c June 2015 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

Yogi Tea Hamper Review and Giveaway Ended

I enjoy many types of tea. This can include some of the more unusual herbal or fruit teas. So I was pleased when I received a hamper of Yogi Tea, who are celebrating the launch of their new branding. Founded in the 1970's, and is the original organic and ayurvedic (hindu medicine) herb and spice tea brand. They encourage people to live a happy, healthy and conscious lifestyle. Their teas are created to help promote individual well-being. 

Yogi Tea
A selection of herbal teas
Their herbal and spice teas stimulate the harmony between body, mind and soul. They have an impressive range of over 40 different flavours to try from.

Over the last few weeks I have been enjoying some of their teas. I particularly like the Stomach Ease tea, which I have to say I was surprised with. Included in the list of ingredients were fennel and ginger, both of which I would normally shy away from. But have to say I really liked it. There was a lovely subtle licorice taste to it. I would definitely recommend trying them. 

Stomach Ease Tea
Stomach Ease Tea

Bedtime Yogi Tea
Bedtime Yogi Tea
About Yogi Tea
Yogi Tea take seriously their social and ecological responsibility for people, the environment and nature. They support various sustainable projects via their partners in the growing locations which provide the farmers with a guaranteed income and facilitate adequate living conditions. They are also working to provide sustainable support and development for children and adults in need throughout the world. Our projects run through India, Nepal and worldwide.

You will even find a inspiring phrase on the tab of your tea bag, along with a yoga pose at the bottom of each box of tea. 

Yogi Tea can be found at all good health food shops, including Holland and Barrett.

Yogi Tea Giveaway!

Yogi Tea are offering one of my blog readers the chance to #win six boxes of tea and a recipe book.  

The prize consists of:-

  • 1 box Yogi Tea Classic (a blend with cinnamon, cardamom and ginger)
  • 1 box Yogi Tea Throat Comfort (a blend with liquorice, fennel and thyme)
  • 1 box Yogi Tea Choco (a blend with cocoa shells, liquorice and cinnamon)
  • 1 box Licorice (a blend with liquorice, orange peel and cardamom)
  • 1 box Bedtime  (a blend with fennel, chamomile and valerian root)
  • 1 box Stomach Ease (a blend with cardamom, fennel and ginger)
  • A Yogi Tea Recipe book
each box of tea contains 17 tea bags.

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.  

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 30 July 2015. Winner must respond within ten days of being notified, after which time a new winner will be selected. UK entrants only. For full Terms and Conditions click the link on the Rafflecopter widget.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Cherry Cake Recipe with Lemon Icing

Sometime ago a Mary Berry recipe for Cherry Cake was featured on The Great British Bake Off. I adore Cherry Cake, a favourite cake of mine that was baked by my late Aunt Fay. So for my birthday this year my sisters and niece all got together to bake me a Cherry Cake.  I pointed them in the direction of a recipe I found on A Very Melly Bake blog. You will be pleased to hear that all went smoothly, possibly because my sisters both understood who was in charge - my niece!
Cherry Cake Recipe
Cherry Cake Recipe
This recipe made a lovely cherry cake, and everyone (who likes cherries) in the family tucked into a slice. 

Cherry Cake Recipe 

Cake ingredients 

200g glace cherries
175g butter or baking margarine
175g caster sugar
3 eggs

175g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
75g ground almonds
1 tbsp milk

Icing ingredients

175g Icing Sugar
Juice of ½ a Lemon
5 Glacé Cherries, quartered

Cherry Cake Recipe
Cherry Cake
Preheat the oven to 160C Fan/180C electric.  Line a 18cm round cake tin. 
  • Rinse the glace cherries and pat dry with kitchen paper towel. Put 5 cherries to one side. Chop the remaining cherries into quarters and toss in a little flour. This helps to prevent the cherries from sinking to the bottom.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together
  • Gradually beat in the beaten eggs.
  • Sift in the flour and baking powder into the mixture, and fold in.
  • Add two thirds of the cherries with the ground almonds to the mix and fold together. Now add the milk and stir.
  • Pour the mixture into the cake tin, sprinkle the remaining cherries on the tip and push them just under the surface of the cake mix.
  • Bake for 50 minutes, check with a skewer If you need extra time you may need to cover the top with foil or greaseproof paper.
  • Leave the cake to cool in the tin slightly, turn out onto a wire rack after approx. 15 minutes.
Cherry Cake with Lemon Icing
Cherry Cake with Lemon Icing
Making the icing 
I was reliably informed you sift the icing sugar, add the lemon juice and mix. Then using a spoon drizzle the icing on the cake, using a criss cross pattern. Then top with the remaining cherries cut in half, add as many extra cherries as you like. 

I believe there may have been a slight disagreement when it came to the style of decorating. But as far as I am concerned, it looks great and tastes great. Which for me, makes it the perfect cake.

Chocolate Fairy Cakes Recipe
If you liked this recipe you may also enjoy my Mini Back Forest inspired Fairy Cakes Recipe.

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A Day Out to Leominster and Burton Court in Herefordshire

Earlier this week I visited Leominster for the first time, a small market town in Herefordshire. It was only planned as a brief stop, the main purpose of the day was a private group tour of Burton Court

Leominster is known for having quite a number of antique shops, and often features on the BBC show Antiques Road Trip. Aside from these shops it also boasts a fabulous cook shop, stationers and one or two gift/vintage type shops. Many of which are housed in some beautiful old buildings. I did my best to ignore the vacant and run down shops that can blight many Market Towns and focused on the quirky and attractive ones! Thats rather vain of me I know. 

The Merchants House, Leominster
The Merchants House, Leominster

Period Tea Room - Herefordshire
Period Tea Room - Herefordshire
Hanging Tea Cups - Merchants Haouse
Hanging Tea Cups - Merchants House
I can certainly recommend The Merchants House Tea Room and Antiques Shop. It was a really gem, and served fabulous freshly made scones and a tasty lunchtime menu. There was a nice garden area to sit in, though I chose the inside, with the original wood beams, and a feature of china cups hanging from them.

We moved on from Leominster to the private tour of Burton Court. A country house located in the pretty village of Eardisland, Herefordshire. Having driven through Eardisland village, and seeing just how pretty it is, it has now been added to my list of places to visit.  

Burton Court, Eardisland
Burton Court, Eardisland
Highlights of the house tour for me, were the wonderful cantilevered staircase, and the dinning room which overlooks the garden. If you are lucky enough to stay for bed and breakfast this is the room  you will have the pleasure of enjoying breakfast being served at the long table. Such a fabulously light room, with wonderful views of the garden.

Roses and Daisies

Gardens Burton Court
Burton Hall gardens
The formal flower garden is located to the side of the house, stepping down to enter it you will find  roses galore. There was a wall to the one side that saw Ferns and Daisy's finding a home clinging to the outside.

Entrance Hall Burton Court
Entrance Hall Burton Court
Tea and Cake at Burton Court
Tea and Cake -  well you would, wouldn't you?
Of course before leaving we indulged in some homemade cakes and a cup of tea. Which finished the day off rather perfectly.

There have been many different families living at Burton Court through the years. You can find out more details about the house and its history on the Burton Court website.
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My Craft Room / Sewing Room Makeover

My new craft room has been months in the planning.  Gone is the under used spare bedroom,  now I have a bright and functional space I can use for sewing, blogging or crafting. I have used a bright palette of colours, which I hope will help inspire me to be creative and energised. There is no falling asleep in this room.

Craft Room Makeover thanks to Homebase
The room is on the small side, a typical box room. So I felt a feature wall of bold colour may make it feel a little swamped, instead I decided to use bright colour to enhance pieces of furniture and accessories.

Add colour to your sewing room
It is only once you empty a room that you can appreciate just how marked and grubby the walls are. I would definitely recommend bringing a paint chart home or better still a few colour pots, so you can try the paint on the wall. At different times of the day, natural and artificial light can have a huge effect on the colour you will see. Be sure to look at the colour sample at different times of the day, with curtains open, drawn, and lamps on.

Homebase Home of Colour Paints
Homebase Home of Colour Paints
For the walls I used Antique Ivory, one of the new range of colours this seasons Home of Colour paints at Homebase. This gave me the right colour canvas for the room, white would be too stark, and a darker cream would have too many brown tones to it. Few of use find painting a pleasure, so where possible I would recommend a one coat paint. So I was pleased to see the Antique Ivory was available in onecoat. Having removed the old curtain batten, which I think was original to the house, there was significant marks and holes in the wall as you can see from the photo above. These needed filling, sanding and painting with primer, along with a few picture hook holes.   I did think it may be a case of more than a single coat of paint,  but true to its claim the paint covered the walls in one coat.

Upcycled Sewing Box - Bubblegum Pink
Upcycled Sewing Box - Bubblegum Pink

I used the Bubblegum pink paint colour to transform my wooden sewing box, against the Antique Ivory of the walls it really adds impact as you walk into the room. Along with my handmade pin board, that corner of the room looks fabulous.

Fabulous 3D effect display shelves
Fabulous 3D display shelves
I have so many bits of ribbon, fabric, crafting bits and pieces keeping them all organised and easy to find can become something of a chore. I like tidy, I like organised, I also like things labelled. I have lots of jars but no where to store and display them properly. The three oblong 3D style shelves (Homebase £29.99) allow me to recycle my old kitchen glass containers and store my ribbons where they can all be admired. Along with one of my favourite birthday cards of an old sewing machine.

Wicker Chest of Drawers
Wicker Chest of Drawers
Rather than just stack my storage boxes in the corner, and wanting to get easier access to additional items, I  found this white and wicker unit of drawers (Homebase £59.99). This allows me to store, lots of spare fabric and crafting materials and also means I can put storage boxes on top of it. This way they are not on the floor and I do not have to keep bending down to pick them up. Storage does not need to be boring.

I even found a sweet little heart shaped china dish (Homebase £2.49), perfect for popping my pins in when I am at the sewing machine. So far I have not found any on the floor! I also get to see my lovely sewing tins by storing them in the pretty and practical glass lidded Sweet Things box (Homebase £9.99), this will ensure I keep this box neat and tidy. No labels are needed as I can see straight away what is inside. Although, it is just as well there is no glass lid to my new pink sewing box, some times it can be a little chaotic inside, just sometimes mind.

Lots of things storage box
Sweet Storage Box for my Sewing bits n bobs
I also have wooden board with hooks on, which I am planning to add colour to and use as a place to hang my current craft and sewing projects on. I will of course share this with you when it is complete. I am still awaiting delivery of a roman blind, to finish dressing the window.

Disclaimer - I would like to thank Homebase for the inspiration and vouchers that have allowed be to complete my craft room makeover.
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Sewing Tutorial: Combined Draft Excluder and Doorstop - Hillarys Crafting Challenge

I am not quite sure what I was thinking when I decided to accepted the Hillarys Craft Challenge which arrived in my inbox a few weeks ago. I am a novice when it comes to sewing, but also a bit of sucker for a challenge. I needed to find a balance, something that utilised my basic sewing skills but also gave me a chance to use some imagination and incorporate some new skills. 

What could I make with a metre square of fabric? Racking my brain I decided it needed to be a practical item, that could also be decorative. I was toing and froing between a door stop or a draft excluder. Then I thought why not do both, but I could only submit one item into the Hillarys Craft Challenge. Ding! I had an idea. It happens every now and then! Why not combine the two.

A decorative draft excluder that keeps out the chill in the Winter months, yet keeps the door ajar in the Summer. Suitable for indoor doors. Allowing cool air to circulate the house. Ok it's not a Noble Prize winning idea, but I am quite pleased with it.

My Draft Excluder Doorstop
My Draft Excluder Doorstop

Creating a Draft Excluder Doorstop

Equipment needed 
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Roll of Greaseproof Paper
  • Embroidery thread
  • 1 metre of Hillarys Daisy Pistachio fabric
  • Tape Measure
  • Tailors chalk
  • Fabric stuffing
  • Needle
  • Pins
  • Pencil
  • Ribbon for decoration
The main draft excluder consists of two pieces of rectangular fabric measuring 90cms x 23cms. I like to measure out and create a template from a roll of greaseproof paper.

Before stitching the fabric together, now is the time to add any decoration, to the pattern side of the fabric. I added some decorative ribbon, making sure it matched on either side of the draft excluder.

Making the doorstop fabric tab

Cut out a strip of fabric measuring 26cms x 6cms. Fold this over so that the right side of the fabric is on the inside. Sew along the two lengths, using a seam. Turn this inside out.   

Assembling the Draft Excluder

Placing the two large pieces of the draft excluder fabric on top of each other, with the pattern side on the inside. Insert the doorstop tab between the two fabric pieces, around 15 cms from an end. 

Sew along three sides of the fabric, leaving one of the short sides unstitched. I used a strong stitch, the triple stitch setting on my sewing machine. 

Turn this inside out, and place to one side.

Making the fabric flowers

Large Flower for Doorstop - The flowers do use quite a lot of fabric. Start by creating a template using the roll of greaseproof paper. Draw a line 43cms in length, at one end draw a line 9cms in height. Using a gentle wavy line slowly reducing down to meet the far end. See photograph. This is half of the length of the flower.

You will need a piece of fabric a metre in length and a width of 20cms. Fold this over pattern side on the inside, so you have a long thin folded over piece of fabric. 

Pin the paper template to the fabric, the flat end in the middle. Use the chalk to mark the pattern onto the fabric. Flip the paper over to mark out the pattern on the remaining length of the fabric. Sew along the chalk marks. Leaving an area in the middle of the long straight edge so you can turn the flower inside out. Press the seams. Trim the excess fabric and turn inside out. I used the end of a knitting needle to gently turn out the ends. Hand sew the gap used for turning out.

Using embroidery thread, sew a long running stitch along the straight edge. Pull the tread to carefully, pucker up the fabric, and roll the fabric up. Pull and adjust the fabric to create a flower shape. Stitching the bottom together to keep it in place.

Small Fabric Flower - Repeat as above for the large door stop flower, using the smaller sizes of 27cms and 41/2cms to create a smaller decorate flower.

Attaching the flowers

Try the draft excluder at the door, decide which side you want to attach the decorative flower to. Taking note which side you want the Doorstop Flower attaching to the tab.  The tab should be positioned under the door onto the inside of the door. With the draft excluder on the outside.

Position the flowers and stitch in place. 

Finishing Off
Stuff the doorstop with suitable stuffing material, available from all good hobby shops. Carefully sew the end. Now you have your very own homemade Draft Excluder and Doorstop.

Discovering New Skills

New skills I uncovered in making my multi functional Draft Excluder Doorstop:-
  • Used  the triple stitch setting on my sewing machine for the first time
  • Created fabric flowers
  • Made a 3D item using stuffing
  • Utilising a decorative  fabric flower for a functional purpose
This is my entry into the Hillarys Crafting Challenge 2015.
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The Gardens of Morville Hall, Shropshire

Morville Hall is a grade 1 listed building owned by the National Trust, although the gardens and properties are managed by individual tenants. As such these are not usually open for the public to view. But this weekend was one of the open weekends operated by the National Garden Scheme, more commonly referred to as the NGS.  

Morville Hall Gardens, Shropshire
Morville Hall Gardens, Shropshire
On a Sunday afternoon of glorious sunshine my sister and I made the short journey to Morville Gardens, located between Bridgnorth and Much Wenlock in Shropshire

In total there were six gardens to tour:- 

  • No. 1 The Gate House
  • No. 2 The Gate House
  • The Dower House
  • The Cottage
  • Morville Hall
  • South Pavilion

Alliums - The Dower House, Morville Gardens
Foxglove - The Dower House, Morville Gardens
Foxglove - The Dower House, Morville Gardens
The weather worked its magic and it was exceedingly busy. With a garden map in hand we set off to follow the garden trail. It always surprises me how greatly some gardens differ from one to another. Some quite formal and orderly, others more natural and disorganised.

The Cottage, Morville Gardens
The walled garden, The Cottage - Morville Gardens
The Cottage, Morville Gardens

My favourite gardens were No.1 The Gate House and The Cottage. The No.1 Gate House was a tidy, organised garden with both flower and vegetable beds. The Cottage garden was surrounded by wonderful period walls along with quirky small outer building and an outside potting bench area. All adding to the character of this small garden.

It appeared to be a most successful day for Morville Hall Gardens, and a great deal of money raised for all the NGS charities. 

No 1 The Gate House, Morville Gardens
No 1 The Gate House, Morville Gardens

The Dower House, Morville Hall
A peek into The Dower House
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National Volunteers Week

Do you volunteer anywhere? There are a great many charities, national and local that would not be able to operate without the help of volunteers. National Volunteers Week from 1 to 7 June 2015 is an opportunity for organisations to thank and celebrate the help  and volunteers give.

I have very briefly mentioned in the past that I volunteer, and thought this would be the perfect time to tell you more. 

How long have I been volunteering?
I have volunteered for around 4 years, for one of the UK's largest heritage charities, The National Trust. 

Why do I volunteer for the National Trust?
I have a love for English history and heritage that also allows me to help protect and retain it for the future.  A need to understand times gone by, helping me to bring to life my family history discoveries. 

My hours of volunteering add up, earning me a volunteers membership to the National Trust. Allowing me to enjoy properties and gardens all over the country.

Where do I volunteer?
Sunnycroft, is a rare suburban villa and mini-estate in Wellington, Shropshire.  It is not one of the grand stately homes that most people think of when you mention the National Trust. But somewhere you can imagine living if you could go back in history.

What do I do?
For the last few years I have been transcribing the personal diaries of Joan Lander, the final owner of  Sunnycroft, before passing it on to the National Trust. It is trickier than it sounds. Deciphering and reading old hand writing can be a challenge. Although the more familiar you become with the style of writing the easier it gets.

Whilst I am mainly office based in my volunteering, I do get to observe the wonderful original contents of the house. A stroll from the car through the avenue of Wellingtonia trees, admire and envy the wonderful glasshouses. 

Do you volunteer? What do you love about volunteering?
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