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Saturday 30 April 2016

I Love Scandiland! Upcycling #1 - The Booze Cabinet!

You may have noticed from my Blog Profile that I love anything Scandinavian.
Scandiland pervades my every day.  Seemingly without any conscious effort on my part.

Scandinavian-style décor has become popular over the years.  It comes as no surprise then, that if I give it some thought, it has influenced the way I decorate the home.

The Scaninavians, and particularly the Swedes, are keen on painting furniture.  Why?
Well, 1) I guess it stems from wanting to lighten up dark homes during long winters. 

2)  a desire to personalise and pretty-up things around the house.

  And 3), in more frugal times, painting would have been used to re-use old items of furniture.

Swedish painted furniture---techniques:

(bing images)

I have been a fan of 3) for most of my adult life.  These days, it has its own trendy name, upcycling! It's an individual, economical and environmentally-positive approach to furnishing a home.  In my view.

We recently switched from an older house deep in the country to a new-build townhouse.  During the transition some of the old house's furniture was disposed of.  Some pieces came along for the ride in the removal van.  They were a disparate mix of woods. 

Now, I consider myself to be a loyal person.  To people.  To objects. 
So, I couldn't bear to dispatch this mismatch of furniture to the charity shop, for it had been (and still is) much-loved.

With brush and paintpot in hand, I've gone through some of the rooms in the townhouse and have, in my view, brought some cohesion to the spaces.  In some rooms I've
committed to a colour, in some rooms I'm still sitting on the fence, so have either done nothing or have given the furniture a "holding colour" (a.k.a. white!).

I'd like to kick off this series by showing you perhaps the most vital piece of furniture in the house.  The Booze Cabinet!  The little workhorse that houses the essential Tanqueray gin, single malt whisky of the week, a bottle of Madeira for Cousin TC, liqueurs and a stashette of wine.

This was how it looked when it came in from the countryside.

All pine.  And empty!

And this is how it looks today

Spodged not with Annie Sloan chalkpaint.  Not with Farrow and Ball.  
But with Dulux Trade Eggshell, White.  Simples.  It's The Business!

As I'm not a huge fan of the shabbier side of upcycling, I chose to keep bare the areas that would take a pounding, to avoid unsightly chips.  Those being the top surface, drawer knob and bottle cubby holes (also, the cubby holes would have been laboriously difficult to paint - I did tell you I was a lazy person, eh!)

The Pout's Upcycling Tips

1. Create  a link.  When upcycling disparate pieces in a room, it's more aesthetically pleasing to bring some common link to them.  In this room, I've created a link by keeping the top surfaces and drawer knobs bare.  I think that's done the trick.

2. Make it easy on yourself.  Not my words, but those of  the legendary Walker Brothers.  
I heed their words.  In life.  In painting.  
I  just love paint that you can just splodge on to bare wood.  Fin.  None of that palaver of sanding down, then applying knotting liquid, primer. undercoat, wax coating ... oh, I feel exhausted at just the thought of all that effort!
Use this single-app Dulux Trade paint, or similar.  I gave this cabinet a second coat, but it didn't strictly need it. 
It's the way to go!.

And there you have it, our first little Home Décor Workshop session together. 
Hope you enjoyed it and will join me again soon.
Together we will Paint The House White :-)

Do you have any upcycling tips or roaring successes to share?

A la perchoine.

Kissing Pout 1.jpg

Friday 29 April 2016

The Perfect Spring Jacket - The Hunt Is On!

Yes, indeedy, the hunt is on for The Perfect Spring Jacket. 
But I don't know if it exists.

Actually, I don't believe my needs can be fulfilled in one jacket alone.  I need a casual utility style with lots of pockets and a smarter jacket that looks equally good with jeans and summer dresses.  Also useful would be a patterned, lighter drapey sort of wrap-ey thing that can be rolled up and shoved in a bag.

So, it seems like I've identified my needs.
But being a buxom lass I have to be careful with jackets to avoid that dreaded sergeant major look.  That means steering clear of masculine-style jackets.  And boxy jackets aren't good for my body shape either, in them I look ... errr, a box-like!
Softer, drapey jackets hang better on a larger lady but are limiting.

This is what I've tracked down so far.

At the smarter end ...

I love this M&S jacket but its sold out so I need to source something similar.

An HM pink jacket might work well, but I have something similar from River Island so that's on back burner.

Straddling smart and casual ...

This  H&M jacket straddles, so is the sensible option if I'm going for just the one jacket.

More casual ...

These from H&M look like they'd work well with jeans and chinos.

And casual ...

Now, a practical Next utility jacket is probably what I would wear most, through summer and the shoulder months. 

And as my Sleeper has had so much use, maybe this Next shirt-style utility jacket would work for the life I lead.
I love the look with that skirt, but oh! - my knees would look awful in this length :-(.

More from Next.  Shorts? You did see what a panic I just got in above at just the thought of exposing my knees!!!  My legs were last paired with denim shorts in Greece, 1971 ...
The warmer jacket is just what I needed these past few cold Spring days!


I have something similar to this, from Cotton Traders.  It's on the masculine side of jackets so doesn't quite work for my body shape.

So, let's recap, what have I achieved so far?

Needs assessment. Done.
Research. Done.
Analysis.  Done.
Puchases.  TBD.

TBD.  Hmmmm.  Decision time.  But, I am a procrastinator and during my hunt I have noted that things are selling out.  Fast.
I need to move, con prisa!
So if you can help me make some quick decisions, I'll be a happy bunny.

A la perchoine. 

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Cousin Carol's Cheeseless Cheesecake

What is happening to the weather?  Look outside my turret window!

As I type, snow is falling.  Again!  
We're having a cold snap. It's pretty much the end of April. 
The Weather Man just isn't getting the memos. It. Is. Spring.

So what does a pensioner do on days like this?
She bakes!  Or rather, she non-bakes.  For this tasty treat requires no baking.

Some don't like cheese.  Like my Bro.  With this recipe, cheese-haters can have their cheesecake and eat it too - without the cheese.

Do you fancy making yummy "cheesecake"?  Here's what you do.

Cousin Carol's Cheeseless Cheesecake
How about that for an alliteration?!!

For the base:
Crush 1.5 packs of biscuits.  Cousin Carol uses Foxes butter crunch but you could use ginger or chocolate biscuits.  Mix in with 2-3 oz. of melted butter.  Spread on the base of a springform cake tin.

 For the topping:
1 tin condensed milk
1 pot of extra thick cream.  Not double cream, it needs to be the extra thick variety as stated on the label and the ratio needs to be about 50/50 so use a tub of similar size to the tin of milk.
The juice of 3 lemons*
Garnish with fruit (and cream), if desired**. 

Lightly whisk the cream and milk together, then add the lemon juice - the lemon juice thickens the mixture.
Chill for a few hours before serving.

Variation: use a 2 to 1 mix of ordinary double cream and creme fraiche instead of the thicker cream, substitute lime for lemon juice,mix lime zest with the topping and a little finely sliced rind for decoration. 
Cut the empty lime shell halves in fours, place on a zipper plastic bag in the freezer for your G and Ts :o).

*you can grate/zest the lemon rind, store it in an airtight container and use later. Or sliced scruffily for your G+T :-).

**Oops, you caught me out!
A few raspberries leapt onto the plate.  And a dollop of cream too. I'd better add those to the recipe!

And on a snowy Spring day (surely that's tantamount to an oxymoron!), why not light a candle to accompany this little plate of naughtiness and 
enjoy some "hygge", some cosiness.


BTW, I've not posted OOTDs for a few days.  I've been keeping warm in thick layers!  And I'm busy trying to source the perfect casual jacket for Spring (if ever that comes).  So, plenty of time to hunt around, then ...

Have you come across a super-versatile lightweight jacket, that goes with just about everything?  If so, please let me know!

A la perchoine.
 Kissing Pout 1.jpg

Join Me On Safari!

We've just returned from a wonderful holiday at Center Parcs in Longleat Forest.

During our trip there we visited Longleat House and Safari Park, which is a stone's throw from Center Parcs.  Ideal!

It was the first UK stately home to be opened to the public, in 1949.

The house was completed by 1580 and is now home to the 7th Marquess of Bath. 

The house is set in 900 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown designed landscape.

The interior of the house is just as fabulous as the exterior!

Each room has a different but equally magnificent ceiling.

The dining rooms are laid ready for dinner.

The house has amazing bedrooms.  And a maze.  (see what I did there?!).

Various family groups live in upstairs apartments.  The house caters for weddings and events and property can be rented - what an experience that must be!

But Longleat is probably best known for its Safari Park, which opened 50 years ago this year, with the park's biggest pull being The Lions of Longleat.
Now, I do not like to see caged animals.  It makes me very sad.   But here the animals roam free and endangered species have the opportunity to breed.


Naturally, there's security around the areas where these Big Boys run around!
Some looked like they longed to eat me (see what I did there too?!!)

I think my faves were the giraffes, so beautiful, so elegant, like cat-walk models of yore.
And being Spring (in the animal kingdom, not ours - brrr!) there were lots of newly-borns to drool over, like baby camels and giraffes.

The cheeky monkies roam freely on to the visitor's cars and can sometimes cause damage, running off with their spoils - windscreen wipers and hubcaps!

A la perchoine.

Tuesday 26 April 2016

My Spring Break

Hi dearies, it's me, reporting in after a wonderful family holiday with Son's family and his MIL. 
We holidayed  at Center Parcs in Longleat Forest in Wiltshire.
It was our first time on one of these family activity holidays. 
It did not disappoint.  It was A M A Z I N G.

It's set in a peaceful mainly pine forest.  The centre is so well-organised and the staff are uber friendly, helpful, courteous and good at what they do. And they all look so happy as they go about their duties.. You see smiling cleaners cruising between jobs on bikes equipped with baskets for the cleaning stuff.

What a happy place, to visit and to work in!

There were activities for every age and every level of fitness.
The water activities were such fun.  I loved splashing around with the grandkiddies.

We went boating with the grandkiddies.

 But we didn't try this!

There was a good selection of restaurants to eat in.  And some naughtiness to enjoy ... Daim bar cake! Can it get any better?

The self-catering accomodation was very good, so well-equipped and comfortable.  The lodges were dotted around the forest, not grouped together, so you felt like you had your own secluded space.  And though the centre was chocka and the Plaza and activity areas were busy, " at home" if felt so quiet and peaceful..

Making a much-needed coffee on arrival after our 5 hour drive.

All in all, it was a great experience and a wonderful family holiday.  We all had such a good time. 
I hope I behaved myself well enough to be invited on another family holiday very soon!

The trip started with Next slim jeans, "Primani" stripey top and M&S scarf and boots.

With my old faithful travel companion, the small Tula shoulder bag.

 And I soon changed into waterproofs and thicker layers, like this M&S fisherman's sweater.  Because it got very cold.  Definitely dressing for warm and not style!

The weather was bitterly cold and when the drizzle stopped after Day 1, the sun shone but the air just got colder and colder.  And cold it has remained since we got back.  So much so that I've just looked out my the window and it's snowing
OK just a light shower, but it's still snow in April.  Springtime!  Weather this winter has been all over the place.   It has been milder than normal but very wet and very windy.  And now we are having temperatures colder than we've had all season.

But, enough of the weather.  Because, look at the drama we had at the end of the holiday.

The car broke down!
The AA were fantastic. Our drama was ameliorated by their smooth, slick service and their friendly staff.
We enjoyed the trip back from Wiltshire to Sussex in the front of the van.  What an adventure!  And once the car was dropped off at the local garage, our bags were loaded into the van and we were dropped off home. 
Pretty good service, eh?  Door to door.

And now my dearies, I'm leaving you and my turret.  I'm off to warm my hands around a cup of hot coffee!

Have you been on a Center Parcs holiday?
Are you enjoying spring weather where you are?
Or is the weather all over the place where you are too?

A la perchoine.