A STYLISH AFTERNOON TEA WITH SPODE

We are half way through the summer and even though it should all be sunshine and picnics, the weather in the UK has had other ideas. So what do you do when it’s raining outside? You dust off your best china, bake some scones and have afternoon tea in your lounge of course! How quintessentially British of me. And did I mention that its Afternoon Tea week?

I’ve been a fan of Spode’s Italian Blue range of China for a long time. I was bought up on chintz and Chinoiserie (just ask my mother), so I can appreciate a good tea cup and saucer like the best of us. Especially one in a classic design like Spode’s Italian Blue range. I swear I must have been Italian in a previous life, as this range has my little vintage heart.

Spode is one of those iconic British brands which I’ve been a fan of of for a long time. Founded in 1770, this Italian blue collection was inspired by classical Italian architecture back in the 16th century when wealthy British aristocrats and those with new money would take off for months at a time to tour as much of the known world as possible. They’d bring back with them magnificent tales, and lots of sketches and paintings, which directly inspired Spode’s company founder Josiah Spode.

And now it’s in my kitchen cupboard looking pretty, and coming out for rainy days (and most days) like today.

Some of my favourite pieces from the collection include the huge 200th anniversary platter which I’m excited to host a big soiree just to use it and the Italian blue jug which also doubles up nicely as a vase.

I’m also slightly in love with the plastic sandwich platter which at £8.50 is a bargain and is even useful just to bring tea in bed in the mornings.

Blue Italian Sugar box   £44;   Blue Italian Tea cup and saucer set of 4   a £110;   Blue Italian Tea Pot   £102.50;   Blue Italian Cake   slice £15;   Blue Italian Cream Jug   £34.50   Blue Italian Jug   £42.50 (larger vase with flowers in) All from   Spode  .

Blue Italian Sugar box £44; Blue Italian Tea cup and saucer set of 4 a £110; Blue Italian Tea Pot £102.50; Blue Italian Cake slice £15; Blue Italian Cream Jug £34.50 Blue Italian Jug £42.50 (larger vase with flowers in) All from Spode.

Now back to the scones. I’ll be honest, I’m not the domestic goddess you might think I am. We actually have a compartment of our oven which has never been used. But, I do love baking (and eating cake) . So in case you fancy making some fruit scones, I’ve attached my simple fools proof guide. And both my husband and toddler will agree that they were rather very tasty.

Fruit Scone Ingredients

  • 350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • 85g butter, cut into cubes

  • 3 tbsp caster sugar

  • 175ml milk

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • squeeze of lemon juice

  • 100g sultanas

  • beaten egg to glaze

  • Jam of your choice and clotted cream, to serve (I chose raspberry, naturally)

The Method

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix with your hands.

Next I added the butter, and rubbed it in until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.

  1. Put the milk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 secs until warm, but not hot. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, then set aside for a moment. Put a baking sheet on a tray in the oven.

  2. Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and sultanas and combine it quickly with a cutlery knife – it will seem pretty wet at first. Scatter some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother. Pat into a round tin about 4cm deep.

  3. Take a 5cm cutter (smooth-edged cutters tend to cut more cleanly, giving a better rise) and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four scones. You may need to press what’s left of the dough back into a round to cut out another four.

  4. Brush the tops with beaten egg, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.

  5. Bake for 10 mins until risen and golden on the top. Eat just warm or cold on the day of baking, generously topped with jam and clotted cream.

Blue Italian Sugar box   £44;   Blue Italian Tea cup and saucer set of 4   a £110;   Blue Italian Tea Pot   £102.50;   Blue Italian Cake   slice £15;   Blue Italian Cream Jug   £34.50;   Blue Italian Jug   £42.50 (larger one with flowers in. All from   Spode  .

Blue Italian Sugar box £44; Blue Italian Tea cup and saucer set of 4 a £110; Blue Italian Tea Pot £102.50; Blue Italian Cake slice £15; Blue Italian Cream Jug £34.50; Blue Italian Jug £42.50 (larger one with flowers in. All from Spode.

And that’s it! I’d love to know what you think of my little afternoon set up, and if you try my Scone recipe, do let me know what you think? And… most importantly, are you a cream first then jam? Or jam then cream? It’s one of those things we can never agree on in this house.

A x

[AD] This post is part of a collaboration with SPODE. All styling, images, thoughts and opinions are my own.

OUR LIVING ROOM REFRESH WITH WEST ELM

After years of wanting to join the green sofa club, our day has finally come! Not only that, but we can now say we have a sofa that all three of us (four if you include the cat), can sit on together. .

I read in a newspaper recently that a modern day lounge now consists of a velvet sofa, a drinks trolley and a 70 inch TV. We might not have the huge Television, as I have this weird thing against huge TV’s, and am still contemplating how we can hide our 42inch, but we are guilty of the first two. So does that make me modern? Or am I just becoming an Insta cliche?

Our previous sofa was chunky, light grey and was slightly battered from the cat using the arm as a giant scratching post. To call it shabby was a understatement. It was also a sofa bed, which was purchased at the beginning of our interior journey when we only had two bedrooms and expected lots of guests.

In reality the sofa bed wasn’t made to be sat on daily, and had lost its springy-ness, and truth be told no one ever came to visit anyways. So I’m not sure what that says about us?

I longed for a much longer, luxurious sofa which bought an element of glamour and sophistication to our otherwise adult lounge. And yes our lounge can still be grown up, even with Otis around. Otherwise, why did they invent playpens? Plus I’m too stubborn to hide away our brass drinks trolley which I worked hard to own, even if it does mean I can’t leave Otis anywhere near it without supervision.

So here is our newly refreshed lounge, which I collaborated with the dreamy West Elm to create. It’s still adult, but the new sofa actually makes it more family friendly as we can all fit on it together now. I hope you like it as much as we do.

Our old chunky sofa-bed sofa has now been replaced with this longer, green velvet goddess named Drake from West Elm. He’s much bigger than our previous sofa, but actually makes the room feel bigger due to the sleeker frame which actually feels like it takes up less room. He’s super comfortable and even long enough to be stretched out completely if you want a little lie down. As you do.

I made the cushions a couple of years ago after visiting a House of Hackney sample sale. The printed velvet was a bargain in comparison to buying the actual cushions, so I went for the budget version and made my own.

A room can never have enough lights and I chose the West Elm staggered light as it’s sleek brass thin frame doesn’t take up too much room, and the white glass sphere pops against the dark walls. It’s a great reading light for this corner, and the large round base tucks neatly underneath the Drake velvet sofa.

My track record in keeping real plants alive isn’t good, so in this room I have mostly opted for faux greenery. Most of my faux plants are from Homesense and the little man vase is also from here.

Solid brass candle sticks are antique; Vases are from   Homesense.

Solid brass candle sticks are antique; Vases are from Homesense.

The brass candlesticks were inherited from my husbands nan. They’re Jewish ancestry, not that we’re Jewish, but they were gifted by a jewish relative many years ago and have now been passed down the family. I love the family connection and their timeless design. I’d pick these out if they were in design store, so I’m pretty chuffed that they have a family connection too.

I made the fringed lampshade a couple of years ago. I had lusted after one for so long, but couldn’t afford it, so decided to make my own. I wrote a previous article about how easy it was to make your own and luckily he’s stood the test of time.

I opted for the West Elm Distressed Arabesque wool rug from West Elm for this room. The dark mottled traditional pattern makes it great for hiding dinner stains…. jokes. We never eat in here, honest guv. But in truth I really struggled to find a rug that went in here without courting too much attention. I really wanted a rug which didn’t dominate the space, but yet filled it, adding texture and pattern but wasn’t the main focal point and I think this rug fits all of the above.

The shelving unit in this room is old and a nod to the industrial trend which I fell for hook line and sinker when we first bought this house. It now houses all my knick knacks and collectables, not forgetting my Pablo Escobar pineapple ashtray which was gifted to me by the legend that is Barbara Hulanicki.

As I head towards my forties I’ve become a bit of a vase collector. It’s the new lightbox, letter board fad for me. I can’t get enough of them and can’t seem to leave a store without buying one. The brass one above is a previous season West Elm one.

The brass drinks trolley is a still a favourite piece, which i’m reluctant to move out of the lounge even though our soon to be baby will be toddling around here.

(Our drinks trolley is sold out but West Elm do similar style ones).

Solid brass candlesticks are antique; Vases are from   Homesense   ;  Faux flowers are from   Homesense;       Brass plant pot     is from     H&M   .    Black Mirror   from   Wayfair    .

Solid brass candlesticks are antique; Vases are from Homesense; Faux flowers are from Homesense; Brass plant pot is from H&M. Black Mirror from Wayfair .

Plants and art; my two favourite things to pad out and accessorize a room. My tips when buying art is to really love it. Think about the longevity and don’t be afraid to move pieces around the house to give them a new lease of life. And regarding plants, choose ones which are easy to maintain and less hard to kill. Cheese plants aka Monstera deliciosa and Mothers tongue house plants need little watering and thrive in dark moody lounges like mine.

And a lounge can never have enough side tables. Especially now our baby needs the maximum floor space to crawl around. I chose the gorgeous brass martini table by West Elm for its timeless look, plus I love the huge dose of metallic in this room. (Its also light enough to move around depending on who needs a table.

And that’s it for our lounge refresh. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the pieces I chose and how I’ve styled them in our home. Please feel free to leave me a comment below. I’m off to go plan the next room thats in need of a little refresh!

West Elm Source list - Drake Green velvet sofa £999, West Elm ; Staggered glass floor lamp £199, West Elm; Martini side table in brass £159, West Elm; Distressed Arabesque Wool Rug - Steel £449, From West Elm.

This room refresh was generously gifted by West Elm. I was extremely lucky to choose the pieces that I love and I will cherish these for years to come. All words and opinions are 100% my own.