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It is Half-Way Through the Year Day which in my book means that is time for a review of our Domestic Goals... Remember at the very beginning of the Puttery Post when I asked you to choose one word that defines your domestic goal? Well my Darlings it is time to re-visit that word and work out exactly how it has helped you so far and indeed where it can take you throughout the rest of the year. Today sit for a moment with your Housekeepers Notepad and make a list of all that you want to achieve in the next six months, using your chosen word as your guiding light to domestic bliss. Sometimes it’s good to just STOP. So drink tea. Plan, dwell and dream. That’s all for today.
When shopping for essential oils it is essential to only buy those that come in amber or blue bottles as those bought in clear glass will quickly deteriorate and their properties will be compromised. Once you have discovered a quality brand you like, stick with it and build your collection over time, remembering always that most oils have a shelf life of just two years once opened and should be discarded thereafter, so it is worth dotting a little sticker on to the base of each bottle with the date opened so you don’t forget. Today I thought it would be nice to establish a box in which to store your oils. A wooden box is the best choice, with a lid that shuts firmly. So scour the house for a wooden jewellery box or take yourself on a creative excursion to a craft shop or junk shop in search of something suitable. When you have found a box that thrills your heart, line it with vintage wallpaper and gather your oils together for storage. Then you need to choose a place for your oils to live: while the bathroom or kitchen may seem the most obvious choices, neither are really suitable as fluctuations in temperature can cause problems so a wardrobe, cupboard or closet in a bedroom or hallway is the better option.
Stored like this, you will enjoy your oils at their fragrant best and opening the box will seem like quite the most scrumptious of puttery pleasures. Enjoy!
If you are a fabric hoarder then finding solutions to store your stash can be a huge problem, if you are to be able to see what you have without turning neatly stacked piles of material upside down in the search for that much coveted length of 1930’s bark-cloth you fought tooth and nail to win on Ebay! Taking inspiration from the fabric store is the answer and creating boards on which to wrap your fabric means that they can be stacked on narrow shelves and retrieved easily. This is simply a matter of cutting lengths of thick cardboard/foam board as wide and deep as your shelves themselves, then wrapping your fabric around it, securing it to itself with a pin. The cardboard bolts can be prettified by covering them in vintage paper or sticky backed shelf lining paper too… While this is a fabulous solution for storing fabric lengths it is also a useful method for keeping large tablecloths and not oft used sheets stacked neatly in the linen cupboard, so even those of us hopeless with a needle can use this puttery treat at home… Happiness really is a stash of vintage linen isn’t it?
If your pans are looking a little worse for wear then today might I suggest showing them a little love? While one could go battle with all manner of shop bought stain shifting remedies, recently I discovered a desperately old fashioned method that did the trick and left me with a row of shiny pans swinging from the hooks in my kitchen. And all it takes is a bag of onions and a little bit of time. Start by lining your saucepans up and giving them a gentle polish inside and out with a metal scourer to further loosen anything truly dried on, then pour boiling water into each pan and leave to stand for ten minutes before draining. Then grab an onion and cut it into eight pieces. Fill the pan with more boiling water, add the onion, and a tablespoon full of salt and boil for ten minutes. Now drain and wipe with a dishcloth and you should find that much of the ground in grime has gone. If not repeat again, boil for a few minutes longer, or leave the onion juice to sit in the pan overnight, then drain, rinse and polish to a shine with a dry dishcloth and store until ready to use. It might not be the most fragrant of tasks but it works!
One of the simplest methods of keeping washing machines and dishwashers as fresh as can be is to make sure that between uses they are left open so that the air can circulate and damp cannot fester. While this simply means leaving doors and soap drawers slightly ajar during the day, last thing at night it is worth opening both the dishwasher and washing machine doors as wide as possible and leaving them open until morning if you don’t use them overnight. If by chance late night laundry and dish-washing are part of your routine, then try to choose one evening a week when they are not and when the daily cleaning is done, empty both machines, run them through an empty hot-wash and leave the doors and drawers ajar overnight when the program is finished. Think of it as a weekly wash and blow for your appliances…
I rather think that the collection of vintage and antique tea-pots is one of the most charming ways of honouring the comforts of all our yesterdays, but come now, there are only so many cups of tea we can drink in a lifetime, and if you are anything like me you tend to stick with your favorite, reliable old Brown Betty for your morning brew, leaving the rest of your darling collection to gather dust on the dresser shelf... But lately I have been picking a different teapot everyday to water my window-sill full of scented geraniums and though it is the teeniest of rituals it gives me the smallest flutter of pleasure and means that each tea-pot in turn is washed and shined and shares a little bit of the love we often fail to offer to even the most treasured of collections... Use what you love: Let’s make it our mantra.
Duvets. Lovely and snuggly as they may be in the Winter, in the Summer they are often too warm to bear and my collection of white cotton duvet covers are almost all to be found stacked neatly in the linen cupboard between July and September, which gives me, I think, the perfect opportunity to re-think the way that they are stored so that when it come's to the tangly business of putting the duvet cover back on to the duvet I won't find myself in the kind of muddle I usually do... If like me you would like to make life a teeny bit easier in the future then this little puttery treat might be for you... While I have previously suggested keeping duvet covers stored in their matching pillowcases, today I want to suggest that every time you launder and press your duvet covers you do so with them turned inside out, then fold them neatly, waft with scented linen spray and pop them with co-ordinating pillowcases on top, inside another.
Thus, when it comes to fitting the duvet you won't have to struggle with turning the duvet inside out first in order to perform the rather nifty duvet covering trick we surely all now know and love as it is highly likely you will have turned the duvet inside out as you took it off regardless. Small things Housekeepers, small things…
You know Sweeties, finding a maggot in your wheelie bin doesn’t mean you have to hang your head in shame and beat yourself about the bottom with a frying pan. These things happen in the Summer time, and trust me Honey Pie's, they happen to the best of us... Improperly wrapped meat products are usually the source of the problem, and should always be triple wrapped before being put into a bin unlikely to be emptied for a while in the Summer sun, but even those of practicing the most immaculate of bin hygiene rules can fall foul to a stray fly or two and before we know it find ourselves staring down at a bin wiggling with nasty little blighters.. Though I am loathe to describe what follows as a puttery treat, it is worth making it part of your housekeeping routine on the mornings immediately after the bins have been emptied, or indeed following the nightmarish discovery of maggots... 1.Start with an empty bin. 2 Tip it upside down and shake out any debris lying at the bottom of the bin, then use a garden brush to brush it out thoroughly while it lies on it's side. 3. Fill a bucket with three kettles full of boiling water, two bottles of white vinegar and thirty drops of eucalyptus oil. 4. Pour the solution into the upright bin and use a long handled mop to scrub the base and slosh the solution up the sides of the bin. 5. Close the lid and leave for an hour. 6. Now empty a small box of baking soda into a bucket of boiling water and tip it into the bin. Agitate the bin for a few minutes with the lid closed, then drain it. 7. Sprinkle a mixture of mint and eucalyptus oil on to a cloth and wipe down the inside of the lid and the outside of the entire bin to deter flies. 8. Sieve baking soda into the base of the now dry bin, line with a large bag and close the lid tightly. And say goodbye to even the cheekiest of flies…
Once in a while you read a book in a place far away from home and forever after your memories of that time and place mingle with those described in the book you have found yourself lost in. This happens most frequently on holiday when we have the time to become so engrossed in other worlds that for a short time they become ours, and in the eventuality become just as real to us as the place we are vacationing in.
Which is I think an utterly precious way of marking the Summers of our lives, and something that deserves both observation and the most ethereal of commemoration, for the sake of our future selves. If you are lucky enough to go away this Summer, or indeed if the next few months bring with them an event that will stay in your memory thereafter, mark in your mind the book that captivated you most during it, and when you get home, tuck amongst it's pages a tissue paper wrapped photograph from the holiday, a slip of paper ephemera, or a memento from the event concerned, and on the back page, scrawl in your finest hand, a note of time and place in which you read it... The magic moments of Summer time deserve commemoration
Lighting an abundance of Cathedral candles is probably quite the most stylishly gentle way to light a room in the wee small hours and when I am looking to create an air of opulent romance it is to pillar candles lined along the mantelpiece and stoop atop the most divine of tall, sturdy and ornate candlesticks that I look to, to create the kind of atmosphere that candles in jars and thin slithers of beeswax just cannot deliver. But of course though cathedral candles are effortlessly stylish they do lack the one quality I am thoroughly obsessed with: fragrance, because the long fat creamy candles I prefer are always fragrance free and treasured for their burning time above all else. So how does a scent obsessed vintage housekeeper get around this fragrant dilemma? By turning to her darling box of essential oils of course! If you are very careful you can add fragrance to Cathedral candles by lighting them and allowing them to burn until a pool of molten wax has formed around the wick. Then one simply blows out the candle and drips a few drops of essential oil into the wax and allows it to harden before lighting the candle again, being careful to ensure that any sign of flame or cinder is extinguished as many oils are flammable and could therefore be a fire hazard, unless they are allowed to combine with the cooling wax before lighting again. In this way the essential oils will burn gently when the candle is lit, releasing their fragrance into the air and adding another layer of atmosphere to the evening. Have a cosy evening Darling.
It's Sunday night and I rather thought you might be in the mood for getting organized with a happy little housekeeping project... You will need a small empty, single image per page, photo album, thirty index cards, blank stickers, a pen and a whole lot of focus on all the little jobs you have to do daily to keep your house in order.
Label your stickers 1 to 30 and put one on each page of your photo album. Then make a list of thirty essential housekeeping tasks and describe each one individually on an index card. Pop the cards in the photo album and there you have it: a flippety month full of teeny tasks to be performed daily and revolved monthly... The beauty of this treat? To ring the changes occasionally you can take the cards out and shuffle the order, or you can play house with the kids and have them pick a number and grab a chore for the day... Don’t forget to pick the prettiest album you can find now will you?
Before all your friends start leaving our shores for sunnier climes and bulking up their hand luggage with bonk-busters procured at the airport it is terribly good form to throw a bookish brunch and hold a swap of all those books you are happy to part from. Invite as many people as you can squeeze into your living room, tell them to scour their bookshelves for books they no longer need, serve trays of coffee and Proustian Madeleines, provide an empty table on which your guests can spread their literary wares and let the fun begin... Tis the perfect way to re-stock your Read Me Next shelf and de-clutter your bulging bookshelves at the same time... Any excuse for a party Housekeepers!
Now that my little boy is six going on sixteen, getting information out of him is like getting blood out of a stone: impossible! And so out of pure necessity to keep the lines of communication open with him I have created a new bedtime ritual we are calling the Three Things Jar: a five minute ritual designed to both spark conversation and preserve memories... Little ones aren't usually up to the task of journaling properly so this is a darling way of teaching them good habits while discovering snippets of their souls they might not otherwise bother to reveal... The ritual is based around three questions I have printed on to small scraps of paper, with space after each one for Finley to write his answers. Tell me one good thing that happened to you today... Tell me one bad thing that happened to you today... Tell me something you learned today...
While I tidy the bathroom after his bath, Finley has a cup of hot chocolate and writes his answers, and then when he is tucked up in bed we have a terribly casual chat about what he has written, before folding the slip of paper up as small as possible and popping it into the Three Things Jar... The questions don't have to be answered on paper: they make terribly useful conversation starters at the dinner table with each family member taking a turn to answer them and they are versatile enough to make great journaling starting points for grown ups too... Because we never stop learning do we?
Bonsoir, Mon Cherie Amour, today is Bastille Day in France which I do believe makes it quite the most perfect Summers evening to crack open a bottle of Champagne and celebrate all the tiny joys you have enjoyed today. Drink champagne, eat Camembert with crusty bread still warm from the oven watch Chocolat, re-live a Parisienne holiday, listen to Edith Piaf or dig out a copy of Colette's Short stories... Anything in fact that transports you to the Left Bank of Paris or an afternoon in Normandy... And yes perhaps celebrating a holiday that does not belong to your country or heritage might feel a little contrived: but Dear Housekeepers that is just the point: contriving and plotting and planning to celebrate even the most recherché of tiny (occasionally entirely fabricated!) holidays, just because we can... Because there is no better time to drink Champagne than on a random Wednesday evening in July. Because we are happy. Or sad. Because once we went to Nice and it was downright wonderful and wouldn't it be lovely to just sit back and remember it? Because granting ourselves permission to eat oft forbidden cheese is one of life's small pleasures. Because Colette wakes up the liberated Bohemian locked up inside us and Edith Piaf gives us the incentive to let pent up tears flow... Just because we can. Happy Bastille Day Housekeepers.
Though the days of packing lunches for school might be over for the vacation, seeking out or printing a teeny collection of little cards suitable for Mum to Babba love notes might just be the most scrumptious of summer holiday projects. Although including a little note in your children’s (or partners!) lunchbox daily might just be rather overdoing it, once weekly or as often as you dare, done with thought, the lunch-box love note is a thoroughly scrumptious way of reminding those you cannot be with all day long that you are thinking of them and that you love them.
So today begin the hunt for the smallest little note-cards you can find. I have found that teeny cards in envelopes work best for younger children because they both prevent the note being drowned in gloopy yoghurt before it is discovered and little kids still there think is something of an event to be enjoyed in the opening of an envelope. Then when you have found just the right set of cards pop them in the drawer in which you stash the sandwich bags and when September is upon us you can use them, as and when you feel your child could use a little afternoon giddy up, a reminder that they are brave, or clever, or funny, or that simply put, their Mummy loves them. Ooooh and P.S: little ones who can’t read really rather adore even the daftest of Mummy’s doodles!
And now the end of term is nigh which makes it the perfect weekend to assess what will survive another year and what will need to be renewed before the next term begins. As PE and football kits are returned have your children try them on and check what actually fits and what is only fit for the dustbin. Do the same with Winter uniform left from the Winter just gone and then sit down with a blank page from your Housekeepers Planner and write down every single tiny thing you think your child will need to be equipped with before the New School Year begins... Consult each child in case they have any particular requests then using a Planner List page for each individual child, list everything that needs to bought, alongside potential and actual cost so you can tick off each item as you buy it through the holidays and assess the damage to your bank account! Smug Mummies are us!
Doillie time Darlings! And today I want to suggest a little project that combines our two most favourite vintage collections: the apron and the doillie! While I am not one for embellishing things because I am quite incapable with a needle, even I have managed to create quite the most charming of waist-tied aprons by stitching a big round lacy doillie on to an apron without a pocket to create a pretty, and really rather fancy little apron for entertaining. Begin by choosing a co-ordinating apron and doillie, then launder and spray starch both so they are easy to work with. Now lay your doillie our flat and press one quarter of it back upon itself and steam it into place before catching this cuff with a stitch either side. Now simply lay your doillie onto the apron where you would like to have a pocket, and pin into place, before choosing thread the same colour as your doillie and using it to hand-stitch your doillie into place on the aprons front. Et voila! An apron charmingly embellished with a little bit more of yesterday!
Though the prolific rain may tell other stories, the season of the ice lolly is upon us and before we know it, life will be littered with little wooden sticks abandoned by small people too busy dreaming up grand schemes with Spiderman to put them in the bin. But for once we can hold in our inner tsk's and start grabbing every lolly stick we can, because when they are cleaned and dipped in whatever paint you have lying around the house they make quite the most darling Seed markers and you will find them infinitely useful come Seedling season in Winter. Wipe the sticks with a damp cloth, allow to dry and then either dip them into the paint and peg them up to dry or paint the entire stick carefully. Once dry store them in a tin in the shed and come seed pricking time, simply scrawl the seed name on the stick and pop them into your little planters. Pastel coloured pretties... (P.s: dipping a lolly stick into every tin of paint you buy and noting the colour and brand of the paint on the stick is also a quick and easy way to create a reference for touch ups and future decorating...)
Most of us already have neighbours we can rely on to be key holders while we are away, but how many of us would be truly comfortable encouraging that same neighbour to root through our belongings in search of an essential insurance document or other urgent item should we find ourselves in a fix? Today I want to suggest gifting a key to your home to your closest friends. This is a responsibility most of us are willing to take on in case of emergency, but choosing a friend with the least on her plate already is the wisest option... So take yourself out on a puttery excursion and seek out a key ring that speaks to your heart, then have your keys cut in one of the new sparkly magnetic metals available. Add them to the key-ring with a label detailing your address, a contact telephone number and any pertinent alarm details and loop a length of the prettiest ribbon you can find on to the ring so it can be hung easily... Choose a scrumptious thank-you card, a tiny box in which to pop the keys and a little gift you can be certain will thrill your key-holder and then invite her over for coffee. Now you can be certain that there is always someone at home you can trust to go into your home in the case of a teeny tiny emergency or quite the daftest crisis and you can of course offer to do the same in return... Because that's what friends are for isn't it?
When night after night, sleep eludes us it is wise to call upon the most old fashioned of remedies before calling in the herbal sleeping tablets... A hot bath, sweet milky drink and the sleep inducing powers of lavender are tried and tested remedies for the permanently exhausted and it was only last night that I, in a happy accident, found a way to combine all three in a method that had me drifting off to sleep with one of Miss Read's best clutched in my right hand. The trick? Lavender Sugar. After taking a lavender milk bath and spraying my darling lavender pillow spray on my pillow, I tip-toed downstairs and stood in the candle-lit kitchen debating what bedtime drink to stir up to induce sleep, when my eye fell on a jar of lavender sugar. Before I knew it I was stirring in a teaspoon of sugar into the skimmed milk bubbling on the stove and mixing myself some Lavender Milk, a gently fragrant drink that made a scrumptiously Summery change to the spicy cinnamon or sweet cocoa milk I usually drink. If you too have a jar of lavender sugar, then simply stir a spoon into milk on the stove. Leave to simmer for a few moments, then let stand till just warm, sieve to banish lavender buds and milk skin and carry up to bed in a polka dotty mug. Bedtime bliss. Night night.x
The long hot days of Summer might not leave us with either the time nor the inspiration to do anything other than flick languidly through the pages of a magazine in the late morning sun, or falter around the internet during long journeys, but those days that might strike you as creatively bankrupt are just perfect for planning an Autumn full of the kind of crafty, puttery goodness that makes you feel alive. So today might I suggest creating an inspiration folder that should find you clutching a handful of scrumptiously fabulous patterns, crafts, recipes, and decorative idea’s come September. You see there really is little point in beating yourself up during creatively fallow times. Even our most authentically creative selves need time to step off the hamster wheel and re-assess what it is that makes our hearts sing. So we might as well use the time we cannot be doing what we love to make plans, re-light our creative dreams and gather all the resources we will need to put those dreams into action. What will your Autumn Inspiration Folder look like?
If you are anything like me you will often find your bathroom beautifully littered with rings and bracelets and hairpins and risk on a daily basis losing something precious down the plughole while you get down and dirty scrubbing the bathtub. Today search the house for a pretty little lidded trinket box you can re-purpose as a bathroom jewellery box, and use it to hold everything you take off whenever you bathe or scrub.
It really doesn't matter if it has to live inside the bathroom cabinet because surface space is limited: the more appealing the inside of our cupboards are the more scrumptious we will feel opening them! Pretty little trinkets, here, there and everywhere.
When I'm feeling lonely, sad or blue it is a bowl of my Mum's version of that old fashioned Liverpool favorite "Scouse" that I want. Though I know the recipe and have tried a million times to replicate it, it never tastes the same and when I ask my Mum why she just smiles and taps her nose. She doesn't want to share her secret because to her it is part of what brings her children home again. There is I think, a recipe like this in all our families: in mine it a yellow pea soup that those who love me crave: in yours it might be a cosy cake, or those blueberry pancakes you only serve up to those in need of a culinary hug. These recipes are treasured little bits of family history and the kind of comfort food usually only a Mummy can provide, chucking in as she does a spoonful of love with all the other ingredients. And yet, and yet, and yet... what happens if one day we can't be there when Mama's soup is the only thing that could make things right? Today write out every detail of your own "secret" recipe on the prettiest notepaper you can find, then spray it with perfume, pop it in a sealed envelope and keep it in your jewellery box. And while you are at it? Ring your Mum and beg her to tell you her secret too...
Summer colds are quite the most awful bother and even when we are not blessed with the full strength of the July sun, the house can still feel stuffy and suffocating when we are finding it hard to breathe. Today I would like to suggest a little something that can go a long way to clearing the air and indeed the nasal passages when you are in bed. You will need some eucalyptus oil, some pine oil and a small stash of non-precious but still pretty vintage hankies. Lay the hankies out flat and lightly drop a blend of both oils on to them so they are scented but not saturated. Then simply tie a hanky to each bedpost in the house to simultaneously clear the air and do double duty as an insect repellent on warm nights. Simple but lovely.
Stinky shoes are Enemy Numero Uno in the Summertime because even the most innocent of sandals have the power to infect the mudroom with their stench or have every floaty dress in your wardrobe tainted with eau de smelly feet. So it is worth grabbing an old talcum powder tin (vintage metal as opposed to modern day plastic as you will be able to prize the lid off easily) and shaking up your own Sweet Feet Treat to sprinkle into the household shoes every evening in the garden so they have the chance to air overnight... Sweet Feet Treat 1 Cup of Cornstarch 1 Cup of Baking powder 5 Drops of Lavender oil 5 drops of of Teatree oil 5 drops of Lemon oil Mix together and shake well. Decant into your talcum powder tin and sprinkle liberally into shoes. Leave overnight, then shake out before wearing again. And there you have it: deodorised shoes and cool, happy feet... Oh joy!
I have said it before and I am going to say it again: the marital bedroom is no place for photographs of your Mother or your Great Uncle Harold. As the stage for our most sensual selves, we need to do away with that, that even on the most subconscious of levels, makes us feel self-conscious, and so today might I suggest that you make your relationship the focus of the imagery in your bedroom. Ask your partner to choose his favourite photograph of you and spend half an hour trawling through your shared history in search of your favourite image of him. Then frame both images and place them on your bedside tables: your photograph on his and his photograph on yours, so that even if you sleep facing away from each other, your partners face will be the first thing you see in the morning and vice versa for him... Don't be tempted to choose a photograph of yourself: all too often the images we prefer of ourselves are more contrived than the natural, in the moment ones, our partners enjoy of us, so giving him the option to select an image of you as he really see's you is essential to the longevity of this puttery treat... Love is all there is Housekeepers: honour it daily.
In this day and age even the smallest of discounts off the grocery bill goes a long way to helping you keep home and hearth together, so every housekeeper sensing even the smallest shift in family fortune would be well advised to make coupon cutting a part of Tuesday night journaling or Sunday night organizing... But oh how to keep all these muddly bits of paper organized! You cut a coupon from a newspaper here, get offered a voucher with your shopping there and to top it all often find yourself coming across discount codes on the internet that your mind registers only to instantly forget! Today re-purpose a vintage recipe card box for the specific purpose of filing the coupons you cut in a way that makes sense to you. Buy a new set of file sized dividers and label them with something pretty. File your coupons according to product type or expiry date and add a few blank recipe cards at the back of the recipe box for noting down internet coupon codes. Then use this box to cross reference your available coupons with your meal plans and shopping lists and wahey! You are half way to economic bliss... Never forget that a sprinkle of frugality now makes room for a spoonful of frivolity later...
Only last year the very thought of having fake flowers in Chez Brocante gave me the shudders and then my local garden centre started stocking a new range of scrumptiously pretty silk and velvet blooms and I found myself occasionally seduced by quite the most darling of artificial stems. Today there are three fake but scrumptiously faded hydrangeas nestled amongst a bouquet of the first real sunflowers of the season on my windowsill and a scrumptiously pretty bowl full of pink ripple ranunculi sitting on my bedside. Aside from the benefits of having all year round floral displays, chosen carefully and puttered with just a tad, buying fake flowers can be a puttery treat all by itself and the wide range of life like twigs, berries and abundant blooms can bring a room instantly to life without the life extending pwoers of 7up in your vase water. When choosing flowers look for stems with the kind of imperfections to be found in nature. Build up your collection slowly: choosing one perfect velvet specimen over three or four polyester, glitter sprinkled efforts for the same money. And when you get each bloom home, strip off any extraneous foliage (often the part that contributes to the overall artificiality of the arrangement) and cut the stems as short as you dare. You can in fact remove anything that strikes you as too perfect or over the top, so pull and cut your fake blooms to suit and don't worry if they get a little beaten up in the process: the less perfect they are, the more real they will look. Now mix them up! Add real twigs to a vase-full of velvet roses or add extravagant lilies to a bunch of their real live doppelgangers to bring abundance to a room...
And finally provide what nature does naturally: scent. Velvet and silk hold scent terribly well and you can spray your fake blooms with perfume or linen spray for long-lasting fragrance. Something that works terribly well in small spaces like the bathroom or hallway... Scrumptious mais oui? Mais oui! Just do me a favour Sweety Pie and remember to keep your blooms deliciously clean and totally dust free...
Premature as it might seem, the long dry days of Summer are the perfect time to start saving logs for throwing on the fire on cosy Winter evenings... Today I want to suggest a quick puttery treat that will find you sitting warm and pretty when the nights draw in and simultaneously help you keep on top of the piles of newspapers even the best of houses seem to accumulate. Best performed as part of your weekly Tuesday tidy-up, so that building your logs becomes a ritual you anticipate and thus feel organized to tackle, you simply need a spray bottleful of soapy water, your newspapers, and a bundle of fine, natural twine. Simply place a few pages of the paper in the bath and spray lightly until thoroughly wet but not dripping. Then fold the sheets in half and scrunch them up as tight as you can. Tie as tightly as you can with a short length of wet twine. Repeat with a few more sheets of paper. Then bundle a few of your newspaper twists together and tie tightly together until you have a "log" of about three to four inches thick. Leave your "logs" to dry thoroughly in the sun, when the twine will tighten and the newspaper will glue together. Once dry, transfer them into a watertight lidded box, sprinkle lightly with aromatherapy oil and store until required... Roll on Winter Housekeepers!
Wasps can be a pest at best and a dangerous killer for those who are allergic at worst. To avoid having them spoil the fun of even the most daily of meals eaten outside, (a situation that often results with at least one member of the family running around the garden batting an imaginary swarm or another knocking over a table full of sweet lemonade in an effort to prevent one little wasp slurping your lemon loveliness straight out of the glass), it is a good idea to make a wasp trap and set it just a little aside of the al fresco table. To make the trap you need a dark coloured wine bottle (green or amber), honey and vinegar. Then you simply stir the honey into half a pint of water until it dissolves, add the vinegar and pour it into the bottle, tying a length of thin wire around the neck of the bottle should you wish to hang it from a near-by tree. The little blighters cannot resist the sweet scent of the honey and disappear into the bottle to drink and ultimately find them selves trapped, so your meal can be a wasp free zone and you can drink the fizziest, sweetest of Summer drinks in peace. Now buzz off!
When you are feeling to hot to eat even the lightest of Summer salads, ringing the culinary changes with a range of different beverages is the way to keep your taste buds alive. While smoothies and iced tea’s have their time and place in the lives of us dedicated vintage housekeepers: when the sun is at it’s peak there is nothing quite as refreshing as a fizzy drink, laden with ice and decorated with fresh herbs and taking the time to mix up something home-made will mean you won’t feel quite so fretful about imbibing the bucket full of chemicals oft to be found in shop bought fizzy drinks. While making lemonade is the most tradition of Summer past-times I thought it might be rather refreshing to mix up something a little different for this mornings elevenses, so why not make the most of the last of the seasons cherries by mixing up some utterly scrumptious Cherry-ade? Brocante Cherry-Ade Syrup. 350 grams of stoned cherries (Or one tin of cherries out of season). 1 Vanilla Pod or 1 tsp. Vanilla Essence. 4 tbsp. of boiling water. Juice of two limes. 3 tbsp. Caster/Fine sugar. Mint leaves to garnish.
Warm the cherries, vanilla, water and sugar over a low heat for thirty minutes, then blend the mix until the cherries have dissolved. Push the resulting syrup through a sieve, then stir in the juice of the limes and decant into a small bottle. This syrup can be stored in the fridge for a few days and when ready to serve simply pour a few spoons of syrup over crushed ice, top with fizzy mineral water to taste and garnish with a sprig of mint. Summery scrumptiousness in a glass!