Monday, 20 June 2011

A Cooks Tour


I keep meaning to write a post about my 50s kitchen - we still have all the original hard wood cupboard units, with leaded glass wall cabinets, that were built when the house was built in the early 1950s.

We also have the original 1950s rayburn solid fuel stove, and in the utilty room there is an old butlers sink with 1950s leaded glass cupboard above with glass storage holders.

 The larder is also luckily still here, complete with shelves, mesh window and old roller towel holder on the back of the door - we are so grateful that the people who owned the house before us did not rip out and replace all these lovely old cupboards and larder, as the majority of people have done.

Here's just a taster, mainly from this morning as I was playing around trying to get some better pictures out of this poor old camera!

Posy from the garden

red geraniums from Mr Italian

mantlepiece above Rayburn

old 1950s solid fuel rayburn - we had this going constantly during both lots of snow last winter, and cooked all sorts of meals in and on it. It made the kitchen as warm as toast! As it runs on logs and coal, it is not the type of stove to keep on throughout the year - but come the autumn..........

sweet biscuit cannister bought for 50p at the last boot fair - it belonged to the stall holders Mother, who had received a matching set of tins as a wedding gift, so she reckoned they must be from the 50s - sadly she had already sold the rest.

Above the sideboard is one of four large canvases I own by artist Gilli Austin, a very talented artist who paints amazing pop art style large canvases and smaller works.

I also have Summer Solstice, Where's the Money in Art (shown below) ,and a fourth which isn't shown on this website (click on her name above to view some of her work).

One day I will do a post on my growing art collection, and on how I aquired these paintings (perfectly legal I assure you, and direct from the lovely lady who painted them!) and for how much - my best bargains yet!

Clutter corner -Yikes that surface needs a tidy!
Amazing corner cupboards with swivel shelves inside that spin round - Magnet, theres nothing new!

leaded glass cupboards - have painted the inside back and shelves of the double cupboard candy pink! As usual, the job is half done and the smaller cupboard is still waiting to be painted!

The three drawers to the left of the sink unit (that you can only see two of) have narrow metal poles side by side instead of a solid drawer base, for storing your vegetables - any dirt or dust falls through and the air can circulate around your veg.

The makers label - Nevastane of London who made kitchens during the 50s

In the rather fuzzy photo above, you can just about see a wooden strip - there is a little button underneath, that if you press it releases a cutting or chopping board - we were amazed at all these clever features incorporated into a kitchen built 60 years ago.

There would have also been one in the sink unit (see picture before, right hand side) but the board is missing

Utility cupboard with thick glass containers below - sadly one is missing, but I shall keep my eyes open for one

Hope you enjoyed the quick kitchen tour!

At some point I hope to paint the cupboards in the kitchen as they are a rather sad steel grey that I am not very keen on. The cupbards above in the utility are a strong blue green - again I will probably change the colour at some point.

But as it is such a well made and unique character kitchen, we have no plans to replace it for a new modern kitchen.

Hope you had a great weekend!

A surprisingly fine Apple Pie

That is how author Simon Hopkinson describes the pie in his cookery book "Week In Week Out" and if you take a little time to follow his recipe you will find he is not mistaken!

I baked this at the weekend for our sunday lunch guests, and all agreed it was the finest apple pie we had tasted - thank you Simon Hopkinson!

(please note - I have somewhat condensed his instructions for simplicity and to reflect what I did in practice)


800 - 900g Bramley Apples (2 very large ones)
5 cloves (I omitted these as none of us like them)
juice of 1 small lemon
175g golden caster sugar (25g of which will be sprinkled on top)
1 tbsp milk
375 g ready made puff pastry *
a little milk for brushing pastry
a little butter for greasing tin

Grease a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin. (NB: I used a 22cm tin and used 500g pastry instead). Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.
Peel, core and then slice off small pieces of apple into a large bowl containing 150g of the sugar and lemon juice (I made mine small irregular shaped chunks rather than slices about 1" big, and they cooked beautifully soft without going to mush). Stir regularly as you slice to stop the apples turning brown.
Mix well then stir in the cornflour. Add cloves if using.
Roll out 2/3rds of the pastry to line the tin, allowing it to spill over the top - press pastry gently round inside bottom of tin so it lies flat.
Tip in the apples and lightly press down.
Brush a little milk around the pastry top edge.
Roll out remaining pastry a little more thinly than the base, and drape over pie, lightly pressing the two pastry edges together. Cut flush to top of tin all the way round, then knock up the pastry edges to from a crinkled edge.
Brush top of pie with milk, sprinkle over the remaining 25g golden sugar, and make a few incisions in the centre of the pastry lid to let out the steam.
Place on a baking sheet or tray and bake for 20 mins, then reduce temperature to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and bake for a further 35 to 45 mins - pie crust should be "well-stippled with semi-caramelised sugar crystals".
Leave to cool to luke-warm before un-moulding, then serve with your favourite cream, vanilla ice-cream, or custard!

We had extra thick double cream with ours, but single cream or marscapone or anything would have been wonderful with this yummy apple pie.


Well, I had no time at all this weekend in my sewing room, but when I've finished this post I hope to get in there for an hour or two.

I thought I'd introduce a bit of gritty realism here and show you where I create - I have seen many blogs where people show these wonderfully large airy TIDY work spaces, which are to me but a dream.

My reality is somewhat less picturesque, cramped in the smallest room of the house under the eaves (yes, smaller than the bathrooms even!) and although I do periodically blitz and organise, I would usually rather being making than tidying - as long as I can lay my hands on that one elusive piece of fabric or trim that I know I  have somewhere, then that's good enough for me - and when I can't, I know its time for a tidy.

There are several things I'm working on at the moment - this is one of them.

Usual blurry picture (new camera please!!!!!!) but it will be an apron (either peg or cooks apron) when finished, one of several made from vintage linen.

Well, I'm off to fight my way into the sewing room, alone - Logan now prefers to stay out of the way on the chair on the landing as he finds he is always in the way when I move from sewing machine to cutting/ironing area!

From this vantage point he can see when I move out of the room and be ready to jump down and follow instantly.

My lovely faithful little hound - on my lap asleep as I type!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Another Journal and a rainbow

I have just finished making another journal or notebook cover which I thought you might like to see.  

You will have to read the post before this one I'm afraid, if this is to make any sense to you!

Once again, sorry about the poor quality photos

And it is this sort of French red embroidered monogram that is inspiring me particularly at the moment

my hand embroidered letters on the Peg Apron shown in last post

and will feature in more of my designs in the next few weeks I hope.

Here is the latest journal cover

made from vintage floral linen and lined in faded red and cream homespun

with a blue and white gingham ribbon bookmark finished with a vintage tassel.

As I type this post, the heavens have just opened and a rainbow appeared, together with a mirror rainbow. This poor camera just about managed to capture it. It is of course is far more colourful and clear than this wretched camera can show.

Time to cook!

Have a great evening everyone!

A few things you didn't know............and some sewing

Thank you all for your wonderful comments on my last post!

They made me a happy blogger!

Have been busy the last few days with sewing. Partly getting ready for the giveaway, and partly working out some new things that I am making that I hope to put in my blogshop and in an Etsy or Folksy shop, and eventually on my website. I may start doing a few fairs again later in the year too.

This new "range" will have a lot more hand embroidery and use of vintage fabrics and has a definite French influence to it.

Hand embroidered Peg Apron made from vintage linens

If you read my last post you will know that I have been fortunate in being awarded a couple of Blog Awards recently, and  a part of accepting awards is to reveal a few things about yourself that others might not know. I have elected to avoid this in my last few awards, but felt that in the spirit of things I should have another go!


So here we go.........

My first "job" at the age of 15/16 was working in a theatre, firstly as an usherette selling programmes and ice-creams, and later as a spot light operator for pantomimes, plays etc! I had to follow the script with the lighting cues marked on it, wearing headphones ready to be cued! It was great fun!
I once sat next to Adam Faith in this theatre during a show - he was near the end of the back row, and we were allowed to sit down there during the show - I didn't realise until after I'd sat down, then I thought he looked familiar but wasn't sure it was him until someone confirmed it later!

I bumped into Freddie Mercury (literally!) backstage at the same theatre. No mistaking him! Boy he was tall and thin!

I very rarely watch TV - its usually on in the background in the evenings as Mr G likes to watch (fall asleep to) all those gory forensic cop programmes that seem to be on all evening every evening, but if I'm in the room I will either be sewing, reading, crocheting and listening to some classical music whilst he has the headphones on so I cannot hear the TV, and without my glasses I cannot see it either!

I went to my first pop concert in London at the age of 14, wearing a black crepe dress with long wide sleeves, bought for a few pence from a jumble sale then adapted, black nail varnish and heavy make-up - it was to see Black Sabbath!!!! How my mother let me go I'll never know (although it was in the company of my elder brother and his friends!).

I used to work opposite Madame Tussauds and the Planetarium for several years, yet I never visited them until years later!
I worked as a Surveyor just off Oxford Street for a year whilst doing a degree in Estate Management, but graduated during the property crash, couldn't get a job and ended up training as a Chartered Accountant (Public Sector) instead of a Chartered Surveyor which is what I set out to be!
I took my final Accountancy exams incuding writing a 10,000 word thesis and giving a presentation on it, whilst 6 months pregnant! Not much fun!


I used to make and sell handmade silk underwear (camisoles and french knickers and petticoats,  made with french seams and trimmed with lace) whilst working full time, only in a small way but they were quite popular, and I supplied a small shop for a while. This was before the days of M & S silk underwear, when it was hard to find!


Gardening is in my blood - both my maternal Grandfather and my Great Grandfather were both gardeners by trade, and both worked at Chartwell, Winston Churchill's home - my Great Grandfather was Head Gardener there when Churchill bought the house, and stayed on working for Churchill for a year or two before he retired - during this time my Great Grandfather, my Grandfather and my Great Uncle all worked there together, and they lived in the gardeners cottage on the estate.


I think that's enough revealing for now!

Oh. Except I was just going to reveal a little glimpse of something else I've been making, but the photos are so poor with this old camera, so apologies for the bad photos - am hoping to get a new camera soon.
(our digital cameras were stolen when we were burgled earlier this year and I have been borrowing one for the last few months, but now thats gone back to my very kind sister- in- law)

It is a journal cover, with journal included, made from a vintage french style faded red and natural striped cotton fabric, lined with cream cotton, with East of India ribbon on the front and an East of India ribbon bookmark with a vintage tassle.

The top picture in this post shows a Peg Apron, made from vintage natural linen and vintage floral linen,with a scrap of very old tablelinen hand embroidered with the word "Pegs" in scarlet thread. There is a white cotton tape hook to hang up the apron when not in use.

I shall also be making Gardening Aprons and more Peg Aprons.

Watch this space for the Giveaway announcement - you have been given a few clues here as to what it might be!

I shall also be announcing soon the blogs to whom I shall pass on the awards - so sorry to be dragging this out over several posts but, as you all know, it is time consuming especially when there are so many other things to be doing!!!

Thank you for visiting me here, and for all your lovely comments, and if I haven't visited you in a little while I do apologise,  I shall be over very soon!

Have a great day!

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