Refreshing Iced Tea and Tea Ice Lolly Sugarfree Recipe

Are you enjoying the sunshine or dodging the thunder clouds, either way I guess you could say this is a typical British summer. But with days of extreme heat it is ideal to find a shady spot and enjoy a glass of tea. Yes you read it right, we British as renown for our tea drinking no matter how hot the day is, but this time let us try something different. Iced Tea or a cooling Tea Lolly, both are easily made at home and healthy.
Making Iced Tea with Yogi Tea
Cooling Ice Tea and Ice Lolly made with Yogi Tea
Inspiration for this arrived in a wonderful Summer Hamper from Yogi Tea. So with the temperature gauge on the rise, I put the kettle on!  Well you do need to brew tea first to let it cool down. 

Licorice Mint Cooler Iced Tea / Ice Lolly

250ml Licorice Mint Yogi Tea
60ml apple juice
1ml lemon juice
fresh mint

Brew the tea with boiling water for 7 minutes, allow it to cool before chilling in the fridge. Add the lemon and apple juice. Serve with ice and a sprint of fresh mint. 
Alternatively pour the Licorice Mint Cooler drink into ice lolly moulds. 

What a healthy and refreshing alternative to a sweet syrupy ice lolly. 
Yogi Tea Licorice Mint Cooler
The perfect shady spot to escape the heat
Want to find out what goodies were in my Yogi Tea Summer Hamper? Watch my YouTube Unboxing video. Visit my YouTube channel to see my other unboxing videos. 

Disclosure: I was sent a Summer Hamper from Yogi Tea.
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Learn to Crochet Successfully with Beautiful Things Semi Virtual Courses

I have made much progress in my quest to learn to crochet. This is down to the clear and easy to follow instructions in the Beautiful Things course, which makes learning crochet from the comfort of your own home both relaxing and rewarding.  
Pretty Crocheted Flowers
In my previous post I shared some of the basic crochet goals I had reached, which you can still catch up with here or why not watch the unboxing video of me unpacking the crochet starter pack. 

From there I moved on to learn more crochet stitches, a Treble and the Half Treble. I have shared my progress not only on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but also the Facebook Group especially for everyone who enrolls on the course, everyone is so supportive. I posted photos of my crochet successes and my practice pieces, I do not want to call them failures after all I am a beginner and we all know how the saying goes 'practice makes perfect'. 
Learning to crochet with Beautiful Things
The next step in the course is to create something pretty. Yay! You can follow Claire on the video and there are step by step instructions and photographs in instruction book to make a lovely flower. It is so helpful to pause, rewind and watch the instructions as many times as you need. The flower combines all the techniques and stitches I have learnt on the course. My first flower was not perfect but lots of crocheted flowers later and I had really gotten used to the pattern. 

My lovely little flowers have received lots of compliments and both my sisters have been impressed with them. 

I have now accomplished:
  • Double crochet
  • Half Treble crochet stitch
  • Treble crochet stitch
  • Slip stitch
  • Understanding simple pattern instructions
  • Creating a crochet flower
  • Crocheting with confidence 
  • Interacting on a Facebook Group (optional)
I even took my crocheting and instruction guide on my cruise holiday, and I was not the only one crafting. There were quite a few fellow cruisers who were knitting, crocheting or sewing. Even the shop on board sold lots of crafting supplies. 
All equipment supplied to start you crocheting
If you want to find out more about the course or maybe you would like to learn crochet yourself, the Beginners Crochet course from Beautiful Things cost £40

Disclosure: I received the Learn to Crochet course from Beautiful Things in exchange for this review.
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Refreshed, refocused and ready

I am well and truly back from my holiday, a rather splendid cruise around the British Isles. My break away has left me refreshed and embracing a slower pass of life, not that I have been a busy person prior to it. Since taking redundancy I am still finding my path on just how much self employed work I want to embrace. Reflecting on this has made me realise that during my holiday I have achieved a number of things and it has also shown me I am ready to make a few more changes. So what better way than to share some of these than with a Five of Friday themed post.

Bucket List
This is not something I have set in stone, I do not even have a master list pinned on a board anywhere. It's more of a case of ideas kept safely in my head and voiced occasionally to my family and friends. 

Two ticks on the virtual bucket list..
Go on a cruise. I plan to share lots of photos and information about my cruise on Cunards Queen Elizabeth ship, it sailed around the British Isles stopping in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. I can not say I had any particular expectations about cruising, but I was delighted by the standard of service and and quality of food enjoyed during my time aboard. 

The Giants Causeway. The main reason I picked this particular cruise was that it stopped at Belfast, and gave me a chance to visit the UNESCO World Heritage and National Trust site of The Giants Causeway. This natural phenomenon has been on my virtual bucket list for many years. Though the trip from the ship started with a shower of rain, I was so pleased the sun came out and for the rest of the day the tour remained several steps ahead of the rain. Even with all the visitors it was still an amazing place to visit, and I am so delighted I did. 
Unplugged
Majority of time during my holiday I had limited access to the world of social media and wifi. Whilst I was keen to share my adventures with you all via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I also realised just how refreshing it was to step away from the constant checking of my phone for messages, emails and the electronic world.  As such I am on the brink of enforcing a no electronic devices ban on set hours for set days. Do let me know if you have tried this and if you have any tips.

Crochet
This extra freedom gave me more time for creativity. I successfully completed my Learn to Crochet the Easy Way course from Beautiful Things, and I am looking forward to taking my crochet to the next level with the intermediate course. Crochet is a great way to distract me from the electronic world.  Although I do love looking at all creations everyone posts on Instagram and their blogs, which is great for inspiration and motivation.
Writing
I have always had this small yearning to have something published. I guess in a way you could say that by creating and writing this blog I have achieved this. But I have decided to take it a little further and plan to publish my own e-book. Things are still in the planning and creative stage, but just by typing this and putting the idea out there I feel I have taken the first step. It will not be a novel, but something creative.

If you want to join in with Five of Friday then take a visit to the very creative Amy at Love Made My Home blog. 
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Recipe: Pineapple Pie

When I shared my bake of this Pineapple Pie Recipe on my Instagram and Facebook pages people were surprised and amazed by the recipe. It is not a typical English fruit pie, but a rather tropical creation. It was sweet, fruity, sticky and covered in pastry - what is not to like about that combination!
I love making shortcrust pastry, apart from my mum I make some of the best in the family - ah hem excuse me whilst I blow my own trumpet. But if pastry is not your thing than use pastry from the chiller section of the supermarket.
When making this recipe I found there was an excess of the sticky syrup. In hindsight I think it would of thickened if I had heated it longer but I was worried it would be 2 minutes to long and would catch on the bottom of the pan. Next time I will be braver. For that reason I choose not to add all the sauce into the pastry case, I did not want a soggy pastry bottom.  The upside to this was the leftover sauce made an excellent topping for ice cream sundaes or fresh fruit. Alternatively if you have any excess sauce you could put the in the freezer to defrost for another time.

Pineapple Pie Recipe

Pastry 
1 pack of frozen shortcut pastry
or make your own

Filling Ingredients
1 large pineapple chopped
8 oz sugar
1oz flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch cinnamon
pinch salt
1 1/2 oz butter

Instructions
  • Roll out just under half of the pastry and line your pie dish. Prick the base of the pastry thoroughly with a fork, or place a sheet of baking paper over the pastry and fill with baking beans. 
  • Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes 200 degrees c / gas 6.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • In a saucepan mix the pineapple, sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon  and salt, stir over a low heat on the hob. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens. Then remove from the heat and stir in the butter. 
  • Allow to cool.
  • Roll out your pastry topping.
  • Pour the mixture into the pastry base, it is at this point I decided not to pour all the syrup into my pie as I thought there was too much
  • Cover the pie with a pastry lid, pinch the lid and pastry base together with a little water and your thumb and finger. Or use a fork if you prefer.
  • Brush the pastry top with a little beaten egg.
Bake at 220 degrees C or Gas 7 for 10 minutes. Then adjust the oven temperature to 160 degrees C / Gas 3 for 30 minutes.
I plan to make this pie again and again, it was so well received and tasted so different to the usual fruit pies I tend to make. I hope that yet again I end up with more sauce than the pie needs as it was so tasty on ice cream. The only photo of a piece of the pie is not one of my best I am afraid, but as you can tell the pie was to celebrate a family birthday so everyone was eager to tuck in.
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Garden Posies and Cruet Sets

Garden Posies and Cruet Sets maybe something of a bizarre title but it all came about during Fathers Day. I had invited many of my family to enjoy a Fathers Day meal at home and the dinning area of the house resembled a bistro, I kid you not. As it was an occasion I thought I would make a little extra effort and decorate the tables. 
Aquilegia & Mock Orange Posy with Piggy Cruet Set
Aquilegia & Mock Orange Posy with Piggy Cruet Set
A visit into the garden with my snipper's and I came back with a selection of odd flowers. Days of rain had left many of the flowers is a sad and soggy state so I did have a limited choice. But with a little creativity and some sweet little vases I created three simple fresh flower table decorations. I also realised that I must have a thing for cruet sets. Ignore the two sets of standard pots of salt and pepper I have for every day use, I also have a further 3 sets! A set of birds, a set of pigs and a silver set, although the silver set is mainly used when I host an afternoon tea. 
Sweet Pea posy birds cruet set
Sweet Pea & Canterbury Bell Posy and Bird Cruet Set
silver cruet set
I think they add a little fun and humour to a table setting, particularly if you are entertaining visitors, its something a little different and often a talking point.

How do you make your table setting stand out? 
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My Crochet Adventures

Following on from my previous post on learning to crochet with Beautiful Things, I thought it was time for an update. First I have to say that once you find yourself a comfy spot there really is no stopping, even just practicing is very therapeutic.
Double Crochet
So, I've watched the introduction and read the beginning of the booklet that accompanies the course. Following the instructions was straight forward and Claire at Beautiful Things explains and demonstrates everything so clearly. When I filmed my unboxing video I did not spot that there were two lovely stitch markers attached to the balls of wool in the starter pack.
I now understand:-
  • How to hold and crochet hook and manage my yarn.
  • How to create a straight and smooth chain of stitches.
  • How to control the crochet tension.
  • Produce consistently even double crochet.
  • What a stitch marker is for. Yes I know it sounds obvious but I just thought I left my hook in the loop and hoped it would not fall out.
An even chain of crochet
More to the point I don't just feel that I understand the basics I actually feel comfortable with what I know. I realise now that how holding and yarn and hook correctly removes many of the mistakes I was making.  Being able to understand the stitches and controlling the tension of the crochet makes it relaxing. I hope this continues when it comes to reading and following a pattern.
Learning to crochet wth Beautiful Things
Next I am learning how to cast off and how to treble crochet and will also create my first project, a flower. My crochet adventures continue...

You can watch my Crochet Starter Kit Unboxing video on my YouTube Channel.

Disclosure: I received a free subscription to Beautiful Things Beginners Crochet
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Top 10 Tips for Hosting Afternoon Tea

Anyone who has enjoyed an Afternoon Tea will know that sometimes  it is the attention to detail that makes it extra special. Of course the tea, sandwiches, cakes are the main focus of any Afternoon Tea but it is the finishing touches that make the difference.
Here are my Top 10 Tips to add that little extra sparkle to your Afternoon Tea. They are in no particular order and of course you may not want to include them all, but just one or two of them will add that little something special to your next Afternoon Tea.

Top 10 Tips for Hosting Afternoon Tea

1 - Antique Cutlery
Delicate silver spoons, cake forks, a jam spoon or tea strainer add that touch of sophistication. Many antique shops and online retailers sell a set of silver plate spoons from around £20+. 

2 Napkins 
Fabric napkins are so much more preferable to the paper ones, they sit easier on your lap without sliding off onto the floor. No one wants to be ducking under the table to retrieve a dropped napkin.

3 Loose Tea
For a formal afternoon tea absolutely no tea bags, loose tea only and that's not up for discussion. After all you also get to enjoy using a tea strainer.

4 Flowers
A small vase or posy of fresh flowers will add to the ambiance and fragrance of your afternoon tea. They will also act as a point of discussion, even nicer if they are from your own garden.
5 Tablecloth
A crisp clean white linen tablecloth is essential, perfectly ironed and not a single crease in sight. Or an antique lace tablecloth would be wonderful if you are lucky enough to have one in the family. This will really make a difference when you have laid the table, it will create the perfect landscape for your table setting. 
Tip 6 - China Cups and Saucers
If you are going to buy and enjoy a specially selected tea it needs to be served in a china cup and saucer. It is not necessary to have a full matching tea serve, mismatched fine china adds a vintage feel to an afternoon tea. Use small side plates for those dainty finger sandwiches and cakes, this will also help with room on the table.

Tip 7 - Ambiance 
If there is quiet a few of you gathered together to enjoy your afternoon tea, there is bound to be lots of chatter. But I find it nice to have a little background music, maybe something classical, after all we doesn't all have a harpist available to play live. Fresh flowers and maybe a scented candle also add to the ambiance. 
Top 10 Tips for Hosting Afternoon Tea8 Invitations
This may sound a little old fashioned, but everyone loves to receive an invitation to a party in the post. You can always request rsvp's by email.

9 Cake Stand 
There is nothing quite so inviting than to see tiers of cakes and scones sitting at your table. Allowing your eyes time to explore each tier whilst you try and decide what to eat first. Only to then realise you really ought to start with the savory finger sandwiches, but really it is all about the cakes!

10 Reservations
If you are not a baker or host, then enjoy an Afternoon Tea out with friends, make a reservation at a hotel/restaurant that specialise in Afternoon Tea. This way you get to enjoy all the fun and skip the washing up.
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I'm Learning How to Crochet with Making Beautiful

I am super excited, I am going to learn how to crochet via an online virtual course. I was so pleased when Claire Beautiful Things asked me to be part of there new online crochet course. The course is aimed at beginners and comes with everything you need to get you started. It includes access to professionally filmed tutorials and an online support forum where you can discuss and share with other crochet learners on the course. 
unboxing crochet craft video
Beginners Crochet Course with Making Beautiful
I received my welcome pack earlier this week and just for you I created a video unboxing, so why not join me as I open it on my YouTube channel. Come and take a peek inside at all the crochet goodies, and see the face behind the blog.
I am so looking forward to not stumbling my way with a hook and yarn, a chance to create something that I am proud to show off to everyone. Let the crocheting begin!
unboxing crochet craft video beautiful things
Watch my unboxing video to take a peek inside the bag
Disclosure: I received an online beginners crochet course from Making Beautiful for the purpose of this review.
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Affordable Garden Art for your Garden

contemporary garden art cherry
Recently I have added a contemporary garden ornament to my garden in Shropshire. Discovering intriguing and appealing art at large country gardens and historic properties properties is more popular now than ever. Just look at the success and emotion stirred by the poppies display at The Tower of London recently. It brings art and sculpture in a natural setting to many people. Over the years I have enjoyed inspiring sculpture trails at Hidcote Gardens, and a very modern take on art in the grounds of Ludlow Castle. Now with New Garden Style it is easier and affordable to add your own contemporary piece of art into your own garden, to enjoy every day.
Cherry art in garden
Having been given a choice of stylish garden ornaments from New Garden Style to choose from, I settled on a stylish quirky cherry. The over sized shiny cherry,  is made from premium poly resin and weighs 1 kg. It arrives in two separate pieces the stalk and cherry, which are simply attached by screwing the stalk into the cherry. It is weather and frost resistant, just as well here in the UK. There are four rubber studs at the base of the cherry to ensure it sits neatly in place, along with a small hole so that any rain water can drain away. You also only need a damp cloth to polish it up if it becomes a little dusty. 
contemporary garden art cherry
This quirky, shiny and fun piece of art has created much interest when family and friends have visited. I chose this particular design because I grow a lot of fruit in my garden, but I don't have room for a cherry tree so this is my way of including it. It moved around the garden at first until I settled on its final spot.
Apple and Cherry Tree
It catches the shadows of the sun through the day, particularly at dusk. It is know position on the edge of my top lawn just before the stone steps to the lower garden. It is view able from the garden room in the house, so no matter the weather I can sit and enjoy it. I am particularly looking forward the Winter when the cherry red will add some much needed colour and interest to the garden, how will it look after a frost or with a spiders web on it.  
Photo credit: New Garden Style
I was also really taken with the white snail design, which I think would look ideal if you have an area of the garden with mostly white flowers. If these are a little too contemporary for you there is a a wonderful rusted steel sphere that you can add a nightlight to. 
You can use your ornament to create a focal point or by cleverly positioning it draws the eye to an area of your garden.   Or for an element of surprise position it around a corner waiting to be discovered.
Photo credit: New Garden Style
From the contemporary to nature inspired creations, New Garden Style Ornaments have a wide range of garden art. From £25 to £120 there is something for all tastes and budget. The medium cherry costs £45. 

Do you have any art or ornaments in your garden?

Disclosure: I was sent the medium cherry ornament for the purposes of this review. 
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