Happy Blue Monday...with a winter warming recipe

Can you believe that it's Monday already? 
Where did the weekend go?
I'm happy to say that we made the most of it whilst it was here, but even so a three day weekend would be perfect wouldn't it? 
But let's not let it get us down because there's lots to be happy about...who knows what is installed for us in this coming week? 
So chin up, put a big smile on and let's get started...bring it on I say! 

I've wanted to show you for some time one of my leaving presents from a friend when I left Melbourne. 
Well it was part of a leaving present actually, but it just captured so much in one item. 
It is a Monet apron purchased by my friend from the Monet exhibition held earlier in the year during May to September at the fabulous National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Isn't it exquisite?

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Monet's Garden is a stunning exhibition devoted to Claude Monet's iconic garden at Giverny. Renowned as the 'father of French Impressionism', Monet was inspired by his direct experiences of nature, culminating in the ravishing depictions of his lily and flower gardens in the rural property at Giverny, northern France. 

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.”

I'm a little wary of using the apron really...either to paint or cook in it, as I don't want to spoil it. 
It covers so many things about me that my friend captured in one go. 
My love of art, Monet, gardening, the colour, cooking and baking all wrapped up in one. 
Wasn't she clever? 
So that's why when I wrap it around me it's like having a huge of all the things that make my spirit fly and I thought it would be perfect to enter for todays 'Happy Blue Monday'

Having mentioned baking if you want a winter warmer recipe for something seasonal then why not visit one of my old blog posts where I bake a Pear and Almond Cake
It's from back in July 2010 when we lived in Melbourne, Australia. 
Be warned there's a mention of Christmas...but then it is in the middle of their winter. 
It's so strange to read my old posts from back then...how I've changed. 
You can tell mostly by the photographs. 

Now why not pop across to see Sally and the other Blue Monday posts? 
I'm sure you'll have a very happy Monday if you do. 

Smiling Sally

Happy Blue Monday to you all. 
I hope you have a great week!

Artist Playroom ~ Pears

Yesterday on my morning walk with Mufftypup, we met a bouncing black lab who was so full of life and very excitable to say the least...but it wasn't until he'd ran full circle around us three times and then bounded off that I noticed he only had three legs! His back hind leg was missing.
You would never know by his actions, mobility and full of life antics.
He was incredibly agile and it just made me think he obviously felt good to be alive and mobile! 
Very mobile considering...but what a challenge he must have been through to reach that point. He was inspirational and he stayed in my thoughts for most of the day.
So why am I telling you this little tale...well I too have faced a challenge this week, but no way near what that black lab had to deal with but a challenge all the same. 
There were times during the week I thought nah...'I'll just not bother'...'I'm too busy'....or 'well its Wednesday' or 'I haven't finished that job yet'....in fact any masses of excuses came to mind, but then I thought I never like to give in so why start now? 
So onwards and upwards....and my challenge was....pears!!! Yep...I said pears!

Jenn from the Artist Playroom set this week's topic for the Artist Play Room to be pears....just because she liked them! How inconsiderate is that....I mean pears! 
Phewph...so I hummed and ahhhed for a few days and decided that I'd just post a photo...easy peasy lemon squeezey. When I got the shot I wanted and please note I haven't got one of those fandabbydozzey white light boxes and we are in winter here (okay enough excuses) I was quite pleased, but then realised I hadn't really stretched myself to a challenge and this is what it's all about. Taking me out of my comfort zone and helping me improve my work.

 Jenn very kindly encouraged me (when I winged to her) that maybe I could do zentangle pears.
She's such a sweetie and so encouraging ;D 
But then I thought I don't want to always do 'tangles....plus I'm still getting to know the Derwent pencils....so I bit the bullet and painted the pears this morning.  
I could pull it to pieces as I usually do...I'm my own worst critic but I do feel I've made some progress with the pencils today, so I'll hold onto that positive thought!
And so Jenn thank you yet again for pushing me...not only with timescales but with techniques and subject matter. I don't think I've ever painted a pear before! 
As a thank you treat and sort of in keeping with last week's challenge of the illustrated recipe, I thought I'd let you have a look at my Pear and Almond Cake

I'm heading over to Jenn's place now to check out all the other fantastic talented artists...so why don't you join me....I'm sure you'll be in for a treat! ;D