Month: May 2015

It’s only a Bubble Bud Vase but I like it…

I’ve been meaning to post about this for ages… I’m sure I’ve mentioned these lovelies before as I’ve picked up a few in the last 6 months in charity shops and at Car Boot Sales.

 

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My Gran had a blue bubble bud vase on her windowsill. I used to marvel at the tiny bubbles in the base. How did they get there? How did they join the bubbly base and the clear stem?  I loved staring through the coloured glass. I still do and as soon as I saw one of these on a car boot sale last autumn I knew I wanted to start my own collection.

 

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I haven’t been able to find much about these vases online. I think they were popular but inexpensive items in the 1960s. Presumably from more than one manufacturer as they differ in manufacturing methods and in the size and shape of the base and the cone at the top.

My collection is small but perfectly formed and today I found two more to add to it. They were hiding at the bottom of a box. I feel a little uncomfortable rooting around in boxes, but this guy does house clearances and he had lots of boxes of mixed china and glass. I exercised great self control and didn’t bring home a gorgeous teapot, but these two had to come home with me.

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i find it satisfying to have a collection on the go – my Mum and several friends are keeping an eye out for me! I can’t decide when we move whether I’ll put them all together somewhere or find places where they work in twos and threes.

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For now, I shall just revert to childhood and spend ages looking through their sparkly bases at the sun – well, if we had any sun I would!

It it is with a bout of Bank Holiday grumpiness I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it!

It’s only a Car Boot Sale but I like it…

It’s taken a few months and a few failed attempts, but the Dr and I finally made it to a Boot Sale! It’s one of my favourite ways to find vintage treasure and I can’t believe some of the bargains I’ve found over the years. Dr P is less keen, it has to be said, but he dutifully drives me there and follows me round limiting himself to just a few comments about “One man’s rubbish is another man’s rubbish…”.

My first bargain was this bad boy.

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How much do you think? Just 50p. 50p! I was delighted. A vintage teal flask is mine. Result.

Then I found a Pyrex jug for a pound and some amazing silverware. There were 2 big boxes of silver items and cutlery. I had to limit myself to just a few pieces. I don’t have any silverware but thought it might be fun to add a few pieces to my home. For £15 I got the big silver dish, two tablespoons, a ladle, salt cellar and 4 napkin rings. None of it is sterling silver – it’s all EPNS, which means a thin layer of silver is laid on top of some other base metal. This makes it a risky buy as some of it may have been polished lots, wearing away the silver.

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It also gives me the chance to indulge in a hour or two of one of my favourite past times – metal polishing. I love polishing brass or silver and I happily set myself up, with a cuppa and an episode of something on TV, and completed the satisfying task of making all my finds super shiny!

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My cutlery gleams and I can’t wait to use it!

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This silver salver isn’t perfect – it has a few places where the silver has worn off, but it’s a lovely shape and with a well-placed doily I’m sure it’ll look very classy!  I’m looking forward to finding it a space in my new abode…

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The napkin rings were an impulse buy – I don’t own any napkins! But now I have the napkin rings, I could buy some… They polished beautifully.

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My favourite item was this tiny salt cellar. It has a blue glass insert and I fell in love with it. Unfortunately it hasn’t really polished well at all. No matter, I still love it and shall find a little nook for it to live in.

We got up just after 6:30am and were booting by 7:15. We were home for 8:30 and eating bacon sandwiches (him) and fried egg sandwiches (me) washed down with big mugs of tea by 9am. I was most happy with my finds and I’m debating whether I can persuade him to go again this weekend… I’m going to need to make it sound appealing somehow…

 

It is with a cunning plan I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it!

It’s only a Victoria Sponge but I like it…

Another challenge. This time it is not really a #neverbakedit challenge, but more a #neverbakeditsuccessfully challenge. So when the Dr casually asked “Are we baking a cake this weekend?” (We? WE?) and requested a Victoria sponge, I did a little bit of research.

What has happened to me previously is that I have diligently, creamed, mixed, sifted, lined, greased and baked, only to be left with something resembling two eight inch rich tea biscuits. They taste great but don’t exactly look successful. So I had a little google. Mary Berry was there of course with her method where she just mixes all the ingredients. The main thing I noticed was that the amount of ingredients in the Be-Ro recipe I had been using was about half that of all the others that seemed to exist. Also that I think I may have been putting my mixture into 8 inch rather than 7inch tins. Oops.

Rookie mistakes perhaps, but the aim of this is to get better at baking and I think I am. I used this recipe http://www.lovefood.com/guide/recipes/17888/victoria-sponge-recipe. It uses double the quantities of my Be-Ro recipe and calls for 8inch tins. I was careful not to over mix as that is apparently to blame for non-rising cakes!

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I’ll let you judge the results for yourselves!

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I ended up up with two incredible sponges, which I let cool and then slathered raspberry jam (Tesco’s own is rather good for now, until I have a kitchen to boil up my own) on one half and sandwiched them together.

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It tastes every bit as good as it looks and I had forgotten just how good a plain old Victoria sponge can be. I took a few slices to work and everyone agreed this is the recipe we will use when baking for our VE Day party this week. The Dr just polished off two big slices and I can confirm I will be making this again. I have found my perfect Victoria sponge recipe.

It is with a satisfied smile I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it…

 

 

It’s only a sofa but I like it…

Actually, I don’t like it. It’s making my head hurt and I’m terrified of making a mistake.

After last week’s lemons, life has handed me something amazing – the house sale has gone through! The solicitors managed to cajole the seller and we exchanged on Friday. This has sent me into a spiral of furniture buying. When we thought it was all off we booked a few days away at half term, but we’re now going to have to cut that short and come back in order to complete. We’ll have little time then to try and sort out some furniture ( we have none!) and get it delivered.

A key piece would be a sofa. I had fallen in love with DFS’s Rosie sofa. I’d seen it a few places and it seemed perfect.

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It came in a lovely teal and looks comfy but stylish. I’m torn between wanting something that looks retro and something that will be comfy – we do like to spend time on  our sofa, so it must be somewhere I can curl up and relax. Rosie however is no longer available, so I reconciled myself to looking elsewhere.

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On Saturday the Dr and I trudged round almost all the furniture stores in Southampton and I was most unimpressed. John Lewis had this gorgeous G-plan Retro range but it’s pricey and I don’t think I can justify spending that amount.

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They also had this amazing Ercol sofa. I’d love an Ercol sofa, but they are hard to find and go for lots second hand, even in poor condition. I’m watching one on Ebay now, but I’m sure I’ll be outbid and it’ll exceed anything I could pay.

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We both spent a bit of time perched on this sofa in Ikea. I have mixed feelings about Ikea. I love many things about it, but don’t want too many Ikea things in my home. I want it to feel individual. However, I think this sofa is a good compromise. It’s comfy and I can see myself snuggled into it. I like the colour and the style too. I also got to have a closer look at this Ekenaset chair, which I’d spotted on some blogs. I loved it in real life and I think we’ll be adding this to our living room.

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So, let me know what you think. Am I selling out? Can you recommend something retro and comfy? Be quick though, time is of the essence!

It is with an aching head I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it…

It’s only Madeira cake but I like it…

My latest never-baked-it challenge was a Madeira cake. I was a bit half hearted about it as I’m sure the last time I had it was about 1994 and an elderly rellie fed me a slice, it was quite dry and dusty and by the end there was more on the plate than in my mouth…

I am trying to cover all the basic vintage cake recipes and improve my baking technique in the process so I decided to give it a go none the less. I used this recipe from the BBC Good Food website. I love this website because of the review options – if the recipe has lots of votes it’s probably a winner! http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1940701/madeira-loaf-cake

It was an easy make. Or at least it would be if I actually had a decent electric whisk. One that wasn’t in storage. The one I have is an attachment for a hand held blender thing and it’s pants. It just flings sugar everywhere. My kitchen tiles are now nicely pebbledashed in butter and sugar. I’m just too stubborn to buy one because I already own one!

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It had the zest of a whole lemon in it and 50g of ground almonds, both of which gave it a lovely flavour. The lemon added lots of moisture and flavour and the almonds gave it a nice dense crumb. It has a gorgeous golden brown crust too, which is strangely satisfying!

It rose beautifully in the oven, and became a towering monster of a loaf. I was very proud of it.

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I was made even more proud by the fact that the Dr, who is not really a big cake eater, ate 3 big doorstops of it in one sitting. He kept carving off another chunk and giving me a guilty glance. I think my title of Domestic Goddess can no longer be disputed. My mum and sister popped over one evening this week and I made them a Lancashire hotpot followed by slices of a second Madeira cake. And it went down very well. The Dr and I really enjoyed this dense, moist lemony monster and I think it’ll become a regular.

 

In other news life handed me lots of lemons last week and I have been a bit quiet and lacked the energy to blog.

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Things have picked up a bit, I’m feeling loads better health wise and the house sale may even be back on the cards, although I’m not going to get too excited! Please keep everything crossed for me, and my advice, for what it’s worth, is don’t buy a house off an unpredictable muppet!

It is with a sage look I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it!

It’s only Mary Berry but I like it…

You can’t fail to have heard of the Berry – especially not in the last few years.

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Food writer and TV presenter Mary’s career has been long and varied and I first saw her face inside my Mum’s Hamlyn All-Colour Cookbook.

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This dog eared book lived in the kitchen and it’s pages were dry and dusty from from flour and from being propped up near the cooker. It had been well thumbed and, some of the recipe numbers had been circled in pen – an indication that this was a recipe Mum had tried! I liked the bold technicolour images, although most of the food – especially the desserts, did not look like anything we ever ate! I even ended up buying my own copy later in life when I was trying to learn to cook. It was Mary Berry’s first published cookbook and she has since gone on to write over 70, selling more than 5 million copies.

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She has been most notably on our screens in recent years as one of the judges on The Great British Bake Off. I love this TV series and watch avidly. Her rapport with fellow judge Paul Hollywood and her good grace at the ribbing of hosts Mel and Sue just make her seem like the loveliest lady and really good sport. Her baking prowess cannot be denied – nary a soggy bottom gets past Mary and her penchant for a drop of alcohol in a bake makes me giggle every time!

She’s also become something of a style icon, some of her outfits selling out after she’s worn them on TV. There are various entries on fashion websites with people trying to find out where Mary’s clothes are from!

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I loved her appearance on Back in Time for Dinner recently – she popped up to sell the family an electric oven! A job that she actually had early in her career. She explained that an oven would have been set up in a village hall and Mary would go along and, in front of an audience, make a Victoria sponge to demonstrate this new technology.

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Mary’s had such a long career now and hasn’t been far from our screens in all that time. She comes across as wise and unflappable but never patronising. On GBBO she is always fair but kind and carries herself with style and humour. I long to bake a Victoria Sandwich half that good.

Mary – we salute you!

It is with a culinary desire I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it!

It’s only Miss Vintage UK 2015 but I like it…

Just a quick reminder that you can vote for me here:

https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152683917717657&id=30797112656&set=a.10152666756157657.1073741838.30797112656&refid=13

Just click the link and like my picture! Would mean so much to me as I need as many likes as possible to get to the next round!

It is with a pleading look I say:
It’s only vintage but I like it!

 

It’s only coffee cake but I like it…

The funny thing is – I don’t drink coffee. Well, maybe once or twice a year if I’m very hungover or tired and really need a hit to get me through. But for some reason when I saw this recipe I really fancied making it – I think it’s because it’s the first coffee cake recipe I’ve seen with whole spoonfuls of coffee in it!

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Cut Out and Keep (http://www.cutoutandkeep.net) is the brainchild of Cat Morley. She’s been running the website since she was at Uni and it’s a great place to discover craft projects and then share your own versions of them. I’ve used it lots and hope to lots more in the future when I finally have some room to make a mess!

Anyway, the coffee cake was one of my favourite type of cake recipes as it just involves pretty much mixing everything up in a bowl and then putting it in a cake tin. This, I can do! I bought Dr P some nice filter coffee from an independent coffee shop for Xmas so two generous spoonfuls went into the mix!

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Cat didn’t specify which type of flour so I assumed it was plain flour, due to the other raising agents in it. I put it in a loaf tin, which again seemed to work. It made a very rich and quite dense cake which had a proper coffee hit – not one of those springy, pale brown coffee cakes with a few drops of coffee essence. It was another of my never-baked-it challenges and I’m pleased with the results. As is often the way, I had a few slices and then took the rest to work, it disappeared quickly!

Check out Cut Out and Keep, and maybe try the cake too – let me know how you get on!

It is with a sizeable caffeine hit I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it!

It’s only Orla Kiely but I like it…

I just had to share this with you.

I’ve been a fan of Orla Kiely’s 70s inspired designs for a while.

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I seem to find myself drawn more and more to these organic patterns. Not sure if they’re Mid Century Mod or just another style I like that I’ll have to fit in some how!

Anyway, this week Douwe Egberts have launched their packaging with some Orla Kiely patterns. Their jars are reusable and if I drank coffee (which I don’t) I’d definitely be buying their brand in order to use them for storage.

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From what I can gather online, Co-op stores are stocking them currently, but other supermarkets will have them from next week. I am off on a hunt tomorrow and I will let you know how I get on. I need to bag some of these babies for my kitchen shelves!

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It is with a mission I say:

It’s only vintage but I like it!