New Year…Fresh start

I know I’m a little late in the game with this, but after taking a nice break over the festive period work and life took subsequently took over.

I’m not one of these people who sets strict New Year’s resolutions, but I certainly gave myself lots of time to think. Rather than goals, I’m thinking more in terms of what I value and tangible actions – actions do speak louder than words, after all.

1) Making more time for the people who are most important to me: I don’t think I’ll be finding this one too hard!

Girls 🍸🎉👯 @chlobeany @sweetkellyjayne @lizacrow

A post shared by Sian Julian (@sianjulian) on

2) Rather than say I’m going to do things, just do them. I’ve been talking for age about running my own business, going travelling and doing qualifications in patisserie. So far, I’ve applied for a patisserie course, so watch this space.

3) This one is going to sound selfish, but here it goes: stop doing things I don’t want to do. I’ve kind of been slowly doing this anyway over the last year or so, but sometimes I still feel myself succumbing to pressure. It’s more of a general theme of learning and accepting that I don’t have to do things that make other people happy, but not me.

4) Learn something new. I might go back to French or try a new language, or maybe make my own clothes. Pilates and meditation are also on my list. I know I want to push myself and see what I’m capable of, rather than always doubting my abilities and ending up not trying anything new. It’s definitely a cycle that I need to break.

So, Happy New Year to you all – hope you had a good one and enjoyed lots of time to relax, see friends and family and take some time for you. What are your aims for the year? Or do you think more in terms of values and smaller actions you can achieve? I’d love to hear it!

PS – I will start posting recipes etc. again soon. Lots of yummy ones, including my Christmas hit: chai fudge – delish.

Sian x

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Sian Julian - Lake District October 2013

Day 1 – Blogging 101: what’s in a name?

I’ve been following The Daily Post for a while now and when I saw the post the other day about the Blogging 101 challenge, I thought why not? What have I got to lose? Nothing. It can only be a good thing, and I do like a good challenge!

Recently I had this precise dilemma and posted about changing my blog’s name. I thought long and hard about what I wanted my blog to be called.

As I explained in my previous post, tea is probably my favourite thing in the world; I’m often day dreaming too. Put the two together and hey presto, dreaming of tea was born.

Initially I was more drawn to thyme for tea, I love a good pun and the food reference seemed apt too. But while researching there seemed to be a lot of blogs with ‘thyme’ in the title. And I wanted mine to stand out, not blend in. Fortunately the domain name was available, so for a small sum (really small!) I purchased http://www.dreamingoftea.com

My tagline has been the same since I started this blog nearly a year ago: ‘Exploring the worlds of food and drink in Essex and beyond’. I work in communications so writing headlines, taglines etc. is something I do on a daily basis. I found this part easier than coming up with a name for my blog! I think it’s concise and explains exactly what my blog is about (though sometimes I might veer away from this!), I don’t think I’ll be changing it any time soon.

When coming up with both, I returned to my trusty steeds of pen and paper. I started off making a list of words and things that I like and relate to what my blog is about. From those I came up with related words and drew lots of lines and arrows where there was crossover. Mapping out words and phrases i.e. tea, thyme, gin, allowed me to see how the words could go together. You can see my scribblings below.

blog name scribblings in my notebook

Yes, even at the age of 26 I still have a penchant for coloured pens!

I might not stick with the name forever, but it does feel right. I am happy with it. It represents me and the things that are important to me.

I’d be really interested to know what you all think of the name I’ve chosen. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Lights, camera, action: do blog photos need to be styled?

It’s something I’ve been pondering for a while: do I need to up my photography game if I’m really going to take blogging seriously, or am I doing okay?!

Most of the recipes I share are, in my mind, ones I feel others would want to eat – not in a that looks like the greatest meal on earth kinda way, more like I have those things in the house too, maybe I could give it a whirl. And to my mind, most people when cooking or baking, don’t have the time, lighting or necessary props available to make their snaps magazine worthy; and really, should we? What is wrong with a bit of honesty?

After all, I am a normal gal with an iPhone, who mostly forgets she has a Canon Powershot and is often too hungry or tired to spend half an hour arranging my meal on boards, plates and with sparkly decorations in the background etc. till it looks ‘perfect’. I mean, who eats like that at home? Who even eats like that in a restaurant? I personally like my food to still be warm when I eat it…

But, I look at other food and lifestyle blogs and a lot seem to excel in this department. I certainly like to look at their photos, but I keep wondering are they necessary for me? Or am I being naïve, is it essential these days in order to be taken seriously? It then makes me doubt myself, am I creative enough to pull it off if it is essential? I mean my natural skill is in making yummy things (subjective, I know) out of everyday ingredients, as well as trying my hand at all manner of bakes (my first love!) – not as a photographer or stylist.

Do you think I should put more effort into that side of things? Is it necessary to style every recipe and take photos using my camera in restaurants? If any of you have been through this dilemma before, do you have any advice for me? Good or bad, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Sian x

New blog name: what do you think?

Hi all, though I am quite attached to my name and think it has a nice ring to it (I know, I’m totally biased), I decided it was about time to give my blog a name of its own.

“Why?”, I hear you ask. Well, I don’t think it’s very self-explanatory what the blog is about, nor do I think it reveals much about me – and, to be frank, I hadn’t realised just how easy it was to register a domain. So, after doing much research and checking to see what names have been taken (it’s a lot!), I came up with a short list of three:

1. The Gin and Tonic Diaries
2. Dreaming of Tea
3. Thyme for Tea (love a good play on words!)

So how did I come up with these names? Well, if it helps put it into context, my favourite things in life are: a good cup of tea; a crisp G&T (thanks to my Granny for this one); chocolate; vintage and antiques (I have a minor addiction to charity shops too); cats; baking and a good book.

Having discussed the shortlist with one of my best friends we decided the tea ones were not only more apt and also had a nice ring. The G&T one could suggest a predominate alcohol theme to the blog which is definitely not my intention.

Out of these three, the only domain that wasn’t taken was *drumroll*: ‘Dreaming of Tea’.

My plan is to upgrade the look and feel, and introduce more posts on my other interests i.e. vintage shopping. I will still be chronicling my food and drink endeavours.

I hope you all like the name. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

An ode to avocadoes

Image

Oh avocado, let me count the ways. My love is by no means new, but it is most definitely growing by the day. The silky, soft texture is a delight on the palate. Sometimes sweet and always buttery: it never fails to make me smile. No matter how it’s served, whether in a sandwich or salad, hot or cold, it’s all good. I’m not fussy.

So, I thought I’d share some of my favourite combos with you… If you’re not already on the bandwagon, hopefully one of these ideas will persuade you!

1)   Use slices of avocado to take a humble bacon sandwich from simply ordinary to divine… The saltiness of bacon is the perfect match for the creaminess of avocado. I would suggest some yummy spelt or granary bread (preferably homemade or from a nice bakery) or some crusty white, spread with REAL butter with half an avocado sliced up plus 2-3 rashers of smoked sweet cure bacon. Perfection.
2)   GUACAMOLE – not the weird processed stuff in a jar or a bottle, but the real, delicious, homemade concoction that takes about 5 minutes to knock up. You can use a pestle and mortar, blender or just chop into cubes, mash half and stir the other half through (if you like it chunky, otherwise mash it all up, using a fork). Any combination of ingredients can be added, depending on your personal preference. I like a lot of chili, garlic, coriander, pepper, spring onions and sometimes diced tomatoes too. It’s so good for you and goes with so many things, why not try it with fish tacos or pulled pork and a bowl of slaw.
3)   Baked. Yes, that’s right baked. It’s not something I’ve tried many times, but it is delish. Scoop out the flesh mix with ingredients of your choosing (unsurprisingly bacon featured in my trial), scatter with some cheese et voila. Half each with a little salad is a great starter – and it may be something your guests haven’t tried before!
4)   On toast. One of the quickest and most filling breakfasts of all time. You can either baked the avocado and spread it on, or my preferred method is to roughly mash half an avocado onto a piece of top, squeeze over some lemon, plus tobasco and black pepper. Perfect, every time.
5)   This list wouldn’t be complete without my ultimate favourite – avocado plus eggs; whether poached, scrambled or fried. It simply doesn’t matter. A bit of tobasco or cayenne and some black pepper doesn’t go amiss, whatever way you choose to do your eggs.

And one that I will hopefully soon be adding to this list is raw chocolate mousse… Yep avocadoes can even be used to make vegan (healthy!!) desserts. The recipe I intend to use is from Honestly Healthy, which is an alkaline diet and one of the most interesting food books – I couldn’t recommend it more!

So, there you have it. Avocadoes are simply amazing; if you’re not already a fan, try something different… you may just be converted.

Here it goes…

I’ve been meaning to start this blog for some time, but could never pluck up the courage to do so. (I’m not quite sure why, seeing as I’ve worked in communications for the last 2+ years, writing on a daily basis!).

But, anyway, I digress. With this blog, I hope to share my passion for food (cooking, baking and dining) and drink with you, particularly:

  • my favourite local eateries and watering holes
  • recipes for all occasions
  • tips and ideas e.g. how I survived as a student, entertaining on a budget
  • my minor obsession with cake (and a good cup of tea, of course!)

So, watch this space – I hope you will join me on my journey.

You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@sianjulian).