Category Archives: in the home

Fairytale bookends

Bookends.  I always wonder whether there’s any point to them.  There are so many things you can use to keep books upright.  In the past, I’ve been a fan of horizontal book stacking at the ends of rows, rocks, photo frames… However, as I streamline my book collection I’ve ended up with so few books that they don’t run to the end of shelves any more, and I’ve been getting rid of my clutter, so there aren’t as many rocks and items to hold up these books.

I decided that I needed a pair of bookends, but they had to be fun.  They had to match my books and be decorative in their own right.  I trawled the internet for a few days (there are A LOT of designs out there), and ultimately decided on a pair of fairytale bookends.

Fairytale bookends 1

There’s a huge range in both the price and quality of bookends, so if you’re looking for a pair of your own I recommend setting a budget in advance.  This pair cost £25 from Not on the high street, and came in a choice of colours (I bought off-white).

Fairytale bookends 2

Fairytale bookends 3

They’re cute, aren’t they?  The books on the left of my shelf (“Once upon a time”) are my favourite non-fiction books.  The books on the right of my shelf (“The end”) are my favourite fiction books.  All nicely sorted!

New loose leaf tea infuser

Hi guys, I’m back!  My new charger has arrived, and it works.  Woop woop!  I have power!  I’m not having much luck with my Mac though.  Today I plugged in my hard-drive to do a Time Machine back-up, only to discover that I gave it an obscure, now forgotten, password when I set it up, so I’ve had to wipe my old back-ups and start again (currently got 14 hours remaining….).

Anyway, I’m here today to talk about tea.  I requested a new tea infuser for Christmas from my lovely sister, and chose this green plastic and metal one from The Cook’s Kitchen.

Tea infuser 2

Up until now, the tea infuser I’ve been using is a plastic one, but it’s not holding up well and I was concerned that it would perish. This new tea infuser has a metal mesh, and so should be indestructable (in theory!). It’s quite a modern design, so I know it won’t suit everyone, but I like the colour.

Tea infuser 1

There’s a lot more choice in tea infusers today than there were a few years ago when I first started drinking loose leaf tea. I hope this reflects a trend to brew tea properly once more (boo to teabags!).

Tea infuser 3

Personally, my advice is to steer clear of novelty tea infusers (unless they’re made of metal or absolutely hilarious). Some of the novelty ones are made with horrible plastic that has a weird feel to it and has tiny holes which will not brew your tea satisfactorily. Buy metal, and buy one that is easy to use. I don’t like the ones which are like spoons with a mesh case on the end. They’re great for stirring, but they’re not easy to clean up afterwards. Cup designs like mine come with a lid, so when you’ve brewed your tea, you pop the infuser on the lid and there is no drip to clean up. Then, when you’ve had your cup of tea and are ready to wash up, you just tap the tea leaves out and give it a wash. You can also use them in a tea pot because they can hold more than one cup’s worth of tea leaves.

Tea infuser 4

A good cup of tea starts with the right utensils!

Around here in December

I haven’t given a little update on what I’ve been up to for a while, so I thought I would now.  I’m working right up until Christmas (don’t get me started on why an office that provides a non-essential service needs to be open on Christmas Eve!).  However, I’ve been pottering quite a lot recently.

Tea and Kindle

I finished all my Christmas shopping in November, so December for me is mostly a time of wrapping presents, reading, drinking lots of hot drinks, watching Christmas films and singing along to Christmas music (I LOVE Christmas music).

I need to finish six more books to meet my reading challenge for the year, which was to read 60 books.  I’ve been reading a lot on my Kindle, but I’m also trying to finish my stack of unread paperback books (this is a never-ending project, to which I’m sure a lot of you can relate!).

Tea in conservatory

I’ve been enjoying having pots of tea in the conservatory whilst watching the birds in the garden.  My little teapot does four cups of tea so I get about 40 mins of sitting around sipping tea and staring out the window.  It’s very relaxing, if none of the neighbours are doing DIY (my street has a surprising abundance of folk sawing wood and building things).

Knitting gloves in bed

I’ve been making my fingerless mittens for charity.  It’s a very satisfying knitting project because it only takes a couple of hours to make a pair, and so you feel like you’re getting somewhere.  I had hoped to get a box of knitted goodies off to charity before Christmas, but it’s a bit late to post now (Royal Mail isn’t that reliable at the best of times, and certainly not around Christmas!).

Christmas lights house

Every year, we drive around town and have a look at all the Christmas lights that have been put up. It’s a tradition. This was my favourite house this year. Apparently the couple that live there have a disabled son, and they put all the lights up as a sensory experience for him. (To clarify for non-Brits, it’s not normal to see houses decorated like this. Brits don’t really go all out with Christmas lights.)

Christmas tree market place

Our town puts lights up too. My favourite part this year is the tree next to the market cross in the market place. It’s so stately and pretty.

That’s what’s been going on in my world recently.  I hope you’re enjoying December too.

P.S It’s my sister’s birthday today, so Happy Birthday to my ancient sister (25!).

Claire Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I put up some Christmas decorations on Sunday. It’s officially December! I love it when all the lights are twinkly and there are candles everywhere.  I love the smell of cinnamon and I love eating marzipan!

Christmas decorations 2013

I love Christmas!

I also made a Christmas photo of myself for Facebook, because I’m cheesy like that:

Christmas photo670

But that wasn’t enough, so I also made a squirrel one:

Season's greetings squirrel600

New Dubarry leather boots

New leather boots 1

Last week, I got some new boots for winter.  I sorted through my boots during the summer and I was one pair short (in my head) so I’ve been keeping an eye out for a pair I liked.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find a pair that I liked.  Dubarry boots have been on my wishlist for pretty much five years, but they are so expensive that they have never moved on to my shopping list.  UNTIL NOW!

Let’s be honest here, I bought them on a whim because I was fed up of lusting after them.  And I’m not telling you how much they cost because it is extortionate!  However, they are actually riding boots, which means heavy wear is expected and I can wear them for walking without getting wet feet.  They also look nice so I can wear them to work.  Win win!

It’s good that I like them, as I now have to wear them for the next decade to justify the price!

New leather boots 2

Product review: Bellevue Tea

Cup of tea blue mug

A while back, I ordered some tea from Bellevue Tea for a taste test and review on the blog.  I’ve been trying to avoid buying tea from the big tea brands, and Bellevue Tea are an independent business based in London.

I ordered three teas and got one free.  I was very impressed with the speedy and friendly service.  I bought tea leaves by weight, and they were packed in foil-lined jiffy bags (I didn’t even know these existed!).  They also sell tea in bags, so don’t worry if you don’t want loose leaf.  The front of each bag is printed with the tea that’s inside.  I love this packaging.  It’s flat and doesn’t take up much room, which makes it good for delivery as well as storage.

Bellevue tea review 1

I bought Kenya Orthodox, Niligiri Special Organic (there are two standards in their shop at the moment) and Bellevue Reviver, which is one of their house blends of black tea.  I received Bellevue Belter as a free sample, which is the second unique blend of black tea they make.

I haven’t tried the Bellevue Reviver yet, so this blend is not included in my thoughts below.  I didn’t buy any other teas, but the store also sell green, white and fruit teas, along with tea paraphernalia.

Kenya Orthodox

There was something not quite perfect about this tea. I don’t know what it was though. It had a shallow taste. I tried brewing it longer, using less milk, using less sugar (I like my tea with one sugar), but I just couldn’t find the right level of tea-ness. I suppose that’s OK – the reason there are so many tea blends is because people have different tastes!  I wouldn’t buy this one again, but there wasn’t anything specifically wrong with it.

Nilgiri Special Organic Black Std.

This tea is really cool. When it’s dried it looks like a normal tea. However, once you’ve brewed it with hot water, you notice that the tea is actually made up of individual tea leaves. They unfurl when you brew the tea! It’s the first time I’ve had actual tea leaves that look like leaves!

It takes longer to brew than your regular teabag, so you have to be patient or you end up with brown water. However, I liked this tea. For me, it had a delicate flavour but still made a decent cuppa!

Bellevue Belter (free sample)

This tea is great. It’s a unique blend made by Bellevue, and it’s lovely and strong, with a dry taste. Proper Yorkshire tea! I really enjoyed this blend. Great for anyone who likes tea that you can strip walls with!

If you’ve got someone who likes tea, some samples from Bellevue Tea would make a good Christmas present.  It makes an unusual and personal gift.  They’ll be able to enjoy your present into the cold new year!

*Not a sponsored post, I just like tea.

PSA: Christmas jumpers

This blog post is a Public Service Announcement. If you haven’t yet bought a Christmas jumper and you’d like one, now is the time to order!

For the last two years, I have missed the boat on Christmas jumpers, and the ones I’ve liked have been out of stock by the time I’ve got round to ordering them. This year, I was organised and got online early, and even so many are still sold out!

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This is the jumper I’ve ordered. It’s by Pop Boutique, who make ethically made clothes from old vintage designs and styles. They’re available on Asos. Fatface also have some lovely designs, as do New Look. Google is your friend!

Get shopping, folks! (Also, it is now 8 weeks until Christmas!)

(Not a sponsored post, obvs. I just share a combined love of knitwear and Christmas!)

Streamlined rock collection

When I was redecorating, I decided to streamline my rock collection.  It’s now much smaller and tidier.  All the “rejected” rocks went into the garden.

Rock collection 2013

It’s a much smaller collection!  (That’s pyrite, or fool’s gold, in the middle.  Not real gold.  Don’t get excited! I found it in Cyprus.)

Winter is coming (get ready!)

It is true that I have that on a t-shirt and also on my wall.  House of Stark FTW!

Anyway, winter really is coming and if you’re not ready for it you ought to be!  (Oh look, I’ve written a blog post on what to do in autumn before!)  I wanted to recommend a purchase that you need to get sorted.

Moa balm

moa balm - you need some in your life this winter.  It’s a magic little balm filled with herbal goodness.  It can be used for pretty much anything, but I use it for hands, nails, lips, dry skin, insect bites, spots, cuts, nettle stings, flyaway hair – it really is great stuff!

If you get dry hands or chapped lips in winter, this is the pot of goo you need in your life!  I buy it from Naturisimo, but it’s also on Amazon I believe, and some other online shops.  You can get a 15ml small pot (the size of a regular pot of lip balm. The one above is about the size of a golf ball).

I didn’t get sponsored to write this post, but I really do think your life will be better if you buy a pot!

Final photos of my bedroom

Because of the blurry, slightly unfinished nature of my before and after decorating photos, I took a few brighter photos once the room was finished properly.

New walls

I’ve streamlined my book collection again (you can’t see my Pratchett collection here, as it lives in the cupboards above the shelves).  In the wall to the far left (that’s the wall where my door is, for those wondering!), you can see my new light switch.  It’s a bronze style stone finish and is a big fat switch.  It’s very satisfying to click!  My new plug sockets are the same bronze stone style finish (see below).

New carpet

This is the new carpet. It’s a dark mottled grey with white flecks.  It’s a new special blend that’s super-soft and thick.  I hope it wears well!  My room is over the garage, so I need a good carpet to stop the cold air.

This is the corner where my bed is.  The new bed is a white metal frame.  I was going to show you that too, but then I felt a bit weird about putting my bed on the internet, so you’ll have to use your imagination for that bit!

New light fitting

This is my new light.  It has three spot lights and a cool little light display in the central fitting.  It’s part of the Jazz range at Wickes.  I checked Wickes, Homebase and B&Q before making a decision, and there are a lot of snazzy light fittings available a the moment so if you’re thinking about changing one of yours it’s worth having a look around.

The bulbs are LED bulbs, and so are supposedly energy efficient and will last forever for 20 years.  I don’t know about the blue dots in the middle.  Hopefully they do too!

This post is scheduled today, but I am hopefully around to reply to any questions!  I’m fitting a new modem today, so I may be without internet for a while (only a few hours, if all goes well!).