Thursday, 24 September 2015


Good Morning to you,

If you have been visiting Ivy, Phyllis and Me!  for a little while, you will know how much I love visiting charity shops and car boot sales. It makes me so happy to find pre-loved items, which I can re-use and welcome into my home.

So on Tuesday, after my sewing group, I decided to visit one or two charity shops. At the first shop, there was nothing to 'tickle my fancy' so I wandered down the road to the second shop.  Normally, the direction I come from, I don't look at the shop window display, because I reach the entrance door first ..... but not this Tuesday, no, this Tuesday, for some reason or another, I decided to pass the entrance and take a look at the window display.  After scrutinising most of the items, I looked upwards, and there, right at the very top of the display cabinet, I saw a collection of coffee cups and saucers, which brought such a smile to my face.

Let me tell you why.

When George and I married,  even though we both worked, there was not a lot of money to spend on luxury items and whatever we needed we had to save for.

Each week I would do my grocery shopping and I would pass a shop which had the most fabulous kitchen ware and dinner sets. Now the dinner set I owned was a creamy white Pyrex set, brilliant for everyday use, but a little boring. I had everything I needed, but it was Pyrex, which to my young eyes was very old fashioned. I had my eye on a fabulously trendy Denby dinner set, but it was way out of my reach in terms of price.  So I decided that if I could not afford the whole dinner set, I could afford, with prudence, 2 coffee cups, two dinner plates and two side plates just enough for George and I.

Each week I saved, and put money aside, then the following month, I would buy a coffee cup, then I saved again and bought another coffee cup. It was slow progress, but I didn't mind because I loved my Denby Arabesque, I felt so 'with it'... a very 1960's expression. As my little collection grew, I was in heaven, and I had them for years and years and never tired of them, but as always happens when moving from country to country, cups  became chipped, as did the plates and so, they had to be discarded.
So on Tuesday, there, at the very top of the display cabinet... yes you've guessed it, there were, 12 Denby, Arabesque pottery coffee cups and saucers in absolute pristine condition.  The years have passed by, but their shape and style is perfect for today's vintage look.

When I saw them, I just knew both Natasha and Danielle would love them.  So I promptly bought them..... even the cashier noticed my excitement, so I told her the story of the cups and saucers.  

I drove home, so excited, ready to tell George, all about my find, but when I arrived home, he was no where to be found, as he had not returned from his morning swim..... so I had all this excitement within me, but with no one to share it with.  So I took a photo of the cups and saucers and I text both the girls and told them about my find.  

I waited, wondering if Natasha and Danielle would love them as much as I did. I needn't of worried, because Danielle returned my text as quick as a flash and said she 'loved, loved, loved them' and couldn't believe my luck. Natasha replied shortly afterwards and said 'Wow, what a great find'.... they were both thrilled to pieces with my discovery. 

So the cups and saucers have been carefully wrapped and put away until I see Natasha and Danielle, but I have to tell you, I did keep one..... well, I had to didn't I, for old times sake.

So talking of old times and vintage things, I decided to bake something a little vintage today. I know I haven't baked for a little while, but both George and I are on a bit of a health kick, but, today, we are both ready for something a little sweet.... and,

I have found the perfect thing, an English Tea Bread..... something which I have not made in quite a while. Actually it is a vintage tea bread, which Ivy used to bake.  Ivy's recipe, was much more frugal, than my recipe, which is understandable, due to the post war era, but I have used the same basic ingredients.

So it's on with the pinnie, and I have a treat for you today.  

Listen to and enjoy Julian Bream and John Williams. I tried to find this album on UTube, but to no avail, so I have chosen another piece of music which I feel sure you will enjoy.

So while I am being soothed, by these two wonderful classical guitarists, I will organise my ingredients.


250g sultanas
250g raisins
250g dark brown sugar
375ml strong cold spiced Chai tea
1 large egg
500g self raising flour
2 teaspoons of mixed spice
1 orange
1 lemon

1kg loaf tin, buttered and lined with parchment paper




Pour 375ml of hot water over  the spiced Chai tea bags. 

Allow to steep and leave the Chai tea to become cold.

Juice the orange and the lemon,
and then,

grate the rind of both the orange and the lemon.

When the Chai tea is cold, squeeze the teabags and remove from the bowl.
Pour the tea into a large bowl.

Add the orange and lemon juice
along with the
grated rind.

Add the sultanas and raisins 
mix the ingredients together.

and keep in a cool place overnight.
This allows the sultanas and raisins to plump up.


Pre-heat the oven to 180C or 160C for a fan oven.

Butter and line a loaf tin with parchment paper.

Strain the sultanas and raisins over a bowl
and reserve the liquid.
Check there is 300 ml of liquid, sometimes,
depending on the size of the orange and 
lemon, I have enough liquid, other times
I find I need to top the liquid up, with 
a little water. I find quite a bit of the tea/orange
and lemon liquid is soaked up by the sultanas
and raisins.

Place the sultanas and raisins in a large bowl


add the dark brown sugar.

Mix well.

Sift the flour and add to the bowl


add the mixed spice.

Mix the ingredients together.

Add the reserved tea/orange and lemon juice

and mix very well to incorporate all the ingredients.

Whisk the egg
stir into the ingredients.
Mix well until the egg is thoroughly incorporated.

Place the mixture into the buttered, pre-lined loaf tin
bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.
I tend to start checking the tea bread when it has been in the oven for an hour.

Test to make sure the tea bread is thoroughly cooked, then leave it in the loaf tin for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes remove from the loaf tin and place on a cooling rack.

When cooled enjoy a slice

or two
spread with English butter 
and the 
perfect accompaniment..... a nice
cup of tea.

Perfect for a 4 o'clock pick me up.

When Ivy made this English Tea Bread, she made a pot of tea, using tea leaves, then she would strain the tea leaves, with a tea strainer, which produced a nice strong tea.

Ivy would have also only added currants and she would have topped the tea up with enough water to make the liquid up to 300 ml.  She would have never been able to use oranges or lemons.

Instead of using normal black tea, I decided to use some delicately flavoured Indian Spiced Chai tea, which includes black tea leaves, ginger, cloves, cardamon and allspice, as I thought this would give a lovely spicy note to the tea bread. Also along the way, I have seen recipes which include orange juice and lemon juice, so I decided to give that a go... and I'm pleased I did as the fruit adds a lovely citrus note to the tea bread.

If you don't have any Chai tea, feel free to do as Ivy did, and use black tea, but make sure as we say here in the North of England, 'It's a good strong cuppa'.

I used a 2kg loaf tin, but sometimes I use 2 x 1kg loaf tins, so that I can make 2 smaller tea breads.  I then keep one for tea time and the other I wrap in tin foil, and place it in a freezer bag to keep in the freezer for another time.... and it really does freeze well.

.... before I leave you,  did you really think I was going to say goodbye and not show you a photograph of my Denby Arabesque coffee cups?

Absolutely not..... I want to share my excitement with you.

How about you, what household item, from your past, would you like to have in your home today?

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,


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