Tuesday, 30 August 2011

~A sign for Time for Tea~

If you see this on Saturday at 2pm you are in the right place...I wanted to make a (poor woman's) Poppy Treffry style sign to welcome guests to my first underground tearoom this weekend.  A mild form of over-planning hysteria has now set in, complicated by the back-to-work/school/college frenzy that hits us all on the 1st September.
Anyway I'm quite pleased with it...

Still have some places left for tea and cake on Saturday if you're in the vicinity of Yorkshire.  My menu is listed here on MsMarmiteLover's supperclub website under Time for Tea @ Lavender Attic. Email or Tweet me if you'd like to attend.  Have bought gorgeous cheese for my menu today from Cryer & Stott's Urban Food Hall here. Yum!

~And the winner is!~

And the winner (chosen out of the teapot by 9 yr old J) is......

Congratulations Jen, please email me on lavenderattic@hotmail.co.uk with your postal address. I'm sure I will do this again soon, and not keep it just for the Bank Holidays. 
Many thanks for all the lovely comments and visits to my blog - I do appreciate it.  x Lavender Attic

Monday, 29 August 2011

~Mini Bunting Giveaway~

Hope you're all having an enjoyable Bank Holiday. I've been pottering a lot this week, no big projects or achievements, just little ones like this mini-bunting. Ideal for a shelf or to decorate a cake stand, hostess trolley,doorway or bedhead...
Made from recycled doilies, vintage linens and Laura Ashley fabric scraps.

If you'd like it,  just leave me a comment below before 10pm tonight and I'll draw the winner out of a hat (or a teapot probably!). I'll post the winner tomorrow morning, and then pop the bunting in the first class post to you!
x Lavender Attic

Saturday, 27 August 2011

~Simple pleasures - bunting~

I don't know about you but our pantry door is opened and closed so much we could do with a revolving one! I spend a lot of time in and out of it, so I thought it deserved to be prettied-up a bit, so while my cake was in the oven I made some mini-bunting from fabric scraps.

 Probably should have done the ironing, but never mind! 

Thursday, 25 August 2011

~St.Gemma's Vintage Fair~

For those of you out there in blog land who love vintage as I do, and live in travelling distance of Leeds, do try and visit the Vintage Fair at St.Gemma's in Moortown, Leeds.  The next event is on Saturday and Sunday 24th & 25th September, both days are open 10-4, entry is by donation.  I've had some good finds here, including vintage evening bags, crystal necklaces, fabric, crockery and a wheely tea trolley for £10 and even been a stallholder (But I prefer mooching, rummaging and buying!)

They're organised by Hayley Avron, Fundraising Assistant at the Hospice and have been running since 2007.
Over to Hayley...
"To start with, we just had a few stallholders and would sell stock from our own charity shops. As time has gone on, our shop managers have become increasingly familiar with the kind of stock that vintage enthusiasts like to see and we've rescued a lot of stock that may otherwise have been buried or (gulp!) given to rag merchants.  Now the Vintage Fairs generally raise between £7,000 and £9,000 per event. We now have around 20 stallholders and two rooms full of our own stock. In 2009, we were awarded with an 'Innovation Award' at the Association of Charity Shops' annual awards.We're always looking for ways to improve the event and keep it fun; in September we will have people displaying some vintage style perambulators (prams!) and someone else doing vintage style nails, hair & make-up."
I can't recommend the event highly enough, and it's in support of such a worthwhile cause. There are usually refreshments including tea and coffee and cupcakes. The 2 rooms that house the Hospice vintage stock are displayed with some real vintage flair and panache with so many lovely treasures to look at. This is where you can find Francesca, the deputy Manager of the Street Lane shop, who helps run the fairs and is always suitably dressed for the occasion.
Fran on the left, with Sandra, a volunteer helper, on the right, assisted by the granddaughter of one of the stallholders, who has been a permanent fixture since the start, Hayley says "she's grown-up with our Vintage Fairs and loves playing dress-up with Fran!"
For further information about the event or being a stallholder (the stalls get booked quickly!) click here or contact Hayley Avron on 0113 218 5570. It's located in the hospice conference centre in Moortown, off the Leeds Ring Road at LS17 6QD.
Hopefully I'll see you all there!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

~Tea Cosy~

I finished sewing up my tea cosy, knitted at the seaside last weekend. I've adapted a pattern from a womens magazine from a certain era; you could see it in my previous seaside blog post. It's almost certainly from the 1950's...ahem, and I quote...
       " Gay for Giving! Knit a handsome present in time for Christmas....tassel trimmed cheerful tea cosy"

Well if you start it today, if you're anything like me, maybe it will be finished for Christmas!

Double knitting wool & No. 8 needles
Cast on 50sts and knit 4 rows.
Work in pattern
Row 1 K
Row 2 K2, * P4, K2 rep from * to end
Rows 3 to 6   Rpt last rows twice more
Row 7    K2,  P to last 2 sts, K2
Rows 8 to 10  Rpt last row 3 times more.
Last 10 rows form the pattern. Rpt til 2nd row of 6th pattern has been worked
Next row K1 *sl.1,  K2tog,  PSSO  rpt from * to last st,  K1. (this makes holes for the drawstring)
Next row K2 tog  9 times
Next row  Knit
Next row K twice into every stitch (front & back)  (this increases the stitches for a frill)
Knit 5 rows then cast off.
Sew it up leaving holes for the spout & handle, I plaited wool to make a drawstring thread, then with a safety pin threaded it through the eyelet holes and pulled it tight. Then I knitted some flowers to decorate the tassels, embellished with wooden buttons. If I could crochet I would have crocheted them; but I can't, so I didn't!!
Let me know how you get on.

~Emily's Tea Party No. 2!~

Emily and her family are now rather good at hosting Vintage Tea Parties in their lovely Yorkshire garden. The last event was for Emily's birthday, but last Sunday's event was in the name of fundraising for the charity Mankind Initiative. Brave Em is also running the 13.1 miles of the Great North Run in September to raise even more money for them. Thanks to Chris Sandiford, the official event photographer for the images he kindly sent me.
Gorgeous cupcakes, vintage china, endless cups of tea... and cake...
Sunny weather, good company, and a raffle with fantastic prizes.  The new summer house was the venue for a book sale.

I had a quiet 5 minutes sit down in here with a gardening magazine and was very envious!

Thanks to Taylors, Walkers and Tetley for supporting Emily, and also her Newcastle friends at Beckleberry's, who always send a delicious cake in support. I am still dreaming about that Marbled Chocolate Truffle Cake!

Monday, 22 August 2011

~Damson Cheese~

I started making fruit cheeses last year; after reading lots of books on preserves and learning more about chutneys, jams, jellies and conserves. Fruit cheese is not cheese at all; it's just the name given to a firm preserve where you cook the fruit first, sieve it, then boil it with sugar.  It sets firmly and you can turn it out to serve it if you wish, and slice or cube it to serve with cheese and biscuits on a cheeseboard. There's nothing better than a pantry shelf lined with jars with jewel-coloured preserves for the depths of winter.

First of all you need your fruit, and for me it's a matter of frugal principle not to buy it. So, if like me, you've only got a limited space to grow fruit and veg and aren't self-sufficient...
  1. get out into the country lanes for elderflowers, blackberries, sloes, rosehips, crab apples etc.
  2. ask friends, family and colleagues if they have any surplus homegrown produce.  Promise them some of your jam or chutney! This year I've had gooseberries, damsons, apples and plums given to me...and I've got tomatoes and sloes coming later.
I've been making damson cheese, which is good with cheese and meat, and also plum cheese with juniper berries, which is good apparently with Brie, and I love it with duck and game too.  It's the same method for any fruit, so experiment. My favourite book is an old Marguerite Patten one from the 1960's.

Rinse the damsons, then place in a large pan with a slug of water (about 100ml) Look at the lovely colour!

...simmer away for about 20 minutes, occasionally stir to prevent burning. They turn into a mushy soup like this....
Careful because it's now very, very hot and you're going to sieve it. I use a wooden spoon to press it firmly through the sieve. The good thing is that all the stones are removed without having to fiddle about. Throw the stones and skins away. Weigh the resulting fruit pulp - for every pound of pulp you add the same weight in granulated sugar. Cook on a low heat until the sugar is dissolved, then a higher heat for approximately 30 mins until setting point is reached. Trust me, you can tell when it's done - it starts to turn gelatinous on the spoon and sides of the pan. Pour into sterilised jam jars. 1lb of pulp makes about 2 jars.

Let me know if you've any ideas on recipe combinations...maybe the addition of port for a Christmas version?

Sunday, 21 August 2011

~Sun, sea, sand and CAKE!~

We had a lovely couple of nights camping at the Yorkshire seaside literally on the edge of the coast with this view...
...of Bridlington bay up to Flamborough head; very pretty at night too with twinkly orange lights and the lighthouse light flashing. We enjoyed the night time view with a tin mug of red wine in hand!
I know you're only supposed to take essentials camping; but I sneaked this into the car...

and knitted a tea cosy sat in the glorious sunshine.  I love this vintage magazine knitting pattern. We ate homemade chocolate brownies and endless mugs of tea. We rushed home on Saturday as L was due to work at 10am, and I had a battenburg to make for my very first Clandestine Cake Club attendance that afternoon which had the theme "I Am What I Ate". I last made a battenburg in 1985 and it turned out rather well, I was pleased - here it is, in all it's kitsch almond glory, and you can also read about it here on the CCC website.

What a fantastic phenomenon the Clandestine Cake Club is - it's the idea of Lynn Hill and I highly recommend it if you like meeting new people with a shared enthusiasm for tea and cake! I tried a Geranium leaf tea that Lynn had brought - I drank it without milk and it was delicious and refreshing. Cake Clubs are popping up all over the UK, so check if there's one near you. Here are some of the cakes; all with different meanings and personal nostalgia for their bakers

Today I had to eat yet more cake (such a hardship)  as Emily and her family were hosting a Vintage Tea Party for their chosen charity - more about this later with some photos. I was introduced to, and can heartily recommend Beckleberry's Marbled Chocolate Truffle Torte.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

~Charity Shop Chairs~

A week or so ago I spotted 4 old chairs in the village charity shop - I think these functional facilitators of sitting are a bit of addiction and soft-spot for us lovers of the preloved. Funnily enough I've recently been reading the self-same thing here , that you can't have too many chairs, a story I empathised with greatly! I left them hidden away in the car for 2 days like a guilty purchase (even though they only cost £4 for them all - too good to miss)  until I had found the opportune time of introducing the new additions to the family to my other half. His concern is always of the ' house-and-garage- are- bursting- at- the -seams-where- will- they-go?' variety.    This is them before a lick of paint...
I really only needed 2 of them as additional seating for my Time for Tea events; so I am selling the others as a renovation project for someone else. I already had the Dulux Barley White Satinwood paint from years ago, and the Globaltex Dotty oilcloth was an old tablecloth, so there was no cost involved. Here they are after a wash, a sanding, some wood glue and tightening of screws, some primer, paint and general sprucing up...
I've been working on the menu for my first event on 3rd September and am just about to list it on my blog.  If you're interested, you can find details of events at mine, and local, national and international underground tea rooms and supperclubs here and via Twitter.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

~Some Friday sewing~

When I'm cooking and baking I like a little hand towel as a 'hand-wiper' in the kitchen and being a bit of a clean-freak, I don't agree with drying hands on tea-towels - yuk!  I've taken to upcycling large towels that are past their best into little towels trimmed with pretty home-made bias-binding with a hanging loop. I made some bias binding out of some scraps of lovely Cath Kidston Provence Rose fabric. If  it's for binding straight edges it's OK to cheat and cut your fabric on the grain. Uses less fabric, too.
  • Cut (or rip!) 6cm strips on the grain (using up any scraps)
  • Join the pieces with mitred corners to make one continuous strip. Press seams open.
  • Press in half, then the edges into the centre (it will now measure 3cm)
  • Press in half again (finished binding is 1.5cm)
You can use it to bind towels, for decorative piping on cushions or for bunting tape. I also made the stripy ironing board cover with the leftover fabric from last week's roman blind...
Here's the finished towels, with a little hanging loop...

Thursday, 11 August 2011

~Doiley and fabric scrap bunting~

Another way to upcycle holey, stained and worn doilies is to make bunting with them. I don't throw any fabric away; even teensy-tiny scraps are squirreled in my scrap bag ( a very large underbed-type zipped bag bulging at the seams). Very useful for patchwork, bunting, and daughter's textile GCSE and A level mood boards! I made 3.5 metres of bunting with a pink/red/green flowers theme today, adding a few pennants made from an old embroidered tablecloth.

My quick way for one-sided pattern bunting is;
  •  use a paper template and cut neat triangles from plain linen or lining fabric
  •  pin these to the patterned fabric
  •  sew 1cm from the edges
  •  trim it neat and close to the stitching. I like the raw edges on large bunting.
  •  fold some 2cm wide tape/ribbon in half and iron it
  •  machine stitch the pennants within the tape
If you stand still too long in this house you get a coat of paint or trimmed-up with bunting or fairy lights; so it's best to keep moving!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

~Simple pleasures - Flowers~

Flowers 1....We had a family afternoon out in Ryedale at Yorkshire Lavender yesterday - what can I say, I looooove lavender, so it was a treat. The weather was a bit blustery and spitting with rain, but we still managed to get a few nice photos. I wanted a lavender photo for my blog header that was taken by me; so now I'm happy!
Plants were reasonably priced, every type of Lavender imaginable, plus herbs and some unusual perennials grouped in colours, which was great.  I bought a variegated applemint,  culinary mint called 'Bowes' and a lavender 'Pinnata'. It's free entry to look round the lavender and garden centre. Lots of bees, obviously which my son is wary of - so he refused to go into the lavender maze. The aroma was divine and I was very relaxed and calm until I saw the rather pricey menu in the tearoom! In my opinion the tearoom was not as pretty, quaint or smart as I'd hoped, given it comes highly recommended.
Flowers 2... Other than out of the garden, I rarely get fresh flowers, but these gladioli were both half-price and 50% extra at Co-op, so 9 longlasting blooms for £1.50.

The pink ruffles and lilac stamens are very gorgeous in my world, but announced to be 'hideous' according to L...Maybe it's an age thing?!?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

~Recent projects~

Well, I've managed to sell a few bits of bric-a-brac on Ebay - enough for me to buy some pretty new flower fairylights for the conservatory. I'm just listing more now, including this recent find, an old sewing tin, complete with contents, including a fab vintage needlecase which is just like the ones in Cath Kidston.

I've also finished a couple of cushions- this one from vintage linen and a vintage hankie which I'm listing on Ebay. It has a feather pad ...
and wooden buttons on the reverse...
and this patchwork cushion, handsewn with love and smiles whilst we were in Cornwall...

...is destined for my best friend, J's caravan. Oops I've spoilt the surprise now; see you for a catch-up on Wednesday,  J!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

~Yorkshire Produce (with lots of links)~

On my way back home from the Yorkshire East Coast, I called in at Drewtons Farm Shop on the A1034 in South Cave.  At the BBC Good Food Show in June, I'd picked up a leaflet on the Yorkshire Wolds stand about this new venture that opened last year.  I love a mooch around a good farm shop for quality local ingredients to cook and bake with. There's a food hall and also a tearoom, deli, butchers, wine cellar and home accessories as well as private dining and holiday accommodation.
I bought some Mercer's of Yorkshire Lime & Basil Mayonnaise to use at my first event for Time for Tea @ Lavender Attic on 3rd September and also 2 lovely chicken breasts which were made in Thai Green Curry very nicely by 16 year old L!  I also bought Atkins & Potts Rose Syrup, though not a Yorkshire product, I love roses and just fancied experimenting with it. I made some lovely rose shortbread with it yesterday, along with Betty's China Rose Petal tea and it's delicious.The family are enjoying the recipe testing, too! For more ideas about our great county's food visit the Deliciously Yorkshire website.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

~More Bric-a Brac~

I've just returned from the Yorkshire seaside where I paid an overnight visit (husband and child-free) to my Mum and her friend P, who were both having a stall at a car boot sale here at Strawberry Fields in Bridlington.  I've found lots of treasures there over the years, so couldn't resist a quick jaunt. It fitted in well as J and my husband P were off fishing together all day today. So,last night, we had a nice girly evening in at Mum's seaside caravan and an early start this morning to Strawberry Fields...
Amongst today's treasures is this tea cosy-  I know I can knit, but it's the real-deal of tea cosies!

I also bought a huge white damask tablecloth and 12 napkins for £5, and colourful doilies too numerous to mention...
By 10.30am I was on my way home, but called via Hornsea (as in Hornsea pottery), I can recommend the charity shops there, if you get the chance to visit. I got this black teapot for £1, the fold-up cake stand for £1.50, 6 viners cake forks for £2 and the teacup and saucer for 50p.
...and 4 Woods ware bowls for 80p. Lastly the rose cake plate and 4 side plates for £1.50.
Time for a thrifting rest now methinks. (And some more Ebay listing perhaps to make some room!)

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

~I ♥ Custard Creams~

If you're from the UK you'll be well aware of the divine Custard Cream - two pieces of biscuit with a fondant centre decorated with it's characteristic swirly relief design.  Apparently there was a BBC News poll a few years ago which said it's the.favourite biscuit of our nation. As a child of the 70s, I loved breaking them in half and biting the cream off them, before dunking them in my tea. Still ♥ them as much.
Today we have been to a nearby outlet shopping centre, not very frugal I grant you, but we were on the lookout for school shoes for J. In the M&S outlet there was this biscuit tin in the guise of a giant Custard Cream, and better still it was filled with them!
So, I treated myself, it was £3.99, and also bought a bra and 2 pair of knickers from the clearance rail for £2.98. That I spend more on biscuits than underwear, probably says a lot about me. I'm just on eBay listing some items for sale, and see that these tins, even when empty, are selling in excess of £8.99; can you believe it? Also checked the calorie content of one custard cream, which is apparently 57 kcal. The shocking revelation that (just) 34 would satisfy my daily calorific intake has made me hide them in the pantry.