Coloring and Activity Books

Colleen and I tend to stir up mischief, in this case it’s making coloring and activity books for Halloween. Not satisfied with purely kids Halloween, we followed up with lined journals with a spooky theme. We started to wonder about turning gothic fantasy figures into full pages for adult coloring. Why not? Coloring is fun. That’s led to rather more children’s activity and coloring books, and then adult journals.

In for a penny, in for a pound, as our Nan used to say.

We have a batch of Australian animal images because Colleen instigated us learning the art of digital coloring from photographs. We found our images in the wild and paid for commercial use (well-credited to the lovely photographers at various image providers). Making beautiful or quirky things is a great way to distract from stress.

Take a look at our growing page of adventures in print, and we hope some will wander home with you.

Have fun, and share what you color.
Here is where to find us on amazon

Billabong Flats – Australian animal stories

Billabong Flats, the creation of Ria Loader is a mythical place in the Australian Bush. Full color images accompany the first three stories, published by Book View Cafe in November 2020.

It shares space with other imaginary places like the Five Acre Wood, the Peace Rock, and the abode of Ratty and Mole. It is just as real as you’d like it to be – no more, and no less.

The animals dream the world, as much as the world creates them. The Land speaks through them. They welcome all, no matter how different they may be, or what native languages they may speak. When they come together, they can all speak the same, the voices become that of friendship and accord, where all can have adventures together.

BOOKS 1-4 IN EBOOK
June was a busy month, with two books published. August followed on with book 4, making 12 stories with around 15 illustrations per book. It was fun reading out loud, tuning the rhythm of the words. My sister, Colleen M Loader was a brilliant collaborator in getting the final stories read. A big thank you to the BVC team, especially Sherwood Smith and Jennifer Stevenson. These are all eBook’s, with print to follow in a few months. They read well on all mobile devices, including phones.
https://bookviewcafe.com/bookstore/bvc-author/ria-loader/

Art prints are available at sagedepot.com.

https://sagedepot.com

Honey Jumbles – tea cookies

HoneyJumbles.pngThis is a variant of a shortbread recipe that adds lightness and spice. There’s a childhood version with molasses, but we get our flavor intensity from the ginger and a dark honey. It’s terrific as a tea cookie. The citrus glaze is delicious.

Variants:
Skip the ginger and honey
and add lemon zest to make
lemony tea cookies

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup of baking sugar (fine)
1 stick of butter (4oz)
1 teaspoon of ginger
1 egg
(2 teaspoons ginger if powdered)
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon baking powder

Equipment

Clean hands
Mixing bowl
2 desert spoons to shape the mix
baking tray with parchment
Make a wax paper piping bag
Oven preheated to 350 degrees F

Making

Cream butter and sugar by hand in a bowl
(the heat of your hand will melt the butter)
Add the ginger and mix well
Mix in the honey and egg
Add the baking soda and gradually add flour
Form lozenges using the desert spoons
Bake for 12 minutes

Glaze

1 cup of confectioners sugar
1 lemon
Beat until slightly stiff
When the cookies are cool, put 3-4 stripes of glaze on each
(push the cookies together and you can glaze a row at a time)

 

 

Travel: Sydney from an insider

I thought it might be fun to share some thoughts on my home town, Sydney. I am traveling home later in the summer to walk on the beaches of my childhood, to fill myself with the sights and sounds of home.

Sydney Gardens
One of the best things about Sydney is the gardens with views of the water. The Botanical Gardens can be entered from the St James station end, across from the New South Wales Art Gallery, or from down near the Opera House. It is a lovely planned garden, with a plethora of interesting and brightly colored flowers, wandering Ibis, shelters and follies. You can see fabulous views of the water from the gardens. Other fantastic views are just around the curve of the walk. Locals wander the gardens too; it’s a favorite place for lunch in the middle of the city.

SydneyGardens

Beaches of course
No trip to Sydney would be complete without a visit to a beach or two. One of my most favorite memories is taking a ferry ride over to Manly (a passenger ferry, boarded via a plank, I kid you not). Along the boardwalk, on the way to the beach, get some fish and chips to eat out of the paper bag, hot and fresh, on Manly Beach. Another treat is to take a train out to some of the Southern Beaches. If rivers are more to your liking, the National Parks are accessible by train from Central Station, and you can rent a row boat for an easy afternoon on the water.

ManlyBeach2

A trip to the zoo
It’s true that we have the wackiest animals on the planet. Among them are kangaroos and koalas. Locals who rescue roos will tell you that the little blighters do kick, as I learned when I was in high school. A friend rescued a wallaby, and when it had grown a bit, we got kicked if we got in its way. The cuddly looking koalas sport wicked claws, all the better to climb the local gum trees. Find both of these animals at Taronga Park Zoo. Catch a view of the emu, the crocodile and the lyrebird with its fabulous plumage too. You can also get up close, though behind glass, from some of the worlds most poisonous critters, if that takes your fancy.

AustralianAnimals

Hyde Park – green belt through the city
Hyde ParkHyde Park is a great lunch spot in the middle of the city. Visit the Archibald Fountain, with its classic Greek figures Apollo, Diana, Pan and the Minotaur, right across from St Mary’s Cathedral near St James railway station. St Mary’s is a lovely spot, and interesting for being a north facing cathedral, instead of the usual east-facing architecture. Bit of a novelty. It even has a lady chapel all the way to the north, behind the main altar. Not something you’ll find on the tourist information sites.

WarMemorialThe War Memorial in Hyde Park has a figure of the fallen soldier, draped across his shield, and mothers carrying the fallen. The contemplation pool outside the memorial reflects all the moods of the Sydney sky. A walk across the street finds you at the Sydney Museum where you will find dinosaur bones and more rocks than you can poke a stick at. Along the way, stop to enjoy the enormous Morton Bay fig trees that are a feature of the park. Sit under a tree and watch the birds and do some people watching. When you’ve had your fill, find a café for some tea and scones, or latte served in a glass cup.

If you get lost, chat with a shopkeeper, or some of the locals. They’re friendly, I promise.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

pastryballSweet Pastry 101

Colleen tells me that shortcrust pastry gets its texture from shortening the gluten strands with a fat. This makes it melt-in-the-mouth. In Seattle, the humidity in the air requires attention to the texture of the mix and you may need to add or subtract flour to get the desired end. A light hand is needed to avoid overworking the pastry.

Sweet pastry should be able to stand on its own, and for Colleen’s preferred recipe, it can be sliced up and served as shortbread.

Ingredients

1.5 sticks of butter at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 large egg
2-3 tablespoons of water
80 grams (1/4 cup) of baking sugar

Equipment

A large bowl
Plastic wrap or wax paper (either is good)
Rolling pin
Measuring cups
Pie dish or dishes
Pastry weights (this can be rice or uncooked split peas)
Oven preheated to 400F

Making

Cream butter and sugar together using your hand.
(heat of hand helps melt butter)
Add one egg and mix thoroughly.
Gradually add the flour until pastry forms a ball
(you may not need all the flour)
Add a couple teaspoons water to help make pastry workable (it does not break)
Pastry should leave sides of the bowl clean and not be sticky

Wrap in plastic or wax paper and put in fridge for half an hour.
This allows the gluten strands to relax and not be stretched,
creating the desired ‘shortness’.

Using pastry

Take out of refrigerator and place between two sheets of plastic or wax paper.
Use rolling pin to roll out to the desired size and thickness.
Remove one side of the paper or plastic and roll loosely around the rolling pin to lift it.
Roll out over pie dish, pastry side down.
Ease pastry into the corners without stretching.
Finish the edges by pinching between finger and thumb to flute edges.
Use parchment paper as a barrier for the weights. Add pastry weights to fill base evenly.

Blind Baking

This will prepare the pastry and cook it partially so it does not become soggy when you add a wet filling.

Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove the weights and parchment paper (dough will still be moist on bottom).
Cook for another 5 minutes to dry the bottom of the pastry.
The pastry is now ready for filling.