Inktober 2020

Last year’s Inktober was such fun that I was determined to participate again in 2020, and, if possible, try to make even more drawings than back then.

Sadly I didn’t manage to create more drawings, but under the circumstances (it turns out pandemics suck out your creative juice, well, at least they do that with mine) I’m happy to have managed at least a few drawings after all.

So, without further ado, here are my drawings for Inktober 2020:

This drawing was inspired by the pattern of my bed linens – I do anything for another five minutes in bed!

I’d fun learning more about plants and flowers that are not only pretty but sometimes deadly beautiful, like foxglove:

Having read Harry Potter for the umpteenth time in October I simply had to include the Hogwarts coat of arms. I even made one of those online test that let you know to which of the four houses you’d belong – turns out I’m a Ravenclaw. 😉

Hogwarts coat of arms

Always willing to learn something new I gave it a try and made my first Manga style drawings:

Chihiro and Haku from “Spirited Away”

Haku and No-Face from “Spirited Away”

Also I’ve been reminiscing about my childhood’s wish to become a marine biologist once I grew up – didn’t happen, but my love for marine wildlife is still going strong.

Whale shark

Blue whale in a circle
Blue whale in a circle

And that was it! Do you have any favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Virtual Tea Party – Cinnamon Edition

I’m not going to whine about how fast time has gone again, and that I haven’t properly prepared for today’s virtual tea party – because in the end I managed to bake a tray of these delicious cinnamon buns this morning and they have made me completely happy because, well, you know, CINNAMON!!!

(By now you’ve probably realized that I love the stuff. 😉 )

In case you detest cinnamon (I can’t even imagine how that’s possible but I’m willing to accept that you’re maybe one of the few), please feel free to skip this post and hop right over to Su’s where you’ll be perfectly served with little mini pancakes with a mix of toppings, lemon shortbread with mascarpone and strawberries or a fruit cake!

Cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven and a mug of green tea (November 2020)

Also I found the perfect quotes to go along with my post, so even more happiness!!!

“Anyone who gives you a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven is a friend for life.” Daniel Handler

I love these dried cinnamon bark rolls

Cinnamon bites and kisses simultaneously. Vanna Bonta

Did you know that cinnamon was so highly prized among ancient civilizations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for a deity?

In Ancient Egypt, cinnamon was even used to embalm mummies(!).

To give you an idea about its worth in antiquity: cinnamon was too expensive to be commonly used on funeral pyres in Rome, but the Emperor Nero is said to have burned a year’s worth of the city’s supply at the funeral for his wife Poppaea Sabina in AD 65.

cinnamon bun

Personally I much prefer ingesting cinnamon while still alive. 😉 Preferably in forms of rolls but I don’t mind putting a bit of cinnamon in my coffee as well from time to time, and especially around Christmas.

Cinnamon is also supposed to have several health benefits (like for blood sugar management in those with diabetes, reduce blood pressure and ease digestive discomfort).

Hope you enjoyed this post and look forward to look what you’re bringing to the party! 😀

P.S. Noticed the deliberate absence of the C-word? Awesome, right? 😉

Film Friday – “Some people don’t like it if you’re different.”

Film Fridays is a project initiated by Darren from over at The Arty Plantsman and me.

(By now you should know the drill so I’m not going to copy the intro text this time, and if you don’t know what this is all about just click here.)

I count today’s film as a lucky find that I made in my local library, instantly drawn to it by the cover design and the mention of two of my favorite actors.

I only watched it the day before yesterday for the first time, so it hadn’t been on my list of favorite films until then. And because my memory is still fresh with the story and images I decided to write about it now instead of some time later (gotta have to bend the rules sometimes, you know?).

Maudie is a 2016 biographical drama film directed by Aisling Walsh and starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke.

In short it’s an inspiring portrait of the resilience of a crippled but immensely creative woman, namely Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis.

The filmmakers chose not to emphasize Lewis’ physical conditions, as they said these did not form the entirety of her identity.

Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis

Maud (Sally Hawkins) lives with her bossy and judgmental Aunt Ida (Gabrielle Rose) in the seacoast town of Digby in Nova Scotia. Crippled by rheumatoid arthritis, bent over, and bullied for her physical deformities, she is taken aback when her brother Charles (Zachary Bennett) arrives with news that he has sold their family home. She protests by saying, “I’ll look after it,” and he responds, “You can’t even look after yourself.”

Maud uses this setback to boldly embark on a new life. She takes a job as a live-in housekeeper for Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke), a cranky, oftentimes cruel, and violent fish peddler. He lives in a small house on the edge of town and is known as an eccentric and loner. At first, he is unhappy with her presence, constantly criticizing her cooking and cleaning, and even hitting her out of frustration.

Inside Maud’s and Everett’s house

She responds by expressing herself creatively. She begins to decorate the walls, doors, and windows of his home with her bright and childlike paintings of birds, blooming flowers, perky cats, and landscapes. This life is enough for her. She explains that just by looking out the window, she can see “the whole of life already framed.”

Eventually we watch as these two social outcasts inch their way toward a tender and touching business and personal relationship.

The film was shot in Newfoundland and Labrador, requiring a re-creation of Lewis’s famously small house (10 ft × 12 ft /3.0 m × 3.7 m).

In a way, the landscape feels as much a part of the cast as the actors. It’s wild, beautiful and sometimes very harsh.

Sally Hawkins is – as always – absolutely breathtaking in this film, and simply outshines all her co-stars.

Originally Sean Bean was cast for the role as Everett Lewis, but left the project due to other commitments, and was replaced by Ethan Hawke. Which in the end I think was lucky because even though I really love Sean Bean, I think Ethan Hawke was the better choice for this role.

This film has touched my heart and soul and I’m not ashamed to admit that it also had me silently crying at times.

It’s one of those rare films that will stay with you long after you’ve watched it.

The Changing Seasons – October 2020

I can’t believe how fast October went by! And that it’s time again for Su‘s wonderful challenge The Changing Seasons!

Unlike her I didn’t spend a lot of time gardening as Winter’s coming (definitely watched too much GoT again!!) and my plants are getting ready for hibernation. Wish I could do that too!

Before I get into what I did this month, let me quickly say THANK YOU to two of my wonderful friends who surprised me with their amazing gifts this month:

My dear friend Marlene from over at In Search Of It All gifted me with this beautiful heart shaped mug rug!

How she found the time to do it, what with having had to evacuate because of the terrible fires and smoke that were bringing devastation to the west of the US, will remain a mystery to me!

It’s now hanging on the wall above my desk, where it makes me smile whenever I look at it, with its heartwarming, wonderful message.

Beautiful mug rug by my friend Marlene

And then came another unexpected surprise, this time from my wonderful friend Darren from over at The Artsy Plantsman!

An original piece of art, a perfect pencil drawing of a giraffe! (It’s also now hanging on the wall above my desk.)

To think of all the hours my friends have spend creating these beautiful pieces of art for me makes me feel utterly grateful and blessed.

Perfect pencil drawing of a giraffe by Darren

And now to what I was up to in October!

Because it was a lot of fun in September I decided to make another doodle calendar:

Doodle calendar October 2020 (ink and watercolor on paper)

What I hadn’t expected was that it was much more challenging to draw it this time than the last because somehow I ended up doing almost the same things as in September! Which mainly is buying groceries, cooking, reading, making art (expect an Inktober post soon!) and going for walks in between.

What stood out was a surprise visit from a squirrel at my kitchen window (I live on the fourth floor so this really was a first!), a busted kitchen sink drain, getting my flu shot and making quince marmalade (also a first).

First half of October

I spend an inappropriate amount of time cleaning – all in all three consecutive days, which should do for another six months at least (just kidding!) and watching TV.

So in a way you could say that I was practicing for our second lockdown that’s in place from tomorrow on.

Second half of October

I also tried out a new for me recipe – Japanese Miso soup. I added a few more vegetables than customary, also some buckwheat soba noodles which I seem to have forgotten to add to the picture.

It was so yummy that I didn’t have time to take a photo of it once it was cooked! Maybe next time. 😉

Miso soup in the making

On the creative side I made a new shopping bag for my mum with a Mexican fabric that I fell in love with the instant I spotted it on the street market (as part of her birthday presents).

Isn’t this fabric wonderful?

New shopping bag

Since she adores coffee I thought it would be fun for her to not only drink it but also wear it.

So I made these cute little earrings with freshly roasted coffee beans!

Coffee bean earrings

Coffee bean earrings

Let’s end this post with an amazing sunset that I watched from my balcony a few days ago:

Golden sunset

And this was it! Hope you enjoyed this post, and I look forward to reading yours!

If you would like to join in, here are the challenge guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them
The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.
If you do a ping-back to Su’s original post, she can update hers with links to all of yours.

Film Friday – “Lend me your ears!”

Film Fridays is a project initiated by Darren from over at The Arty Plantsman and me.

(By now you should know the drill so I’m not going to copy the intro text this time, and if you don’t know what this is all about just click here.)

Inspired by the lovely Lani from over at Life, Universe and Lani who chose one of her childhood favorites for Film Friday last week, I decided to pick my own for today’s post. Like hers mine is considered a truly awful film by many, but I can’t help it, I simply love it!

Robin Hood: Men in Tights is a 1993 American musical adventure comedy film and a parody of the Robin Hood story. The film was produced and directed by Mel Brooks and stars Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, and Dave Chappelle in his film debut. It includes frequent comedic references to previous Robin Hood films (particularly Prince of Thieves, upon which the plot is loosely structured, Disney’s Robin Hood, and the 1938 Errol Flynn adaptation, The Adventures of Robin Hood).

I think I’ve watched this film about a hundred times when I was a kid, and now over twenty years later I still couldn’t stop laughing when I just watched some clips on Youtube right now to remind me of the best scenes.

And let’s face it – Cary Elwes is a real hottie. 😉 And Mel Brooks is just brilliant of course.

So to help wet your appetite in case you have never seen this film, here come a few lines and dialogues:

Prince John:
Such an unusual name, “Latrine.” How did your family come by it?

Latrine:
We changed it in the 9th century.

Prince John:
You mean you changed it TO “Latrine”?

Latrine:
Yeah. Used to be “Shithouse.”

Prince John:
It’s a good change. That’s a good change!

—————————————————————————————————————

Blinkin:
This never would have happened if your father was alive.

Robin Hood:
He’s dead?

Blinkin:
Yes.

Robin Hood:
And my mother?

Blinkin:
She died of pneumonia while – oh, you were away!

Robin Hood:
My three brothers?

Blinkin:
Died of the plague.

Robin Hood:
My dog Pogo?

Blinkin:
Run over by a carriage.

Robin Hood:
My goldfish Goldie?

Blinkin:
Eaten by the cat.

Robin Hood:
My cat?

Blinkin:
Choked on the goldfish. Oh, it’s good to be home, ain’t it, Master Robin?

——————————————————————————————————————-

Prince John:
I tell you that tonight, we shall have a wedding. Or a hanging. Either way, we ought to have a lot of fun, huh?

——————————————————————————————————————–

Sheriff of Rottingham:
Over that boy hand!

Sheriff of Rottingham:
Hand over that boy!

——————————————————————————————————————-

Prince John:
Save me, save me! Hurt them, hurt them!

Sheriff of Rottingham:
Save them, save them, hurt you, hurt you, yes, I’ve got it!

——————————————————————————————————————–

Scarlet:
Blinkin! Fix your boobs; you look like a bleedin’ Picasso!


Robin Hood:
I am Robin Hood, and these are my Merry Men!

Rabbi Tuckman:
Faygeles?

Robin Hood:
No, straight. Just Merry.

And if these weren’t enough to convince you, here are some clips:

Hope this post brought a smile on your face! We can all do with a good laugh these days, can’t we?

Wishing you a lovely weekend! Take care!

Virtual Afternoon Coffee; let’s sit inside ’cause it’s raining ;)

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon Su’s post two days ago declaring it’s time again for our monthly virtual tea party – how could it be that we’re already halfway through October? (Let alone more than halfway through this year?)

I have absolutely no idea, and even worse – I haven’t baked anything for you!! Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa! (That’s fancy latin for “shame on me”.)

So I had two options, no three:

– not taking part in today’s challenge (which actually isn’t an option at all)

– presenting you store-bought cookies (mmh, okay but not ideal)

– or taking out some banana bread from the freezer and toast it (yep, you’ve guessed it, that’s what I did).

“I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women (I couldn’t agree more!)

Banana bread with Nutella and a cup of coffee (October 2020)

It might not look all that appetizing but it tastes absolutely amazing, especially when you add Nutella (which I did). And you’ll love the walnuts and Goji berries I added to the bread (at least I hope you do).

And in case you prefer savory over sweet, there’s also always some home baked sourdough bread and ready-to-bake pretzels in the freezer. 😉

I suspect my lacking enthusiasm when it comes to baking these days can be found in my rising anxiety levels due to our scary rising numbers of infections here.

It’s much worse in France at the moment than it is in Germany now, but let’s not forget that they’re r e a l l y close to us. Also we’re well on our way playing catch-up with them, and Berlin especially is on of the biggest hotspots. Ugh.

While there were about 50 new cases per day in the summer here in Berlin, it’s now up to 500 (!) a day. And the numbers keep rising.

Fortunately we’re in the midst of our Autumn holidays, but after that it’s back to work again, and I’m not really looking forward to that.

Also it’s reported that people started hoarding again – yay! (Will have to see if I can get more toilet paper!)

So there’s not a lot of things that make me happy right now – which might explain why that jar of Nutella is already half empty, I obviously try to rise my serotonin levels via chocolate overdose.

But enough of me! How about you? Are you still/again/never stopped worried? And to my friends in the US: my condolences for having to put up with the election and all that – I don’t envy you! But hey, don’t worry: it’s all fake anyway! 😉

The Changing Seasons – September 2020

It’s time again for the wonderful challenge The Changing Seasons hosted by my dear friend Su from Zimmerbitch!

You might have noticed that I’ve skipped the Changing Seasons challenge last month.

It wasn’t actually for the lack of suitable photos to represent my month but more a case of feeling a bit under the weather.

Before I start with my September however, here come a couple of shots from what I have been up to in August:

After months of dedicated knitting I finished a new pair of socks!

And on a walk in a park I discovered this fabulously built lean-to:

So much for August.

In September I was determined to finally do my very own doodle calendar after months of admiring the ones made by my lovely friend A Wonderful Sheep! Please check out her awesome blog/YouTube channel and IG!

It was a lot of fun to decide at the end of each day what little picture to draw to represent my day.

Sometimes it was fairly easy, like when a dove crash landed on my balcony and I had to catch it to bring it to a veterinarian. (It was fine, just under shock and afterwards I released it in a park.)

Or when I had a huge row with one of my colleagues (look out for the little skull!).

Most of the time it was just the usual however: making art or music, cooking, baking, or just reading a good book.

This month I also managed to finish a watercolor that I have started ages ago – at least I could hold my promise to do so before Christmas!

On the other hand I also managed to somehow wreck my current work in progress! Now it sports a big fat hole and I still haven’t found the time to pay my canvas dealer a visit in order to fix the problem!

You can probably imagine how devastated I was, and to prove it I haven’t worked on my painting ever since, even though I could just work around the hole.

Luckily my passiflora beautifully compensated me with one of its magnificent flowers to cheer me up:

And this was it! Hope you enjoyed this post, and I look forward to reading yours!

If you would like to join in, here are the challenge guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them
The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.
If you do a ping-back to Su’s original post, she can update hers with links to all of yours.

Film Friday – “Baird, go out there and be a star.”

Film Fridays is a project initiated by Darren from over at The Arty Plantsman and me.

(By now you should know the drill so I’m not going to copy the intro text this time, and if you don’t know what this is all about just click here.)

After writing about a rather somber film last time, I thought it was time again for a good laugh and get those belly muscles a nice workout!

For this I can wholeheartedly recommend “Hail, Caesar!”, a 2016 comedy film written, produced, edited, and directed by the legendary Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan.

The film stars an awfully good cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum.

“Hail, Caesar!” is a fictional story that follows the real-life fixer Eddie Mannix (Brolin) working in the Hollywood film industry in the 1950s, trying to discover what happened to a cast member (George Clooney) who vanished during the filming of a biblical epic.

And as if that wasn’t enough he also is busy fending off the twin gossip columnists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (both played by Tilda Swinton), and weighing an impressive job offer from the Lockheed Corporation. Also when unmarried synchronized swimming actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) becomes pregnant, Mannix arranges for her to place the baby in foster care then discreetly adopt it, preserving her image.

So much for the plot.

And here, to whet your appetite a few lines and quotes from the film, plus the movie trailer (which isn’t too bad as trailers go), and my very favorite scene (which was hard to pick since the whole film contains of favorite scenes):

– Eddie Mannix: Bless me, father, for I have sinned.

– Priest: How long since your last confession, son?

– Eddie Mannix: 27 hours.

– Priest: It’s really too often. You’re not that bad.”

—————————————–

– Catholic Clergyman: Christ is more properly referred to as the son of God.

  • Eddie Mannix: Not sure I follow, Padre.
  • Rabbi: Young man, you don’t follow for a very simple reason; these men are screwballs. God has children? What, and a dog? A collie, maybe? God doesn’t have children. He’s a bachelor. And very angry.
  • Protestant Clergyman: He…” (CONTINUE READING)


My favorite scene starring the wonderful Ralph Fiennes as movie director Lawrence Laurentz:

Let’s give you some background info:

Set in 1951, “Hail, Caesar!” takes place at a transitional time for the film industry. The studio system was breaking down, and a Supreme Court ruling had forced studios to divest their movie theaters. Television, then still in its early years, threatened to pull away audiences. The Cold War and the Red Scare were both underway. Hollywood responded by creating escapist fare: westerns, highly choreographed dance and aquatic spectacles, and Roman epics with massive casts.

Writing in The Washington Post, Kristen Page-Kirby noted that the nostalgia for Hollywood’s golden age is heavily filtered by time. “It’s easy to look back at any part of the past and say, ‘Yeah, that’s how it should be today’. Hail, Caesar! uses the uniformly terrible fake movies within it to show that while we all remember 1946 for stuff like The Yearling and Notorious, it also gave us Tarzan and the Leopard Woman.”

The Coens cited their own examples of sub-par films and performances from the era that they saw as television re-runs while growing up: That Touch of Mink (1962), and Laurence Olivier, in brownface, co-starring with Charlton Heston in Khartoum (1966). “We loved that stuff. We just didn’t realize we were watching crap,” said Joel Coen.

So if you are also a fan of the Coens and love good entertainment, I’d say grab yourself a bowl of popcorn, get comfy and watch – among other hilarious scenes – Channing Tatum doing a tap dance(!).

“I say let the world go to hell, I should always have my tea.” – Fjodor Dostojevski

My dear friend Su has come up with the fabulous idea to host a virtual tea party each month, indulging us with her wonderful photos of delicious food, beautiful china and great tea.

These days I have to admit that I think quite a lot about food.

It’s almost an obsession.

As soon as I’m awake and stumble into the kitchen to get my daily dose of oats for breakfast, I’m pondering what I will have for lunch and/or dinner, what I can snack in between, what yummy baked goodies might be served on Sundays… well, you get the drive. 😉

Luckily so far I manage to not eat everything what pops into my mind or I might have to go shopping for new clothes which under the circumstances I’m not too keen on.

But it’s always there, right at the back of my mind, which is why I literally can’t wait for it to be The Virtual Tea Party again, so that I have a good excuse to bake something (for you of course, I as the perfect hostess won’t take a bite, no, I won’t even nibble at any cake whatsoever!! Perish the thought!)

Carrot cake and carrot cake muffins with cream cheese frosting and a nice cup of Darjeeling (September 2020)

So today I’m going to serve you one of my all-time favorites, a cake that’s perfect in all seasons, summer or winter, spring or autumn:

The Carrot Cake! (Yes, the use of capital letters is deliberate.)

Who doesn’t love a good carrot cake, all spicy, soft, fluffy and moist at the same time? Okay, the cream cheese frosting can be argued (in my case I love it), which is why I’m going to serve it to you extra if you prefer it as well.

But otherwise I hope you’ll all help yourself to a piece of cake while I pour you tea or coffee.

And don’t get irritated by my little dragon, I promise he couldn’t hurt a fly and will only take a good look and a sniff at your cake. 😉

Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie.” – Jim Davis

Better be quick, my little baby dragon might change its mind after all. 😉

Unfinished Paintings – The Three Alpacas

 

As promised here comes another one of my unfinished paintings!

 

This time I was inspired by a photo of three alpacas taken by my dear friend Su from over at Zimmerbitch. The photo in question was made a couple of years ago and she also edited it with Snapseed and Photolab apps to turn it into a painting-like photo.

I was completely smitten by that and thought I would give it a try to copy her photo (only after I asked for her permission to do so of course).

As it sometimes goes I ended up with a very different colour scheme!!

 

DSC_0907
Me and my Three Alpacas (2020)

 

 

 

DSC_1050 (1)
The Three Alpacas (sometime 2017)

 

 

DSC_1052
Detail from The Three Alpacas

 

DSC_1053
Detail from the Three Alpacas

 

DSC_1054
Detail from the Three Alpacas

 

Su Leslies Alpacas
Su’s edited photo of the tree alpacas (2017)

 

 

 

And you? Do you sometimes start something and in the end it’s completely different from what you had in mind?

Let me know all about it in your comments!