November 2019

Illustration

This is always a busy time promoting the artist’s books in my online shop The Museum Shelves. These little books are always very popular as gifts. One of my other best sellers is ‘Biscuits: a few crumbs of wisdom’. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a special gift, my handmade artist’s books with paper engineered pop-ups on the themes of British Butterflies, Tulips, Shells and Eggs feature delicate watercolour illustrations and calligraphy and are stylish and elegant – and highly collectable.

My ‘Flowers for….’ books illustrate the flowers that attract butterflies or bees into your garden and look lovely displayed on a mantlepiece or windowsill. They come in a pack with a coordinating postcard so they are also an easy shape to gift wrap!

This is a little ‘behind the scenes’ peek at my sketchbook where I developed the ideas for the ‘Flowers for Butterflies’ book.

I took part in ‘Just a Card’ INDIE WEEK this year – the small and independent businesses’ response to Black Friday. This is the image that I designed featuring the Just a Card pin. The campaign was set up a few years ago by Sarah Hamilton to highlight the importance of ALL sales to small business – even the small ones. Find out more about the campaign at Just a Card. This painting portrays the small items I’ve bought from independent businesses and artists over the year showing them on display on ‘The Museum Shelves’ (printers’s drawers and also the name of my online business). I really enjoyed producing the painting and I’ve got plans for themed paintings of museum shelf items in 2020….

Gardening

During these dark and slightly gloomy days it’s hard to remember sunny days out in the garden. But now is the traditional time for planning – so why not plan how best to encourage wildlife into your garden. You don’t have to dig up your lawn and turn everything into a wild flower meadow – there are plenty of plants that look good and are excellent for wildlife too.

Recipes

This is the perfect cake for the run up to Christmas. Full of Christmassy flavours – but lighter than traditional Christmas cake and a change from the ubiquitous mince pie – it’s extremely easy to make. I often get asked for the recipe for this cake – a sure sign that it’s a winner. I’ve also developed a vegan version of this cake – find the recipe at the Hodmedod’s website.

Cranberry, Orange and Walnut Cake

Makes 8-10 slices

1 orange
100g dried, sweetened cranberries
85g butter
150g-175g ripe bananas, peeled weight (about 2 medium bananas)
140g caster sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten
1 tsp orange extract
250g self-raising white flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g walnut pieces, chopped

You will need
A 2lb / 900g loaf tin
Non-stick liner or butter and greaseproof paper
Wooden or metal skewer 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.  Lightly grease and line the loaf tin, or pop in a liner.
  2. Finely grate the zest of the orange into a mixing bowl.  Squeeze the orange and put the juice* into a small saucepan with the cranberries.  Bring to the boil and then simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously, until the cranberries have plumped up and the orange juice has evaporated.  Place into a small bowl to cool.
  3. In the same saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat.  Set aside to cool.
  4. Add the bananas to the mixing bowl and mash thoroughly with a fork.  Add the sugar, eggs, cooled melted butter and orange extract and stir well. 
  5. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda over the banana mixture and fold in.  Fold in the cranberries and walnuts.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface.  Bake for about 50-60 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove and place on a cooling rack.

*  You can replace the orange in the recipe with 4 tablespoons of orange liqueur such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier

This cake is so easy to make – yet you wouldn’t believe it to taste it. It really is delicious.

The vegan version of this lovely alternative to the traditional Christmas cake

Until December’s blog…..

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