Country Traditions

December 9, 2010

How to make fragrant, delicious Christmas gifts – Telegraph

Filed under: decorating, farming, gardening, herbs — Tags: — dmacc502 @ 6:44 pm

Colourful potpourri - How to make fragrant, delicious Christmas gifts

Image 1 of 3
Colourful potpourri is sure to delight any friend over Christmas Photo: TONY BUCKINGHAM

As the pantechnicons start to gather in the drive, ready to transport our worldly goods from Suffolk to Whitstable, thoughts of additional ballast in the form of received Christmas presents suggest that my wish list should be composed of edible offerings.

 

Presents from the garden are always welcome. From harvest time onwards, we gardeners are rarely seen without gifts of jars of chutney, bags of apples, bottles of home-brewed plonk or surplus veg.

During the season, beekeeping friends travel with a jar or two of honey and I always sally forth smugly with a box of eggs. With a little thought and flair with packaging, your presents will always be appreciated.

via How to make fragrant, delicious Christmas gifts – Telegraph.

November 16, 2010

How to make soap | Life and style | guardian.co.uk

Filed under: decorating, farming, recipes, soap making, Vinegar, wisdom — Tags: — dmacc502 @ 8:19 am
Handmade soaps sold at Hyères, France

Image via Wikipedia

“Never put vinegar in your eyes and remember, the quickest way to kill someone is through the optic nerve straight to the brain,” Sharon Homans warns.

Whoa. I’m glad I’ve come on a soap-making course: I’ve always been interested in the idea of making soap, but nervous about handling the ingredients. But the dangers posed by household vinegar hadn’t even crossed my mind (soapmakers keep a bottle of vinegar handy to neutralise alkaline burns from the lye).

Some of my 25 fellow students have travelled to London from far-flung parts of the UK. The man on the door tells me people have flown in from Japan and Brazil before. The course is led by Melinda Coss, who is something of a grande dame in the soap world. She advises numerous cosmetics companies, and products devised by her are sold in Harrods as well as in the high street chain Lush.

via How to make soap | Life and style | guardian.co.uk.

via How to make soap | Life and style | guardian.co.uk.

November 2, 2010

Sauces, Salad Dressings: Herb Vinegar Recipe

Filed under: decorating, family, farming, gardening, herbs, recipes, Vinegar — Tags: , , , , , — dmacc502 @ 1:13 pm
Vinegar is commonly infused with spices or her...

Image via Wikipedia

One of the simplest recipes for using herbs is this 19th-century hint for making flavored vinegar: Pour plain vinegar over herbs in a bottle and let it sit for a month in the sun. What could be easier?

See more about homemade vinegars in our “Great Gifts from the Kitchen” article.

1 cup fresh herbs (basil, tarragon or thyme, for example)

1 quart vinegar

Place herbs in a clean quart jar. Heat vinegar just to the boiling point and pour it over the herbs, filling the jar to the top. Seal and store in a cool, dark place for at least three weeks for the fullest flavor. Strain the vinegar into 2 pint bottles and add a fresh sprig of the herb. (Use decorative bottles if you’re planning to give these as gifts.)

You can use a single herb in plain white vinegar, or try a medley of herbs in other vinegars. Here are a few suggestions to get you started, but feel free to experiment and invent your own blends:

–white vinegar with tarragon leaves, basil leaves, and peeled shallots

–sherry vinegar with fresh rosemary leaves, minced horseradish, or chopped dried chilies

red wine vinegar with sage, parsley, and shallots

via Sauces, Salad Dressings: Herb Vinegar Recipe.

via Sauces, Salad Dressings: Herb Vinegar Recipe.

October 30, 2010

Interiors: Get the distressed look | Life and style | The Guardian

Filed under: decorating, farming, furniture, painting, weather, wisdom — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 8:44 pm
Antique French Bamboo washtand - black pink an...

Image by frenchfinds.co.uk via Flickr

Interiors: Get the distressed look | Life and style | The Guardian.

via Interiors: Get the distressed look | Life and style | The Guardian.

Style tips for the distressed home

1 Avoid the overly ornate. A curling French bed looks great in a sparse room with white painted floorboards, but straight-edged, blocky shapes work better under distressed paint as there’s less to distract the eye.

2 Colder, neutral tones work best – from dark to pale grey to blue-whites. Avoid creamy and yellow tones that will tip you towards Scotts of Stowterritory. If you’re brave and have an artistic eye, experiment with strong colours such as turquoise (très Provençal) or pea green (rather Bloomsbury set). But be warned – most of us don’t have an eye. For a safer strong colour, dark grey is always a winner – check out Downpipefrom Farrow & Ball.

3 Pay attention to handles – anything shiny or attention-seeking is out. Safest is to paint-in round wooden handles, which makes them disappear: the distressed ethos is about quiet elegance, not shouty dingly-dangly bits. Another alternative are half-moon handles, which are often sold in an aged patina.

4 Be inspired. If you’re commissioning built-in distressed furniture, collect pictures of the desired look to show your carpenter. Think about structure first. If you want blocky, Shaker styling, draw up trad panel doors. Bevelling, or perhaps mirror panels, on bedroom wardrobes? Colour and the level of distressing comes later.

5 Never underestimate the importance of the tester pot.

The basic technique

1 Remove all handles and other hardware.

2 Sand the piece thoroughly – boring, yes, but vital to the finished product. Don’t lose interest yet.

3 Apply a coat of primer. White is fine, but if you want to vary the look, use a toning undercoat (grey under white, say), which will show through at the distressing stage.

4 Apply two thin coats of matt eggshell. The more matt, the better. Farrow & Ball has a woodwork paint called Dead Flat. Say no more.

5 Once dry, sand it down again to expose tasteful glints of raw wood or primer. Go hard on edges, crevices and curves for that beaten-up look.

6 Wipe it all clean, then coat with a wax paste to seal the deal.

Make it age, and fast…

1 Cheap picture frames can be instantly antiqued using Rub ‘n Buff (in silver leaf or pewter) – try Amazon and online craft sites. Dab a small amount along the raised ridges for that Miss Havisham glint.

2 To age a modern mirror, brush flecks of grey paint into the corners where it meets the frame, especially if there are cracks or indentations. But do this sparingly and carefully. “It’s quite a delicate job,” warns interior designer Gill Richardson.

3 Painted floorboards scuff up all by themselves – as long as you don’t varnish them. Several coats of floor paint is enough to protect boards but malleable enough to scuff quite quickly. For perfection, varnish over the top coat. Lighter shades will age more quickly than dark floors.

4 Don’t forget the garden. Railway sleepers make great raised garden beds. Paint them with live yoghurt and you’ll get a beautiful patina of growing lichen – within hours.

October 18, 2010

Home Accessories: Dish Towels as Curtains

Filed under: decorating, family, wisdom — Tags: , , , , — dmacc502 @ 2:31 pm
A country farmyard of chickens, decorative tea...

Image by Decorative Towels by Cath. via Flickr

Home Accessories: Dish Towels as Curtains

Always a good idea: linen tea towels serving as curtains. They look natural and airy, and we love decorating with things we already own. Here’s a roundup of some recently admired tea towel installations.

Above: Photo via the kitchn.

Above: Photo via Verhext.

Above: Here’s a clever idea for creating a casual window covering: tea towels stitched together to make an airy kitchen curtain (especially if you stick to like-colored towels). Photo by Polly Wreford.

Above: For the less motivated among us; an instant curtain idea (via photographer Simon Brown) involving an impromptu curtain rod, a square of linen (doesn’t even need to be hemmed), and a pack of wooden clothespins

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/home-accessories-dish-towels-as-curtains.html

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