Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Mothers Teacup...

 
I had no idea that when I bought this teacup for my Mum, that she would no longer be with us within the year.
 
I had no idea that this would be the last Mothers Day we would spend together.
 
We gathered in our leafy garden, under the Poinciana trees, and felt the warm bond of family weave it's magic over us. We are a large family and occasions where we all gather together in unison, are rare. She was smiling and happy and radiated contentment.
 
I remember being cross at my brother because he'd neglected to give buy her a gift. She didn't care of course, and only now that I am older, do I understand that the greatest gift was to have us all there together.
 
Seven weeks later, she was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
 
Twelve weeks after that, she was gone.
 
She had turned 60 just three weeks before.
 
Nearly twelve years later, we still miss her loving presence in our lives.
 
Treasure your Mum this Mothers Day.
 
No-one knows what the future holds.
 
This teacup is used most often as a small vase. I fill it with rosebuds or gardenias or a single hibiscus, depending upon the season. I sit it beside a photo of Mum, smiling and radiant as she was that last Mothers Day.
 
I cannot bring myself to drink from it.
 
It was Mums teacup. It still is.
 
What a wonderful Matriarch she was. She raised seven of us alone, in an era when single Mothers were rare. We all turned out pretty darn well, thankyou very much.
 
Wherever she is now, I know she looks down upon us all proudly and with a sense of satisfaction.
 
Job well done, Mum. Job well done.
 
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Where I party...

 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A few of my favourite things....

I love all things French.
 
I particularly adore Paris and have visited the City of Light five times. I never tire of it. I find a new and breathtaking 'something' each time I'm there.
 
The gardens behind Notre Dame....
 
 
...original Mediaeval buildings in the Marais...
 
 
....the clock at the Musee` d`Orsay...
 
 
....sigh...
 
When I'm at home, I do whatever I can do surround myself with memories of Paris.
 
My latest little addition is this adorable pair of crafting scissors...
 
 
...too cute, huh?
 
They're available here....
 
http://shop.cottonon.com/shop/product/eiffel-scissors-gold/
 
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Where I party...

I've joined a Mug Exchange...

I've just discovered the most delightful idea.
 
I was viewing a divine blog called The Enchanting Rose, and Stephanie over there is having one of her regular exchanges. It seems teacups and mugs are the currency of exchange in this instance.
 
You join up and she sends you a someone to whom you ship a lovely mug and another someone ships one to you...so you make two new friends in one swoop!
 
What a gorgeous way of making friends.
 
I'm having trouble uploading Stephanies photo, but here is the link...
 
http://theenchantingrose.blogspot.com/2014/04/sign-up-for-mug-exchange.html
 
I can't wait to see what the postie delivers!
 
If you'd like to join in and make new friends, hop on over to The Enchanting Rose. There's still time to sign up!
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Modern Day Manners and Nicieties of Life for Teens (and everyone else too)

It seems to me that these days, we've forgotten a few basic rules of etiquette.
 
Nothing major, just little things that make life tick over smoothly and seamlessly and leave everyone feeling appreciated, or at least, acknowledged.
 
I have tried hard to instil some old fashioned manners into my children, most recently my daughter as she is the youngest and the one most removed from the days of the hand written thankyou and reciprocated invitations.
 
 
For example, we keep a stash of these embellished luxury chocolates on hand to use as impromptu gifts or thankyous. No special moment goes unacknowledged, no celebration ignored, no hostess forgotten. It makes both us and the recipients, feel special.
 
It's nice to be nice....really.
 
Here's a list of ten simple little rules of etiquette that are largely forgotten these days that I have made an effort to teach my teen.
 
1. Do not have telephone conversations when you are with guests. We didn't do it when we only had landlines, why do we do it now that we have mobile phones? It's just rude to answer the phone mid conversation with a face to face friend that you've made a specific arrangement to see, and carry on a conversation with someone who is calling on the spur of the moment. That's what message bank is for. If you simply must answer the phone, excuse yourself, leave the room, and if it's not an emergency, tell the caller you'll speak to them later. If you are expecting a call whilst with your face to face friend, do them the courtesy of warning them that you may need to excuse yourself.
 
2. Acknowledge gifts and invitations with a handwritten note. A text is nice, a thoughtfully worded email is better, a hand written note on a beautiful card or lovely paper is best of all. Facebook? I'm not even going there. Great for some situations, no doubt, but not for thankyous.
 
3. Be kind and sensitive to others. Don't talk about the great time you had with Friend A, to Friend B and C. It's just not the done thing, unless Friends B and C were there to share the fun.
 
4. Learn to give and accept compliments with grace and generosity. A simple 'thankyou' is enough when paid a compliment, and paying a compliment without gushing is an art in itself. 'You look lovely' or 'I'm so pleased to see you' makes the other person feel good.
 
5. When an invitation is extended, don't ever ask 'who else will be there'. The host or hostess shouldn't have to explain their guest list to you, nor give you opportunity to veto other guests. You either accept the invitation because you enjoy the company of the person inviting you, or you don't. Accept or decline on that basis.
 
6. Along similar lines, when someone invites you, it's rude to say 'I'll check my diary and get back to you' and then not 'get back to'. Everyone is busy these days, and assuming that someone else has time to chase you, because you can't be bothered responding, is poor form. It takes no more than a few seconds to either check your dates on your hand held device immediately, or to enter a reminder to do so when convenient, thus also reminding you that you need to respond appropriately.
 
7. If you must say 'no', then do so graciously. Phrases like 'thanks, I wish I could, but I have another invitation that day' or 'thanks for thinking of me and I'd love to, however I'm required elsewhere at that time' or even 'It's lovely of you to include me, but I have something that requires my attention then, unfortunately' is all that's required. A monologue about where your have to be and with whom and why is completely unnecessary.
 
 
8. When you're invited to someone's home, it's polite to take a small something to acknowledge your appreciation of the invitation. A few exquisite chocolates from a good chocolatier, a small posy of beautiful blooms, a good bottle of wine, a bundle of notecards tied with satin ribbon, a bunch of greenery from your own garden tied with twine and finished with a hand written card, or even home made jam, cookies or beautiful soap are all good choices. A box of supermarket chocolates is okay, but trying to tailor your gift to the home involved, is a lovely touch. Home made is great so long as you present your gift beautifully as well. Line a box or small basket with shredded tissue or cellophane and nestle your gift inside. Finish with a lavish ribbon and handwritten note.
 
9. Reciprocate invitations. It doesn't matter if your home is not grand or your furniture not new. What matters is that you make an effort. Some of the most fun times I've had have been in humble homes with good company and cheap cuisine. 'I can't cook' is never good enough. Anyone can heat a deli purchased quiche or buy a ready cooked chicken or some cold seafood, and tip a ready made salad on a plate. Make an effort to invite those who made the effort to invite you.
 
10. If you can't say something nice about someone, don't speak. Don't get involved in gossip. It will always come back to haunt you. And don't talk about one friends failings to another friend, even if you think they don't know each other. It's a small world.
 
None of these are hard to do. But they do enrich your life and the lives of those around you. I promise.
 
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Where I party...

 
 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Luxurious Easter Treats....

 
 
So you've left it till the last minute to shop for Easter eggs?
You're tired of bunnies in coloured foil?
You're looking for something a little special to gift this year?
Look no further...
My pastel Lindt chocolate Freckles are just the ticket.
 
Remember those little circlets of chocolate, heavily topped with 100s & 1000s we all loved as children? Well these are a prettier, Easter themed version, and so simple to make.
 
You'll need:
 
White Lindt chocolate or white Chocolate melts if these are for the kidlets. One bar of Lindt chocolate will make about three freckles, one packet of melts will make about 8-10.
 
Metallic or Pearl Cachous, found with the cake decorating supplies at your supermarket.
 
Baking paper.
 
Egg rings, cookie cutters or traced shapes on the baking paper.
 
Clear cellophane wrap.
 
Pastel craft ribbon.
 
Fluffy craft chickens.
 
Then just:
 
Spread a sheet of baking paper on the bench and line up your egg rings, cookie cutters or just draw circles, hearts or egg shapes of an appropriate size onto the baking paper to use as a guide.
 
Put the chocolate in to a microwave safe container and microwave on HIGH for 60 seconds at a time until the chocolate is almost all melted but still has a few stray chunks in it. You may have heard about 'tempering' chocolate, which prevents it discolouring, but if you melt the chocolate this way, then stir the chunks into the melted chocolate until it's all silky smooth, it will be automatically 'tempered'.
 
Working quickly, spoon the melted choc into the waiting shapes and smooth the top.
 
Sprinkle generously with the Cachous, and allow to set.
 
Once set these can be packaged as pictures with a little pastel shredded paper in the bottom of a sweet cellophane package, swathed with gelati coloured ribbons and adorned with a cutie pie little chick.
 
Everyone loves these and they are such a special little treat made when made with Luxury Chocolate.
 
Wishing you all a Happy and Blessed Easter....
 
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Where I party...

 
 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The History of Bohemian Style....and 10 tips for going Boho...

Bohemian (/bəʊˈhmɪən/) refers to a resident of the former Kingdom of Bohemia, either in a narrow sense as the region of Bohemia proper or in a wider meaning as the whole country, now known as the Czech Republic. In English, the word "Bohemian" was used to denote the Czech people as well as the Czech language before the word "Czech" became prevalent.[1]
In a separate meaning derived from the French word referring to "gypsies," or Romani people, "Bohemian" may also denote "a socially unconventional person, especially one who is involved in the arts." (see Bohemianism).[1]
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemian
 
Understanding the history of gypsies, and so called Bohemian style means understanding the roots and origin of those who were it's earliest proponents, so here are a few interesting facts.
 
Romany Gypsies, unlike the Irish Travellers featured in the series and book 'My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding', are said to have originated in India, arriving in Europe in about the 13th century.
 
Perhaps this explains the heavy Indian and Moroccan influence.
 
 Source: Morocco World News
 
Source: http://architect-magazine.com/homes/bedroom/luxury-beds-in-the-east-interior/
 
There's a nod to the Arabian Nights in Bohemian décor too, with floaty curtains in jewelled colours, satin and silk cushions, rich rugs underfoot and carved details featured on furniture and knick knacks.
 
 Source Unknown: If this is your picture please advise so I can give you credit
 
The love of the colour and luxury of those styles was possible further influenced by the rise of the Baroque era (1600-1700) in Europe which favoured grandeur and detail in art and décor, and later by the Rococo period from about the 1720's onwards. Rococo is the style we frequently associate with Marie Antoinette.
 
Here are some artworks of those eras. You can clearly see the modern day interpretations of this style in Gypsy and Bohemian décor all over the world. The rich colours, sumptuous fabrics, stunning detail and love of gilt and crystal is evident.
 
Josefa Obidos (1630-1684) Still Life Baroque Era
 
Giovanni Michel Graneri 'The Royal Theatre in Turin' (1708-1762) Baroque Era
 
Softer pastels and wasp waisted, full skirted and completely over the top fashion featured in this era as well, and is familiar in the prevalence of this type of costuming for 'gypsies' to this day.
 
Cherubs, vines, florals and whimsy perhaps originated within the 'Bohemian' style, right about the mid 1700s, as seen in one of my all time words of art, The Swing...
 
Jean-Honore` Fragonard The Swing (1767) Rococco Era
 
There's a nod to the Pre-Raphaelite era too, and in fact the Hippy decade of the 60's, when I was born, was largely influenced by those painters.
 
"The London art dealer Jeremy Maas reflected in the mid-1980s that "there [was] no question that the Hippy [sic] movement and its repercussive influence in England owed much of its imagery, its manner, dress and personal appearance to the Pre-Raphaelite ideal ... It was observed by all of us who were involved with these exhibitions [of pre-Raphaelite paintings] that visitors included increasing numbers of the younger generation, who had begun to resemble the figures in the pictures they had come to see."
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemian_style
 
 
 
 
Of course the freedom generated by the rebellious 'hippies' of the 60's, meant that more young people travelled extensively and inexpensively, which pretty much meant 'to India'. Those influences are seen even now in Hippie style décor.
 
  So what does all this tell us about Bohemian Style and how to achieve it?
 
Here are a few ideas that I've drawn from my research.
 
1. Minimalism is out. Abundance is essential. You want to almost feel cocooned by your treasures.
 
2. You need to love a chaos of colour, have a romance with texture, a love of rustic. Soft and worn wins over new and glossy every time.
 
3. Forget the shopping mall. Sure they do Boho, but they're kind of missing the point. Boho is about things with a history. Not new and crisp and expensive and straight from Walmart or Pillow Talk.
 
4. The markets are your friend. As are yard sales, garage sales, second hand stores, eBay and school fetes. Most of the beautiful things in my daughters very Boho bedroom have been sourced from those places.
 
5. Think artistic and unusual and unique and vintage. If YOU love it, there's no reason why it shouldn't have a place in your home and heart. There are no rules, as such.
 
6. Paint and patch is the name of the game. If it isn't perfect, then it has all the more charm. And when I say 'paint', I don't mean white. Colour is IN.
 
7. One mans 'ugly', is another womans 'Bohemian'. I bought this painting on eBay for my daughters Boho bedroom....
 
 
 My son, who collected it for me, thought I was mad because it was old and faded. But isn't that the whole idea?
 
8. If you can't afford furniture, Boho is your friend. Cover boxes with colourful saris and rugs, and you have bedside tables, a mattress on the floor with a thrifted bedspread over it is fine as a bed, ugly lamps covered with silk scarves lend your space a jewelled look by night, and mismatched chairs and crockery are practically compulsory!
 
9. Did I say rugs? Rugs underfoot, be they new or old, give a sense of the Maharaja in us all. Just make sure you stick with traditional patterns like this...
 
 
..these are now available in all price points and give a sense of luxury.
 
10. Finally...all those things that hide in your wardrobe and jewellery box? Get them out and put them on display. From kimonos, to necklaces and beads and jewels of all kinds, to scarves and beaded bags. They're all fodder for wall art in the Boho home. Who needs to hang a masterpiece when you can decorate your walls with your own personal possessions.
 
So off you go....get Boho-ing!
 
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Eiffel Tower Pinhole Lamp DIY...

 
So here's my DIY Eiffel Tower pinhole lamp. I'm pretty pleased with it as a first go.
 
I took inspiration from a lamp I saw in an upmarket home décor boutique in Noosa recently, although that one featured a New York Skyline.
 
 
I'd got a pair of these little lamps in a second hand store some time ago. They were particularly ugly and neglected and had these creamy coloured shades with flecks of stuff through them, and were embellished with brown fringing and braid...erk! I actually went back four times before I really saw any potential in them whatsoever, and clearly nobody else saw 'potential' either because even at $15 for the pair, they sat gathering dust for 3 or 4 months before I rehomed them.
 
Off came the brown fringing and braid, and already they didn't look half bad. Then I saw this lamp...
 
 
....and realised what a great DIY project they were. At $7.50 each, there wasn't too much I could do wrong....right?
 
Pinhole lamps are popping up everywhere all of a sudden and the New York Skyline is a favourite subject matter. Me? I'll take the Eiffel Tower over Manhattan any day.
 
So all I needed for my DIY pinhole lamp was a lampshade I wasn't afraid to ruin, some black paint, an appropriate outline to use as template, some masking tape, and a thick needle.
 
Lampshade found, chalkboard paint employed (it was just what I happened to have that was black), template discovered here....
 
 
....and resized accordingly, and bookbinding needle at the ready, I proceeded to tape this outline to the correct position on my lampshade.

 
...my outline...
 

...lampshade before...

 
...lampshade with template...
 
...and then I spent three days in spurts of a few minutes at a time, poking holes in my lampshade with the bookbinding needle, which by the way is nothing special and is in fact just a longer, thicker sewing needle.
 
I used the dots on the template as a guide, and about half way through, remembered that there is a neat-o little tool that would do this for you called an Awl which I highly recommend over a needle for the task. But in the interests of using what I had, I perservered with my needle and just spread the task over several evenings.
 
I was so proud of myself until I realised that in my haste to get those pinholes done, I had neglected to first paint my shade black...doh!
 
I suggest remembering to do this first, as once painted, the holes in my lampshade were all but clogged and I had to go over the whole thing with the needle, yet again! Sheesh.
 
Had my desire for a glittering Eiffel Tower next to my bed been any the lesser, I would have given up at this point and binned the thing. But dang if I didn't want to read by my favourite tourist icon at bedtime.
 
 
 
The entire glittering effect of my lampshade could probably be enhanced by a second coat of black paint, but for now, I kind of like the tissue paper effect, and in the flesh, the little holes sparkle far more brightly than they appear to in my photo.
 
I'm quite thrilled with the result and have a mind to do the twin to this lamp in the same fashion. I'm going to buy an awl, and redo the pinholes to open them a little more to enhance the effect, and perhaps do that second coat of black paint too.
 
Or perhaps I'll use this idea....
 
 
 
...and do the Eiffel Tower black against a twinkling night sky.
 
We'll see.
 
Meanwhile I hope I've inspired you to punch holes in inanimate objects....hehehe!
 
 photo signature_zps33fd9dfd.png
 Where I party....
  
http://www.natashainoz.com/p/say-gday-saturday-linky-party.html
http://ivyandelephants.blogspot.com.au/
http://romantichome.blogspot.com.au/
http://www.shabbynest.blogspot.com.au/
http://www.lifeasweknowitbypaula.blogspot.com.au/
http://www.threemangoseeds.blogspot.com.au/
http://thebrambleberrycottage.blogspot.com.au/
http://artfulaffirmations.blogspot.com.au/
http://frenchcountrycottage.blogspot.com.au/
http://my1929charmer.com/
http://www.timewashed.com/
http://www.commonground-do.com/
http://www.diybydesign.blogspot.com.au/
http://thediydreamer.com/from-dream-to-reality/112-share-your-projects/#
http://www.marthasfavorites.com/
http://sweethaute.blogspot.ca/2014/04/thursday-sweet-haute-share-linky-party.html
http://www.savvysouthernstyle.net/2014/01/wow-us-wednesdays-152.html
http://thestylesisters.blogspot.ca/#
http://www.nancherrow.com/2014/04/welcome-fridays-unfolded-105.html
http://www.jenniferrizzo.com/2014/04/fabulously-creative-friday-14.html
http://chicbytab.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/chic-by-you-wednesday-link-party-7.html
http://imnotatrophywife.com/
 
 
 
 
 
 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

10 tips for Going Gracefully Grey....

 
I've been toying with going gracefully grey for several years now.
 
I even grew my hair out completely grey a couple of years ago.
 
The thing was, I just looked old. I didn't look soigne` and chic like I'd imagined. I just looked older and neglected, no matter what I did.
 
I wanted to look like this woman on a Vicki Archers lovely blog French Essence...
 
 
....but my hair was cut in to a short bob at that stage, AND it's got a fierce little spiral curl, so the magic just wasn't happening.
 
I had a hell of a time convincing my hairdresser that it was a good idea too. She thought I'd lost my marbles. After all, hairdressers are part of an industry that conserves youth or at least the illusion of it, right?
 
What can I say? I found another hairdresser.
 
Bless her heart, she humours me, and more importantly discussed options for being 'gracefully grey' and 'soigne`', over just looking like my granny.
 
Here's what we decided, and I think it holds true for many of us who would love to be elegantly silver.
 
1. You have to commit to a lengthy growing out process and decide how to handle that. My solution is to have a very light ash blonde colour, overlaid with a small smattering of  fine golden foils as my natural colour leans towards that. My roots (when attended to in a timely fashion) are almost imperceptible with this combination.
 
2. Keep the colour and/or cut, on trend in some way. I have chosen to go with a similar dark under colour and tips Balyage` style, as the stunning woman in the above picture. However as my hair is a warmer colour, I've chosen a deep, dark chocolate. When the penchant for Balyage` passes, I'll find another way to keep my look current.
 
3. I personally think that longer hair, when well groomed, is a more youthful look for me at least. Being grey with super short curly hair ON ME is channelling 'Granny' for sure. Although, I have seen some ladies with short and funky grey hair, and it looks fabulous. So maybe somewhere along the way, I'll readdress that issue. That said, the colour grey or ash blonde, will reflect more light and look shinier and healthier, with straight hair (see my update below on this topic). Curses! I have a natural curl that many would kill for, but it's not the best look with greys. So it's a daily wrestle with the GHD, or a twice weekly visit to the hairdresser to stay looking a little chic.
 
Update June 2017...I have finally wrestled my curly silver hair into submission, found my 'ideal length', and have happily embraced being Silver AND a being Curly Girl. For tips on how to have lovely curls, see my post here. The trick for me was, to find that 'ideal length', not too long and not too short, and make sure that those curls were moisturised and pampered. Be patient, try different styles and lengths and go with what is right for YOU.

 
 
4. On days when GHD or the hairdresser are impossible, the hair goes up in a sleek ponytail or chignon or other neat, elegant look. I rather like a plain high ponytail, and have an endless selection of ornaments with which to embellish my up-dos. Find an alternative look for your Bad Hair Days, that will not leave you looking like you couldn't be bothered. That's the death knell for sure. See point number 5.
 
5. Grey hair can just make you look neglected if the rest of your appearance is lacking. So you must also commit to dressing well even if just to drop the kidlets or grandkidlets to school. A touch of makeup doesn't go astray either, to prevent you simply looking tired and washed out. A neat neutral manicure or well kept fingernails and toenails, and simple elegant accessories say 'I care about me', and prevent the misconception that in going grey, you're simply letting yourself go.
 
6. Going grey may also mean a change of wardrobe colour. The French of course favour black over all other colours, but here in Australia, a lighter approach is more forgiving in our bright sunlight. I prefer the softness of Navy blue against my face, lightened with a few pastel accessories. Black is still my 'go to' for evening wear though, with the acknowledgement that pearls or bling around the face, prevent a washed out look.
 
7. Avoid wearing Granny clothes too. Grey hair and some mass produced floral prints, are a sure sign that you're on a slippery slope with your look. So no shopping at the haunts of the more mature woman, that consist of floral polyester chiffon garments in nightmarish colour combinations. I'm sure you all have an equivalent Old Lady store near you. You know the ones...lots of prints, 3/4 pants and cheap jewellery. Stick with solid colours and quality accessories if you're unsure, and you'll look far more pulled together.
 
8. Funnily enough, and you may laugh here, but I find that wearing fabulous shoes also prevents one looking 'old'. Is there a woman alive that doesn't adore a great pair of shoes? I'm not necessarily talking Manolo or Louboutin here. A classy looking pair of ballet flats or loafers can take you just about anywhere. My new favourites are a nude suede loafer or Ballet flat, and a Nude wedge sandal for Summer. Oh so comfortable, yet still elegant.
 
9. Still on accessories, get yourself a neat, classically shaped handbag and leather wallet. I don't mean expensive, I mean neat. It's part of the overall neat, tidy, understated deal. Avoid fringing, frou-frou and fussiness on handbags. Neat. Elegant. Quality if you can afford it, by which I don't mean Designer. Just quality leather and a classic shape. I found mine at my favourite local thrift store. Honestly. The things people throw away and donate. You wouldn't believe it.
 
10. Now if you're still reading, and you've come to realise, as I did, that this going grey bizzo is not for the faint hearted, nor is it a money saving exercise, then go for it. I love my silver  locks.
 
Here's mine, fresh from a visit to my partner in crime...with paisley/floral shirt....hahahahahaha...what can I say...it's my 'going to the hairdresser, doesn't matter if it gets dye on it' shirt...
 
 
Have I convinced you to go grey yet?
 
If not, see my update post with newly fab silver locks...here.
 
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Where I party....
 
http://www.natashainoz.com/p/say-gday-saturday-linky-party.html
http://ivyandelephants.blogspot.com.au/
http://romantichome.blogspot.com.au/
http://www.shabbynest.blogspot.com.au/
http://www.lifeasweknowitbypaula.blogspot.com.au/
http://www.threemangoseeds.blogspot.com.au/
http://thebrambleberrycottage.blogspot.com.au/
http://artfulaffirmations.blogspot.com.au/
http://frenchcountrycottage.blogspot.com.au/
http://my1929charmer.com/
http://www.timewashed.com/
http://www.commonground-do.com/
http://www.diybydesign.blogspot.com.au/
http://thediydreamer.com/from-dream-to-reality/112-share-your-projects/#
http://www.marthasfavorites.com/
http://sweethaute.blogspot.ca/2014/04/thursday-sweet-haute-share-linky-party.html
http://www.savvysouthernstyle.net/2014/01/wow-us-wednesdays-152.html
http://thestylesisters.blogspot.ca/#
http://www.nancherrow.com/2014/04/welcome-fridays-unfolded-105.html
http://www.jenniferrizzo.com/2014/04/fabulously-creative-friday-14.html
http://chicbytab.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/chic-by-you-wednesday-link-party-7.html
http://imnotatrophywife.com/

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tea time at A Tray of Bliss....

High Tea seems to be all the rage these days.
 
Offered at many upmarket café`s and lounges, it seems the five star hotels are making a motza from them.
 
They vary enormously from a tiered confabulation of confectionery, to a full scale meal.
 
So then, what's Afternoon Tea, or Low Tea, for that matter?
 

Well, for a start, it doesn't have to be served in a Tea Salon, although this one at the Salon The` Musee`d Orsay in Paris is certainly sublime. This photo taken when we were there a few years ago.
 
It does require teacups...
 

 
Prettified cakes....
 
 
...these ones made by cutting a home baked vanilla slab cake into tall cubes, which then have a thin, baby pastel pink sugar icing poured over, and topped with edible rose petals...
 
 
...or this one which I lovingly prepared for The Diva Child's fourteenth birthday...a pastel rainbow iced fudge cake...
 
 
....or perhaps some Raspberry Iced Tea Muffins...recipe following...
 
 
...then there's Aunty M's Rock Cakes for something a little more substantial...
 
 
...or prepurchased meringues for the time poor, filled with Lemon Curd or whipped cream....mmmm...
 
One this is for certain. The tea must be brewed in a pot....this one gifted to me by The Musician Husband for Valentines Day this year...
 
 
....and one must use loose tealeaves, or it's just not right!
 
High Tea in it's original form was really more like lunch. It came with Cornish Pasties and sandwiches filled with thin slices of roast beef and home made pickles and had more substantial cakes like a...
 
.. Three Ingredient Fruit Cake..
 
Soak 600gms of mixed dried fruit in 600mls of liquid....try milky tea, herbal tea like Raspberry or a favourite blend like French Earl Grey with 3-4 tablespoons of cream added to the brew for richness, chocolate milk or iced coffee....leave overnight in the refrigerator, then add 2 cups of self raising flour, pour in to a 20 cm lined tin and bake in a 180C preheated oven for 90 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in there for another 30 minutes. Perfection!
 
...or my Aunty M's Rock Cakes...
 
This makes about a dozen Rock Cakes

2 1/4 cups self raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup butter
Pinch nutmeg
3/4 cup any mixed fruit
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Line two cookie trays with baking paper and preheat the oven to 200C.

The flour goes into a large mixing bowl with the butter. Rub that in with clean fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. This will take no more than a minute or two.
Add the cinnamon and the dried fruit, and combine lightly.
Add the sugar and milk to the beaten eggs and beat with a fork.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir with the fork until well mixed. The mixture should be really firm and stiff.
Take two dessertspoons, and scoop a generous spoonful of mixture with one, and slide it onto your lined tray with the other. Continue until all the mixture is used.
Six rock cakes to a standard sized tray is about right. They'll rise and expand, so don't crowd them too close together.
Bake them in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

Low Tea or Afternoon Tea is actually the 'tea' we're more accustomed to seeing as a celebratory tea here.

You'd include soft crustless sandwiches cut into elongated fingers, that are spread with real butter and have fillings like cucumber or thinly sliced radish, smoked salmon with fresh dill and capers, watercress or wild rocket, and cream cheese seasoned with chopped fresh herbs.

Your cakes would be of the more delicate kind like my faux petit fours above, or my pastel iced fudge cake, or even a real Victoria Sponge.

Or you could try this great egg free recipe, which is fab baked as muffins or cupcakes as I've pictured above...

Egg Free Raspberry Iced Tea Muffins

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup strong brewed raspberry herbal tea
1 teaspoon strawberry essence
1 tablespoon white vinegar
6 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil
1 teaspoon Bicarb-Soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line muffin pans with papers

Combine the flour, sugar, tea and strawberry essence in a bowl. Add the other ingredients and beat with electric beaters on high until smooth. Note that this is a rather thin batter.

Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 20-30 minutes or until firm to touch in the centre. Remove from the oven and cool before icing with a simple icing sugar icing made by combining sifted icing (confectioners) sugar with some more of the strongly brewed raspberry iced tea.

Decorate with gel icing tubes as desired.

So, who's coming for tea?


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Where I party....
 
http://www.natashainoz.com/p/say-gday-saturday-linky-party.html
http://ivyandelephants.blogspot.com.au/
http://romantichome.blogspot.com.au/
http://www.shabbynest.blogspot.com.au/
http://www.lifeasweknowitbypaula.blogspot.com.au/
http://www.threemangoseeds.blogspot.com.au/
http://thebrambleberrycottage.blogspot.com.au/
http://artfulaffirmations.blogspot.com.au/
http://frenchcountrycottage.blogspot.com.au/
http://my1929charmer.com/
http://www.timewashed.com/
http://www.commonground-do.com/
http://www.diybydesign.blogspot.com.au/
http://thediydreamer.com/from-dream-to-reality/112-share-your-projects/#
http://www.marthasfavorites.com/
http://sweethaute.blogspot.ca/2014/04/thursday-sweet-haute-share-linky-party.html
http://www.savvysouthernstyle.net/2014/01/wow-us-wednesdays-152.html
http://thestylesisters.blogspot.ca/#
http://www.nancherrow.com/2014/04/welcome-fridays-unfolded-105.html
http://www.jenniferrizzo.com/2014/04/fabulously-creative-friday-14.html
http://chicbytab.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/chic-by-you-wednesday-link-party-7.html
http://imnotatrophywife.com/



 
 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Weird gremlins in Blogland!

Hi everyone!
 
Well as you see, my blog looks completely different today.
 
That's because some gremlins have stolen my background and header which I paid a blog designer for.
 
Strangely, the blog designers avatar disappeared from my blog admin at around the same time, and an email to her asking whether she could shed any light on the issue, bounced back to me...Da-dum-dum-DA!!!!
 
Who knows. It was only $80, but I'm miffed all the same. Thanks a lot Leslie you-know-who-you-are!
 
I have two other blogs whose backgrounds look okay (which I designed and installed myself) so I can only guess at what's happened.
 
Never mind. I designed the other two and I can design my own for A Tray of Bliss.
 
Meanwhile, enjoy my understated Pearl Grey background :)
 
P.S. After several hours of work (I am a terrible Luddite who scrapes through blogging by the skin of her teeth), I've come up with the template and header you now see.
 
I like it. It's more me.
 
What do you think?
 
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