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Ever since my oldest brother got given a huge book of origami patterns and he made me a little butterfly ring I have been fascinated by the process and results of folding a humble piece of paper. I can’t get my head around how someone can design their own complicated origami pieces (but I’ve always loved the pictures of the guys who do create them…head down in concentration sitting at a table surrounded by pieces of white paper in varying degrees of 3D-ness). I went through a stage about 1 or 2 years ago where I would keep a box of tiny litttle squares of origami paper in my handbag ready to fold something in a moment of quiet. I would fold little cranes and flowers and hyperbolic parabolas (so cool!) in public places like McDonalds and libraries and parks and I would leave my little creations on tables and chairs and hedges just so someone would see it and just wonder what the heck it was doing there! I think I still have some of that paper in my wallet. One day I will fold some more tiny creations!

So in honour of my love of origami I will share some of my favourite origami related pictures…

Firstly, a little bit of a show off…this is a Five Intersecting Tetrahedra that I made with my oldest brother. I made all the modules, but it turns out that I didn’t have enough arms (or brains) to put it together! So with four hands and two brains (and my bro’s genius new paper locking technique he devised to hold this together a little better) we put this together out of something like 30 individual pieces of paper and nothing else. This will always be one of my favourite completed origami projects! Sadly, after living on our top shelf for three years we decided it was time to let him go free…

Next is a simple origami vase and flower combination.I made a vase and a whole pile of lily flowers and some other tiny flower.  The lily folding pattern I used for most of the flowers is one of my  absolute favourite designs ever. I know how to fold it by heart. That is one of the designs I used to fold and leave on tables in food courts. It is also a design I taught to some kids at an orphanage I visited in Cambodia. I have to make this a long post and tell you about this day (probably my most recent origami adventure).

At the end of 2008 I went with a group of young people from my church to Cambodia to help out with some teaching at the Bible Education Centre that is funded by our church and to help with a few projects and we got to do  a few touristy things too. It was an amazing trip and I am considering returning for a longer period of time some time in the future. But back to origami…the team I was working with decided to go to an orphanage we had heard about at a restaurant (the restaurant raised funds for the small orphanage) just to hang out with the kids and we thought we might teach them a few songs or something (we didn’t really have anything planned). We were led by an employee of the restaurant down streets, into an alleyway and up some winding long stairs until we arrived. The orphanage had about 26 kids there and most of them were sitting on the ground concentrating on making beautiful Christmas decorations for their Christmas party the next day.

This is what they looked like hanging from the ceiliing…

I was intrigued and I sat down with them and I ended up teaching a few of the girls how to make the origami lily (I was a little bit rusty and I had to rack my brains but I figured it out in the end!). It was so nice to just sit and share something that easily overcomes any language barrier. This was one of my favourite experiences from the entire trip.

I am the one in the pink shirt in this pic, and my best bud is sitting in the front trying to figure it all out.

It was a lovely day and a couple of hours flew by just sitting drawing with the kids, while some of the boys played some games off to the side.  I really wish I remembered more folds that I could have shared with them though!

And thus concludes the telling of my origami adventures for today.

p.s. I still can’t fold that butterfly ring that my brother made me when I was a kid. I sort of like it that way.

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I have been doodling a lot lately, and sometimes, on a good day, I come up with some pretty cool linework. And if it’s good enough I will scan it into the computer and have a play around in photoshop and colour them in. Here are two of my pieces that I was pretty happy with…

I used to be very averse to digital colouring due to some sense of loyalty to traditional art mediums. I have since come to realise the value of digital art (especially in commercial and illustrative areas of interest) and I have also realised that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea!  I think that if I had more reason to practice using photoshop and corel I would definitely get better at it…but for me it lacks that personal attachment I get to a drawing or painting. I seem to get very attached to my paintings…I love to run my hand over a completed painting just to feel the different textures (and I have had to fight the urge to do the same thing in art galleries!) and I love the idea of a piece of art being a complete one off. But don’t get me wrong, I still love digital art, but my heart remains loyal to the traditional.

(But I am incredibly proud of my digital colouring efforts!)

Once I found a blue gel ink pen and it matched a red pen so I decided to draw a picture. This is one of my favourite pictures…I’ve lost the original but I am so glad I scanned it in.Red_shirt

That is all for today. I will be back later to share more of my creative adventures.

p.s. I cooked an amazing roast chicken tonight. I can still smell it’s deliciousness. Just think of garlic and rosemary and white wine. It was that good.

One of the first birthday presents I ever made for my younger sister was a cute little piece of embroidery my grandma helped me with when I was about 9 or 10. It was a simple little piece with baby ducks and chickens and a few flowers. I remember being fascinated by the tiny little ‘lazy daisy’ stitches and the silky threads. The satisfaction of a finished piece being put into a frame was like no other, I was so proud. My sister still has it.  It was a vintage iron on transfer from my grandma’s collection that I used to pore over. My grandma died when I was about 12 and I don’t know what happened to those embroidery transfers. Now whenever I embroider, I am reminded of my grandma patiently teaching me all the little stitches.

The projects below are from two or so years ago.

Love dino and anatomically correct skull

Now, although I still love vintage embroidery, I am enthralled by the idea of moving embroidery into today’s fashion. It is such a versatile skill and to actually sit down with a needle and thread is almost a meditative process.

The embroidery above are some of my more recent forays into embroidery. The skull came from a desire to treat the needle and thread as a pen on paper. I sketched a skull from my anatomy textbook, simplified it a little, drew on some basic outlines very lightly with a pencil and filled it in carefully. I was very happy with that one. The ‘love dino’ was inspired by some small drawing I vaguely recalled seeing and I wanted to try my hand at filling in an outline with some long stitch. I would love to do this dinosaur on a baby t-shirt for a gift (when I actually have a friend who requires such gifts!)

Embroidered Patches medley

I made these patches to sew onto my handbag. I love buttons and badges and patches sewn on fabric. I don’t want to grow out of it. My mum used to collect little touristy patches in a little box in her sewing cupboard and I always loved the sturdy little embroidered patches. When I found an internet tutorial that quite simply explained how to achieve such results I almost danced for joy! All I did was figure out some simple designs, cut out the shape, embroider and finish off my embroidering a lovely little black border over the edge of the felt. It takes a while, but they really are cute and reusable!
And that is all of my creative adventures for today.

xo

Here is a modified recipe for a risotto that is delicious! I know it looks like a lot of steps, but it’s really simple. Take the time to read the recipe and understand it before you actually start cooking. This is my second risotto…the first I made was from a Jamie Oliver cookbook of my sister in law’s (the recipe was for roasted butternut squash, pancetta, chestnut and sage risotto). I highly recommend that recipe. It ignited an interest in making more risottos.

This recipe is modified from another recipe I found in a google search. The original recipe is here…http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/006126butternut_squash_risotto.php

Ingredients

2 cups arborio rice
1 small butternut pumpkin aka butternut squash (or half a jap pumpkin)
1 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 small onions (or a big fat one) diced finely
2 cloves garlic diced finely
3-4 tbsp butter
1 small zucchini thinly sliced (use a vegetable peeler for best results)
1/2 cup grated/shaved parmesan cheese
3 rashers bacon
olive oil
salt
garlic powder (optional)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
2. Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds with all the goopy orange fibres
3. Spread tsp olive oil onto baking tray and put the scooped out seeds onto the tray and sprinkle with salt and garlic powder.
4. Slice up pumpkin (with skin on) into 5mm thick slices, put some olive oil onto big baking tray and toss pumpkin pieces so they have a light coating of olive oil.l
5. Place both trays in oven, set timer for 10 minutes (pumpkin seeds should go on top shelf)
6. After 10 minutes, check pumpkin seeds. They should be lightly browned.
7. Remove from oven and let cool, keep tray for cooking bacon later
8. Turn oven down to 180 degrees, cook pumpkin for 30-40 minutes or until they are roasted nicely and are soft to touch.
9. Remove from oven and set aside to cool
10. Heat stock in pot, leave on low heat while beginning the risotto
11. Melt 2 tbsp butter in large frying pan over medium heat
12. Add onion, cook until onion is soft and transparent
13. Add rice, stirring and cooking for 1-2 minutes until the grains look transparent
14. Add wine, stir until absorbed/evaporated
15. Ladle in a spoonful of stock and gently stir risotto til stock is absorbed
16. Repeat step 15 til the rice is cooked…this takes 15-20 minutes
17. In between ladles of stock, place 3 rashers bacon onto seed roasting tray and cook in 180 degree oven until crispy
18. Slice up roasted pumpkin
19. In the last little bit of risotto cooking, add the zucchini and stir til combined and zucchini is soft. Add pumpkin and half of the parmesan and mix it in
20. Slice up bacon
21. Garnish risotto with crispy bacon, parmesan and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Yummmmy! The roasted pumpkin seeds are so delicious, I don’t want to ever let another one go to waste!

Let me know how this risotto goes if you make it. I love hearing from fellow food lovers…