Wednesday 24 February 2021

Wanderlust 2021 - weeks five to eight - Ephemera

Week five was the start of the Ephemera topic, which I was really looking forward to.  I used an old photograph of my Granny with her sisters as the focal point and really enjoyed creating the background.  I asked Chris to give me a colour (I would normally go for blues and greens or other cold colours) and he chose red (a bit of pink and orange also made an appearance).  
Week six was split into several different ideas.  One was to use collage as the focus.  I decided to do this in my cardboard art journal.  I love the drippy paint effect and the way you can see the collage pieces.
I then did the 'collage as texture' and stuck my collage elements in place.  I liked this as it was, so took a photo of it as by the time I finished, you wouldn't be able to see it.
Here's the finished page.  You can see some bits of the collage if you look closely, but it is pretty much hidden.
Week seven was focusing on photos and making ephemera your own by adding scribbles and marks to it.  I did this on a piece of music paper and then scanned it in to the computer and printed it out, so that I can keep the original.    I did  this with some garden entry tickets I had kept and one featured on this spread. The colour scheme would be taken from the ephemera used. The photos again feature my granny, but in the right hand photo, she is with her children - my Mum is on the right of the photo.

Week eight was a bit more of a challenge. It was about focusing on your ideas and plans and then making a pile of ephemera including some material that had been stitched into.  Most of the ephemera was stuck down under another piece so that the maker was the only person who knew exactly what was in the pile. With my current 'circles' obsession, they appeared all over these pages.  I used an acrylic paint pen to draw the 'stitched' details, but there is real stitching on the material on the left hand page.

I am still loving the course, enjoying some weeks more than others, but giving everything a go!  It is giving me a lot to think about.

Thursday 18 February 2021


Usually around this time I head out with friends to visit a garden and admire the snowdrops. Over the years we have visited several local-ish places including Hodsock Priory, Brightwater Gardens and Doddington Hall.  However, this year they are all closed.  

In order to get my snowdrop fix, I suggested to Chris that we walk into the city centre to a little cemetery which we used to drive past on the way back from work sometimes.  Last Thursday, the weather was sunny with blue skies and although it was cold, we decided it would be the perfect time to go.  So we did.  The cemetery itself has been used for centuries - since the Iron Age, according to the board pictured above.  There are London Plane trees, sycamores and limes here too.  Considering it is in a relatively busy part of the city, on a through-road, it was extremely peaceful and there was a bird singing while we were there, which we really enjoyed listening to.   

There was still some snow here and there.
There was a carpet of aconites.
In the sunnier part of the cemetery, the snowdrops had opened a bit more.
One of my favourite flowers (as I tell anyone who will listen!)
There were lots of snowdrops to enjoy.
The trees shadows made some lovely patterns.
It made me so happy being in this peaceful place.
I really enjoyed the visit and will go again when the cow parsley is out, later in the Spring.

Sunday 14 February 2021

Easy Vegan Ginger Cake

You know how sometimes, you just feel the need for cake?  I had one of those days and decided it had to be a ginger cake.  I dug out my Granny's recipe and made a ginger cake which we thoroughly enjoyed.  However, having a few vegan friends, I thought it would be nice if I could make a vegan version.  I found a plethora of recipes online, but they seemed to need to strange egg replacement ingredients which weren't that readily available or seemed rather complicated. Then I came across this recipe: Easy Vegan ginger cake which was very similar to my Granny's recipe.  I substituted golden syrup for the black treacle/molasses and can confirm that the recipe was very simple and the end result was delicious!
The recipe is below (just in case you don't want to follow the link above).  (My comments are in pink):

Easy Ginger Cake Recipe (One Step, Vegan)

This vegan easy ginger cake is delicious, and made entirely from store cupboard ingredients. Simply put all the ingredients into a mixer and whizz. Swap in your favourite gluten free flour to make this gluten free. Free-form baking made easy. Egg Free, Dairy Free and Vegan.

Servings: 16 

Author: Helen Best-Shaw

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 40 mins

Total Time 50 mins


• 350 g Plain Flour

• 225 g Sugar (soft dark brown)

• 100 ml Vegetable oil

• 2-3 tsp ground ginger

• 1 tsp baking powder

• ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

• Pinch salt 

• 4 tbsp black treacle / molasses (about 60g) (I substituted golden syrup – worked fine, just not so dark in colour)

• 225 ml water

Optional Extras

• ½- 1 tsp ground cinnamon ((optional))

• ½-1 tsp ground all spice ((optional))

• Dash chilli powder ((optional))

• Handful dried dates or figs ((optional))


1. Place all the ingredients into the food processor bowl, or mixer and whizz until you have a smooth golden brown batter. ( I mixed it in a bowl as I don’t have a food processor/mixer – again worked fine)

2. Pour into 8” square pan lined with greaseproof paper and bake at GM4/180C/355F for about 35 – 40 mins until risen and a cocktail stick inserted into the middle comes out clean.


• When weighing the treacle put the spoon into a jug on the scales, then zero them, use the spoon to dollop the treacle into the jug without scraping the spoon I then re-zero the scales and weigh 225g of boiling water into the jug which will dissolve all the treacle which saves any sticky scraping for spoon to food processor bowl. As the recipe is so forgiving accurate measuring is really not necessary.

• To make this gluten free, swap out the flour for gluten free flour

• This recipe can be made with wholewheat flour


Saturday 6 February 2021

Heralds of Spring?

My iris reticulata 'Painted Lady' and 'Harmony' are giving me a lot of joy as they are flowering despite the wet and cold weather.  I have not had much luck with getting these plants to repeat flower, but this year, they have.  It could be that they are happier in pots, so I shall pot them on into bigger pots after flowering and hope they will flower again next year.
Painted Lady has delicate colouring with cream, palest lilac and yellow.
Harmony is blue/purple with contrasting orange. 
They have such beautiful markings inside the petals too.
Here they both are with some snowdrops - heralds of Spring indeed.