tea break

UK’s Favourite Biscuit Revealed!

Very exciting news coming out of the UK today – the nation’s favourite biscuit has been chosen and we’re sure that it’ll come as no surprise to those of you who love to dunk merrily away in your bulldog mugs that it’s the chocolate digestive.

Compiled by the Blue Cross to celebrate its Paws for Tea fundraising event on May 15th, the top ten rundown was chocolate digestives, chocolate Hobnobs, custard creams, shortbread, Jaffa Cakes, chocolate chip cookies, digestives, ginger nuts, chocolate bourbons and chocolate fingers.

However, a separate list was compiled to find the nation’s favourite dunking biscuit, with the top ten looking like this: digestive, chocolate digestive, chocolate Hobnobs, Rich Tea, ginger nuts, custard creams, plain Hobnobs, malted milk, chocolate bourbons and shortbread.

“We all know us Brits love a brew and our poll showed that on average we consume three cups of tea or coffee in a typical day, two of which will be enjoyed with a biscuit or two as a treat,” centre manager at Blue Cross in Suffolk Andrew Gillon remarked.

We think both rundowns look pretty good – we’re fans of all those biccies here at Nadia Sparham. Certainly, we’ve been known to break out the cups and saucers and dunk a few of them in our time. But what we seriously enjoy doing is dunking a KitKat… we learned long ago that if you bite the ends off first, you can use them as a straw!

Perhaps not something to do in polite company when you’ve got the fine bone china out, but the next time you’re having a quiet brew to yourself give it a go. Life-changing!

1970s retro furniture

70s-Inspired Design At Home

We keep reading how the 1970s are really back in fashion this year, whether it be in our choice of clothes or our interior design, but how do you go about getting the look when you’re out shopping for gingham cushions, owl cushions, flower cushions… endless cushions! Here are a few suggestions to help you out at home.

Be eclectic

A 70s-inspired décor is actually pretty easy to achieve if you’re not too confident in your interior design abilities. It’s all about eclecticism, so don’t be scared to mix it up a bit in your choice of home furnishings and furniture. Mess around with various shapes as well – use circular cushions on your square sofas, for example, or bring in some round rugs to create flow in your living room.

Colour choice

The 1970s weren’t really about subtlety, so go all out with your colours if you’re feeling brave enough. Think big, bold and bright and you really can’t go wrong – and whatever you do, don’t be afraid to clash!

Lighting

Look at how you’re lighting your various rooms – avoid using spot lights where possible and invest in a few floor lamps and table lamps. Give it a bit of a contemporary twist with some metallics like copper and chrome, and your 1970s-esque room will really come alive.

Home accessories

When finding accessories to decorate your home with, look for natural materials like yarn and teak wood, the latter of which was very popular during the 70s. If you really want to go all out, macramé plant pot holders were huge news back then and have been enjoying something of a revival in the last few years.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin’s Children’s Sketches Survive Centuries!

If you came to the website for illustrated pug mugs, you might have also spotted the service to decorate white bone china with your children’s drawings. It’s a great way to capture their childhood in something a little more permanent that you can hold onto as an heirloom for decades to come when they’re all grown up.

After all, even some of the world’s greatest thinkers hoarded their children’s sketches, as you’d discover if you were to visit the American Museum of Natural History this year. New for 2015, in honour of Charles Darwin’s 106th birthday, is a 111 piece collection of drawings and stories by Darwin’s young children, alongside other members of his family.

It seems his kids often took to drawing and painting fanciful cartoons on the back of draft pages of his manuscripts, which then treasured and kept safe by the family, have become some of the only original manuscript pages still in existence.

It seems from their scribbles that the youngsters were somewhat inspired by their father, with paintings depicting a fish with legs (carrying an umbrella) and drawings of tropical birds, much like the finches on the Galapagos islands which triggered Darwin’s most famous theory of evolution.

Of course, as children, they’re a lot of fun too – and we think we’d definitely like to read the story which sees three men riding a pumpkin, pear and turnip with legs like horses. And well, while we can’t guarantee your little ones’ drawings will end up in museums over 150 years later, if you transform them into ceramic form, they’re sure to not get stuffed in the back of a drawer somewhere in years to come.

sofa and throw cushions

Throw Cushions Are Great For Any Room Design

If you’re designing any kind of social space, then throw cushions are an excellent way to make the area feel comfortable. There is nothing more homely than a relaxing seating space to naturally bring people together.

Cushions are the ultimate accessory in creating a relaxing home for you, your friends and your family. They add a subtle layer of comfort to your home without being overbearing. Most people don’t notice the cushions when they enter the room, but when they’re missing it’s really pretty obvious indeed!

The best thing about bringing in pillows to your seating areas is that it’s a very cost effective way of adding life to your living area. Without cushions, your rooms can be drab and boring, with little personality and lacking in expression. Cushions allow you to add a personal touch to your home design in a cost-effective way.

If you’re looking for good design ideas, then a great tip is to search online blogs for ideas of how to place your seating arrangement and make your home look as good as it possibly can. Online blogs have great collections of style choices that people have made with their homes, so you can get ideas for your own home and make the best decisions for your living space.

Pinterest is a fantastic website for inspecting the style designs of other people, so that you can find good ideas for yourself. If you’re thinking about buying cushions for your home, make sure you check online to find the design that suits you best.

hot chocolate

Recipe Time: Gourmet Hot Chocolate

Just because summer’s on the way doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy hot drinks out of our favourite greyhound mugs, does it? Certainly not! So here’s a recipe for gourmet Mexican hot chocolate that we think you’ll love. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Hot chocolate mix (3 tbsp – we love Cadbury’s!)

Chocolate syrup (1 tbsp)

Chili powder (a pinch)

Milk (enough to fill your choice of cup)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Method

  1. Mix your chocolate syrup, hot chocolate mix, chili powder and cinnamon together in a large mug. Stir well.
  2. Pour the mixture into a large saucepan and cook over a medium heat until milk is about to boil. Take off the heat, pour into your mug and enjoy.

Be warned – this particular hot chocolate recipe is exceedingly rich so we wouldn’t advise making it all that often. That said, if you’re throwing a dinner party and aren’t entirely sure what to serve up for pudding, this would be the perfect substitute.

It takes no time at all to whip up and is an instant crowd-pleaser, plus it won’t break the bank so if you’ve splashed out on your starters and main course you can save a few pennies by serving up hot chocolate as a pudding. Just make sure that you’ve got lots of stylish mugs in your cupboards so you don’t lose marks on presentation.

Do you have any great hot chocolate recipes or for any other hot drinks? We’d love to hear what you’ve been cooking up recently so drop us a line in the comments below.

kitten mugs

What About Kitten Mugs As Wedding Favours?

Wedding favours are a recent trend that sees guests given something quirky like kitten mugs, flower seeds or even just booze at their friend or relative’s big day.

We love the idea of giving cups or mugs as a gift and think mugs are the perfect wedding favour for quirky brides who want to show off their personalities and remind their guests of their special day for years to come. Westie mugs are perfect for dog lovers, and of course, kitten mugs should make everyone happy, but there are many different designs to choose from so you’ll be able to find one that suits each of your friends perfectly.

The trend for personalisation isn’t going to be over any time soon, so how about designing your own mugs, or for couples who already have children, get your little ones to come up with some ideas and get their designs printed.

Here are some of our favourite ideas for perfect wedding favours.

Mr and Mrs mugs

Mr and Mrs mugs are a perfect reminder of the day and can be as simple as you like. Play with different typography to get the perfect look and make sure you order enough of one type for the Misters and the other type for the Missus on your guest list.

Map mugs

Even if you aren’t a great artist, writing out significant co-ordinates whether that be where you had your ceremony, where your guests have to get to for the reception or where you and your significant other are from, is a cool twist to personalise items. Other popular concepts include drawing out the states or counties that you are both from.

Vow mugs

If you had some personal vows in your wedding ceremony then you could incorporate these into your mugs to remind people of your ceremony.

Get some more ideas for wedding favours at Brides magazine.

5 Amazing Coaster DIY Projects

Got some spare time this weekend? Then why not give one of these coaster DIYs a go? Your sausage dog mugs will be sitting pretty for the rest of time if you do! We want to see your makes so snap a few photos of them and send them in to us here at Nadia Sparham.

Felt Ball Coasters

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Here’s one that’s super-simple to get you started. If you’re not overly confident in your crafty abilities, starting small with some cork board and a few wool felt balls seems like a good idea.

Sharpies & Washi Tape

Coasters

Go for ceramics instead with this fun tutorial from Yellow Dog Press, using Sharpie pens and Washi tape (decorative paper tape from Japan that you’ll definitely have come across if you’re a crafty soul). Make your own stencils to get perfect lettering on your coasters.

Glittery Coasters

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This one’s a little messy so we’d recommend putting down some paper first. All you do is swipe on some glue and then sprinkle all the glitter in the world onto your coaster base. Thanks, Parties for Pennies, for the inspiration!

Comic Book Coasters

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Kapow! Bam! What a great idea – turning old and unused coasters into something that wouldn’t look out of place on Tony Stark’s coffee table. We love!

Crochet Coasters

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OK, so you’ve given all of those a go – now it’s time to challenge yourself. If you don’t know how to crochet, now’s the time to learn. Just look how cute these little crocheted coasters are? Who wouldn’t want these sitting pretty underneath a warming cup of tea?

Cat face

Would You Go To A Cat Cinema?

We’ve all heard of cat cafés – they’re big news in Japan and London got its first one a few years ago – but now the concept is being taken a bit further… Don’t drop your Persian cat mugs in shock at the idea or anything, but a cat cinema is looking likely to be launched, if a crowdfunding campaign is successful.

Great Kitten will be a cinema, shelter and café all rolled into one, with about ten films per week shown at its base in London and audience members able to watch their favourite flicks cuddled up to a cat or two.

There are 51 days left on the Indiegogo campaign, with £807 raised of the £55,000 goal so if you think this idea has legs, why not lend it your support and pledge a bit of spare change? Giving just £1 will entitle you to guaranteed entrance to the kitty cinema within the first two months of its opening. For £3, you get a personalised thank you letter, £5 will get you a photo on the Great Kitten wall and a personalised thank you letter.

If you donate £10, you’ll be helping to treat a child or adult with mental health conditions, disabilities or a life-threatening illness the chance to have a cup of tea, slice of cake and a cuddle with the cats.

Those of you who want to be really involved could even pledge £150, for which you’ll be involved in food tastings and help the organisers decide films, the menu and the interiors and exteriors of the building.

matcha tea

What Is Matcha Tea?

If you’ve been out and about this year, you’ll definitely have heard a new health buzz word – matcha tea. But what exactly is this and if you do decide to drink it out of your favourite schnauzer mugs, what exactly are the health benefits?

To summarise, matcha is just 100 per cent natural great tea leaves that have been ground up to form a fine powder, with many people believing that it’s superior to drinking normal green tea because you’re not just getting the infused water down you – you’re basically eating the entire plant.

It’s thought that matcha is fantastic for fighting cancer, as well as burning fat, so if you’re keen to improve your health this year it might be wise to add this to your shopping list and have a cup each day. It can also lower your cholesterol, enhance your mood, improve your concentration levels, calm and relax you, increase your fibre intake and help fight against bacteria and viruses.

So how do you drink it? You can mix a teaspoon of it with some hot water to make a paste and then keep adding water until it reaches the taste and consistency you like. Alternatively, you can have iced matcha if you add two scoops to a cocktail shaker with ice in it and some filtered water. Or make a latte by blending one teaspoon into some hot water and then adding some steamed milk.

And you don’t just have to drink it. You can also mix it into your food – try mixing some matcha powder with some sea salt and sprinkling it on your poached eggs this weekend.

Top 3 Tea Infusers

The modern-day tea lover is really rather spoiled, wouldn’t you agree? Not only are there a plethora of Labrador mugs, saucers, cups, types of tea (fruit, herbal, normal, it’s never-ending) but there’s also a huge range of cool tea-drinking gadgets out there that can take your sipping to a whole other level. Here are our top three tea infusers.

Pug in a mug strainer

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How cute would this pug in a mug tea strainer look on your desk at work with one of our pug mugs? You’re right, far too cute indeed! It’s only £7.99 so you’ll have plenty of cash left over for your favourite brand of tea.

Yellow submarine tea infuser

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This little number is so very cool that we’re thinking of launching a petition to change the lyrics to the Beatles classic to “we all make tea in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine”. Catchy, no?

Duckie tea infuser

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Ok, now we really don’t know how we’re going to make up our minds about which tea infuser to buy. What could honestly be better than a cup of tea with a duck swimming about on the top? If these three don’t help you make the perfect cuppa, then we simply don’t know what else to suggest.

We’d love to know which of these tickles your fancy, so drop us a little line in the comments below. We’d love to see your infusers in action as well, so why not snap a photo or two and send them into us? Tea drinkers of the world, unite!