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New York

Have you ever spent time in Manhattan? With no agenda, just wandering around looking at what there is to be seen? I realised recently that I have not spent any serious time there since the 90s. And never with my camera. So when my Lovely Man and I had a chance to visit the East Coast last month, tacking on some time to catch up with New York was a no-brainer!

Here are the first batch of images, focussing on light:

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The Mad Plants of Madeira

I recently spent some time with my parents on Madeira. It is seriously a plant-lover’s paradise! Here are some of the crazy-looking plants I saw…

This wonderful creature Mickey-Mouse bushis called the Mickey-Mouse bush. The yellow flowers fall off to reveal these cute red sepals, and eventually produce black fruits which give the plant its common name. Isn’t it lovely?

And this kapok treeis the kapok tree. Earlier in the year it has striking red five-lobed flowers which are apparently very attractive to bats, but its main importance is the fruit: a light fibre which is used as an alternative to down as stuffing for soft toys and upholstery. I’m told that the fibres kapok fibresloosen and float off, to the great annoyance to residents…but to me they are just cool!

 

Ginger Banana Bread

I love ginger. I use it anywhere ginger can be used (and a few places it probably oughtn’t…), so when I needed to use up a whole bunch of over-ripe bananas, guess where my mind went? I found this – thank you, Pinterest! – but it was not nearly ginger-y enough. Here’s my version:

 

Ginger Banana Bread

Ginger Banana Bread

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 ripe bananas or 3 frozen bananas, defrosted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 cup raisins pre-soaked overnight in 1/2 cup ginger tea (or you could use your favourite alcohol…)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 cups sprouted spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped crystallised ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger

Spray a standard loaf tin with coconut oil and dust lightly with flour. Preheat oven to 350F.

Beat together the eggs and sugar until thick and lightened in color (about 5 minutes). Add the banana, vanilla, sour cream, raisins (and any remaining tea) and oil, and stir until combined.

In another bowl, mix the remaining ingredients together. Gently fold into the egg mixture.

Pout into the prepared loaf tin and bake until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean (about an hour).

Delicious slathered with butter while still warm, though the flavour will improve if kept. Also good toasted. Don’t expect it to last long…!

 

 

Design Inspiration: Henrie Haldane

On my last trip to England I managed to connect with the talented painter Henrie Haldane. We originally met through a women’s business network and I was instantly captivated by her work. Lovely Man and I commissioned this 20140731-081248-29568428.jpgfor our house in England, inspired by photographs I’ve taken of nearby lakes.

She now lives in Spain and the colours and light of her new home shine through in her latest works. 20140731-071513-26113813.jpgWe commissioned another painting, in a darker palette inspired by this20140731-071513-26113055.jpg and on my current trip I’ve finally been able to see it in place.  

 Isn’t it gorgeous?

Henrie can be contacted via her website

 

Pink Roses

I love almost every colour of rose, but I think pink roses are my favourite. And even though it goes against my California-native/drought-tolerant principals here in California, I couldn’t resist a few David Austin roses in my new planting schemes. This

Gertrude Jekyll rose with deer sageis one of my all-time favorites, Gertrude Jekyll, planted last year and finally hitting her stride. Doesn’t she look great against the grey of the deer sage?

And this

Charles Rennie MackIntosh budsis a new friend, Charles Rennie Mackitosh, planted in February and about to reward me for my faith. You can take the girl out of England… 🙂

 

Ocotillo

Another crazy plant! Ocotillo (fouquieria splendens) is a spiny, drought-tolerant shrub native to southwestern America and Mexico. For much of the year it looks like a bunch of dry sticks, ocotillo in courtyardbut after Spring rains it sprouts green leaves and, at the end of each stem, a hummingbird-attracting flower. They are also supposedly edible (I haven’t tried them!) and can be dried for use in a tisane…ocotillo flowerIt pairs well with crown of thorns, as seen here ocotillo & crown of thornsin my newly planted drought-tolerant front garden.