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…

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