Churros

I come from a family who loves to sleep and loves to eat. We all loved a good lie-in on weekends, except my dad. You see, his love of food was bigger than his love of sleep. So one of his genius ideas was to lure us into getting up early and helping him cook breakfast. And we’d cook churros, for the 6 of us, and any friends staying over. There was always someone staying over. But how do you manage to wake up teenagers early and make them cook breakfast? Bribery. Of the worst kind. What he’d do is he’d make the dough for the churros and fry one. Just one. Cover it in sugar and come to our rooms and make us try it, while still half-asleep. This is what the dough looks like:

churro dough

It was a masterful stroke, because he’d say something like “Ohhh I’ve made churros for breakfast. Come and join me”. So we’d get up, follow him as if we were under some sort of spell and then, then surprise SURPRISE. The churros had not been fried yet in olive oil! So we’d obviously help, by that point we were starving and our body wanted more churros. Image of churro being cooked below:

churros being fried

By the time they were ready, we’d all managed to get up and sat around the table, eagerly awaiting this feast. We only had breakfast together when there was churros.  This is what the finished product looks like:

Cooked churros

This past weekend I made churros for the first time since my dad passed away. A group of us got together at a friend’s house in Sydney. I provided the recipe, but he had a churrera, the machine where you put the dough in so it comes out in that great churro shape. And how did he source a churrera in Sydney? Well, he’d had it for over 15 years. It was a present from my dad as our friend would join in the churros fun like another member of the Robledo clan when he stayed with us all those years ago..

In case you were wondering, the churros were delicious, and we ate them the only way one possibly can… with thick hot chocolate!

NOTE: All photos by Araceli Robledo

Museo del Prado

I spent the last day of my Spanish holiday in Madrid. And a quick visit to Madrid MUST always include at least one trip to one of the top 3 museums: Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemizsa.

Above is an extremely bright picture of the Velazquez entrance to the Prado Museum. It was a very sunny day and someone (who will not be named) tampered with the settings on my camera. The result? EXTREMELY bright pictures which hurt to look at – this is the only one that sort of survived… ANYWAY, below is an image of the exterior of the Prado Museum bowl I recently painted.

Unfortunately I did not take photographs of the interior of the bowl finished (of which I am INCREDIBLY proud and feel equally stupid for not doing my photographic homework as this piece now lives somewhere else). The only snapshots are of the paintings in progress, as you can still see the pencil outlines that are normally removed when the piece is fired. When referring to the collection at the Prado (which originally belonged to the Spanish royal family), I had to include a Velazquez. And if one is to paint a Velazquez, one should go big: so Las Meninas it was! (Please note that I studied Art History in Spain and, therefore, in Spanish. So the names of the works will be in Spanish as that is the way I learnt them!) Another painter whose work is a must is El Greco and I chose his El Caballero de la mano en el pecho.

Below is an image of the other side of the bowl. On the left is Goya’s La Maja Desnuda and on the right El Descendimiento by Rogier van der Weyden. When I showed the finished bowl to my family and friends in Spain, they all guessed 3 out of the 4 paintings, except for van der Weyden’s piece. However, I can’t help but think which ones would be recognized by my Canadian friends. Particularly as the last time I put them to the test, all but one of them thought that the Matisse painting in my MoMA bowl was actually a Picasso… Snob? Me? No way!

Presents

Since I have taken up ceramics, I no longer buy presents for anyone. I MAKE presents. During my last trip to Spain this month, I brought bowls for my mother and siblings as presents. This is the last picture taken of the bowls, which was immediately after they came out of the kiln (and half an hour before I dashed off to the airport afraid I’d missed my flight!):

In clockwise order is a bowl that depicts the church of San Miguel in our village. This is a particularly special parish for my family as it’s where my grandparents, great-grandparents and sister Rocio got married. My mother was baptized there as well. And to make it even more special, my late father did this gorgeous painting of it years ago:

The next bowl depicts another very special building for our family: the Mezquita in Cordoba. My newlywed parents settled in a village not far from the Andalusian city of Cordoba and the Mezquita was always a place of great inspiration for my father’s work. Here’s one of his paintings from 1976:

And here are a couple of images that document the painting of the bowl. First the inside:

and then the outside:

In the last bowl I wanted to depict all of the birds we had as pets while living in Australia. Here’s an image of it still in process:

And although my father did not do a painting of our pets as such, this illustration by Miroslav Sasek from his book This is Australia pretty much captures the relationship we had with them:

Needless to say, my family LOVED their presents.

Tilt-shift

With less than a month to go for my 2.5 week holiday in Spain, this video just got me even more excited. It’s a tilt-shift time-lapse. What happens is the lens makes everything seem really tiny, as if it were a miniature scene. The author of such a beautiful video is Joerg Daiber, and you can find out more about him here.

I have just updated my porcelain bullring post with another FANTASTIC video by Mr Daiber. Happy Friday!!

Porcelain bullring

After Spain winning the Eurocup on Sunday, my Spanish patriotism has blown out of proportion. This means that for a while I will adore every single Spanish cliche possible. I now wear my trademark Spanish flag bracelet every day, listen to flamenco non-stop, and every time I watch the Spanish news about the country’s Sunday win and subsequent celebrations, my eyes are filled with tears of joy!

Obviously, even my ceramics have been affected by this sudden surge of LOVE. My latest piece is actually another bullring. This time, I’m very proud to say that I made it from scratch and in extra-white porcelain.

UPDATE

This is the second time I update this post! However, when you’ll see the fantastic tilt-shift video below, you’ll understand why.

Patriotism

The standard dictionary definition of patriotism reads “love of one’s country.” This seems all very well when there’s one country where one is from and where one lives. But in my case things are a bit different: I was born in Spain, grew up in Australia, and then moved back to Spain, where I attended high school, university and began my career. I didn’t stop there, and moved to the UK for a few years and now I am in Canada.

All this moving around makes me feel less and less connected to my Spanish roots. But during a few weeks every year, I am the most Spanish person that ever existed. And it’s thanks to major sporting events that this transformation takes place. Right now it’s the UEFA’s Eurocup, with Spain playing the final on Sunday. If there was a graph measuring my patriotism, it would have shown that yesterday, around 4pm ET, it hit the records set by the World Cup a couple of years ago. Particularly when this was happening:

It’s difficult to explain the sheer pain of watching a game where your team is not winning but giving it all. In a way it’s horrible, but it’s also awesome. And I welcome the suffering that will be linked to Sunday’s final. In the words of the brilliant Spanish singer Manolo Escobar… Que viva España!!!

Plaza Mayor de Madrid

When I finished my BA, I moved to Madrid. It had it all for me: an elegant international city whilst still being very Spanish. I thought I’d live there forever… little did I know that less than two years later I’d be moving to London. To live there forever… and, well, I am in Canada, living in Toronto and about to move to yet another city.

But I digress… Madrid was SO MUCH FUN. Particularly the first year, where I wasn’t senior enough at my company to worry about work after hours. Where if I arrived home before 7am after a night of partying, I thought the night had been a waste of time. Where it was incredibly easy to make friends. Where my beautiful sister Reyes lives and whom I met up with regularly. She basically fed me via tupperwares full of love and food throughout my second year in Madrid, when I was busy doing my MA and broke because I had to pay for it. There were very few things I could actually afford, BUT I could still treat myself to a “bocadillo de calamares” from time to time. Above is a watercolour of the Plaza Mayor de Madrid, where the best “bocadillo” can be found. Mmmmmm I would certainly kill for one of these right now.

NOTE: The photo above was taken from here.

Greeting cards

It’s been an immensely creative weekend: I picked up some newly glazed pots, experimented with porcelain, and also did a ton of drawings, resulting in these three lovely cards. I’m leaving my house in exactly one week, and a normal person would have been packing. But not me, I was busy working on cards to give to my lovely friends who will let me surf their couches until my visa is approved to move to Montreal. Right now I could actually be doing a search for a space where to store all of my furniture  these couple of months that I am in a limbo. But nooo waaay,  posting about my weekend is more of a priority. But enough of that, as I am freaking myself out with the TON of things I have to do in a week and it’s upsetting me. So, greeting cards you say? Yes, I reply, greeting cards.

Card number 1: Kate Spade AGAIN? Yes… I guess my up-and-coming trip to NYC is stirring my creative juices. Aside from doing my own watercolour version of that fab picture from Kate Spade tumblr, I have also created a board on Pinterest of places where to visit.

Card number 2. You may recall I visited Boston for the first time last autumn. I predicted that my casein painting of a house on Beacon Hill would be followed by many others. I was wrong – and it’s taken me over 6 months to produce another Boston-inspired piece.

I think it’s been worth the wait – herewith my first sketch of the east side of Faneuil Hall:

Card number 3. Although I don’t really post much about my motherland, Spain never ceases to inspire me. Like the beautiful town of Almagro, located in La Mancha, the setting for Don Quijote. A candidate for becoming a World Heritage Site, Almagro is famous for hosting the annual International Festival of Classical Theatre, which I was fortunate enough to attend a few years ago.

The plaza of Almagro (pictured above) holds a dear place in my heart, as it was the subject of one of my father’s paintings. It’s only natural I would follow his footsteps in some way and do my own version:

NOTE: The image of the NYC facade is from Kate Spade tumblr, and that of Almagro is from Wikipedia.

Gazpacho

It doesn’t matter that I’m a 31 year old woman, that I’m super independent or that I keep on moving further and further away from my family every couple of years: each time I get sick, I miss my mother and wish she’d be fussing around me! I’m currently stuck at home sick feeling sorry for myself and would KILL for a bowl of my mother’s gazpacho. Not even kidding!