Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Gallimaufry of Autumn's Deliciousness in Maine

Autumn really is the most photogenic of seasons...I just can't stop taking pictures in Fall, especially here in beautiful Maine. The colours are delicious and luscious and so inviting, and the season itself makes me feel cozy and warm, looking forward to crackling log fires, toast with lashings of melted butter and steamed puddings galore!!
Above is Nepeta....the flowers turn a lovely pink and purple, and those colours against the green and yellow - isn't this a textile print waiting to be designed??
A perfect Pee Gee Hydrangea bloom...this year my Pee Gee is so laden with big, pendulous blossoms it is drooping to the ground....we will have some monumental bouquets this winter of the blooms which dry out to a lovely taupe and last seemingly forever.The apple trees bounty which will feed many a hungry deer and
turkey once the snow begins to fly.

A brave and tired Monarch...I have seen a few around whose wings are torn and broken but still they flit and fly around and about and look as beautiful as ever.
I don't even know what berries these are -I used them for a frozen ice wreath a couple of years and plan to do the same again this winter. Does anyone know what they are??

Another Monarch amidst the glowing goldenrod
...and a milkweed pod that has finally burst open...doesn't it look like a pine cone...
so neat and orderly..
Now here's a perfect Monarch, in more ways than one...before I found this particular butterfly I was running around the fields like a scalded hen and every time I was just about to get the perfect photograph the little rascal flew away...this good Monarch just sat and wafted his wings and allowed me to photograph as much as I wanted!! Thank you!!

Don't you love his polka dot body...I am assuming these are males but don't know for sure - they may be females for all my scientific knowledge on the subject...I do know there is a way to know but it escapes me right now. Sorry Monarch!!

and finally the surest sign of Fall...the Michaelmas Daisy or New England aster...this picture has not been enhanced in any way...I just cropped it a little but the colour is true to life right outside my window.
Michaelmas Day, September 29th, is the forgotten quarter-day. In medieval times the four quarter days were important, namely: Christmas, Lady Day, Midsummer Day and Michaelmas. It marks the end of the harvest, thus Michaelmas had special significance for agricultural societies in northern latitudes. Does this mean the aster is blooming early this year as so many other plants have done?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Romantic Rose Geranium - pie and lemonade!!! OOh la la!!

I have always loved and relished the thought of using flowers in baking and desserts in romantic and exotic and now FINALLY I have made something, actually two things, with Rose Geranium...I love the smell, I was a little leary of the 'geranium' part which can be soapy if you over do it but Rose Geranium...doesn't it just sound divine!!

Rose Geranium Buttermilk Pie
Of course I had to use Kate's Real Buttermilk in my pie, what else is there??!!


Piecrust...Pate Brisee by Martha
Pre-heat oven to 400F

1 1/4 cups/5ozs of white flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 stick (4ozs) butter I always use salted, VERY cold

1/8 to 1/4 cup ice cold water


1. Sift the flour

2. Grate the butter into the flour.

3. Gently work butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal.

4. Add some of the water and test to see if it comes together, if not keep adding water until the dough will squush into a non-sticky ball.

5. Put into the fridge to rest for at least one hour.

6. Take the pastry out of the fridge, allow to warm a very little, roll out nice and thin, then line an 8" tart pie...preferably with a removable base. Put back in the fridge for about another 20 minutes til nice and cold...the colder the better...I have found the colder it is before baking the less the pie shell will shrink in cooking.
7. Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with beans and blind bake for about 20 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and bake for about another 15 minutes so shell is somewhat cooked before you put the liquid filling in. Helps the shell stay crisper once the buttermilk filling has been added.


2 medium sized pesticide free Rose Geranium leaves

1 cup/7ozs of sugar

1/8 cup/ 1 tablespoon of softened butter

3 large eggs

1 cup/4fluid ozs Kate's Buttermilk (if you can find it) goodly pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1. Pulse sugar and rose geranium leaves in a blender or food processor 'til the leaves are minced fine.

2. Transfer to a bowl and cream in the softened butter.

3. Add the eggs one by one and blend well.

4. Add the buttermilk and the nutmeg.

5. Pour the delightful mixture into the mostly pre baked shell and cook at 350F for about 50 minutes or until the centre of the buttermilk custard is still only slightly don't want to cook it too long and the centre be really set as the pie will still be cooking even after you take it out of the oven.

Allow to cool, before eating.

The pie is a curious pale green, celery like colour and does honestly look more like a quiche...but it certainly doesn't taste that way!! It is really delicate, evanescent and curious but lovely!!

Then...I had to make Rose Geranium Lemonade...beware I like my lemonade TART!!
Unlike in the picture above...don't keep the rose geranium leaf in the lemonade as it will end up being too geraniumy...I just did this for the looks and the very shallow of me!!


Put 1 cup sugar (7ozs) and 1 cup water (4 fluid ozs) and juice of three lemons in a heavy bottomed pan and boil together for about 5 minutes to make simple syrup.

Add 2 1/2 (10 fl. ozs) cups cold water, the juice of three more lemons and three rose geranium leaves and 'muddle' for about 10 minutes...then remove the leaves beofre they become soapy..
Ta Dah!!!...the lemonade smells lovely and has a very delicate flavour you may not recognize or have tasted before.

Below is a picture of some of Autumns' early bounty here in Maine...Pee Gee Hydrangea blossoms, Chinese Lanterns from the roadside and Concord Grapes from our back yard!!!
The beautiful vase is from my friend David Jacobson...hand blown and so very elegant.
Happy nearly Fall!!!

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

More illustrated logos by Yours Truly.

I love type and I love illustration so what better way to combine the two than in full colour illustrated logos. When I first left school I took a year off and decided to work in a commercial art studio before heading off to art college. I spent almost the whole year laying out Letraset and learning about the spacing, leading and kerning of many different typefaces. Thus my love for type began, although I have to admit the Letrasetting was amazingly time consuming and laborious compared to the ease with which one sets type today...still I enjoyed the challenge!!

Pictured here are three logos I was commissioned to create by different businesses and a sketch of the first draft of one of those logos. As you can see “Ambiance” started off quite differently than it ended but the seed of the idea, the typeface, remained. The concept was embellished with English Ivy and a more formal, decorative flourish.

The "Harmony" logo above was designed for a company in California who wanted to depict a combination of the Monarch butterfly and the California Poppy, both of which are indigenous to that companies geographic area, along with the name of the store "Harmony" in an elegantly flowing script.

“Panache” was designed for a store in the Temecula wine region of California.

“Created by Mother Nature” isn’t a logo per se but has the feel of one. I had so much fun with the type on this one, changing fonts and fading the colour from top to bottom. I added the type about 5 years after I had created the central motif and was pleased with the results. This design is now featured in my Cafe Press store and part of the profits from it are donated to Maine Farmland Trust whose offices are in downtown Belfast.

All of my logos are created with watercolour paints and my beloved Winsor Newton Series 7 brushes or colour pencils on watercolour blocks by Aquarelle. The type is hand drawn with design flourishes added to create a uniquely decorative word. The only time I use a computer is to scan the image, create digital files of the artwork, change any small imperfections and resize the logos to fit their end need.

I am looking forward to designing more logos in the future and hope I am lucky enough to be commissioned to create delicious ones like that in the post two back for The Sugar Shack Cupcakery. I love the look of desserts and enjoy making and EATING them too.

If you are a small business owner interested in having a logo designed for your business please feel free to get in touch (you can click on 'e-mail' under my profile pic when you click on View Profile above in the right hand column) and ask me about my concept for marketing on a small budget!!