anyone for pimm’s?

Paola Thomas, proprietor of mirrormirror and occasional Shelterrific contributor, is a Brit living in Seattle (her description, not mine). She offered to correct my American misconception of how to make a Pimm’s. Enjoy! –Mary T.

It’s the middle of May, and summer is fast approaching (unless you live in Seattle, when summer arrives promptly on the 5th of July). If you live in the UK, this means your thoughts are turning to rainy back-garden barbecues, rained-out cricket matches, and rain-soaked picnics, all of which are greatly enhanced by a large jug of Pimms. (It’s also the perfect accompaniment at summer events such as Wimbledon, Henley, and Glyndebourne as you sit freezing in a thin sleeveless summer frock with an inadequate wrap tugged around your shoulders. Believe me — I speak from experience.)

1) The first thing to do is track down a bottle of Pimm’s. Pimm’s was invented in 1823 by a Mr. James Pimm. The exact recipe remains a closely guarded secret, though it has a very citrus-y, herbal taste. It is useful to know that it is 25% alcohol by volume. I’ve been able to find Pimm’s at liquor stores in the US, but not everywhere.

Pimm’s No.1 Cup is gin-based and is the most commonly available type. At one time, there were six different “Cups,” each based on a different liquor, but nowadays only No.1 and the vodka-based No. 6 — my personal preference as I’m not a great gin drinker — are produced, though I haven’t been able to find no. 6 in the US. There is also a winter version, Pimm’s Winter Cup, based on brandy and winter spices.

2) The next bit is easy. Fill a pitcher full of ice and add one cup of Pimm’s to two cups of lemony soda (such as Sprite) or ginger ale. Keep adding in these proportions until you are happy with the amount.

3) Then go to town on the garnish. At the very least, add some half-moon slices of orange and lemon to bring out the citrus-y flavors of the drink. A very traditional British accompaniment is slices of cucumber (there’s something very delicious about picking slices of sweet alcohol-soaked cucumber out of your drink) and some sliced strawberries to make it look pretty.

4) Finally, gently crush a handful of baby mint leaves and stir them in. By the time you’ve finished, your pitcher should look like you’ve just added a small fruit salad. You see? It’s practically a health food! –Paola T.

Photo by Rupert Hennen

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cool cups with a twist


How cool are these cups from Up In the Air Somewhere? I love the pop of yellow against the light grey and white ceramic. My favorite part of the design is that the yellow is not just a glaze, but actually rubber! Each cup is coated in a food-safe glaze, then hand-dipped into the yellow rubber, so no two cups are the same. Pick them up for $32 each right here. –Erica P.

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an unexpected source for cool kitchen gear

At brunch last weekend at a hip NYC restaurant, I made a wonderful discovery. I was lusting after the super cool stainless steel coffee mugs that littered the tables and flipped one over to find out it was from Coleman! The camping gear company sells the Double Wall Mountain Mug that I so love (even the handle is a perfect size). Next time you’re looking for design-worthy dinnerware, be sure to seplace your local camping store! –Erica P.

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i tried pepsi natural

A few years ago, I was struggling with a bad addiction to caffeinated, high fructose corn syrup-laden carbonated beverages — most notably Coke and Pepsi. Quitting that stuff was the hardest thing I’ve ever quit, seriously. Occasionally, I still crave those sweet, fizzy delights and indulge, but only in a cane sugar-sweetened Coke or Pepsi from Mexico (which still has other naughty stuff in it, like artificial flavors). How delighted was I to see Pepsi Natural on the shelf at Target the other day? With its cane sugar and all-natural kola nut extract tempting me, of course I immediately imbibed, but with restraint — this is a “classy” soda after all. The carbonation wasn’t as aggressive as most colas I’ve tried, and the cola flavor itself was much more subdued and earthy than regular Pepsi. Delicious and different, indeed — but thankfully not addicting! –Megan B.

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contest! win a lead-free, eco-friendly garden hose

Update: I managed to confuse myself with this contest, so we are going to go ahead and take entries until midnight EST on Tuesday, May 5. Thanks, everyone! –Mary T.


Lots of us have a pleasant summer memory of getting a refreshing drink from the garden hose. So it was a bit shocking to learn that plenty of garden hoses contain dangerous levels of lead. Teknor Apex to the rescue! The company, the second-largest manufacturer of garden hoses in the U.S., just came out with two new hoses: AquaPure Neverkink and Healthy Habitat, both of which are lead-free, making them safe to drink from. As an added bonus, they help reduce water usage by as much as 20 percent!

Teknor Apex has graciously given us one of their new, safe hoses to give away to you! The AquaPure Neverkink hose is lead-free, drinking water safe (made with F.D.A. sanctioned materials), and conserves water with a reduced flow rate. And as an added bonus, it’s made of “no kink, no twist, no tangle” material — guaranteed.

Here’s how to enter: show us your small garden!
Is it a corner of the yard? A planting arrangement on your balcony? We want to see the part of your garden that makes you proud, and adds a little green to your day. All you have to do is send a JPG and a brief description to letters (at) shelterrific dot com. Once our team of contributors chooses our favorite, a new, safe hose will be on its way to you. Contest closes Friday, May 2 at 5 pm Tuesday, May 5 at midnight EST. Thanks, Teknor Apex!

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