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29 August 2013

Review: The Kettle Shed Tea

The lovely Zoe of The Kettle Shed recently contacted me asking if I would be interested in reviewing a selection of her high quality teas. Now, for those of you that don't already know...I LOVE tea, so of course I snapped up the opportunity!

Four cute tins of different teas arrived in the post super quick and boy oh boy, before I even opened the tins I could smell the most delicious smells emanating from the parcel. I couldn't wait to try them all out!

Each tin had a 20g sample, with all the lovely ingredients listed and also how much tea to use per cup, the temperature of water required and how long to let the tea infuse for. I was immediately impressed by this as I'm very particular about how my tea is made and crucially, how long it is brewed for.

With my trusty infuser at the ready, the kettle singing happily, I decided to use my collection of four cute tea cups, all the way from Hong Kong, to put these teas to the test.

Starting with Ginger Fitness, I opened the tin to find the most beautiful looking mixture of organic ingredients. I was already sold on how pretty the tea looked. The smell was incredible; spicy and refreshing, with a slight hint of chocolate.

I let the tea brew for the minimum recommended time of 5 minutes. It had a very refreshing, light taste and not overpowering or acidic like some ginger teas can be and it smelt wonderful.

The next tea lined up was Organic Korea Jeju, a green tea. 

Now, I must confess, I'm not a huge green tea fan, so I was a bit wary but it looked good, smelt lovely and the taste was refreshing enough, without being too strong. I realise now, as this tea only needs to be brewed for a minute or two, that I've probably had over-brewed green tea in the past, which has put me off the flavour. I will definitely be giving these tea leaves another try.

Being a fan of black tea, I was particularly interested to try the Ceylon tea. It looked good and the smell was wonderful, almost like it had a hint of sugar, reminding me of Turkish tea, which I love.

After brewing the tea for 3-4 minutes, it produced a beautiful looking tea. I didn't mix it with milk as it really didn't need it. The delicate balance of flavours left a lovely after-taste and it was strong enough without obliterating your taste buds. I could drink this all day.

I was rather excited about the next tea, Energy Fruit. For starters it looked and smelt AMAZING and that was just from opening the tin!

Containing a scrumptious mixture of apple, hibiscus, elderberries, rosehips, currants, orange peel and rose petals, I have in all honesty, never seen such a beautiful tea. I love the fact that all those colourful ingredients haven't been pounded into a heap of dust. I'm sure they would taste just as good if they were pounded down and put in a little bag but where would the fun in that be?! Being able to see the ingredients so clearly, made the tea all the more appealing.

And wow, the taste was deeeelicious! In fact, I loved it so much, I made myself a second cup. It was super tasty, refreshing, full of energy without being too sweet and the colour was incredible. Definitely my favourite out of all four. 

Overall, I was really impressed by all four teas and I have realised I must get my infuser out and have loose-tea more often. The taste is so delicate, beautiful, refreshing and completely different to your standard supermarket tea. Something else that really impressed me was how little you need for one cup of tea. I've barely touched the contents of the tins and they only hold 20g. Also, Zoe of the Kettle Shed is super lovely. In fact, she's so lovely, she's offering you all a free infuser when you spend over £10 in her shop. Just mention my blog at the end of the check-out stage. Awesome hey!

I hope you've enjoyed this review and feel as inspired as I do over tea! Right, I'm off to make a cuppa, anyone want one?


Disclosure: I reviewed this independently and wasn't sponsored to write this post.

7 August 2013

Blog Gem - Amy Blackwell

Isn't the the world of blogging and social media a wonderful thing?! Without it I wouldn't have come across my August Blog Gem. This month's gem is one super, talented artist and I just LOVE her work! Her art work is creative, colourful, characterful and so unique. As a fan, I just had to find out more about what inspires her to create and of course, who she would invite to the Blog Award dinner! So, lets find out more! 

Hello there! Who be the face behind the paintings?

My name’s Amy and I’m an artist based in the middle of the UK. I work part time at a cinema as a projectionist and spend the rest of my time drawing, knitting, painting, sewing and making work which I sell in my online shop. I have a cat called Illya Kuryakin and my favourite colour is yellow.

What's your creative space/studio like? 
Not-quite-as-organised-as-it-should-be chaos. It’s a room in my home that looks out into the garden with a desk covered in stuff and things. It’s probably the coldest room in the house (which makes it my favourite, because I’m a winter person through and through). I’ve managed to fill it with everything I could possibly need and then some.

If you had to take only one of your creative tools to a desert island, what would it be and why? 
Probably my crochet hook because I reckon I could make some very functional things out of big leaves. I could draw in the sand with it and they always come in handy doing fiddly jobs.

How do you work and get inspired? 
I work from my imagination. I fill it up with colours and shapes from the world around me and then sift through it until I find something nice to put on the page. I do a lot of knitting and crochet and that’s a perfect time to reflect and assess what’s going on and plan new projects. I now own an ever growing collection of blankets.

Are there stories behind your illustrations?
I listen to the radio a lot while I work, especially the dramas. So, I always seem to have stories going round my head while I work but I can’t say for certain if that inspires the people and characters I draw. If they do have stories they haven’t told me them yet, but I’m eagerly awaiting the day they do...

What top tips would you give to any novice bloggers and those thinking of selling their designs?
I’ve had a big run in recently with people stealing my work, it’s still going on. So, an important message to pass on would be don’t let things like that get you down (or put you off), but be careful how you display your work online. I always used to just slap low-res pictures up on my blog without much thought. Now I carefully sign or watermark my pictures. I try to take more care by taking smart photos of the work in and around my home - it’s a learning curve but it’s actually inspiring me to be a bit more creative in the home and on the blog (plus my living room has never been tidier!).

If you could go to a Creative Blog Award dinner with any 5 people/fictional characters (dead or alive), who would you choose? 
(Warning I haven’t picked very art related people) 
This is something I’ve thought about A LOT recently and when I was reeling off my list of guests to my friend, he pointed out, “Amy, none of these things talk!?”, quickly followed by, “You can’t invite a triffid!”(Can’t you just picture a triffid trying to sip soup?? Holding a spoon in one of it’s branches...? no?). Here are my more sensible options. Miss Marple because she’d enjoy the food and Poirot probably wouldn’t. Victor from the french TV series The Returned (because I’m allowed at least one slightly creepy quiet person, right?). My friend Fuz because she’d find the whole thing hilarious. Alan Rickman - because this would make Fuz very happy. And finally Philip Glass because he’s wonderful.

And finally...book & tea or film & wine?
Definitely a place in my heart for both! But if I had to pick , tonight I'll curl up with my book...

Thank you Amy, it's been an absolute pleasure hearing all about your creative world! Ha ha, I love the idea of a triffid coming to the Blog Award dinner! That would certainly provide a lengthy conversation topic at the dinner table. What wise, wise words about both protecting your work and also how to approach it psychologically. Thanks again, Amy!

I hope you've all enjoyed this month's Blog Gem. If you want to find out more about Amy, head over to her gorgeous website here. Next month takes a different thread....ooh, is that a clue? Hee hee, maybe it is but my lips are sealed! ;-)

Happy blogging folks!

All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Amy Blackwell.  Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.

5 August 2013

Wild Cherry Tree Inspiration

On my walk to work, after I've headed over the railway bridge, I pass a good dozen or so of beautiful cherry trees.Throughout the winter months I didn't realise they were dormant fruit trees. With the arrival of summer, the trees have burst into action and are covered in gorgeous cherries! 

There are deep red ones, dark purple ones and also bright red ones, the colour of which I would describe as "cherry red". Looking at these different shades each day got me thinking whether I had that perfect "cherry red" colour among my embroidery threads. So, on Friday, as part of the lovely Anna's Creative Unite session, I decided to get my sketch pad, embroidery threads, hoop and needle out. 

I sketched various cherries, then tested out my drawings by embroidering them on to calico. I soon realised that along with that cherry red colour, I also needed the right shade of green. It was a close call but I eventually settled on this combination of red and green, with black stems and a dash of white to give the cherry a shiny appearance. 

I was so excited about my new "fruity" embroidery, that I decided to make the design into a ring and brooch and have popped both in my Notonthehighstreet and Etsy shops.

All in all, a very successful Creatives Unite session! Have you been at Anna's Creatives Unite night? I'd love to hear or see what you've made, so feel free to post a link below.

Happy crafting!

I am currently in the process of moving house, so I'm bit like the cherry ring, sat by a cardboard box as I type this. In fact, scrap that, I'm surrounded by cardboard boxes! Anyway, as the move is imminent, my shop products won't be available to purchase until the 19th August. I'm still available to contact through the usual methods, so do drop me a line if you have any questions. Cheers!

4 August 2013

Tea and cake anyone?

I like tea. I like cake. And I LOVE going out for a tea and cake date with the girls. When I do, I like to put on an appropriate tea party dress, accompanied with some cute jewellery and an impractical but pretty handbag. Maybe even some kitten heel shoes. The whole process, from the dressing up, to the choice of cake and selection of tea, to the nattering away with the girls, is a perfect afternoon out for me. It's this heavenly type of day that has inspired me to create 'The Tea Party Gift Set'. In fact, I am really exciting to be sharing this with you! 

But what is 'The Tea Party Gift Set' I hear you cry?! Well, the gift set contains three things a lady shouldn't tea party without! 

Number 1: a personalised handkerchief

Number 2: cute button earrings

Number 3: polka dot ring

These essential tea party accessories come in a lovely gift box, complete with ribbon. The only difficult decision is choosing which colour! I have already made myself a set to go with the dress I'll be wearing to my brother's wedding next weekend! Can you guess which colour set I've gone for?


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