It’s hot and it’s beautiful and more than that it’s Thursday which really does put me in the mood for a Puttery Treat or twenty five in celebration of all that is sunny and homely…
* Fill hot water bottles with cold water and place them the fridge first thing in the morning, then pop between the lightest cotton sheets you own just before bedtime, for the nights when sleep seems impossible in the heat.
* Clean copper with lemon juice and scrunched up newspaper, then take it all into the garden and allow it bathe in the sun for enhanced shininess. Polish with a soft cloth while still warm.
* You know the squashy strawberries at the bottom of the punnet that no-one wants to eat? Blend them quickly with a spoonful of sugar and warm gently to make a syrup (a minute in the microwave) then pour over a spoonful of crushed ice, and top with cloudy lemonade. And there you have it: an impromptu Pink Lemonade cocktail!
* Place Sun-block by the bathroom sink and teach children to dab a little on themselves after their morning face-washing ritual.
* Treat yourself to some grapefruit or mint shower gel for the zestiest, tingliest of starts to Summer mornings.
* Practise the art of making good old-fashioned Elizabethan Lemon Posset and serve it with rosemary shortbread and mint tea for breakfast on the warmest of Summer weekend mornings. Indulgence is to be encouraged on hot days.
* Have squares of vintage wallpaper laminated and use as makeshift, but oh so pretty, placemats and coasters in the garden.
* Warm days can leave the house seeming a little sniffy and stuffy, so offset this by mixing up an oh so Summery air freshener using 30 drops of peppermint oil, 30 drops of lime oil and 35 drops of grapefruit oil in 40z of water. Shake and leave to blend for a day or two before spritzing into the air as often as you see fit.
* On days when it is your head that is stuffy and achy, look to your herb garden for a quick fix: break off a handful of rosemary sprigs and a couple of basil leaves, and roll them between your hands for a few minutes, then discard, sit down and put your hands over your face and breathe in and out deeply for up to five minutes.
* Mix up a sprinkly seed mix to add flavor and goodness to the ubiqtuous Summer salad. Mix sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and hemp seeds with crushed, dried rosemary, basil, and garlic to taste and add a spinkle of black pepper and a spoonful of soy sauce. Shake till your arms drop off and store in a jar out of the sun. Scrumptious!
* Make Summer evening mealtimes fuss free by filling large platters with Italian style antipasto. Dig out a collection of the prettiest mis-matched side-plates you own, use vintage tea-towels as napkins, and serve with ice cold red grape juice.
* Hang out a row of vintage handkerchiefs for the fastest and possibly the prettiest alternative to garden bunting.
* Buy culinary lavender and crush it in a pestal and mortar. Then pour a 1/2 inch layer on the bottom of a jar and top with two inches of white caster sugar, repeat until the jar is full, then seal tightly and leave to sit in the pantry for a week or two to infuse. Then sprinkle over strawberries and cream…
* Making the lighting of a few tea-lights in storm lanterns hung from the washing line a Summer evening ritual: even if you won’t be spending too much time out there. It makes the garden look magical as the sun goes down, makes late night gardening in your nightie a romantic possibility, casts the gentlest of light inside the house, and marks bedtime when the candles eventually fizzle out.
* If you prefer not to sleep naked on hot nights then hang your nightie from the curtain rail over an open window, so it is cooled by the gentlest of evening breezes. Make it part of your early evening ritual, but just don’t forget to shake it out in case you find yourself sleeping with a creepy crawly or two…
* Start seeking out the perfect journals for the kids to keep scrapbooks of their Summer vacations. Stash them away until the first day of the school holidays.
* Trace the shape of your trays on to floral spinkled oilcloth, then cut out with pinking shears for the easiest method of lining trays, so they are protected from wobbly hand syndrome as you make you way up the garden with a jug full of orange juice clanking with ice.
* Download the iPhone Garage Sales Tracker app and be in the know about every garage/yard sale within a 50 mile radius. Ah for a glorious summer of treasure hunting…
* On barefooted summer days, place a bowlful of soapy Tea-Tree water and a towel by the back door and insist on a quick foot wash before little people tread grass, grit and soil through your precious house…
* Spend an afternoon in the kitchen filling the fridge with jars of Summer Pesto for crostini, salad dressings and pizza. Ring the changes from basil by replacing it in the most basic of pesto recipes (ie: basil, olive oil, pine nuts/walnuts, lemon juice, parmesan and seasoning) with watercress, aparagus, spinach parsley or Kale. Store in airtight, small jars and it will keep for up to three weeks in the fridge and longer if decanted into bags and frozen.
* Mix powdered paint with milk and paint terracotta pots in the softest of pastel colors to add a little color to the garden. Varnish to seal or leave and allow to gently fade away the first time it rains so you end up with the merest hint of distressed color.
* Stitch straight lines up the pocket of a pinny to create compartments in which to carry all manner of mealtime/gardening essentials up and down the garden.
* Create a little programme of vintage domestic skills for your kids throughout the holidays and have them earn Martha Merit Badges…
* Soak a length of string in Eucalyptus oil and wrap gently around the stems of plants harassed by slugs and snails.
* Mix white vinegar with water in a small spray bottle and pop it inside a vintage tin with a few microfiber cloths . Stash near your garden table and chairs for the impromptu wiping of the kind of sticky spills liable to bring the local ant population storming your way!