Here a very quick illustration for today’s Advent day 19, because my day was spent wrapping Christmas gifts:
I really enjoy wrapping presents. A lot of love and attention to detail goes into the gifts I wrap. I’ve never managed to get a paper, add a ribbon and call it a day.
Most commonly, I use wrapping tissue in all possible colours and layer them. To me, wrapping tissue is the watercolour amongst the wrapping papers. And, I always have a stock of wrapping tissue in various colours at home.
Another type of wrapping paper I like to use is the natural brown one. There are endless possibilities with this paper.
Finally, on some occasions I will even use fabrics.
It just makes me happy, when those on the receiving end not only enjoy the gift but the process of seeing the gift and unwrapping it, too.
As a child, I used to make many, many Christmas presents for my parents. No matter how small the gift, each one would be wrapped separately.
Presents wrapped-up were (and still are) a delight to my eyes. So much so, that I would prolong the opening moment to such extent that my parents would get all jittery and started persuading me to start opening the gifts!
When I finally gave in to their wish, I would take it nice and slow with unwrapping. Ribbon after ribbon, sticky tape after sticky tape. I made sure no paper or ribbon was ruined. Because, you know, maybe it could be used to make something – I don’t know – just something.
Still today, I am not the tear open gift ‘unwrapper’. I still enjoy looking at wrapped gifts – even if they are not meant for me.
I guess it’s just my ‘thing’.
(In case you were wondering, I’ve never ironed wrapping paper… ok, ribbons and fabrics? yes; paper? no)
Do you have a ‘thing’ when it comes to gift wrappings?
Usually, I don’t write about my birthday – but today something is somewhat different.
Yesterday’s ‘White Peacock’ illustration was so disturbing to me. I literally loathed it! And this feeling continued throughout the night and during today’s Advent and, well, my birthday, too.
I decided, the illustration needed to be revisited. I needed to create an improved version for today’s advent – although I had many other ideas: cake with candles, gingerbread man with birthday cake, huge cupcake with candle, Mrs Santa baking birthday cake, etc.
But the power of the White Peacock was stronger and demanded my attention. And, it was only after another session of peacock feather and symmetry frustration that I understood why.
The way I see it, birthdays mark the beginnings of a personal new year.
And although, in my case, the general New Year is only two weeks away from my personal one, these transitions happen differently, yet possess identical power in terms of introspection.
Every general New Year, I seek out an animal spirit totem that will guide me with its wisdom through the new year.
To find the animal spirit totem, I will use a deck of cards. If a real-life animal gets my attention before I lay the deck of cards on New Year’s eve, I will go with it. Last year it was a gecko and it indeed guided me well through this year.
Sometimes, it takes me a while to register the animal that is seeking my attention.
Like with the white peacock, where it took me a good day of annoyance over an illustration to tune into its symbolism.
To recognise the animal messenger (whether in meditations, dreams, in real life, in my mind, or even whilst googling for something entirely different), something in my mind, heart or soul needs to start to move (annoyance – or amazement, awe, disgust, etc.). It usually triggers some kind of emotional or cognitive response.
And this is what happened today:
I was working on the peacock illustration when I received a beautiful birthday message from a very dear friend of mine that touched me to tears. One of the things he wrote was:
May you shine like a Sun for centuries in the millions of hearts! ‘Lavanya’ [meaning of name] is the life force and you represent that! ~ Madan
I was not feeling ‘unhappy’ today. I had a nice day. But maybe I could describe the feeling with ’empty’ or ‘pointless’ and still discontent with the ‘bloody’ peacock.
Upon reading Madan’s touching message, things shifted to the better. I also felt the urge to research white peacock animal spirit totem meanings.
I discovered, there is a connection between Madan’s message, the meaning of my name and the message of the white peacock.
In short, if I really wish to tap into my life force, the force (wait a minute, this reminds me: the new Star Wars movie is out! 😉 – anyways, where was I? Ah yes – ) that makes me shine from within and gives me the ability to touch hearts as I move down the path of life: White Peacock will be my guide in the upcoming year.
Also, quite clear to me now: the illustration is not to my liking yet, because I need yet to ‘become’ the White Peacock.
There is much more to the White Peacock’s message, but I will leave it at this for now. I’ve got 365 days to imbibe its message and teachings – and to get the illustration right! – Don’t worry, I will not post ‘a peacock a day’ until 17th Dec 2017! 😀
I was so tired last night when I posted this, that I forgot to add a few details like pictures of the cake itself!
You’ll see, it’s pretty much what Mrs. Santa is holding in her hands in this illustration.
Simple Gluten-Free, Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe
PREPARATION TIME: 40-45 min (excluding cooling off the cake)
What you’ll need:
a large bowl that is comfortable to whisk in
a cake form (I use a 28 cm round cake form, but it can easily be smaller, square, heart-shaped, little cupcake forms, etc. you can let your imagination run wild)
INGREDIENTS FOR THE CAKE
11/2 cups or 120 grams gluten free flour
1/4 cups or 20 grams raw cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp finely grained Himalayan salt
1/2 cup or 100-110 grams raw cane sugar
(while typing down this recipe, I had a thought: as the Christmas season is upon us, you might also like to try adding some spice to the dry ingredients like 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder [haven’t tried this yet], or 1/2 tsp of cardamom powder, or ginger powder might also be an interesting taste variation)
1 tsp bourbon vanilla extract
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
6 tbsp coconut oil
1cup or 235 ml of water
Preheat the oven to 190° Celsius
Put the above mentioned dry ingredients in a bowl and stir with a whisk.
Now add all the wet ingredients – except for the water – and whisk it so you get a bit of a smooth wet center in the bowl.
Then, slowly add the water while whisking the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients starting from the center.
The dough should turn soft and gluey.
Sometimes this happens before the cup of water is empty (at around 220 ml); this is when I stop adding water.
Now, whisk just long enough for the dough to have an even consistency.
As it is gluten-free flour, it will not rise as you may be used to with other types of flour and beating it will not make the difference.
Oil the cake form bottom and sides, then add the cake dough.
Put it in the oven and wait for 35 minutes.
That’s it. Done!
VARIATIONS on how you can prepare the cake to serve
THE SIMPLE ONE
You can treat a piece of this cake like a croissant.
This is also why I call this cake a ‘Chocolate Flat Bread’.
It can be simply enjoyed like a slice of toast or a croissant adding your favourite jam on top (I personally love cherry jam combined with the chocolate flavour of this cake).
If you really looove chocolate, you can also use a vegan cocoa butter spread – it gives the cake some extra creamy moisture. However, for some, it might just be a chocolate flavour overkill.
THE ONE WITH THE POWDERED SUGAR TOPPING
This variation is nice for decorating the cake.
I like to make heart or flower cut-outs, which I add before I sprinkle the powdered sugar on the cake to create a nice pattern.
You can enjoy this powdered topping cake plain or with jam as in ‘The Simple One’.
THE ONE FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS
On some occasions, you might want the cake to look a little fancier. But due to time constraints, you may still desire a fairly simple cake. Here is what I do:
For the double/triple layer cake, I bake two cakes.
I add a thin layer of jam or icing of choice on the upper side of the bottom cake layer.
Then, I add the second cake layer on top. That’s it!
You can now add powdered sugar as in the above variation or an icing of choice as a topping.
80 grams of cocoa butter 100 grams or more (depending on your sweet tooth)
raw powdered cane sugar
Making the icing
Melt the cocoa butter in a bain marie and let it cool off to a creamier state.
Slowly keep adding the powdered sugar and stir it into the cocoa butter (I use a hand blender for this, but it is not really necessary).
Keep adding the powdered sugar until you reach the desired sweetness and consistency.
Variations of the icing flavour
Add 1 banana to the icing mix (add a bit of blueberry or raspberry or beetroot juice for a nicer colour) or
Add a bit of lemon/lime
As I never mix dairy with chocolate (for Ayurvedic food combining principle reasons), all my chocolate creations are vegan.
That is why my icing suggestions for this cake will also always be vegan.
For the 11th day of the Advent: I am One with the Sea.
My muses are still on strike.
So, I thought I’d use this opportunity to finish off the unfinished.
I decided to complete the SeaBlue #colour_collective illustration from two weeks back for today’s Advent day 11.
With the Advent season upon us, I’ve been postponing the final touches to it and focused more on Winter and Christmas themed illustrations.
But, I am glad I completed this one now.
Working may way through the lines, hair and waves was a such a meditative process.
Quite the contrary to how I felt after yesterday’s illustration, which left me with stiff shoulders, a stiff neck and an everything but satisfied me.
But after working on ‘I am One with the Sea’, I feel relaxed, at peace and ready to welcome the new week.
Just the right way to end what was a pretty task filled week.
Well, that and a cup of Tulsi Tea! Cheers!
For tomorrow, I am planning on sharing my most simple ever version of a gluten-free, vegan Chocolate Cake recipe, or as I also call it gluten-free, vegan Chocolate Flat Bread. It is so simple (even kids can bake this one) and it is a delicious sweet snack for in between meals. If you love Chocolcate, than stay on the look-out for tomorrow’s Advent day 12 post.
Hope you had or are still having a lovely weekend.