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Afternoon tea with Twinings

Being an eternal tea lover (the clue’s in the title) the super lovely and friendly guys at Twinings recently asked me if I would guest blog for them about creating the perfect afternoon tea at home. Anything that involves tea and cake is good with me, so writing about how I like to enjoy my afternoon tea was nothing short of a pleasure.

If, like me, you’re a big fan of endless tea in all kinds of varieties, and love a bit of homemade cake to go with it, then make sure you head on over to Twinings, arm yourself with a good brew, and find out more. There’s a couple of recipes on there too, which will hopefully inspire you to get baking and invite friends and family to simply savour the moment and enjoy some indulgent time with the people you love – because sometimes it really is the simplest of pleasures that mean the most.




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Sugar free (and butter free) tea loaf | Recipe

Every week since the start of the year, I’ve been telling myself that ‘this’ is the week I make better choices… the week I put those trainers on and go for a run, the week I eat less of the all the bad stuff and pay more attention to the good stuff. Only by about Tuesday I’ve failed on every level and am already reaching for the wine. But this week, well this week is IT!

And, whilst I know I can’t survive without a yummy treat (or several) I do want to reduce the amount of refined sugar in my diet. Which means that certain sugar-free recipes are the perfect way to curb that sugar craving but without the crash that usually comes with it.

One of my favourite sugar-free recipes comes c/o Davina McCall from her ‘5 weeks to sugar-free’ book. This tea loaf is so simple to make and has no sugar or butter in the actual recipe (although I do add butter to my slices slice when I’m actually eating it!). Anything that accompanies a proper cup of tea, and doesn’t involve you reaching for the biscuit tin, is good in my book!


350g dried fruit (I make sure there’s a mixture of raisins, dates, sultanas and cranberries)

200ml freshly brewed tea

50ml maple syrup (honey is also good)

250g wholemeal spelt flour (can’t beat Doves Farm)!

2tsp baking powder

1 tsp mixed space

2 free-range eggs


Boil the kettle and brew 200ml of tea. Pour over the dried fruit and maple syrup (or honey) let it sit for a few few hours (or overnight if you have the patience).


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.

Sieve the flour into a bowl and stir in the baking powder and mixed spice. Add the fruit and any of the liquid, along with the eggs. Mix it all up.


Bake in the oven for around an hour. Take out and leave to cool for around ten minutes.

Serve with butter and a cuppa!

(tea loaf is best when it’s still warm from the oven)!


Source: New feed

Feeling green | Juice recipe

Now that we’re well and truly into February I thought that better habits and new-year-type routines would somehow find me. However, after sitting here and waiting I’ve come to the realisation that I might need to take a little more action to perk up these energy levels. So an SOS message was sent to my best friend last night, to tell her that I’ve not just fallen off the health bandwagon but that it has left me for dust at the side of the road, and I needed some of her inspiration, ideas and willpower (her willpower always amazes me).

Being my best friend she was really reassuring and made me feel better by saying that sometimes it’s OK to eat all the carbs, drink all the wine, and sit on your arse. And as kind as her words were, she knows me too well and knows when enough is enough and offered her support in helping me motivate myself. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’m an all or nothing kinda gal, but I certainly feel much better when I’m giving my all, rather than my nothing … especially where health and wellbeing is concerned (guilt soon sets in when you’re scrolling through Instagram, eating a packet of biscuits whilst watching gym bunnies lift their own body weight). So, I made myself a little green juice and decided that it’s *finally* time for some accountability.

Working for yourself and being at home most of the day can leave you VERY sedentary. And whilst most would see it as an opportunity to eat well and exercise more, if I’m not in ‘that’ headspace routines can easily slip – please tell me I’m not alone here 🙋🏻!

So, if you’ve been feeling a little ‘meh’, thanks to what seems like a long and grey winter and a severe lack of vitamin D, then might I suggest you try this delicious green juice also?  It certainly isn’t a miracle cure but it’s made me realise how much I’ve been missing freshness in my life and how much happier I feel when I make better choices in my diet*

* I’d like to point out that what makes this worse is I have ZERO excuses for never having fresh ingredients to hand. My husband is a fruit and veg supplier so we always have a constant supply of lovely healthy produce in our house. Oh, the irony. 

Apple, spinach and mint – green juice 

  • 4 apples – chopped
  • Large handful of baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup of mint leaves
  • 1 lime – peeled

Put it through a juicer and serve in a glass. You can make it in a blender but would need to pass it through a sieve first – and just look at the beautiful colour 🍃

And why is this juice great?

I’ve found some recipe notes over on the The Juicing Collection  to highlight how this juice can help keep you happy and well!

Vitamin C ✓ Vitamin A ✓ Vitamin K ✓ Folate ✓ Magnesium ✓

Vitamin C

Required for: Immunity, heart and cardiovascular health, development of sex hormones, stress management, health and repair of skin and effective wound healing

Deficiency Symptoms: Frequent infections, poor wound healing, skin complaints, fatigue and listlessness, depression, easy bruising, bleeding gums and varicose veins. 

Vitamin K 

Required for: Bone building and repair, blood clotting and preventing heavy menstrual bleeding. 

Deficiency symptoms: Easy bruising, osteoporosis and heaving menstrual bleeding

Vitamin A 

Required for: Immune system, growth and repair of bones, skin, teeth and eye health.

Deficiency Symptoms: Dry skin, dull and dry hair, hard skin, reduced saliva production, ridged nails, loss of appetite, bumps on back of arms and other parts of the body, acne, mouth ulcers, sinus problems, poor wound healing and poor night vision.


Required for: Cardiovascular health, nervous system function, stress management, carbohydrate digestion, and metabolism into energy, thyroid function and mental clarity and function, as well as the absorbing of calcium into bones.

Deficiency Symptoms: Muscle cramps and twitches, nervous fidgeting, restless legs, hyperactivity and restlessness, insomnia, poor concentration, irritability, palpitations, and arrhythmias.

And if you have any recipes, ideas or advice to help this former well-be-er get back aboard the waggon then send them my way.

Source: New feed

Savour the moment… The weekend series | Part 14

//Title image 📸 c/o Fashion Me Now//

Well, I don’t know about you but thank goodness for a fresh new month. It certainly felt good when I turned the calendar over and saw the letters F E B R U A R Y staring back at me. I can finally press reset and start this year as I intended.

And, whilst spring does seem a million miles away (will this rain ever end?), it is nice to know that this short month will bring with it lighter evenings and lots of new beginnings (I even saw my first snowdrops this morning!).

So, whether you’re looking forward to an action-packed weekend or you’re planning on hibernating and taking things a little slower, make sure you take time for some weekend reading.

The fabulous Melissa, of Media Marmalade, has written a great post about how to get more active in our day-to-day lives. Exercise is an important part of my life, in-part because it helps me with my anxiety and has been vital in how I deal with it. However, I’m an all or nothing kinda gal and I’m either eating clean and training hard or I’m eating all the cheese and drinking all the wine (the latter seems to be how I’m spending most of my days at the moment).  And, as most of us are tied to our desks, driving between work and home, and spending many an hour in front of the TV binge-watching box sets, getting in those ‘active minutes’ can be a pretty tough task. But Melissa gives some great tips on how you can make a few simple changes to move your butt just that little more. 

If, like me, you’re keen to reset your year this month then perhaps you’re thinking about putting some goals or plans in place? And, whilst I’ve mentioned in previous posts about my loathe for resolutions, I did however like those mentioned in this blog by Fashion Me Now. In particular point 7 – Spend time with the happy makers. As my fellow anxiety sufferers will understand, this week has been one of ‘those’ weeks, and whilst my head wanted to stay firmly at home, in case my panic attacks got the better of me in public, I forced myself out the front door and into the world! Which meant I got to have a cuppa and a chat with the beautiful Monica, founder of The Elgin Avenue – one of my all-time favourite blogs , and someone who (up until this week) I was yet to have the pleasure of meeting.

Unfortunately for Monica, it was a pretty rubbish day for me and she got to meet me in all my anxiety-fuelled glory. But, being the kind and beautiful soul she is, encouraged me to go for a walk and a chat, and made me feel so much calmer. I certainly feel like I met a new ‘Happy Maker’, thanks, Monica! 

This week I’ve been trying to get some new business ideas (that have been taking up vast amounts of room in my head for far too long) down onto paper. And I’ve found that mind mapping has fast become the best way of getting what’s in there ⬆️, down onto there ⬇️. If you’re not entirely sure how mind mapping works, or why you may even feel the need to give it a go, then check out this post from the fab ladies at Career Girl Daily.

And finally, with our first book club meeting under our belt, we’ve now chosen our first book. If you’d like to join us, we’ll be meeting on the 1st Wednesday of each month at The King Alfred pub in Winchester. We’re starting with ‘My Sister Lives on my Mantelpiece’ by Annabel Pitcher and will meet at the start of March to discuss. There’s still plenty of ‘month’ left to grab a copy (or download for all you heathens out there) and catch up.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend ahead and manage to take a little time for yourself.

Source: New feed

And the countdown begins …

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Prior to being asked ‘The Question’ I’d never given a wedding day much thought. If truth be known I didn’t actually see myself doing the whole ‘white dress and walk down the aisle thing’.  And, as someone who has suffered from (sometimes crippling) anxiety for years, a day when all eyes are on me makes me feel more than a bit nervous.

Entering into marriage I feel somewhat prepared for, but a fancy wedding day, not so much. No tea towels on my head as a child pretending it was a veil, no scrap book of pretty dresses and ideas of my ‘dream’ wedding.  So, after saying a big fat ‘Yes’ back in early September of last year, to a guy with whom I went on a date eight years ago, knocked back, and then agreed to a second (first) date six years later, we have since found ourselves booking an actual date to get married and faced with more decisions to make regarding our wedding day than I ever thought possible.

photo 2 copy

Fortunately for me, I’m one of the last of my friends to get married, which means that when I have questions they all have answers; and extremely practical and helpful answers at that. Lets put it this way, if it weren’t for a friend of mine I’d have had no idea that I had to order a wedding dress at least six months in advance (the look of horror on the wedding dress shop owner when I turned up thinking it was ‘that’ easy), or that I needed my actual wedding shoes prior to my dress fittings, or that wedding invites would have be a huge headache, and that once ‘said’ invites are delivered the endless upsets and disappointments it can cause would be an even bigger headache – I should add, that if you’re not yet married then please don’t let this put you off!

Needless to say, I’ve been pretty blasé and naive where this whole wedding day malarky is concerned. Probably made worse by the fact that I’m marrying THE most disorganised man on the planet – I defy anyone to show me someone who is more lacking in the organisation department. Which means I have to work twice as hard at making sure that things get done, that he turns up to the right church (although it’s rather fortunate that the church is quite literally in our front garden) and on the right day … tardiness is not something that sits well with me. So, with our nuptials only mere weeks away it’s safe to say that the countdown has well and truly begun and it’s time to get down to some much needed organisation.

Up until now if you’d asked me if I was stressed you’d have probably heard me say ‘Don’t be silly’. I was never planning on having a big wedding with lots of people and things to organise, and fuss … as most of my friends know, I was hoping (and tried) to elope. But it’s not just my day, it also belongs to my fiancé.  And now that the invites have gone out and we’ve had lots of lovely chats with our vicar,  it’s all starting to feel a little real (to say the least). I don’t think either of us can look at our guest list without opening the fridge to pour a glass of wine and difficult wedding decisions are often met with a glaring ‘I’m-not-in-the-mood-to-discuss-this-now’ glance.

As we’re both self-employed (Ross runs his own locally sourced fruit and veg business, and I spend my days writing) a lot of our spare time turns to work, so wedding chat is often at the bottom of our list. But with 10 weeks to go, it’s time to finalise those smaller details –  first dance (are we even having one, I don’t think we’ve even discussed that?), what wine we’ll be drinking (pretty important), and where we plan to head off to on our little honeymoon after the wedding before our bigger honeymoon next year.

But, despite all of the above we’re trying to make sure that we spend this time in the run up to our big day, remembering what exactly it is that we’re embarking on. It’s pretty easy to get lost in a haze of ‘wedding’ and forget the very important part about a marriage. Something I promised myself I would NEVER do. Our lovely vicar requested one thing from us in the week prior to our wedding day … ‘To book in at least two hours a few days before, where we spend time with just each other and do something that doesn’t involve ANYTHING wedding related’. I’d say that’s pretty sound advice if you ask me.

Although, before I become a wife there is the small matter of celebrating with all my favourite ladies.  And, I can’t wait to spend this Saturday evening with them. Hen Party fun, and frolics awaits …


Ciara sign off