Monday, 30 July 2012


Sally at Diario chose this month's topics, so visit her to see a round of up everyone who's taken part.

The Colour Blue

The best blue thing around at the moment - the sky! (Added topicality: this was at Box Hill on Saturday for the bike race.)


Not actually an actual ladybird, but the current window display in Louis Vuitton on Bond Street made me think of them.

Art Deco

Our side board which I always think is quite deco-y.


Pile of Mollie Makes magazines and Danny Gregory's Everyday Matters.

Something I Made

A little courgette cake. This was actually not a successful recipe, but I don't think I've made much else this month!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Sunday Sketchblog #23

Another sketch from a photo, I'm afraid, and also from my self portrait sketchbook. We were all dressed up to go to (another!) wedding last weekend, and I quite liked the photo this came from, of us walking from the church to the reception.

Poor Nick... got his head and feet chopped off. It is supposed to be a little book of self portraits though. 

Visit Emma to see what it's her sketchbook this week.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Week Word: Summer

Emma chose our very appropriate word this week... the long awaited 'summer'.

Unfortunately, as I sit in an over air-conditioned office and the streets outside are thronged with tourists I haven't really had chance to enjoy it too much just yet. In attempt to find some inspiration I looked back through some sunny holiday pictures, so my contribution this week is a sketch based on what felt like a very summery photo.

And yes, when anyone points a camera at me I tend to make a stupid face and adopt the most unusual pose possible. Getting the arms and legs in vaguely anatomically correct positions for this drawing was quite a challenge!

Hopefully everyone else is getting plenty of sunshine this summer... visit Emma to see the other summer-y posts.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Resourceful Chap...

So, London is all about sport at the moment. As I might have mentioned, I'm not very excited about it.

However, walking along Piccadilly this morning I saw this rather serious chap who was clearly committed to sport in a way I could wholeheartedly support. He was cycling along on his little tiny Brompton... with his jazzy coloured swimming shorts draped over the handlebars to dry in the long awaited sunshine. So resourceful!

I like to think he's a true Londoner and had been for a dip in the Serpentine before his cycle to work. Perhaps it's some sort of commute-triathlon and he ends his journey by folding up his bike and jogging the final stretch?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Neighbourhood Felines

Pretty much all our neighbours are retired. This is what happens when you move out of Proper London. You might think, therefore, that our neighbourhood cats would rejoice in names such as Tigs or maybe Boots.

But no. When we arrived with our own sizeable feline (who goes by proud name of Vincent Noir) he was immediately forced into battle with the local menace, Johnny Voodoo.

And if that wasn't enough, the cul-de-sac is also patrolled by a pair of fiends known (by Jackie at number 4) as The Black Marauders.

We originally thought there was merely the one Black Marauder (which would be enough for any neighbourhood) until we had a cat flap fitted and Nick opened the back door to chase off the latest beast attempting to gain unlawful access. It's possibly an insight into our lives that he immediately assumed he'd acquired double vision when, out of the gloom, twin Black Marauders stared balefully back at him.

I live in the fear of the day they all put aside their differences and form a gang to terrorise the leafy streets of Staines upon Thames. Thankfully, at the moment they seem quite happy to sit under bushes and growl at each other with just the occasional sortie via enemy cat flaps. 

(The observant may have spotted that my drawing also includes Aragog's Bush. This is where the spiders live. Abandon hope all ye who enter there.)

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunday Sketchblog #22

Another fairly quiet week on the seeing interesting things front, so today's sketch is my usual  weekday breakfast.

I make myself have two cups of non-caffeine based tea before I have any coffee. Hydration is important, kids.

I'm trying to draw with my new pen straight onto the paper, without any pencil beforehand. Hence the shape of that bowl not conforming to any known laws of physics...

Go visit Emma and see if she has a sketch for us today.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Oh, look! #13

I have been...

going on rainy trips to the seaside // warming up with sunshiney cocktails
visiting Camden // finally hanging some pictures
(instagram: timballoo)

- not looking forward to the Olympics. Or rather, not looking forward to trying to do anything useful whilst they're on. This image sums up my feelings about the whole shebang quite nicely.

- amused by this cat lady drawing.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Week Word: Goodbye

Emily chose this week's word, Goodbye, so go and visit her to see who else is playing this week.

All my immediate associations with this word were pretty downbeat and negative... it's quite hard to think of a positive spin to put on a goodbye. Even if you're leaving something bad behind or moving on to something better, there's still the acknowledgement of the bad thing in the goodbye to it.

So instead I thought about things we say goodbye to. Or rather, don't...

These are my favourite ballet pumps. I bought them many years ago (2005/6?) at Waterloo on the way to a funeral I'd only just heard about (there's another, not so positive, goodbye for you) as I'd gone to work that day in funeral-inappropriate shoes. I'd never have bought them otherwise, as I don't really like gold, even old, silvery gold like this.

But it turns out they go with everything! So I have worn them to death. Quite literally, I realised the other day. The soles are almost worn through and there are patches that aren't even slightly gold any more. I'm going to have to say goodbye to them pretty soon, but I reckon I can get a couple more wears out of them first...

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

New Pen Excitement

I decided to celebrate selling the flat with the purchase of a new pen. Why yes, I am the last of the big spenders.

I like drawing with a dip pen with a lovely wooden handle, but they're not the most practical unless you're sitting at the desk where you always sit and have some tissues to hand. And aren't wearing white. And don't mind having ink all over your fingers for days.

(This could be more because I'm messy than the fault of the pen, but I suspect people invented biros for a reason...)

But I haven't managed to find a fine-liner I get on well with. Much like Goldilocks working through the pens of some bears, they tend to be too scratchy, too hard, or too faint.

I've been keenly keeping an eye out for any mentions of the pens people use on my daily forays through the internet, and finally found one that sounded good. So ordered it.

It's a Rotring Artpen with an extra fine nib. I ordered mine from here and it arrived super-fast. It only comes with cartridges and the ink isn't waterproof, so I've also ordered a converter and have some Noodlers Bulletproof Black on its way. I'm hopeful that it won't gunk it up (Danny Gregory uses it, and I think he's probably trustworthy...)

I've only had time for a few quick sketches with it, but so far it's perfect and exactly what I wanted.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Beetroot Brownies

I'm sure I've posted about my favourite chocolate brownie recipe before, but I can't find it. Anyway, it's this one from Apple and Spice which I think I found via Allie's blog.

It's a favourite because it's super-easy, and uses cocoa instead of chocolate which means I almost always have the ingredients in the house. Chocolate doesn't tend to last that long.

I'm telling you about this today because I discovered an amazing thing at the weekend. You know there are recipes out there for chocolate beetroot cakes? Well there are, and they are good. And I had some beetroot in the veg box this week that seemed to want to be a cake.

But I had no chocolate (see above) so decided to try the brownie recipe with beetroot replacing the butter. I was not confident it would work; I rather suspected I would end up with a tray of what could best be described as sweet borscht.

So, full of no faith in my own abilities, I tried it anyway. And it worked! The end product was cake!

The eagle-eyed amongst you might spot that it's rather more cakey than brownie-y. You'd be right. Because of the borscht-fear I added a little more flour than the original recipe suggested (100g instead of 80g) and half a teaspoon of baking powder. It's still brownie rather than sponge, but not so fudgey. I'm now quite confident it'd work without added my added raising extras though, so I'll try that next time and report back.

I'm not going to go so far as to proclaim these healthy brownies, as there's still a fair whack of sugar in there. But there's no fat and you get an added extra of vegetable which can only be a good thing.

Anyone who wants to try this at home, I recommend you boil your beetroot until they're soft and blend into a puree. Then add the sugar and cocoa to the blender to get to the consistency suggested in the recipe before adding the eggs.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Sunday Sketchblog #21

I think this is Emma Stone, the actress. I fancied drawing a detailed study of a face, so just scrolled through Pinterest until one jumped out at me...

Go and see what's in Emma's (the gardening artist, not the actress) sketchbook this week.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Week Word: Empty

I chose this week's word, empty, after emptying my little flat to sell it at the weekend.

It was actually lovely to see it empty after being full of all my clutter for so long! It hadn't looked like that since we bought it and it seemed much bigger and lighter. The feeling of it being a blank canvas for someone new to create a life in was also quietly satisfying.

My 'moving out' song has always been Sun in an Empty Room by The Weakerthans, so that's what I've called my drawing.

Go and see Emma and Emily to see what empty things they've got for us. And I'm going to tag Emily to pick next week.

ETA: And I think there might be a late contribution from Katy as well!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Still, dark skies...

This is something I made months ago, but forgot to post. Useful on a quiet week!

I wanted an unusual gift for a friend, so I came up with the idea of creating an image and then getting the lovely and talented Emma to make it into a notebook.

She did such a beautiful (and speedy!) job. You can see some of Emma's other custom made notebooks here.

Monday, 9 July 2012

This week's word

I sold my little flat today. It's such a relief and I'm so pleased, but it definitely feels a bit end of an era-y.

So, in honour of lots of hard work on Saturday giving away furniture left right and centre, this week's word is going to be 'empty'

Let me know in the comments if you'd like to join in, and I'll do the usual round-up in my post on Friday. New participants are always welcome!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Sunday Sketchblog #20

The cat, Vince, this week. You can guarantee that as soon as you want to draw or photograph him he starts galloping about, biting things, so quick pen sketches are the only option

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Oh, look! #12

This week has been about...

Dorset countryside // The Summer Exhibition at the RA
Surprising phone boxes // Sending the first wedding savethedates!
(find me on instagram: timballoo)

... finding out where monsters get their supplies . I can't decide whether I want Zombie Mints or Cubed Earwax... (via lost at e minor)

... learning that mermaids don't exist.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Week Word: Character

Katy chose this week's word, character.

It's a bit of a difficult one... you can give someone a 'character' like a reference, and houses can have character. Both good things. But character actors tend to be the more... unusual looking ones and if you hear someone's face described as having character it tends to mean they're fairly advanced in years. Not that being old or unusual looking is a bad thing, but it could be a fairly loaded compliment!

Similarly you often hear children described as being 'a little character', but I'm not sure that isn't just a polite way of saying they're a bit of a brat...

How odd. No one would want to be described as 'characterless' but I've struggled to think of a way you could tell someone they had character without it sounding a bit... insulting.

Nonetheless, a 'good' character must be something we all want to develop. I found this quote on Pinterest this week, and it seems a good way of summing up the good things about character.

And some characters I've drawn recently...

Visit Katy to see her very different characters!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Coffee Break

I spotted these young ladies having coffee a few weekends back when we were in Balham and thought they were perfectly posed for a coffee-loving illustration.

For Balham Fans ( surely everyone - it's the Gateway to the South!) we were in Bertie and Boo at the time. Usually far too many buggies that cost more than my bike in there, but the coffee and food are lovely and sensibly priced and it feels nice to support local businesses.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Exciting Post

Getting post is nice. I'm always excited when an envelope arrives that has handwriting on rather than the address in a plastic window, so I try to remember to send cards to my friendsandrelations in the hope that they also can get excited.

I don't like sending rubbish cards though, which can often mean lengthy visits to the larger branches of Paperchase trying to find something both suitable and entertaining. So I've recently started drawing my own. You can buy a pack of eight blank cards for the price of one proper one, so it's the economical choice, and at least this way I won't have chosen the same design as someone else!

This was for Nick's birthday. It's the recipe for his favourite pudding... Making it into a card we could stick on the fridge afterwards and therefore have no excuse not to make seemed like a gift that keeps on giving!

A card for some lovely friends who recently got engaged in Morocco...

And one for a new baby.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Sunday Sketchblog #19

You can tell I'm not up to anything very exciting when the best thing I can find to sketch is my lunch...

Despite attempting to be frugal and sensible and healthy and make my lunch each day, I do end up eating quite a lot of sushi. It's surprisingly hard to resist when there's a sushi place at the bottom of the building where I work, and it's sort of good for you...

Have a look and see if Emma's been doing and drawing anything more exciting recently.