The month of June for me has been all about the roses this year! And in more ways than one - I'm celebrating a rosy life as well as the beautiful rose blooms in my garden. In this blog post I'll be sharing holidays, news and updates, special offers and a recipe I adapted for the Italian desert biscuit, Cantuccini.
ROSE PETAL CONFETTI
The climbing rose in our garden had more buds than I've ever seen this year. With the cancellation of our wedding last year due to Covid and this year due to arrival of baby, I'm seizing the opportunity to make my own confetti by drying the rose petals. It's a surprisingly simple process involving just a small production line on a sunny window sill. I recommend picking the roses when the petals are loose enough to grab the whole flower in a fist, just before the petals start to shed on the floor or turn brown. Then simply sprinkle them on a baking tray lined with baking paper or kitchen towel and leave in a sunny spot until completely dry and crisp (smells divine!). Then bag them up in an air tight container ready for that special occasion.
A RUDE AWAKENING
There has been a new addition to our densely populated, urban neighbourhood in East London - a cockerel. He's been kindly waking us all up at the crack of dawn which I have sometimes been grateful for, particularly when catching the morning light highlighting the roses.
OIL PASTEL EXPERIMENTS
And their colour and form even inspired me to get the oil pastels out one afternoon - a very rare adventure.
CROYDE BAY, DEVON
And I've been lucky enough to have spent a particularly sunny week of June on our annual girls surf trip in Croyde Bay in Devon (just body surfing for me this year!).
Spent a glorious few hours sunbathing and reading this new book by one of my favourite authors, Isabel Allende:
We stayed just a stones throw from the beach and this has got to be one my favourite views of all time:
THE LAKE DISTRICT
Then as if that wasn't enough fun in the sun, I then drove up to the Lake District where we spent a glorious week, walking, hiking and lounging near Ullswater. This was a view from the Ullswater Steamer boat trip we did:
And this is a reservoir nearby, we hiked up a fairly steep ascent carrying an assortment of babies and toddlers.
Went on an outing to Lowther Castle and came across some beautiful landscaping by Dan Pearson:
And now for the Cantuccini recipe! Adapted from the long owned but only recently used Polpo Restaurant cookbook. I've made it more of a nutty affair using just almonds and hazelnuts and is best served with coffee rather than with the traditional glass of chilled Vin Santo desert wine. Cantuccini and Vin Santo is one of the most memorable "deserts" I've ever eaten. I first came across it when we stopped for lunch in a refugio only accessible by foot while hiking in the mountains in Tuscany a few years ago. Lunch consisted of a delicious yet humble Tuscan style stew with hunks of fresh bread followed by homemade Cantuccini dipped in a glass of Vin Santo. We've had a bottle of Vin Santo unopened in our booze cupboard ever since we got back from this trip and it was only this month when preparing an Italian alfresco feast for friends that it felt like the perfect occasion to make these biscuits. Who doesn't like a desert wine course? Perhaps because of the setting but also the appetite we'd worked up this lunch is one I'll never forget. In Italy this combination of "bread and wine" is celebrated for being the naughtier version of the holy Eucharist.
Makes approximately 20 biscuits:
1 egg white
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
300g plain flour or 00 flour
2 tsp baking powder
180ml sunflower oil
125g blanched almonds roughly chopped
125g toasted, hazelnuts roughly chopped
Beat the egg white, whole egg, sugar and vanilla essence in a bowl until well combined.
Slowly add the flower, baking powder and oil and mix until well combined.
Stir in the chopped nuts and mix well.
Cover and leave in the fridge overnight to set.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6 and cover a lightly oiled baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
Lay the mixture in a long mound like an elongated, flat loaf (as above) length ways along the tray.
Bake for 30 or so minutes until it's golden and set in the middle, it may need turning half way through to ensure an even bake.
Remove from the oven and leave it til cool enough to handle then slice into 1cm slices - see below (if it's crumbling slice into thicker pieces).
Turn the oven down to Gas Mark 1.
Lay the slices flat on a wire rack and bake in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes, or until the biscuits have completely dried out. In my oven this took about 40 - 50 minutes.
Serve with coffee and dunk to soak. Or if you're feeling naughtier, serve with a glass of chilled Vin Santo.
They'll keep in an airtight container for a few weeks!
Keep the crumbs - they make a great topping to add a nutty crunch to a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
DISCOUNTED INTRODUCTORY OFFER ENDING SOON!
Make the most of the introductory offer that saves you £20 when you sign up to the new A-Z of Mindful Drawing Online Course before 1st July 2021.
I'm really pleased to be sharing this content with my followers. It's perfect for:
Beginners who have been wanting to learn more about drawing for a while but need some encouragement to take that first step.
People who are curious to learn and experience more of the wider benefits that a regular drawing practice can lead to such as improved levels of creative confidence and wellbeing.
More experienced drawers wanting to renew their passion for drawing that may have been dormant for a while, wish to expand their skills set and explore new techniques and give themselves permission to play on the page.
It will help you to:
Renew your enthusiasm for drawing
Reignite your creativity
Inspire and motivate you to get on the page
Find your “still point in the turning world” (TS Eliot).
Features and benefits:
A-Z of drawing techniques and mindfulness – 30 individual lessons that offer guidance on developing a drawing practice that not only improves your drawing skills but also nourishes your soul.
Alphabetical but not chronological - allowing you the freedom to work through the 30 lessons systematically or an order that suits you.
Self-paced online course - allowing you to completed the lessons in short, regular bursts, or explore each lesson more deeply and complete the course over a longer period of time.
Unlimited access to all content* - so you can revisit each of the 30 lessons as many times as you need. *for a minimum of 6 months from date of purchase
4 free bonus lessons – for those who don’t want the learning experience to end!
Materials & Stockist List – so you can be prepared and have an excuse to go shopping for new art materials!
All learning styles considered - each lesson includes a short video demonstration of the drawing technique, an example of the outcome, clear written instructions and a materials list.
Learn at home but not alone – join the international online community of like-minded, creative people - The Still Point Sketchers – a supportive online community offering a safe, friendly and encouraging platform to share your outcomes, ask questions and receive the support and encouragement you need throughout the course and beyond!
Access to free community events – join the annual Still Point Sketching challenge #draweverydayinmay as well as the weekly live Draw Together sessions and receive continued support and encouragement to develop your drawing practice, meet new people and make creative connections around the world.
£65 or pay 3 monthly instalments of £21.66.
Make the most of the discounted introductory offer – save £20 when you sign up before 1st July 2021!
And yes, you really can sign up even if you haven’t drawn for decades or your think you’re terrible at drawing. There’s no pressure to produce or share good drawings just encouragement to explore, experiment, have fun and learn more about how to access that still point that comes when you’re purely focused on the process of drawing and don’t give a hoot about the outcome.
That's all for this month folks! See you in July for the last blog post before the baby arrives in August!