Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Witches of Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite (June 9, 1888 – June 25, 1960) was an Australian illustrator of children's books.

Working predominantly in pen and ink, and watercolour, Ida's illustrations mostly depicted fairies frolicking in Australian settings, often in the company of Australian native animals.

I first became acquainted with her artwork as a child through one of her books called, The Little World of Elves and Fairies : An Anthology of Verse. I particularly loved the book's cover illustration (pictured above) of a little witch with her black cat, and although her fairy illustrations are truly delightful, I have a particular soft spot for Ida's witches.

Ida collaborated with her sister (Anne Rattray Rentoul), and later her husband (Grenbry Outhwaite), on a number of books during her career.

Her illustrations were also exhibited in Australia, London, and Paris, as well as appearing in periodicals and newspapers of the time.

In 1985, Australia Post honoured Ida Rentoul Outhwaite with a postage stamp featuring the cover witch from Elves and Fairies.

And while we happen to be on the subject of witches...

Magical Magaly of Magaly Guerrero's Pagan Culture is having a Halloweenie blog party. The idea is to create something for Halloween (writing, art, craft, cooking, etc.) with a theme of witches or magic, then post about it on October 17. You can find out more information at Witches in Fiction... Crafting Blooming Howls.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Birthdays, Brilliant Buddies and Back to Blogging!

First up, my poor little blog has been somewhat neglected of late because I've been unwell... again!! I'm sick of being sick, but, of course, I know full well there are souls out there far, far worse off than me, so I'll try and keep the whining to a minimum.

I don't want to bore you, but at the same time, I don't want to be mysterious, so in a nutshell, I have a hiatus hernia. If you're not familiar with the condition, it's when the stomach protrudes up into the chest because of a tear or weakness in the diaphragm. It's actually not uncommon, however some people (bless them) experience no symptoms. I've suffered bad heartburn for years, but over the last 6 months, I've had a whole lot of new and exciting pains, and problems with eating. It's been trial and error with medication, but I am starting to feel a little better, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I had initially been planning an entirely different post to this, but it all got a bit convoluted so I've put that particular idea on the back burner for the time being because I need to thank a couple of wonderful people, and I really don't want to delay that any longer. Plus, I also want to share my Burtonesque cake with you. Yes, I know. I'm stretching the definition of "Burtonesque" outrageously here, but indulge me! ;)

My husband, Danny, had a birthday this week and he requested a Chocolate Ripple Cake. (Did you notice the wee black and white striped candle?!). Despite appearances, this cake is the easiest cake on the planet to make. In fact, it's not really "cake" at all. I'm sure other countries might have their own interpretation of this dessert, but the Aussie version is made by cementing Arnott's Chocolate Ripple biscuits (cookies) together with whipped cream to form a horizontal log. The log is then covered with more whipped cream (I always sprinkle grated chocolate on top too) and then it's refrigerated for at least 6 hours, during which time the cookies soften to the consistency of cake. By cutting the cake diagonally, you get the (Burtonesque) striped pattern. (I also make a Halloweenie version of this dessert by colouring the whipped cream orange.) If you'd like to try it, you can find the recipe here. Even if you can't get hold of the Australian brand of cookies, you may have something local that you can use as a substitute.

Of course, I can't have cake without coffee (mmm... coffee), and I always whip out my cappuccino stencils for special occasions. Danny actually drinks his coffee black, so this photo is from another occasion when I was able to use both of them. I got my skull and bat stencils from the Shape Foundry on Etsy.

For the birthday dinner, I made Japanese Gyoza, which is a favourite in my household. It's also not a difficult recipe, although it is time consuming making all the little dumplings.

Now... to brilliant blog buddies!

Way back during May Monster Madness, I was lucky enough to win a giveaway over at the lovely Yvonne's blog, Winter Moon! The prize was a gorgeous necklace, but as you can see from the photo, my package was filled with lots of adorable little treats. Thank you so much, Yvonne!

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I received a package in the mail from lovely Stacy of the Magic Love Crow blog. Why? Just because she's a sweetie-pie! If you aren't already acquainted with Stacy, she's an artist who paints delightful crow themed artworks and she sent me one as a surprise. Thank you so much, Stacy!

I'll have more to say about these two charming ladies in future posts. They, and many others of you in Blogland, have unknowingly been my Muses over the last few months. I may have been unwell, but you've all inspired me in many ways, and my brain has been buzzing with creative schemes that I hope to share with you very soon.