Tag Archives: christmas

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Crafty How To – Make a Bath Tea Bag

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Every year I make the ladies in my life something homemade for Christmas. This has seen me making caramel-filled truffles, a world of chutney and industrial amounts (well, not quite!) of sugar body butter scrub.

Nearly every time I take on my Christmas project I have an near-on emotional break down, get fed up half way through and wish I hadn’t started the project. But it’s always worth it when my friends and family open their homemade gifts and – at least to my face – seem to truly love them.

This year I decided to make bath tea bags. These are like tea bags, but you put them in the bath and they infuse the water with lovely scents and some goodness too. All the recipients had to do was run a bath, chuck one in and then relax in their own little spa.

I got a recipe from a website and then sort of made it up. I knew I wanted them to be lavender-based, mostly because I find it headily relaxing and hoped they would too. And I also wanted them to be nourishing and help muscles relax, so they did some good instead of just smelling fancy.

This resulted in me putting in rolled porridge oats and Epsom salts. The oats make the water soft and moisturise the skin while Epsom salts are great for aching muscles as they draw toxins from the body.

This is what I ended up putting in, in full:

4 parts dried lavender

1 part dried hibscus (I would leave this out if doing it again, as I don’t think it added much)

2 parts rolled oats

2 parts epsom salts

1 part lavender essential oil

I bought sealable tea bags from Soap Posh, where you can also get a range of dried flowers and Epsom salts.

How to:

1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Fill bags about half to 3/4 full.

3. Iron the bags shut, if you’re using the kind I did. Otherwise you can sew them shut or you can get draw string ones too, which is pretty self-explanatory.

4. Parcel up and gift to those you love.

I popped about 3 tea bags into lovely paper bags, which I bought from a seller on Not on the High Street, but you can pack them up however you want. I also included a list in each paper bag of what was in the tea bags and how to use.

So far the feedback I’ve had is good on the teabags, but no one is going to be rude are they?! However, I have used them myself as I made more than I needed and they are really lovely. I like squishing them in the water so all the oaty moisturising goodness some out.

Oh, and if you squeeze them out then leave them to dry then you can use them two or three times more.

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Late 2013 Round-Up

I owe you an apology. Yeah, you. I know you’ve been anxiously refreshing The Z Factor, hoping for a new post. And I’ve let you down. I’ve also let myself down. The run up to Christmas and then Christmas itself was really busy, and I neglected write blog posts in favour of alcohol, cheese and friends. But now I am back to share the spoils of my fun and also to wish you a very happy new year.

Here’s what I got up to while AWOL…

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I was Christmas shopping and then wrapping presents. I had to do it mega early this year as I wasn’t seeing my family. They were off to LA and I was off to Andrew’s folks’, so we exchanged presents in early December. These are some of my gifts to my lovely family…

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Then my family came to visit. This is my niece trying to get Andrew to concede a game of “Sleeping Lions”. Little does she know that Andrew is very competitive, even against five-year-old little girls.

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Mid-December marked the nuptials of some of Andrew and mine’s nearest and dearest friends. It was a brilliant wedding and the perfect way to kick off the festive season.

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This is Andrew and a couple of his besties at  said wedding.

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These are some of life’s good guys, right here.

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Then is was Christmas, which meant it was high time…

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To make our flat cosy.

We…

image (7)Bought cheese (brie with truffle in it – phwoar!)

image (8)Were cheesy…

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image (10)Hand terrible hang overs…

image (11)Then did it all again…

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Eventually we retreated home.

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And saw Andrew’s family. We played board games and ate aforementioned cheese (did I mention the truffle?).

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We saw our home friends and ate a huge burger at The Flying Pig.

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Went to the soft launch of House of Ho. (OK food, terrible service)

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We kicked off the new year with another hangover.

image (16)But now it’s time to rest, relax and embrace 2014.

Looking forward to the year ahead very much – hope you guys are too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Top 5… Christmassy Things to do in London

I am a bit of a grumpy lady about people celebrating Christmas too early. Christmas adverts in September, the festive music in the shops in October and special offers on mince pies in the supermarkets in November. NO! December is the month of Christmas. Even then, putting up a tree in the first week of advent seems a bit premature to me. I fear suffering from Christmas burn-out, so by the time Christmas Eve (REAL Christmas) rolls around nothing feels special any more.

Having said that, I love Christmas a lot. And now we’re past my Christmas embargo date, I am feeling well excited about all the Christmas things I have planned. With that in mind, I have compiled a list of my favourite things to do over Christmas in London.

1. Ice Skating

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Every year Andrew and I go ice skating just before Christmas. It seems so romantic. But in actual fact, ice skates seem to have been designed by a sadistic cobbler, and I feel queazy at the thought of putting my foot in a cold, damp boot that’s been on loads of other people. That’s before you get on the ice, and realise you’re more Bambi than Torvill. “We hate ice skating,” Andrew and I say to each other, “why have we come? We suck at it and it’s beyond painful!”

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However, we always go out of duty. It’s now a horrible Christmas tradition, but I kind of love it.

There are lots of places to go ice skating in London, and I have sampled a lot. My favourite would be Somerset House, followed by the Tower of London.

Afterwards I prescribe a strong mulled wine to rid yourself of the aches, pains and cold that you will have acquired.

2. Choosing a Christmas Decoration

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My Mum and I have a festive tradition where we go out together with the sole purpose of choosing one new decoration for our – well, my parents’ now I suppose – tree. We’ve done this together ever since I can remember. We spend a long time oooh-ing and ahhh-ing over all the pretty (and hideous) sparkly thing, before selecting one and scampering off for a cup of tea.

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Last year we went to Heal’s, which has the most amazing array of festive decorations (and homewares – man, I love Heal’s). It feels and smells so festive in there, and Paul A. Young has also just opened a cafe next door – ideal for our victory afternoon tea.

3. Christmas Markets

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Winter Wonderland and Southbank Christmas Markets are my favourites, but there are all kinds of festive outdoor adventures to be had in London. I love wrapping up warm, linking arms with a buddy and carefully choosing where to buy a festive feast from. And it’s all the better when it’s washed down with a heady mulled wine before getting on a fairground ride of dubious safety standards.

4. Getting Cosy in Pubs

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I love pubs anyway. They’re such a uniquely British thing, I think. Sure, everywhere has bars, but the British pub is something that just can’t be replicated anywhere else.

And in December they really come into their own. Walk in out of the cold into a blast of buzz, warmth and the scent of mulled wine. Huddle into a booth with friends and watch the sky grow dark by 4pm while knocking back festive drinks, all while you’re being warmed by an open fire. Extra great points if there’s a pub dog in the mix.

This year I’m going to the Draper’s Arms for a Christmas carol sing-a-long with friends. I cannot think of anything more festive.

5. The Nutcracker

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Every year my Mum and I go to the Nutcracker, either by the English National Ballet at the Coliseum or at the Royal Opera House. I love getting swept away in the Christmassy story and gasping at the amazing costumes.

I also love seeing all the other families who have come to watch for a Christmas treat. It feels so magical and special. I cannot wait to go this year.

Food Review – Love Food Market hampers

Love Food Market hamper - inside. Packed with loads of lovely, luxury foods.
Love Food Market hamper – inside. Packed with loads of lovely, luxury foods.

When the lovely people at Love Food Market got in touch with me to ask if I wanted to review a hamper, I couldn’t really say no. Chorizo to review? Who could say no? (Clue: not me).

Love Food Market are suppliers of luxury British produce. Self-confessed foodies Em and Sue gather together all their favourite British-produced food on their website to make it easily accessible to fellow food lovers. There’s a huge selection of foods on the site, from fresh sausages, cheese, olives and crackers to sauces, jams, pickles and chocolates. I had a lot of fun agonising over what I was going to select.

In the end I went for…

Summerdown Mint’s Chocolate Mint Thins from Love Food Market – £3.95

These were SO minty, they actually made my mouth feel fresh and zingy after eating one. They are quite rich, so one goes a long way. They would make the perfect after dinner mint for rich, Christmas dinner parties – and much more interesting than a generic After Eight!

Sneaky peek inside!
La Fromagerie the Charcoal Biscuit – £2.35

These biscuits definitely go best with a creamy, sharp cheese like a good goat’s cheese. They were earthy and unusual – definitely a good pressie for a cheese lover!

Tracklements Chill Jam Heart – £4.50

Easily our most loved thing in the package. The chilli jam was sweet, with a lovely warm kick to it. We’ve had this jam with loads of different meals – the best one being a brunch of hot corncakes with advocado and bacon – I’ll post the recipe soon. I love the packaging of this product too. We’ll definitely be buying more of this, as we’re already out!

We also got a delicious garlic chorizo dried sausage, which they unfortunately seem to be out of. If it comes back in, I’d definitely recommend it. And we got some cumberland pork sausages – I haven’t taken a picture of them, as who likes to look at raw sausages?! They were SO good though – so tasty and meaty. I cooked them with grapes – I will post that recipe soon too, as it was so good.

The box itself was really well packaged, and the range of ingredients on the site was really good. The site is easy to use and Sue and Em are delightful if you have any questions about your order. I loved that the cold foods came wrapped in an organic wool package to keep them insulated – such a good idea!

So if you’ve got a tricky foodie friend or relative to buy for this Christmas (or just fancy treating yourself!), I’d say you won’t go far wrong with Love Food Market’s hampers. You can hand pick everything yourself so there’s nothing the recipient won’t be so keen on.

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