c May 2015 | Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me

British Tea Lovers Father Day Gift of Tea and Giveaway

English Breakfast Tea is simply my favourite blend of tea, I am happy to drink all day everyday. So what better than to share something you love with your Father as a gift on Fathers Day. This lovely blend of tea is packaged in a specially designed Fathers Day tin. 

Enjoy Fathers Day this year by sharing time with your Dad enjoying a cup of tea.

British Tea Lovers Fathers Day Gift Tin of Tea
A special Fathers Day gift tin of loose tea
I love… 
the design on the tin, it is perfect and practical to keep your loose tea fresh from the moment you open the packet. It has a hinged lid with a tight seal.

Clear instruction are printed on the tin for anyone not used to brewing loose tea.

Sign up to updates from British Tea Lovers website and you will be emailed a 10% coupon code. If you also order the Father Day gift you can use the discount code DAD180 for an additional 10% off.

Strawberry Tea Diffuser
What super Tea Diffuser 
Perfect for...
buying that healthy Father Day gift, avoiding the obvious choices of alcohol, sweets or chocolates. 

The important stuff…
the special Fathers Day gift of English Breakfast Tea can be purchased on line from British Tea Lovers for £9.99, but don't forget to also use your discount codes. The Strawberry Tea Diffuser is just £1.99.


Giveaway

British tea Lovers are offering one of my blog readers the chance to win a Fathers Day Tin of English Breakfast Loose Tea.


Fathers Day Tin of Tea

How to enter
To be in with a chance of winning this lovely prize confirm your entry using the Rafflecopter widget, for extra entries complete the additional tasks. If you can not see the Rafflecopter widget below, you may need to refresh your page using F5. For more information on how to enter you can watch this Rafflecopter video or visit fellow blogger Super Lucky for a simple guide on using Rafflecopter. 

Remember if you enter the competition by tweeting be sure to include the link to your tweet. If any of the links are not working on the widget leave me a comment or tweet me.

Closes 14 June 2015. Winner must complete the Rafflecopter details with their name and address so that the winners prize can arrive in time for Fathers Day. UK entrants only. For Terms and Conditions click the link on the Rafflecopter widget. Entry details will be checked and validated.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was sent a tin of tea and a tea strainer for the purposes of this review and giveaway.
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Upcycling Furniture - Creating a Craft Unit from Old to New

Last year I started to source some old furniture to help me create a sewing room. I had a spare bedroom that was under used, and a sewing machine needing a permanent location. I started to look around antique and second hand charity shops, in search of furniture I could Upcycle.  I was soon attracted to a dark wood and solemn looking unit, I think I paid £20 for it. 

Upcycled dark wooden furniture project recycle furniture Pink

I could see it had lots of potential, a lot of sanding and some painting would give it a new lease of life. I removed the sliding glass panels, my plan is to put jars on the shelves containing with my sewing/crafting accessories.

Stage One - Sanding
This was a lot of hard work made easier with a fabulous electric sanding gadget borrowed from my dad.

Stage Two - Applying Primer
Even when sanded back the wood was still very dark, and it is important to give the final paint colour a good surface to adhere to. Therefore it is important not to miss this step out, applying the primer with a paint brush gives the surfaces a good key for the final paint colour.


Upcycled dark wooden furniture project recycle furniture Pink


Upcycled dark wooden furniture project recycle furniture Pink

Stage Three - Final Paint Colour
I went bold with colour choice, having been inspired by the pink and teal colours in a set of storage boxes purchased for the new sewing room. I know it will not be to every ones taste, but I did not want muted or safe colours for this room. I want to feel awake and enthused when I am sewing.


Upcycled dark wooden furniture project recycle furniture Pink


dunelm storage boxes
Inspired by a storage box

Follow my craft board on Pinterest
Home Etc
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Vegetable Gardening Tips for every sized garden

No matter what size garden you have, you will find edible plants suitable for growing in something as small as a large yogurt pot to a large allotment patch. 

As for me I favour growing in pots on the patio or raised beds, easy to reach and less bending. I have also tried some companion growing in previous years, onions and carrots together, to help deter that pesky carrot fly. You will find some very helpful suggestions in the guide below.


Source: Fix.com
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Garden Furniture Decisions

Summer is just around the corner, and along with pottering in the garden there is nothing better that sitting relaxing and enjoying your handy work. Of course it also means the weather is nice enough to eat alfresco, invite family and friends round for a barbecue, a garden picnic or one of my favourites Afternoon Tea.


My current wooden garden furniture is past it's best, although stored in the garage over Winter and regularly coated with teak oil, it is close to the end of its life. Finding the right replacement garden furniture is not an easy task, and not one to rush into. I want garden furniture that will be comfortable, durable and last for many years.  Although I do confess to having had my eye on a swing seat for many years now, so if I can find one comfortable enough, it will be high on my wish list.

Before you start a Garden Furniture Wish List, it may help by asking yourself the following questions.

What material do you like: Rattan, Wooden, Metal or               Plastic furniture?   
What size table do you need? 
Will it be large enough for entertaining? 
Would a round table be best suited?
Bench, Chairs or Loungers or both?
Will the furniture be stored outside all year round?
Is it easy to fold down for storing in a shed or garage.
Do you have somewhere handy in the Summer to store the           cushions?

I found the pros and cons guide to what your furniture is made of at Tesco Direct very informative. Answering question on how durable, lightweight the different materials are. I am not too familiar with rattan and wicker effect furniture, and it was most helpful.

My Garden Furniture Wish List:-
  • A swing seat, ideally movable and storable during Winter, so possibly not wooden.
  • A wooden round table with 4 to 6 wooden chairs, and cushions for the chairs.
  • An adjustable matching lounger
  • An ornate metal bistro set
Now that's not asking too much is it?

Disclosure: Thank you to Tesco for inspiring me to write this post
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Fruit Cake Recipe made with Oil

This recipe for Fruit Cake made with oil is one of my cakes I can continue to eat as part of my 'healthier bakes' for lower Cholesterol.



I am choosing to bake less with butter and baking fat, and instead using more olive oil or rapeseed oil. This is a favourite bake Fruit Cake recipe made with oil. A great cake recipe to bake a few days ahead of time, as it tastes better a day or two later. 

Recipe - Fruit Cake made with oil

Equipment
  • bowl
  • 18cm round cake tin
  • parchment paper or cake tin liner
  • scales  
  • measuring jug
  • wooden spoon  
Ingredients

225g plain flour
2 level tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
150ml (1/4 pint) olive oil or vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 tbsp milk
450g mixed dried fruit


Instructions
  • oven temp 170 degrees C, Gas mark 3
  • grease and line the cake tin
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, and add the sugar.
  • Measure the oil in a jug and add the eggs, and 3 tbsp of milk. Beat together and mix into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Add the fruit and mix.
  • Pour into the tin and bake for 1 hour, then reduce the temperature to 150 degrees C, gas mark 2 and bake for 50 mins hours.  Using a skewer check to see if the cake is cooked, it should come out clean. If required it may need to bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the tin.
Tip - if you think the top of the cake is browning too much, cover the top with some parchment paper or foil.

This cake is best eaten a few days after baking, store in an air tight container.

Follow my baking board on Pinterest 


This recipe is based on a recipe from the Good Housekeeping Cookery book that originally used vegetable oil.

Other recipes you may like to try:-
Cherry and Coconut Cake 


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First Garden Bouquet of the Year

This may not quite be a bouquet of many flowers, but it is the first vase of blooms from my garden this year. All from the Lilac shrub, which is in full flower at the moment. It is so nice to smell the scent of fresh flowers from the garden in the house again.


Lilac picked from the garden
Lilac picked from the garden


Delicate Lilac flowers
Delicate Lilac flowers

I am hoping for more varied bouquets of cut flowers, as I have sowed quiet a few new varieties in the past few months. Asters, Zinnia (inspired by the BBC's Allotment Challenge program), dwarf Phlox, Diascia and more dwarf Sunflowers.


Sarah Raven cut flower seeds
Growing more cut flowers

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Serenata Flowers and Hampers - Garden Pamper Hamper Giveaway -this has now ended

Serenata Flowers are offering one of my blog readers the chance to win a Pamper Hamper. The perfect hamper for a garden lover, it includes a watering can and gardening gloves. Along with a few toiletries for those times you end up with grubby gardening hands, a nail brush, hand wash, hand cream and a bar of body soap. 


How to enter
To be in with a chance of winning this lovely prize confirm your entry using the Rafflecopter widget, for extra entries complete the additional tasks. If you can not see the Rafflecopter widget below, you may need to refresh your page using F5. For more information on how to enter you can watch this Rafflecopter video or visit fellow blogger Super Lucky for a simple guide on using Rafflecopter. 

Remember if you enter the competition by tweeting be sure to include the link to your tweet. If any of the links are not working on the widget leave me a comment or tweet me.

Closes 19 June 2015. Winner must respond within ten days of being notified, after which time a new winner will be selected. UK entrants only. For Terms and Conditions click the link on the Rafflecopter widget. All entries will be verified.

Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Desserts Through the Decades, and my mums favourite is..

I enjoyed the recent BBC program Back in Time for Dinner. Discovering how the way we buy, store, prepare and eat food, can have such an effect on the way we live as a family. For me it bought back some great memories of pudding and desserts from the 1970's such as Artic Roll, Trifles and Blancmange. Here is one of my mum's favourite desserts - Crushed Pineapple Flan. A shop bought flan base, topped with tinned crushed pineapple and dream topping and grated chocolate. For me it has to be Bread and Butter pudding. Do you have a favourite?

Retro Dessert Crushed Pineapple Flan
Retro Pudding - Crushed Pineapple Flan

Infographic source Bookatable

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Looking for Birthday Cake Inspiration

Ever since my nieces 3rd birthday I always baked her birthday cakes. This year she will be 9 years old, she was quick to tell me at the weekend this will be her last year of being a single digit it will be the double figures of 10 next year! I am still unsure what cake I will make this year, but thought it may be fun to share with you the previous birthday cakes I have made for my niece. As you will see cake decorating was quiet new to me 7 years ago.
Birthday cake ideas for a little girl

Some of these cakes will be familiar to those of you that regularly visit my blog, but the earlier cakes will be having their premiere!

A simple cake decorated with water icing, butter cream
and sugar balls

A regular Victoria sponge cut and reassembled into a butterfly, decorated with sugar paste and jazz chocolate drops

Sponge cake baked in a 5 mould, decorated with sugar paste (very tricky) and
my handmade sugar paste fairy

A seaside themed sponge cake, decorated with moulded sugar paste and sugar.
 I had great fun making this one.

A birthday on holiday so keeping it simple with a Sweetie Cake, also known
as the 7 in Devon cake

Birthday number 8 - Loom Bands! Decorated in sugar paste and
mini fairy cakes with marshmallows


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Join in with The Great British Bee Count during May

For the month of May Friends of the Earth are encouraging everyone in the UK to count the bees in their garden. I will be joining in sometime over the next week, hopefully on a nice sunny day that will bring all the bees flying by. 

Bee on Astrantia Flower


All you need to do is watch for bees in a 1 metre by 1 metre section of your garden with flowering plants, and count how many bees you see in two minutes.

How to take part

You need to download the Great British Bee Count app to your phone or tablet. 

Why you should join in*

Bees help pollinate hundreds of our main crops including apples, strawberries and tomatoes. Without bees we can kiss goodbye to gran’s apple crumble, strawberries & cream (and even that cheeky gin & tonic).



The UK has lost a shocking 20 species of bee, and a further quarter are on the red list of threatened species. A big reason is that bees depend on flowers for food - and in the past 60 years 97% of our wildflower meadows have disappeared.

But the good news is that you can help change things. By planting flowers rich in nectar and pollen you can start to replenish their lost habitat.


*Bee facts supplied by Friends of the Earth.


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NGS Yellow Book Gardens - Shropshire

'What could be nicer than strolling through a delightful, plant-filled garden, enjoying a "proper" home-made tea and at the same time raising money for charity?'  These are the opening words in the 2015 National Gardening Scheme, Shropshire guide book. It lists all gardens in the county that open to the public and raise money for charity, and is more commonly known as the NGS Yellow Book. 


Shropshire national Garden Schene
Shropshire National Garden Scheme

You should be able to find a copy of the Yellow Book for your county at your local library or garden centre. Shropshire also has a Historic Churches Trust Gardens that open during the year, a leaflet I also found in my local library. These books will open you to a world of gardens you never knew existed, a chance to see beyond the garden gate.




One of the Yellow Book gardens I visited last year was Preen Manor, located at Church Preen, Shropshire. These were quite breathtaking gardens, located in the Shropshire countryside. A 6-acre garden on site of Cluniac monastery with historical connections to the nearby Much Wenlock Priory.

Do you have a favourite Yellow Book garden? 

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Sewing my first dress which turned into a tunic

I took the plunge and decided to progress from making my own skirt to making a dress. As with most sewing projects I start they do not alway go to plan - is that just me as a novice dressmaker. I started badly by not taking the time to pick a suitable dress pattern. Instead I went we a free pattern from Prima magazine, minus the magazine which I am sure must have included extra guidance inside. 




My choice was influenced by the design using elastic at the front of the dress, I thought this would help the fitting and my s shaped spine, because of my scoliosis. I had decided to make a mock up dress first, necklines and sleeves were all new to me.  
  • The pattern instructions were poor,  googling confirmed this as other sewers encounter similar problems.
  • The casing using the strip of elastic looked awful and was arkward to sew.
I had to fit the dress wearing the fabric the right side, because of my scoliosis I can not pin inside out, as all the adjustment would then be on the wrong side. Fortunely my sister helped with the tricky pinnning. Not perfect but it was just a mock up and I was now more comfortable I had the pattern peices adjusted correctly and confident with the sleeves, not so much the neckline.

The Final Garment

I even ventured to use fabric with polka dot pattern, an easy forgiving print to match up. I had to make my own bias binding for the neckline - tricky.  I changed the elastic casing and used rows of sherring elastic instead, much easier and a neater finish. It took me three attempts, to sew the binding around the neckline neatly enough that I was happy with it. 

Prima Pattern Tunic* 
Oh and one more thing, I had a slight misjudgement with the hem line, so the dress quickly turned into a tunic. 

I am still wearing it though!

*Apologies for the quality of the photograph not one of my better ones.
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Baking for a Lower Cholesterol

Baking cakes generally involves baking with some form of fat, such as butter then you proceed filling them with fresh cream or butter cream. Most of which do not go towards generating a healthy cholesterol score. That was the message given to me by the nurse a few weeks ago when I went for a cholesterol test. 

Fruit Cake made with Olive Oil
Fruit Cake made with Olive Oil
I scored 6.34 for Cholesterol, HDL 2.39 and TC/HDL 2.7, which is not a bad score, it is just not a good score. A good score is 5 or below, obviously I want good score. This was not a fasting cholesterol test, I will return for a fasting test in 3 months.

I will confess, it has been a month of birthdays, which in my family equals cake, afternoon tea and more cake. Along with the holiday to Cornwall and Isles of Scilly eating restaurant food. I will confess to having a rather cavalier attitude to eating healthy during my holiday. Probably not the best time to be called in for a cholesterol test, but hey ho!

Fat Free Tea Loaf
Fat Free Tea Loaf
As such I am on the hunt for fat free or lower fat baking recipes. I already have a few favourites, my Earl Grey Tea Loaf recipe is fat free. There is also a fruit cake recipe that is a birthday favourite of my brothers, this uses olive oil. I may try this replacing the olive oil with rapeseed oil. 

I have previously made a no fat sponge cake, but it was quite a dry cake. I may try baking this again but use my recipe for stewed apple for the filling to add moisture.

Stewed Apple a healthier cake filling
Stewed Apple a healthier cake filling
I have an idea for making some scones using fat free yogurt, and obviously will only have jam on them. Although  I am also trying a low cholesterol spread for sandwiches, not sure how it will fair on yogurt scones.   

The nurse gave me a leaflet for Heart UK, who also have healthy recipes on their website, I quite fancy trying the Oat and Apple Muffins. 

Do you have any healthy recipe suggestions? Or any suggestions for lowering cholesterol.
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David Austin Roses Tea Room Afternoon Tea

What better way to end a month of birthday celebration for my sister than with afternoon tea at David Austin Roses tea room. Our local and my new favourite venue  - David Austin Roses, Shropshire. A gloriously sunny day for May and delightfully warm too. All the ladies of the family started with a stroll around the gardens, which were looking immaculate and with well clipped box hedges. Within a few weeks the whole garden will be decked out with blooming roses. It was nice to see the structure of the garden so clearly. 
Afternoon Tea -
Victoria Sponge, Lemon Posset and Chocolate Tart
We headed to the tea room via the shop. Oh the shop. Oh the lovely merchandise. No wait, refocus, I am supposed to be telling you about the afternoon tea. Shopping, is for another time.
Pergola Avenue with climbing Roses
Pergola avenue with climbing Roses
Afternoon Tea - David Austin Roses
Afternoon Tea - David Austin Roses

Afternoon Tea Menu

Black Tea and Green Tea

***

Cheese and Chive mini quiche
Sandwiches
Cucumber 
Ham
Cream Cheese and micro salad

***

Plain Scones served withclotted cream and strawberry jam

Chocolate and Pistachio Tart
Lemon Posset
Macaroons 
Victoria Sponge cake

***

This was one of the most enjoyable afternoon teas. The sandwiches were soft and fresh. The quiche and chocolate tart pastry was crisp and buttery. The scones were the perfect size although having two each still defeated me. The lemon posset was one of the nicest desserts I have ever eaten. At £16.95 each this was excellent value. The only thing I missed was a choice of tea, as we were not offered any. Although the tea we had was very nice.

I will look forward to a return visit, when all the roses are in flower. 
David Austin Roses Gardens
David Austin Roses Gardens
Tea Room and Rose Centre - David Austin Roses
Peacock
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My Week on Instagram

There are lots of social media apps around today, if you have a smartphone you can not avoid them. My favourite at the moment has to be Instagram, an app for sharing  photographs. I use it almost everyday, I try not to capture the mundane, but pictures that invoke thought or meaning to me.

So for those of you that do not follow me on Instagram I am going to share with you my week in photographs, so you can see what you are missing out on. If you want you can follow me to Garden Tea Cakes and Me






A photo posted by Angela M (@gardenteacakesandme) on

A photo posted by Angela M (@gardenteacakesandme) on


A photo posted by Angela M (@gardenteacakesandme) on
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Tresco Abbey Gardens - Isles of Scilly

On a rather windy but sunny day my sister and I set out early for a boat to Tresco, but not so early we did not have time for a cooked breakfast. We are on holiday after all. Tresco, is the second largest island of the Isles of Scilly and just a short boat journey from St Mary's. 
Abbey Gardens positively tropical
Abbey Gardens positively tropical


Abbey Gardens Tresco

Abbey Gardens Tresco sculpture
One of Abbey Gardens many sculptures
Most people visiting the Isles of Scilly will island hop at some point during their stay. There are specific boat trips that will call in at a number of islands, whilst giving you a chance to take in the marine wildlife along the way. Today we headed with one task in mind to explore Tresco's Abbey Gardens. Once we arrived I could understand why the plants do so well here, it was very well sheltered from the wind. A real tropical paradise.


Abbey Gardens Tresco african daisy osteospermum
African Daisy - Osteospermum
agapanthus Abbey Gardens Tresco
Agapanthus
Plants that were no where near flowering in my garden in Shropshire were in full bloom at Abbey Gardens. We spent four hours sitting then meandering around the gardens, more sitting and more meandering only  broken up with a visit to the tea room for tea and cake. You are sure to spot one of the splendid Golden Pheasants, we did though it was a little camera shy. 

A view from the Top Terrace


Tresco Children Sculpture Abbey Gardens
The Tresco Children sculpture
There was a fascinating display of the figureheads recovered from ship wrecks around the Isles of Scilly. It really was a wonderful way to spend a day, topped of by seeing Red Squirrels a first time experience for me. They were delightful to watch, and the colour of their fur as the sun shined upon it -  a warm brown orange glow.
Beautiful ship wreck figurehead


Red Squirrel Isles of Scilly
Red Squirrel alert
Getting to Abbey Gardens from the quay once our boat landed was going to be a problem, I am not able to walk that distance. So huge thanks to the Tourist Information Office at St Mary's and the Tresco Estate, who  suggested and helped arrange transport in one of their tiny trucks.


Tresco Estate to the rescue
Entry to Abbey Gardens cost £12 for an adult ticket and is worth every single penny. 

You may also enjoy my visit to The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall.


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