The Drinks Trolley Re-invented

The revival of the drinks trolley happened somewhere in the last couple of years and whilst I always imagined it as a bit of a fussy piece of tacky furniture gathering dust living in a badly lit room in the 50’s, I now love the way in which it has been reinvented.  A stat just to show how popular it has become:   The number of bar cart ideas (if you don’t mind an Americanism) saved on Pinterest in the UK jumped 40 per cent in six months. Sales of bar carts were up 173 per cent from January to June 2016.

Some Drinks Trolley Trivia

(taken from http://www.thebarcartist.com/bar-cart-history/)

The bar cart actually got its start during the Victorian Era (1837-1901). However, at that time it was not associated with alcoholic beverages. The bar carts of the Victorian Era were actually tea trolleys!  It seems we have the Interbellum and Greatest Generations to thank for taking us from Tea Time to Party Time when they started using bar carts for cocktail parties during the end of Prohibition (1933). Though bar carts started being associated with cocktails after the repeal of prohibition, they did not become well known cocktail entertaining items until the 1950’s.

If your’e thinking of including a drinks cart/trolley as part of your decor at home here are a few do’s and don’ts.

Cart Style

Retro-style carts are particularly popular – think gold and glitzy with glass or marble shelving.  Marble with a very dark brassy metal would be my choice.  But look for contemporary details, such as oversized wheels and sleek lines, to stop things feeling too fussy. Two shelves is way better than one and three shelves is probably too many.  Purchasing the cart is probably the easiest part however.

Alcohol 

Its not about a purchase and then stocking it with a couple bottles of hardtack and some crystal glasses.  Of course not, in 2017 everything has to be styled!  The styling also includes the brand of alcohol you have on display.  I would personally pick two or three bottles of spirits, I think an over stocked trolley will look messy and cluttered.  Perhaps add a soft drink like an Elderflower cordial, a bottle of bitters and lots of sparkling water (San Pelligrino).  This is for the everyday display and then when you have guests you can add your wines, champagne etc. When you are picking your display bottles of spirits I can’t speak for Bourbon’s or Whiskey’s but a bottle of Gordins isn’t going to cut it on the Gin front, Hendricks, Bombay Sapphire or something on that level.  If residing in SA you may be up to speed with the gin re-awakening (well that’s a whole other topic altogether). Cape Town is one of the leaders of this world wide trend.  Talented and passionate locals are distilling gin using indigenous flora such as fynbos and rooibos to create gin that you’ll find nowhere else in the world. A few of the local names to look out for that would sit very prettily (and go down very happily) are Inverroche http://www.inverroche.co.za Hope on Hopkins http://hopeonhopkins.co.za Musgrave http://www.musgravegin.co.za Woodstock Gin Company http://www.woodstockginco.co.za to name a few.

Styling

Bringing in some artwork, plants, a lamp, jugs, candles, good crystal pieces or books are a few of the many different objects to look for.  Fruit is also a great idea, I would go with a bowl of lemons, limes or both and a pineapple or three.  Recently we have been drinking our gin with slices of pineapple and I can honestly say that Pineapple in gin should be part of the gin revolution.  Basically any of the above objects would add interest, texture, colour and style to your cart.  Again for me personally I would choose a few items and not make it too busy, ensuring every item has the ability to shine and be seen.

Inspiration

I have picked out what I believe to be beautifully styled trolleys.

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I’m still looking for my perfect drinks trolley, I imagine its living in an antiques market somewhere.  I look forward to sharing it with you here when its found.

X

Festive Cookies

Or more commonly known as Sugar Cookies, the quick and easiest biscuits that look great and taste delicious! They are absolutely fool proof (I promise) and are of course not only for Christmas but any time of year. Cut them into your shape of choice and decorate according to your theme.  Such fun to make with kids and friends as I did last week.

Recipe:

200g unsalted butter

280g caster sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

400g plain flour

a pinch of salt

1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Put the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in a freestanding electric mixer (or use handheld whisk) and cream until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the flour, salt and cream of tartar and mix well, but don’t over-mix.  The dough should be light, soft and easy to handle.

Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the dough with a rolling pin.  Cut out shapes with your choice of biscuit cutters.  Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking trays and bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes.  Check them regularly to make sure they are not burning.  The cookies should be very light golden on the outer edges and paler in the centre.  When you are happy that they are cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly on the trays before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.  Decorate with Royal Icing.

Royal Icing                                                                                                                           1 egg white

1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

310g icing sugar

food colouring (optional)

For the icing beat the egg white and lemon juice together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment or use a handheld electric whisk) gradually start adding the icing sugar, mixing well after each addition to ensure all sugar is incorporated.  Whisk until you get stiff peaks.  If the icing is too runny, add a little more sugar.  Stir in a couple of drops of food colouring if using and decorate the cookies.

Happy Baking

XXX

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Gift Wishlist (Men take note)

If you are like the majority of the population out there you most probably have not finished your Christmas shopping, or even started it for that matter.  I find most publications get their christmas lists out way too early, because people read them, think they are great and then totally forget about what they had seen and have to start the search again….alone! So here is another wishlist that I have put together, this one is for the men to take note of for their ladies, mums, sisters etc…As it’s a little closer to the shopping dash madness hopefully you will bear these ideas in mind when running around like a headless chicken, or better yet, shop them directly from here by clicking on the links below.

It really does pay off to be organised, I must say I like nothing more than giving a gift that I have put thought into and that I am almost 100% certain the receiver is going to LOVE and I despise giving a gift that I have grabbed just for the sake of it and am almost embarrassed to give because no thought has been put into it and I find that is when you end up throwing more money at the situation.

From Red and Green to Metallic and Greys, there’s a colour scheme below to suit anyone out there.

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Faux Fur jacket //  Photo Frame // Pom Pom Basket // Earrings // Toiletry Bag // Matches in a jar

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Velvet Lace-up shoes // Leather cross body bag // Velvet slippers //  Cocktail Ring // Sequin bomber jacket

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Earrings // Nail polish  // Sweater with floral detail // Velvet Bodysuit // Beaded clutch // Chair

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Red Dress // Non wired bra // Toiletry bag // Personalised Christmas socks // Lip Pencil

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Velvet shoes // Silk Top // Monogramed Mug // Leather bag

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Antlers on a shield // Salad servers // Blanket scarf // Pomegranate bath marbles // Copper light with turquoise cord

Slide7PJ Bottoms //   Personalised bracelet // Knitting needle case // Candle holder // Cashmere gloves // Passport Holder

Slide8Bobbi Brown Face Highlighter // Suede Gilet // Metallic Leather Skirt // Leather shopper // Earrings

Happy Shopping and Merry Christmas to all you wonderful readers!

XXX

The heart and soul….

I think most modern families would agree that the kitchen is most definitely the heart and soul of the house.  With the crazy lifestyles we lead, its pretty much cook, sit, eat, clean and run off.  So with this in mind to maximise the rushed time together, the best idea, is to ensure your kitchen has a table and is a family friendly environment so everyone can enjoy themselves in the space.  This means probably a little kiddie friendly corner with mini table and chairs, a box of toys, a wall or an island side painted chalk board, perhaps a door to the outside and if you have the luxury of loads of space, potentially an island with stools as well as a big table with chairs (hmmm I love it when my mind runs wild with ideas).

The dining table in a kitchen these days serves as many things.  A homework table, an admin table (mine certainly piles up with all the paperwork I need to see to), a place to sit and drink coffee and of course a beautiful space for family and friends to sit and eat.

My pet hate however with having a dining table in the kitchen is when hosting a dinner party and all the dirty cooking utensils, pots and pans pile up around the kitchen, so its a good idea to either design the kitchen so the sink area is far from the table and if possible around the corner of the fridge for example, better yet in a separate utility room so completely invisible.

We are in the process of buying a house, a lovely old family home, HOWEVER, the kitchen is teeny tiny and is a galley type kitchen so no room for even a miniature kids table. Luckily there are two laundry/pantry style rooms on the one side and a dining room on the other, so hopefully (all fingers and toes crossed) we will be able to bash through all these walls and rather than have four separate rooms have one super large kitchen/diner.  And although Im not sure we will be able to do any work straight away, I still sit and dream up the perfect kitchen……  I love a contemporary space but Im a sucker for a bit of rustic-ness too, so I would love contemporary kitchen units with modern appliances but a large old style table, perhaps mix and match chairs, large windows and an extra large natural rug (from Coral & Hive, check out their page here). If there’s space in this design mix and match, then give me an exposed brick wall too.

Having a fire place in the kitchen really turns this into a warm happy place, however probably not necessary in hot countries!
Having a fire place in the kitchen really turns this into a warm happy place, however probably not necessary in hot countries!
Love all the light and the large island complete with chalk board of course
Love all the light and the large island complete with chalk board of course
I love the high cupboards and the ladder.
I love the high cupboards and the ladder.
A very classy kitchen
A very classy kitchen
I will take the dog too ;-)
I will take the dog too 😉
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Quite busy but looks a fun kitchen to be in.
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More of a breakfast nook, very casual, but inviting.

When the time comes in the hopefully not too distant future I will be sure to post pics of what the result actually turns out to be.  For now I will continue to day dream about my perfect kitchen layout.

X

Summer Entertaining

I don’t actually think summer entertaining is easier than winter.  The only easier bit is being able to all be outdoors but other than that I think throwing a stew together or slow cooking a Tagine or Casserole in winter is far easier than all the little finger foods and delicate bites available for summer parties.  We recently had a fun evening with some of our neighbours, 3 couples in total, and we each hosted a course at our homes. We did the starter, then moved on to another house for the main and then another for dessert.  Bruce and I wanted to do something tasty but really easy and quick as we didnt want to pre-cook (well you can’t really with most starter foods) but we were expecting our guests shortly after bath/bed time for the boys so we had a bit of multi-tasking to do, getting them fed and ready for bed and having our dinner party food ready for our guests upon their arrival.

We opted for sticky chicken wings (sauce made from scratch obviously), prawn, mango and lime zest skewers and tomato and avocado bruschetta with basil and glazed balsamic.  We also made a summer cocktail of Vodka and Elderflower which was so refreshing (unfortunately no photo for that).

I didn’t do much in the way of decor.  What I’m finding in Summer is that it’s lovely to pick a colour and combine it with white, stick to two bright fresh summer colours and keeping it that simple always works.  The colourful array of summer fruits and veg available are also enough to bring brightness to your table, and its all about presentation!

Some of the ingredients for the food below – look at the beautiful colours!

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Bruschetta with Avocado, Rosa Tomatoes, Basil and a drizzle of Balsamic glaze

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Chilli Prawn & Mango skewers with lime zest

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Sticky barbecue chicken wings

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So after having thought summer parties were quite tricky, these delicious bites took us no time at all.  We did pre-prepare the sauce for the chicken wings but everything else was done minutes before, a slight juggling act, I would say you need two pairs of hands but its possible and totally worth the effort!

Hope you having a lovely summer, I can’t wait for our next party!

x

DF / Mexico

If you are searching for a new cool restaurant with a difference I would try out DF Mexico which opens tomorrow!!!! 24th July.

DF which stands for Distrito Federal, (Spanish & Portuguese for Federal District) AKA Mexico City will open in Bricklane serving a delicious mixture of dishes inspired by American Diner/Mexican food truck, so essentially a Mexican Diner, and the food is created by a former Masterchef winner.

Check out the website to peruse the menu and location.  The food looks mouth watering! http://www.dfmexico.co.uk

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 13.19.20I will report back once tried and tasted 😉

xx

 

Unwind, it’s the weekend!

Weekends are a time to relax, feel relaxed, easy going and hassle free. Enjoy some inspirational tips on how best to do this.

Start off the weekend well with a fresh homemade juice.  There are tons of lovely juicing recipes on the internet, gather all your fruits and veg and chuck in whatever you fancy, this way you get all your nutrients in a quick and tasty way and you don’t have to be too strict on yourself for the rest of the weekend.  One of my favourites is Apple, Carrot, Strawberries and Ginger – so refreshing! Another yummy refreshing juice if you have some friends coming over (but not as healthy) is homemade lemonade. Juice 10 lemons.  Add 2 cups of brown sugar to a bowl, pour over a litre of boiling water, leave until the sugar dissolves. Once dissolved mix with the lemon juice and pour over another litre or 2 of cold water. Add ice and fresh lemon to the glasses.

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Go barefoot.  Walking around barefoot in the summer is the most liberating feeling, I love the feeling of the soft cold grass under my feet 😉

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Wear your comfiest clothes, leave the stiff structured stuff for the week and wear loose fitting, soft fabrics.

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Have to go out and feeling lazy? Keep your distressed comfy jeans on and just add heels and an evening bag to spruce up the look

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Sit down and make yourself some lunch, it can be such a luxury on a busy Saturday. Enjoy healthy salads filled with fruit to add that summer freshness, its like mains and dessert all in one – yum!

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And lastly, kick around in your comfiest shoes that simply cannot be worn to work – ever. This is the only chance you get. Forget the pumps and heels…Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 12.33.00Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 12.06.46

I hope you all have a relaxing weekend with lots of sunshine, love and happiness xx and maybe a good book 😉

 Pics: Pinterest