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! 


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Sunday Bookworm

Behind The Scenes
At The Museum
Kate Atkinson

This is my third Sunday Bookworm post, bringing you reviews of books I have recently enjoyed.  Following the recent BBC adaptations of Case Histories by this same author, I thought I would review one of Kate Atkinson's other books - letting you know that she is more than just a detective novelist, albeit a talented one.

Behind The Scenes At The Museum is the story of Ruby Lennox and her family. Not your usual family tale, but a heady mix of historical saga and present day grit. We learn about Ruby's life from childhood to adulthood, punctuated with landmark events and peppered with forgotten memories. Running alongside Ruby's tale is that of her ancestor Alice, and the story hops satisfyingly between the past and the present, pulling you into their lives, their stories, their trials and their tribulations.

This was Kate Atkinson's first published novel, and marked her out as a skilled writer and storyteller. This is not a detective story - although I would highly recommend the Jackson Brodie books as portrayed by the BBC, in particular When Will There Be Good News, which although well represented deserves a fuller reading - nor is it an historical novel. Instead it is a rattling good yarn, with wonderfully drawn characters to whom we can all relate. From the feckless father, to the frustrated mother and the bewildered child, as the story unfolds and the history is revealed they sit comfortably in context with their pasts - proving that we are not just who we are now, but the sum of the lives we have lived, and those who have lived before us.

This is a book that can be enjoyed on so many levels - simply written, and yet strangely deep - there is humour in the main players and the anecdotes of their lives, as well as sadness and situations that we all identify with. There is also mystery and coincidence, and the all different facets of this book make it sparkle like a diamond - it is simply a joy to read.

Please don't expect a plot as such, this is a story that tells a tale and recounts a history. The characters are not special, they are not stars in the making, they are real people - they could be me or you, or our mothers and fathers. There is a stark realism to the book, which only a talented writer could take from the everyday and turn into such a good read. It goes to show that we all have a story, and a history.

I urge you to read this book if what you have read about here appeals to you - you will definitely enjoy it.

You can find out more about the book, the author and her other published works at:

Next month's book will be something a little different - from the previous three books I have written about, and for me as a reader, but I assure you it is another cracking good read! Next month I will be reviewing

The Snowman
Jo Nesbo

I would love if it if other readers would join me for my Sunday Bookworm, so please leave any comments you wish about any of the books I have reviewed so far - or if you have already read next month's book, and would like your comments included in my review, please feel free to email me at
and let me have your thoughts!

My next Sunday Bookworm blog is scheduled to be posted on Sunday 18th September 2011.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

When Hooligans Get Rioting - Crafters Get Crafting !!

It was last Tuesday morning, and I sat up in bed watching the early news reports. All across the screen were terrible images from the last three nights of rioting across England. I literally had tears in my eyes, deeply saddened that people (or should that be animals?) of my own country, my home, could have sunk to such low depths of violence and disorder.

It is not my place to comment further on the causes, consequences, treatment or solutions to or of these events; however I will call on all reasonable people to stop for a moment and reflect on the situation. These events were barely a week ago, and yet while the politicians are still airing their own perspectives the real victims are just quietly trying to get on with their lives.

Many people were affected by these riots - from the injured, to the looted, to the just plain frightened. 

There are a number of ways that you can help these riot victims, from charity donations to actual physical clean up operations - but I would like to tell you about one special event that I have chosen to take part in. Whilst I was sitting shocked and saddened in bed, a fellow Twitter colleague was already making plans to help. Big plans...  

Zoe Grant - a talented designer and maker (amongst many other talents!) was writing this blog...
"...I feel so helpless, sat here at my desk in Suffolk. I want to go and help clean up the carnage, but I can't. And I know I am not alone reading tweets from friends around the country.

So I had a crazy idea, why not use our talents to help.  The clean up will take months maybe years as people are left homeless and have had their livelihoods taken from them.  My idea is to have a a big raffle or auction of donations from designer makers all over the UK..."

And so the Riot Raffle was born.

To date, over 80 makers, designers, crafters and artists have pledged a piece (or pieces) of their own work to help raise funds which will go to Retail Trust - a charity that promises that 100% of all the money raised will go towards helping the retail staff and shopkeepers whose lives have been devastated by these awful events. And I am proud to say that I am one of those crafters.

We have all seen pictures and heard the story of the the Reeves family - The House of Reeves store in Croydon, South London shown blazing last Monday night. 140 years of family graft up in flames, all caused by mindless violence. We have seen pictures of smashed store fronts, heard stories of looting, vandalism and theft. Imagine if that had been your shop? If that had been your life's work, and your livelihood? This is what touches the hearts of crafters and makers like me across the community - and why we are trying to each help in our own little way.

Zoe has done so much, and you can follow progress on Twitter by following @RiotRaffle and buying tickets once the raffle is finalised and under way - I believe that they will be sold at as little as £1 each, and if we all spend just a few pounds, collectively we can raise a large sum to help people very much in need. There will also be a dedicated website coming very soon - gratefully contributed, designed and built by the generous @bwebsites .

I also thoroughly recommend following Zoe's own blog - a mix of crafting, beaching, baking, fabric and all things fabulous...!

Finally, just to show you what I will be donating, here are some pictures... may recognise this last picture - I use it as my Twitter picture (so much prettier than my face!). I am donating this lovely Vintage Rosebud Coffee Cup Candle, scented with a delicious rose fragrance. If you would like to know more about it, I have her sister listed in my shop right now... just click here.

Thank you for taking the time to read my rant, and my praises for those with the vision to do something about it, and hopefully to be inspired to take part in Riot Raffle.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Bad Blogger!

It has to be said, I have been such a lax blogger recently. Is it any excuse to say that I have been very busy?
Or that my lovely husband dropped my laptop, so it had to go to *hospital* (back fully repaired now, thankfully) ?

Well, I have sat down today and sketched out a schedule for the next couple of months... I just hope I keep to it! My next post - later this week - will be about a fabulous lady and her amazing response to help the poor independent traders who fell victim to the recent riots across England. And then this coming Sunday it will be my monthly Sunday Bookworm post - I can't believe another whole month has whizzed by so quickly! This month's book is Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson - so for any of you who became fans of this talented writer through watching the recent Case Studies dramatisations on the BBC, I hope you will enjoy hearing about this great book.

I also have plans to bring you some great wedding related features - hoping to introduce you to some different ideas to make your special day truly unique, and some gorgeous vintage (ahh, I do love a bit of vintage!) details, accessories and decorations, as well as a few do-it-yourself ideas for saving a few pennies. I will continue to post my occasional recipes, gluten free cakes and treats - that taste even better than the wheat varieties, so your wheat eating friends will, quite frankly, never know the difference!

Here is just a small sneak preview of my next recipe...

In between these posts I will resurrect my Folksy Fridays, fortnightly posts featuring all sorts of handmade gorgeousness from the talented makers as As well as bringing you news of my own new products, creations and business ventures... and there are some very exciting new developments coming soon (some of which I just can't reveal yet!!)!

So I do hope you are going to continue to watch this space, and thank you for hanging around !