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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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valentines

Cariad the cat

Some see it as a way for companies to make money, others go giddy at the romance, I see it as a chance to get creative! I’m talking of course, about the swiftly approaching Valentine’s Day. For the past few days I’ve been busy honing my skills (and stabbing my poor fingers!) in a craft I’m pretty new to: needle felting. My followers may remember a post from the end of last year in which I shared my very first foray in to the world of needle felting [link] Since then I’ve taken the craft in my own direction, straying from instructions, and adding my own little extras. With Valentine’s Day in mind, I created this kitten from a set given to me as a gift. When I got going, my creative mind took over and I began to improvise…may I introduce you to Cariad (Welsh meaning ‘love’)

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Want to have a go but follow a vegan lifestyle? I’ve got it sorted! Read my guide to everything wool here: Guide to ethical knitting or take a look at the Heidi Feather’s website and etsy for vegan-friendly supplies.

If you’re interested in ethical felting, or looking for a truly unique felted gift, it’s worth taking a look at the work of Matilde Bartoletti [etsy link] who strives for ‘CRUELTY-FREE FELTING and art (created without the use of materials coming from animals exploitation; or that do not contribute to animals abuse).’ and whose creations are made using ‘either synthetic, vegetal, or recycled wool’. Take a look at some of her work below (click image for direct link)

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As well as keeping myself busy sewing and felting I also attended the Y Galeri Caerffili awards presentation event. It was great to see so many like-minded creatives enjoying and discussing each other’s art work. The winning piece was actually the one that stood out to me most at my visit the week before, an ominous and atmospheric etching titled ‘Blodeuwedd and the Pedigree Moon’ by Ian Fisher. You can see the winning piece by scrolling down on Y Galeri Caerffili’s facebook page [link]

In the spirit of the impending Saint Valentine’s Day, I leave you now with some Buddhist quotes on love to ponder over…

‘Relationships are based on four principles: respect, understanding, acceptance, and appreciation’ – Gandhi

‘Where there is love there is life’ – Gandhi

‘Happiness never decreases by being shared’ – Buddha

Sea love

This Valentine’s day I’m showing some love for sea life and bringing you the very first instalment of the promised new vegan recipe feature. This recipe for vegan sushi uses basmati/quinoa instead of the traditional white sushi rice, as it’s higher in fibre and nutrients. This recipe is also lower in sugar than ‘traditional’ sushi, and packs in some extra veggies to contribute to your 5 a day.

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ingredients

 

 

 

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♥ Tilda wholegrain basmati & quinoa (dried) or similar

♥ Rice vinegar (own brand is perfectly fine – try Sainsbury’s)

♥ Sushi nori (dried seaweed sheets – brands can be pricey, but Tesco sometimes stock a cheaper version, with more sheets)

♥ A fresh lemon

♥ Seasoning (I used lemon pepper)

♥ Vegetables of your choice (I used aubergine, broccoli and mushrooms)

♥ Fresh root ginger

♥ Optional extras: sesame seeds, spirulina powder

method

 

 

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Cook your rice/grains as instructed on the packet and drain off any excess water using a sieve. Put in a large bowl.

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Now to add the flavour! Sprinkle in any seasoning you like – I opted for lemon, lemon pepper, and ginger (grate in as much or as little as you like). Add a generous tsp of rice vinegar (this will help add moisture to stick the rice together/to the seaweed later)

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This step is optional, but I’d recommend including it! Lightly toast sesame seeds under the grill (no need to use extra oil) and add this to your bowl of seasoned rice. Sesame seeds are usually used on the outside of sushi, but I find they add a nice texture and flavour when mixed in. I also added spirulina for an extra protein hit (but be warned, you only need tiby amounts as it has a very distinct earthy taste!) Spirulina can be expensive in health food shops, so keep an eye out at food markets where you can sometimes be lucky to pick up unusual ingredients for a fraction of the price.

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Now to prep the veg – grill sliced mushrooms, thinly sliced aubergine, and cook your broccoli (using frozen is fine, or steam fresh florets, but make sure it is thoroughly drained by dabbing with kitchen towel) You’ll need to turn your mushrooms/aubergine half way through to get both sides cooked evenly. NB: with such thinly sliced aubergine the ends can slightly burn – don’t panic! pull/cut these bits off. You can use any veg you like, including strips of courgette or even butternut squash.

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Chop the heads of your broccoli so they almost resemble small grains. To save time you can use a mini food processor, I used a mezzaluna, but a sharp small knife will do just fine. Add to the rice mix and stir well.

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You now need to apply a thin, even layer of your rice mixture on to a sheet of your dried seaweed. Press lightly with a spoon.

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Arrange your vegetables – in this case the slices of aubergine and the mushrooms.

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Take another sheet of dried seaweed and press it gently over the rice/vegetables. You’ll need to make sure it’s in contact with the rice mix otherwise it won’t soften. Once you’ve made sure it’s pressed down well, leave for 5 mins. This should be enough time to allow it to soften.

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Time to roll! Start at the edge closest to you and aim for quite ‘tight’, pressing as you go along.

cuttingcollageYou’ll need a sharp knife to cut your sushi roll otherwise it’ll fall apart! I used a sharp breadknife (you’ll also notice I’ve ‘tucked in’ the ends – this is to stop any escaping rice!) Start by cutting your roll in half, then divide up into smaller sections.

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All that’s left to do is make your sushi look extra appetising by arranging it nicely on your plate. You can add any extras, such as soy sauce and wasabi.

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Talent on the doorstep

Last month, in the post titled ‘A cofession‘ I mentioned ‘One For Sorrow’ (my mixed media oil/graphite piece) was included in the winter exhibition at Y Galeri Caerffili. At the end of last month all entrants and their guests were invited to a presentation event with the mayor of the town, and, being the first time I’d seen the complete exhibition I was blown away by the talent I found myself faced with. I’m pleased to say my piece was highly commended, but what a tough decision the judges must have had choosing from so many unique and powerful pieces.

As he exhibition draws to a close, I want to introduce you to some of the gifted participants, and hope you’ll find their work as inspiring as I do. (Social media icons are clickable)

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‘Carousel Pony Painting’, oils, Elin Sian Blake.

 

Elin Sian Blake – Elin’s agricultural history is communicated strongly through her artwork, with work including beautiful Welsh landscapes and her favourite subject – Welsh Cobs and mountain ponies. She studied graphic design at the University of Glamorgan. Above is one of my favourite pieces from Elin’s online gallery.

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Neil Chard – Like Elin, Neil studied at the University of Glamorgan, studying Art Practice. As soon as I entered Y Galeri Caerfilli I noticed Neil’s atmospheric portrait. Neil’s work is detailed and you can see the real skill behind each piece. Above is his piece ‘Face in Recession’ in oils.

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‘Tide in at Polperro’ – mixed media, Shirley Fursland

 

Shirley Fursland – Shirley describes herself as an ‘amateur artist’ who ‘enjoys using acrylic and mixed media’. Shirley’s exhibited piece stood out to me as I thought the way you could see some of the newspaper print on the roof of one of the houses gave it a real quirky feel. Her pieces are wonderful examples of how texture can be used to create interest. You’ll find contact details for Shirley on her website.

aheadOn the 14th I’ll be bringing you my ‘monthly tutorial’, but with a twist! As it’s valentine’s day we’ll be showing some love for sea life (as well as ourselves – your heart will thank you for this healthier version) by whipping up some vegan sushi. Over the coming year, as promised, I’ll be replacing some arty/crafty tutorial slots with animal-friendly cookery. But don’t worry, I’ll still be including some creative ones, starting with a mini sewing project in honour of St David’s Day on the 1st March.

I’m also working on a couple of reviews that’ll appeal to art lovers, and will be scoping out a promising-looking exhibition.

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