Thursday, December 31, 2015

Moments in 2015



If you do not yet follow @jasminblancstudio on Instagram, well, what are you waiting for? There's been plenty going on over there in 2015, from little glimpses into my studio life, ceramic and jewelry work to an indecent amount of pet love. I assure you all of the above will continue to pop up.. The reason I like this network is, that it allows for a very easy way to share my work with you, to allow you to peek into my studio, get a better understanding of work processes, techniques, my aesthetic and essentially my world. It is very difficult to truly get to know small studio businesses online, but I feel that by sharing part of my life with you, it helps you to grasp the true nature of my work, the love and care that is being poured into it every moment of each day...

And this goes out to all of you, reading these lines, accompanying me on my journey, supporting me every step of the way with your encouragements and purchases: THANK YOU! I would also like to celebrate the fact that 3 new shops are stocking Jasmin Blanc creations; I'm over the moon about having you around!

Here's to a powerful year, I enjoyed it!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lady pie


About two months of survival mode, living on salads and spaghetti alternatively. Variety is key, right?
I don't know, but when I am on a creative wave, something clicks and I just find essential aspects of human existence so useless. When a rush period comes to an end, I fall back on the ground, and I remember how much I enjoy quality food. Fine, well planned, carefully made food. Simplicity. Home-made with just a few ingredients, using bold spices, and ingredients, yet keeping tastes minimal and soothing.

I enjoy crazy serious work times and in other days I find enormous pleasure in jumping around in my kitchen, dancing to silly songs, wearing PJs throughout the day while baking. And what is better than eating cake or pie for breakfast the next morning?

I made this lady crust, in all honestly, because I did not have enough dough to cover the entire pie, but it actually turned out to be quite goofy and nice. Poppy seed and sour cherry filling, I can hardly think of a better combination...


Lady Pie
-poppy seeds & sour cherries-

Ingredients:
for the dough
300 g flour
150 g butter
100 g icing sugar
2 egg yolks 
1 whole egg 

for the filling
400 g ground poppy seeds
70 g ground butter cookies
200 g sugar
1 tbsp honey
10 ml water
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
+
300 g sour cherry jam/conserve
(but you could also use frozen sour cherries mixed together with gelatin, perhaps, for a less sweet version) 

Crumble the butter with the flour and the sugar and mix well, then kneed together with the 2 egg yolks. I love this step. When you have a nice even lump of dough, cover it in clear wrap and place it into the fridge for about half an hour.
If you happen to have an all time favorite pie crust dough, you can always just skip this step and make your trusty recipe. Me, I'm still searching for the perfect recipe for this step.

Line a pie pan with parchment paper and fill it with the dough, taking care to leave some for the lady (or whatever shaped) cutouts. I usually place another layer of parchment paper on top and fill it with either dried chickpeas or beans while pre-baking the crust to prevent it from rising in the middle. Bake for about 15 minutes at 170 C grades.

Until the pie crust is in the oven, mix together poppy seeds, cookies, cinnamon and lemon zest. Heat up water with sugar until the sugar melts, and take it off the stove. After a it has cooled a little you can add the honey as well, stir so it mixes well into the syrup. The reason why honey should not be brought to a boil is that it looses its nutritional qualities. Mix the syrup into the dry ingredients.

When the crust is out of the oven spread the jam out on the bottom, then spread the poppy seed filling on top. Roll out the  leftover dough and cut out whatever you wish, I have found these gingerbread ladies first in my cupboard, and was too lazy to dig for anything else. Goofy girl-power, well, why not. Place your cutouts on top of the pie, whisk one whole egg, and then using a kitchen brush cover them with the egg mixture.

Bake for another 25 minutes at 170 C grades.


Oh joy! Free-time and a good oven are my best friends right now.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

refuel


It is such a blessing to be able to spend each day doing what I love, and yet I too feel weary after intense work sessions, crazy holiday periods and wholesale deadlines. What I do, comes so deep from within my heart that I sometimes feel like the well needs to be filled up again...

What do you do, after having given so much of yourself?

Days should be lived to their fullest, events experienced to their furthest extent. After all, we only get one chance at it all, and we may never get a second chance on today. This thought strikes me in my calmest days, in my silent moments. And I fall on my knees with tears in my soul. Is this it? I ask at times of despair. Why is the past called this way if it doesn't pass.

Being kind to ourselves is so essential. Most of us will give until we don't have anything left, and then we will give some more. And yet I ask, is it helpful when one sacrifices oneself over the process of giving?

Giving. It is such a magnificent notion, is it not?
I realized it never has to stop. My dearest friend, whom I often refer to as my sister, has asked me to organize a small group activity in one of the children homes in town. I was so physically exhausted after a very long work period, giving so much of myself, and yet these two hours have meant the world to me, spending time with children who may not have started off with their fortunes high over rooftops in life, but who have the freedom to still become whoever they wish to in their wildest dreams. I made star and heart shaped ornaments out of clay, and we painted them together with acrylics.

It was merely a few hours of my life I gave to this event. And yet it felt so liberating. Is that not a wonderful conclusion? One that needs to be celebrated with a smile coming from deep inside the soul?
Giving should never stop. When you are weary giving into one direction, try pouring your soul into another. It will give you the strength you need to move forward and be renewed in what you think you've lost.

I often get lost in my thoughts and I feel like big measures should be taken, when in fact the simplest steps give way to the most meaningful paths.


Ending the year...


This time of year is so magical, so filled with symbolism.
On the night before Christmas, I was walking Zsemi and I marveled at the grand full moon reigning over the clear winter sky. Did you know that the December full moon is called Cold Moon?

I could almost feel part of a winter fairy tale, closing my eyes...

I've heard the words: mercy and compassion so often this time of year. Two so very important words to our human experience. Has it ever occurred to you to be merciful and compassionate first of all to yourself, or you are aiming on orienting all your energies towards those around you claiming that to be more important? Is that selflessness, or self ignorance? I don't believe one can be good to others, if one does not know how to be kind to oneself.

Giving ourselves some space and moments of silent prayer to reflect upon the year that we're so close to leaving behind is essential to moving forward. New year, new me... That is one big load of crap. But I do believe that the whole point of moving forward is to learn from the past, seal it with a smile and aim to always be a better version of yourself.

Change is in my bones. It has never been difficult for me to embrace it. Being rooted in your very own spirit, and knowing you are never alone, even when you seem to be, is what grounds you, but it is also what gives you wings to fly.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Wish



I don't know what I did to deserve all the support you've been generously granting me this year, dearest customers of Jasmin Blanc Studio, but I thank you for it from the bottom of my heart. I cannot even begin to express how amazing all of you have been, and how much I received and learned... All that sweet feedback, kindhearted thank you letters and appreciation photos I received from you all, fill my soul with so much joy and gratitude, I am ever so lucky to have you along my journey!

I hope those ceramic ornaments glow gracefully on your Christmas trees, and I also hope that whoever will receive a Jasmin Blanc gift on your behalf, will be happy to have had such a thoughtful gift. And I thank you, truly, for choosing me as a maker of those gift... I am honored!

With all my heart, I wish every single one of you, reading these lines, peace, a calm mind and open heart. I wish you to find light in the smallest of things and recognize miracles in places you've only found confusion until now.

The fury crew and I wish you and your family a blessed, merry Christmas!

With all my love,
Erika

PS. I'll return with an update of the horizontal Christmas tree, a situation I very much foresee. ;)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday




"In every important way, we are such secrets from each other. " - M. Robinson

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Market - 18-24 December


Don't miss out on quality Christmas shopping, you guys!
Come say hello to me from 18-24 December, in Iulius Mall, Cluj Napoca.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

kittelicious


I painted the very first miniature cat figurine about 3 years ago. Never have I imagined for them to grow into such a success. Yet they have, and my customers absolutely love ordering them as gifts for friends and family, people they truly care about.

I have 2 studio cats and an apartment cat, so I know how close they grow to one's heart, they become members of a family and they are so very difficult to part with, should life ask them back. So we all like to keep them in our hearts and forever in our memories...

Gift giving is so much more meaningful if one truly takes the time and goes the extra mile to find something meaningful for a dear one... That is what my wonderful customer did. She ordered a figurine portrait a couple of months ago, and returned with a whole list of kitties for her loved ones for Christmas. This order was an honor! Truly!

Thank you!


Monday, December 14, 2015

December studio days


My poor Christmas lights are tirelessly twinkling in fog and in sunshine, no snow unfortunately in my corner of the world, not this year... This period is hectic and twisted, and most of the time I have no idea what day of the week we're at. The post office is crowded and tense, everyone seems to be more in a hurry, than at any other given time of the year. Traffic is mad, and apparently the gas pedal and the honk were both added to cars to be pushed continuously... Even though all of it is a day to day experience that I cannot escape, I prefer not to be a participant in this madness, and observe instead. It is amazing how detachment from the obvious gives way to explore the tiny hidden miracles in life.

Last night after the lights went off I started listing all the things (and by this I don't refer merely to the tangible) I was grateful for in that very moment. I think I may have required all night for the process, but I went on and on with it, until I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

I believe we are granted as much good and bad as we allow into our lives. Energy is a fine, logical thing. And when I feel drained I try to remind myself to observe where exactly my emotional energy flows and whether it needs to be balanced out or can be left to balance itself out.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Chestnut cookie recipe


In Transylvania Santa comes on December 6th and the Angels pay their visit on Christmas Eve, when baby Jesus was born. They are the ones announcing the good news through their gifts to every little boy and girl. Oh how I love this time of year... 
I am a summer kind of girl, but growing up, December used to be my favorite month of all...

One of my sweetest childhood memories is from the weeks coming up to Christmas. I was born barely a year before the revolution, so growing up in the very first years of the change of regime after the communist era, I was not granted many luxuries; none of us were...
My parents could not afford a VHS, but they inherited a vast collection of wonderful cartoon slides and a very old slide-projector, today very fashionably called a vintage USSR projector, from their families. So my mother used to hang a white bed linen on their bedroom wall, she used to roast chestnuts for this occasion and we would all lay in bed, watching cartoon slides, eating chestnuts and having a rad time!

Happiness does not require much, time well spent together and people who love one another is all it really takes, I find. Simplicity has always been more precious to me than anything. Gifts are absolutely useless if we cannot be there for each other... 

As a gift for the Transylvanian Santa's arrival, I'd like to share with you one of my go-to cookie recipes (well, truth be told, all my cookie recipes are go-to's), which is incredibly simple to do and good for pretty much all occasions; eaten for breakfast with a cup of milk, as a snack with your afternoon coffee or simply for therapeutic purposes when sadness strikes.



Chestnut cookies

250 gr. butter
250 gr. flour
250 gr. chestnut puree
1 tbsp castor sugar
2  tbsp honey
3 eggs
1 tbsp rum
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp baking powder
1,5 tsp winter cookie spice***

I don't think there's anything more simple to bake than cookies. You just need to cream up butter with the sugar, honey and the eggs. Add chestnut puree and mix well. Swift in flour with the baking powder. I personally prefer to mix the dry ingredients in gently by hand (but it can also be done by an electric blender). Add in cookie seasoning, rum and the vanilla.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and add chestnut sized mixture with a spoon. Make sure you leave space between each bump of dough, because it will spread.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 10 min at 180 C (or until the rim has darkened a bit). Transfer the cookies onto a cake rack and let them cool completely.


  • For extra therapeutic effect mix white chocolate chips into the dough, or alternately sprinkle the top of the cookies with sliced almonds.

*** I prefer making my own pumpkin spice (or as I like to call it, winter cookie spice) blend. I mix 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp dry ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/2 ground cloves, 1/4 cardamom. I nearly never buy ground spices. Instead I look for these ingredients in spice stores, and ground them at home; I find their flavor to be so much more intense and real.

Sunday


"In the end, dear friend, it is always between us and God, not between us and them."
M. Teresa

Friday, December 4, 2015

Wishes


It always happens, yet I never seem to learn.
They say one must be careful what she wishes for, because she just might get it. I wished for life around me, work to do, situations to solve so that I would keep my mind distracted, my hands busy, and my energies focused. In. Another. Direction.

For the next holiday season I have a resolution. Either to hire an intern, or to organize my life in such a perfect way that I would be able to sanely handle it all. I am anything but organized, yet I usually seem to be so at home in my beautiful mess... up until November comes... After that my beautiful mess becomes fairly impossible to untangle.

Notes and colorful post-its everywhere. Maaan, I need to learn to say no sometimes.
Or perhaps I should have better wishes... Dare to wish, instead.
Walls are built for reasons. Protection mainly. Yet I have no walls high enough to save me from myself. Fatigue makes me vulnerable. And I don't like being so. This is the dangerous kind of vulnerability. Not towards the world. But against myself.

What do you do when you are out of breath, out of tears and out of answers?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Zsemi


Sweet crooked bum... I realized I never actually followed up on her story over here.
My gal', my pal, my ginger soul. We live at the same speed, as they say. She is loud and happy, and would never hurt a living being, yet she relentlessly quarrels everyone she meets.

I will not go into the state she was in, when we have found her, because even just the thought of  it breaks my heart into a million pieces, but instead I wish to celebrate life. And second chances. And all the wonderful people who have helped us in those very rough first weeks. Strangers. Strangers sending heartfelt messages to support her...and me. Total strangers contacting me and donating for the cause. My customers, who might have been postponing placing an order, have jumped to help, as I used all proceedings from my shop during that time for her surgeries and treatments. The trust and the solidarity these strangers have shown towards me, was humbling and shocking even. I remember struggling to find words to express my gratitude...to find thoughts even simply just to understand what was happening.

At first the intention was, to save her poor soul (and legs), help her to recover, and when she would get strong and healthy enough, find her a loving home. My life (and lifestyle) at a time was not really suitable for caring for a puppy permanently. She appeared in our lives out of nowhere, a life at the time, which was scattered and filled with uncertainties. So seemingly time and space were not right for such a change.
We've lived so much together, and I kept putting off looking for that loving family for her. She adjusted to my changes seamlessly, and I soon couldn't imagine not having her around... I realized that perhaps I am just as much a loving family as any other...


From what I experienced, towards the west of the world, these situations are normal. In the society I happen to live in, however, a dog is often,  just a dog. And I expected people not to understand my reasons for getting so attached to this loving soul. And while that may have been true at times, the love and support me and her, we've been given exceeds those by far. 

I thought I was a cat-person before I met Zsemi. I soon learned I am an everything person. Period. Except cold reptilian type...those are only nice from a distance. Like half a kilometer would be a reasonable distance, I think. :)