Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Fancy a brew...?

I love a good cup of tea. It's more than that really - we have about 30 different kinds of tea in a special tea cupboard in the house; from black tea blends right through to fruit teas. I'm hooked!

Here are 3 of my fave tea brands:

Their Tea comes in some great bagged Temples (a great name for their pyramid shaped tea bags) and loose varieties such as jasmine, chocolate flake and oolong - yummy! The chamomile is probably the best ever thing for relaxing before going to bed!

Paned Gymreig
Of all the standard black tea bags out on the market at the moment to have at home or in the office, Welsh Brew is by far my favourite. Tea is a lot about the kind of water you have; soft or hard. The water here in Cardiff is soft (not so many minerals dissolved in it) so the tea is really good - if you have hard water buy a brand of tea specifically for hard water areas for the best cup of tea. For most people this tea will put a smile on your face from winter through to the height of summer

Norfolk Lavender Blend Tea
I was skeptical at first - lavender blend tea...? But I was pleasantly surprised - this Norfolk blend tea is based on Earl Grey, but has added oils and lavender blossoms. IT is a creamy and relaxing tea, which is said to help alleviate headaches. It's very tasty with a drop of milk too!

And how does one go about drinking such teas I hear you ask? In a teapot. Resist the urge to put the teabag in the mug - you really do need a tea pot to get the best cup of tea. This is my new teapot I had for Christmas - it's very cool!
 Follow these instructions to get a great pot of tea:
1. Boil water in the kettle
2. Pour a little of the boiling water in the pot, swirl and pour out. This warms the pot.
3. Pour the water into the pot, then add your teabag. Generally it's 1 per person (plus one for the pot if you like it a bit stronger) or 1 teaspoon of loose leaf tea.
4. Leave to infuse and brew for 3 - 4 minutes
5. Whilst this is happening, add your milk and sugar if desired into the cups
6. Check the tea has brewed to your liking (leave for longer for strong tea)
7. Pour into cups (if using loose leaf tea then you will need a tea strainer to catch the  leaves)
8. Enjoy!

As to the debate of whether the milk goes in before or after the tea goes in the cup I leave that one up to others to debate - and for you to choose!

One thing is for sure - you will need a tea cosy. No one wants cold tea by the second cup, so you need to keep it warm. You can go for a "tent" cosy which covers the entire pot, or a fitted cosy which acts like a woolly jumper for your cosy. These are my fave as you can pour the tea whilst the cosy keeps on warming your tea. These are some of my favourite cosies from in store:
These cosies are easily hand washed in case of accidents, and stretch to fit most sized pots. So the message is: Go loud and proud, or sophisticated and sleek - but do make lots of good tea and enjoy!


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Knitting Pattern - The Quest for Cake Treats!

I love cake - alas I have a gluten and wheat intolerance, but I do LOVE cake when I can have it. One thing I haven't mastered making gluten free is doughnuts - I haven't eaten a doughnut for about 5 years now, and I won't be able to eat a proper scrumptious doughnut ever again...

This made me feel quite depressed - and want it even more! So to combat these cravings I decided to knit myself some forever doughnuts to cheer me up when I get the craving to eat one:

This time I went for delicious pink and purple icing, and added my own bead sprinkles. I'm feeling generous so I will share my recipe to knit these lovelies with you - and they are REALLY easy!

You will need:
1 x  pair of 4mm needles
1 x large eye needle
Small amount of beige / light brown DK yarn (under 25g)
Small amount of yarn for frosting (I've gone for pinks / purples but it's your doughnut!)
Small amount of stuffing (or scrap fabric / yarn to stuff the doughnut with)


CO 20 stitches
Row 1: knit all stitches
Row 2: purl all stitches
Continue in stocking stitch for 8 inches ending on a purl rowCast off knit wise leaving a long tail
Stitch up the short edges to form a ring shape Using the long tail, stitch up the long side into a doughnut shape leaving a 2" gap
Stuff the doughnut with the stuffing, then sew up the gap

CO 8 stitches
Knit all rows until it measures 8 inches and cast off
Stitch short edges together to form a ring
Stitch icing to top of doughnut covering seam where the stuffing gap was stitched up

Add embellishments as desired!

A perfect way to use up left over yarn from other projects too. They make great little gifts, pin cushions or display items.


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Bow peep: A Celebration of Bows!

I love Bows - they cheer me up even on the most rubbish day. They come in all kinds of fabrics, colours and sizes. I thought I'd share a Rain Bow of different styles in a rainbow of colours in this special Etsy treasury:

I've been playing with the idea of making something with bows, but I couldn't think of how to go about it. For Christmas I knitted my office some different accessories as presents. One girl in the office is very trendy and forward thinking - she is always wearing something unique and cool. 

It was whilst thinking of what I could make her I stumbled across the idea of making a headband with a knitted bow. I had some gorgeous cream wool yarn left over from another project - so used this to make the headband. It looked great and went down well with all the office. So since then I've pulled it together into the Beau Bow!

I love the way the bow is textured and contrasts against the straight lines of the band. I launched this range in store this week, and have already sold out!! 

Couldn't believe it when one lovely customer in Illinois bought all 4 of my ready to ship bows in one go - fabulous!

So check out the Beau Bows in store - I'm adding more ready to ship stock as fast as I can knit it!


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Love is in the air - getting in the mood for love!

It's February and the high street is turning pink and red full of fluffy hearts, tacky cards and not-so-sexy undies with the return of St Valentines Day

The day first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. Modern Valentine's Day symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

But why should this lovely day of love and affection for the one you love be just an overpriced card bought the day before, unwanted jewellery or some half dead flowers from the petrol station up the road - No!!

I really believe handmade is the way forward - even if you can't make it yourself, putting some serious time, effort and thought into some small token of your love shows you care. 

Take a look at some of these great ideas to show your love in the classiest, cutest and unique ways - and earn major brownie points for the year ahead!

Vintage can be a great way of getting a unique find for those without the creative spark to make something themselves. Searching may take time, but it is very much worth it to find a piece with character and a story behind it. This gorgeous pendant from CharleysRoses is fab - vintage but timeless!

A unique card you can keep is something I love - and this super cool card is definitely that - this clever card by   bjoytomac would adorn my office notice board for years to come! (I love cheese a LOT, so I'm not sure I could give my hubby THIS card...)

And for those who, like me, have 100s of teddies bought by well intentioned friends and loved ones - why not get your other half to invest in a heirloom teddy? This gorgeous bunny by woolies is hand made and will last from the first date though to old age! (and she does giraffes!!)

My contribution to this array of handmade schmaltz is my Smitten - the lover's mitten. Picture the scene - you are walking out in the park, holding hands, enjoying a frosty morning - but it's getting cold - dilemma; do you stop holding hands, try and hold hands with regular mittens or stick your hand in his pocket...??

Stop. Put your hands in the Smitten and problem solved! And as a bonus - it looks like a heart when flat!

So guys - I implore you - put some effort in this Valentines Day - if you can't make it yourself go to someone who can!

(and I hope NOT to see you picking flowers from the side of the road on the way to their house - you have been warned!!)