Sunday, 29 May 2016

Vintage Treasures and Rhubarb Cake

Almost the end of May......another bank holiday .........the white lilac in my garden has bloomed already, the azaleas and rhodedendrons are at their very best, the apple blossom has been and gone as have the bluebells.

All is lush, verdant, green growth in the greenhouse and vegetable plot although my climbing french beans and runner beans are madly twining around each other as I haven't yet got around to putting them in - hopefully today or tomorrow. The tomato plants are flowering and now need feeding, that too needs to be done, and the courgettes need potting on into large pots as there won't be room in the raised beds for them. The potatoes have been earthed up once new to growing them in the soil so be interesting to see how they fare.

Geraniums bought as small plants desperately need planting out and as usual I have failed to put in the sweetpeas which I bought in and are, like the beans, starting to twine their tender tendrils around each other. I only hope its all not too late, but in my garden things take a chance and hopefully they will all rally once in their proper beds and pots.

May has flown by!

Introducing a friend to a charity warehouse this week, I just couldn't come away without these vintage treasures. 

Woods 30's with the cream and green edge, the idyllic cottage garden scene with delphiniums and picket fence, the tudor house and red tiled roof, the blossom in colours so evocative of that era......they are all slightly crackle glazed with age and totally charming.

jelly moulds and patisserie tins.....

not really sure what the little silvered effect fluted tins would have originally been 
used for ( any guesses ??? ) but they make perfect tealight holders with their faintly tarnished edges!

.......pretty little toast rack

and a sweet old crazed oriental blue and white idea how old this is but it caught my eye

The other day I visited the Decorative Living Fair at Eridge, near Tunbridge Wells in Kent, which is full of beautiful country French style antiques, textiles and painted furniture etc....real eye candy, and I picked up this practical vintage blue and white enamel colander.

Our rhubarb has been a bit pathetic this year as it was dug up and dumped in pots whilst my raised beds were being built last spring, and there they sat sulking and miserable all winter until I re-planted the crowns after dividing this spring.

I left them to recover but did pick a few bits last week and turned them into a cake as there wasn't enough for even a crumble without adding some other fruit.

I couldnt be bothered to spend hours searching my cookery books for the rhubarb cake recipe that I know is there in one of them so just took the classic cake mix and made it up as I went.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

6oz self raising flour
6 oz sugar ( I used 3 oz dark brown sugar, 1 oz light brown sugar, 2 oz caster sugar )
6 oz softened butter
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Quantity of washed and chopped rhubarb, enough to generously cover the base of a deep 8" (20cm) cake tin once gently cooked with a little water and sugar to taste until tender and sticky - cook off the water until left with a sticky syrup
 1 tsp or so ginger powder to sprinkle later - see below
Cook rhubarb as above and pre-heat oven to about 170 C fan
Grease and baseline a deep cake tin

Place all the cake batter ingredients into large bowl and mix with a stand mixer, hand mixer or wooden spoon until cake batter is smooth, creamy and light.

Place cooked rhubarb on base of lined tin
Sprinkle with ginger powder to taste
Pour over cake batter spreading evenly

Bake for 45 mins or until skewer comes out clean.
Cool in tin for about 10 mins then, gently easing edges away from tin with a spatula first, invert onto plate and leave to cool further, if you can resist!

You could add ginger to the cake batter too of course.

It is good on its own, or you could eat it as a dessert with a dollop of greek yoghurt, marscapone, cream or icecream!

The cake mix was lovely and light and moist on the first day, but as it contained fruit I thought it best kept in the fridge where it became firmer and heavier. 

My lovely blogging friend Mary, who has been with me on this blogging journey from the start, talented teacher and writer of a great US food blog Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes asked for the recipe so Mary, here it is, shared as requested! 

On the subject of the US, after sending one of my cushions across the pond last week, a few more are now heading off to Texas.

A pretty vintage blue floral linen with denim linen reverse, smoky blue ticking, and antique French ticking cushions are all finding a new home.

The same lovely customer also wants a chicken scratch embroidered cushion similar to one I sold a while back, so I shall be busy stitching that this weekend too.

These photos were taken at the time and I obviously enjoyed stitching these al fresco! 
Might well do the same this time as the sun is shining as I type!

I've started a new page on my blog here, Painted Furniture, (see top of the post under the banner for page) to bring together pieces of furniture I have painted recently.  

As I get lots of hits daily to visit my most popular post Hints on Painting Furniture, which I first published back in 2011, and I have used different paints and techniques since, I thought this may be helpful for those visitors or for anyone new to painting furniture.

It is currently being written so is far from complete, but here's a taster of what will be there.

This is a solid old oak wheel back chair that had seen better days ( bought for under £20 at a charity shop) and which I thought would look great painted.

Hating sanding and preparation, I tend to use chalk paint these days and I  mixed my own colour using Annie Sloan Chalk Paints - a bit of duck egg blue, Paris Grey and Original.


That's enough for now!

Thanks for visiting me here, I hope you all have a great Bank Holiday weekend and some sunshine, wherever you are!

Friday, 20 May 2016

May blooms, vintage finds and painted furniture

Snippets of May so far.....

walks - bluebells in Kent

charity shop find - vintage bone china tea set

charity shop find -vintage pyrex

charity shop find -vintage basket

apple blossom in Kent

tulips in my garden

out and about - tulips at Pashley Manor, Ticehurst, Kent

black swan and views of Pashley Manor and gardens

charity shop find - vintage triple mirror from charity shop for £6!

This find really pleased me as I've been keeping a look out for a reasonably priced vintage mirror for a while now to go with my vintage dressing table. This was salvaged from a friends back garden a few years ago where it was waiting to be taken to the dump. Apart from the top which had warped in the rain, the rest was in good condition and my kind husband replaced the top, then I painted it and gave it some new handles.

The vintage stool came from a junk shop for under £10. The vintage lamp with original silk shade was a couple of pounds from a charity shop.

It was my Birthday earlier this month,  and my daughter gave me a beautiful bouquet of pink and green flowers which are still hanging in there even though the roses are now past their best.

My lovely friend Jane gave me this stunning Calla lily which I have manage to keep alive so far...I don't have the best of reputations for keeping indoor plants alive although I am much better at growing seeds for flowers and veggies - the greenhouse is thriving at the moment, full of seedlings waiting to be potted on and out, and there is a lot of work to be done, and being done, in the vegetable garden. The runner bean and climbing bean plants are climbing all over the place and must be put in this weekend!

I've been busy painting this last week or so....I picked up a few nice pieces from the charity warehouse a while back that I've only just had time to paint.

I've used Annie Sloan Duck Egg Blue Chalk Paint for all the pieces and its a gorgeous colour. As usual, I've lightly distressed the larger pieces after painting them, then used clear wax to finish. 

I love the rich sheen the Annie Sloan Clear Wax gives after a good buff once its been left for a good few hours to dry. I usually leave it overnight or a good half day to be sure.

First I transformed a lovely tapestry fire screen that was looking dated with a tatty brown wood frame.


and after.

Then the lovely shaped table above was transformed ( the top was marked despite it looking good from the photo) .......

a tatty picture frame with a beautiful silk painting was smartened up 


and a vintage mirror updated.

Thankyou all for visiting me here and for your comments on my last post. I really appreciate your comments, its lovely to hear from you!

Have a great weekend wherever you are and whatever the weather!