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Simon’s magical Chocolate mousse

Simon's magical chocolate mousse recipe
Simon’s magical Chocolate Mousse recipe, Retro style
Vintage tea towel or wall hanging. Available to purchase from my shop PAPERBRUSH
Tea towel or wall hanging

Simon’s magical chocolate mousse is actually his secret and very decadent addition to the menu on any special occasion. So good that it features on this vintage recipe artwork, a recent attempt at retro style design for a competition. The judging is done by public vote online.

The art inspiration came from my grandmothers original ROYAL BAKING POWDER recipe book from the 1950’s. The pages are mottled yellow and broken around the edges. What remains of the cover is this… the key feature for this vintage tea towel / wall hanging design is the cake stand. Which has since been converted to a bowl.

Royal baking powder (pty) book cover
Royal cookery book – South African edition.

As you can see the cake stand became a magic mousse bowl.

This Vintage recipe artwork is featured in the Spoonflower weekly challenge. It will be available for purchase next week, but in the meantime IF you have the patience, would you be kind enough to give me a vote. The more votes I get the more delighted I’ll be! All you need to do is click the pink link and scroll down the other competing designs until you see “Simon’s Magical Chocolate Mousse” by PAPERBRUSH. Thanks so much! More votes means a bit of publicity to actually sell this piece. You know how it is for starving artists.. haha.. the proceeds may get me a slab of chocolate!

tea towel dish cloth art
Tea towel

Being a surface designer

I have recently got back into surface pattern design after many, many years (studied Textile Design). It has been a couple of months of intensive learning digital techniques. Knowing the the world is brimming over with designs… who needs another designer? But (sigh) the creative spirit is eternally insistent and it makes me happy. So, no matter what, you will find me in the studio eagerly thinking up the next pattern.

If you want to do any decorating or give an original gift, take a look at my portfolio. Most of the patterns are available to purchase online and if you need custom designs or colours I am happy to do that for you. Most recent surface patterns are featured on SPOONFLOWER.COM . They print in the USA and BERLIN on a variety of fabric and wallpaper. If you prefer useful stuff like phone-cases , cups, bags and other things then check out my work on REDBUBBLE.COM

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Christmas Star

Christmas Star

Jupiter and Saturn, our family planets, will be close tonight.

Closer than they have been from an Earthling point of view for the past 800 years. Looking up at the night sky on the 21st December brings Christmas into perspective. The light falling into our eyes will have journeyed millions of miles from our sun. Heading out to Jupiter and onwards towards Saturn. Saturn is almost twice as far from Earth as Jupiter.

Apparently it is taking at least 52 minutes from Jupiter and one and a half hours from Saturn to reach Earth. These light waves are tickling our eyeballs as we gaze at the great CONJUNCTION (Christmas star). The light will have left the Sun, travelled millions of kilometers through space, bounced off the planets, and then touch us. According to the wiki, when light reaches our eyeballs, some is absorbed and some is reflected. So after gazing at the Christmas star, how about looking into the eyes the person close to you and exchange some refracted star light? A romantic Christmas gift for your loved one.

Giving gifts has had me reflecting on the effects it has on those who are literally forced to receive them. Unlike a bit of pure sunlight, a gift is a material thing. Whether you like it or not. Simon told me he doesn’t want any more junk. But imagine waking up on Christmas morning to find too much space under the tree. It’s bad enough that a microscopic coil of rna has prevented us from CONJUNCTIONING with all our families this Christmas. At least a little parcel to unwrap? Albeit it should be wrapped in Earth-safe recyclable paper & organic non-cotton ribbon and natural sticky tape. It must also be 100% local, non-toxic useful piece of art which plays nicely with everything else we own.

We are not made only of stardust, but also of starlight.

Being a person who is into planetary conservation and covid avoidance maneuvering, my Christmas shopping has had a light touch. I went to the local pharmacy by e-bike, and bought a bottle of Made in Italy aftershave called CUORE DI PEPE NERO for Simon. Once I got it home I read the extremely long list of mystery ingredients on the sophisticated “packaging from responsible sources”. It doesn’t actually include cuore di pepe nero – heart of black pepper. Good thing! It would most certainly make him sneeze.

Sneezing is the most unacceptable reflex known to man these days. A public sneeze causes instant consternation. I was riding my e-bike in Castel Gandolfo yesterday when someone in my immediate vicinity sneezed. It sent me pedalling off as fast as I could to the next view point. The weather has been sunny and calm, making our pretty lake Albano look like a glassy lenz. I looked down at the fantastic sphere of reflected heaven.

Perhaps tonight we will go to the highest lookout point to see the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the starry sky. I expect it will be reflected in the water too. Imagine that light travelling from the Sun, bouncing off the planets, reflecting off the water and into our eyes where some of it is absorbed into our brain, and some is reflected on each other, and some will possibly be reflected right back to where it came from…

From dust to dust…ashes to ashes…light to light.

Lake Albano photo by Leanne

If you look extremely carefully at the reflection of the mountain in the water, you might be able to see the red algae bloom. Forming a swirl in the middle of lake, a micro copy of our galaxy!

ESA Christmas angel on Mars.

Latest discovery by the European Space Agency – Mars express. An angel near the south pole.

pointsetta flower gift
Free download, a Christmas gift from me to you.
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Rome is mellowing out.

Quite soggy after days and days of rain. The last of the orange leaves have collapsed onto the streets. We will go into the old city tomorrow for a culture pop-up experience although all museums are shut. But that’s not off-putting because Rome has a street-charm like no other place in the world.

It’s the way the paint peels.

Which brings me to presenting a couple of designs. Every hour or two another one manifests. I’ve taken a moment to write this while the enthusiasm is still bubbling.

That’s another point, living in a bubble can be good for interior design. I was thinking about interiority, the rooms we live in and how we arrange them. A cushion here and vase of flowers there, a mat at the door…it’s a selfscape! Clearly demonstrating your values – (what’s in your bookshelf by the way?) your colours (emotions) – mixed up, matchy-patchy, or plain khaki flannel?

Imagine walking into Caesars Palace and find it coarsely rendered in a sludgy beige crimplene.

Pompeii red garland by Leanne Talbot Nowell

Consider the thoughtful parts of your home – how do you place things for maximum meaning? Is there only one way to display a stained glass window or many ways to arrange a cushion. Home is a 3D catalogue of your life. You can be rich or poor, it doesn’t matter at all. Have you seen what can be done with peeling paint?

Think about your interiorscape, including that special room in your heart. Is there a Voltaire’s garden in there? Or is it a train station?

Before I get carried away in a bubble of glee, here is a glimpse of my work today… you can see more designs on my HOME page.

2021 design natural by Leanne Talbot Nowell

“Living in Rome certainly offers artists an inspiring kick in the pants. One of my favourite things to do is walk around the ancient ‘vincoli’ in search of old walls to photograph.

Especially antique walls that have been painted with ochre clays. Cracks and scratches, patches of crumbling stone and bits of ancient marble create a deep, rich patina.

Combined with dramatic skies and perfect domes, the sight of old Rome is enchanting enough to rock your foundations.

The narrow streets are protected from extreme weather and so the walls have endured longer than those in exposed areas. Unfortunately the patina is fast disappearing under layers of fresh plaster and plastic acrylic paint. 

This collection of “Rome old walls” photographs is a precious source of images which I lovingly use as backgrounds for my hand painted designs. Something between street art and fresco merged with hand painted emblems, made to share as a digital print. 

Leanne’s MEDITERRANEAN… design series explores the decor styles of local empires over the millennia. 

So, with a touch of nostalgia I present  these honest, non-toxic, sustainable decor products. Printed designs on recycled fabrics and papers. Now you can surround yourself with guilt-free decor!”

Roman pine patina fresco by Leanne Talbot Nowell

Wishing you a fabulous Christmas holiday.

Leanne Talbot Nowell
stone chequered print
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A touch of Tuscany for you


As the lockdown in Italy lifted in the middle of June, Simon and I flew the coop as soon as we could, and drove north to the wonderful rolling countryside of Tuscany. What could be more inspiring for an artist than spending a week in the heart of the Chianti winelands in early summer? The weather was perfect, allowing me to paint in the traditional Villa garden without any bother.

With so many vistas and panoramas to choose from, I was like a child running from one beautiful scene to the next. From the courtyard to a secret garden to a shady spot under a cherry tree. Then along cypress tree lined roads, through vineyards and oak forests. A breeze kept the olive trees fluttering their silvery green leaves – a lovely sight that’s altogether more difficult to capture on paper. I forgot to bring my folding chair, so some work was done squatting on the floor.

The staff at the villa were careful not to interrupt the flow of paint and left me in peace to splash away. At the end of the week we put them all up for show and the Villa staff got to choose their favourites, while the rest were eagerly snapped up by our friends who had come from France to ride bikes with Simon. It was, after all, not a public showing, since we still have strict social distancing rules to follow. We kept to the bubble protocol.

Tuscany print series for sale

€25 each

  • Available as a file download.
  • Print your own, any size you want.
  • Buy them here on my website.
  • In 5 minutes you’ll have your artwork file, simply send it to your local print shop.
  • See more details in my shop.

The colours are as fresh and vibrant as the original painting for a fraction of the price.

Each image in this Tuscan series illustrates a scene from the garden of the Santa Chiara di Prumiano Villa. They are available for purchase separately.

They won’t fade or decay, and if properly framed, it will be a piece to treasure for your whole life.

Bring a romantic touch of Italian charm into your home.

The true colours are used in the series so work well in a grouping.

Tuscany watercolour prints make ideal gifts for friends who love Italy!


Tuscany villa Print 1 - Santa Chiara di Prumiano painting by Leanne Talbot Nowell

Tuscany villa

Print 1

Green door Print 4 - Tuscany, door to the secret garden by Leanne Talbot Nowell

Green door

Print 4

Click on the box to view the artwork before purchase.

They cost €25 each. 

Paypal or credit cards accepted.

If you need any help please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Day 54 – Varberg to Gothenburg

Sweden red houses

Swedish bitters

An internet-free day cycling north along the Kattegattleden 1 track towards Gothenburg. The cycle track is well signposted and easy going. This has got to be the most beautiful part of Sweden? Swathes of soft oats and mixed greens blow along the rocky coastline. Shining water dotted with islands, humble harbours and red and yellow wooden summer houses painted in white trim.

Instead of a google map showing up, I had a message from my phone provider to say that I had run out of credit. This released me from a slight dependency on wifi and google, and let me loose on the wild side of the journey. Picture a zoo animal being dropped off in the middle of the serengeti plain.

Not only that, but my credit card maxed out yesterday and has been blocked by the bank. The algorithm might have found my personal data suspiciously full of payments for single rooms in different hotels every night for two months. In fact it blocked my current account as a safety measure so I can’t draw any cash either. My begging calls to the help desk were met with a polite negative every time. That means the breakfast sandwich and water bottle would need to suffice for the day.

No worries at all because Tyrone (youngest son) is coming from Oslo by train (with a bicycle in his luggage) to meet me in Gothenburg. He will be waiting with wifi and money and his beautiful smile. Our roles have swapped and he’s now the sensible responsible one coming to my rescue.

Sunny side

In the meantime the sunny side of the navigational situation is this – the sun should shine on my right side all morning and on my left side all afternoon. If all goes well I should arrive in Gothenburg this evening as planned. The spirits are also on my side because I have already booked a hotel there. Did it this morning using the B&B wifi connection. Normally I never book accommodation a whole day ahead.

The hotel address is a mystery, but from what I remember of the booking map it showed the place to be halfway between two bridges on the northern bank of the Göta river estuary. That should be easy to find.

To tell you the truth I am grateful to be in the grand finale stage of the journey. As beautiful and fantastic and privileged as it may seem, riding alone has been a big challenge. I miss laughing. The road is not that funny when you’re alone. One needs a mammal to laugh with. The only mammal on the bike was myself. As funny as that may seem I feel like a glum reptile.

Sharing a beer with my son will be lovely. I will say a loud CHEERS. It will be fun to enthusiastically discuss the route and have Ty point out the way. You might be thinking ” she could just get on a train and be done with it!” But with so few days left to go and such amazing scenery, taking a train would be a terrible pity.


Like everything in life it is vitally important to finish your mission, regardless of punctures, saddle sores, a broken hand bone, heat stroke, hunger, skin scales, carbonated lungs, pedal bite scabs and loneliness. You pick up some grit along the way, getting fitter while you go. The more ground you cover the stronger you get. There’s a rhythm to it. You develop scales and become one with the bike and the stuff on board. Your wheels become wings.

My cousin asked me “if you have any philosophical thoughts and great wisdom that might spring from being a bicycle hermit?”

The answer is I am too busy watching the details of the road at about six meters in front of me. Any closer and you won’t have time to choreograph your bicycle ballet around loose pavement stones, potholes, ridges, stones, glass, and edges. That’s the distance from which you have time to make the quickest judgement to avoid falling off the bike. Any closer is too close. Six meters is fine for someone my size, and from there your eyes can efficiently glance up to see the scenery and where you’re going in general.

Hearing is a sense which has become honed. Listening intensely for traffic with half-deaf ears has forced me to develop a type of ultrasonic hearing. At home in Marino there is so much loud noise on our street with traffic, carpenter saws, blacksmith hammers, ambulance and fire truck sirens or building works. I wear sound cancelling headphones most days. Now that hearing makes the difference between life and accidental death, it has opened up a whole new world. I am able tell you the distance between bird calls!


The weather was sweltering south of Kungsbacka. It was there that the sun swapped sides at midday. However, it was at that moment that I ignorantly continued along the coastline thinking how hunky dory this ride is going. Only at a cooldrink stop in Godskar, where I spent my last few krone, did someone point out Gothenburg in the opposite direction. Quite tricky for the brain to reconfigure the inner map. The rest of the day was spent haphazardly navigating in zagzig mode.

Riding into busy Gothenburg, a big city! Got myself on the wrong side of the train tracks and roadworks. Eventually found a way over to the opposite side of the river but needed to make an expensive phone call to ask Tyrone if I should go east or west. He can navigate from anywhere. Actually he has had a complicated journey himself but is finally on the train with an unexpectedly brand new bicycle and will be arriving at our hotel midnight.

The nice hotel Villan was waiting for me when I found it. The restaurant was already closed for the night. I had no money anyway so ordered a room service sandwich hoping that Tyrone would be willing to pay the bill in the morning.

He did arrive safely at midnight. More of that story tomorrow.

125 kms today (some of it in the opposite direction).

See the route map here