handmade cards

During short breaks from gardening I get back to my paper crafting. This week I continued playing with textures, taking the vintage texture technique one step further.

To make textured handmade cards you will need:
  • thick paper (I chose white watercolour paper but you can experiment with colours and paper thickness)
  • acrylic gesso and white acrylic paint
  • acrylic medium (I used modeling paste for the "hello" card and glass bead medium for the "joy" card)
  • mod podge
  • crackle paint
  • cardboard letters or other embellishments
  • lace, paper, cheese cloth, magic mesh
  • acrylic paint to create a colour pattern (I used blue and grey paint diluted with water) and a small spray bottle or two for applying it
  • brushes
Cut the watercolour paper to the dimensions of your card.  Fold in two.
Follow THE VINTAGE TEXTURE TUTORIAL to create a white textured background for the card.
For the "hello" card I've applied several thick layers of paint, alternating with cheese cloth, lace, paper, and magic mesh.  I've also used modeling paste to create textured "smudges".

Let your imagination guide you and do not forget to allow the mediums to dry completely between the layers.
To finish, apply white gesso and let dry.

Now let's play with colours: using a spray bottle apply colours in a random pattern.  I strongly recommend you to test your spray bottle on the scrap piece of paper.  But keep in mind that you can always "start over" - simply cover your card with a new layer of white acrylic paint, let dry, and spray again.
If using letters cover them with crackle paint or a thick layer of white acrylic paint.
Attach letters or other embellishments to the card.

For the "joy" card I've used a glass bead medium instead of modeling paste and lace.
I really like the textured effect created by the beads.  I also opted for slightly darker colours and more pronounced splashes.

If you notice your card warping, leave it under press (leaving it under a thick book) over night.

Pretty simple, isn't it?  Let me know if you have any questions.  I will also be very happy to see your projects using vintage texture.


24 May, 2012

Lilac and tulips

Before the lilac bush lost all its blooms I made a couple of arrangements and took lots and lots of pictures.

Here is the first simple bouquet: 3 lilac branches and 5 purple tulips in a vintage white milk carafe.

And it turned out I was not the only one who enjoyed the smell of lilac.

23 May, 2012

Lemon curd coffee cake

For the longest time I could not understand why some people like lemony desserts.  I could not feel the pleasure in eating a lemon square or a slice of lemon meringue pie.  Until recently, when I started occasionally to crave tangy lemony desserts.

Last week, when such a craving got extra strong, I decided to make lemon curd.  While searching for a recipe I've discovered a fool-proof way of making SMOOTH LEMON CURD over at Fine Cooking.  You absolutely have to try this technique no matter whether it's your first time making the curd or whether you are a lemon curd pro.

The recipe yields a little bit over 2 cups of curd. Turns out this is too much curd for the three of us.  So to use the leftovers (a little over a cup) I made a lemon curd coffee cake. The original MEYER LEMON COFFEE CAKE  recipe comes from Martha Stewart.  Liren at Kitchen Confidante adapted the recipe to make MEYER LEMON COFFEE CAKE WITH ALMOND STREUSEL.  Both recipes use a 9-inch angel food cake pan.  Since I could not find one I used a regular size loaf pan and four small loaf pans for cute "petit fours".

What you need: 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons lemon zest
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup thick yogurt (or sour cream)
1 cup lemon curd

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
  • In a large bowl beat butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time and then vanilla.  Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with yogurt.
  • Spoon 1/2 of the batter into the buttered cake pan and smooth evenly.   Add the lemon curd on top, making sure to leave a border from the inner and outer perimeter (you do not want the curd to spill out of the cake).  Top with the remaining batter.  Note: Do not fill the pan up to the rim - the cake will almost double in size while cooking.
  • Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (40-50 minutes).

And since this beautiful lemon curd cake is so yummy in the morning I am including it in my BREAKFAST CLUB series.  Just remember to enjoy in moderation!

19 May, 2012

Pink hyacinths and weekend colours

Pink hyacinths are finished.  Today I will cut the rest of them from the flowerbed.

Although tulips are still up and lilac did not loose all its blooms I feel like spring left with the last hyacinths. Or maybe it's just the heat and the sun we've beed having for the past 2 days...

Enjoy this dark, hyacinth-inspired palette and have a wonderful weekend, my friends!


16 May, 2012

Spring tea time

The shot was taken on one of the first sunny April days...

15 May, 2012

Spring flower arrangements

I really like decorating with flowers: a simple bouquet dresses up a room and makes an ordinary supper feel like a celebration. I am lucky to have my IKEBANA course every 2 weeks - not only we get to learn the Japanese art but we also get to bring all the flowers back home. Sometimes I use them to practice my ikebana skills, other times I just make little bouquets and fill our place with colour.
You do not need to spend a lot of time or money to make pretty flower arrangements. Today I want to show you how I made simple arrangements for the beautiful spring days.
Here is what I've used: tiny light pink carnations, white statice, and some greenery.

I've also added a branch from our apple tree. It just started opening its tiny blossoms and they look and smell so fresh!

I could not resist taking pictures of the delicate flowers

which, by the way, pair up so nicely with carnations and statice.

OK, back to the arrangement, or should I say arrangementS since I decided to use 3 small oil/vinegar bottles. I tied neutral-coloured stings around the vases ... just for fun.  If your vessels are very different, strings help in adding a common theme.

First, I placed carnations:  I cut some of them shorter while leaving several long stems for visual interest.

I added just a couple of statice branches, and a little bit of greenery.  The tall apple branch was placed in the second tallest vase (once again - visual interest).

Tiny bouquets looked nice but I decided to experiment and added 2 young curly willow branches. Curly willow is one of my favorite material: thin curly (duh!) branches add a nice touch to pretty much any arrangement.  They are very flexible and much fun to work with!

Instead of one arrangement I got three!

Each of them works great on its own ...

and has its own "personality".

But they also look great together - tender, fresh, and perfect for spring.

You can use any small flowers and pretty much any greenery or branches for this type of arrangement.  Keep things interesting by cutting flowers to different lengths and making things "uneven" (do not put equal number of flowers or branches into each vase).  But most importantly, have fun and smell the flowers!


13 May, 2012

Weekend colours

While waiting for poppies to bloom I get my colour inspiration from the beautiful photo.

I do not know who is the author.  The image was found on Pinterest

11 May, 2012

Quiet Friday

It's Friday - a perfect day for lyrical songs:

and a FAKE BUDDHA QUOTE (I still like it, even if it's not Buddha's)
Have a perfect, sweet weekend!

Previous music selections could be found HERE