The experience of tea – enjoying tea, your way, at home

Making the most of the full tea experience

What first springs to mind when you think about tea? Does it conjure up images of a lavish afternoon tea with vintage china and tableware, or a cosy cuppa snuggled up at home? For me, it’s both: as a true tea lover, I am equally happy enjoying a luxurious high tea sitting in a fancy hotel, taking tea in a cosy corner of a traditional tea room, curled up with a steaming mug of tea and a good book or stack of magazines.

I talk a lot about enjoying the experience of tea and sharing my tea adventures, both outside the home and inside, but Tea with Rachael all started when I thought about how I really get the chance to sit down, breathe and take a break with a good cup of tea at home.

A cosy cuppa

As a vintage enthusiast, I have an impressive collection of pretty teapots, delicate tea cups and saucers, but rarely lay the table as a full afternoon tea in the comfort of my own home. On a weekend, I am usually found in a cosy spot with my aforementioned book, magazines and big mug of tea, unless the weather is good, in which case I lay out tea on the balcony to make the most of the sunshine and riverside view.

Something that occurred to me while enjoying a good cup of tea at home was the number of different elements that go in to the experience of drinking tea. I have my favourite mugs, teapots, blends of tea, and am always seeking out pretty trays – both new and old – on which to set out all the tea paraphernalia. I like to think of my style and preferences here as unique to me, to my own tastes and tea experiences.

Cosy cup of tea

Blogging fuel – a cosy cuppa

Another essential piece of this mix is the humble coaster – something that is plentiful in my home. I am also a keen interior design enthusiast, collecting furniture and treasured pieces for the home – again, both old and new – and coasters that reflect these designs and my home style while protecting my furniture have an important part to play in both the look and feel I am hoping to achieve in my home and the overall tea drinking experience. I even use coasters on my outdoor table, as it’s white and I don’t want to spill tea, coffee or red wine on it! I have a variety of designs that reflect my interests and personal tastes, ranging from Anne Boleyn to cats, to historical and local photography.

Celebrating moments and memories

It was considering this element of my tea-loving life that I discovered Individually Inspired. The company’s founder, Dinesh, makes individually designed, personalised gifts, which can be tailored to suit vintage and modern interiors alike. A delightfully personal memento of special occasions, I particularly like the Engagement Plaques in wood and slate. These individually designed gifts work beautifully to commemorate engagements, birthdays, weddings, Christenings and naming ceremonies –  even special anniversaries or honeymoons.

New York plaque from Individually Inspired

Celebratory New York engagement plaque from Individually Inspired

 

Bespoke slate Paris plaque

A bespoke plaque from Individually Inspired to celebrate that special time in Paris…

 

 

One area that we have been discussing is a bespoke range of wooden coasters that can be customised and personalised with individual designs and messages. Here’s a prototype of a Tea with Rachael teacup design, which sums up my philosophy on enjoying a good cuppa with friends and family. Counting a considerable number of fellow tea enthusiasts among my friends and family, I think that personalised coaster collections would make fabulous gifts for them!

Bespoke coaster design

Creativity in action: Dinesh of Individually Inspired designing a bespoke Tea with Rachael coaster

 

 

Bespoke wooden Tea with Rachael coaster

One of a set of bespoke Tea with Rachael coasters from Individually Inspired

I’m interested to hear what kind of coasters my fellow tea lovers like. Are you a vintage lady or gent, or do you prefer something more modern? What bespoke designs would you choose/create? What else do you use to protect your furniture and good tea ware?

Until next time – enjoy that cuppa, and make sure you don’t make a ring on the table!

Rachael xx

An inspiring evening with Ilene Steele, jewellery designer

Last week, I was privileged to be invited to a “Meet the Maker” evening with the jewellery designer, Ilene Steele, organised by the fab people at Thinkers PR. The evening was an intimate gathering of bloggers and writers, offering a unique opportunity to introduce the fabulous new collection and to meet the lady herself in her studios and workshop in London’s jewellery capital of Hatton Garden. I was excited to attend, having seen pictures of some stunning jewellery and some really different designs on Ilene’s website, so was thrilled to travel across London with my fellow blogger friend to see where it all happens, to meet Ilene and her delightful daughter, the Thinkers team and a group of lovely like-minded bloggers.

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IMG_2150On muggy, sunny, evening, it was a little too hot to sit down and chat over a cup of tea (or coffee, being Ilene’s hot drink of choice!) but I did get the chance to try on and view Ilene’s beautiful latest jewellery collections and to natter with her and other guests over an ice-cold drink and some amazing home-made Guacamole (made by the designer herself, naturally)!

Originally hailing from New York, (one of my favourite cities – more on that later!) Ilene lives in East London and loves the creative, vibrant atmosphere of Dalston and the surrounding areas, which remind her of parts of the Big Apple! Ilene told us that the hustle and bustle of city life is one of the key inspirations for Ilene’s work, reflecting the ‘sea of life’ that is experienced in a busy metropolis, “I draw inspiration from the urban environment: the architecture, the swarms of people, the pace of life…” I can completely identify with that as a source of energy and inspiration, particularly the buzz that you get from New York, and I’m not even a native New Yorker (though often wish I was)! I am also always inspired by water and the sea in particular, so this collection certainly struck a chord with me.

My favourite piece from Ilene’s Wave Collection is this blue ring, in 18-Carat White Gold with an emerald-cut stone and strikingly different band. The ‘wave’ effect is created using a cuttlefish, bringing togetheIMG_2155r inspiration from the sea and modern life in one stunning piece of jewellery. It reminds me of waves on the sand, and Ilene mentioned that it is one of her favourite pieces, too!

Ilene’s work is genuinely different in that the sparkling precious stones in the jewellery actually face the wearer – implying special meaning or significance for the wearer themselves. It’s also a cheering sight to see a little bit of sparkle on a gloomy day! This makes it so much more appealing than mass-produced items, and means you can have a piece of jewellery that is really unique to you, and you alone. This also particularly appealed to me, as each and every piece of jewellery I own or have owned has always held special meaning for me in some way, and reminds me of specific life events, people, or thoughts.

IMG_2163Bringing together all this creativity into such high-quality pieces of jewellery is clearly no mean feat – it’s very hard to believe that Ilene has only been designing jewellery for four years! “I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly practical or creative person,” laughed Ilene, “I come from a very academic background. But I find designing and shaping the pieces therapeutic – always learning as I go, and in turn learning from each mistake! I discover new techniques, styles and inspiration along the way.”

IMG_2165I found it a truly inspiring evening, and was delighted to meet Ilene and find out more about her work and what makes her tick in an informal and intimate setting.

Ilene will feature again in my New York/London piece soon, but in the meantime, I am jotting down a few of her styles on my wish list! There’s still my wedding anniversary and Christmas left for not-so-subtle hints this year, so who knows?! 😉

Keep sparkling! X