Sunday, 4 September 2011

Christmas is a-coming.... ! Yes, already!

Yes, I know, it's only the start of September... grumble, moan, sigh...
I will freely admit to being one of those people who moaned every year that the Christmas frenzy was getting earlier and earlier each year, refusing to be drawn in to over commercialisation, yada, yada, yada...

But now that I have joined the ranks of the handmade businesses I have learned that you can never be prepared too early - a lesson I had reinforced just last week...

I was contacted by a friend who is currently pregnant and, with her due date slap bang around the end of December, is very wisely wanting to get ahead of the game and organise some of her Christmas presents as early as possible. And quite frankly, who can blame her! If I was in her shoes, well, I'd be tempted to cancel Christmas all together... except, of course, for expecting a lovely gift from my doting hubby, but hey I digress...

Her rather intelligent strategy, and subsequent question about what Christmas candle scents I would be offering this year, forced me to shift my bottom off the proverbial fence and actually make a decision.  I had been mulling over the question, having drafted out a (long) short list of contenders months previously; but now I have actually gone and done and ordered my fragrances! And I have to say I am rather pleased with my selections.

So without any more prevaricating, I can announce that
The Lime Garden Christmas 2011 Candle Fragrances are....

warm and sweet, but with an undertone of fresh greenery.

hot, sweet and a little bit spicy, yet fruity and mild at the same time.

ooooh... lovely warm, smooth, musky and sensuous.

crisp fresh apples and warm winter spices.

smells just like sounds - Terry would be proud!!

and finally, back by popular demand, last year's best selling Christmas scent...

warm sweet cranberries and fresh apples, yummy!

I have decided to add a little extra to my Christmas gifts this year too - as well as my Vintage Tea Cup candles, (cup and saucer, with candle in the cup) I have found some gorgeous Tea Cup Trios... That is, cup, saucer and matching tea plate - so they will still be vintage, they will still be candles, but they will be a usable tea set trio too!

A lot of people ask me if they can use their tea cups once they have burnt their candles, and the answer is - ...YES! The beauty of the soy wax that I use is that any residue left in the cup can simply be washed away with hot soapy water - please, please, please, never put your lovely vintage china in the dishwasher! I also take great care when I source the china - I never purchase pieces that are damaged with chips or cracks, so they are always able to be used for the purpose for which they were always intended - a nice, civilised cup of tea!

The beauty of my Vintage Cup Candle Trios is that the recipient, once they have enjoyed their lovely candle, will have a beautiful tea time set to use - perfect for that afternoon pick-me-up treat of tea and a slice cake! Gorgeous!

And finally, here is a few quick snaps of some of the lovely china I will be using...

[Just a quick additional note - I often buy part tea sets, just because I love the china and can use some of the cups and saucers for my candles, with the result that I find myself with a stock cupboard full of additional pieces of crockery. So if you would like to build up your own mis-matched vintage china tea set (very on-trend!) feel free to contact me, and I will let you know what I have... fact maybe I feel another blog post coming on!]

So, yes, it is very early to be thinking about Christmas,
but spare a thought for us traders - we're already on the case!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Folksy Friday - Perfectly Purple!

Anyone who follows me on Twitter (@thelimegarden) will know that I had a bit of a hair crisis this week... What was meant to be a rich mulberry brown home hair dye session, turned into a purple screamer! Yes my hair came out purple - no, not just a hint of, but real true "Cadbury's Purple".
The following day I rushed down to my faithful hairdresser (love her to bits!) for an emergency meeting - she eyed up my purple handbag, watch and nail polish (yes, purple IS my favourite colour, but not for my hair!!) and told me "actually, it looks pretty funky!" Once I had convinced her that, yes it was a nice colour (for crushed velvet!), but no it wasn't what I had wanted (waving the hair dye packet under her nose a couple of times) and telling her she could do whatever she liked to the colour, the length and the style, so long as the result was (a) easy to handle (b) stylish (c) suits me (d) appropriate for a 41 year old trying to be a taken slightly seriously business personage and (e) not purple, we booked an appointment for later today... I am hoping the result will still be Cadbury's - but more the chocolate, not the wrapper!

So, having had a very purple week, I thought I would bring you a great selection of purple accessories - whatever your hair colour might be!

(all items are handmade and can be purchased at - just click on the link below each picture to find out more...)

These delightfully simple earrings caught my eye, being
almost the exact colour of my hair!
by Barton's Beautiful Bracelets

 This bracelet is cute and funky...
(perhaps my hairdresser would like it??)
by Pookledo

This felted brooch would add the perfect touch
of purple to a plain jacket or coat... 
by Hanapea

 This is a very pretty and cosy looking cowl scarf,
if my hair colour doesn't change, it will frame my face perfectly!
by TickledPink Sheep

 I just love this cool resin pendant necklace:
by Freak Carousel

 This is a gorgeous statement ring, and the pastel
colour is beautiful...
by Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes

 If you like your purples punchier, then this is a stunning
felted corsage - I love it!
by made by lolly x

 With autumn only around the corner, I think I may invest in
a pair of these...
by winternagel

 This purple bag charm would make the perfect
companion for my lovely purple handbag:
by sk designs

 This picture just about embodies my love of
the colour purple...
by Hazy View Images

 And this lovely wee purple cushion has a 
vintage feel about it - and I do love vintage too!
by Ronnieray Crafts

 This is another funky jewellery piece, I really like the
millefiori polymer clay look!
by Deborah Franks

 This is a pretty handmade purse - I wish my knitting
looked this good!
by Sarah Elizabeth Designs

 Another pair of earrings - but then a girl can never have
too many earring - and these are gorgeous...
by Purple Dandelion

 And finally, although I already have a purple handbag,
I am rather in love with this one too:
by The Leather Store

I hope I have brightened your Friday - either with my hair disaster story, or my choice of lovely purple gorgeousness found on - and maybe now you might have a bit of a purple passion too...?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Chilli Choc Chip Muffins!

My regular readers will know that I a do try very hard to be as gluten-free as possible - it keeps my tummy fit and healthy. But I will admit that my one downfall is treats - biscuits, cookies and cakes in particular. So I have been playing around with some regular recipes, and converting them to gluten-free; and I must say, I am now quite the little baker...

Today I bring you an absolute favourite - Chilli Choc Chip Muffins!!

For your ingredients you will need:

225g Cooking Margarine (eg. Stork)
225g Caster Sugar
3 medium to large eggs
50ml Milk
225g Self Raising Flour*
1/2 teaspoon hot Chilli Powder**
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 heaped tablespoons Cocoa Powder
150g Plain Chocolate Chips

*I use Doves Farm White Self Raising Gluten Free flour, which is what I would recommend, and is widely available in many supermarkets, including Tesco - but you can try the recipe with other brands, or if gluten does not bother you, ordinary Self Raising will do just fine.

**The chilli powder is totally optional - these muffins are just as good without. It will give your muffins a little bit of bite, just enough to bring out the chocolate-iness of them. You do not want any more - it''ll blow your socks off!

Preheat your oven to 170 Centigrade.

Put your margarine into a large bowl, and beat as much as possible with a wooden spoon to warm and soften it.

Add the sugar, and mix in as much as possible with the wooden spoon. Scrape off the spoon and switch to a hand blender (your secret weapon for a light fluffy sponge!) - mixing on a low speed until you have a smooth cream.

Add the eggs one at a time, blending completely after each one -keeping your blender on a low speed!

Add in the milk (approx. 50ml roughly equivalent in volume to one egg), the chilli powder and the vanilla extract. Blend again with your blender. Once everything is mixed start increasing the speed gradually until you reach maximum. Continue blending until you have a light, smooth, fluffy mixture. Getting plenty of air into your mix is crucial to achieving a lovely light sponge.

Next add in the Cocoa Powder and half the flour. Stir this in with the blender tool, but without power - or you will get a good dusting! - and then mix completely with the blender on low speed.

Repeat for the remaining flour. When this is fully blended you can whack up the speed again on your blender and get as much air as possible into your sponge mix.

Finally, add your chocolate chips - sprinkle evenly over the mixture, and gently fold them in with a wooden spoon.

Divide your mix into your desired cake tray(s) and bake... you will only need about 2/3 the mixture in the tray to achieve the desired height/size - this mix will definitely rise!

My muffins are pretty deep (7 or 8cm) so I bake them for about 28 - 30 mins, but if you are using cup cake papers or a bun tray you may only need to bake them for about 15 - 18 minutes. Always time them initially for less time than you think they will take, you can always pop them back in for a couple of minutes longer!

Your muffins will be ready when they have slightly browned on top, and are "bouncy" to the touch! Alternatively, you can do the knife test - prod a thin blade right through the sponge, and if it pulls out clean your cakes are cooked - if it has mixture stuck to it, they need a little longer.

These muffins are perfect just as they are, however if you are creative with an icing bag there are countless ways you pretty them up - or you may wish to serve them warm with whipped cream or ice cream.... mmmMM!