Thursday, March 31, 2011


©2011, Monika Roe

This week's Illustration Friday topic is "toy". It was hard to narrow down my ideas for this but this one won out!

Monday, March 28, 2011

fig-licious brownies

©2011, Monika Roe

The California Fig Advisory Board sponsored a Fig Recipe Contest over at I jumped at the chance to illustrate another recipe for this great site but this time I decided to take on the challenge of developing my own recipe!

For my recipe I wanted something unusual. I also had to use dried figs since fresh figs are out of season. Figs go wonderfully with honey, are delicious in jam or matched with cheese, bacon or prosciutto but what would be really different? Then it came to me out of the blue. I would make homemade fig SODA POP! "It's gonna be great! Fizzy Figgy Soda Pop!" I told my friends and family. They were doubtful.

How do you make homemade soda pop? It starts with a flavored simple syrup made from cooking down sugar, water and an extract or fruit juice. The cooled syrup is added to club soda or other neutral carbonated water.

But I didn't have fresh figs to juice. Hmmm... this would not stop me. I would soften the dried figs up in hot water and put those into my food processor, pulverizing them until I had a semblance of a liquid. At this point I was still optimistic. "This is WORKING!!!", I thought.

Friday, March 25, 2011

new illos for a new look!

I am so excited to finally be able to share this project with you! I've been working with Danielle Michaan on the new look for her blog and it launched this week! Her blog is called A Fig-Mint Of My Imagination

Danielle is a Natural Gourmet graduate, world traveler and a pilates and yoga instructor living in NYC. Her blog is brimming with creative recipes along with health and fitness tips. She posted a recipe yesterday for Carrot Cake Oatmeal that I think sums up her unique approach to food. It's "indulgent AND virtuous"! Seriously, carrot cake oatmeal?! Wow!!!

I illustrated the new blog header that features Danielle cooking, the background pattern of kitchen utensils and a cute little whisk icon. I really enjoyed capturing her likeness in the header. She has a fun, energetic personality and is passionate about everything she does. I like to think that comes through in my illo!

If you are looking for fresh ideas about healthy eating, sign up to follow Danielle's blog. She's got so many new recipes and tips to share you'll be doing your body and spirit a favor!

(You can also "Like" her on Facebook to stay updated!)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

a different kind of ladybug

©2011, Monika Roe

Not talking about my pug! Here is my entry for the design contest hosted by People Towels. I was inspired by the artful scarf designs of the '60s and '70s. Love those splashy Vera scarves!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

memories of elizabeth taylor

©2011, Monika Roe

I am so sad to be posting this today. Rest in peace Elizabeth Taylor.

My first memory of Elizabeth Taylor comes from my grandmother. My grandmother LOVED Elizabeth Taylor. Not for her acting ability or her charitable works. No, my Grandma-dear (she loved when I called her that) was an avid reader when it came to Elizabeth Taylor's personal life in the tabloids! I think part of her wanted to have the colorful, wild life of Liz Taylor, whether it was accurately portrayed in Star magazine or not.

When I heard that Elizabeth Taylor passed away this morning my first thought was how fabulous it will be for her spirit to be reunited with the two great loves of her life, Mike Todd and Richard Burton. My second thought was that when Elizabeth got to the pearly gates of heaven, my grandmother would run those two guys over trying to get to her first!


©2011, Monika Roe

Since moving into the White House, Michelle Obama has worked hard to cultivate an interest in healthy eating. She started by planting the first vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt's WWII victory garden. Last week she helped students from a Washington, D.C. elementary school replant it for spring.

Has she inspired you to eat healthier? I know she's inspired a lot of women to tone up their arms! 

Her book about the garden will be published by Crown in April 2012 and all proceeds will go to charity! Bravo!

Monday, March 21, 2011

meyer lemon coffee cake

©2011, Monika Roe

Rain. Clouds. Grey. Dreary.

That was this weekend in a nutshell. However, the rain couldn't stop the sunshine in my kitchen created by a bag of Meyer lemons from a generous friend's tree! Hmmm... how to use them? 

Looking online, I was disappointed by the number recipes that claimed to be lemony but didn't really require much of the fruit at all. The Best Damn Lemon Cake from Saveur only called for the zest and juice of 2 lemons and used lemon extract to boot. PassI was looking for a recipe that would pack at least 5 or 6 lemons into it.

Then I came across the Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake recipe that appeared in last month's Martha Stewart Living Magazine. It calls for 5 whole lemons sliced paper-thin and 3 tablespoons of lemon zest and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice. BINGO!

I have a love hate relationship with Martha Stewart's recipes. More often than not I find them incredibly labor intensive and sometimes the blood, sweat and tears poured into her recipes yields an outcome that is only "meh". But when her recipes hit, they knock it out of the park! I still use one of her macaroni and cheese recipes I found 10 years ago when I really want to wow people.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


©2011, Monika Roe

...little darlin', stir it up! Another inspiring Illustration Friday topic!

happy st. patrick's day!

©2011, Monika Roe

Spring must be here because when I look at the pathway on the side of my house it's filled with green just in time for St. Patrick's Day. Green WEEDS! I don't have the heart to pull them out just yet. I suppose it's partly because I like to see things growing again after winter, and partly because the weather hasn't been exactly conducive to yard work.

Weeds are crazy. Some of them are pretty and I don't think they really belong in the weed category. There's a weed I always try not to step on when I walk through my weed "garden". It has dainty little heart shaped leaves growing up the stem and little white flowers at the top. It looks like something from Alice In Wonderland. The Queen of Hearts would want this in her garden! I looked it up and it's called Shepherd's Purse (or Capsella bursa-pastoris).

That weed was the inspiration for this St. Patrick's Day wreath illo. I wanted to draw a clover wreath that had the influence of those heart shaped leaves. I also wanted it to be dainty and emphasize the freshness of spring.

I'll get around to pulling those weeds. But because they have inspired today's blog post, they have earned a reprieve!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

beer ice cream

©2011, Monika Roe

Last weekend I met up with some friends from my college days. It's a truly wonderful and mysterious thing when you can see a friend for the first time in years and it's as if no time has passed at all!

We met in Santa Cruz and walked downtown to Cafe Limelight for lunch. My man had been after Billy's Chicken Gumbo for eons so he was beyond happy to find out they still had some. Apparently it's so delicious they run out quickly! Kelvin couldn't resist the gumbo either. Sean and I split 2 paninis, we ordered the cheddar, onion and cumin and the brie, pepper and butter. Both were heavenly but the cheddar, onion and cumin was the one whose memory stayed with me! Something about the deep spicy cumin took that sandwich to a whole other level. We were finishing up our feast of legendary paninis and savory soup when it started to rain.

You know what happens when it rains in Santa Cruz right? Oh yeah! That means it's ice cream time! The guys had read my blog about the Penny Ice Creamery's Candy Cap Mushroom ice cream and were dying to try it. Unfortunately for them the mushroom ice cream had been so popular it was sold out! But the Penny never disappoints, in it's place was People's Porter.

The People's Porter ice cream is made with People's Porter organic beer from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing. This beer is made with coffee that was shade grown on the steep hillsides of Guatemala (no wonder I love it!). It gives the ice cream a nice, toasty richness. When you taste it you can definitely taste the beer, but it's a subtle elegant taste that works with the sweetness of the ice cream. You just want more of it!

Also in our sights was Sean's scoop of Vanilla Bean ice cream. You know, you think you know vanilla ice cream, but then the Penny makes it and suddenly you're tasting the exotic vanilla bean and wearing an orchid behind your ear. It transports you to another place. The only thing that can bring you back from lush-tropical-vanilla-land is the fresh doughnut holes plunked down on the table. They call you back to focus on their sugar dusted lightness. Did I mention the Penny serves up warm doughnuts with ice cream? Maybe I shouldn't have. Maybe that's too over the top. But come on! I don't see these guys every day!

So there we were. It was just like our days in college but instead of being huddled around a beer keg with our plastic cups, we were huddled around our tiny table eating beer ice cream out of porcelain bowls and loving every last bite! How wonderful!

Monday, March 14, 2011

for Japan...

©2011, Monika Roe

...for the victims, the confirmed and the still missing, of the devastating earthquake and tsunami. My heart goes out to you.

Friday, March 11, 2011

sample day!

©2011, Monika Roe

A treasure box arrived on my doorstep from Simon & Schuster! In it were samples of books from two different series that I did illos for.

First there's "Freestyle with Avery" and "Maeve on the Red Carpet" from the Beacon Street Girls series. This series follows the trials and triumphs of 5 best friends and their trusty dog. I illustrated the covers of over 20 books in this series!

Next is "My Self" by Marlene Wallach, president and owner of Wilhemina Kids and Teens modeling agency. This is one of a 4 part series she wrote that focuses on encouraging self confidence and giving tips to young girls about how to express and embrace their uniqueness. I did spot illustrations for the interiors of these books.

I'm so proud to have been involved with these projects because both of these series have such positive messages for girls. Embrace who you are and be happy! I think even us big girls need to be reminded of this every now and then! Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


©2011, Monika Roe

This week's Illustration Friday topic is WARNING. I think at some point everyone either gives or receives this "warning"!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

2010 Judge a Book By Its Cover Contest

I was just notified that the "Strange Neighbors" cover I did the illustration for won first place in the Single/Title Mainstream category of the 2010 Judge a Book By It's Cover Contest! This contest was sponsored by the Houston Bay Area Romance Writers Association.

Thanks to Kathleen Lynch of Black Kat Design for her beautiful design work, Greg Avila and everyone else at Sourcebooks who worked on this fun Ashlyn Chase title!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

mushroom ice cream is GOOD!

©2011, Monika Roe

What's better on a rainy day than artisan ice cream? Probably a lot of things, you're thinking! Who wants cold ice cream on a cold, grey, rainy day? Well, I do! Especially when there isn't a super long line out the door of The Penny Ice Creamery in downtown Santa Cruz.

My man and I had some time to kill before seeing The Illusionist (by Sylvain Chomet) at The Nick on Sunday so we ran through the rain to get a scoop. They always have such weird, no, I should say unique flavors! I tasted the Black Pepper Cheesecake, Candied Grapefruit, and Banana Toffee but when I tried the Candy Cap Mushroom I had to get it.

I didn't think it tasted much like mushroom at all, it tasted like maple. According to owner Zachary Davis that maple flavor IS the flavor of the Candy Cap Mushroom! Wild!

That was my splurge over the weekend. Be proud of me because the two women sitting next to us had an order of deep friend bananas and two orders of warm doughnuts with ice cream. Oh my!

Friday, March 4, 2011


©2011, Monika Roe

Okay, I'm lame. And sometimes being lame makes me laugh at myself like today. I had this illo all ready for Illustration Friday's "Swarm" topic and just didn't post it in time. I thought I could post it to their site this morning, but it's too late because, you know, the new topics are posted on Friday! Duh!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

red collage #1

©2011, Monika Roe

This is a new page in my collage book! My self imposed restrictions were that it had to be predominately red and images had to be from the 3 randomly selected magazines I grabbed from my stash.

I like that the meaning of the word "sick" is up to the viewer. Do you need a red lipstick and handbag to lift your spirits when you're not feeling well or do you want them when you're feeling like a femme fatale and want to show off the fact that you're "sick!"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

rest in peace Jane Russell

©2011, Monika Roe

Screen legend Jane Russell passed away today. She lived in the Santa Maria Valley which isn't much more than an hour from me. When looking at images of her it's hard to believe how stunning she was, especially in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes". Just gorgeous! Even when sharing the screen with Marilyn Monroe! The pictures of her later in life are still beautiful, she always looked elegant and happy.

it's national pancake day!

©2011, Monika Roe

Today would be the perfect day to have breakfast for dinner if you haven't already had your pancake!

The best pancakes I've ever had are from Vic's Cafe here in Paso Robles. I don't know what they could possibly put in them that makes them so tasty because there's only so much you can do to a pancake batter. What ever they do, it's magical.

A close second are pancakes from The Original Pancake House in Indianapolis. Amazing, and I just saw that TOPH has locations here in California. If you've ever been to one in CA I'd be interested to know if they are as good!