I recently spent some time with my parents on Madeira. It is seriously a plant-lover’s paradise! There will be more posts at a later date, but today I want to focus on some of the crazy-looking plants I saw…
This wonderful creature is 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 is 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 loosen and float off, to the great annoyance to residents…but to me they are just cool!
My mother loves poppies. The red ones that grow (or used to…) on the edges of English fields. The Flanders poppies that everyone wears on Remembrance Day. But then we moved to America and I saw the California version…interesting colours, attractive foliage, and even after they die they are interesting…
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:
- 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…!
Our bathroom is beautiful. Mediterreanean-style cabinetry and two different colours of chocolate-coloured marble. Sadly, the view through the window over the tub is less beautiful – the black hosepipe atop our pergola for the solar shower and the telegraph pole that carries our phone and power supply. I do my best with interesting accessories but…:(
Then sometimes life surprises you. A friend came for dinner in our newly finished kitchen (and I promise an update eventually) with a beautiful stained glass star she had made. Not only that, but it turns out she also runs a stained-glass class nearby, and can design and make pretty much anything you want in stained glass. Which got me thinking – why not create the view I wish I had?
I love the Greene and Greene / Torrey Pines style Craftsman glass that graces turn-of-the-century homes in this part of the world. And it seems like Margit and I are on the same wavelength. So here are our inspirations.
After a fun morning picking out glass I am eagerly anticipating a sample or two (which – yay! – I get to keep) ad then I will get my view! More to follow as the project progresses.
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 for 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. We commissioned another painting, in a darker palette inspired by this and on my current trip I’ve finally been able to see it in place.
Henrie can be contacted via her website
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
is 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?
is 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…🙂