Its been quite a long time since i made chutney. A bare chutney cupboard in my life is a sure sign of general busy-ness. I then discovered that Malcolm, en route to work, had been purchasing shop bought chutney for weekday lunches. Oh, the shame! The ignominy! So i got to work with the help of Hugh F-W and his excellent book.
I decided to start the season with a simple tomato, chill and apple recipe. I would generally caution people not to lift any old recipe off the internet, i have had some bad luck myself and now only go for reputable sources. One key thing to look out for is the sugar/vinegar ratio. They need to be fairly close in quantity (mls and grms) otherwise i doubt the chutney would turn out well rounded. You can substitute stated fruit/vegetables for anything really as long as the ratio to sweet and spice stays the same.
Here’s my lovely batch simmering away. I used to use an aluminium pan but i upgraded to stainless steel and haven’t regretted it, as i noticed the old one started to taint the flavour of my preserves. I was listening to Woman’s Hour at the time so it all felt very feminine and worthy.
I also would recommend a jam funnel. I used to think these things were all gimmicks but it makes a big difference to bottling/jarring. Everything needs to be well sterilised too, i have made that mistake before and produced a batch of mouldy onion marmalade. Never again!
So here’s the first gleaming and wonderful 6 of the season. That should last Malkie about 6 weeks in total….
Two things i find difficult to look at – ugly pipes and untidy leads/cables. So this little sink in the WC wasn’t filling me with joy every time i sat down to do the necessary. (Not to mention the awful kitchen taps). Being right in front of the toilet, i was able to sit and study it in some detail since we moved in, in order to figure out the best way to hide the exposed plumbing.
Whilst the room itself was clearly decorated on a cheap and cheerful budget, i really like the white tiles and grey grout – kind of ‘subway’ style. Plus the black and white theme running throughout. I wanted to upgrade the look a bit and figured this would be an ideal place to introduce some Jouy de Toile fabric in similar colours. I found some lovely charcoal grey fabric on ebay and set about designing what i came to discover was called a ‘sink skirt’. With no frame to hang fabric on, i researched stick-on options and came up with this ‘heavy duty’ velcro, which i am told in good faith that once stuck on, it isn’t likely to come off.
All skirts need a bit of ruffle so i dug out some thick black elastic i had tucked away. Im not really sure about sewing elastic so like most of my sewing projects, i was making it up as i went along. Luckily I discovered in time the elastic zig zig setting on the machine which allows the elastic to return to its former state after it has been sewed fully stretched, thus resulting in a pretty row of even ruffle. I decided the black made a nice contrast edging so put it on the front rather than hidden away at the back.
Next i attached some velcro along the ruffle to attach to the sink.
The ‘heavy duty’ velcro goes onto the sink, and hey presto! A fancy sink skirt….
Not satisfied with one sink skirt, i decided to ditch the generic white cupboards and add another skirt in the main bathroom. This fabric off-cut was 50p in charity shop, its got a slight sheen so is nice and waterproof for our steamy bathroom. In time i’ll introduce the fresh green colour a bit more into the room.
Every once in a while i come across something in a charity shop that makes all the rifling through endless tat worth it. Such an occurrence happened last week when i came across this lamp in a YMCA charity shop i rarely frequent.
Anglepoise have been making lamps since the First World War and more recently have reproduced their original ’1227′ design lamp in celebration of British design. I was quite taken by said lamp whilst browsing in John Lewis and had even considered forking out the required £150 on one. A few trial twists and turns, up and downs, and you will soon realise why these are designer lamps. They don’t droop, squeak or labour; they are built with lots of little springs and levers in all the right places to make their movement seamless.
So, when i spotted what i immediately recognised as a classic Anglepoise desklamp for £5, i swooped upon it with a look of smug pride and duly delivered my note to the shop assistant. My conscience did consider giving a larger donation, given that i knew it was worth maybe £100, but then i rationalised this by concluding that i am propping up many a local charity shop with my compulsive purchasing and continuing to do so for the foreseeable future would suffice. As the lamp is plain old black, it does look a tad dull in my living room so i have established it as the workhorse lamp in my ‘project room’.
Speaking of John Lewis, it has been coming up trumps recently in relation to mid-century design. I came across this fabulous lamp there during the summer. Its a Christian Dell reproduction and whilst i tend not to buy many new ‘detail’ decorative pieces for the house (lamps, pictures, materials etc) i couldn’t pass this one up. Original Christian Dell lights can go for around £500 now in particular some of the original Bauhaus designs. But this little nod to the original will do me just fine and has been illuminating happily on my stripped pine and gloriously south-facing ”writing desk” .
Lighting has certainly been a major focus of setting up home in our new place. I have been madly installing spotlights in every corner and have arranged for our first ‘proper’ workman to come and fit some new fixed lighting and update some of the old existing fixtures. The most exciting of these upcoming projects will be the installation of these industrial pendant lights above the dining table in the living room. A couple of years back I posted about a little shop in the Borders called ‘The Glory Hole’. It probably hasn’t been open since that post and so i was keen to pop in when i spied it in operation again last month. The place was so loaded with stuff i couldn’t actually pass the threshold but i did spy these lights and subsequently entered into an illuminating (ha ha) discussion with the proprietor about their origin. Apparently they came from the dismantling of an old psychiatric asylum somewhere in Ayrshire. At this point, i was sold, but at a fiver each, it was hardly a difficult economic decision!
My latest project was one of the first things i bought for this house. It was a few weeks before we moved and i promised Malcolm i would find a whiskey cabinet that appealed to us both. We were headed out to North Berwick beach and we stopped off at Sam Burns place in Prestonpans. I frequent it less now than i used to as it seems to have been ‘discovered’ by a wider group and more often now i come home empty-handed, which rarely happened in the good old days. But on this merry occasion, i happened upon this delightful vintage glass cabinet. We searched around for an old bottle to make sure it would accommodate said item. This is more than i would usually do but my pal Ali brought some essential pragmatism, as is often the case. We established that bottles fitted neatly on the top shelf.
Having no measurements for the new place, i took a chance on the cabinet in terms of the overall dimensions. I was certain it would fit beautifully to the left of the fireplace. I was eating my proverbial words when we discovered shortly after moving in that it was wide by about 6 inches. Alas it was merely an issue of height in that if 4 inches shorter, it would fit if tucked gracefully underneath the mantle. So it was that on day 4 when my bro came to stay for a night he found himself issued with a hacksaw and a tape measure, tasked with cutting the ornate claw feet off (the word ‘butchering’ was used but i chose to ignore such blatant overstatement).
Once slotted into place, it was immediately evident that the cabinet needed a little lift, something to help it stand out from the crowd (of other vintage friends in the room). And there’s nothing like a bit of moody lighting to raise the tone, add some class…..
A few Ikea spotlights later and the cabinet really does shine now. Here you can see my clumsy wiring lurking in the background (just like the Lord Calvert, but that’s another story), waiting to be tidied up. Plus evidence of further power-tool action. Poor little cabinet! So, anyone for a wee dram?
Having just moved house, you would think that making our files look pretty would be quite low down on the list of priorities. Not so. What could be more important than making a group of quite ugly yet functional and highly necessary objects into a visual vignette of vintage fabrics?
Here’s how i do it. I am sure there are better tutorials out there for this kind of thing but this is my quick and dirty version.
2. I use PVA on the other side. I also de-bulk the corners…..
4. I’m a big fan of plain old packaging labels. Really, any kind of label i could say i am a fan of. But most people know that.
Here’s the full set. I originally had them all in a big happy row but it somehow didn’t make the most of them. So i’ve gone for the interspersed look.The bottom row consists of magazine racks covered many moons ago. Oh, and another typewriter….
The salvage sisters blog has lain fallow for a few months now, but the time has come to bring out the bugle and announce a new season of all things decorative, thrifty and creative! Earlier this year, as summer approached, the sisters both became busy with other things and the salvage projects began collecting dust in the corner. This started for me in May when I decided to drive a big bus across America, blogging our way through via this travelogue. After our return my energies were focused on preparing to leave our shared house in Hailes Street and finding a new place to buy, whilst at the same time Gemma moved into a big manse in South Belfast.
Hundreds of boxes later, we have now successfully moved into our beloved new home in Lauriston Gardens. Our very own blank canvas.
Moving from a rental to one’s own home creates a whole new untapped world of salvaging and décor heaven! The flat has 3 south-facing rooms which was a big sell for me. Having gazed at endless pictures of dreamy homes, natural light gives any place an immediate head start. The kitchen needs a full over-haul which was, oddly, another selling point for me, as a kitchen re-work is a challenge I will certainly relish! (Country Kitchen in the City coming up…) The flat on the ground floor with a main door which meant we did compromise other things inside (a 3rd bedroom perhaps), but as you will shortly see, a little space outside to carry out projects was a priority for me.
If the current pace is anything to go by, the place will hopefully be shadow of its former self by Christmas. With boxes unpacked and screwdrivers at the ready by the middle of week 2, we got to work removing all the old pine doors ready for stripping. The Dip ‘n Strip folks in Edinburgh provide a great service, picking up your paint-clad doors at 6am and returning them, pared back to their former glory, by lunchtime. As each door came home there was an entertaining running commentary from the guy about the various quirks and stories hidden beneath the gloss. The apparent woodworm was actually the result of someone’s poor dart board aim; there was once a cat or puppy (which chewed the corners of every door); one door actually turned out to be two half doors.
The doors needed sanded down, waxed, and despite our excellent organisation, a great deal of time figuring out which fittings go where.
The now stripped pine doors already add such warmth to the place. We are pretty pleased with our story-telling doors!
One of the advantages of living in a hippy commune is the shared evenings. Its much easier to commit to a creative evening each week when there is someone else in your home doing the same. Kathryn and I have been sewing together every monday for a while now, while the boys go and exert themselves on the football field. Evenings usually involve sprawling ourselves across the kitchen table with multiple half-finished projects in the hope of them turning into three-quarter finished projects. This week i was making cards – not quite a sewing project but the aim of the evening is creativity in general.I have recently been going through a birdy phase, as noted in previous posts. I got these bird stampers for Christmas from Cox & Cox and they have come in very handy for card making, something i have up until recently not been finding much inspiration in.
I have experimented with a few different designs, combining colour and texture (hand-made paper, recycled brown card, paper doilies) with various bird images.
Every thursday there’s a secret place one can go in Edinburgh to buy wonderful things. This place is not well publicised and for good reason. I once wrote about it here on the blog and was berated for ‘spreading the word’ with abandon. Suffice it to say that you need cash, time, and a good strong pair of elbows.
The following finds are the best of the bunch, and the stories behind them.
I’m always on the look-out for vintage Tala. They have re-released some of their classic baking products, but its the originals that really are the icing on the cake (he he). So when i saw this quite unusual cake tin, i was not going to let it slip through my fingers. It came to me for £10.
The real beauty is in the restoration job i achieved on it. Here is an instagram of it before i attacked it with bleach (no surprises there). Looks like someone was using it as a tool box (the cheek!). I had to sacrifice the lettering a bit to get the grime off, and then paint them on again afterwards. But it was worth it to bring up that beautiful duck-egg blue colour.
I’ve written about clocks before in this series, but am not intentionally building a collection. However that does appear to be the case… I bid (small clue as to whereabouts) on a box of rubbish and won it for £1. Within it were these fabulous clocks. The first one i absolutely love – looks to be around 1950s in origin, and ties in nicely with my current birdie phase.
These little retro travel clocks were lurking in the bottom of my box of surprises. Aren’t they funky?!
Long before the salvage sisters got savvy about good design, our mama was dressing us in Liberty print baby dresses and fitting out our shared bedroom with Liberty wallpaper. Either its in the genes or its classical conditioning, but i am now a huge fan of liberty fabric (who isn’t!?), but rarely indulge in such luxuries. It was a great day last year when i came across 3 meters of retro Liberty fabric in a wee rural charity shop for a few pounds, but such events are of course rare so the occasional splashing out on stunning fabric is ok in my book. Just browsing the London shop itself is an experience, slowly unfurling swathes of soft fabric and dreaming about the most suitable project, or fantasising about a sofa stacked with mounds of Liberty cushions…
This year i was given a sewing book from my secret santa (thanks ryan), a collection of Liberty’s very own in-house sewing projects. Its full of lovely illustrations and uses a variety of prints and textures. It is little bit exacting for my style (i never usually measure anything) but i am hopeful i can learn a trick or two about the avantages of becoming more precise and learning how to use a simple pattern.
So here is completed project number one. Its a quilted wash bag. Whilst i managed to stick to the measurements and the pattern, i did take a liberty (ha ha) with some aspects including the quilting, also the style of fabric is cotton rather than a stiff canvas as was recommended. The fabric is in fact a vintage Laura Ashley print, salvaged from an enormous jumpsuit i found in some charity shop sale rail (you know its bad when you shop from charity shop sale rails).
When your splashing out on fabric, it is a good idea to make a project initially in more basic fabric so that you make the inevitable mistakes on that first, then move on to the real deal. So here is my chosen fabric for the next attempt, bought in january whilst we were in London for the weekend. Fingers crossed!
This week, i am taking pictures of things that i like. So no change there.
Enamel, of course, features highly in my house. This french salt holder came from a wee stall at St. George’s market in Belfast. Its got a big hole in the bottom so needless to say, not much actual use for salt. The enamel candle holder behind is one of many…
I love old tins of any description. This kitsch biscuit tin came from the salvage yard. I was a bit disappointed initially as it didn’t have a lid, but the next time i went back i recognised it instantly and was quite pleased with myself for reuniting the two.
I have noticed that all vintage fans seem to have some kind of typewriter lurking around in their houses. I spied this one today for £3 in a charity shop on my way to the dentist (the dentist was probably wondering why i brought a typewriter to the appointment). A bit of research tells me the ‘petite’ range were actually made as toys, meaning that i probably won’t be able to get replacement tape. It is plastic but i was sold by the colour and retro look!
Anything involving birds has instant appeal to me at the moment. These china plates came from the salvage yard.
This Tala flour sifter came from a stall at the annual Meadows Festival in edinburgh. As you can see, it makes a great container for egg cups. (my purchases often end up fulfilling some other purpose, simply by being set on the shelf and then finding themselves happily housing some random collection of things.)
Plates racks are great inventions. I bought this one for a few pounds at Shelter charity shop (the really great one in Morningside). it had a lucky escape from being abandoned on the street outside tesco shortly after i bought it, as salvage sis and i were too busy sharing tips and ideas, and walked off without it.