31 January 2014

Chinese New Yea with Jing Tea

In honour of Chinese New Year (it's today - Happy New Year!), I've been celebrating in my favourite way - with tea! Jing Tea kindly sent me some of their favourite Chinese Teas to try out to help get me in the mood for the occasion, and I've been drinking away at work this week with my brother as my accompanying taste-tester.

The selection I was sent includes black, green and white teas for a really good spread of tastes and tea types, and it gave me a really good excuse to dust off my favourite little tea pot (which is admittedly Korean not Chinese but still makes a cracking tea) and get brewing!

Jing white tea
The first one we tried was the White Peony Tea, as neither of us has had as much experience with white tea as with the green and black varieties. Research on the Jing website told us that white teas have a 'sweet flavour and soft texture without the vegetal quality of green tea', which sounded perfect to me as I do like green tea a lot but I'm not always keen on that bitterness that sometimes accompany it. When made up it doesn't look entirely dissimilar to green tea, but there is definitely a taste difference. This is much more mellow than the teas I am used to, a pleasant and refreshing brew that Jing assure us is 'soothing and gentle on the weakest stomachs'.
Chinese new year tea

The green tea I was sent was the Organic Jade Sword Green Tea. Now, as I said above I'm not always keen on the bitterness that often accompanies green tea, but this had none.

Jing Green Tea

This surprised me so much for a few minutes I wasn't sure I'd made it right, 'til my brother (who obviously drinks a better class of green tea than I do) assured me I had. Instead this just had a lovely fresh, clean taste and know I know what green tea can and should be like I definitely won't be going back to the cheap supermarket teabags!

Chinese Tea Jing

I'm usually a black tea kind of girl so I saved the Yunnan Gold 'til last. One of the reasons for my black tea preference is that it seems to go so much better with baked treats than other kids of tea, so imagine my delight when I saw on the webpage that one of the recommended ways of having this is 'with a late afternoon slice of Madeira cake or a sticky piece of Baklava'. I don't need any encouragement to eat cake with my tea but I'm always happy to have it anyway!

Jing Tea for new year

 I don't know if it was the underlying cake associations but I really loved this tea, a little sweet, a little spicy, a lot tasty! This id full of flavour and really quite special - I photographed it with milk as that's my black tea preference but it was great without too.

chinese black tea

Each of my tea samples came in 10g bags, which should be enough for around 6-10 cups depending on tea type. These 10g packs cost between £2.20 and £2.65, meaning a very reasonable cost-per-cup (which decreases further with larger packets) and along with the three varieties I've tested here there's a huge selection of other tea types available. The Keemum and Whole Rose is next on my list to try! They also sell a number of teas in bags for those a bit wary of dabbling in loose leaf tea, as well as some absolutely gorgeous glass teaware.
 Are you doing anything for Chinese New Year? And, more importantly, should I get a Chinese takeaway tonight?

30 January 2014

Afternoon Tea at Rudding Park

Eek, I'm a bit behind on my 2014 Tea Project updates - I'll never get through the full list at the rate!

The second place we headed to for afternoon tea was Harrogate's grand Rudding Park Hotel after hearing great things about their Clocktower Restaurant.

Good afternoon tea yorkshire

I had a really good feeling about this place before we even set off - not only did the website descriptions sound delicious, but they let me book in via a friendly twitter conversation which is great for me as I'm terrible with telephones!

It was a nice drive up and the place is well signposted which is handy as my navigation skills are about as good as my telephone skills!

Indoor tree harrogate
On arrival we were shown to our table in the conservatory - a lovely airy space with loads of natural light, a huge contrast to the much darker room on my previous visit to Holdswoth House. Crockery was all white and matching, very clean, crisp, modern.
The sandwiches that come as standard with the afternoon tea were honey roast Yorkshire ham, tomato mozerella and rocket (my favourites, I could have eaten these all day!), and smoked salmon with cucumber and watercress. I can see me saying this a lot this year, but why do these things always include salmon? Yuck! Though, the ladies on the table next to us asked to substitute some of their sandwiches and the staff were only too happy to help so maybe I should try that next time!

Harrogate cakes

The cake selection was great, with a very generous four little nibbly bits. We got a pear and redurrant custard tart (really enjoyed this despite not actually liking custard!), white chocolate and lemon curd mousse (light and tasty), milk chocolate hazelnut delice (rich and sumptuous) and a lemon drizzle cake (sadly just a teensy bit dry).
rudding park yorkshire scones
Unfortunately for Rudding Park, the scones at Holdsworth House have set whole new scone expectations in my life that these just couldn't match up to. They were good - fresh, warm, tasty - but couldn't quite match up the scrumminess (or sheer size) of the HH version.

rudding park yorkshire

Where Rudding Park really did excel was the helpful friendliness of the staff and the comfortable ambiance of the place. It was a lovely afternoon tea experience and would go back in a heartbeat! (Just another 30-odd other places to get through first!)

Do you have any good afternoon tea recommendations for me? What's the best scone you've ever eaten?

29 January 2014

On Selfies and Cute Jumpers

I know a lot of bloggers have fancy camera bits to help take outfit posts, tripods and remotes and the like, whereas I haven't yet figured out how to even use the timer on my little camera, so I'm learning to make do.
I wanted to show you my cute new jumper from dresslily.com, so thought I'd try a couple of things out. At the weekend I dragged the little ones to Barnsley for a museum day (for tea and cake purposes - more on that in an upcoming post!), where - while waiting for them to draw pyramids and dig for historical items, I found myself gazing into a big mirror. Hurray for the 'mirror-selfie' thought I, having no such device on this scale at home, and so I bring to you the first of my cute jumper pictures:


The other option often open to me is to use one of the little ones as a photographer.. now this can lead to some very interesting shots... 'artistic', some might say (though out of focus is a more accurate term). But every now and then, purely by accident, you do get a picture of the thing you wanted..


Anyway, on to the actual point - my lovely new jumper! I was offered the chance to pick something from the dresslily site, and despite how incredibly cute some of their dresses are, it was this warmer, woollier option that took my heart!
I just fell in love with the colour of it, such a pretty minty green - though it is actually available in a range of other colours, and the little applique girl is adorable - just look at that cute little face!


At the minute this can be yours for less than £11, and that's with free delivery all the way from China! They have loads of other gorgeous stuff on the site as well, so it's definitely worth having a good look around! Dresslily are also on twitter and facebook.

EDIT: I've since broken my camera, and have reverted back to my old one - one which I have a vague understanding of how to get the self timer to work, so I thought I'd have another go at photographing this item. Unfortunately, my self-timer attempts ranged between being completely useless...

... to being a bit ridiculous as I attempt to throw myself in front of the lens at the right time...

... I don't know what I was doing with my hair (or my face for that matter), I'm assuming I'm trying to make it behave in the wind? But i really have no idea... after a couple of these attempts looked likely to end in injury I thought I'd take my most useful and sensible approach yet: Find a helpful adult to operate the camera for me!


I think from now on I should definitely take a grown up photographer out with me! What do you think - should I just give up on the selfies altogether?! 

Introducing Memebox - Korean Beauty to Your Door

I did say to myself, when starting this blog, no more beauty box posts. There's always a million review of each months Birchbox, Glossybox,... whateverelse box most of which I'm sure are more interesting and informative than anything I bring to the table.
But then I discovered the memebox, and trust me - you want to know about this!

korean beauty box

The memebox comes all the way from South Korea - home of cute-as-can-be costmetics, brilliantly bonkers ideas, and the worlds best skincare.
Happily, the box came with a little card explaining what the products all are and how they should be used. But, like an idiot, I've gone and lost my card. This means not only will my descriptions to you be vague at best, but that I'm bound to get the application of these completely wrong as all the on-packet instructions are written in Korean only and mines a little rusty (by which I mean, non-existent).

korean false eyelashes

So firstly we have one of those brilliantly bonkers products, this weird jelly plumping lip mask thing. I've not had this out of the packet yet but Michelle over at Satchels and Pearls got one of these too (read her post about it here!) and she's just told me it's great so I'm looking forward to trying it!
I've only ever tried false eyelashes once, and badly, but since I have a new set I might as well give these another go!

dr jart serum memebox

When it comes to sun cream, I'm a factor 50 girl through and through so this will work out great for mw if and when the sun comes out again, and I love the Dr Jart products I've previously tried so I have high hopes for the V7 Eye Serum!

memebox samples

I know that the cc cream craze has made its way over here now, but if my bb cream experiences have taught me anything its that there's a world of difference between the UK high street versions and their Korean counterparts!

secret kis ssparkle gel eyeliner korean

Make up wise, the box contained the sweetest little Tony Moly lip tint, this aint half pigmented and is really quite awesome, and the super-smooth Secret Kiss Gel Pencil liner.
Then, the final and possibly most intriguing product, the Bounce Cheese Cream. Yes, I said bounce cheese cream. Apparantly this is 'extend bouncily on your face such like mozzarella cheese'. I have no idea that that means but I love it already!

Korean cheese moisturiser

The memeboxes are not subscription based, and I'm gutted to have missed out on the next one (this was box three, and four has already sold out), so I've preordered five and can't wait to see what comes in that one! You can get them here, but you have to be quick when they release a new one as they seem to be selling like hot cakes!
The box was $21 with $7 shipping, so I think it worked out around £18, and the value of the products inside far exceeds that - I think this is excellent value as well as being tonnes of fun!

What should I start with first?

27 January 2014

Weekly Nail Art Project #1 - Tapestry Nails

Nail art is not my strong point, so I don't really know what possessed me to sign up to Danni's weekly nail art project, but I suppose it's always good to branch out and practice new things!

The idea behind it is that a bunch of us (check Danni's post for the list of participants!) will doodle on our nails to a weekly theme provided by our lovely organiser. The theme for the first week was 'an item of clothing' and I bravely/foolishly didn't pick up any of plain garments in my wardrobe and instead headed towards this much more elaborately designed dress...

Not one of my brightest moments! But it did mean I got to pull out lots of colours! This is what I managed:

flowes on black nails

Not perfect, not by a long shot, but I was quite pleased with the turn out! I haven't done anything akin to a tutorial, because that would imply there was method to my madness and I didn't just paint them black and dab at them with a bunch of other colours!

How do you think I got on? Be easy on me, I'm a beginner!

26 January 2014

Monsoon Spring/Summer Fashion Trends

Have we all had enough of the rain yet? I know I have! I'm dreaming of bright days and exotic sunshine, and luckily, the Monsoon Spring Summer 2014 collection is on its way to encourage my summery daydreaming.

As you might expect from Monsoon, the new season pieces have a heavy emphasis on embellishment. Texture is key this spring/summer and a range of methods of creating this texture are on display in the forthcoming items - macrame, crochet, cut work and lots and lots of embroidery all to be found here!

To gain a fuller idea of what Monsoon are offering for the warmer seasons, including a peek at their stunning wedding dresses and adorable children's clothes that I've not really touched on here, I recommend you check out the below video in which the experts take you through the new collection. Enjoy!

Sunday Soak - Lush's Dragon Egg

Not long before Christmas I bought a couple of bath bombs from Lush for Christmas presents, and just had them hanging round my bedroom for a couple of weeks until the big day. Every now and then, during these weeks, I'd randomly catch the scent of something amazing. Now at this time was storing a lot of Christmassy stuff around the room so hadn't pinpointed the source of this amazing scent until the time came to distribute said items on Christmas Day. 

Best lush bath bomb

Once I realised it was the Dragons Egg, I knew I had to get my hands on one for myself and I managed to wait a whole day before ordering one. Much as I wanted to chuck it straight in when it arrived, it seemed more like a 'special occasion' bath bomb and I thought that after my terrifying ordeal at the dentist earlier this week (OK, it wasn't that bad but I am a massive wimp when it comes to the dentist), I'd need a cheer-me-up treat and chocolate probably wouldn't be suitable! 

That amazing scent Id been obsessing over is described as 'reminiscent of lemon sherbet with a hint of jasmine', I don't think I'd have put my finger on the lemon sherbet fragrance until reading that but it's just about right and explains why just smelling it always put a smile on my face. 

nicest bath products

Once the Dragons Egg hits the water, it starts emitting a soft white foam, and shedding the brightly coloured confetti 'dragon scales', but it really starts to get special when the water hits the centre of the bomb and it starts to erupt luscious liquid gold and cracking with dragon fire (or popping candy). 

lush bath dragons egg

When it all settled down you are left with gorgeous glittery old bath water. The only slight sour point is the 'confetti' seems to turn into weird gloopy little blobs of goo which is a bit odd - it looks like mini jellyfish floating around in my dragon water. 

At £3.25 it's among Lush's pricier selection but it's huge and is quite the stunner - one of my favourites so far! 

22 January 2014

Valentines Breaks

Valentines day is on it's way, and though I don't usually do anything for the occasion I do always appreciate an excuse to daydream about places I'd rather be.

Of course, you don't have to go to far flung and exotic destinations to enjoy spending time with a loved one - it should go without saying that my very own Yorkshire will always be near the to of that list! One benefit of going on a more local trip is that you have to spend less time travelling which means you can spend more time relaxing, sleeping, eating, drinking or... whatever else you might get up to on a romantic break!

North Yorkshire's Ox Pasture Hall is currently top of my wish list, I'm getting old and lazy these days so don't want big exciting adventures or tiring activities, I want to snuggle up somewhere cosy and pretty for a weekend and have afternoon tea, and this looks like just the place!

Romantic weekend getaway

Now, if someone said to you 'British holiday destinations' you probably wouldn't automatically think of 'Leicester', but we've made it at least a stop off on our family holidays for the last couple of years! It started with a a leaflet picked up at a service station one day, advertising their 'Stay, Play and Explore' breaks and we've been every year since for the 'family fun' package in which you get a hotel stay and entrance to a number of local attractions. Family fun might not be quite the right thing for a romantic valentines trip, but there are also a couple of adult based options. I like the sound of the 'Gourmet taste of Leicestershire'!

foody break midlands

Now, I did say that I was too lazy to go too far from home but there are exceptions, and I don't think you can fantacize about romantic breaks without at least considering Paris. I've been lucky enough to visit this wonderful city a couple of time but never really in any particularly romantic excursion. I went once with my dad to watch rugby, I went once with my brother to run round museums... you get the idea. I'd love to go back and appreciate the city as it should be - filled with food, wine and romance! 

valentines weekend getaways

My actual valentines day plans might stretch to putting Casablanca in the DVD player cracking into a tub of Haagen Dazs (incidentally not a bad plan for any day of the year!), but I think I might be inspired to consider a couple of nice trips for later in the year! 

If you are lucky enough to have any big valentines plans I'd love to hear them! And if not, where do you wish you were going?

*Sponsored Post 

21 January 2014

Hask Keratin Protein Range

It's been a good long while now since I reviewed the Argan Oil hair care range from Hask and since then I've been using the Keratin Protein range instead - this lot has had plenty of use!

Primark shampoo

You may have seen these products pop up in Primark over the last few months... the oils and conditioning treatment have been around for a while but I think the shampoo and conditioner are pretty new, and anyone that's seen me freak out a little on the subject knows how much I like my hair products to all match so I'm very pleased that I can now pick up the full range with ease!

Hask Keratin Protein Hair Review

The Shampoo and Conditioner - both free from 'orrible stuff like sulfates, parabens, phthalates, gluten, drying alcohol, and artificial colors - include hydrolyzed keratin to reduce frizz and leave your hair all smooth and soft. Since my hair is pretty much all frizz most of the time I imagine I put this up to quite the challenge but the first time I used this combo I was massively impressed, my hair felt soft and clean but most importantly had definitely lost some of the frizzy aura it usually has!

I saw 'the first time' I used it because unfortunately after the first couple of uses my hair went pretty much back to normal. A whole load of trial and error has demonstrated that my dry hair slightly prefers the Argan range from Hask, but this one is fabulous for shaking things up in between! And of course all hair is different, so this might just be the perfect set for you - it's certainly a good one, with a gorgeous sweet scent and a pretty purse-friendly price tag (around £4.50 each).

hair care from primark

The deep conditioner and the oil are also very welcome additions to my hair care routine, and while again I think I personally benefitted more from the Argan Oil range, these are still great products in their own right. The deep conditioner sachet is big enough for  couple of uses even on my messy mass, and really makes a big difference to both the feel and look of my hair. I've been using the Hask oils now for so long I can't even really remember what my hair was like before to compare the two but I know I've not wanted to stop using them since! I tend to apply a couple of blobs to my wet hair as a matter of course, but even using regularly I find they last a good long while and so are proving great value for money as both these products are just a couple of pounds each!

Hask have also had a recent new website design, and it's looking rather fabulous! Go check it out and see which range you think would work best for you - I've got my eye on Macadamia Oil for when I use all these up! You can also say howdy on twitter or facebook.
Have you tried any Hask products yet? Which is your favourite?
* These products were provided for review purposes.

20 January 2014

Blue Monday

I'd never heard of Blue Monday 'til this morning when everyone seemed to be talking about it on twitter. Apparently it's the most depressing day of the year, and I'm sure we only had one of those a couple of weeks ago, but I'm still going to use it as an excuse to show off my coincidentally blue nail polish.
perfect sky blue nail polish
I put this on yesterday unaware of todays colour significance, after ordering it in the Crabtree and Evelyn January sale. I bought about half a dozen of these polishes in the same order as they were reduced from their full price for £6 to under £2 each and they're all gorgeous. The one I have on today is aptly named 'Sky'. It's described on the site as 'a light blue crème to match the summer sky', and despite the depressing connotations of 'Blue Monday', this is such a cheerful colour. It just makes me think of summer days and ice creams on the beach, and we all need to be thinking of those things to get us through January!
blue sparkly nail polish

So I was happy to leave them at that for at least a few days but I figured since it's apparently Blue Monday I might as well add extra blue, and since sparkles are so cheery I dug out Nails Inc's Royal Arcade to jazz them up a bit!

crabtree evelyn nails inc
 I do like the finished effect of blue on blue... it looks like a swimming pool in the sunlight - there I go daydreaming about holidays again!
What do you think? Should I have saved this for summer?  Would anybody be interested in seeing the other Crabtree and Evelyn polishes I picked up?  

19 January 2014

Sunday Soak - Bomb Cosmetics Violet Night Bath Mallow

Sometimes, when looking for just the right bath product for the day, it can be hard to narrow down the selection. But then other occasions, like this morning for me, you can be looking through your stash and think to yourself 'I'd really like to smell like violets today', and then your decision is much easier. 

So this morning I took Bomb Cosmetics Violet Night Mallow to the bath with me. 

violet scented bath products

The Bomb bath mallows are such pretty little things... smaller than a lot of other bath bombs but still pack a heck of a moisture punch. They are crammed with cocoa butter which melts beautifully in the hot water and soaks deep into my skin leaving it feeling silky soft and lovely. 

This buttery boost often comes at the expense of some of the more striking visual effects that often appear in other bath bombs but this one didn't leave you with an entirely plain bath either which was a nice bonus - the pretty little purple floaty bits very reminiscent of bathing in flower petals.   

violet night bath mallow review

Most importantly though in terms of my goals for this bath, I do indeed smell like violets. 

17 January 2014

Blogger Valentines Swap

I am, quite secretly, a complete romantic. But I've never really had even a passing interest in Valentines Day. I've never really done anything to celebrate it no matter what was going on in my romantic life (I have been known to buy myself the occasional half price box of supermarket chocolates, but that's got a lot more to do with my love of sweet things than any desire to partake in this most dubious of holidays).

That being said, I think it's a grand old excuse for a another blogger swap! By mid-Feb, the secret Santa excitement will have worn off and I know I'll be ready for another box of blogger treats!

If no one else wants to join in, I'm not above buying myself presents as I've mentioned above, but I think it'd be more fun if others wanted to get involved?

Fancy it?
I'm planning on keeping it simple, as is my organisational style - I'm thinking a flat budget of £10, with a last posting date of the 7th, which should give plenty of time for things to get where they are going.
I can either pair you up beforehand so you know who your partner is and you can discuss likes, dislikes etc... Or I can keep it all hush hush a la Secret Santa so I get to have all the knowledge and power like an evil overlord. Except not evil.
I can see the benefits of both ways so just state your preference along with your email address in the comments below if you feel like joining in, and I'll just go along with what the majority decide! If you don't want to comment, feel free to email me instead at teacakeadventures@gmail.com to register your interest!

16 January 2014

T Shirt Store, Leeds Trinity

Oh dearie me, this post is a bit late now as it was well before Christmas that I was invited to the pre-opening of Leeds' newest and coolest stop off for fashion and accessories - The T Shirt Store.

t shirt store opening

I'm getting a bit ahead of myself though, I really should start this at the beginning, and the beginning in this instance is when I got home from work one day to find a brand new and very nice phone case had arrived for me in the post. 'I don't remember ordering this?' I thought to myself, though it wouldn't have been the first time I'd forgotten about buying something... but a closer inspection revealed it was actually part of an invitation to come and visit the new store - by far and away the coolest invitation to have fallen into my hands!

where to buy cool t shirts in leeds
This obviously helped get me very excited to bob along to the event, which made it even more annoying when our train to Leeds was delayed! Simone and I finally got there (fashionably late) and after a momentary panic where we didn't think we'd get into the locked doors of the exclusive event, we were welcomed in with drinks and pizza! No one even seemed to mind that I turned up all out of breath and promptly ate all the food I could get my hands on before ever really saying hello to anyone...

 I recovered from my ordeal (the ordeal of walking quite quickly from a train station to a nearby shop - it's a hard life!) soon enough though at which point I managed to finally turn my attention to the T-shirts and other fabulous things on display!

unusual t shirt designs

Fairly obviously, given the name, a lot of the products were T-Shirts. But what T-Shirts! I guess really there are two main aspects to a great T Shirt, the quality and the design.
The T Shirt Store produce their own T shirts from 100% fairtrade and certified organic cotton. The pride in the store managers voice when talking about the quality of their products was obvious - and that kind of passion for providing something a cut above other high street stores is just one of the thing that sets this place apart from many potential competitors.

leeds phone covers

The T Shirt Store work with a multitude of great designers from all over the world, and have a huge range of designs on offer - funny t-shirts, clever t-shirts, pretty t-shirts, and most importantly, t-shirts with cats on them. I really think you could find something for everyone here and as I was walking round the store I couldn't help thinking 'oh that would be perfect for my brother', 'xxxxx would love that'. Each T-shirt is only produced in limited numbers, which makes each one that bit more special, and new designs are released each week.

tshirt designers leeds
It isn't just t-shirts though - the sell a fantastic range of phone cases like the one I was sent, as well as laptop cases, bags, hats and socks!

cool owl bag

I did say that looking at the t-shirts I saw a little something for everyone I know, and I spotted the perfect thing for The Mister for Christmas while I was in there. I knew it wasn't likely at that point that I'd make it back into Leeds before Christmas so decided to order it online instead. This is a great option for those not lucky enough to be near one of their UK stores (just Leeds, London and Guilford at the minute!), as it's free delivery (woo!) and the one I ordered arrived within a week despite coming all the way from their home in Sweden!

I 'borrowed' it just so I could show it off a bit while confirming the tip-tip quality and cosiness!
I definitely recommend a store visit if you get chance, but otherwise you can find all the current designs and loads more info about the brand on their webpage, or you can say hello on twitter or facebook!