With Memorial Day come and gone and summer just around the corner, I realize that I still haven’t gotten any of my spring cleaning done. There are several rooms in my house and spaces like closets, pantries, and cupboards that need to be taken care of. One cupboard I have is a tea cupboard. Now, I admit that I have a LOT of boxes and pouches of tea. My tea cupboard is where, unfortunately, tea bags, boxes, and pouches like to tumble out and fall on me like an avalanche. I have this bad habit of seeing a tea I want to try and/or like and I buy it, storing it in the cupboard for when I’m craving a certain type of tea (has anyone ever craved a Twinings Mixed Berries tea in the middle of the day?).

IMG_20160530_1310372_rewindA certain retro video game that involves stacking boxes comes to use at a time like this. If you take the time to think strategically, you canIMG_20160530_1329211_rewind fit the boxes of tea in just the right spots, stacking and organizing. However, while cleaning out your tea cupboard, box, basket, or however you keep your tea collection in, you may come across some old, expired tea. I’ve done this many times, where I have had old tea, lost and forgotten. If you have a lot of individually wrapped tea bags in boxes, you can take them and put them in a tea chest. You can take your tea bags, organize them by either flavor or type, however you want to do it, and put them in eight separate compartments. You can display them or keep it anywhere you want, like on a counter in the kitchen.

If you have a lot of loose tea or just have a lot of loose tea bags that are not individually wrapped, like Yorkshire Tea or Typhoo, then tea tins might be your answer. Our English Tea Store Tea Tins come with their own labels It is also a great way to save space in your cupboardIMG_20160530_1320181_rewind and makes a very nice display for your countertop or table to have your tea tins within reach. The labels come pre-printed so if you have English Breakfast, Assam, or if you have another type like decaf, you can write on the blank ones. For mine, I used Bingo Blueberry since I have tons of it and my nephews are always asking for a cup. These tins also make an excellent gift to give to someone, just add a little treat in there.

IMG_20160530_1328225_rewindIn addition to the tea tins, it’s not just for saving space, but it is also good for keeping tea fresher for just a bit longer. If you really want no air to get in, however, these air locking canisters are your best bet. It holds up to 16 ounces of tea and the cliplock latches closed so it helps keep air out. Plus, it comes with a tea scoop so you can be able to measure tea a bit better. Did I mention this canister has a little tea shaped window so you can identify which tea is in the canister?

It took me a bit of time to get my tea cupboard more organized but it’s finally done. Now that I have my tea all in order, that’s one thing off my list! Now onto the next thing on my late-spring cleaning…the rest of the house.

Happy Summer




(c) Julia Briggs

  • Oven 190 C, 375 F, Gas mark 5
  • A greased two pound loaf tin
  • 6 oz butter
  • 6 oz caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs or 2 eggs and the whites from another recipe
  • 4 oz self raising flour
  • 2 oz ground almonds ( for a different texture, you can use all flour though)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder


  • Icing (of your choice) I used:
  • a 7 oz block of dark chocolate and
  • 3 oz butter melted together then poured of the finished cake

IMG_6113Cream the butter and sugar together then add the eggs and beat hard.  Slowly add the flour, milk and ground almonds if using and combine well.   Now divide your mixture into two and add the cocoa powder to one half.  Spoon the two mixtures alternatively into the tin and tap down to rid the mixture of any air pockets.

Now with a thin knife blade or a skewer draw through the mixture to mixIMG_6114 slightly and produce a marbled effect.  Bake for 40-45 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch.  Test with a cake test or skewer.  Leave to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.

Place a plate under the rack to catch any drips then make up the icing and pour over the cake.  Enjoy a thick slice with any tea you like.  -JAB


Every year and everywhere there are always events that are always talked about. In the US, while there are events like the Kentucky Derby or the Academy Awards, where there will always be talk about what who was wearing. In the UK, things are different. At the Chelsea Flower Show, not too much of that goes on! The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, it’s all about the flowers!


Every May, the Royal Horticultural Society holds an annual flower show that is attended by many each year. While it is not the largest like it once was, it is still the most prestigious. The show is held on the grounds of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea in London nearly every year (with the exception of the two World Wars) since 1913. This flower show is the biggest flower show where gardening enthusiasts can see modern flower designs and even get new ideas and inspiration for their own gardens.


For five days (originally four until several years ago), the Chelsea Flower Show is held with great interest and it hasgrown in popularity in recent years, attracting over one hundred thousand visitors each year, including celebrities and the British Royal Family. It is televised exclusively on the BBC but if you are one of the lucky few, you can purchase a ticket in advance to see it in person. However, they may be sold out! Once tickets go on sale, they go very quickly since they are in limited supply due to small space. There are some days  and times exclusively for RHS members, but there are tickets for the general public but it is always best to enquire with the RHS for ticket sales.


If you are able to acquire a ticket, it is well worth the price you pay. The flowers are viewed in such beautifully designed gardens and awards are given out to the best gardens and to the best florist (Florist of the Year). Along with the awards, new flowers are introduced at the Chelsea Flower Show. For 2016, the Princess Charlotte Chrysanthemum (Rossano Charlotte) was unveiled for all to see (and smell)!

The Chelsea Flower Show is a sight to see and scent to smell. It is something one must put on their bucket list! You will not regret it!




(c) Julia Briggs

Looking through an old recipe book of my Mother’s for something tasty to make I came across these biscuits.  They always looked impressive after they had been wrapped round the rolling pin and they do taste nice.

You will need:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 4 oz icing sugar
  • 4 oz plain flour
  • Finely grated zest of one large orange
  • 3 oz butter (melted)

You need to make up the mixture and leave it for 30 minutes so no need to put the oven on until after that unless you are cooking other things.  Next week’s recipes is for a marbled cake and I used the three egg yolks left over from this recipe in that.

Whisk the icing sugar with the egg whites lightly and then stir in the flour orange zest and melted butter until well combined.  Leave the mixture in the bowl covered with a tea towel for half an hour. Set the oven to 200 C, 400 F gas mark 6.


(c) Julia Briggs

Grease or line some baking sheets, then place three teaspoons of mixture on one baking sheet spread apart and stretch each spoonful into a larger, thinner circle.  Continue with the other sheets and bake for about 10-12 minutes until just starting to go brown around the edges.



(c) Julia Briggs

Whilst still hot from the oven wrap each biscuit around a rolling pin to curl and then leave to set.  Just as with brandy snaps, if they go too cold they will break rather than curl, in this case you can just put them back into the oven for a minute or two to soften again then they will curl nicely.  Continue with until you have used up all the mixture and then leave them all to go cold.

They will store for up to one week in an airtight tin.  Serve with a good cup of mint tea and your guests will be most impressed.



(c) Julia Briggs

Who likes anything with lemon in it?  Most of you I am guessing.  Even my hubby likes these biscuits and he does not like lemon!

The recipe for these biscuits is very old and I can no longer read the name but I know it was from an old Italian lady and began with B.


If anybody knows these biscuits then please let me know.

You will need:

  • 2 greased baking sheets
  • Oven 180 C  350 F  Gas Mark 4
  • 8 oz flour
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 4 oz butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • Zest and some juice of half a lemon

(c) Julia Briggs

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the sugar.  Cube the butter and rub it into the flour and sugar until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Whisk the egg yolks,then add the  vanilla essence, lemon zest and a small amount of lemon juice and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix well until the dough comes together.  Shape the dough into a sausage and wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Then remove the dough and divide into approximately 12 pieces, use your hand to shape the biscuits into either rounds, circles or S shapes.

Place on the greased baking sheets and bake for about 10-15 minutes until the biscuits are pale golden and firm to the touch.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.  If you like you can make some icing with icing sugar and the rest of the lemon juice for some of the biscuits.  They do go down well with a nice cup of tea.



(c) Getty Images – Michelle Obama and Prince Harry posed for photos with the children of servicemen and women at the opening ceremony

It’s time for the Invictus Games! Brits are gearing up to cheer for their fellow countrymen in a Paralympic-like competition against a select few countries. If you have never heard of them, don’t worry because it’s still something relatively new. It was just started in 2014 but Prince Harry originally came up with the idea in 2013 when he was out on a trip to the US to attend the Warrior Games. He saw how sport was therapeutic for many servicemen, and helped them open up to people again after seeing the horrors of war.

Prince Harry came up with the idea of the Invictus Games. The games would be for active duty and veteran Service men and women who were injured, ill, or wounded. Now, why was the word “invictus” chosen for the name of the games? It is because it means “unconquered”, and it represents the spirit of the service men and women. They are moving on through sport despite injury and illness. These games show how courageous and inspiring these men and women are.

The first Invictus Games were held in London, England, UK. The second edition (2016) of the Invictus Games will be held in Orlando, Florida in the United States and then in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2017, and then other international cities after 2017. Much like the Olympics, the games are held in different cities across different countries. There is an Opening and Closing Ceremony and the games take place in the course of just a few days.

In the past two years since the games were created, the Invictus Games have been given more attention, especially in the media and online. Prince Harry made a video with President Barack Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, poking fun at each other just before the games were to begin. Prince Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, was also featured in the video.

It is incredible to see the success of these games. Prince Harry is receiving lots of praise for his wonderful idea, especially since his mother, Princess Diana, had taught him to be kind and help others. He has the support of several current and former world leaders along with many in the military. Although only a handful of service people will compete, the support and encouragement  is far greater.




With the year nearly half over, it’s already time to think about our mothers. We owe our lives to her, so it’s a must that she deserves a lot of spoiling! Mother’s Day is celebrated in both the United States and the United Kingdom, only the UK celebrates Mother’s Day on the fourth Sunday during Lent and the US celebrates on the second Sunday in May. For more information on the history of Mother’s Day, take a peek at my post from last May.

fcnd_cad_crnc_-01_cadbury-crunchie-1-4ozBut what to get for mum? My own mother was a fan of the Cadbury chocolate. She loved the Cadbury Dairy Milk with the Fruit and Nut. She loved it so much that she would NEVER share it with us! She had every right not to. There were six of us children who put her through so much! So every mother deserves some of her favorite things on her day. Here are a few things that are sure to please your mom (or mum).

If your mother is from the UK, some Union Jack gifts are sure to please her. If you frequently visit her at home, a Union Jack doormat is one of the best wateagfku1000035501_-00_union-jack-shopping-bagys of expressing yourself just outside your house. Perhaps a lovely tea cosy for her best teapot when stopping by for tea? And if she loves to go shopping, a shopping bag adorned with Union Jacks to show the world that she is a Brit and proud! Another good idea is to also fill the bag with a few goodies, as well!

As always, there are many varieties of gift baskets. Nowadays, there’s a gift basket for just about anything! Ranging from relaxing spa to even tea! Pick one full of goodies out and your mom will be delighted!

However you express your love and appreciation for your mother, always do so! She’s the most important person in your life and you only get one! Spend the day with her or if you can’t, give her a call!



(c) Julia Briggs

My husband does not like jam but loves Marmalade so I make him cake or buns and he puts marmalade in the middle so I thought I would experiment with a real marmalade cake just for him!  He likes the ‘no peel’ marmalade but you can use either.

Oven 180 C  350 F  Gas Mark 4  A well greased 9″ cake tin or two 7″ ones.

I made the normal cake mixture but added more flour and, of course, marmalade.

You will need:

  • 8 oz softened butter
  • 8 oz caster sugar
  • 10 oz Self Raising Flour
  • 4 medium sized eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of Marmalade


  • 4 oz Icing Sugar
  • 2 oz Marmalade (if using Marmalade with peel in sieve the peel out)
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice.
  • orange peel from the sieved Marmalade or sugared orange slices to decorate
  • Extra Marmalade and double cream  for sandwiching the cakes together

(c) Julia Briggs

Beat the sugar and butter together until light and creamy then add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of flour to stop it curdling.  Fold in the flour and the Marmalade with a figure of eight movement and divide between your tins or spoon the whole mixture into the one tin if using a large cake tin.  Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes until firm to the touch and a cake tester or needle comes out clean.  Leave in the tin to cool slightly then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Make the icing by combing all the ingredients together.  Split the cake and spread some marmalade on the bottom half and whipped cream on the top half and then sandwich the cake together and pour on the icing.  Decorate with the orange slices.  Enjoy with a nice cup of tea.





Julia Briggs (c)

Is it OK to say I do not like chocolate cake?  I do make chocolate cakes and I do eat some chocolates, like Maltesers but I have never been a fan of rich chocolate cakes so I make this orange flavour cake and put chocolate chips in and it is good.

You can of course use cocoa powder in place of some of the flour if you want a chocolate colour, you can also use milk, plain or white chocolate chips, I only had white chocolate in stock.  I filled half with orange marmalade and half with lemon curd and butter icing to satisfy the whole family!

You will need: Two 8″ cake tins well greased or one well greased 10″ cake tin. Oven 180 C  350 F  Gas Mark 4

  • 8 oz Butter
  • 8 oz Caster Sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • A few drops of orange essence
  • 8 oz Self Raising flour
  • Grated rind of an orange
  • juice of half an orange
  • 4 oz chocolate chips

Julia Briggs (c)

Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy then add the beaten eggs with a spoonful of flour and the vanilla and orange essence.  Fold in the flour, grated rind, juice and chocolate chips.  Pour into two 8″ cake tins or one 10″ tin.  Cook for 35 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch.  Leave in the tin to cool slightly, using a cake tester or needle prick all over the top of the cake and then mix the other half of the orange juice with a little hot water and pour onto the cake. When slightly cool take from the tin and place on a wire rack until completely cold.

Slice the cake, or not if you have made two!  Spread orange marmalade or lemon cheese on the bottom half then cream or butter icing onto the underside of the top half of the cake.  Sandwich them together and enjoy a piece with a cup of tea.


–  JAB

We all know and love Queen Elizabeth for her remarkable reign over Great Britain and the Commonwealth Realms. The world has watched her grow up from a graceful young princess to a strong and devoted Queen, leading her nation through the greatest and the most dreadful of times. On April 21, 2016, Queen Elizabeth II will reach yet another milestone: Her 90th birthday.

The Queen recently became the longest reigning monarch in 2015, ruling for over 63 years! Her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has been by her side for her entire reign which began in 1952 after having been married since 1947. Not only is she a ruler of a kingdom but she’s also the ruler of a proud and growing family! She is the mother of four children, 8 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren as of this writing.

For her 90th birthday this year in 2016, it will go as normally planned with a few special additions. Her birthday is normally celebrated throughout the months of April, May, and June. For her official birthday on April 21st, the Queen usually spends her birthday in privacy but there are several gun salutes to mark the special day at noon. There are a few special engagements in April but in May, a major celebration will be held for the Queen. From May 12-15 will be celebrations every night featuring an over 90 minute joyous event that will celebrate her life, her love of horses, and her dedication to the Commonwealth and other international affairs. The event will feature over 900 horses and 1500 performers from all over the UK and the world! It will take place on the private grounds of Windsor Castle (this is the only the time the general public are allowed on the grounds) in a custom built arena! The Queen will attend on the final evening, May 15th.

In June, there will be more events marking the celebration. The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will also celebrate his 95th birthday on June 10th but on that day, there will be a special Thanksgiving service held in St. Paul’s Cathedral where invited guests will only be allowed. The next day is the Trooping of the Colour, which is known as the THE official celebration of the Queen’s birthday. A parade celebrating the Queen’s birthday is held, and she will stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, where many will try to catch a glimpse of her. On June 12, about 10,000 guests will attend the Patron’s Lunch at the Mall in London. This is to celebrate the many charities in which the Queen is patron of.

If you want to celebrate your own way, you can always enjoy a slice of cake or two, some scones with a bit of jam, or raise a cup of tea, possibly a good Buckingham Palace Garden Party, and enjoy it like how the Queen enjoys it: Milk, no sugar!

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!

Here’s a bit of fun trivia about Queen Elizabeth for you:

  • Queen Elizabeth was affectionately called Lilibet by her family as a little girl.
  • She is a big fan of the Corgi dog. She has had over 30 of them as pets throughout her reign.
  • The Queen is an avid photographer, taking photos with her cameras over the decades. She has even photobombed someone’s selfie!
  • One big surprising fact about the Queen is that she served in the military during World War 2. She was 2nd Lieutenant Elizabeth Windsor. She even knows how to change spark plugs and flats tires (and the only member in the British Royal Family to do so).



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