Tuesday, 29 November 2011

All I want For Xmas - My Christmas Wish List

It’s that time of the year again my friends.... It’s the time when my friends and family keep asking me what I might like for Christmas, my mum tells me to write a Xmas List, My dad asks me what I would like, my man friend snaps a camera phone furiously behind me on my window shopping expedition and sends himself reminders of all the useless items I say I would love but can’t afford hehe.

And so goes the annual tradition of making that ridiculously long list for santa...I even wrote a letter to Father Christmas last year to see if he might write back, in order to check the story of him replying wasn’t just a myth. It’s true. The old boy really does write back, and I even got a personalised response hurrah : ) 

So this year, I am doing the same thing, but as technology has seemingly advanced slightly over the last 12 months, and social media is starting to work for me lately, I am writing my list to Santa Claus on my blog and hoping that he catches it whilst checking out my latest tea parties!... I am convinced Father Christmas is an Afternoon tea consumer! 

Hi Santa, if you are reading this then this year I would like all of the following, although I wouldn’t want to come across as too greedy, so just some of the the below will be fine... Hehe... A Girl can dream eh?!

A pretty new cake stand to replace one of the 3 I threw up the stairs as I tripped last weekend and broke into tiny pieces - Oops! 
BBC Good Food Magazine subscription, seeing as I keep forgetting to buy it every month!
A quirky teapot to add to my Secluded Tea Party table
And a cute Tea Cosy to keep it warm...
A Cooking Gorgeous HandTowel so that I can hang it on my oven and dry it quickly... what a brilliant invention, I must own one!
An easel for my cookbooks whilst baking... such a simple idea, yet I still struggle to balance a recipe book against my kitchen wall whilst baking ; ) 
A Spa break would be ideal, or a massage at the very least to help me unwind. Ragdale Hall  would be great, but I won’t be too picky ; ) 
Afternoon Tier Necklace from Punky Allsorts 
(I can't believe I do not own this beauty yet!) 

A Chocoshells truffle selection... I can’t get those unusual Bayleaf Truffles out of my head, they were amazing. I want to try them all now hehe. 
A new 2012 diary to start adding next years events... It’s that time of year!.. Something quirky like the Alice In Wonderland or Owl Design ones from the Cotton-Lily from the Made It fair would be awesome 
To go with that, a new notebook and pen would be ideal for jotting down all my ideas... there are too many to keep in my head atm, so this could be very very handy!
Some new large round silicon cake moulds from Lakeland for making even more of my fabulous layer cakes!
A new experience too, if you could give me the opportunity to drive a VW Camper for a bit, or perhaps to be thrown down the hill in a zorbing ball... something to get the heart racing with excitement would be fab. 
A Cupcake in a Jar... the original bad boy!... I am desperate to try one of their Christmas Fruitcake or Strawbubbly cupcakes!

Dolce & Gabbana Perfume - The One.
A tea Party Hostess has to sometimes smell of something other than of baked goods! 
A Kitchenaid. Enough said ; ) 
Belle De Sucre Sugar Cubes... the list would be endless, but I am in love with the long thin coloured sugar cubes. They are beautiful and a must have for me I am afraid. 
A selection of Macarons from the lovely Dr Kinnaird at Macarons & More... what can I say? - I am a sucker for the rose macarons, and don’t get me started on those Salted Caramel babies.  

I would also love to be the proud owner of some Dupenny Housewives design plates. Eating cake from these beauties would turn a bad day upside down, so much fun!
The Butch Bakery Book... I want to make more manly cakes and feel this may be my new needed cake bible!
If you are still feeling generous after this lot, then an Ipad would not go amiss. It’s my new guilty desire and now I can’t get it out of my head. Yes I am officially a Mac-head and I can’t do without one to add to my collection. Surely? 

Tea at The Ritz please. The Holy Grail of Afternoon Tea... 
How about a French Patisserie class? If I can’t have a real french experience, then at least with a trained patissier here in Blighty.... A french god/(dess) offering me their baking skills is a dream I feel I need to ask for this year... If you don’t ask you don’t get eh? ; ) 

And of course, what Tea Party Hosts' book shelf wouldn't be complete without some books such as Ladurée: Sucré: The Recipes, Tea with Bea, Baked: New Frontiers In Baking, Tea & Cake London, Tea & Fortnum & Mason, Afternoon Tea Parties, Domestic Sluttery: Cheat your Way to the Perfect Lifestyle

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. The best film with Patrick Swayze and Wesley snipes EVER. I love this one and would love to add to my collection!

The Zombie lover in me would very much like the first series of The Walking Dead on DVD. Naturally. 

And of course, this is all for fun! I am just putting my dream list together in the vain hope that one or two of those items may appear in my stocking this Christmas. If you don't ask, then you may never get... A girl can but dream hehe!

Why not leave a comment below with your very own wishlist to help inspire others who have no idea what they may like for Xmas?...

Miss Sue Flay 

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Secluded Tea Party Presents...Blogfest!

On Saturday 19th November 2011, a secluded (and very secret) Cambridgeshire location, hosted an afternoon tea with a blogging event alongside it. This was an unusual event in Cambridge where guests stumbled upon breakfast muffins, Oreo Layer Cakes, Carrot cakes, Homemade Fruit & Spice Scones as well as tea and coffee in an informal conference style. 

The Cambridge-based Golf & Leisure Club that we used was taken over for a few hours by 28 lovely bloggers who had all joined myself and my 4 guest speakers to get inspired and meet others with the same interests whilst eating cake and using the wifi to blog, tweet and facebook their inspiration as they gained it. 

The guest speakers consisted of Mel Hollidge, ReeRee Rockette, Liz Fraser & Sian Townsend, happily answering any questions as they came up from my guests as they discussed their thoughts and ideas. 
Each of these wonderful ladies spoke honestly and passionately about their favourite topics to help bloggers move forward in many different ways, depending on their blog style or topic. They also helpfully suggested their own favourite blogs, some of which we had never heard of, so it was helpful to jot down for a visit later on after the Blogfest. 

Mel taught us a lot in the form of using Social Media to promote your blog and helped us through the basics of Twitter, Facebook and even using Google Analytics to monitor who is reading our blog and where in the world they might be amongst other facts and figures we can gain from this tool. 
"Photos and pictures without Alt Text are no good!" - A great tip to note!
We also learnt that Wordpress has a high ranking on Google, so this may be a good blog format to go with if you are unsure, however there are different sites, such as Blogger of course. 

Liz discussed her experiences as a mum, a journalist and a writer and inspired some of my guests to completely change their way of thinking when it comes to blogging, much to their own amazement. She really got us thinking about honesty (We promised not to quote her on her honesty, but it was greatly appreciated!) as well as life beyond blogging, telling us that yes, blogging is fun, it's great to escape with, but it is not your life - "Take a break, Switch off in the evening!"

ReeRee advised that you need to be good at one thing & do it really well. She has had over 100,000 hits on her blog post on how to tie a bandana and she is now an expert when it comes to this topic. She also suggests that you find a niche and use it. Admitting to not planning her blog posts, she sometimes posts up to 4 times a day and is happy with the way she blogs for her readers. This isn't for everybody of course, but she spoke for herself and gave us her personal advice on Twitter and Facebook from her own social experiences. "People will sit and read your blog all afternoon if it is easy and simple to follow"- Great advice. 

Sian offered her ideas on how to write a great blog review, thanks to her experience as a journalist she is able to offer some very constructive feedback on what makes a good or bad review. She say's not to rush a blog post, and perhaps ask somebody else to read it to get their feedback before posting, getting the best out of your post that you possibly can. "Don't use words you need to look up, if you don't know what it means, don't write it". On the flip side, if your reader has to go and look up a word, they might not consider finishing the blog post and may well leave your blog.... so do consider this when using fancy words. She also asked us to consider writing just 100 words on what our blog was about, keeping it simple and to the point - A difficult task for some, myself included as a waffler!

I thoroughly enjoyed planning and plotting every element of this event, including the planning of each table within the room and naming them after my favourite places in Cambridge for Tea & Cake. These included By Jove, Peacocks Tearoom in Ely, Fitzbillies in Cambridge, Jocalatte and Hot Numbers. They were all worthy of a mention and helped to educate my guests in the best cake and afternoon tea in Cambridge. 

The next Secluded Blogfest will be coming in 2012, so if you are keen to join us, please do email Miss Sue Flay at: cake@secludedteaparty.com to be put on the waiting list. More info to follow in the new year. 

You can view blog posts from some of my lovely guests since this event, as follows: 

Miss Sue Flay 

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Afternoon Tea & Pamper Packages - Now Available

You can now book your very own Secluded Tea Party... complete with pamper packages 
thanks to our lovely friend, Anna at Nightingale Beauty in Cambourne who is offering Secluded Tea Party Bookings a special rate for her fabulous treatments.  

Anna and her team of relax-inducing beauty therapists are on hand to offer you a variety of pamper and preening treatments before or after your Christmas parties... Or even just because you fancy a treat with your friends, family or Colleagues!...

What could be better - Afternoon Tea and a good old fashioned pampering?! 
Cake-fueled Heaven. 

Treatments to include Manicures, Shellac treatments, Facials & Indian Head Massage and a few more besides. You can even have the fantastic Heel Peel treatment which will help to promote foot confidence in your killer heels this Xmas!

With Treatment & Afternoon Tea Packages combined, you can pre-pay in advance and not have to worry about that boring side of it on the day. 

We can come to your home, work or venue of your choice. Or you can come to one of our superb Secluded Tea Party Venues within Cambridgeshire to escape for an hour or two without the crazy spa prices that a city centre or hotel spa retreat would charge. 

Not forgetting the delicious Afternoon Tea treats with or without a christmas twist... the choice is yours entirely. We can set up a menu to your cake-based desires.... And Loose Leaf tea is a must to help you unwind. 

It's your party, so you can have whatever you want!.... Why should Office Xmas Parties be so boring and the same every single year?!.... They really shouldn't.

Afternoon Tea is the perfect way to relax, enjoy sweet and savoury treats and chat over a cup of tea.
It will beat the usual pub lunch with dry turkey and all the sloppy trimmings, rest assured!

We have availability from the 1st November, right through until 2012, so email us now to secure your very own Secluded Tea Party in Cambridge. 

Cupcakes, Cakes, Scones, Locally sourced preserves, Traditional lemonade, Handmade truffles, Finger sandwiches, Loose leaf tea, Tarts & Tartlets... And much more on offer!
Food made to your fancy.  

We are based in Cambridge, however, we can come to you, no matter how far away you are,
 just ask! 

For more information just email us at:  thesecludedteaparty@live.co.uk

Miss Sue Flay