Thursday, February 28, 2013

From my Kitchen: Strawberry Tiramisu.

... Strawberry time! Have you had your first ones of the season yet? Seasonal strawberries are sweetness distil and smell delightful, unlike those tastless ones we can find at the supermarket all year round.
Here's the recipe for Strawberry Tiramisu I created from a picture seen on a magazine. While it looked like they used only strawberry sauce, I incorporated both strawberry sauce and fresh strawberries between the layers of cream and biscuits, and I believe this makes the difference in the outcome of this yummy dessert. 

Serves 4-6:
  • Fresh strawberries 1000g./2.2lbs (of which for sauce g. 800/1.7lbs)
  • Granulated Sugar (4 spoons or according to your taste)
  • Mascarpone cheese g. 250/0.55lbs.
  • 2 eggs
  • Maraschino liqueur (a sweet liqueur), about 1 teaspoon
  • Ladyfingers biscuits (1 package)
  • (Clear jelly + sugar and water as directions on the package)











Method:

Wash and slice 800g./1.7lbs of strawberries.

Mix fruit and sugar in a stainless steel pan. Let the sauce simmer for about 20-25 minutes. It should be dense but still liquid enough to be absorbed by the biscuits.

In the meantime, mix the other ingredients to obtain a smooth cheese cream.

Wash and slice the rest of the strawberries. Save some to decorate the top.

Cover the bottom of a ceramic bakeware plate (rectangular, medium size) with cream and the first layer of ladyfingers biscuits.

Spread some strawberries sauce over the biscuits.

Add mascarpone cream and a layer of sliced fresh strawberries

Add a second layer of biscuits, strawberry sauce, and finally mascarpone cream.

Put in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. I usually let it rest overnight.

Take out of the fridge at least half an hour before you want to eat it. Before serving, decorate with fresh strawberries and jelly (follow direction on the package). You may skip this step, but I recommend using jelly because it prevents from oxidation, so the strawberries will remain red and glossy. Let cool and serve. You can also make it in individual bowls for a stunning (and tidy) presentation.

From my kitchen to yours, with love♡
Monica x

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Joyful Simplicities.

DIY mug hug tutorial in my Tutorials page on the sidebar.

Nothing like a cappuccino to start my day off nicely!
Between art deadlines for Surtex (which will be in May) and other exciting things I will share with you soon, I've been painting like there's no tomorrow. A spoonful of honey in my mug everyday is definitely required.
Monica x

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dream Journal (Love).

I have recently made this journal for a dear friend.
It's a Dream Journal...


... for her to write in (and become conscious of) her deepest and wildest dreams...


... and doing so, nurture her soul.


She's a vintage girl at heart so I used the covers from a dismantled antique book to create the structure of the journal. Then I simply punched holes, inserted metal rings into them ...


... and added a few sheets. She can personalize the inside with watercolor paper, stitched pages, photographs and so on.




To add a graceful touch, added her word for 2013 on the back cover.
Now I love it so much that I'm going to make a similar one for me!

As for nurturing your soul, should you fancy to read more, in the post below I shared how I nurture mine!
Monica x

Nurture your Soul: How I Nurture Mine.


I'll tell you what I've learned along the way- some of the things I do to nurture myself: 
- I don't watch tv- since 2009 I turned that little button off and everything changed for the better! I don't mean I watch a little tv, I watch nothing at all. I have noticed that keeping a soul free from the latest catastrophes, bad-news-the-world-seems-to-nourish-with and such, keeps my heart content and makes me able to do what I have to do in this life. I very much prefer to choose joy and be an instrument of joy, rather than of fear, discomfort and sadness.

The same is for my readings.

- I fill our home with fresh flowers (or fresh twigs, herbs or and branches) always! They don't need to be from the florists or supermarket- simple fallen bare branches may be a joy for the heart and soul if arranged with love and care and a touch of creativity.

- I keep journals. An awful lot of them! Gratitude Journals, Art Journals, a Biz Gratitude Journal, a Poetry Journal, Dream Journal, Garden Journals, Daily Thoughts Journals, Project Life and variations of it (I'll tell you about them in another post). I just put some thoughts and pictures or sketches/drawings down on paper. With a date (at least, month and year! :)). They make me become conscious of my blessings, and I can assure you it's not the same to keep everything/make blessing lists in mind! :)

- I treat myself to something new very often. A new type of bread or tea, a new type of cereals, a new recipe to try, some scraps of new fabrics, different flowers from those I usually buy, a book, a package of delicious smelling envelopes or sharpened pencils, a visit to a shop or bookstore I've never visited before, a new pillow/anything I make, a different route while driving (with a dash of adventure in this case, as I have little sense of direction!).

- I take photographs every day. They make me notice even the littlest of things, and make me focus on Beauty.

- I use the prettiest things I have in my drawers and cupboards- dishes, linens, candles, soaps, clothes, etc.- and the pristine journals I've been given. I find pleasure in using that certain pretty something and not certainly in becoming a hoarder.  Each time I lit that candle, write in that book, savor the fragrance of a soap, I think of the person who gave it to me or the moment I found it. Pure delight for the soul, indeed.

- When something I buy comes in ugly packaging, when at home, I immediately change the container. I believe we should surround ourselves with beauty!

- I always cook from scratch. Cooking is in my italian genes, and there's nothing healthier and taster than the mediterranean cuisine. I avoid food that makes me feel tired, bloated and heavy.

- I use chores as meditation time.

- I wake up early in the morning and take advantage of the quiet while the rest of the world is sleeping.

I start my day with a little meditation and writing in a journal, reading something inspiring and then off I go to start my day with a waggling tail!

- I have found out which clothes/shoes make me feel comfortable, and which have the opposite effect, and I avoid them. Why should I wear what the world tells us to wear to feel pretty, and just have a grimace on my face??

- I take care of a garden or plants. I also sow seeds, water them and see them grow. And in case you're wondering, yes! I speak to my plants often :)

- I do what makes me come alive and feel comfortable, and don't care of the opinions of the others regarding what I should do instead.

- I keep my enthusiasm while speaking, and consider the natural thrill in my voice as a sign of creativity (have I ever told you that in my 20s I used to sing in a choir and was a solo soprano?)

- I make room every single day for alone time. Just me and the Spirit pervading all things. Kim was the only one allowed when she was here in flesh and fur (and still is, perhaps even more than before). I need total silence and to listen to the natural sounds around me, and if I don't make room for this time every day, I feel totally disconnected and nervous.

Monica x

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Note to the Universe.

Note:  Please consider this post as a gift from me to you- I took all of these shots in our old garden, I planted and gardened with much love for 6 years. It was ugly, desertic, abandoned and in dire need of love and attention, but in the end it had become my own "secret garden". It made me grow and bloom in both my personal and professional life.
Never made the majority of these shots public before, and I hope they'll now bring you deep joy as they have brought me in the last two years, helping me through difficult moments.
*
Dear Universe, now I really miss...
...the joy of having a garden...


... dotted with simple beauties.


The thrill of discovering the first Spring flowers right at my doorstep, after the cold winter...


... and the anticipation of seeing the buds opening to then become juicy fruits.


 I miss feeling the connection to the sacred Earth while working with dirty hands and muddy wellies and pants, and the silent prayer and meditation while carefully and lovingly taking care of Your plants.


The simple pleasures of walking barefoot on the lawn...


... relaxing and journaling out of time and space...


... hanging quilts to dry on a branch...


... and having tea on them afterwards.


The amazing delight of growing my own flowers and cutting them...


... filling baskets with petals, colors and wonder.





Harvesting lavender that will end up in my homemade soap or sachets...


... and arranging homegrown flowers to spread cheer everywhere around our home and among our friends.





Collecting Hostas...


... Hydrangeas...


... and Clematis.


The vegetable garden, to where you know I love to go with a fast-beating heart first thing in the summer mornings...


... to be surprised with every single fruit and bud and delighted with an abundant harvest.



The pleasure of having my own fruit trees...


... that present lots and lots of yumminess...


... that eventually will last for months and bring happiness to our table.


The cutting garden...


... the rose garden...



... the Hemerocallis...


... and the gorgeous irises, that make us rejoyce and feel glad of swithcing a city life with a country one.


The splash of reds and pinks of the Azaleas bushes in full bloom...


... and of blues and pinks of the Hydrangeas I love.


The outstanding beauty of the peonies, I stop staring at for endless minutes during my day.


Colorful borders...




... and a shower of roses.


Old fashioned, fragrant and romantic English roses...



... and a pretty shed.


The beds full of colors, that makes me cry of pain in my hands and back while planting them and of delight soon afterwards...


The endless, exciting discoveries for a former city-dweller...



... and the wonders of Nature and the Creation right at home.


I am ready, dear Universe. I really, really am!
... Of course, you already knew that!
With love,
Monica x