As I continue to live in the limbo between moving into our new house and being very much over my current apartment, I have been doing a few projects that easily spruce up an item I already own. I remembered an old Little Green Notebook post about painting a lampshade, so I decided to do something similar at home. Of course I didn’t go back and read up on it first. I winged it! And here is the story of what happened.
I had a broken lamp on my night stand that had been my mother’s. The lamp was stuck in the on position and needed to be turned on and off by plugging and unplugging it. It was old and dated and the lampshade was a bit stained.
I lay out some newspaper to protect my table, and took the only brush I had on hand which is now in the trash. It was just a cheap old brush from The Home Depot. I also had some black paint lying around, which I thought would make for a sophisticated look. My technique was to lay the paint on thick. I poured some out onto a paper plate and heavily doused the end of my brush and went over an area until it was completely covered in black paint.
I was a bit rough at times since my paintbrush was old and stiff, and my technique wasn’t perfect. As a result there are a few dents, and the inside of the lampshade shows some scars from this. Luckily, the location of the lampshade doesn’t allow anyone to see inside of it. Once dried, I put it on a naked lamp that I had taken from my grandma’s apartment years ago. While not perfect, it was a quick and easy fix! When the light is on you can see some areas where the paint isn’t as thick, so in the future I would maybe add a second coat or lay the paint on thicker to begin with. I would also check and see if there was a paint specifically meant for fabric. However, I love the way it looks against the blue wall!
Flash of Lightning: Its Electric!
Everyone in the US learns at some point that they have Thomas A. Edison to thank when it comes to ease of sight at night. Those of us on this side of the Atlantic rarely hear of the lesser celebrated simultaneous inventor of the incandescent lightbulb: Sir Joseph Wilson Swan. His house, located in Gateshead, England, was the first in the world to be lit by light bulb. If the house was half as decadent as his name, I imagine that it was a sight to see. The man was knighted by King Edward VII and received many honors for his contribution to the world and for ruining permanent mood lighting forever.
While his new light was bright and clean, it was also a bit heavy on the bright. Although lampshades had been used in the past to direct light, lampshades now became necessary to mitigate the harshness of the incandescent light bulb. And harsh it can be. The light bulb doesn’t care if you’re self-conscious of your steadily developing crows feet. It will expose you. To find the appropriate drink to enjoy while bathing in the unforgiving light that my newly black lamp shade wonderfully softens, I turned to the pages of history. Or rather, historical pages. If you had attended Sir Swan’s first demonstration of his new fangled invention in 1878, he may have turned to a brand new publication for advice on what to serve his guests. Leo Engels’ American and Other Drinks was full of something new and interesting recipes for mixed drinks that had been imported from the US of A. To my delight, I found that his book has been scanned and republished and I had one in my hands in two days. And so, without further ado, I bring you drink #199 : Flash of Lightning.
- A wine glass of brandy
- Half a tea-spoonful of gingerette (read on if you are confused about what this might be)
- Table-spoonful of raspberry syrup
Shake well with ice, and strain into a tumbler.
After extensive and confused searching, I realized that Leo’s English was of the British variety and the my US minded Google search engine was leading me astray. Turns out, gingerette is just British for ginger syrup! I used the following recipe which was adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe for Fresh Ginger Syrup.
- 2 oz ginger (unpeeled) sliced and then roughly chopped
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cup of sugar
Add all three ingredients to a small pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 40 minutes. Strain. Store in a jar.
I turned to The New York Times for help with the Raspberry Syrup:
- 2 cups frozen raspberries
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar plus 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
Mix berries, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 cup of water in a medium size saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 4 minutes while stirring constantly. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain through a strainer lined with a paper towel into a bowl. Gently press berries with the back of a spoon to release extra juice. Return to the saucepan and add 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Let cool and store in a jar.
On Friday I had friends over. I pulled my ingredients out of the fridge, and the Brandy I use for cooking off of the shelf. I eyeballed a “wine glass of brandy” by filling up three quarters of the glass I was going to serve my drink in with brandy before dumping it in a shaker. I then followed Leo Engel’s instructions and the result was surprising. It tasted very different from what I was used to. It was subtly sweet, soft on the palette, and tasty. It was pleasant to sip on while I finished putting together dinner and a great drink for this strange transition from summer to fall. My friend thought it might be nice with some fresh lime juice. If you try this let us know! The leftover syrups can also be used to make soda (just mix with soda water to taste) or to inspire other new cocktails! (Hint: the raspberry syrup mixes well with gin!) Enjoy!