Spring has almost passed in the sniffle of a runny nose, but I, Mistress of the Puttery Treat, will not be deterred. Oh no, not I. I will lift my sagging spirits and thrust myself head-first into this gorgeous season with a list of lovely treats I hope you will be equally as inspired by…

* Wrap glass vases or mason jars in vintage silk-scarves and use them to display flowers on the kitchen table…

* Plant a set of wishes. Take yourself out on a creative excursion to a nursery and search for a packet of flowering seeds that speak to your heart. Take them home and make a wish on each seed as you plant it. Now commit to nurturing your wishes with your whole, bestest self…

* Start a promise quilt for a child. Embroider small promises on to an existing single bed quilt and wrap them up in your promises to them forever after.

* Create a cabinet full of Springtime curiousities…

* Stitch or buy a set of oilcloth cushions for durable comfort in the garden…

* Print out this lovely little quote and frame it by the kitchen sink…

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” 
― Rainer Maria Rilke

* Create an instant vintage family, by using pretty magnets to pin a selection of sepia vintage portraits to your fridge.

* Stitch a deep length of lace, petticoat style to the bottom of your apron.

* Start a “quiet hour” early evening ritual at home for frazzled Mums and revising teenagers.

* Take a long look at your diary and try to schedule in your very own two day at home retreat…

* Seek out a vintage baby quilt as a lining for your Granny-Cat’s bed…

* Add a tiny brass bell to your meditation kit and use it to chime the beginning and end of each meditation session. Sound resonates in the heart and deepens our connection to ritual.

* Start a running away fund…

* Fit a selection of vintage tins into a drawer and use them to store love letters, wish-lists and secrets…

* Guarantee that there is always cake in the tin, by whipping up this deliciously, simple Condensed Milk Cake as often as possible. Heavenly served with early berries…

* Start the search for a little vintage suitcase and fill it with your favourite journals and journalling tools. Make it one of the things you would carry out of the house if it were on fire…

* Make lemon curd tarts to serve as elevenses on Easter mornings…

* Embroider a row of whimsical flowers along the hem of a pretty, Spring coloured skirt…

* Make super quick bunting in happy colours by tying scraps of frayed fabric on to a long length of ribbon…

* Clear out your make up bag and treat yourself to one that looks glorious on your dressing table…

* Use drawing pins to create a temporary gallery collection of botanical watercolours torn from old books. Remember that not everything has to be offered the permanence of a frame…

* Add happy  floral corsages to the necks of busts, lampshades and other ornaments…

* Make sun-dried tomato bread and serve it warm with basil and black pepper butter for breakfast…

* Start the search for a happy little set of vintage egg-coddlers…

* Keep a handful of exuberant jewels in a china cup on your dressing table…

* Download Plantifier and go on a nature trail around the neighbourhood with the kids.

August is a month tinged with preemptive mourning: a premature goodbye to warm days and late nights. Parting is such sweet sorrow: Summer is so wholly anticipated it is always a wrench to leave it behind and yet parts of us yearn for the drawing in of the night, for leaves bleached orange and the splash of little wellies through Autumnal puddles. 

In the house we are faced with the remnants of hot days and holidays. The collation of all that we will need to re-enter real life. Rooms neglected in favor of the garden. And though the next Seasonal Scrub cannot be far away (check the September calendar me darlings!), we need a set of little treats to help us make the transition between August and (0h bliss!) September…

* Decorate a set of brown paper bags for a September packed with cheery, charming lunches.

* Mark out a date on your calendar to plan the season. Note events and celebrations on your calendar, plan new seasonal rituals and routines, create an intention board and make mission lists of all that you would like to achieve within the next three months.

* Celebrate Lammas by trying out a range of new bread recipes. Anyone for Beet bread?

* Plan a First Day Back at School breakfast party complete with streamers, muffins, juice and a teeny extra special little something for their pencil cases.

* Start auditing Summer clothes as they appear in the laundry room, tossing, recycling or giving or putting away as necessary until only the bare minimum of each family members Summer wardrobe remains in circulation.

* Stitch a set of pretty, oilcloth sandwich wraps…

* Eat a high tea of celery and cheese after A.A. Milne in his lovely essay on Autumn in Not That It Matters.

* Print out a Meet My Teacher sheet from At Whit’s End, and prepare to ask new form teachers to fill it out for nervous little ones…

* Print out Back to School morning routines for children to ever so slightly ease the pressure on busy September mornings…

* Clear a shelf in the pantry for your very own harvest, gathered if necessary at farmers markets and artisan food stores.

* Add a countdown to Christmas app to your phone. It helps to have a sense of urgency when it comes to seasonal celebration don’t you know?

* Use this wonderful list to plan a season full of bedtime reading with the kids.

* Start the search for a craft project that will see you through Autumn. Create a Pinterest file and fill it full of creative possibility…

* Rent the movie “Harvest” (2010), and watch it with a vast terracotta bowl of salt and vinegar popcorn.

* Capture the healing power of Summer in a jar when you buy a pot of +10UMF (the rating for therapeutic honey) Manuka honey to help you flight the flood of Autumnal colds and back to school tummy bugs.

* Bake gingerbread ladies and dress then in polka dot icing bikinis. The perfect after school treat for an Indian Summer…

* Sew autumnal printed vintage hankerchiefs on to plain aprons for a dash of old-fashioned pattern.

* Make the most of the farmers harvest by eating a vegetarian diet for at least four nights out of seven…

* Treat yourself to a new garden brush and thoroughly sweep every square foot of it. The purchase of a new stiff bristled garden brush should be a late Summer ritual for all of us.

* Make blackberry, mint and lime fruit leather

* Start the whole family on a course of echinacea for the next eight weeks, then take two weeks off and repeat the cycle throughout Autumn into Winter to build immunity…

* Start knitting the pretty vintage equivalent of a Doctor Who style striped scarf…. knit in lengths of lace and ribbon, stitch with tiny buttons and add a crocheted fringe…

* Stitch coordinating corduroy or denim pockets on to light Summer dresses and prepare to wear them with long-sleeved vests, lace collars and tights as the weather starts to cool down…

* Follow this easy tutorial to make a lavender bottle for your bedroom…

* Set up a large wicker basket in the pantry or kitchen to fill with seasonal vegetables and inspire you to use them in as many meals as possible.

* Light a fire in the garden and sit out until the early hours with warm ginger tea and plenty of blankets.

* Fill Summer suitcases with small camping equipment, beach accessories, towels and clothes for easy storage.

* Make a long list of lunch box ideas in your food journal.

* Channel your inner Victorian lady by downloading and devouring all of the Godey’s Lady’s Books you can find online.  Start with this lovely September issue…

Happy Puttering Sweetie!

Oooh yuck. It’s raining. All plans for picnics and barbecues and long walks have flown out of the window and instead here I am, pottering about these four walls desperate for a scrumptious alternative to tying myself to the computer and eager to hug my little house for all it is worth…

And so here, for my pleasure and yours, is a hefty dose of puttery weekend inspiration…

* Read Peeps, The Really Truly Sunshine Fairy.

* Re-create the scent of sweet peas in your burner by blender three drops each of orange blossom, tuberose and rose with one drop of vanilla.

* Put together a last day of school present for each of your little ones….

* Create a set of photo tiles with nail varnish remover. Use vintage images and create a set of pretty coasters. Or start putting them away for Christmas gifts…

* Frame a collection of vintage jewellery and brooches in a shadow box.

* Try these gorgeous French Breakfast Muffins for  an extra-sweet Brocante Breakfast…

* Clear a drawer in the freezer and reserve it especially for freezing Farmers Market fresh veg and berries, on the day you buy them.

* Help small children print out a set of “Thank-you for being my friend” cards to hand out on the last of school.

* Tip a tub of unperfumed talcum powder into the blender with 10 drops of your signature fragrance oil and blitz to blend, et voila! Cheap signature fragrance carpet freshener.

* Freeze sprigs of fresh mint in ice cubes: perfect for Pimm’s, pink lemonade and ice-cold mint water.

* Download the app “Gifted” and get photographing all the gifts in your gift drawer…

* Make a houseplant fairy garden for the kitchen table…

* Paint your toe-nails with Brocante polka dots…

* Sew a tic-tac towel for afternoons in the garden, aka Martha.

* Add a drop of two of geranium oil to a bottle of witch hazel for a soothing, toning Summer morning facial treat. Keep in the fridge and shake before use.

* Go shopping for a small pretty, concertina file and keep all the documents and tear-sheets relating to your own health inside it.

* Give your tootsies a half hour apple cider vinegar bath and use the soaking time to read something inspirational.

* Create a set of short chore cards to keep the kids motivated to help around the house in the summer holidays.

* Print out this lovely abstract coloring page and remember how meditative coloring with felt-tips can be…

*  Make teeny vintage vignettes under over-sized red wine glass “cloches”…

* Pin a length of pretty lace around the top edge of your bedside table…

* Search the house for objects and vessels that could be relegated to the garden for a quirky, outdoor curiosity shop atmosphere…

* Scour the internet in search of a nightdress that thrills your vintage soul. These from Lily Rose and Wylde are classically beautiful.

* Go upstairs and banish twenty things from your bedroom right now…

* Print your favorite inspirational quotes on to brown paper luggage labels and tie them to door knobs and chest pulls with lengths of vintage ribbon…

* Make a batch of strawberry fudge

* Make a set of tissue paper pom pom and hang them like bunting across your mantle piece.

* Drop five drops of your favorite essential oil on to a cotton puff and drop it into your bag for a whiff of gently fragrant bliss every time you open it.

* Mix up some aphid busting houseplant spray by adding four drops of basil oil to a bottle of distilled water and spritzing on affected plants.

* Choose a tiny, darling saucer to keep on your bedside for the jewelry you take off before your sleep.

* Make a jug of fragrant wine punch by adding a litre of orange to a bottle of white wine, and adding three drops of pure geranium oil and a handful of ice cubes. Perfect for a sunny treat on a cloudy afternoon….

Have a lovely weekend  Housekeepers! 

So everyone I know is suffering at the moment- suffering with general Winter malaise, aching limbs, stiff joints, coughs, colds, sickness bugs, sore throats and ear infections. You name it and one of my family, little or large is currently enduring it. Even the kitten is looking a little under the weather. And one could of course troop off to the Doctors and declare oneself unfit for purpose, then get down on our knees and beg for antibiotics or NHS sponsored cures , but we all know that only endurance and comfort will really do the job.

And so Dear housekeepers, here are a few Brocantefied alternatives. (Brocantefied is a good word isn’t it??). While I hesitate to call them treats, for there is little to be deemed joyful in the sniffly depths of February, they are in the best tradition of all my puttery recommendations resplendant with natural goodness, require a little bit of your heart to create and make life feel that little bit cosier. And more than that, from the plethora of alternative remedies to be found on the internet, these are the ones that require the least faff, and from my own experience, go some way to soothing the misery of poorly sick ailments…

* The main way to tackle a fever is to increase the heat in the body and we can do this comfortably by eating salads sprinkled with liberal doses of pepper and soups souped up with spices. Or if you are up to it, indulging in currys and the hottest chillies you can stand…

* Basil is well known to have antipyretic properties and so works wonders when your temperature is rising and you are feeling clammy. The best way to take it is in a tea infusion, so simply steep a few fresh basil leaves in hot water and sip slowly throughout the day. Better yet, get yourself an infusion teapot and keep a pot of basil tea warm at your bedside.

* Take a just warm chamomile bath and add a few drops of bergamot oil to increase the chances of lowering your body temperature.

* Two drops of lavender and two drops of chamomile oil dripped on to a cotton wool pad soaked in boiling water and applied to a boil will take the soreness out and draw it to a yukky old head.

* A tisane  made from thyme leaves soaked in boiling water for ten minutes will gently relieve an irritating cough.

* Mix three drops of eucalyptus oil and four drops of lavender oil into 25mls of sweet almond oil and use it to massage around your nostrils and across your cheekbones to relieve the misery of stuffy nosed catarrh.

* Soak a flannel in hot water and drip on four drops of chamomile and four drops of lavender, then use as a wet compress against a painful ear. Repeat as often as is necessary to keep the flannel warm.

*  Use four drops each of tea-tree, eucalyptus and pine-needle oil in a few bowls of warm water to purify the air in a sick-room and prevent germs from spreading.

* Gargle with warm water to which you have added two drops of tea-tree oil to banish a sore throat.

* Cure breathlessness by allowing cold water in a copper cup to steep overnight at your bedside, and then drinking it as soon as you open your eyes in the morning.

* Don’t plant that lavender outside, keep a pot growing on your bedside for the permanent heady, sleep-inducing scent of it:  just perfect for rubbing between your fingers and making a scented wish on nights when you are feeling a little yucky.

* Cut through a mucussy cough by sucking on half a lemon liberally sprinkled with black pepper. Eye-watering but it works!

* Banish a headache by drinking juiced watermelon every couple of hours until the symptoms ease… fresh, delicious and effective.

* Keep a small tube of aloe-vera gel in your first aid cabinet and dab on to cold-sores at the first sign of that horrible tingle.

* Soaking slices of orange in red wine overnight dramatically increases their vitamin C yield and if then gently stewed the following morning they provide an effective remedy for the kind of irritating throat phlegm left behind  after a cold. That and copious glasses of delicious pineapple juice.

* Carrot soup (to which you have added half a tablespoon of salt) taken every hour will gently halt Winter diarrhea.

* Stop a cold developing by adding two drops of Thieves Oil {Genius stuff!} to warm water and sipping every couple of hours. Or mix with almond oil and rub into your little one’s feet every day during the Winter.

* When nausea strikes press an ice pack to your head and sip slowly on a cup of Miso soup. Works everytime!

* Warm icy cold bones up with a cup of ginger tea to instantly boost your circulation and get that frozen blood pumping all over again.

* Taking a rosemary oil and epsom salt bath will ease aching muscles and eradicate twitchy, tired legs. Add two cups of epsom salts and ten drops of rosemary oil to a warm bath and relax until the water cools. I have insanely restless legs and this along with drinking tonic water and taking Kalms is the only way to sleep well at night.

* Un-block waxy ears the gentle way by popping a few drops of salt-water into them daily to break down the wax.

* Add a spoonful of apple-cider vinegar to every glass of water you drink to gently lift the Winter blues. I don’t know why it works, but it does.

* Slice a lemon in half and use one half to wipe across the skin on your calves and banish the dry skin central heating and months in wellies so frequently causes, rinse with warm water and massage with almond oil, et voila, happy pins!

Feel better soon Sweetie!

It is almost the end of the Summer we haven’t had and I for one am all too ready for lovely autumn to come wrap her arms around me and tell me everything is going to be alright…

But for now there are just the grey skies of no weather at all to deal with, and the temptation to stay home and putter up a storm is too great to resist, and so, for your pleasure and mine, please find below a lovely new list full of puttery goodness to inspire your daily housekeeping. 

* Revolve images of your children in a frame on their bedside tables and make a lovely new ritual about telling them the story of themselves before they go to sleep…

* Go incense shopping and choose a heady, warm fragrance that will bless the coming Winter with a  scent memory all of it’s own. The key lies in burning it nightly until Spring falls… Alexandra Stoddard suggest pinon incense for a fragrance you will not forget.

* Write a Winter Bucket list of everything you want to achieve between now and Spring in a teeny little notepad at your bedside and ritually remind yourself what it is you should be throwing your heart into daily…

* Stitch buttons on to the four corners of your duvet covers and make coinciding buttonholes in your favorite blanket, so that you can layer up your bed as the nights draw in without running the risk of waking up shivering when the blanket shimmy’s its way off your bed…

* See if you can survive the Winter without buying shampoo, conditioner of hairspray and reap the rewards of DIY haircare…

* Honour your marriage by simmering your wedding ring in a solution of softened water and two tablespoons of household ammonia for ten minutes, then polish  to a lovely shine and pop back on to your manicured finger.

* Declare yourself the magazine fairy and get into the monthly habit of tying magazines up that you have read and gifting them, parcel style, to those who will appreciate them.

* Have a Deanna Durbin evening every week between now and Christmas. Add her films to your netflix/lovefilm queue and offset the madness of our modern lives with Deanna and all her vintage glam and giddy innocence. Start with The Amazing  Mrs Holliday if you can…

* Make art out of your house rules: include policies on kindness to each other and care of the home and print out, frame in something wonderful and hang in the kitchen.

* Lengthen the life of a lovely umbrella by spraying outside and in with hairspray to render it thoroughly waterproof all over again.

* Print out a series of “Note for the Teacher” templates ( Dear Teacher, this morning I wanted to let you know that…), ready to grab, scrawl and go on rushed school mornings.

* Knit one teeny tiny Granny square per week and by spring you might just have enough to stitch together a blanket woven with memories of nights curled up on the sofa…

* Make jars full of dried onion rings ready to throw into cosy home-made soup. Simply slice and boil your onions for two minutes, then blanche, drain and spread across a few baking sheets and allow to dry slowly in the oven for up to three hours, before allowing to cool and storing in an airtight, brown paper lined jar.

* For sparkly windows grab a pair of sunglasses and you will see all the streaks clearly as you work. Looks crazy but works a treat.

* Soak the bristles of your garden sweeping bush in a strong solution of salt-water and get into the habit of sweeping your decking daily to prevent a build up of the kind of debris and algae that can become hazardous in Winter months.

* Add three fragrant cinnamon sticks and a spoon full of all spice to a tin of cocoa and tuck away at the back of the pantry for a fragrant cosy treat come Halloween and Bonfire night.

* Resolve to keep one of these delicious Chocolate Biscuit cakes in your fridge all Winter long for quite the most indulgent of elevenses or the perfect after school welcome home with a glass of cold milk.

* Sew the prettiest buttons you can find on to a length of velvet ribbon and wear bracelet style around your wrist. You could fill a jewellery box with these lovelies…

* Alleviate the symptoms of an Indian summer cold by steeping handfuls of lemon balm in boiling water and sipping it slowly.

* Dried orange peel tucked amongst layers of cosy, woolly blankets will gently scent them with the fragrance of Winter while simultaneously scaring moths away. Dry the peel on a low light in the oven, then store in an airtight jar until you need it.

* Create your very own domestic tool basket ready to have to have for the teeniest of DIY crisis’s and inspiration. Seek out a hammer, pliers, a few different grades of sandpaper, and a picture hanging kit and you are good to go. No more the helpless female.

* Tell yourself there is nothing wrong with climbing back into bed with a book, your lap-top and a cup of cosy warm coffee for an hour entirely to yourself once the masses have left the house first thing in the morning. Make sure to re-make the bed properly before you get into it and have the curtains open so the sunlight prevents you from slipping back off to dreamland. This is quiet-time, not sleep-time…

* Make a ritual out of laying your childrens “at home” clothes on their bed before they get home from school. Insist they get changed before they do anything else.

* For a truly shiny sink, sieve a fine layer of flour over the entire surface, then buff to a scrumptious polish with a duster.

* Glue, thread or tie a length of pretty ribbon around the top of your wellington boots in pretty preparation for the Autumn showers we are bound to have.

* Cut a lemon in half and scoop out the flesh, then fill each half with olive oil and leave to steep upright in an eggcup overnight. Thereafter use this gently fragranced refreshing oil to soften feel calloused from a summer of sandals…

* Make up a solution of soap flakes, hot water and a few drops of pine oil and use to wipe down all the painted surfaces of your home for an almost instantaneous sense of scrumptious wellbeing and a well kept (bacterial fighting!) home.

* Ring the changes on colder days by serving a wholesome, filling bean and bacon soup for breakfast. Yes really: soup for breakfast with a delicious slice of good bread toasted and dripping with butter.  What could make more sense?

Happy Puttering Housekeepers! 

Spring is here and all seems right with the world again. Today I am baking a cracker crumb asparagus quiche and mixing up a new batch of BrocanteHome recipe cleaning products, ready for a glorious day of polishing and puttering tomorrow before the child filled avalance that is almost a month long Easter break begins…

And so here for your pleasure and mine is a list of all new scrumptious puttery treats with which to indulge ourselves…

* Read Violet: A Fairy story, by Caroline Snowden Guild, because it is Springlike and homely and just some kind of childlike wonderful. Between you and me, there were two fairies—one named Love and the other Contentment…

*   Keep an eye out for an occasional table for the garden. One that looks pretty and chippy and can be laden with your prettiest watering cans, jam jars for impromptu table displays, and tins full of tiny garden essentials like roses secateurs, plant tags and that essential ball of string. Think of decorating your garden in the same way as you would your living room.

* Make sprinkling a few drops of spring scented aromatherapy oil directly on to your door mat part of your morning routine.

* Buy a teeny tiny bunch of grape hyacinths and keep them in a tea-cup on your bedside. So lovely to open your eyes to a little bit of Spring.

* Set up a Saturday Afternoon Salon for all the harried ladies you know. Invite them over, lay a table with the prettiest Spring cloth you own, serve cucumber sandwiches (salt your cucumber first and it won’t go soggy) and pastel coloured macaroons, play something soothing on the iPod, exchange books and ideas, and generally offer you very own darlings a monthly oasis free from football, cricket and all the other joys the warm weather is prone to inflict upon us.

* Buy some willow sticks and help the kids create a willow tee pee on the lawn.

* Dig out all your Springtime aprons and hand-launder them in something deliciously floral, line-dry then spray with a light starch. Nothing gladdens the Spring heart faster than a line full of happy aprons.

* Transform essential ring-binders by backing in brown paper and tying up with vintage lace. Instant transformation!

* Start treasure hunting for a collection of Springtime I Feel Pretty House dresses. Think cheap and cheerful and accessorise with ribbon and button corsages and fitted cardigans. Who needs jeans?

* Ring the changes with a Springtime Pizza. Layer wraps with pesto, feta, olives and rocket and serve with white wine. Delish.

* Start a Summer book. Fill it with plans for a weekend road trip. Meals you plan to cook. Places to visit. Activities for the kids. Work on it daily and promise yourself you won’t allow another summer to be lost to over-heating and computer games…

* Exchange your current bookmark for a length of gingham ribbon.

* Add four drops each of eucalyptus, geranium, peppermint and rosemary oil to a morning bath to fight off the sniffly symptoms of a Spring cold.

* Follow this gorgeous tutorial from Happy Clippings to make an Easter Garland. So easy even I can do it…

* Fill the freezer with lemon granita cubes. Create a light sugar syrup and stir in some lemon juice, then freeze in an ice-cube tray ready for the arrival of the first day warm enough to spend in the garden. Then when the time is right, take your cubes out, blend until shredded and serve with a sprig of mint. And there you have it: the taste of Spring…

* Add a few drops of Zoflora Hyacinth disinfectant concentrate to warm water and use it to wash your floors for the sweet smell of Spring throughout the house. My very favourite instant pick me up for the house.

* Walk around the house and make a brand new Springtime Mission List. Things get done when one knows what needs doing!

* Use a vintage toast rack to stash a row of love letters in the bedroom or recipe cards in the kitchen.

* Mix up some rosemary scented salt scrub and decant into a gingham topped jam jar ready for scrubbing the soil of those Springtime gardening hands. Simply mix a few spoons of olive oil into a cup full of sea-salt and add a few drops of rosemary oil to scent and revive. And there you have it: clean hands in a jar.

* Stitch a crocheted runner into a vintage envelope for your oh so modern Kindle. Perfectly pretty at the bedside.

* At the first sign of budding bring branches full of blossom into the house to force and enjoy a little Springtime inside.

* Fill eggshells with soil and sew cress ready for serving with boiled eggs and a little parsley mayo on Easter morning.

* Turn vintage hankies into gorgeous bunting the easy way with this lovely idea from The  Mother Huddle.

* Spring is the season when we start to get a little careless around the garden and thieves spot opportunities to take full advantage of our relaxed attitude to our property, so it is well worth taking the time to mark it as ours. Wherever possible scratch your house number and postcode on to gardening tools and furniture. And where that is not possible, order a UV pen and write the same information on to each item. Better safe than sorry!

* Find a place to scrawl this Gustave Flaubert quote… “Love is a springtime plant, that perfumes everything with its hope”

* Seek out a local honey supplier and resolve to take a couple of spoonfuls daily before the Spring trauma that is always hay fever really gets a grip.

* Set the kids up making paper doll chains and have them dress up with vintage fabric scraps. Or else spend a happy half hour decorating them yourself. Sooo pretty!

* Add a little floral delight to a Springtime breakfast with Not Martha’s lovely flower shaped pancakes. Serve with greek yoghurt, rose jam and pistachio’s for an extra special treat.

* Stitch cushion “sleeves” in contrasting colours or sympathetic colours, for a super-super quick and lovely way to ring the changes around the house. This works scrumptiously well with bark-cloth bands around velvet cushions and vice versa, and best of all it isn’t permanent…

Happy Spring Housekeepers!

I’m all about scrumptiousness, me. While I usually regale you with half a dozen Puttery Treats when the mood takes me, I know that finding time to breathe when the kids are under your feet in the Summer is a task and a half , and so today I wanted to offer 50 Brocantehome style quick fixes for freshening up a house suffering from the Summertime Blues: teeny tiny things you can do when afternoons seem both endless and limited by the demands of your little people, not altogetherlife-changing but enough to make you feel you are still dedicated to the art of making your world as lovely as can be…

Are you ready to make life feel scrumptious again? Let’s go…

1. Open every window and door in the entire house for at least an hour to blow away the cobwebs.
2. If you aren’t going on holiday, amass a small collection of Vintage postcards and spend a tranquil afternoon sending the shortest, sweetest missives form home.
3. Read Swallows and Amazons out loud to the kids.
4. Add six drops of lemon oil to a cup full of olive oil and use it to scrub wooden chopping boards.
5. Add an olive oil pourer to a vintage glass bottle and use it to hold ironing water in the laundry room.
6. String white fairylights everywhere to bring memories of warm evenings on the Meditteranean flooding back.
7. Go hang fresh, new tea-towels out right now.
8. A pot of basil in the kitchen will instantly scent the air.
9. Grab a basket and chuck every last bit of clutter you can find into it. Instant tidy house!
10. Fill the prettiest bowl you can find with zesty limes ready for impromptu fruit juice cocktails.
11. Save orange peel and bake it in the oven for fifteen minutes to rid it of anything stinky.
12. Strip back the beds and spin and flip the mattreses.
13. Throw listless towels into the tumble dryer to fluff them up.
14. Use spray beeswax to polish your furniture and add the old fashioned scent of home in an instant. (Look out for Woodsilk as it doesn’t contain silicones known to attract dust).
15. Change the images in at least half the photoframes around the house. Ring the changes!
16. Burn rosemary oil in a burner for an instant pick me up for the living room.
17. Pop the entire families toothbrushes and mugs into an empty dishwasher and run on a quick, hot programme without soap to sanitize them.
18. Encourage the kids to have a pillow fight, then call time and re-make the beds, et voila! Puffed up pillows!
19. Add three drops of aromatherapy oil to dish soap and shake for a fragrant treat at the sink.
20. Wrap long match boxes in pretty vintage paper and leave in every loo in the house. It’s a very traditional, rather basic method of banishing smells but lighting a match is both quick and effective.
21. Bury banana peel in the soil below each rosebush so the potassium they contain will feed your glorious rose garden.
22. Have an indulgent half hour helping yourself to anything lingering in your Comfort Drawer.
23. Loop rolls of vintage lace bunting style across windows.
24. Re-purpose a gingham topped jam pot as a portable sugar bowl. Perfect for a casual afternoon tea in the garden.
25. Similairly decant milk into an old-fashioned lemonade bottle at the breakfast table.
26. Buy new oilcloth and perk up the kitchen table in an instant.
27. Leave a book full of curious facts in the loo.
28. Add a vintage floral corsage to a teatowel and leave it hanging purely for decoration in the kitchen.
29. Stitch tiny pearl buttons at intervals along a length of vintage lace and wrap around a plain or flower sprigged lampshape.
30. Leave a stack of scrumptiously inspirational interiors books sitting on the coffee table.
31. Replace every single bar of slimy soap in the house with a fresh new one.
32. Hang a pretty floral shopper over the banister and use it as a catch-all for everything that needs to come upstairs and downstairs again..
33. Make a layered jelly in a vintage mould.
34. Soak tea-stained cups in a solution of baking soda and warm water overnight.
35. Take houseplants outside and give them a holiday on the garden table on warm days.
36. Pop feather filled quilts into the tumble dryer for ten minutes with a few tennis balls to re-distribute the feathers.
37. Starch cotton pillowcases and notice how scrumptiously fresh they feel on Summer nights.
38. Use the prettiest, twinkliest Kirby grip hair pin you can find as a bookmark.
39. Patchwork a series of vintage tray cloths together to make a garden table cloth.
40. Capture childrens a4 artwork in a decorated three ring binder, so the more prolific artist’s work doesn’t take over your life. Have one for each child.
41. Line fridge door shelves with kitchen paper so even the shortest of drips are soaked right up.
42. Swap morning jam for Summery lavender honey or lemon curd.
43. Thrill the kids by mixing up milkshake in a cocktail shaker with ice.
44. Get into the habit of grating odd ends of soap into a Kilner jar to use at a later date for all-purpose household liquid soap.
45. Pin a lace shawl or tablecloth over the back door frame on warm days to discourage naughty flies by making their entrance into your home beautifully difficult.
46. Bake olive bread and serve it warm with Normandy butter and grape juice for breakfast.
47. Punch holes into the top of a vintage postcard, thread it on to pretty ribbon and swing it from a cupboard door handle
48. Cover a collection of battered recipe books in co-ordinating wipeable vinyl wallpaper: you only need scraps so sample pieces from the DIY store will be plenty.
49. Treat yourself to a new Welcome mat.
50. Top piles of white towels with the prettiest white lace doillies in the bathroom for an extra layer of vintage loveliness.

Don’t forget you can download 550 more of my Puttery Treats here or join the Puttery Post and have one delivered to your in-box daily…

Happy Summer Holidays Housekeepers!

Halfway through July already! Before we know it it will be Autumn and I will have you demented digging out your Christmas Planners and hassling you to get organized with the Christmas Countdown before the madness of the festive season descends. But until then there is still so much Summer left, so many days filled with the chaos of kids and holidays and unadulterated joy of the kind we are all obliged to have when the sun is shining…

So let me fill your heart with Summery gladness with a few scrumptious Puttery Treats from the 31 I sent out last month on the Puttery Post…

My favorites from June?

Brocante Hungary Water

The original recipe for perfume was thought to have been scribed by Queen Elizabeth of Hungary back in the 1300’s, and was in actual fact the charming result of allowing rosemary to seep in water for fifty hours.

While this does indeed make a tincture heady with the greenest of fragrance, it isn’t to most modern tastes and when combined as described often results in a murky brown product even us the most enthusiastic of vintage gals couldn’t be enticed to dab on our décolletage, and so Sweeties, I have taken the liberty of coming up with something a little lovelier, which I have found invaluable on hot days as a facial spritz, and which makes the most of the herbs we have begun drying in the past week or so..

Brocante Hungary Water

Ingredients.

Handful of dried rosemary
Handful of dried lavender
Peel of one orange
Peel of one lemon
3 tablespoons of dried mint leaves.
Vodka
Distilled Water

Method

Shred all the ingredients and put in a mason jar with enough vodka to cover. Screw on lid and allow to steep on a sunny windowsill for one week. Strain and pour on two parts water to one part of the remaining tincture after straining and mix well. Decant into something pretty and make yourself a label…

Can be used as a facial toner with cotton wool in the bathroom, or poured into a spray bottle and kept in the fridge to be used as a cooling, aromatic facial spritz you and kids will love on burny hot days.

Ah, the old fashioned joys of the still room…

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RoseWater Smoothies

A smoothie bursting with natural goodness is a truly scrumptious way to start the day isn’t it?

But all too often we go through a short-lived burst of juicy smoothie enthusiasm, and then pop the juicer in the back of the cupboard where it rots, destined to never see the light of day again because using it seems like the kind of effort we just can’t conjure up on even the most languid of August mornings…

But that’s about to change, because today Housekeepers I am going to insist that you drag the juicer or blender out of it’s culinary burial place and offer it a permanent home on the kitchen counter if only for the rest of the Summer.
Are you with me?

We are going to create a Smoothie Zone: a place where everything you need is available in one place to whip up the most delicious, nutritious morning juices.

Start by establishing a place for your juicer or blender to live and place it on a pretty tray big enough to hold everything you need.

First up, and perhaps most obviously we need a fruit bowl. A tiered cake stand is a good choice as it will allow you to use vertical space to display a wide variety of fruit of different shapes and sizes…

Next up, a collection of nutritious additions in small Kilner Jars with pretty labels:

*Flaxseed (buy in the health food store): for essential fatty acids.
*Lecithin Powder: for aiding the digestion of fats and increased brain power!
*Pumpkin and Sunflower seeds: for added crunch and texture.
*Wheatgrass Powder: to harness the inner cleansing properties of chlorophyll.
Oatmeal.

Now for some puttery juicy treats:

*A bottle of rosewater and a bottle of orange blossom water to add delicate fragrance to your juices.
*A pot of Fresh Mint.
*Fresh ginger and a tiny ginger grater.
*Dried nutmeg and cinnamon.
*Vanilla Essence

And finally a few practical additions to your zone.

A small chopping board
A selection of knives.
An orange squeezer.

My favorite Smoothie?

Strawberry Rose Juice.

Ingredients

Two handfuls of Strawberries
Half a banana
One apple
A long glug of rosewater
2 Tbsps. of oatmeal.
Lots of ice and a few leaves of mint to garnish

Put all ingredients in the blender and whizz. Add water to reach desired thickness and drink…

Truly scrumptious!

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The Garden Basket

Summer brings with it a huge amount of to-ing and fro-ing between the kitchen and the garden doesn’t it, with it usually falling to us to fetch and carry an extra fork, the salt cellar, or a towel to wipe up those inevitable spills!

Today I want to suggest a teeny little project that will perhaps save our legs over the course of the next two months of outdoor dining: a basket filled with everything we need, ready to grab and go for even the most impromptu of alfresco meals.
Creating a garden basket is quite the most wonderful excuse for really going to town with a riot of pattern and colour, for what looks outlandish inside often takes on a air of jolly elegance out, so begin by seeking a scrumptiously happy tea-towel with which to line your old-fashioned shopping basket.

Wrap napkins around individual sets of cutlery, add tablemats, coasters, a cruet set, olive oil and vinegar, plastic tumblers, stripy straws, citronella tea-lights, an oil-cloth tablecloth, a spray-bottle of surface cleaner, another tea-towel and a packet of wipes for messy eaters, and there you have it, everything you need for supper in the garden…

The trick here though is to keep the basket permanently stocked: when the tumblers and cutlery are washed don’t put them away: re-pack them in the basket. Wipe down the oilcloth and re-fold it and make a point of replacing the tea-towels each evening…

Is there anything lovelier than eating in the garden?

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Happy July Housekeepers!