Sloe Gin

IT IS READY….

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For 3 months I have daily been shaking my bottles of sloes, gin and sugar.  I picked them in the autumn, you can read about how to make them here.  They have been stored in a dark place, and have now turned the most amazing shade of deep red.  I left space in each bottle for vigourous shaking.  I read somewhere that one sloe gin maker leaves it in the boot of his car for 3 months, so it rolls around every day.  I did not risk it  myself, just in case mine broke and my car smelled like I was a gin-soaked alcoholic!

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I used a jam strainer bag made of muslin to pour the sloe gin through, as I wanted all of the sediment out of the drink where I have been violently shaking it every day.  Then I just decanted it into pretty little 500ml Kilner preserving bottles.  Job done.

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Ikea Hack – Bookcase Unit – Part 2

How to hack a Kallax or two….

So it seems ages ago that I started on the Ikea Hack, which you can read my plans on here.  I spent 3 afternoons at my sisters building away, and it took ages to get around to photographing it due to flu, distance and time!  However, here it is finally.  Apologies in advance for the photos not being totally crisp, but the room has very little natural daylight so my flash was needed a lot…

Ingredients

We went down to Ikea and spent ages looking at the bookcases they had available. On reflection, we decided to forego the breakfront effect and go for a freestanding simple piece that could take all of her LP’s, books and more.  LP’s are deep, so they fit best in this type of storage system.  Kallax units seemed the best as they are extra deep.

As you can see they are very modern and graphic.  But they baskets are nice made from rattan and palm leaves, and give a future option for storage.

So we bough one 16 x cube Kallax and one 4 x cube horizontal Kallax.  We then headed home and I put them all together (top tip, electric screwdriver…)

Putting the Units together and joining them

The larger Kallax went underneath and the horizontal one was put on top.  This made the unit a good height.  Obviously it needed to be secured into one safe piece, so on the rear I used fixing plates at regular intervals to keep it secure.

Once that was done, we also added  simple 2 x 4 wood batons to the base at each end and in the middle so we had extra height for the base board we wanted to be attached.  I also added felt pads so that the piece can be easily slid on the wooden floors without catching and causing damage.

Now this was done we measured the sections we would need cornice for; top and bottom would be the same piece but inverted.  On the front of the piece is a double width horizontal section of front shelf where the two Kallax units meet, and so we measured this to make sure we got decorative moulding to cover it. You can see this wide section below. Continue reading

My latest find…

And how to communicate with teenagers successfully…

After Christmas I received hundreds of sale emails from various interior shops.  One of them was from Cox & Cox, a great online retailer with quirky items.  I was not planning to buy anything, especially after Christmas, but this little beauty caught my eye, and it was also reduced so it would have been rude not too really….

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It’s a light box that come with lots of letters, and you can either wall-mount it or have it freestanding.  This has become the key way of communicating with my teenagers at the moment as they shoot in and out of the house, and they also love to leave messages too, so it is a two-way thing.

I have mine in the hall, so they can see it the minute they enter the house.  There is NO WAY they cannot get the message.  Unlike a phone that they can say they did not have on to receive a text or a voicemail, this sign is in your face and unmissable.

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When I first got it, I did a cheery message to get them ready to go back to school after the Christmas holidays:

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By the end of day one at school, it had been changed to this by a child…

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But generally it is a lovely sign to greet people and you can personalise it too if you want.

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But it also has brutal usages if so required…

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Genius, thank you Cox & Cox!

Master Bedroom gets a makeover

Farrow and Ball paint and things lurking under the stairs.

This week I was browsing a paint department, and happened upon a discounted 5L tin of Farrow & Ball’s ‘Brinjal’ matt emulsion.  This leaves me with 2 thoughts:

a) I need to get out more and stop loitering in paint departments when I have free time.

b) Loitering in paint departments can be seen as serendipity when bargains are to be had.

Anyhow, onto the paint… This is the most intense dark aubergine with red rather than blue tones, and I have always dreamt of doing a room in it.  Like an Olympian athlete I launched myself toward the paint pot it at high speed, and clutching my bargain I sped home.  I also managed to secure some bargains on some anthracite emulsion paint on sale, which have been stashed until I decide what to use them for, no doubt they will appear soon in a post….  (and if you don’t want to read through the procrastination and details, scroll down to the bottom of the post for the before and after photos.)

This is what the colour look likes… wow, it’s dark…

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Photo: Brinjal by F&B photo from Farrow and Ball Decorating with Colour by Ros Byam Shaw

The Existing Room

The Master bedroom is already shades of Khaki, (this paint is called Drab), with aubergine accents, but it has been like that for quite a while, so I thought I would use the paint to overhaul the room.  The ceilings are really tall, and the expanse of white from the picture rail upwards to the ceiling sort of annoys me, as the rest of the colours get lost in the room as the eye automatically goes up to the brightness and it is so WHITE.  I love aubergine, so decided to paint out the khaki walls with the new paint, but to leave the wardrobes as they are.  So I am sort of reversing the colour scheme.  I am happy with where the furniture is and accessories, so it is just a case of the walls and woodwork being changed. Continue reading

Ikea Hack – Bookshelf Unit, Part 1

PLANNING:

Yesterday I was over at my sisters house.  She has been working really hard recently on decorating, de-cluttering and generally removing the ravages of children over the years.  She has a sitting room with a newly installed woodburner, (she enlarged the fireplace and taught herself how to lime plaster to help install this, bravo!), and her style is very boho.  Lots of indian/ethnic furniture, kilims, fabulous battered leather armchairs and artefacts.  The room is skinny with a low ceiling, and not much natural light, so it ends up like a tunnel with dead space at either end.

There are two very long alcoves either side of the fireplace, and one is very underused – in fact it is crying out for something more.  So I suggested some sort of storage combination so she can get all of her stuff like LP’s, DVD’s, books etc into one dedicated place.  Budget is an issue, and we always like to get creative and avoid shelling out a fortune where possible. So I came up with an idea for an IKEA hack that we will be making this week.  Here are some very fuzzy images of the room and alcove, apologies for the quality!

Using an extended KALLAX as a central piece and two Billy bookcases either side, plus wood mouldings to revamp the front areas and to create some grandeur, we should be able to come up with a lovely break-front bookcase that will store a huge amount of things, fingers crossed!  As the room has generally dark furniture we are going to use white Ikea units, but paint the backs of the shelves in a dark grey to highlight whatever ends up on the shelves.  We will also paint everything else in white once the mouldings are attached.

The KALLAX units comes with great square baskets available made in rattan and palm leaves, so in some shelves clutter can be hidden in these.

SHOPPING LIST:

So here are the basics we will be buying:

Mouldings will be detailed with vertical rises like this:

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And the top pediment moulding like this:

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The base will also have a small skirting added to finish off the piece:

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English Antique hunting mission

I am sitting in a very cool cafe in Tetbury, Gloucestershire today and about to start on a mission finding interesting antiques.  It is pouring with rain, so I think there will be less tourists about giving me excellent shopping space!


Tetbury is a beautiful town in the Cotswolds, famous for a myriad of Antique shops.  It is also local to both Prince Charles’ and Princess Anne’s estates, so I might even have a Royal spotting (although if they are wise they should stay indoors on this very wet and grey English day).


But first some fuel… A pretty jam jar of juice and a mega toasted sandwich.

 There is one main street in the town which is full of antique dealers’ shops.  The current vogue is mainly for rustic French furniture, prints and reupholstered furniture.  It is pretty pricey but some of the pieces are wonderful.

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Armoire

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China collection

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Prince of Wales’ Insignia

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I’ll have it all!

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I had already spent about £30k in my head in just one side of the street.  All of the dealers are very friendly and informative, and I did not have any negative experiences anywhere.

The shutters above are my plan for a bedhead, I just have to hope they are still there when I return in the near future.