Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Introduction of Cocktail Hour

I was sitting on our roof terrace one sunny afternoon, working on ideas for a client’s birthday tea party. Suddenly I thought, how can I recommend these cocktails without first making sure they taste delicious? I'm all heart like that.

I also thought, God it’s hot! Surely 14:00 is an acceptable time to have a cocktail.

So I headed to the kitchen, pulled out the ingredients and began to mix.

I'm not going to lie, some tasted better than others. By the end of the afternoon I was a little far gone and can't remember what the latter ones tasted like. I reasoned if they were great, I would have remembered, and for this reason I removed several from the list.

Remembering that these cocktails were to be served at a tea party. I started to think about using tea as an ingredient. I love green tea, I love gin and I love cake. I'm not even sure I'd be able to choose between them, so let’s group them together as 'my favourites' and hope I never have to.

I thought about adding cake to the cocktail. Obviously I was a little tipsy by this stage. Thank goodness I reassessed that idea. It is most definitely better to serve cake on the side, rather than in the cocktail.

During the afternoon, I stumbled upon a recipe by Greg Henry, tweaked it a little and came up with a winner. This is how I make the green tea gimlet.

The Green Tea Gimlet

To make a batch of 4 you need:
  • 5oz of Tanqueray gin 
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of Genmai Cha Japanese green tea
  • 3oz of fresh lime juice
  • 2oz of sugar syrup (Easy to make, its equal amounts of sugar to water heated until the sugar is dissolved and left to cool. I make up enough to fill a bottle and keep it in the fridge)
  • 4 lime wheels as garnish
  • Ice
  • Put the tea into the gin and leave to infuse overnight
  • Leave glasses in freezer to chill
  • Drain tea infused gin. (I'm sure you can buy some fancy gadget to do this, but I use a clean pop sock)
  • Squeeze limes
  • Fill cocktail mixer with ice, add gin, lime juice and sugar syrup, stir until thoroughly chilled
  • Pour into chilled glasses
  • Add lime wedge garnish  

This is a cocktail I definitely recommend serving at your tea party. I love it so much, I introduced cocktail hour in its honour.  
Now that the seasons have changed I'm experimenting with rum. I'll let you know when I find another winner.
On other news, the build is finished. Hooray! We now have a lovely new office, loads of storage and a beautiful sun terrace which is a pleasure to drink cocktails on.
Claire x

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Tips and Ideas for the Perfect Styled Vintage Wedding

Traditionally newlyweds would leave for their honeymoon midway through their weddings reception, often catching the late steam train or boat. Capturing the romance of travel from a bygone era can be a visually stunning way to great your guests. This is especially true if you, like many couples these days have asked for a contribution towards your honeymoon as a gift.

To do this use wartime leather suitcases, not only do these look great, but they offer a very practical place for you guests to leave their wedding cards and gifts. Grouping items together will have more impact, therefore its worth thinking about which items complement each other. For example adding a vintage parasol, a folding camera and an old map, ideally of the honeymoon destination to the suitcase display would look great.  To achieve more visual depth, it's useful to add layers of detail with smaller interesting objects, such as glass paper weights, magnifying glasses or a pair of vintage binoculars.

Guest books are very popular at modern weddings, if you'd like to incorporate one into your vintage themed wedding, I suggest it's grouped with a pile of vintage books and a vintage typewriter. To add an extra layer of detail it's nice to incorporate some wedding photos of older relatives, especially if they are unable to make your special day. Make sure you use frames that are aligned to the vintage theme.

Whether you are serving afternoon tea or morning breakfast, there are some styling ideas that work for both. Vintage books make beautiful centrepieces, these can be enhanced with candles or flowers. Using particular glassware, for example champagne saucers instead of flutes will add some 1930s glamour. Tea and coffee served from vintage china is a sure way of boasting the vintage theme as well as injecting colour to your wedding tables. Greater depth can be achieved by layering smaller details, such as silver sugar tongs and linen napkins.

If you're serving drinks in an outside area, glass drinks infusers work really well. They look beautiful filled with colourful drinks and guests can help themselves. My favourite is homemade lemonade or gin and elderflower. Serve drinks in jar glasses with stripy straws to complete the look. Add some outdoor games, such as croquet, a quintessential garden party must to complete the look.

Vintage Tea Party offer a fantastic styling service, they have a wonderful collection of authentic vintage props and a beautiful collection of vintage crockery.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Play That Funky Music

I'm super excited for summer, apart from the obvious warm weather and more cheery disposition of Londoners, I'm looking forward to attending two amazing weddings. These will be very different, one is a country garden wedding in the Cotswolds, the other a grand hotel reception in Edinburgh. Having chatted with both couples, they share a common theme, they are yet to decide which music to include in their special day.  

Music is an important element to any wedding. Most couples will take time to choose which piece of music they wish to include in their wedding service. Whether that be a piece of classical music, their favourite song, or a hymn they like.  

For some, that's where the thought stops. I once attended a wedding where the same song was played on a continuous loop for the duration of the whole meal!  

I wasn't going to put our guests through that. Luckily both my husband and I love music and have eclectic tastes, which came in handy when trying to include a little bit of everything to please our guests. After months of 'hard work', (term used very loosely), we'd put together a playlist that would last 3 days. (We were a little greedy and stretched our wedding out). 

So last week, whilst slurping my chicken pho, I was asked by one bride-to-be, if I had a song request to add to their list. Only 1 song, so difficult to choose. 

After which started an hour long discussion with the soon to be married couple, myself and my husband, about top wedding songs. The four of us sat around the restaurant table discussing the merits of each song and have come up with a list of 30.  

To clarify these are not the best songs ever written, these are in our humble option, some of the best songs to be played at an evening wedding reception.  

We made the following assumption; that you like your guests and wanted them to have a good time. That your guest list would be of a mixed demographic. (Some songs may not be for you, but someone at your wedding will love them). T

These songs are in no particular order (as we couldn't agree, so I’ve listed them alphabetically).

Top 30 Evening Wedding Reception Songs 

9-5 (Dolly Parton)
Bright side of the road (Van Morrison)
Brown Sugar (Rolling Stones)
Dancing on the ceiling (Lionel Richie) 
Dancing Queen (Abba)
Don't stop me now (Queen)
Footloose (Kenny Loggins)
I wanna dance with somebody (Whitney Houston)
Livin' on a Prayer (Bon Jovi) 
Love Machine (Girls Aloud)
Lucky Star (Madonna) 
Moves like Jagger (Maroon 5ft Christina Aguilera)
My Generation (The Who)
Proud Mary (Tina Turner)
Sex on Fire (Kings of Leon)
She bangs the drum (Stone Roses)
Stayin' Alive (Bee Gees)
Superstitious (Stevie Wonder)
Surfing USA (Beach Boys)
Sweet home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
The way you make me feel (Michael Jackson)
Together in Electric Dreams (Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder)
Twist and Shout (The Beatles)
Uptown Funk (Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars)

With only 30 slots to fill, this has been incredibly difficult, we were unable to include many amazing artists.

I'm not saying these are the best songs ever written, or that they are the only good songs to play at a wedding reception.  I'm however pretty sure if you want to please your guests and have them up dancing, you won't go far wrong playing a few from the list above. 

I’m know a lot of these songs will be played at the weddings this summer and I can't wait to hit the dance floor. There is already talk of a dance off. Given a few drinks and I may even join in.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Sparkling Celebrations

The use of engagement rings dates back to cavemen, they tied cords of braided grass to their mate’s wrists, ankles, and waist. One of the first recorded uses of a diamond engagement ring, was Archduke Maximilian of Austria. He proposed to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 with a ring that was set with thin, flat pieces of diamonds in the shape of an “M.”

Why you may ask am I sharing my limited historical knowledge with you. Well I was delighted to hear that my best friend's valentine's weekend was a great success and she returned from Paris an engaged woman. Hooray!

Having very little knowledge about diamonds, I was surprised to hear my husband is something of an expert. Apparently he did a lot of research, this is what I've learnt:

When choosing the perfect diamond for your engagement ring there are four C's to consider; Cut, Clarity, Colour, and Carat.
  • The cut determines a diamond's shape and brilliance. A well-cut diamond reflects light and sparkles. 
  • Clarity refers to the purity of a diamond. Most diamonds have internal blemishes known as "inclusions," but high quality stones have no visible marks and are considered flawless. 
  • The highest quality diamonds are colourless. 
  • The weight, or size, of the diamond is measured in carats. The more carats a diamond has, the more expensive it will be.
Expert advice aside, I think most importantly you have to love it. I'm pleased to say the boy did good and she is wearing a stunning sparkler on her third finger which she loves.

Other not so exciting news is that our so called 'watertight' roof was not water resistant. Our romantic valentines’ weekend was interrupted by a waterfall pouring through our bedroom ceiling. Nothing cools the passion quite so much as a small flood.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Things Are On The Up

Sunday’s torrential rain turned our leaking ceilings into small waterfalls. It was all a bit comical, we had so many buckets and pans set out to catch the water, it was like an assault course moving from one room to the other.

Monday the ceiling came down and I stood on my landing looking at the sky surrounded by a pile of, what I imagine to be 100 years of dust and dirt. My cream carpet is now black.

Up went temporary boarding and after two days of non-stop banging, I've been told we are water tight. Hooray!

If that's not exciting enough, today I featured as a guest blogger on the fabulous English Wedding blog. 

To read click here, enjoy!

Come visit our website to see our collection.

Friday, 22 January 2016

A Wedding to Remember

One of the most memorable weddings I've been to took place 15 years back. It was far from perfect, but I fondly remember it because of its hilarity and the good time had by all. 

It started with a disaster, only a few days earlier the bride received a call, their wedding venue had gone bankrupt and they would need to find an alternative. The hunt begin and sure enough they found a caterer and a bar that was more than happy to host.

Luck was now on their side. What else could possibly go wrong? 

Standing in the front pew was my aunt, mother of the groom. She was wearing a floaty chiffon dress. During the service, the straps of the under slip snapped and it fell. It took a while for her to realise that a) this had happened, and b) the outer layer was see-through. There she stood at the front of the church showing her knickers to everyone. (After we stopped laughing we fixed it with safety pins and she soldiered on).

The heavens opened as we left the church. Most guests, including myself were optimistically dressed for sunshine, not a coat or umbrella in sight. We all hurried into the coach and off we went to the new reception venue. About half way there, the coach broke down. By the time we reached the reception, we looked like drowned rats. 

There was some sort of mix up with the catering, oh dear. Whilst we tucked into chilli con carne served on paper plates, another party was enjoying the wedding feast that had been ordered. 

As for the speeches, the best man swayed from side to side, rambled some nonsense and then had to be rescued by the groom as he sobbed into the microphone. 

This all sounds awful, but it was bloody brilliantly. Everyone had embraced the humour of it. Guests were laughing and joking. The bride and groom were having the time of their lives.

Once the DJ started, the music was cranked up and everyone hit the dance floor, some took to dancing on the chairs, (including my usually reserved father). This wedding had turned into something very special. 

What could go wrong did, and yet this is still one of the most fun wedding I've ever had the pleasure of attending. If things don't go to plan on your wedding day, don't stress. Your guests will have a great time regardless.