Archive for June, 2010

Here are some ideas for fresh and delicious summer drinks to serve to your wedding guests. These cooling beverages are just as easy to make in small quantities as large – so if you are just having a summer garden party or a large wedding reception, you can get stuck into making scrummy welcome drinks for your guests:

Homemade Ginger Beer – serves 8
1/2 tsp yeast
1 lemon – juice and rind
2tbsp grated root ginger
1 cup sugar
2l bottle

Add all the ingredients to a 2l bottle (an empty lemonade bottle works perfectly – but make sure it has a sturdy lid. many water bottles have short lids which have a tendancy to pop off when the pressure gets too high) and add a couple of cups of water. Shake well until the sugar is dissolved. Fill the bottle to about 2″ below the top, put the lid on really tight and leave the bottle somewhere warm for a couple of days or until the bottle goes rock solid. To stop the fermenting, pop the bottle into the fridge to chill. You will need to be really careful when you open the bottle that it doesn’t fiz everywhere… When you are ready to serve, strain the liquid into glasses with ice and garnish with slices of lime, or sprigs of mint.

If you want to make lashings and lashings of ginger beer for summer adventures, then buy those large waterbottles from the supermarket and multiply the ingredients in proportion to their size. You may need to leave more than 2″ space at the top to allow for more expansion.

Raspberry lemonade
The easiest way to do this is just to crush handfulls of raspberries and add to bought-lemonade. Add a few whole raspberries per glass for garnish.

As usual, my mum is the absolute authority on all things homemade and recipes. Here are two scruptious drinks I remember from my early days…

Basic lemonade
This recipe isn’t fizzy but delicious non-the-less. It makes a cordial that is much easier to transport to the reception venue and then add chilled water & ice.
1.5 lb sugar
1/2 oz citric acid & 1 tsp /tartaric acid  (get them from your local chemist)
Put into a large basin and add 3 pts boiling water. Stir well until sugar has melted
Add juice of 3 lemons + strips of rind from 2. Leave overnight, strain & bottle

You can sterilise bottles & lids and keep the cordial in cool cupboard, but it also stores in fridge for a couple of weeks or in washed-out milk cartons in freezer if you want to make it in advance.

Elderflower Cordial
The smell of the elderflowers in hedgerows at this time of year is overpowering. Pick a few flower heads to make a delicious alternative (a lot cheaper than) ‘Green Bottle’
3lb sugar
2pts boiling water
2oz citric acid
2 medium lemons sliced
stir well until sugar has melted, then stir in 20 large young elderflower heads (shake to release any insects!). Leave overnight, strain & bottle. Storage as per the lemonade above.

To sterilise bottles to keep the cordials in if you are making in advance: Simply wash glass bottles and their lids really well and put in boiling water. After a few minutes place them on a baking tray in the oven to get rid of any germs. Take them out and leave to cool before pouring the cordial in.


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Retail guru, Mary Portas, a.k.a. Mary Queen of Shops, has a point. With the rise of huge supermarkets the great British high-street is suffering. Smaller independent shops are going out of business. Mary tells us that 5,000 small shops closed last year – We’ll miss our neighbourhood shops when they’ve gone…

It’s not just greengrocers and corner shops that we have at hand. Next Monday (28th June) Mary will be revamping a homewares business in Kingston. Do we really want to be left with only massive retail parks miles from our homes so that we have to journey out in the car to buy a unique gift for a friend’s birthday or browse for accessories to spruce up a tired outfit or items for your home.

Not only are there are benefits to using local wedding service providers, such as caterers using local produce, or locally grown flowers in your displays, that will cut down on air miles and also benefit the local economy; but you can also think about how you incorporate local into your new home when compiling your gift list. Using the wedding list service of a huge department store may be convenient, but do they offer the unique items that will make your home reflect your personal style? Can you incorporate one-off items made by independent designers?

An independent gift list, on which you can request items from a number of retailers whether they are online based, high street or local, will give your home a unique flavour rather than copy-cat style. Set yourself up with a free independent list manager on Wedding Notebook

Are there local designer makers that you adore, or smaller retailers that you can support who offer great quality alternatives to mass-produced items? You may even have friends who are self-employed designer-makers who you’d love to include on your list.

It is hard for me to suggest local stores to add to your list as I can’t tell where you live. Here are a few online stores with local at heart:

Warren Evans beds
Handmade in their London workshops, these beds are made from FSC wood and when delivered are put together for you – all part of the service for hardly any more money that you would buy flat-pack elsewhere. If you need to move the bed then they are easy to take apart and reassemble, and should one part of the bed be damaged you can get a replacement section rather than having to buy a whole new bed. They have won awards for Best Ethical Retailer and Best Green Company – so you can rest assured… and whatever else newly-weds get up to under the sheets…
Tip: Ask them to add a couple of inches to the legs for loads of storage underneath for homes that need to maximise on space

The ultimate department website of purely home-made and independently made homewares, accessories and gifts. The only downside is that the prices are shown in dollars and you have to look carefully to see if the seller is UK based. Other smaller UK based versions of etsy include Make It Sell It, Dream Aid, Ugly Be Gone & NotMassProduced

Florence & Florence
Re-loved homewares – these lovely ladies have scoured the country for second-hand items and restored them to their original beauty. Old wool becomes a chunky hand-crocheted cushion cover; an old vase is lovingly brought back to its former glory. They just need homes to be loved in.

Next Monday (28th June) Mary will be revamping a homewares business in Kingston as part of her Queen of Shops series on the BBC, and there must be lots of similar stores up and down the country. So why not take a walk round your local area with your partner on a Saturday and see if there is anything you can add to your independent wedding list. You will enjoy dreaming up a new look for your home and your guests will appreciate being able to buy your wedding gift so locally.

Whether you think Mary Portas is brash and rude, or that she really is breathing life into the local and charity retail sectors – take a leaf out of her book and pop along to your local shops to encourage them – Tell them what you love about them, or even let them know how they could improve to make you shop there more often. You’ll feel the benefits when they are providing just what you need, just where you need it – locally.

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We love the relaxed romantic style of Bond girl, Gemma Arterton, who married Italian Stefano Catelli in Spain this weekend. Her vintage style wedding ideas are worth noting, even if you can’t find castle ruins for the ceremony, or rely on the British weather to hold out!

Images: romantic bridal hair (via The Knot), Trailing white rose bouquet (via My Wedding Flower Ideas), paper parasols (via Aleit), Hydrangea floral displays (via The Knot), vintage car (via LisaDawn Photography)

Bedroom eyes – Gemma’s inspiration for finding the perfect dress was based on the fact that her finace loves her most when she wakes up first thing in the morning wrapped up in the bedsheets… If you don’t know where to start when choosing your dress, visit a Worn Once wedding dress showroom to try a selection of new or nearly new dresses for bargain prices.

Red carpet hair – Gemma’s vintage style wedding hair is pulled back into a loose chignon, a favourite with hollywood’s leading ladies – and finished with a long veil clipped low in her hair.

Play with light – Keep the colour scheme light and breezy to compliment the Mediterranean heat – displays of white and green are simple but effective, whilst hydrangeas create large dsiplays with just a few blooms.

Keep your cool – Help guests shelter from the sun at an outdoor wedding by providing paper parasols. If you have some white umbrellas to hand they will do come rain or shine!

We love that Gemma kept her wedding a personal family affair and was inspired by things personal to her and Stefano when designing her look. You can see photo’s of Gemma and Stefano’s wedding here

You can create your own wedding style mood board like the one above using the tools at Wedding Notebook. Register free here

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Dress – check.
Shoes – check.
Jewellery – undecided…

Your wedding jewellery is the icing on the cake, and needs to compliment the outfit, theme and style perfectly. With so much choice available it can be difficult to choose, or at least compare the options.

What you need is a location with a variety of brands all in one place for easy comparison. And you are in luck as this week, as part of London Jewellery Week, CRED jewellery are hosting Essence, the jewellery equivelent to Esthetica (the ethical area of London Fashion Week) with a pavillion dedicated to showing the best of ethical jewellery and designers.

Set within Treasure, the general jewellery pavillion, Essence will be showcasing designs from ethical brands including April Doubleday, Avasarah, Choo Yilin, CRED, Fifi Bijoux, Leblas, Oria and Ute Decker. See a list of all the exhibitors. The event includes seminars and panels about exciting new tresnds in jewellery and about ethical and fairtrade developments, plus other benefits such as free make-uppers from beauty experts Benefit…you’ll need it after a day of window shopping…

The show is this weekend, Friday 11th – Sunday 13th June and combined tickets for entry to Treasure & Essence cost just £5 on the door…though if you contact CRED they can send you a 2-for-1 voucher for entry…

Treasure: Victoria House, Southampton Row, London WC1B 4DA.
The show is open Friday 12noon-8pm, Sat & Sun 10am-6pm

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