Wednesday, 14 November 2007

The Brocante Home Puttery Treats Challenge

Before you start, may I invite you to pour a fresh cup of your favourite tea, and arrange a few biscuits on a pretty plate? Join me as I post about Brocante Home - my favourite place on the internet. I don’t like to call it a website because really it is a kitchen table around which we Vintage Housekeepers gather to sip tea, chatter, and read the scrumptious writings of Alison. Amongst her writings, she tells us to ‘put order before beauty, but make beauty your raison d’etre’ and for me this is what Puttery Treats are all about. I find myself whisking my little flat in to order a little quicker, mopping my kitchen floor a little cheerier, because I know that once I have prepared my canvas, the Puttery Treats await me like so many tubes of beautiful oil colours, to paint a picture of delight for the senses.

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As you can see, there is an abundance of treats to choose from, like a treasure chest thrown open and heaped with jewels. I love how they live in little bundles together, like bundles of patchwork fabrics, waiting to be chosen. All the Autumn treats a pile of autumn leaves, all the winter treats a flurry of snowflakes, and a bagful of scrumptious ideas to dip into, to pretty up your handbag. Bliss!

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One of the most delightful things for me about these treats is that while they are just for you, others benefit too. A visiting friend will enjoy your vanilla coffee in the autumn; you will make someone special smile with a note on a vintage postcard; everyone who comes into your home will adore the cosy scrumptiousness that these treats create, and, when you are all prinked up from arranging your little seasonal altar, or pasting bookplates into your favourite books, people will delight into come into contact with a sprauncier, happier, more scrumptious you.

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I have woven several of the treats into my life, so it has been hard to choose which to blog about. It is like being asked to choose one favourite from a whole field of daffodils! Several mornings over the last week or two, I have sat in the dark in my living room, lit only by candles while I sip my favourite rose tea, meditating on which treat to choose. And then, I opened my eyes! I was living my favourite treat, or treats at that moment. For I have combined two…I hope that is allowed! But these two have gently blurred and melded together for me, to become one utterly scrumptious puttery treat:

Get up very, very early. Just you. Creep downstairs, light candles and drink coffee in the dark, melancholy silence of an early Winter morning.

Light candles everywhere you go. Add tealights to bookshelves. Resolve to eat breakfast in the glow of the fairylights for the rest of the week...

I need to gentle into the day; not for me flinging back the covers and springing out of bed! And this is the most scrumptious way of gentling yourself into the day. Because dear Carl works up in London, he has to go out much before me, and so I find myself alone, but rather than lonely, in solitude. Our little flat is quiet, except for the odd ripple of water as the fish glide silently about-except at this hour, they too, are often sleeping.

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I wish I could garnish this little piece with some pictures so you could see what I do, but alas, I am without the necessary facilities, so I shall paint you some word pictures instead. I have no stairs to creep down, so instead, having waved dear Carl off, I steal quietly into the living room. There is no need to tiptoe, for there is no-one to disturb, but this early, it seems right to tiptoe. I take move quietly about the room, first to the book-cases, then to the windowsill, and finally to my little coffee table, lighting tea-lights and candles as I go. If it is near Christmas, I switch on the fairy lights instead. Sometimes I drip a single drop of violet oil into the wick of some of them, to scent the air.

My coffee table was inherited from some kindly neighbours when we moved into our little flat- it is dark wood, with elegant legs, and a heavy sheet of glass lies atop the surface. I always pull it a little closer to my sofa for my early morning treats. Sometimes I carefully drape my favourite embroidered vintage table cloth on it; other times, like today, I leave it bare, so I can watch the candle flames reflected in the glass, flickering and dancing away. Today I have my cream chamber stick holding an ivory candle, and a scattering of little tea lights. In a month or two, I will garnish my table with a potted hyacinth, in February ballet troupes of Daffodils; I have just had to retire a single creamy rose. I always leave room for my breakfast tray, but there is always a little pile, too. In my pile there may be a special letter that I have saved up to savour at this quiet time, or I particularly like a few pages of ‘The Enchanted April’ or ‘Mrs Miniver’ or ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day’. Sometimes I keep the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice here, and watch just ten minutes at a time. A little notebook with pretty paper for jotting early morning thoughts, and a box of violet creams, waiting for later.

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So, into the kitchen. It is delightful to breakfast alone; I can have just what I like and fear neither censure, or a greedy invading fork of another! Most mornings I like tea, usually breakfast tea, but sometimes rose scented tea. On colder mornings, I adore a cup of vanilla coffee. No matter which I choose, it must go into the pretty flowered mug that a lovely friend gave me, and whose twin she has in her own kitchen. I sit that upon my breakfast tray, to be joined by any of these, always served on my plate patterned with love-in-a-mist flowers:

A List of Scrumptious Breakfast Ideas, Good For Enjoying In Autumn and Winter

Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and snippets of chives stirred in.

Wholemeal toast with raspberry jam (I like Tiny Tip) – I read once that Audrey Hepburn breakfasted upon this, so I always think of her when I eat this.

A pretty bowl filled with porridge, sprinkled with cinnamon, with raisins stirred in.

A boiled egg and soldiers.

A bowl of muesli stirred together with grated apple and apple juice, topped with a dollop of greek yoghurt, and dusted with cinnamon.

A teeny tin of baked beans served on a single piece of toast.

Weetabix served with warmed milk and a chopped banana.

A baked apple done in the microwave – cheating I know, but nice and quick.

Toast topped with a spoonful or two of mincemeat; Christmas for breakfast.

A croissant or pain-au-chocolat, baked from frozen until warm and flaky.

And a little extra…an advent chocolate to let melt slowly on your tongue for those days when you cannot wait until later, or perhaps a violet cream if it is not advent…

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And so, it is ready. I bare my tray off into the living room, and sit in the glow of my candles or fairy lights. I sip my from my mug, and nibble on something sumptuous whilst enjoying the quiet and the still. When I put my breakfast things to one side, I enjoy a few minutes just to absorb it all, before I decide whether I shall pick up my book today, or if it is a day for scribbling, or Pride-and-Prejudice-watching, or even a few lines of knitting.

In this dark, soft, quiet, stillness, I feel my mind unfurl from its rest. I stretch, and yawn, feel my way gently into the day. The clock ticks, and ideas begin to percolate in my mind. The day starts to become alive, and I can almost taste the possibilities, because I am feeling receptive to them. What sort of day are you? What will you be filled with? What flavour, what texture are you? What shall I make of you? What shall you make of me?

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In case you are wondering where I find the time for all of this, and despair of ever finding so much time for yourself, it has taken longer to write this post (and probably read it too, the way I am rambling on!) than it does to 'do' my little morning puttery treat; I spend ten minutes or so in the kitchen, then twenty or so lingering in the early morning piece, so to have this treat for yourself is not beyond your reach. As I tiptoe around the room, putting my candles out, it occurs to me that in a way, taking time for this puttery treat is a way of lighting a candle in my day.


Unknown said...

How delight you make a chilly morning sound.

fairytalesandflowers said...

Oh what a delightful little post. Truly scrumptious Mrs Mimi

Anonymous said...

Mimi what a great entry! I love some of your morning ideas. I am eager to incorporate some of those ideas into my mornings since I'll be working from home starting in December. Thanks for the ideas. Good luck on the contest! I can't wait to see who wins - so many great posts!

Anonymous said...

Hello, I really enjoy reading your posts. The description of your breakfast is beautiful. I've forgotten, on fall and winter mornings used to do a shorter version of your ritual, but I'd gotten out of the habit. Thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

Please hint to dear Carl to give you a digital camera for Christmas . . . I would love to see pictures of your breakfast table!
Nita in South Carolina

Anonymous said...

A beautiful post, as usual! I find it so hard to get up on dark, fall/wintery mornings- this might entice me to!

Chris in Canada
wilburcbs (at) hotmail (dot) com

a pink-bee said...

What a wonderful post :)

Mandy said...

Lovely description - it really brings not just the picture but the feeling to life.

jewellspring said...

So I'm curious~what time does the sun rise where you live this time of year?

Since the US turned the clocks back a couple of weeks ago, I'm having trouble rising before the sun.

Oh, but I must at least try!

blessings said...

"What shall I make of you? What shall you make of me?" I'm so glad your day ran into mine! Blessings... Polly

LP Vintage said...

Love your post - just cast my vote for yours at Brocante Home - good luck! I would love to see some photos too!