Wednesday, 25 November 2020
Thanks to coronavirus (and I'm sure a few other factors) the rise of mail order cake has boomed throughout 2020. I'm often asked where I would recommend buying treats direct to your front door and I've sampled a fair few over the last 12 months. Have I really tried over 35 mail order boxes throughout 2020?! The answer is YES... and I have paid for each one to support those small businesses... all in the name of research... well, somebody has to do it ; ) I have been subscribed to one or two mail order cake boxes over the last couple of years, but this year, more than ever, we truly are spoilt for choice when it comes to homemade goodies in the mail. Personally, I live in the countryside and there isn't a huge wealth of great food places to visit nearby. But, thanks to more and more mail order cake businesses being created, we can now have delicious treats delivered (and fast!) to our doorstep - how amazing is that?! Here is my ultimate list of mail order cake and treat boxes, with links to help you find the perfect treat for you, your family & friends - I hope it helps you to find what you are looking for. I am a firm believer in supporting small businesses and I will do whatever I can to share the love, as always ♡ Mail Order Cake Cat Food Cakes Sugar Tit$ London The Whimsical Kitchen Fiona Pâtissière Cutter & Squidge Bettys Cake by Lil's Parlour Mail Order Afternoon Tea The Cake Tasting Club Assembly House (Collection in Norwich only) Mail Order Brownies Mrs Bell's Brownies Hetty's Kitchen Bitsy's Emporium One Part Love Bakery The Sweetie Factory Mail Order Cookies The Cookie People Jo's Cake Co. Dunk Cookies Gnawty Bites (Hand Delivery in Cambridge only) Mail Order Chocolate Pump Street Bakery Mollies Sweet Shop Bumble And Oak Loctoa Chocolate Mail Order Macarons Macarons & More Mail Order Jars Black Milk Cereal Tubby Tom's Handmade Sauces Mail Order Bakery Leakers Bakery Malcolm Barnecutt Cornish Pasties Mail Order Sprinkles The Shire Bakery Mail Order Meringues Flower & White Mallow & Marsh Mail Order Coffee Origin Coffee Roasters The Brew Project Mail Order Tea Tea And The Gang Rare Tea Company Alison Appleton Mail Order Happiness (Non-Edible) The Procrastination Paper The Happy News Let me know if you found this let helpful with a comment below or drop me a line on social media & TAG me if you buy something from these suggestions, I'd love to see that my ideas have helped to inspire! You can find me on Instagram at @MissSueFlay and more recently, I've started an account called @MailOrderCake where I share many more postal ideas, so please do give me a follow & keep in touch!
Monday, 24 June 2019
Hello. It's been a long while, I won't give it the usual apology, as there's no need. In fact I really dislike any blogger / social media addict who apologises for going awol.... a little secret, nobody really cares, there's been plenty out there on the world wide web to keep them educated & entertained, so there's no need to sweat that small stuff. Never apologise for not posting - it's really not an issue for anyone. So, what am I back with?!... Well. I've got so much blog content stored up for you, I don't even know where to begin! So let's start with my latest fun find... This weekend I joined my beautiful friend, Emma for a good old catch up in Newmarket, a fairly unassuming town in Suffolk. We enjoyed a coffee and a mini flower making workshop on a sunny Saturday morning, it was just lovely, just what the doctor ordered. I actually work in Newmarket and have come to really like this little horse-racing town. I'm not big on the horses, in fact the traffic build up on a weekday morning to allow the horses to cross is beyond frustrating when you're running late for work haha. But, the horses rule this place and it's actually quite nice to watch them strutting around whilst you go about your daily business. Not only does this town have a beautiful spa (Bedford Lodge Hotel), it is Home to lots of independent shops and restaurants, coffee shops and one of my all time fave shops... The Makers' Shelf. The Makers' Shelf is run by Harriet & her partner Mikey, a place for independent crafters, makers, jewellers and the like to have their products and goods stocked on a shelf or in a cupboard without needing their own shop. It's a fantastic place. I like to think of it as a more physical version of Etsy. If I need a unique gift or want to treat myself to something unusual or beautiful, I head to The Makers' Shelf to physically browse. It's a fab shop and I've managed to source gifts and cards for birthdays, Christmas, a Christening, Mother's Day and even found myself some beautiful bow ties & collars for my dog. There's something here for every occasion and person in your life. Harriet likes to support the "Just A Card" campaign here too - a national campaign to encourage you to simply buy just a card to support a local or independent business if there's nothing else you can spot that you'd want to purchase. We all need a stock of cards at home, I for one always buy a lovely card when I see it, as I know at some point soon I'll always need one. It's a great idea and one I try to do anywhere I go and see a cute card in an independent shop on my travels. The Makers' Shelf has now been in Newmarket an entire year (opened in June 2018), so this weekend they celebrated their first birthday by inviting their customers, stockists & social media followers to join them for some free crafting workshops to enjoy their new Makers' Room at the back of the shop - very exciting indeed! Emma & myself popped in to join in with a paper flower-making workshop, which was so much fun. I'm not much of a crafter myself and my hands aren't too steady with all my arthritis medication, but I did it and I loved it. It was a little fiddly to get the flower made, but once I got the hang of it, I even found myself adding some more petals and fluffing it out a bit - "tongue poking out the side of my mouth style " - it was really quite relaxing. Harriet was so patient, she was a great crafting teacher and her calm nature is just perfect for these workshops, she's brilliant. Her partner and her mum (who baked some beautiful chocolate brownies and a stunning homemade birthday cake for the day) joined us too and there were some really colourful creations being made around the table. I love that Harriet's family get involved with the shop, you can often meet Mikey and her mum in the shop when Harriet has a day off and her dad was keeping an eye out the front whilst she was in the workshop - this support is just so nice to see, it's just lovely. I truly hope that the workshops are a hit, I can see this really working for all of the stockists here at The Makers' Shelf - it's going to be a great way to celebrate a birthday or even a civilised hen party for private hire - throw in some cake and you've got yourself a pretty awesome day! If you want to make more of an event or day of visiting The Makers' Shelf, I can highly recommend coffee at Cortado Espresso Bar, approx 100m away from the shop, or afternoon tea at Nancy's Vintage Teashop next door. There's also some fantastic places for lunch nearby, I can personally recommend The Pantry for a tasty bite or Mangiare, a new Italian restaurant very close by. The Tack Room is also a favourite spot for a stylish lunch within the new Horse Racing Museum, but it has recently been taken over, so I'm yet to sample their new offerings. www. TheMakersShelf.co.uk
Thursday, 31 January 2019
If you don't like reading "personal journey" type posts… click away now! Well, 2018 was 'quite the year'… and not a particularly happy one. I have realised that my last blog post was June 2018 and that's purely because last summer I experienced the most heartbreaking moments of my life so far. I was struggling with my medication for arthritis and the journey I was on was simply not a happy one. I was (and still am) in a tremendous amount of pain, I was piling on the weight due to the steroids being pumped into me to help with short-term solutions and then the worst of my luck happened... My dad died unexpectedly (we simply didn't see this coming, it happened so fast), sending me into a spiral of emotions and experiences that I simply wasn't expecting to happen so soon in my life. No time is a good time to die, but I had just started to build a fantastic friendship with my dad that I had never really had before. I had recently bought my first home after years of saving hard, he was so proud and I was enjoying getting to know him better as an adult. And then he left us. There's a lot more to this, perhaps for another time, I still don't feel ready to talk too much about his death five months later, there's still a lot of healing to be done, my heart seems to break just a little bit more every single day. My family and close friends have been amazing in support, my sister and I have become closer as a result because she's the only one that truly understands how I feel right now, which is comforting at times. 'The Bearded One' could have run away from this, but he has been there every step of the way. He cooked and prepared my meals for months afterwards when I couldn't leave the comfort of my bed or a blanket on the sofa, he wrapped/wraps himself around me every time I cried/cry or had/have a panic attack, he talks to me without awkwardness and knows when I'm not ok, he's helped me to grieve more than he will ever know. I am very thankful for him. This is beyond the hardest experience I have ever faced and I don't feel like I am doing too well, no matter how strong people (outside my family) tell me I have been. What they don't see is how I feel on the inside, how many tears roll down my cheek on a daily basis, how close to shutting down I have become and the days I have shut down and simply don't want to leave my bed have become more frequent than I would like to admit. What's tough is you can't really "take time off" for grief… I took my allowance of 3 days from work (this honestly isn't anywhere near enough without wanting to sound ungrateful) and stayed in bed to cry the entire time. I struggled more than I ever imagined I would, but then I had to go back to work and just sat there at my desk, unable to move my fingers to type the words expected of me in my job, I didn't function properly for weeks and still struggle months on. It's been one of the hardest parts, having to "go back to normal" so fast, it's just impossible. On the surface, people think this is 'old news', that I've moved on and dealt with it (I haven't), people feel uncomfortable if I talk about my dad in any way (no matter how 'ok' I feel about discussing him / his death) and they just change the subject or just look so uncomfortable that I just mentioned it that I have to stop because they are most obviously feeling awkward. Some days I cry all day at my desk (however hard I try not to, it just can't be helped), it feels like my colleagues simply ignore it mostly, not knowing what to say or do. If somebody does ask me how I am doing, nine times out of ten I tend to say I'm ok, as I just can't face the awkwardness that follows. We aren't taught how to deal with death as living humans… or about the grief that follows… I don't know if it's a "British" thing that makes us automatically feel awkward around the topic of death, but it's the one thing I am not seemingly able to talk about with most people because they just don't think I'm ok to be discussing it… That's usually not the case, I have been really quite open when I can. Grieving is exhausting to be quite honest. I've found solace in the strangest place, and that's in podcasts and articles about death. I have become a huge fan of true crime (Sword & Scale and My Favourite Murder being amongst my favourites), I listen to stories about death and they calm me. It may sound odd, but it's helped me to take my mind off my personal grief and focus on something else. At first it helped me to focus on the podcasters' voice to help me sleep - once everyone else is asleep, this is just the WORST time for grief to take hold. It took me months to get to a point where I could go to bed without enduring physical panic attacks about the hours of sleepless nights ahead of me (it still happens months on unfortunately), but then these podcasts became something I listened to in the daytime too, focussing my mind on the psychology of murder and the way people grieve in different ways, it felt like a huge comfort from a very unexpected source. This year I have also found The Griefcast, where the host discusses death and grief with comedians - it's still a sad podcast to listen to and I don't usually make it through an entire episode without tears, but again, it helps to listen to people openly talking about the topic that most people just can't approach. [caption id="attachment_7618" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Nigella Lawson by Paul Harvey (Wikimedia Commons)[/caption] And to my main point of this blog post… the fantastically honest and kind-hearted Nigella Lawson. Nigella has been my domestic goddess/hero from my early teens, her recipe books being my bible at the very start of my fascination with baking, she is ingenious and I have always loved her, no matter what. Nigella is the reason I started baking, her TV shows portraying her amazing and healthy attitude towards food made me fall just a little bit in love with her. A while ago, I came across an article titled "Nigella shares emotive posts about bereavement… as she admits she envies anyone that 'doesn't yet now about grief or loss"… admittedly the article was written by an online source that I wouldn't normally share with you, but it grabbed my attention. She's right, I was one of those people until 5 months ago… yes, I've lost grandparents and I lost a friend to a car accident a few years ago and these losses, no matter how sad they have been, were nothing compared to the loss of my dad. I thought I knew grief. I didn't. Now I know what grief is, it's the worst possible experience and one I am now panicking about experiencing again in the future. I feel hugely worried about losing 'The Bearded One', it's a fear I've developed since dad died and one that panics me hugely. It has broken me, changed me, I'm not entirely sure how, but it most certainly has. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, everybody experiences it differently. Speaking to my grief counsellor, she tells me this regularly. She says that she would be worried if I wasn't talking about my feelings or thoughts, just carrying on with my life like nothing happened - that would worry her. But, the fact that I cry, swear, shout, laugh, talk, sit in silence reflecting - she comforts me knowing that I am expressing my feelings. I honestly thought I was going to leave 2018 behind me and take 2019 by the horns, make this new year "my year", do my dad proud, not waste a second feeling depressed or sad, make the most of the life ahead of me. What I have learnt is that just isn't possible, it's just not that easy to move on, no matter how much you want to. There's so much "admin" around death, I had no idea (nobody warns you about this). Planning dads funeral, dealing with coroners reports & death certificates, collecting information for probate purposes, closing accounts, sorting bills, not to forget sorting his possessions and so on, it's draining, but it kept my mind occupied for some weeks/months following. In fact, now that we are on top of everything and finalising the last of his affairs, it's all of a sudden hitting me harder than before, he's well and truly gone. Grief is the worst experience I've endured and I have a new-found respect for everybody who has/is dealing with this - my boss who lost his wife and then had to deal with the same illness in his daughter (he had no time to grieve, he had to start supporting her right away) and my good friend Amy who lost her mum unexpectedly a few years ago (I didn't support her like I should have. I know this now, but I just didn't realise having not experienced this for myself). And I have a new level of respect for Nigella Lawson (and her family) having to deal with the loss of her husband so publicly, it must add a whole new element of stress and pain having cameras thrust into your face whilst trying to deal with this agony - I can't imagine the heartache she's had to deal with and how much it hurts, even years later - in fact I know it must be more painful than ever before. One quote I came across recently really inspired me, as cheesy as it may come across, I liked it; " Grief, I've learned, is really just love. It's all the love you want to give, but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hallow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go." - to grieve means you loved ♡ Nigella, I would LOVE to make you a cuppa, share a pot of your favourite tea at my charming kitchen table (handed down to us from 'The Bearded One's' auntie / grandfather) and dunk biscuits to listen to what you do to get through these most horrendous feelings and how you approach/tackle your grief. Do you know about this fantastic grief podcast? Are you a fan of true crime? (If not, I can highly recommend it!) - in all seriousness, how do you even start to move forward? I am newly engaged (I am just so lucky that dad was here to see my happiness, finally!) and the thought of planning my wedding without dad here is a very sad thought process. If you are ever passing Cambridge/Suffolk, drop me a line, my kettle will be on for you - I'll even let you use one of my best mugs, or you can have the Danny Dyer "you mug" mug, should you want it… I admire you and your strength, even if you don't feel strong yourself, your words mean a lot to others and its very much appreciated. And to everybody else… I'd love to say that I, "Miss Sue Flay" will be on fire for 2019, but I may be quiet for some time, I just don't feel myself at the moment and although this blog is predominantly about afternoon tea and I hit 2019 promising I would be back with reviews and smatterings of tea and cake, it's just not quite going to plan, but I will be back when it feels right. And to end my rather tearful blog post - this took a lot longer to share than I expected - I wish Nigella some happiness for 2019 (and anyone else out there grieving) and want to say a HUGE thank you to my family & friends for supporting me/us during this most horrible time. If you are struggling for any reason around grief, please speak to somebody, anybody. It might not feel like it would help, but I really do think it will in some way - if all else fails, please reach out to one of these and start a conversation, no matter how tearful, upsetting it might be: https://www.bereavementadvice.org / https://www.cruse.org.uk. And one last note - I found New Year very difficult indeed, more so than Christmas and the build up to it, I felt so sad on NYE 2018 and tried to remember my dad fondly and as happily as possible on Twitter - you'll find my thoughts here, should you be interested to read more about my old man, Jack Graham Christy, hopefully resting in peace ♡