Gimme Five! Red wine glasses

September 19th, 2014

'Gimme Five' blog post banner

selection of 5 types of red wine glasses

Well, it was on the cards for quite a while. We were down to our last two red wine glasses when one got broken whilst taking it out of the cupboard.

We found a set of four in a local charity shop about two years ago. They were really cheap – £2.50 the lot – but they were great quality and each held almost an entire bottle! They’re quite fragile, they make that lovely, lead crystal ringing sound when flicked gently with a fingernail.

Sadly, one by one, they were getting broken. We’ve been trying to be so, so very careful when using them and washing them up. We’ve been down to the last pair for almost a year, but we knew that it was only a matter of time… a split second of lost concentration…

The chances of us finding another great set like that in a charity shop are slim. We’re probably going to have to shell out properly for replacements. But what should we do? We can get a six-pack of cheap & cheerful ones from IKEA for just £1.25. That’s probably a good decision considering our track record! But the lovely ones from John Lewis hold ¾ of a litre – no topping up needed – decisions, decisions!

  1. Connoisseur red wine glasses, 0.66L, set of 4: £38, John Lewis
  2. SVALKA red wine glasses (30 cl) : £1.25 /6-pack, IKEA
  3. Set Of 4 red wine glasses: £45, Le Creuset
  4. Dartington crystalline set of six large red wine glasses (57cl): £24, Selfridges
  5. Vienna set of 6 burgundy glasses (57cl): £30, Habitat

Preserved plums

September 18th, 2014

'Preserved plums' blog post banner

washed plums in an aluminium colander

Justin’s parents’ neighbours have a few different fruit trees in their garden. In the past couple of years, we’ve had some of the harvest. Last year we made spiced apple chutney, the year before apple cheese. This year, we picked almost 5 kilos of plums – the sweetest, ripest plums we’d ever tasted!

spiced plum chutney ingredients

We both ate half a dozen each in a couple of days but we would never be able to work our way through many before before they began to get over-ripe. I’d already made jars upon jars of fruit jam & jelly this year, so I turned half into spiced plum chutney and half into plum jam.

bottled spiced plum chutney

I used recipes from the good old Cordon Bleu Preserving recipe book for both.

stoning plums

The job of stoning was a monotonous, boring job but the resulting preserves were well worth the toil!

plums with spice mixture

When the chutney was cooking the house was filled with the most delicious smell – I wish I could bottle that alone!

Here’s the spiced plum chutney recipe:

1⅓kg/3lb plums
1tbs ground ginger
1tbs ground allspice
2tbs ground mustard seeds
2tbs dried chilli flakes
10 cloves
30g/1oz salt
425ml/¾pt white malt or white wine vinegar
450g/1lb soft brown sugar

  1. Wash & stone the plums and put them in a pan with the ginger, allspice, mustard seeds and chilli flakes
  2. Tie the cloves in a muslin bag and add to the pan
  3. Add the salt and 300ml/½pt of the vinegar
  4. Simmer gently until the plums are soft (about 3 hours)
  5. Put the sugar into a large measuring jug/basin with the remaining vinegar and leave to dissolve. Add to the plums when cooked
  6. Bring to the boil and allow to boil gently until thick (about another 2 hours)
  7. Pour into warm, sterilised jars and screw down immediately
  8. Leave for 4-5 weeks before using

softened plums in a saucepan

And here’s the jam recipe

2.75kg/6lb plums
300ml/½pt water
3kg/6½lb granulated or preserving sugar

  1. Wash the plums, cut them in half and remove the stones
  2. Tie half the stones in muslin
  3. Place the fruit in a preserving pan with the water and cook gently until tender
  4. Add the sugar and heat gently until dissolved
  5. Add the bag of stones
  6. Boil rapidly for about 25 minutes or until the jam sets when tested
  7. Remove the bag of stones and pour the jam into warm, dry sterilised jars. Cover and tie down

plum jam boiling in a saucepan

It’s a deliciously sweet accompaniment to morning croissants.

croissant with plum jam

World Dolls Series: Germany

September 17th, 2014

'World Dolls Series' blog post banner

World Dolls Series: Germany children's book cover

As promised, we’ve arrived in Germany for the next leg of our tour in the World Doll Series of books.

Front inside cover of World Dolls Series: Germany children's book

Charming illustrations once more – this time the work of W. Lewis from the Birmingham School of Design.

map showing Munich from World Dolls Series: Germany children's book

Our German guides are Gretel & Gunther who spend a lot of time singing & dancing when they’re not shepherding us lot around.

illustration of German dolls standing on a table

We’re taken on a trip through a land of contrasts.

line drawing of Berlin

Vibrant cities & the industrial powerhouses…

illustration of German shops

…to the beautiful countryside with forests, mountains, lakes & rivers.

illustration of German cafe

From bustling shipyards on the coast to serene fairy tale castles in the hills.

illustration of figures ice skating outdoors

Hot & sunny in the summer for cycling, swimming and open air cafés, cold & snowy in the winter for skiing, skating and cosy log fires. Perfect!!

illustration of figures dancing around a giant Christmas tree

And the Germans are very good at doing Christmas too. You’re going to have a job dragging us away!! But onwards we must go – Italy next. So it’s Auf Wiedersihen from the good folk of Germany.

Creative Collections: Glass floats

September 16th, 2014

'Creative Collections' blog post banner

collection of vintage glass floats

We’ve chosen glass fishing floats for this week’s Creative Collections post – we love the subtle colour variations and irregularities in shape.

collection of vintage glass floats

Glass floats originated in Norway in about 1840. Christopher Faye, a Norwegian merchant, in collaboration with the Hadelands Glass Works, is credited with their invention. Early examples were hand blown, later the glass was injected into wooden moulds resulting in the faint seam line which can be seen on many examples. Modern replicas are also being produced.

collection of vintage glass floats

This is how they would have originally been used – encased with a twine netting holder. These would have then been attached to the large fishing nets & lines to keep mile after mile of them afloat in the sea. This is quite a basic form of holder, but the more elaborate antique examples crafted by the fishermen or their wives during long winter evenings can be a things of real beauty. Glass floats are no longer used having been replaced by plastic, aluminium or Styrofoam. However, thousands of the glass ones are still afloat, travelling along in the currents of the world’s oceans. They’re prized by beachcombers and used in interior decoration.

collection of vintage glass floats

They’re great for interior display – particularly the genuine older examples which have so much character. A collection looks great in a large bowl for example – and they look really fabulous on a window sill where the sun catches the glass and fills the room with coloured light and shadows.

Etsy List: Bowled Over!

September 15th, 2014

'Etsy List' blog post banner

'Bowled Over!' Etsy List by H is for HomeA bowl is… essential, useful, beautiful, tactile, sensual.

It’s probably one of the first things stone age man ever made. It carries water, it holds food, it is used to meditate, it is used in prayer.

It can be made of pottery, wood, wicker, metal, glass, plastic, or textile.

Here are some of our favourite Etsy Offerings.

Bowled over!
Curated by H is for Home