H is for Home Harbinger
There’s been another new item purchased for our top-floor bedroom which is currently undergoing a revamp. Most of the natural specimens in this room – fossils, skulls and the like – died long ago; however it’s not the case with the latest addition.
We actually went to the garden centre to buy a small tray of bean seedlings for our allotment, but came home with this huge, beautiful peace lily plant as well. (Intended spend: £1.99, actual spend: £40.00… not the first time we’ve done that in a garden centre!).
It caught our eye as soon as we entered the house plant section. Its abundance of dark green spear-shaped leaves and milky white, almost luminous, flowers. We’d been talking about the lack of plants in that room only the day before… and the need to purify the air. What a beautiful way to do it!
Most plants contribute to a healthier living atmosphere, but some species are particularly good. The peace lily is arguably the best plant at eliminating toxic elements such as benzene (found in cigarette smoke and car exhaust emissions), formaldehyde (found in plywood furniture and some paint and carpets) and ammonia (found in household cleaners) from the air. Other house plants proven to improve indoor air quality in this way, to a greater or lesser extent, include:
- Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)
- Money plant (Epipremnum aureum)
- Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
- Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
What a glorious place to spend a warm summer’s evening! Gently rocking back and forth with a cold beer or glass of wine, taking in the view and watching the sun go down.
This rustic porch (and indeed the cottage to which it belongs) ticks lots of boxes for us in terms of materials and décor.
We like the combination of natural wood and stone in a building structure – and the introduction of cane, rattan and weathered metal works perfectly with it.
The look is carried through the various connecting spaces – flowers, textiles and furs softening the harder edges.
If you’re equally taken by the idea of spending some time here – well you can! The cottage is situated in Cornwall and available to rent for holidays (dogs allowed too).
Hopefully we’ll be lighting that fire and rocking in those chairs one day soon!
- Franco Albini rattan rocking chairs
- Franco Albini glass-topped rattan table
- Tree branch tea light holders – set of three
- Large terracotta plant pot
- Storm lamp
- Natural woven straw seat cushions
Last week, we wrote about a vintage Bernard Rooke pottery floor lamp that we acquired recently. We also mentioned that he, at one time, shared a studio in Forest Hill and then Greenwich, London with fellow potter and Goldsmiths graduate, Alan Wallwork.
Wallwork (born 1931) is best known for his beautiful, often colourful, glazed tiles that adorn tabletops, cheeseboards, trivets etc. He also produces the most sensuous, sculptural studio pottery pieces. Often inspired by nature, these textural works resemble acorns, seed pods, eggs, slices of fruit, shells and fossils.
Additional imaged credits:
I’m a fairly recent convert to silicone cake moulds. I picked up a six-hole silicone muffin ‘tin’ in a charity shop a few years ago and was really impressed with its ease of use and cleaning.
The hemisphere moulds (#1) allow you to make fun and unusual cakes. Edible tennis or footballs? Sweet hamburgers? Pretend Christmas puddings!
What I like about the cupcake cases (#2) is that you can reuse them again and again – no need for paper cases… and they’re heart-shaped!
I recently discovered this jigsaw-like silicone mould (#3) whose 8 pieces slot together to form all sorts of shapes. It doesn’t even need a bottom, so makes traditional loose-bottomed and spring-form tins redundant. And not to mention requires a lot less space to store!
- Hemisphere silicone cake mould: £4.49, Betterware
- Silicone heart cupcake cases (set of 6): £7.50, Divertimenti
- 8-piece silicone cake baking mould: £8.99, Amazon
When I was buying ingredients for last week’s apple and raisin puff pastry tart I needed two cooking apples. However, the Bramley apples in the supermarket were being sold in packs of four. I’m making an apple and sultana crumble this week to use up the two that were left over.
I may have mentioned before that fruit crumble isn’t one of Justin’s favoured puddings – he thinks the crumble topping is too often soggy, floury and not very nice – especially if too thick or a bit undercooked.
I think my crumble topping recipe is none of those things; it forms large, crunchy, nutty morsels.
Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of it just before it goes into the oven for extra sweetness and crunch. You can serve it with thick, cold cream, hot creamy custard or a scoop of vanilla ice cream – they’re all good!
- 2 Bramley (or other cooking) apples, peeled, cored & roughly chopped
- 25g/¾oz butter
- 100g/3½oz sultanas
- 50g/1¾oz Demerara sugar
- 50g/1¾oz plain flour
- 50g/1¾oz porridge oats
- 50g/1¾oz flaked almonds
- 50g/1¾oz Demerara sugar
- 75g/2⅔oz cold butter, cubed
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
- In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat, melt the 25g of butter
- Add the chopped apples, sultanas and Demerara sugar and stir until the apples are just beginning to soften (about 5-10 minutes)
- Put the mixture into a greased baking/pie dish
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, oats, almonds and Demerara sugar
- Add the cold, cubed butter and rub into the dry ingredients - but not to much - you want the mixture to have quite large lumps
- Spoon the crumble evenly over the apple and sultana mixture so that it's completely covered
- Sprinkle a little golden granulated sugar over the top for added crunch (optional)
- Put the dish into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the crumble topping turns a lovely golden brown
- Serve with custard, thick pouring cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream
We added two very nice pieces of vintage Pyrex to our webshop today. Our newly listed items include a lovely set of four graduated ‘Cinderella’ mixing bowls in the ‘Gooseberry’ pattern and a lidded casserole dish from the ‘Gaiety’ Snowflake range.
It got us to wondering when Pyrex was invented… 1940s/50s would probably have been our guess. We were a fair way out – it was a brand introduced by Corning Inc in 1908. The thermally resistant glass moved from industrial use to domestic applications (apparently after a Corning employee’s wife used a sawn off battery jar to bake a cake).
It’s certainly come a long way from that first cake and has found a home in millions of kitchen cupboards worldwide. It’s such a great material for kitchen use – durable, practical, heat resistant, doesn’t retain food smells, transparent and decorative too if desired.
Various designers have contributed to the shapes and patterns of Pyrex over the years – Penny Sparke, Betty Baugh, SMART Design and TEAMS Design amongst them.
You can go for the plain, clear glass or more colourful opaque ranges – and there certainly are some fabulous Pyrex patterns available.
So, where did the name Pyrex come from… this quote from a Corning executive:
The word PYREX is probably a purely arbitrary word which was devised in 1915 as a trade-mark for products manufactured and sold by Corning Glass Works. While some people have thought that it was made up from the Greek pyr and the Latin rex we have always taken the position that no graduate of Harvard would be guilty of such a classical hybrid. Actually, we had a number of prior trade-marks ending in the letters ex. One of the first commercial products to be sold under the new mark was a pie plate and in the interests of euphonism the letter r was inserted between pie and ex and the whole thing condensed to PYREX.
There are various websites dedicated to all things Pyrex – here are links to a few:
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