Moss

Apologies I offer thee in advance
Shedding any hindrance, maintaining my superfluous balance!


For now I shall commence my irrevocable dance
Cursed being, you lost your golden chance!


Shame not in sight, this is my win
Dirt is meant for you, a horrible cringe!


Sorrowful and doomed your existence
No more need for even a simple sentence!


Go about your way, our paths never again to cross
The ultimate fulfilment is to leave behind you, an undeserving rotting moss!

© Chriselda Barretto

Artist Feature #6 – Murielle Xhrouet

ART-IS-IN by Chriselda Barretto

About Murielle Xhrouet

Murielle Xhrouet is Belgian living near Liège, claiming ownership to that spontaneous, warm city.  She turns 52 this year and has been a stewardess for over 30 years.  Murielle thinks that she was really made for the job as she prefers meeting new people from all over the world. She is passionate about other’s lives, she learns and grows through them. She has two children; a boy and a girl aged 19 and 22. She started painting about 3 years ago and it has changed her life.

Her grandfather and her father painted. As one of her two brothers is blessed with the talent of drawing, she never dared to express herself and considered ‘the place’ to be already taken!

Until she got depressed a few years ago and needed something to get out of it.  Murielle started to paint at night (so no one could look at her), on the freshly repainted white wall of her living room. She cut, ripped, glued, painted and at first, it surprised her kids in a bad way! But when it was finished, they loved it including her partner, who immediately bought her some canvas. Her brother saw the wall and said : “Murielle, You are the artist of the family.” Those very simple and innocent words gave her the boost she needed. She finally gave herself the permission to become an artist!

Hi Murielle, welcome to ART-IS-IN! Could you tell our readers a little bit about who you are?

Hi Chriselda! My high sensitivity has made me suffer a lot but I am working in the acceptance of it. I know it gives me my creativity. I am very extravert but getting older has given me a quieter personality and I can sometimes be very discreet to give place to others. Humour is one of the most important thing to me, I am always looking for fun or even wacky people. I have no patience and everything has to be entertaining at a certain point with the risk of losing my attention. To get bored is the worst for me. If no one makes jokes, I will take the place. I have no confidence in myself and even suffer from the syndrome of the impostor because I am a self-taught artist. But I love to laugh about myself, it de-dramatises everything. I need emotions and art is the best place for them.

Resignation

Tell us about your art style or process.

I like to say about my paintings that they have a high filling rate and it is your turn to decide if it is chaotic, tiring, tormented, troubled or on the opposite colorful, peaceful, telling stories, joyful.  One sure thing is that one painting has two sides : one from far and one from close.  Being far from it gives you an expression of an emotion and being close reveals a lot of details sometimes shocking, sometimes fun, sometimes serious. I usually use collages and acrylic together.

My photos are different, they are more simple and I take pictures of things you would never make a picture of.  I am not interested in nature or large views.  I love to add a nano-fiction that I write myself, it is a little text, like I took it out of a novel. I really would like to make a book out of it. The combination of a photo and a short text gives a higher emotion, at least in my work. 

I have many projects and I have decided to stop exhibitions for a while to concentrate on the phase of creation.  I am busy at the moment with some new collages that I will put under a plexi in a smaller size of what I usually do.

Novocaine

Where does your inspiration come from?

I paint the moment, I paint my feelings and my emotions.  I don’t calculate anything.  If I don’t like what I have done, it is simply that it is not finished.  I express myself spontaneously.

I am very much of a feminist in the sense of women should have the same respect and consideration as men, as simply as that.  I find religions not helping women.  But as a paradox, I love religious art and I love to mix my anger and my love of its art. I have never understood how people can truly believe that their religion is the right one, that the god they pray to is the right one.  Isn’t it arrogant to be sure that the other millions of people are wrong when you have chosen your side?  I am an atheist but I am not sure if I am right. 

Skin

I also like putting sex in my paintings because it is too much a taboo.  I also have a problem with Mickey Mouse and I love to mock him and Disney in general as a symbol of the right-thinking people and as a symbol of the easy solution to make your kids good little soldiers in the capitalist world. It is also a way for me to mock us, parents giving too much to our kids without being able to say no. Saying “Fuck Mickey” is refusing things that are too smooth, too conventional.

Have there been other artists/role-models or books that played a key role on your artistic journey?

Abstract expressionism is my first influence.

With my job, I have been walking everywhere where I could find art.  Museums, exhibits, galleries, streets, shops… It is impossible to say who I love, there are too many but Egon Schiele comes first with Gustav Klimt.

 If I had to choose two contempory artists it would be the Japonese Chiharu Shiota for her delicacy and patience and the Brazilian Henrique Oliveira for the strength of his art and the complicated task he has.

ALX

How has art impacted your life?

Other’s art have always had an impact on me. I cried in front of some paintings, art is one of my reason to live.  When I enter a museum, I get excited like when I was a kid just before going on vacation. 

My art has a good impact of course but it is still too new for me. It gives me joy but don’t imagine it makes me happy. It gives me pain too when I am falling asleep with my doubts and my questions. If I have one hundred people saying what I do is beautiful and one saying the opposite, I will keep in my mind on that one.  Even if I know that not everybody can like my work it is still painful when I have a bad critic. Sometimes, I wish I wouldn’t see the people looking at my paintings.

Pieces-of-me

My biggest dream would be to be able to live ( at least a little bit) with my art but to get known is a very very long way and exceptional.  You need talent (and talent is not even enough), originality, chance, opportunities and a good contact network. To be in a good gallery, you need to be famous. To get famous you need to be in a good gallery.  Do you see the difficulty of it?  I will probably never be famous at all, it is not the objective. All I want is to share my emotions … and sell a little bit so that I don’t have dozens of paintings in my little house!

Tell us about your last work.

My last painting is completely abstract. I really enjoyed making it because it gave me the pleasure of being completely spontaneous and of feeling free.  I didn’t have to think, I just grabbed the coulours and let it out.  I want to start again, that’s for sure.

One of the pictures I published on Instagram was taken at an exhibition and I took a photo of a photo (a naked woman laying on a bed base, photo taken by Nathalia Edenmont) with the reflection of my partner and me in it.  It gives a strange feeling like we are watching her…like peepers, like voyeurs. That’s our world now. And the text I added is quiet cruel.

What is your current WIP?

Like I mentioned earlier, I am busy making some collages that I put under a plexi.  When I travel, I always come back with some old and dirty posters that I take off the walls.  I never touch a new one, I only take ripped and damaged ones.  I use tape too and even fabrics sometimes.  What I love is giving something raw with no finishing touch.  Women are usually my main subject, but only pieces of them.  I love to rip papers and cut the real picture my way.  I would love to use my own pictures but it is not possible.

Screens

What does the future look like for you and your art?

I need to work and work more.  I am a too young artist to have a legitimate claim to a precise future. My dream is really to work with a real gallery and to publish my photos-nano-fictions.

So-close

Any words of advice to aspiring artists?

How could I give any advice as I need some myself…except this : Let it all out!

How can my readers contact you or find your art?

My web site :https://xhrouet.com

On FB : Murielle Xhrouet and my page is “But Darling your hair is pink”

Instagram : Murielle Xhrouet


Murielle Xhrouet

An Artist Feature by Chriselda Barretto

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Quirkiest Kitchen Gadgets – 2019

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So, are you a gadget lover like me ;)? I can never get enough of trying out new technology to see if it actually works! I must say that the items listed below are my “Quirkiest” gadgets, which you might want but not necessarily need… Having said that, they do look good on your counter-top or your kitchen-island and ‘yes‘ they do work! So have a look and see if any of these were ‘missing’ from your daily ife and just have fun with it!

Play and Freeze, Ice Cream Ball- Ice Cream Maker

So at the “Numéro un” spot, I have the ‘Play and Freeze Ice-Cream Ball‘. You might ask why? Well, here are some of the reasons why this cute ball adds some liveliness to a very dull kitchen:

  • It makes ice cream in approximately 30 minutes
  • Manual, no electricity required
  • Polycarbonate construction for durability
  • Makes 1 pint
  • Provides a hands-on experience to studying the properties of movement, freezing, and basic science principles

Nostalgia Retro Pop-Up Hot Dog Toaster

I love ‘Retro’ stuff and guess what…it’s IN right now! If you are a big “Hot-Dog” fan, then this one is all for you. It also comes in an “Aqua” shade which is just as adorable. A real ‘show-stealer‘! Some more reasons to indulge in this cute, nostalgic toaster:

  • Cooks two regular-size or extra-plump hot dogs at a time
  • Toasts two buns at a time
  • Adjustable cooking timer and stop cooking button
  • Removable hot dog cage
  • Includes mini tongs for removing hot dogs
  • Drip tray for easy cleaning

Kuhn Rikon Kochblume Spill Stopper

Haven’t we all been through stuff spilling over, which we just hate! I am famous for letting milk spill, especially when I try my hand at making some “Indian Chai!” But, now that’s a thing of the past :), with this ‘Spill Stopper‘. I think this is really handy to have in the kitchen and it comes in an array of different colours! Some more reasons why you could consider this:

  • Designed to prevent spills from frying pans etc.
  • Acts as a lid
  • Keeps hobs/stoves clean
  • Premium quality
  • Easy to clean

Personalized Wooden Cookie Decorating Stamp

Another adorable little personalised item! Imagine decorating your cookies with your logo or you name, or whatsoever you see fit! This one will get your guests talking about it for sure, not to mention talking about how tasty those cookies you served them are! Some more details on this product:

  • Personalized embossing cookie stamp, embossing rolling pin alternative
  • For one stamp
  • Made from solid beech wood
  • The stamp measures 2” in diameter, 5” tall including the handle
  • The stamp is to be cleaned dry with a brush, then washed with cold water and dryed before the next using
  • Cookie stamps can be customized with an image of your choice, your name, logo etc.

KLEMOO Meat Tenderizer

Love this one! It turns your cheap cuts into succulent, mouth-watering steaks. 48 needles, crafted of stainless steel, plunge down into your cuts and tenderize every impact area all at the same time. Handy buy which lasts a lifetime. Go for this one! Some more details:

  • Razor Sharp Knife Blades – with 48 ultra sharp stainless steel blades
  • Reduces Marinade & Cooking Time
  • Maximizes Meat’s Tenderness & Flavor
  • For Chicken, Steak, Beef, Pork, Fish
  • Easy to Use & Control – Ergonomic design with a comfortable, non-slip handle
  • Easy Clean up
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Comes with a clear protective plastic cover for safe storage and keeping your tenderizer sanitary

The Rollie Egg Cooker

The Rollie is an electric egg cooker that basically makes tube-shaped omelettes. Just beat your eggs, drop them in the Rollie, turn it on, and you’ll have perfectly shaped eggs for your next breakfast burrito!

  • Revolutionary cooking system lets you enjoy egg treats like never before
  • Prepare eggs, omelets, frittatas and more in just 2 easy steps
  • Unique, patented design cooks healthy and delicious eggs without the use of pots or pans
  • Easy to use and clean with a durable non-stick cooking chamber
  • Each unit comes with a cleaning brush, 5 wooden skewers, food packaging accessory, and a user manual with 25 recipes

The Selfie Toaster

Hehe! A hilarious gift idea. Imagine surprising your guest with their face on the toast you are serving them… A selfie on a fresh piece of toast. An apt gadget for a selfie generation !

Crepe/Pancake/Galette maker

I have one of these and I love it! You can make sweet and savory pancakes/galettes/crepes, anything you fancy! You can really be creative with this one and the kids love it! A good investment!

  • PERFECT 12“ CREPES EVERY TIME
  • The non-stick aluminum surface provides easy perfectly cooked crepes every time.
  • PRECISE TEMPERATURE CONTROL
  • In addition to crepes ,blintzes, jianbing, and dosa, the G&M Kitchen Essentials Professional Crepe maker can also be used as a griddle
  • Cooks a variety of breakfast foods like pancakes, eggs, bacon, tortillas, injera, roti…
  • 100 RECIPE COOKBOOK, BATTER SPREADER AND WOODEN SPATULA
  • The small design makes storage simple and travel friendly. Compact and lightweight, the crepe maker is a perfect holiday kitchen gift.

So there you have my “Quirkiest Kitchen Gadgets” for 2019. Follow my blog for updates on products and more of my ‘Top Lists’. See you around!

BY CHRISELDA BARRETTO

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“The History Of Chocolate -The Gift From Quetzalcoatl”

Quetzalcoatl – Pixabay

Building up towards “International Chocolate Day” on September 13, I decided to pen a few articles around this unique ‘flavouring ingredient’! Originally considered a gift from the God of Wisdom – Quetzalcoatl, once used as currency, also thought of to be more precious than gold and a delight only to be partaken by higher-ups or royalty…makes one think that there must be more to it that just a dessert! So I started researching on it and it is with pleasure that I share my findings with you on this dark-hued pod!

HISTORY [1]

Chocolate dates back to 450 BC in Mesoamerica. The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of the god of wisdom – Quetzalcoatl and were of so much value that they were used as a form of currency. Originally prepared only as a drink, chocolate was served as a bitter liquid, mixed with spices or corn puree. It was believed to be an aphrodisiac and to give the drinker strength! The word “chocolate” is derived from the Classical Nahuatl /Aztec word “chocolātl“.

“Rumor has it that the 16th-century Aztec emperor Montezuma drank three gallons of chocolate a day to increase his libido! “

The Olmec, Mayan and Aztec civilizations found chocolate to be an invigorating drink, mood enhancer and aphrodisiac, which led them to believe that it possessed mystical and spiritual qualities.The Mayans worshipped a god of cacao and reserved chocolate for rulers, warriors, priests and nobles at sacred ceremonies.

Chocolate remained an aristocratic nectar until Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes Van Houten invented the cocoa press in 1828, which revolutionized chocolate-making. The cocoa press could squeeze the fatty cocoa butter from roasted cacao beans, leaving behind a dry cake that could be pulverized into a fine powder, that could be mixed with liquids and other ingredients, poured into molds and solidified into edible, easily digestible chocolate. The innovation by Van Houten ushered in the modern era of chocolate by enabling it to be used as a confectionary ingredient, and the resulting drop in production costs made chocolate affordable to the masses.

The Chemistry Of Chocolate [2]

Photo by Marta Dzedyshko on Pexels.com

Think chocolate can give you a high? Well…

  • For starters, the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world is found in chocolate [source: Fackelmann]. The compound 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine — better known as caffeine produces a stimulating physiological effect by exciting the central nervous system, which, in turn, increases heart rate and contracts muscles. Caffeine acts on dopamine and adenosine receptors in the brain, which then release their respective pleasure-producing chemicals.
  • Another compound that’s closely related to the active ingredient in marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinol-9) is also found in chocolate. When cannabinoids hit the CB1 and CB2 receptors (found most predominantly in the frontal cortex and the parts of the brain responsible for motor function and memory), a person starts to feel intoxicated and relaxed as a result [source: Medscape].
  • Chocolate also packs in another surprise…Phenylethylamine which is often called the “love drug,” since it releases the same chemicals that are introduced into the human body when love comes calling [source: Millward]. The compound produces a similar effect to the one produced by amphetamines, and is classified as a hallucinogen!

The Benefits Of Chocolate

Dark chocolate has a wealth of health benefits. Listed below are only some of them:

Antioxidants

Chocolate helps combat excess free radicals given its high antioxidant content. Rich in flavonoids, it helps prevent premature aging of cells. It can also be used as a facial and body mask.

Energy

Chocolate is a stimulant that gives us an energy boost when we need it. This is essential to feel full of vitality throughout the day!

Eye health

Dark chocolate can improve eyesight due to its flavonoid content, which improves blood flow to the brain and the retina.

Mood

Chocolate contains a chemical called anandamide which improves our mood and overall state of mind, reducing the chances of depression. In addition, eating this food stimulates serotonin production in the brain, which helps us to feel happier, and prevents us from feeling anxious, moody or stressed.

Types Of Chocolate [3]

Photo by Marta Dzedyshko on Pexels.com

Chocolate should be consumed in its purest possible state, without mixing it with milk and large amounts of added sugar, for it to be considered healthy and non-fattening. This is because milk and sugar add fat. The cocoa itself is not fattening. Dark chocolate is the best choice, as it is the purest form and provides the most health benefits. It goes without saying that chocolate and other similar products should always be consumed in moderation.

Dark chocolate

This must contain a minimum of 50% of cocoa paste to be considered dark, giving it quite a bitter taste. This chocolate is richer in the properties listed in the first section of the article, like antioxidants.

Milk chocolate

It is usually eaten more, especially by children, since it is sweeter. The proportion of cocoa is below 40%, though it can contain up to 50% in gourmet confections. Milk does provide calcium, but the chocolate itself is less pure so it provides less benefits overall, and it is more fattening than dark chocolate.

White chocolate

This type contains at least 20% cocoa butter, 14% milk solids, 3.5% milk fat and up to 55% sugar or other sweeteners. This mixture is made with cocoa butter instead of solids, so it acquires a yellow hue together with the milk powder and sugar. Bad quality white chocolates are completely white instead of yellow, as they do not have any cocoa butter at all.

FACT

International Chocolate Day coincides with the birth date of Milton S. Hershey (September 13, 1857), founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company.”


Chocolates in a row (Canva)

MODERN DAY [4]

Coming back to our present times, roughly two-thirds of the world’s cocoa is produced in Western Africa, with Ivory Coast being the largest source, producing a total crop of 1,448,992 tonnes. Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon are other West African countries among the top 5 cocoa producing countries in the world.

Chocolate is a delicacy that is now easily affordable and the number of professional chocolatiers around the world has risen beyond expectation.

‘ART OF CHOCOLATE’ MASTERCLASS

If you feel compelled to learn more about chocolate, there is an “Art of Chocolate” Professional Masterclass given by Industry experts in the heart of Brussels. You will experience the Belgian Chocolate Savoir-faire and learn from the best experts to acquire professional skills to create and sell premium chocolates.

They speak of a 4 key program with highly talented people from the industry, focusing mainly on: The art of perfecting, creating, making and selling of chocolate! They also offer tailored masterclasses dedicated to businesses and teams. Learn more: HERE

Laurence Koutny – Founder of “Art of Chocolate” and Winner of the 2013 Belgian Business Manager Trends Woman Award

Look out for my next article on chocolate where I will chat with Laurence Koutny, founder of “Art of Chocolate” and Winner of the 2013 Belgian Business Manager Trends Woman Award!

Thank you for joining me and hope to see you soon on ‘chriselda.blog

BY CHRISELDA BARRETTO

Contact Chriselda Barretto

[1] Source “The Sweet History Of Chocolate” by Christopher Klein

[2] Source “Can chocolate give me a happy-high?” by Josh Clark

[3] Source “Is Chocolate Fattening?” by Max D Gray

[4] Main article

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