Wednesday, August 31, 2011


©2011, Monika Roe

For this week's Illustration Friday topic of "disguise"...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2011 peace walk

©2011, Monika Roe

On Sunday my man took me to Well Within Spa in Santa Cruz to soak my aching muscles and feet. (Is he a keeper or what!?) Every second in the hot water soothed my body while my mind reflected on the 17 miles I had walked for peace the day before.

I was invited to join the third annual Peace Walk hosted by the San Mateo County Gang Unit and John Malloy who I met through the Native American 500 Mile Run. This walk was to honor the way of non-violence and welcome home those men and young men who are working to transition their lives away from a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and gangs.

As John put it, "The walk is part of transitioning and summoning courage to change. The inspiration for this walk comes from some of us working with the Jericho Project and watching multitudes of former incarcerated men thirst for meaningful social and emotional change. We know it is possible to achieve a sense of inner peace and freedom after a harsh, violent past. Humans have an amazing capacity for change. Former inmates and addicts can learn to accept responsibility for their serious crimes."

The walk started out in Marin County across the water from San Quentin prison. Takashi Tanemori was among the honored guests in attendance. Briefly, Takashi is a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He came to America to avenge his father's death and eventually found that forgiveness was more powerful and useful to him than vengeance. His story is worth exploring in more detail so if you have a minute, instead of reading the latest celebrity gossip website do your mind a favor and go to Takashi's website to read something real!

Opening Ceremony for the Peace Walk. The man on the left is Fred Short,
the American Indian Movement advisor for the state of California.

After the opening ceremony we walked single file, in silence, for the first mile. Then we continued the walk just north of Fairfax and walked all the way to Olema, near Point Reyes. We walked 3 mile stretches at a time, stopping only briefly to rehydrate. 

Walking in silence the first mile.

It was a hot day and you know me, I'm fair skinned so not only did I have a ton of sunscreen on, I wore a long sleeved microfiber shirt, my long yoga pants and a big ol' hat so I could avoid sunburn at all costs!!! The last thing I wanted was to cut my participation short because of a severe sunburn!

One of the goals of this walk was to share stories and get to know one another. It was great to swap stories and some of the conversation got pretty deep. I learned a lot from those I already knew and I learned even more from those I just met. I was honored that people shared their stories with me, especially the men from the Jericho Project who are trying to start their lives anew without drugs, alcohol and violence. Their willpower to work for a peaceful future for themselves is strong, it inspires and humbles me.

The first group of walkers coming in to the first stop.

We all wore Peace Walk t-shirts and a few carried signs so the public would know what we were doing. We had a lot of support from people driving by, a lot of waves, smiles and peace signs! There was one negative response from someone driving by, but it didn't slow us down at all.

At one point a woman asked us what we were protesting. When one of my fellow walkers, Bobbe, told her we weren't protesting anything, we were promoting peace and non-violence, the woman looked confused. I know we gave her something to think about.

Me, Mia and Bobbe before the Opening Ceremony.

Around mile 9 I was starting to feel the impact of the walk on my body! My feet weren't sore but my hips were starting to ache from the impact. By the end of the walk my feet were tired, my hips ached and strangely, my collarbones had started to hurt. I didn't get a single blister on my feet because another walker lent me a pair of her toe socks to wear under my regular socks. These prevented my toes from rubbing directly against each other and boy did they work! I'm grateful to Mia for her thoughtfulness because, looking back, I would have had a harder time without those magic socks!

The walk took most of the day and we made it to the campground before the sun set to talk about what we had just experienced and then ate dinner. Joe Leonor (detective and probation officer), his wife Monica and crew did a phenomenal job cooking for us. They provided breakfast, water, snacks, a great lunch, impressive dinner and amazing breakfast for everyone. It was a lot of work but they pulled it off smiling!

My man took pictures of the event and when I got to camp he had already set up our tent. Listen people, my idea of roughing it is a Best Western and only using a carryon sized piece of luggage! I haven't slept in a tent or "camped" since I was a little girl. So I had NO idea what to bring to stay overnight in a tent. But guess what? I survived and it was fun! Laugh if you will but that was a new experience for me!

Today I walked another 4 miles to keep the memory of the Peace Walk close to me. My first steps for peace on Saturday will not be my last. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

the happiest birthday cake part II

©2011, Monika Roe

I knew I wanted to illustrate the German chocolate cake I made for Louis' birthday on Wednesday. And I finally had a moment to sit down and work on it. 

It's always a bit of a challenge to illustrate things like this because if you look at the frosting on this kind of cake (see previous post) it looks a lot like oatmeal with bits of nuts in it. How do I make that look appetizing, especially in a vector illustration?

The best way to start is to just jump in and focus on giving the idea of the texture without getting too hung up on making it exact. Once I do this everything falls into place and I think I ended up with a pretty accurate illo of this mouthwatering cake!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

the happiest birthday cake

It was my man's birthday yesterday and that means I made him a German chocolate cake from scratch!

This is the second birthday that he's had since we've been a couple. Last year he told me his favorite cake was German chocolate so I went on a hunt to find the best recipe possible!

Many German chocolate cakes have chocolate frosting on them but my research told me that wasn't an authentic version of this beloved cake. Leave it to Cook's Illustrated to provide me with the most decadent, albeit time consuming, recipe out there! Cook's Illustrated hasn't let me down yet with their detailed and scientific approach to perfecting recipes.

The frosting is cooked on the stove and then chilled while the cake is being made. The cake batter is unlike anything I've made before. After it's many additions in a specific order it fluffs up to a beautiful chocolate cloud. It's really something to behold!

Splitting the layers of the cake after baking is the most difficult part of the recipe for me but I find that if I stick toothpicks at the halfway mark around the width of the cake and use those as a guide for my knife, it makes the job much easier.

The photo above shows the toasted pecans ready to be added to the chilled coconut filling. There's really nothing like a freshly toasted tray of chopped pecans. The smell that wafts from them and their toasty crunch adds another level of temptation to the already divine frosting.

Assembly of the cake was a cinch once the layers were split and ready to go. I needed to divide the filling into 4 equal portions to spread between the layers and for a final layer on top. To do this without having to dirty another measuring cup I smoothed the filling in the bowl and then "drew" a line across the top of the filling down the center of the bowl and then another one perpendicular to that, visually dividing it into 4 equal sections in the bowl. Then I spooned out one fourth of the filling at a time. It's not perfectly accurate but it's darn close!

And the result is...

...the happiest birthday cake ever! Happy Birthday Sweet Man!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

it's an 'eww gross' august

Another gross moment illustrated by me for M Magazine's August issue! A girl falls asleep while laying out and awakes to find that her kid brother has put popsicles on her that have melted and attracted a steady stream of ants! Yeah, that's gross!

Monday, August 8, 2011

juice fast love!

©2011, Monika Roe

Last night I came off of my 7 day juice fast. 7 DAYS!!! I am proud and a little surprised that I lasted that long!

I was inspired by the documentary movie "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" by Joe Cross. It's a movie that my man shared with me. It focuses on Joe's journey through a 60 day juice fast to lose weight and regain his health. In the process he travels through the United States interviewing people about their diets and meets an overweight trucker who ultimately goes on a juice fast as well to save his life. 

The message of the film is to get off junk food, and add more fruits and veggies to your diet to improve your health and live longer. What caught my attention was that normal, everyday people who tried a juice fast talked about how much energy they gained and how revitalized they felt.

As you know, I recently spent 2 weeks in Denmark on vacation. Ever since I got back I've been feeling a little "off". It's hard to describe exactly what that means. I'm not sure if it was just hard for me to recover from the jet lag or if it was a result of eating too much of the amazing food I was constantly surrounded by (my family and friends there pulled out all the stops and cooked some delicious, memorable meals for us!) 

This juice fast sounded like just the thing I was looking for to jump start my energy and focus AND get back to healthful eating.

Since I have never done a fast of any kind before, I decided to take it one day at a time. I hoped to last a week but if my body told me to stop before then, I would set my ego aside and give myself permission to stop. I also decided not to tell anyone unless I had to. This was something I was going to do for myself without the judgement, praise or skepticism of others.

I was a little worried about willpower. Was it going to be too hard? Would I give in at the first opportunity? Was I physically and mentally capable of such a challenge? When these fears came up I helped them subside by focusing on that moment instead of how much longer I had to go. 

It was very difficult the first 3 days. Not because I was hungry, but because of the huge headache I got that never quit over those 3 days! I drink a lot of coffee everyday, not just in the morning but throughout the day. I'm a person that can drink 6 cups of coffee at night and then fall right asleep when I go to bed. I can only imagine that the massive, non-stop headache I experienced was from caffeine withdrawal. I kept telling myself that it would pass and it did and I was SO grateful!

Looking back now that scares me a little bit. That my body was so used to having coffee that I would have such a violent reaction to not having it! I haven't decided if I will start drinking coffee again anytime soon. If I do, it will be decaf. In the meantime I will be drinking my new favorite coffee substitute... HOT WATER!

This former caffeine-aholic is here to tell you that the one thing that really helped me in the mornings and at night when I was used to having my coffee was not decaf or tea. It was simply hot, steamy mugs of WATER! It really, really helped! Eventually I did not miss the coffee (and still don't).

The whole time I was on this fast I kept asking my man (who is very knowledgeable about health and alternative medicine) where is the energy? When will it feel like I've been hit by a lightning bolt and be buzzing with a recharged battery?

Truthfully, that moment didn't come until today, the day AFTER I broke my fast. Today I've kept the juice in my eating regimen but have added fruits, vegetables and nuts. And I feel great!

I'm looking forward to juicing tonight for dinner because I my body is craving it. And to be craving something that is so very, very good for me is such a change, such a surprise, such a GIFT. 

I feel like I have come a very long way in the past week and I can truly say I am glad I took the time and made the effort to listen to my body and take care of myself. It's something I will strive to practice everyday. I hope you do the same!

Friday, August 5, 2011

carnivale gallery show

If you are in Paso Robles, stop by the Studios on the Park and take a look at my painting in the Showroom Gallery! The show is called "Carnivale" and is up until August 14th. The criteria to submit works for consideration was that they had to reflect "cotton candy, the circus, Mardi Gras, fiestas, masquerade, costumes and fun!"

I didn't find out that my painting, entitled "Cirque", had made it into the show until I got back from Denmark and the show was already up! It was a nice surprise that the jury included it in their final selection. Don't miss this show!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

end of summer beauty

©2011, Monika Roe

Here's a sweet little illo I did for Fitness Magazine! It was for a feature on different kinds of makeup and how to apply them. I love illustrating beauty topics!

Monday, August 1, 2011

the vampire next door

The Vampire Next Door by Ashlyn Chase was released today! This is the third in her paranormal series that I have illustrated the covers for.

This one focuses on a witch named Morgaine who is afraid of the dark yet falls in love with the vampire next door. A fun read!