Monday 31 March 2014

The great british sewing bee, ginger honey biscuits, lazy cushion cover pattern and green tea giveaway

I'm totally addicted to The Great Bristish Sewing Bee and I know that it's partly something to do with Claudia Winkleman. I love her. She's like a naughty school girl. I'm sure that she's a bit mad, or at least more-than mildly eccentric. 

She gets such a lot of criticism from everyone about her style and make-up. But it's refreshing that she doesn't take herself too seriously, or appear to be one bit bothered about style, or pretension. She says that she quite likes to 'look like an old school headmistress,' likes grey and black, to be totally covered, a very heavy fringe, her skin to be the colour of teak; and that patterns make her 'ears bleed'...I told you, she's mad.

I love that she says, that she basically just wants: "a high-tog blanket and to be surrounded by my babies who are a bit like puppies - they do rolly-pollies and let me lick their eyelids. That's all I want!"...she sounds like the perfect mum. quotes from here.

My Great British Sewing Bee obsession, began after I'd been bustling around like a bumble bee from dawn till dusk for days, then woke up one morning with a bad throat and the energy of a snail. The small mountain of hand sewing that I'd been putting off for ages actually seemed attractive  for once. There was a cosy corner, with a stool for a mug of hot tea, another for my sewing box, mini everest and remote control callinging to me. So I settled in for the morning, found an episode of the sewing bee on iplayer, watched it, then two more.That was it. I was hooked. As well as being entertaining it's very informative with lots of sewing tips, historical information and cool trips visiting experts in textile museums or galleries. (...and Patrick Grant's not to shabby either...)

My large pile of sewing completed, inspired by the sewing bee I was itching to do more. I needed to make some new cushion covers so bought some fabric.  I couldn't resist 'locally grown' by Marisa of Creative Thursday for the study, now spare room. ( I know it's not a child's room...) She has a sweet  blog as well as her Etsy shop and website. But I got mine from my local yarn and fabric store along with some olive gingham and amazing linen, very cheaply. 

You can find a free pdf of simple instructions from Ikea for the correct way to make an envelope cushion cover that you can download here. They are so easy to a make. No difficult button holes or zips, making them speedy, as well as inexpensive. 

Or you may like to use my lazy method that I think is even easier with only two, instead of four seams and a bit of hemming. Here are my scribbled instructions:

Then I settled in for a baking day...

Maple olive oil banana loaf
Recipe here, found via here.

My ginger honey biscuits

  • 110g of butter or non-dairy alternative
  • 50g of muscovado sugar
  • 60g of golden granulated sugar
  • one good tbs of set honey
  • one egg
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • a good teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • a small piece of fresh ginger (about an inch)
whoops...edit...It was kindly pointed out that I had accidentally ommitted the flour. 
  • 180g of self raising flour

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 175c/ 350f / gas mark 4 and prepare a couple of baking trays. Either grease them, or line with baking parchment.
  2. Place the sugar and butter into a baking bowl, beat the sugar and butter together with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.
  3. Crack the egg into a small bowl. Add the honey and whisk together lightly.
  4. Add this mixture to the sugar and butter. Mix well.
  5. Add all the dry ingredients and grate in the ginger. Mix well combining to a dough.
  6. Place spoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking trays and cook for about ten minutes or so until golden brown.
This dough can either make crunchy biscuits, or soft cookies depending on the size you make them. Teaspoonfuls will make small crunchy biscuits, tablespoonfuls; larger softer cookie style biscuits. 

Oh and the tea? Every so often I get a very sweet email from a lady called Alice who lives in China. She asks me if I would like some free tea samples. Recently she sent me a box for Chinese New Year. She never ask me to write a review on her shop, or to do a blog post with a link to it. She just asks which teas I would like. 

They are so good that I feel compelled to share with you. Her company is called Teavivre and is comprised of a group of tea lovers. They truly are connoisseurs of tea. 

The tea that they buy isn't cheap but it's the champagne of teas and if like me, you are a big tea drinker, it's a real treat. Like the Fengquing Old Tree raw pu-erh cake tea that comes in a solid circular cake. Or the flower teas that open up like a blossoming  bud as they are infused, Gunpwder, or aged teas and oohlong green tea. The quality is amazing. When you empty the teapot big full leaves remain. That aparently you can quickly infuse again for a second cup, as long as you don't allow them to brew too long and become bitter with the tannins. 

I haven't been asked to tell you this but you may be interested in a free Organic She Qian Dragon Well Long jing Green Tea giveaway you just have to enter here. They make beautiful glass teapots too, you may like to have a look and drool...I do...


  1. Thanks for the intro to another awesome soul on this planet, she sounds wonderful and I will have to visit.
    I hope you are feeing much better, sore throats and no energy are the pits. I really like your pillows, great fabric and one day I will have to try your pattern myself.
    I wanted to ask about your Ginger Honey Biscuit there flour in it? I think my Mike would love these, he is a huge fan of ginger and honey.

  2. Whoops I missed the flour out Tracey. Thanks for directing me to that. I better do an edit. There should be 180g of self raising flour. These are heavy on brown sugar but my husband has a really sweet tooth.

  3. Thanks Debby. My husband has a bit of a sweet tooth too so I know he will love these. Now I get to do a little math and convert metric to cups ;)

    PS- did you look at the house this weekend?

    1. We saw two beautiful houses both old with character but unfortunately not for us. It's been to look in different places though and help us to decide exactly where we'd like to be. I'll write about them today or tomorrow if I have time.

  4. oh my, what timing.....I have recovering some porch pillows on my to-do list.....I think even this non-seamstress could handle this one!!! Thanks. Off to visit with the Great British sewing Bee----unfamiliar with this one!!! :) Happy week.

    1. How serendipitous Steph...I hope you make some and I hope that the pattern is understandable...let me know if you do try and there are any errors.

  5. Cute fabric for the pillows!! My kind of style :) I've been on a green tea drinking streak for some time-it's my all time favorite drink. Hope you find your dream home soon.

    1. I know...and I didn't have the excuse of any little ones, so just bought it anyway. I hope you get the free sample because their teas are amazing.
      I think we may have found another one, this time 300 years old...fingers crossed!

  6. Your pillows are lovely, as well as your hand written instructions with the darling little drawings. I love your choice of fabrics! One can't go wrong with linen, checks and sheep...and did I just read in the comment above that you may be looking at a 300 year old house? Oh, I do have to admit that I'm a teensy bit envious. ;) Keeping my fingers crossed for exciting!

  7. Thank you Emily, that's kind of you to say so. We found two lovely old ones on-line yesterday. I'm going to try and make an appointment today, to see them on Saturday. I have never seen Ahmad so excited about any of the other houses we were going to look at. He especially loves the look of the three hundred year old one and it's the cheapest one we've found so far. He didn't sleep last night! I do hope we like it in real life and if so that someone else doesn't snap it up first. He would be so disappointed. It's all so exciting at the moment.

  8. You made the date cake! Did you like it? You also make cushion covers just like I do with a big fold. Your hand-drawn instructions are just lovely.