A while ago, I posted a picture of a hand painted planter to my Instagram/Facebook and the feedback I received was amazing. I had been thinking about trying something new, doing new things and moving away from card making. One day, The Canadian came in from the shed declaring that he was throwing out some plant pots because they were too grungy, knowing that I am of a ‘waste not want not’ mentality, he asked if I had any ideas for them before they found their way to bin. Not one to turn down an opportunity to think outside the box, I grabbed them and got to work.

People have always commented on and ‘liked’ my work when I’ve shared it but this was different. All of a sudden, people who had previously been ambivalent about purchasing my art were now expressing interest in purchasing it.

I enjoyed the painting I had done on the large pot but it was a 10 hour investment and, at that moment, it wasn’t a viable option for selling.

I took some time, purchased little plant pots to paint, researched how to seal the paint on the pot and got to work.

I absolutely love the finished planters and I wasn’t sure about selling them because I adored them. The Canadian eventually persuaded me to sell them, so out came the camera and on came the click-click-click.

A few people have said that they’d love these plant pots but they’re not really into the idea of ‘planting’ things. These pots would be great for little succulents but they’re also good for:

  • hair slides, ties and clips
  • loose change and coins (thank you @dnam for that!)
  • nail polish, nail files, orange sticks
  • pens, crayons, colouring pencils (if, like me, you like having little pots of pens around the house)
  • little cat toys
  • jewellery
  • all manner of things!

Do you have any other ideas?


All these pots are available on sale now at The Lemon Hive Etsy Shop.

I love writing cards and letters but knowing where to start can be really difficult, even for those who love words.

Embarrassingly, it took 6 months to post out our thank you letters following our wedding. Dreadful etiquette, I know. Really bad. Some of that guilt lifted when I realised many people don’t even send a thank you tweet let alone a card after their big day, but I digress.

Thank you notes are important. Whether they are sent verbally, through Facebook or through the mail, saying thank you is what makes the world a nicer place to live in and it makes you feel better.

Verbal Gratitude

This is, hands down, the best way to say thanks. It is fraught with awkwardness and the necessity of showing sincerity, two things that are not easy to do.

To sincerely thank someone in person, or, by stretching it, over Skype or Face Time, just remember these simple rules:

  1. Make eye contact.
  2. Be sincere. Don’t make jokes or diminish the gratitude. If you must joke, save it until the end.
  3. Start by saying that you’re grateful/thankful/incredibly happy for XY and Z. Express how it made a difference, why you enjoyed the act and how much the gift meant to you.

For example:

“I am really grateful that you spent last night talking with me after my break up with So-and-So, it meant a lot to me knowing that I still had a great friend.”

“I love you for cleaning the house on your day off, it means so much that you cleaned the areas I hate and that you did this for me! Thank you.”

“Thank you very much for the wonderful wedding gift. It is the perfect, as Husband and I had decided to become healthier before the wedding. Your juicer will definitely make it easier to consume all those exotic fruits that we’re not sure what to do with”

Hand Written Gratitude

Writing a thank you card or letter is really awesome. Especially if it has to go through good old fashioned snail mail. There’s something delightful about receiving mail thats only purpose is to iterate how fabulous you are.

I have a tendency to be incredibly flowery when I write thank you cards, ask any one of my friends anywhere and it is likely they will have received note cards with both inside pages filled with squished writing and gushing words of love. Sometimes, there are drawings. When I feel particularly creative, I will limit words and just make little people express my intention through stick figure dance.

There’s no right or wrong way to write a thank you card, although I would leave the more wordy and elaborate ones for close friends and family.

As a general rule, follow the formula below.

Thank you for + specific action / item + what impact it has on your life / how you will use it

A written card has more impact if its sole purpose is to convey thanks, so leave out the updates, further requests for money and gossip. Just write thank you.

If you want your card to be a little fuller and more ‘robust’, you could elaborate in my detail, focusing on feeling and expressing sincerity.

“Thank you for your friendship over these past years. It is amazing to me that even though we are literally thousands of miles away, you and I have maintained a strong relationship. I know that often we go weeks, and sometimes months, without talking to each other but it always feels as though no time passed at all. You are truly wonderful etc. etc.”

Electronic Gratitude

Ok, so I debated putting this one in. Does saying thank you electronically even count as anything?

I’d like to think it does. Although it’s definitely not conventional and doesn’t have the impact of a handwritten note or verbal expression of thanks, it’s still good for reconnecting, reaffirming gratefulness and connecting with those who you are close with to those who you’ve just met.

Sending a thank you message through any electronic medium is really very easy and should be used as a minimum.

Choose your format properly. E-mail is a safe bet generally, but you could use Facebook/Twitter etc.

E-mail allows you take anything from an informal to formal approach, whereas Facebook and Twitter do mean that some informality is expected. Don’t send anything important via social media, saying thank you for your job interview through FB just sends a bad message. Don’t do it. Just send the physical thank you note card and skip electronic altogether.

What are your go to thank you guidelines? Which way do you prefer to express thanks?

Ok, it’s not a secret. I love chocolate.

Peanut butter, chocolate rice krispie snacks, close up.

And, guess what, the Christmas season is fast approaching and that means one thing: sugar! It also means that people will drop by unannounced or that you’ll feel so depressed about the weather that you will seek solace in that big tin of quality street under the tree (or is that just me?).

My friend in Edmonton gave me this fabulous recipe. Well, it was fabulous, except it involved dark chocolate. No thank you! Don’t get me wrong, I actually really enjoyed her dessert when I had the pleasure of being in the same area of the country, but I do not keep dark chocolate in the house! It’s just one of those things. So, I decided to change it up a bit. I got rid of the dark chocolate, then discovered that I needed less butter and less sugar, therefore entirely changing her recipe. Still, “Thank you, friend in Edmonton”! Without her, I wouldn’t have found my perfect snack for gloomy days.

Recipe for Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Krispie Bites

Perfect holiday treat

Chocolate chip close up

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of rice krispies
  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of icing sugar
  • Enough milk chocolate chips to cover

Directions

  • Place the rice krispies, icing sugar and peanut butter in a bowl (if you keep your peanut butter in the fridge, try melting it a little first in the microwave or by just leaving it on the counter for a few hours)

  • Mix them all together.
  • Prepare a baking sheet with a layer of parchment or greaseproof paper covering it
  • Get your hands in that bowl and start making spheres of the mixture, approximately about an inch thick (bigger if you want them to taste more peanutty)
  • Place the balls on the baking sheet and pop them in the fridge to cool. You can also place them in the freezer if you’re short on time
  • While they’re hardening, melt the chocolate (and resist the temptation to eat it with a spoon! Why does melted chocolate appeal to me so much?)
  • Bring out the peanut creations, and drizzle them in chocolate, or dip them, roll them, just get that chocolate on there
  • Pop them back in the fridge (or freezer for up to 6 months) until your guests arrive

When I was very little, my mum used to read Miss Poppy and the Honey Cake to me, which is the best book in the history of the world.

We often baked the cake and it was always a bit of a disappointment. It never really looked like the illustration and the taste never quite lived up to what I wanted it to be – not my mum’s fault at all, as she is a rather excellent baker, instead, I choose to blame the recipe in the storybook. Seeing as I’ve been obsessed with food recently , it seemed only right that I fully look up a way to make this bloomin’ honey cake.

Hello Google and Hello Smitten Kitchen. I read her article in depth and realised that I wasn’t alone in bad honey cake experiences. Having finally completed SK recipe, I can also honestly say that it was the best cake I’ve ever made! Just don’t make the mistake I did, it says tsps of cinnamon NOT tbsp! Although, if you do use tbsp, it really doesn’t taste so bad.

We took it to my mother-in-law’s house for dinner and she insisted on keeping it, so I had few pictures to share. It’s really yummy though and a good recipe for some weekend baking.

 A few days ago, I spoke with a great friend in Edmonton who gave me a brilliant recipe for peanut chocolate crisps. They are super dooper easy to make and, if I get her permission, I’ll type it up here, but here’s a sneak preview at the results:

Are you a baker? Where do you get your cooking inspiration from? Are you a recipe follower or a throw things in a bowl and see where it goes person?

Blanket forts are so much fun! You can never be too old to enjoy one. Better yet, there are loads of ways to make your grown up blanket fort work for you.

The Canadian and I recently celebrated two whole years of marriage. Neither of us feel that our anniversaries need extravagant gifts or plans. After we married, we agreed to ensure that our anniversaries would turn into special dates, whereby we would do something together, rather than buy something for each other. In a way that’s similar to our outlook on Valentine’s Day, we are of the opinion that if we need to focus on one day a year, we’re not doing it in a way that works for us.

After scouring and reviewing the North American and British wedding anniversaries, we decided to follow the British traditions. This year marked the second year and, as such, the cotton anniversary of our marriage. We spent the day with immigration Canada – not the best place to spend it! After what was a stressful day, we had a BBQ with some family and, once everyone had left, we built a blanket fort, because blankets are cotton, yup nothing gets past me.
Few people were as excited or as amused by our plan to build a blanket fort for our anniversary but we still loved it. It was juvenile, fun and exciting. The best part about it is that we are both nerdy people, we enjoy building things and its a unique shared experience for the memory bank. We also got to work as a team and building a blanket fort, to us, was a brilliant way to spend a cotton anniversary.
We planned our blanket fort so that we could sleep in it, watch Doctor Who (didn’t I say nerdy already?), and eat our favourite finger foods. We pulled the mattress into the room and set it down next to the sofa, we placed ladders, side tables and chairs around the mattress and pegged the blankets around them, all the fabrics were light weight, and the entire fort was supported by the ceiling fan and the curtain rods, all through the use of handy pegs (be sure that the fabric is not heavy if you are using light fixtures. Secure it very loosely, if you tug on the blankets, it’s better for the fort to collapse rather than the light fixture land on your head!).
We filled the fort with fairy lights and voila! Our fort was complete. It lasted 5 days, until the cats managed to get in and have fun with it!
Here’s some tips on how to build a grown up blanket fort that works for you:
~ collect all your blankets, sheets, spare fabrics, duvets, pillows and scarves in one place.
~ pegs, lots of pegs! And maybe some safety pins.
~ have an idea of what you want your blanket fort to look like: will you need cushions or a mattress? What about fairy lights (those little lights used on Christmas trees the world over)? Do you want to crawl in, walk in or just duck to get in? Do you want to stand up inside the fort? Do you want to keep it up for a few days? (If yes, where can you build it so that pets, children and guests won’t require that the blanket castle be taken down prematurely?)
~ be wary of fire hazards, blanket forts and flames do not mix well.
What so you think, is there a blanket fort in your future? Have you ever built a blanket fort for grown ups?

Afternoon Tea Ideas for Mother's Day

 

Mother’s Day is just around the corner for all those UK folks on the other side of the Atlantic. Being a bit of an expat, it can be quite a hassle to get hold of Mother’s Day cards amongst other things. Canadian’s and American’s aim to please mothers in May. Not cool, if you ask me, which you didn’t. 


This year, I’m actually going to be with my mum on the big day, which is pretty exciting. I’ve still been struggling for cheaper-than-overpaying-at-a-crowded-restaurant idea. 


Then it struck me: Afternoon Tea or High Tea (there is a difference but for this purpose, I’m not particularly interested in differentiating). 


Here’s the HOW TO: 


Follow the links below and gather all the foods you need, follow the recipes and store until the big day.


On the big day, cut the sandwiches into tiny pieces, pile them up on a pretty plate and add a garnish of watercress here and there. 


Cut up the cakes and the shortbread into tiny pieces, add them to a separate plate. 


Put the kettle on and make a big pot of tea. 


Lavish your momma with love, hugs, foods and giggles.

Afternoon Tea Ideas for Mother's Day

Sandwiches 1, 2, and 3. Scones, Lemon Curd, Shortbread, Raspberry Almond Macaroons, Strawberry Cream Tea Cake, Boozy Coffee and Walnut Cake, Elderflower Crunch Cake, Double Chocolate Loaf Cake, Pound Cake, Carrot Cake.

I love afternoon tea, and I am so excited to do this come mother’s day. Ha, I say me but really I am going to utilise the skills of my baking sister, she just doesn’t know it yet.


Has anyone else ever made up an afternoon tea?


Click here for some more mother’s day inspiration