Buttercup Balm

Today Housekeepers I have a scrumptious little puttery treat for you, just right for long, languid sunny days spent lying in the grass, or indeed keeping children busy during the holidays…

buttercup balm

Once upon a time, we were little girls and little girls like nothing better than a sunny day spent holding a buttercup under the chin of willing family to determine whether they like butter. Now why this should be such a matter of curiousity is anyone’s guess but I bet you too remember seeing that yellow glow and feeling a teeny bit joyful don’t you? We all do… I think it is one of the tiniest pleasures of childhood we all too quickly forget in the humdrum of daily life…

So this little puttery treat is to remind you what it was to be a little girl. The simple pleasure of picking as many buttercups as you can, determining who likes butter and then using their essence to create a balm ideal for troubled skin.

Note: this recipe contains Vaseline. Which while not totally organic, it is considered to be non-carcinogenic and is therefore safe to use. If you prefer not to use petroleum jelly on your skin, you can substitute coconut oil and beeswax for it.

Buttercup balm

Ingredients.

1 Small tub of vaseline

As many buttercup flower heads as you can find.

Method

1. Scoop out the contents of your vaseline tub into a bain-marie

2. Add your buttercups and press into the vaseline as thoroughly as possible.

3. Simmer gently for one hour.

4. Then strain your balm through muslin and decant into a small screw-top jar.

 

P.S: You can also use rose petals in the same way to create a rose-scented lip-balm. Add colour by  using a short length of lipstick and stirring before straining.

Puttery Treats For June

Tis Puttery Treat time ladies! Try to squeeze in as many of the little lovelies as you can before the kids break up and invade your peace…

puttery treats for june

* Put your abundance of garden mint to good use by chopping it finely into a sea salt and olive oil scrub and using it in your morning shower for quite the tingliest, most fragrant start to the day…

* Raid your ribbon box and thread length after length through the holes in your children’s baby-hood cellular blankets for a cosy , up-cycled cover up on cool Summer nights.

* Re-purpose old, but lovely spirit bottles by re-filling them with bath oil in the bathroom, or ironing water in the laundry room. The exotic liqueur bottles you tend to acquire on holiday are just perfect…

* Set up a permanent tent in the garden for shady reading. Make it as pretty as you can and fill it with an abundance of cushions and quilts so it is as comfortable as possible.

* Eat mint Raita and crudites for a cooling Summer lunch on hot days.

* Plant pots full of colourful Sweet Williams either side of your doorstep for a fragrant waft of cloves whenever you sweep by them…

* Give little girls empty mason jars and help them create tiny little bottled fairy worlds. Or do it yourself because that little girl still lives inside you.

* Fill the garden with paper pom-poms and invite the girls round for a Summer evening soiree…

* Grab your babba’s next time it rains and take them dancing around the garden in a warm Summer afternoon shower. Joy like nothing else!

* Make home-made fly paper by dipping lengths of strong brown parcel paper into a mixture of equal parts sugar, golden syrup and water, boiled until it thickens. Allow to dry in the fresh air for half an hour, then bring back inside to use wherever flies are clustering.

* Re-read Larkrise to Candleford while devouring glorious big fat slices of Victoria Sponge stuffed with cream and strawberries at their plumpest best.

* Write your Mum a thank-you letter, including a photograph of the two of you on one of your childhood summer holidays. She misses those days…

* Add a drop of essence of violets to a pot of raspberry jam for a burst of summer fragrance on your morning croissant.

* Make gin & tonic ice lollies for an all grown up treat on a hot night.

* Turn an apron into a domestic work-of-art by layering it with stitched on doilies, teeny little flowers, rows of ribbon and embroidered floral sentiment. Really go to town on creating something beautiful and mark your sense of domestic bliss for always.

* Plant kitchen herbs in cheap and cheerful glass sundae dishes for a happy, burst of summer on your kitchen table.

* It’s that time again! Remove two things from every surface in your home.

* Bottle jar after jar of pickled shallots for the perfect addition to Saturday afternoon Ploughman’s lunches.

* Fill a bowl with pebbles and soak your feet in a bowl full of cold water, lemon juice and a splash of vodka for a zesty, antiseptic way to attend to swollen Summer feet.

* Stitch square head scarves on to the front of over-sized cushions for an instant Summer transformation: particularly lovely with vintage, illustrated souvenir scarves.

* Turn an over-ripe avocado into a face mask. Simply mash and stir in a spoonful of runny honey and four teaspoons of cider vinegar, et voila: happy, energised, smooth skin…

* Surprise the kids with ice-cream for breakfast. Add “sprinkles” with  cereal, muesli and fruit.

* Stitch the edge of a pretty lace table runner to a too-short t-shirt…

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BrocanteHome Your Mobile Phone…

If ever there was a woman more obsessed with her mobile phone than I, then I would dearly love to meet her so we could spent an hour or three happily discussing our favourite apps.

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Oh yes: I spend many a joyful hour staring at my iPhone, much to the annoyance of almost everyone I know. Frantically checking What’s App and lulling myself to sleep with the wonder that is Sleep Genius. It is always, always by my side and it must be comical to watch the panic on my face when I cannot find it in the dark pit that is my little velvet floral bag…

I think of my phone as the most authentic tool of my self: happen upon it and you would happen across everything I hold most dear.  My photo’s, my books, snippets of  the poems I secretly write in Evernote (I have noticed recently, that life moves too quickly, and apples taste too sweet…), a folder full of quotes I adore and another of images of the house so I can transport myself back there whenever I am away. All this and much, much more. Aspects of my (disastrous) financial life, my goals for all my tomorrows, and even my moods. It is all  there: right in the palm of my hand – the most precious object I own.

And so m’dear, in honour of my beloved phone, I hereby present my sixteen point plan for Brocante-homing your mobile phone.

Mobile Phone Cases

curated by BrocanteHome on Etsy

1. Start the search for a mobile phone case you absolutely adore. Not just one you buy because it’s cheap, or because it does the job, but a case that totally thrills you each and every time you answer a call…

2. Find a pretty quote on Pinterest that truly inspires and use it as your wallpaper. (I am currently using this one). While it is lovely to have your smiling babba on the front screen of your phone, it is more life-enhancing to use it drum a mantra into your soul as you will see it so very often…

3. Switch off email notifications. You phone should mither you as little as possible and there is nothing quite so mithery as the constant bleep of yet another email…

4. Start a folder full of images of your garden and special spots in your house so you can transport yourself back to a peaceful place in the press of a button.

5. Keep testing ring-tones until you find one that neither grates nor startles you. Consider using a favourite song and set it so the tone ascends instead of bursting into noisy life. Nothing worse my friends.

6. If your phone has a touch screen, seek out a stylus. There is something rather elegant about using one instead of constantly jabbing at your phone with your fingers and they are great for making really quick notes in paper applications.

7. Use the silent button. You don’t have to be at everyone’s beck and call constantly, and by using the silent button so you are not disturbed when you don’t want to be, you can choose a time that suits you to call back. It isn’t rude. It is merely about preserving your own peace of mind.

8. Divide all your photographs into folders so you can find the pictures you are looking for in a flash, show photographs only of what you want to share with others, or spend a while with your far-away partner, looking at all your personal yesterdays.

9.  Download the Cartolina App and use it to send out the prettiest texts, emails and Instagrams around.

10. Use reminders to help you remember self-care routines. Though everyone I know laughs at me, everyday afternoon at 1.15 my phone lets out the gentlest of little jingles: this is my “Miracle Moment”, a daily reminder inspired by Gabrielle Bernstein, that I use to inspire a pause to be both mindful and grateful. Yes it’s silly, but it is a moment I absolutely treasure and this method of reminder could be adapted for all manner of self-care rituals.

11.  Keep a set of earphones in your bag so that you can instantly lose yourself in an inspiring podcast ( I am currently enjoying Woman’s Hour, Bonnie and Maude, Gabrielle Bernstein and -my favourite- The Good Life Project) when waiting for a bus, or dining alone.

12.  Start the search for one game you both enjoy and feel challenged by. While games may not seem very BrocanteHome at all I have found that they channel my mind when I feel unfocused. My favourite? 2048 5×5… Can’t get enough of it!

13. Use a different screen for each part of your day: from goals and meditation in the morning to work apps and sleep and bedtime rituals. Get your day organised…

14. Buy a transparent plastic case and fit vintage wallpaper inside it so you can transform your case fashion in just a moment or two…

15. Photograph your favourite poems and keep them in a camera folder, so you can frequently reference your most precious words of wisdom…

16. Download my 50 Apps for Happy Housekeepers and create Housekeepers Central on your phone…

Puttery Treats For Spring Joy

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…

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* 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.

Warming Florida Water

Sweeties, the rather ridiculous, but occasionally heavenly spectacle that is Valentines Day is almost upon us, which might just mean that some of you (or your men!) are in the mood for luuurve…

floridawater

Oh heckity pie yes. This does mean peeling off the layers of cashmere and acrylic and getting naked. On the kind of cold February night when nothing seems less appealing than the kind of shenanigans that might just require hiking the central heating up as high as it will go and downing the kind of stiff vodka’s designed to warm the cockles of your stone cold heart…

But m’dears I have a better use for vodka than using it to gird unwilling loins. For if you are not lucky enough to be taken out to be wined and scrumptiously dined and instead have to conjure up a little romance over the kitchen table, then a girl can get to thinking that parading around the house in a fluffy negligee might just be a teeny tiny waste of that very expensive perfume and so here is my solution: warming Florida Water, a traditional toilet water with a dose of Brocante spice!

Once used to pat down perspiring housewives and sweat baseball players, Florida water is the American equivalent of Eau de Cologne, and is just the thing when you want a sweet air of spicy, seductive fragrance without the heavy, overwhelming scent of modern perfumes. Particularly if you use it warm instead of ice cold.

And so my Darlings this is my recipe for getting you in the mood to greet Cupid…

The Recipe…

2 cups of distilled water
1/4 cup of vodka
6 drops of bergamot oil
6 drops of lavender oil
3 drops of musk oil
2 drops of clove oil

Combine and stir, then decant into a pump-action bottle. Wrap in a towel and leave above the radiator. Ice cold Florida Water is not funny in February.

The Ritual…

Add a shot or two of vodka to a cup of iced Earl Grey tea, and chuck a parasol into the glass just because you are in the mood for a celebration. Then run a bath and add eight to ten drops of bergamot oil, a deliciously feminine scent renowned for its subtle aphrodisiac properties.

Did I really just type aphrodisiac on BrocanteHome? Apparently so. Anyways…

Sip your earl grey cocktail while Barry White serenades you in the bath, then pummel yourself dry with a frisky  towel to get your circulation pumping. Now douse yourself in warm Florida water. Pour it down your chest and twist around to pour it down your back. Dab it into your pulse points and allow it to warm on your skin without further use of deodarants or other chemicals to disguise the cassolette that is your own scent. Then dress in something light and pretty before heading to the bedroom for whatever it is that floats your boat…

Do have a lovely night won’t you Housekeepers?

P.S: Offering him a Cardomon oil scented massage is renowned for romance…

BrocanteHome on Etsy

Puttery Treats for Valentines Day

Hey Sweeties, I thought it might be time to re-issue and up-date my rather lovely list of Valentines Day puttery treats in time for this Friday and so here it is… a darling list of little heart shaped somethings…

* Never mind that you have been waking up next to him for twenty years, make sure you send your partners Valentine card by snail mail because there is nothing quite as lovely as getting a Valentine card in the post…

Valentines Day

* Hang a heart shaped wreath on your front door and spread the love.

* Do as Chaucer recommended and seek out the love birds that are the traditional symbol of  Valentines Day.  Embroider a pair of love-birds on to a tea-towel, or start the ritual annual collection of something scrumptious decorated with a pair of Love Birds as a symbol of your own relationship.

* In the tradition of “Jack Valentine”,  leave a tiny pile of sweets and present for each child in the house on the back door step…

* Send a lonely friend a Pal-entine…

* Spend the day before Valentines making your bedroom as heavenly as possible. (Even if there is only you who sleeps there!) Polish till it sparkles, pile the bed with pillows and cosy quilts, put one or two pretty little buds in vases on the bedsides, banish as much clutter as you possibly can and hang your prettiest bedtime clothes from a padded hanger on the wardrobe door.

* Make a huge “kitchen-sink” cookie, a-la Martha, and ice it with a message for your Valentine

* Long before Valentines Day was commandeered by the soppy Victorians and their fancy-schmancy deliriously decorated (but oh sooooo pretty!) cards, it was common to write love letters on Valentines Day and this is so much more Brocante methinks than joining the thronging masses in search of rose-sprinkled tat. So steal away an hour or three and write a chatty list of I love you’s and thank you’s and plans for tomorrow, then spray it with perfume, tie it with ribbon and post it to your loved one.

* * Sip Twinings delicious Rose Garden tea all day long…

* Take inspiration from the Welsh and start a collection of Valentines Day love spoons… these don’t have to be the traditionally carved wooden spoons, but could be a darling collection of vintage or artisan spoons just for you…

* Cover the breakfast table on Valentines Day with a cloth decorated in the most exuberant red roses you can find.

* Wear a locket around your neck with a picture of your loved ones inside.

* Arrange a date at a wine store and  go together to choose a really special bottle of wine to be enjoyed over the simplest of cheese and cracker suppers on Valentines evening, as a lovely alternative to over-spending on a not so romantic over-priced meal in a restaurant.

* Thread laurel bay leaves onto wire and twist into a heart for the simplest, most understated of Valentine wreaths.

* Call in a duvet day and spend Valentines Day watching Dodsworth or An Affair to Remember.

* Buy a dictionary and highlight every word that describes your partner or how you feel about him or her. Wrap it up in layers of newspaper and tie it in a big red bow.

* Fill a vintage tin with memories and offer it to your partner as a gift on Valentines Day. Make it as attractive as  possible and fill it with long forgotten love letters, photos of your first holiday or home, locks of your children’s hair, trinkets and menu’s you have kept from special dates and anything else that is meaningful to the two of you.

* Rent a DVD of the very first movie you ever watched together.

* Gloves have long been a symbol of love with the verse “If that from glove you take the letter G, then glove is love and that I send to thee”, so gift your babba’s new gloves on Valentines Day or treat yourself, in a scrumptiously silly ritual all of your own, to a new pair of frivolous housekeepers rubber gloves, just because you can. (Gloveables are gorgeous!)…

* Stitch His and Hers or Mr and Mr on to a pair of pillowcases, or seek out a vintage set on ebay and put them on the bed before you go to sleep on Valentines Day.

* Burn rose oil in the bathroom. Or mix 3 Tablespoons of honey with 3 drops of rose oil and three drops of vanilla essential oil and pour it under running water for the sweetest, most sensual bath.

*  Buy a packet of confetti and sprinkle it over the breakfast table.

* Teach yourself the language of flowers and use it to symbolise your emotions when buying flowers for yourself. Isn’t there something intriguing about creating a private conversation with something so beautiful?

* Re-read Wuthering Heights – the greatest, most torrid love story ever told, and see what experience brings to the book this time around.

* Serve the kids red velvet cupcakes and ice cold milk on a tray for breakfast in bed on Valentines morning.

* Books are a traditional gift on Valentines Day. Seek out a vintage copy of your very favourite childhood story book, inscribe it with a thank-you to your Mum, and tie it up with ribbon for her. Valentines Day is utterly perfect for saying a million little thank-you’s.

* Sprinkle five bay leaves with rosewater and slip them under your pillow to bring love a-knocking at your door.

* Order a book full of the kind of accessible love poetry that will not scare the horses and leave it sitting on your bedside table, ready to dip in and out of or read out loud to your partner.

* Fill the kid’s coat pockets with Hershey kisses when they aren’t looking.

* Mix up a blend of romantic massage oil by combining 2 drops of rose oil with 3 drops of sandalwood and a single drop of black pepper oil into a a few drops of almond oil.

* Use heart shaped pastry cutters to create romantic fried eggs. Serve with tomato sauce and tell him it’s the food of love.

* Add a vintage Valentine themed apron to your collection.

* Use kids alphabet magnets to write “I love you” on the fridge.

* Create a little in-car picnic and go for a drive on Valentines Day. Often more meaningful conversation happens in the car than anywhere else.

* Drizzle a sour cream heart on to a bowl of tomato soup.

* We are all skilled at creating memory books for the kids but often neglect to document our relationships in any meaningful way. Splash out on a truly special photograph album, and starting at the very beginning of your relationship fill it full of photographs that tell the story of your partnership. Just you two, no kids or maiden Aunts. Just you two.

* Make rosewater jelly(or cheat like I do!)  in little china tea cups, sprinkle with pistachio’s and eat from nursery sized spoons in bed  with the tiniest tumblers full of sweet dessert wine.

* Pansys are said to speak of loving thoughts so buy a tray of pretty pink ones and leave them tied in ribbon on your friends doorsteps with a little Thank you for being my friend note attached.

* Establish a drawer to be reserved for your slinkiest, loveliest, prettiest underwear. Put really special items in vintage nightie cases, store your most precious perfume in with your underwear, tuck bundles of dried lavender amongst every layer, add a bundle of ribbon tied love letters and cards and make sure to line the drawer properly so delicate lace doesn’t snag on splintered wood. And there you have it, a scrumptious little nod to your most sensual self.

Have  a lovely  Valentines Day Housekeepers!

Puttery Treats For A Lovely New Year

I do believe it would be best to drift into the midst of January on a wave of thoroughly scrumptious inspiration, agreed? And so my Sweets, please find below a list of my lovely puttery treats, especially devised today to help you spark domestic bliss, get you out of bed in the cold mornings and feel good about your house and your self now that the decorations are down…

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* Get focused: write a list as long as your arm of all those things you want to achieve/see/buy/eradicate this year, then print it out and pop it inside your journal so you can review it regularly. It helps to have a lots of little dreams doesn’t it?

* Cure miserable snotty nose problems by mixing hot water with a spoonful of honey, another of apple cider, lemon juice to taste and a dash of cayenne pepper. Sip throughout the day to ease symptoms…

* Print out this darling little reminder that you are amazing…

* Remember that you don’t have to keep all the gifts you, or your children received. Stash them for re-gifting, offer them to a more grateful home, or drive them straight to the charity shop. Only keep what you know to be beautiful or believe to be useful…

* Decant cleanser, toner and moisturizer into vintage glass bottles and resolve to make this the year you truly commit to a proper, all grown up skincare routine. The clock is ticking Sweetie…

* Start a project: knit four or five lonnnnnnng scarves and then stitch them together for a quick and easy oh so snuggly blanket..

* Plant lemon balm seeds in small plant pots, cups or containers a for a revitalizing houseplant that will start to grow in days and infuse the air with an early hint of spring on your desk top…

* Forget the Flylady lace ups. Find the most glamorous, pretty high heels you own and bring them downstairs. Now whenever you feel rubbish, you simply shove your tootsies into them and trot around the house. Trust me: a girl can take on the world in stilettos.

* Revive Wintery, hibernating spirits by burning Bergamot in the sitting room. This calming, sedative oil, though deeply soothing is also renowned for relieving exhaustion and making you feel alive, on even the coldest, most windy of days…

* Declare one night a week “Salad Night!” and resolve to work your way through as many, cosy Winter salads as you can find.

* Spend an hour or three organizing your jewelry box in search of the girl you used to be. Find her in a row of pearls. A pair of hoop earrings, or that ring with the ruby, and see if by putting whatever it is on again, you can capture her spirit all over again…

* Top jars in the kitchen with brown paper and string for an understated, rustic makeover…

* Write a letter to yourself today explaining who it is you want to be in 2014 and pop it under your mattress with instructions on the envelope to “not be opened before New Years Eve, 2014″…

* Go straight to your wardrobe (do not pass go) and find the one item you resort to when there is simply nothing else to wear. The one item you know full well you look a fright in. Now march it to the bin and breathe a sigh of relief: never again will you look quite so atrocious.

* Start a darling vintage fabric collage like this one…

* Set a timer on your phone marked as your “gratitude moment”. Have it repeat daily and when it bleeps, pause for just a moment and remember all that is wonderful about your world…

* Go tea shopping and start the search for the one adventurous cuppa that truly slows you down and has you sighing ahhhhhh. Schedule an ah moment into everyday…

* Give the kids bedtime drawing books and a pencil in the color of their choice. Ask them to do a quick sketch of their day before they go to sleep as part of their winter bedtime routine…

* Buy a plain tea-cozy and spend January evenings embroidering it with a charming little cottage scene…

*  Throw away your scales and treat yourself to a really pretty tape measure instead: if you are committed to losing weight this is more rewarding method of measuring success. Hang it in the bathroom and spend an hour or two on the computer creating a chart on which to write down those ever decreasing vital statistics…

* Start a story button jar: pull buttons from kids clothes headed for the dustbin and use them to remember who you and your children were…

* Seek out a few new to-you digital magazines and see style curated from a certain point of view. Search e-mag on Pinterest and you are sure to find something to lift your domestic literary spirit… 

* Make January the month you seek out healthy alternatives to all your favorite Winter comfort foods: start with this Lentil, Kale and Garlic Potato Shepherds Pie… 

Happy January Housekeepers!