c September 2014 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

Taffy Mail, American Candy to your door - review

I have visited America many times, and always like tucking into the chocolate and sweeties available. So I was very pleased to receive one of the new Taffy Mail Subscription boxes

Candy Crate Subscription
Taffy Mail Subscription Service
What is Taffy Mail? It is a subscription service that supplies the subscriber with one box a month containing between 10-12 of the most popular American candies and sweets.

Hersheys Cookies and Creme bar, Butterfinger bar, 3 x Tootsie Roll sweets, 2 x Tootsie Roll pops, Pop Rocks, Cow Tales, AirHeads, Jolly Rancher, Pop Tarts, Taffy, Can Root Beer, Nerds, 3 x Laffy Taffy.

Butterfinger chocolate candy bar
Butterfinger chocolate candy bar
I do like a change from the usual chocolate you find in the supermarket or newsagents. Some of them have the most bizarre names such as cow tales, I do not know how they come up with that one. Described as a strawberry flavoured caramel, but I thought it more strawberry liquorice - very nice and all eaten. 

First item that got eaten was the Hersheys Cookies and Creme bar, in fact the bar got put to good use. I used some of it to and grated the chocolate onto the top of some marshmallows that were happily melting into a cup of hot chocolate! 

Hersheys Hot Chocolate Cookies and Creme Bar
Hersheys Hot Chocolate Cookies and Creme Bar
I particularly love anything with peanut butter! So was delighted to spot the Butterfinger bar in my Taffy Mail delivery, the best way I can describe is its kind of a cross of a crunchie bar and the inside of a Starbar - scrumptious! 

I love… 
  • Delivery, it arrives right to your door.
  • Value for Money, actually you know I think this is not badly priced. I remember last year on my holiday in Derbyshire, I was looking for a little something to bring back for my sister. I discovered a shop in a converted mill that sold a lot of American chocolate and sweets. Perfect, my sister love this, it was then I spotted the price of each item - I know they are imported but it was £3 plus for each item. 
Perfect for…
  • Those of us with a sweet tooth that like something a little different. Particularly great for those that love American candy, perfect for American expats!
Could do better…
  • Pop Tart, I could not tell from the packaging what type it was, something you would need to know in case of any food allergies. This is something that Candy Crate can easily rectify. Or better still replace it with a Smores bar, much nicer than pop tarts. Can you tell pop tarts are not my  favourite.
Cow Tales Candy
Cow Tales ?
The important stuff…
  • Subscription to Taffy Mail is £14.99 per month, includes free postage and package. 
  • You can start and stop your parcel at any time, there is no commitment.
  • As the parcel is crammed full of sweetie chocolately treats it will be too big to go through your letterbox.
  • If this has piqued your interest then pop over to Taffy Mail and subscribe now.
Tootsie Roll Sweeties American Candy
Tootsie Roll Sweeties

Disclaimer: I received a box of Taffy Mail for the purpose of this review, all opinions expressed are my own.

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Macmillan Coffee Morning 26 September 2014

It’s time to dust off those coffee mugs and get ready to unearth the ‘show stopper’ cake recipes as Macmillan Cancer Support’s flagship fundraiser, the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, takes place on Friday 26 September.  

Decorate Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake baked for last year Macmillan Coffee Morning
I will be joining in at work, we alway organise a coffee and cake sale to raise money for Macmillan. In 2013 we had a bake off in the style of the Great British Bake Off, in 2012 it was more of a free for all!

The idea remains simple: get together with friends, colleagues or neighbours to hold a coffee morning and raise money for Macmillan, with every donation helping to ensure that no one faces cancer alone.

Whilst the nation gears up to drink over 5 million cups of coffee, eat 10 million slices of cake* and raise over £20million for people affected by cancer, Macmillan wants to show all the ways you can still get involved…

Be Inspired By Celebrity Recipes 

Dame Judi Dench's Mini Cherry Bakewells

A number of Macmillan’s celebrity supporters have shared their favourite recipes, including Dame Judi Dench’s mini cherry bakewells  Alan Carr’s mocha hazelnut fudge, Claudia Winkelman’s mocha marble cake, June Brown’s banana, honey, almond and sultana cake and Greg Rutherford’s salted caramel cake. Our celebrity recipes are available upon request and a number of the celebrities are also available for interview.

It is too late to register to host a coffee morning, but not too late to join in and buy some coffee and cake. Find a coffee morning near you with the handy map on the Macmillan website.

More than one in three of us will get cancer in our lifetime and it’s the toughest fight most of us will ever face. Macmillan provides practical, medical and financial support and push for better cancer care. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.

For more information on World’s Biggest Coffee Morning please visit: www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee

Thank you to Macmillan for sharing with me details of this years Coffee Morning.
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Afternoon Tea Berkeley Hotel London with Estee Lauder and Classic FM

This was no ordinary afternoon tea at the Berkeley Hotel, London - it was actually rather special. I was very lucky to have won a competition from Classic FM and Estee Lauder including a weekend in London! You all know how much I love Afternoon Tea so what a perfect prize.

Afternoon Tea Berkeley Hotel London
Afternoon Tea Berkeley Hotel London

My sister and I arrived at the Berkeley Hotel, the event was being held in the Berkeley Hotel Ballroom. We were personally greeted and welcomed by Classic FM's Margherita Taylor, what a lovely lady and so tall too! We then enjoyed a champagne and nibbles reception and mingled with other competition winners, there were a number of Estee Lauder stands and beauticians who were offering some ten minute beauty treatments. So of course we took them up on the offer, I had my eye make up done. It makes such a change having your make applied by a professional, no poking myself in the eye! I think the ladies were from the Estee Lauder, John Lewis store in London - they were all very welcoming and happy to answer any make up questions I had.

Estee Lauder John Lewis London
Gift Bag full of Estee Lauder Skin Care Products

After a short while we moved into the ballroom and seated at tables to enjoy our afternoon tea. Waiting on our seats was a rather fabulous gift bag full of Estee Lauder skin care products, what a delight! But there was not time to explore the contents in detail as afternoon tea was being served.

Ballroom Berkeley Hotel London
The fabulous Ballroom at the Berkeley Hotel

There was an array of sandwiches and mini savoury treats. I particularly enjoyed the delicate egg roll, goats cheese and beetroot mousse and the cheese and ham filo pie. Sadly the tea was not served in a teapot, but a large flask by the waiting on staff - there were around 50 people so I guess it was the most efficient way.

Savoury Afternoon Tea Treats
Savoury Afternoon Tea Treats

Moving on to the cakes, oh yes the cakes now they deserve full details. The Berkeleys Pret-a-Portea afternoon tea is inspired by the latest fashion seasons catwalk designs.

Afternoon Tea London Estee Lauder and Classic FM
Estee Lauder Lemon Biscuit

The Berkeley Pret-a-Portea Afternoon Tea Menu


Christian Louboutain chocolate biscuit Pigalle Spike Heel

Karla Collecto Lemon biscuit swimsuit

Miu Miu exotic skin tote bag

Diquared mini strapless mango bavarios dress with hot pink lampshade hat

Alberta Ferreti pretty in pink Siciliam Guava and Lemon verbena pannacotta

Victoria Beckham graphic geometric cherry and white chocolate mousse shirt

Simone Rocha pineapple and coconut Savin shirt dress 

Emilia Wickstead striped fuchsia pink and orange jocund

Oscar De La Renta summer pistachio sponge cake dress

Estee Lauder lemon biscuit created especially for the event

pistachio sponge cake for afternoon tea
Oscar De La Renta drew inspired pistachio 
sponge cake
Shoe biscuit for afternoon tea
Christian Louboutain chocolate biscuit
Wow! They all looked and tasted fabulous, the cakes were accompanied by a printed guide including photographs off the designers outfits so you really could see and appreciate the inspiration and interpretation from the real designs to the sweet transformation.
Mui Mui handbag review afternoon tea
Chocolate Mui Mui Handbag 
The Miu Miu chocolate tote bag was the richest most divine chocolate treat I have ever eaten! 

Performance by Laura Wright for Classic FM
Laura Wright and Classic FM's Margherita Taylor
This was not the end of the event, we were now treated to a wonderful performance by soprano Laura Wright. I can say with certainty she sang Ava Maria and Bring Him Home from Les Miserables and rest was blur. I was preoccupied with admiring her lovely green dress and the skills of the pianist and guitarist.

What a fabulous day! I really did enjoy it all, the performance by Laura Wright, the pampering by Estee Lauder and the afternoon tea at The Berkeley Hotel all courtesy of Classic FM. 
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Simple Raspberry Fool Recipe

A simple and easy recipe Raspberry Fool to help use up a glut of raspberries in my garden. The Autumn Raspberries have produced an abundance of fruit this year and are still going.

Simple Raspberry Fool Recipe
This recipe is taken from The Dairy Book of Home Cooking, one of my go to cook books. I have excluded the sugar from the original recipe as my raspberries did not require any additional sweetening.

Recipe - Raspberry Fruit Fool

  • saucepan
  • sieve
  • scales  
  • wooden spoon  
  • bowl
  • whisk
  • large spoon

makes 4 small portions

225g raspberries
175 ml (6 fl oz) double cream
1 tbsp milk

Raspberry Fool Recipe

  • Rinse the raspberries in water
  • Put the raspberries and 1 1/2 tbsp water into a saucepan put the lid on and bring slowly to the boil, then simmer until the fruit is soft.
  • Remove saucepan from heat.
  • Rub the raspberries through a sieve and leave to cool.
  • Whip the double cream and milk together, you are looking for a lightly stiff consistency.
  • Fold in the cold raspberry puree.
  • Spoon into four small glass containers (unlike my large ones!) and chill in the fridge.
Decorate with fresh raspberries or a little whipped cream.

Easy Raspberry Fool Recipe

Other recipes you may like to try:-

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A Visit to Stokesay Castle an English Heritage Property

Stokesay Castle is one of my favourite historical places to visit in Shropshire. An English Heritage property who's great hall dates back to 1281, it also has a rather beautiful gatehouse built in 1641. Conservation of the property was completed by the Victorians and today's English Heritage, I have to agree with their description of it being 'a medieval jewel'.
Gatehouse at Stokesay Castle
It must be a few years since I last visited Stokesay Castle and English Heritage have made a number of improvements to the visitor experience:-
  • More seating within castle grounds, from what I can recall from my previous visits there is now more benches to sit and enjoy the surrounding views of Shropshire or a nice cup of tea from the tea room.

  • Lady Acton's Audio Tour, I do remember an audio tour previously, but not told from the perspective of Lady Acton. Many heritage properties now give visitors the option to hear its history in this way. This is one of the most engaging audio tours I have experienced, Lady Acton really does set the scene and help you experience the atmosphere of the medieval period. I must agree with Lady Acton's choice of favourite room in the castle, I am sure you will too.
Stokesay Castle Tea Room

  • Stokesay Castle Tea Room, well lets face it, no historical property is complete without the modern visitor essential - a tea room. I must say Stokesay Castle have done a fabulous job integrating their tea room into the visually appealing gatehouse. The tea and cake both received a thumbs up from my sister and I, the jam in the Victoria sponge was particularly tasty. There was a very good array and cakes, bakes and hot food available from within this Tardis like kitchen, majority of which is homemade.

You can expect steps and uneven surfaces in a property of this age, so you will need to watch your footing. I would suggest a phone call to the property if one of your party is in a wheelchair as there is limited access.

During my visit I even managed to purchase a few Christmas presents during my visit, oh yes I am not afraid to use the c word in September.

Gatehouse garden at Stokesay Castle
Essential information

  • Entry to the property is free if you are a member of English Heritage, otherwise your should check the admission charges on their website.
  • The tea room is open April to October.
  • Car parking costs £1
  • Stokesay Castle is located near Craven Arms, Shropshire and is well signposted.
English Heritage Stokesay Castle

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Garden memories of Geraniums or is that Pelargoniums?

The Pelargoniums cuttings have been a real success this year, a mild Winter ensured that most of them survived. They have obviously embraced the wonderful British weather of the last few months, all have flourished. 

Pelagonium and garden memories
Twenty years ago I would never have envisaged I would be so interested in gardening, my parents had never really shown or had much time for gardening when I was growing up. I was bought up with your average front lawn with a garden path, although we did have a rather exotic looking large Yucca plant at the front of the house. My time visiting my maternal grandparents was mostly spent out in the garden, my grandfather loved gardening and there was always an abundance of flowers and vegetables. He also had an aviary in the garden, which housed many Budgies and Finches - I would spend many a visit happily helping top up their food and water.
Garden memories
I always remember come wintertime every windowsill in my grandparents house would be occupied with Geraniums, smelling them the moment you walked into a room. Geraniums have such a distinctive scent, something I have only acquired a liking for recently. It was not until earlier this year I found out from my mother that my nan absolutely hated Geraniums not just the smell but how they occupied her windowsills during Winter.

Scented Pelargonium
Geraniums are not the only plant that remind me of my grandparents others include Lily of the Valley and Snap Dragons. I remember a large bed of Lily of the Valley under the lounge window, not a flower you see as often in gardens today. Then of course Snap Dragons, I distinctively remember my brother and I picking the flowers heads and running around the garden with the flowers in our fingers making the little dragons snap away. Not sure today whether my granddad would of approved of our early attempt of deadheading.

Do you have any special memories triggered by a flower or plant?

Geraniums and Pelargoniums garden memories
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Free Trex Recipe Calendar 2015

Who wants a free Trex Calendar?  There are 10,000 calendar's available from the manufacturers of Trex. I was successful in getting one of these calendars last year and along with plenty of room for you to write down those important appointments there are also some fabulous recipes. They really are a good quality too, my calendar for 2014 also included a Trex discount coupon - bonus! 
Trex Calendar 2015
photo credit Princes Foods Limited
Just complete your details on the Trex website and share with them a baking tip or memory, then keep your fingers crossed and wait for the postman to deliver your lovely free Trex Calendar.

September 2014 recipe - Harvest Fruit Cake

My 2014 Trex Calendar
This is not a sponsored post, just me sharing this great offer with you all.
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