c June 2013 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

Charity Cake Sale for Scoliosis UK

Scoliosis UK Charity Cake Sale
Saturday 29 June was the very first International Scoliosis Awareness Day #ISAD. To raise money for Scoliosis UK I held a charity cake sale in the garden for family and friends. As someone who was born with Scoliosis I wanted to help raise money and awareness for the charity, Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine, in which the spinal column can also twist, pulling the ribcage out of position. 

It had been a busy morning preparing and setting up, the garden looked wonderful with all the bunting up. I would like to thank my sister Julie and Aunt Sue for all their help, the bunting would not be as high if it were not for them!

Not only did lots of people turn out but so did the sun,  luckily the gazebo protected everyone from the sunshine and not the rain. There was an great selection of cakes and also plants for sale to raise money for Scoliosis UK. I'm still counting the donations but so far with every ones help we have raised...  £281 for Scoliosis UK. There is still time if you wish to donate, visit my Just Giving page.

anyone for cake?
Menu of cakes
I would like to thank Jo and Jan for also donating cakes to sell, and my friend Linda for donating plants.

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Plants for Scoliosis UK

Preparations continue in my efforts to raise money for the Scoliosis Association UKOver the last few months I been preparing some plants to also sell at the cake sale. There are flowers, fruit, vegetables and even plant labels! Definitely hoping the weather will kind to everyone involved with events all around the UK for Saturday 29th June International Scoliosis Awareness Day.

Scoliosis Fact

Did you know there are six types of scoliosis you can find out more information on the SAUK website.

  • Congenital scoliosis
  • Degenerative scoliosis
  • Idiopathic scoliosis:
    - Early-onset
    - Late-onset (AIS)
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis
  • Scheuermanns kyphosis
  • Syndromic scoliosis
Do you want to get involved in International Scoliosis Awareness Day? Scoliosis UK have arranged a picnic in Hyde Park on Saturday 29th June, if you are in London and fancy joining in with the picnic you can find out more on the SAUK website.

You can follow Scoliosis UK on Twitter @ScoliosisUK, keep up to date on activities and information using the hashtag .

For those following my blog you will know that I am doing my bit for International Scoliosis Awareness Day, you can find out more from my blog post on Monday. If you want to help me raise money for SAUK you can donate using link at the top right of this page.

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Crafting for Scoliosis Awareness Day

Bird Keyring for Scoliosis
For those following my blog you will know that I am doing my bit for International Scoliosis Awareness Day, you can find out more from my blog post on Monday.

Preparations continue
It will not just be cakes I will be selling to raise funds for the Scoliosis Association UK, I have also been indulging in a little crafting. Hoping to tempt my family and friends to part with there money in exchange for a key ring or some bunting I have made. What do you think? Will it raise a £1 or so.

Scoliosis Fact

Cervical: in scoliosis cervical refers to the seven cervical vertebrae that make up the top part of the spine.
Cobb angle: This is the name of the measurement of scoliosis that is obtained from an X-ray.  It refers to the severity of the curvature and is measured in degrees.  A measurement under 10 degrees is regarded as normal, between 10 degrees and 30 degrees is classed as mild, and anything over 60 degrees is severe.

If you want to help me raise money for SAUK you can donate using link at the top right of this page.
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Sweet William seeds for International Scoliosis Awareness Day

Preparations continue in my efforts to raise money for the Scoliosis Association UK on Saturday 29th June International Scoliosis Awareness Day. You can find out more about my plans from my blog post yesterday.

Cake Sale preparations
This time I have deviated from cakes and made some special Sweet William Seed Paper Shapes to sell.  My niece and I made these last weekend, they were very easy to do. If you are wondering how we made them I will share the instructions with you soon. Today I have been busy packaging them up ready to sell to raise money for the SAUK.

What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine, in which the spinal column can also twist, pulling the ribcage out of position.  Although many people have not heard of the condition it is surprisingly common, with three to four children per 1000 needing specialist supervision.  Scoliosis is not a disease. It just means that in an otherwise healthy person the spine is curved or twisted. It is not infectious or contagious and it does not develop as a result of anything the adult, child, or its parents did, or failed to do.

The Scoliosis Association (UK) aims to provide advice, support and information to people with scoliosis and other spinal conditions, including kyphosis and lordosis.

If you want to help me raise money for SAUK you can donate using link at the top right of this page.
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International Scoliosis Awareness Day 29 June 2013

Saturday 29th June 2013 will be the very first International Scoliosis Awareness Day, I will be doing my bit to help spread the word both locally and through social media.  I was born with scoliosis and so have decided to get involved with International Scoliosis Awareness Day. On Saturday I will be raising money for Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK) by holding a cake sale for friends and family. 

Each day this week I will be sharing my preparations for the day with you all, I will also use the opportunity to share some facts about scoliosis. 

Preparations update
During the weekend I was busy making some sugar paste flowers ready for decorating one of the cakes. If you want to help me raise money for SAUK you can donate using link at the top right of this page.

Sugar Paste flowers for SAUK
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Giveaway - Win a Family Annual Pass to Ironbridge Gorge Museums (closed)

I am so lucky living in Shropshire, I have the wonderful Ironbridge Gorge Museums on my doorstop. Which leads me nicely to some exciting news - Ironbridge Gorge Museums have kindly offered one of my blog readers an Annual Family Passport TicketWhat a great prize, this will certainly help to keep both parents and children occupied during the Summer holidays. Whether you are interested in fine china, decorative tiles, fun interactives or exploring a recreated Victorian Town you’ll find it all in this World Heritage Site.

The annual family passport ticket allows unlimited daytime admission to all 10 Ironbridge Gorge Museums, during normal opening hours, so you can return as often as you like for one year.  If after 12 months you have still not visited particular sites, you can return at any time in the future to make one free visit to the sites that you've missed. 

The Ironbridge Gorge Museums consist of 10 amazing museums. 

  • Blists Hill Victorian Town
  • Enginuity
  • Coalport China Museum
  • Jackfield Tile Museum
  • Coalbroakdale Museum of Iron
  • Museum of the Gorge
  • Darby Houses
  • Tar Tunnel
  • The Ironbridge and Toll House
  • Broseley Pipeworks
I have visited all of the museums over the years except the Pipeworks. Although I have yet to visit the new street and chips shop at Blists Hill - I must do that very soon as I hear the chips are amazing. You can see just how creative my niece and I were when we visited the Tile Museum.

How to enter
To be in with a chance of winning this great prize complete the tasks in the Rafflecopter widget below, you may need to refresh your page. 

You must leave me the answer to the question at the bottom of this giveaway in the "Enter your comment" box, confirm you have done this using Rafflecopter widget. 

For extra entries you can also Tweet and Facebook Like.  Remember if you enter the competition by tweeting be sure to include the link to your tweet. 
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

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A day out at Gardeners World Live 2013

I was lucky enough to win tickets to this year's Gardeners World Live including a nights stay at the nearby Hilton Metropole. What a fabulous day, the sun was out and so were the crowds. 

I thought I would share with you my show highlights from the day.
My favourite show garden was Health for Life, it was predominately fruit and vegetables, but demonstrated how you can utilise your space yet still make the garden attractive  and practical.
Pack in as many plants as you can 
Look carefully, can you see Woolly Thyme
edging the border 
What a fine specimen of an Aeoluim,  hope I can look after mine well enough it makes it to this size.
great use of a wicker basket
Great use of Succulents to break up hard landscaping

Spotted this wonderful swing seat, and yes I put my feet up and enjoyed a brief sit down after all it was a tiring day. I did  also make a few purchases day alas not this swing seat, but a pot of Desdemona Violas, Pineapple Sage, Woolly Thyme and a miniature  glass house. 
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Coconut Ice Recipe

Here is another easy recipe with no cooking required, just a little extra arm effort is required when mixing the ingredients together.

Recipe Coconut Ice


225g icing sugar, sifted
200g condensed milk

175g desiccated coconut
food colouring
  • Mix the icing sugar and condensed milk together.
  • Mix in the coconut, the mixture will be very stiff.
  • Divide the mixture in half. 
  • Add a tiny amount of food colouring (I used pink) to one half of the mixture, and mix until you have an even colour and muscles in your arm!
  • Line a tray or sandwich box, and spread the mixture out, press down firmly. Where the two colours connect make sure you push them together well.
I would suggest you leave the tin in the fridge for at least 5 hours, to make sure they are firmly set. I removed mine in one slab from the tin and then used a large knife to cut into dominoes shapes.

Eat or gift wrap. These will keep for 3 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.
             Easy Coconut Ice Recipe
Coconut Ice Recipe - dominoes style
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Peppermint Creams Recipe

Peppermint Creams recipe - no baking required!
What a great time I had at the weekend when my six year old niece came for a sleep over, we had a list of activities planned and of course this included baking! With it being such a warm day I did not really want the oven on, so I kept it simple and had planned to make something that could be given as an early Father's Day present - Peppermint Creams.
Peppermint Creams for Father's Day

I followed the recipe on the Carnation website.

Ingredients for Peppermint Creams

225g icing sugar, sifted
115g Carnation Condensed Milk
Natural peppermint extract, to taste
55g plain chocolate, melted

Mix the icing sugar with the condensed milk, add some drops of peppermint extract. Remember to taste it to check the strength of  the peppermint. My niece and I were so carried away with wanting to roll out the dough and start cutting we nearly forgot and it did need a few extra drops.

We found that we had to add extra icing sugar as our mixture was not stiff enough.  Then roll out the mixture until it is quarter inch thick, make sure you have plenty of icing sugar sprinkled on the work surface to prevent the Peppermint Creams sticking.  Cut out your Peppermint Creams using a small round cutter, or any shape you like.

Leave to chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

Peppermint Creams Recipe
Melt the chocolate in the microwave, check it every 10-20 seconds. Using a teaspoon drizzle the chocolate over the Peppermint Creams.

Those that survive the sampling process (munch, munch) can then be gift wrapped ready to give for Father's Day. If you can resist the temptation then they will last for up to 3 weeks in the fridge in an airtight container.

Gift wrapped for Father's Day
I have just realised that June's We Should Cocoa theme this month is Mint, perfect for Peppermint Creams. We Should Cocoa is a baking challenge from Chocolatelog blog and Chocolate Teapot this month's host is A Kick at The Pantry Door.

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Rose Water Glazed Cakes Recipe

Pretty, floral, Rose Water Glazed Cakes - so easy to make and even easier to eat!
Rose Water Glazed Sponge Cakes Recipes with Rose Petal Sprinkles Afternoon Tea party ideas recipes

I made a batch of Fairy Cakes, but chose to bake them directly in the tin,well greased of course. This was not a plain cake or bun tray as you can see from the photographs it had ridges.

Fairy Cake Recipe (makes 24-36 depending on cake case size)



    3 eggs (beaten)

    170g / 6oz golden caster sugar
    170g / 6oz butter or baking margarine (softened)
    170g / 6oz self raising flour (sifted)
    1 tsp vanilla extract


    Once cooled I spoon on the Rose Water Glaze and before it dries decorate with sprinkles. I used some dried rose petal sprinkles I had in the cupboard.
    Rose Water Glazed Sponge Cakes Recipes with Rose Petal Sprinkles Afternoon Tea party ideas recipes

    Rose Water Glaze Recipe

    Sifted icing sugar
    Rose water
    Dried roses cake sprinkles

    There are no measurements, you add as much of the rose water to the icing sugar to obtain the consistency you want. The bottle of Rosewater I have does not seem to be so potent, so I only used Rosewater. But if your Rosewater is strong you may want to use water and add drops of Rosewater instead.

    Rose Water Glazed Sponge Cakes Recipes with Rose Petal Sprinkles Afternoon Tea party ideas recipes

    Rose Water Glazed Sponge Cakes Recipes with Rose Petal Sprinkles Afternoon Tea party ideas recipes

    Follow my baking Pinterest board

    It has been a while since I have participated in AlphaBakes, but these Rose Water Glazed cakes fit the bill nicely.  Jointly hosted by  The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, more information about June's AlphaBakes which if you have not guessed already is letter 'R'.
    Rose Water Glazed Sponge Cakes Recipes with Rose Petal Sprinkles Afternoon Tea party ideas recipes
    Pin Me!

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    We Are Tea - Review

    We Are Tea, founded by husband and wife team, Spence and Suzy, they opened a teashop in the heart of London in 2007. The teashop offered a unique and valuable opportunity for Spence and Suzy to engage first hand with the consumer and perfect their tea blends prior to launching their retail range. This coupled with their philosophy of ethically sourcing top quality whole-leaf teas direct from artisan producers and hand-packing them in the UK, has resulted in their multi-award winning teas securing their first multiple retail listing. 
    You all know I love a cup of tea, and when it comes to tea everyone has their preference. We Are Tea’s range of teas are organised into a unique colour-coding system to help differentiate between the types. For example teas in the ‘black tea’ section offer strength and depth of flavour and are a great way to start the day while teas in the ‘green tea’ section are generally lighter and more delicate. A helpful guide for novice tea drinkers.

    I was sent Chamomile Flowers, Gunpowder Supreme, Ceylon with Vanilla, Earl Grey Supreme, Revitealise and Super Berry to run my taste buds over.

    There is a clear description for each tea, detailing the ingredients for each special blend. There is no guidance on exactly how long you should brew each tea, as this is a very individual choice. When it comes to strength everyone differs while some people like flavour brewed long that packs a punch others enjoy a mere tickle. Ooh I like that, in future I shall have to ask 'How do you like your tea? -  a tickle or a punch!' Ha ha.

    Tea bags 
    Usually when you have a special blend of tea, it's loose in a tin. You then have to brew this in a teapot before pouring through a strainer. But with We Are Tea available in biodegradable whole-leaf teabags you get to enjoy a special special cup of tea even at your desk at work. 

    So far I have tried the following teas:-

    Ceylon with Vanilla
    Whole-leaf black tea carefully scented with real vanilla. True to its description it gives you the impression of indulging in a sweet treat, if you like sugar in your tea but want to cut back on the sweet stuff then this is the tea for you. It is light, refreshing and the vanilla gives it almost a sweet taste. I brewed this tea for approx 6 minutes and served without milk or sugar.

    Earl Grey Supreme
    A blend of the finest whole-leaf black teas scented with oil of bergamot and sprinkled with cornflowers. This was a delight to drink, I was wary about it being strong so only brewed this for one minute (just a tickle) without milk or sugar. It had great flavour and then the taste of oil of bergamot came through. I think I would choose this over the Ceylon with vanilla, this is more of a tea to drink every day.

    I am looking forward to trying the remaining tea, in fact I am taking a few of them to work.

    But you do not have to just take my word for the teas tasting beautiful in only 4 years We Are Tea have been awarded 36 Great Taste Awards.

    The We Are Tea retail range comes in 50g/100g refill packets 50g/100g reusable tea caddies and my favourite biodegradable whole-leaf teabags.

    RRP from £3.99 for 15 tea bags
    RRP from £4.99 for reusable loose tea caddy
    Current We Are Tea stockists include: Tesco, Harrods, Whole Foods Market, and leading independent retailers.
    You can of course buy direct from the We Are Tea website.

    Chamomile Flowers
    Disclaimer - We Are Tea provided me with samples of tea for the purposes of this review, all opinions expressed are my own.
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    The garden in June


    Thought I would share with you a mobile blog post of what is happening with the plants in my garden today. Off to a good start the sun is out! First up is a photo of a rather unusual Strawberry plant with a beautiful red flower.

    Next up are the happy faces of the Pansy's sitting at the front of a border. 

    On the way to the lower garden, nestling on the steps is a Aeoluim given to me by a friend last year, it's settling in rather nicely. 

    Lots of tiny Blackcurrant's growing, this will be the first year for this plant to fruit.
    What can I say? - looks like Angel the cat is not quite living up to her name, think she finds the warmth of the raised beds and the Broad Beans difficult to resist. There will be words, trust me!

    Time for a sit down and a chance to soak up the garden. After all, that is something easily forgotten when you are gardening.

    Finishing off at the bottom of the garden, with Bleeding Heart at the base of the Copper Beech tree.

    All photographs taken using my I-phone and using the Blogger App, apologies if things are not quite the correct layout you do not have as much control using the App.
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