My Day In Pictures: Magnificent Mount Stewart

IMG_6785Hi Hi friends!

If you’re a regular here you’ll know by now that my love for Mount Stewart runs deep.  If you’re not yet familiar with this incredible place, Mount Stewart is a National Trust stately home with expertly manicured sprawling gardens that are bursting with native species plants and shrubs.  Located along the wiggly windy road out of Newtownards to Portaferry it’s tucked away behind the bend just past Newtownards Sailing Club.  I love it there.  No matter how many times I have been I always learn something new with each visit.

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A favourite from home

Before I head across the Irish Sea for pastures new I want to tell you about one of my favourite places on this side of the pond, should you ever be in the area looking for somewhere lovely to visit! Unfortunately, time is not on my side so I am writing this post in the wee hours between bedtime and daylight. I’ve mentioned the focus of this post a few times before but it’s such a special place it really deserves a post all of its own.

Ever since I was a wee girl I’ve loved to visit Mount Stewart. I can feel myself beginning to smile in the car on the way there. Our journey sees us snake round the bends of the Portaferry Road with fields on our left and Strangford Lough on our right. As a child I can remember walks around the lake with our dog, Lucky and picnics on the lawn with my nanny in front of the house. Each time I visit I’m reminded of many happy memories. More recently I enjoyed taking pictures of the gardens as I helped a friend in search for some last minute seasonal inspiration ahead of her autumnal wedding which I wrote about here. Incidentally, my friend found the beautiful lace shawl she is wearing in the picture at the Autumn fair!

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A very Merry (handmade) Christmas

I’ve been a little quiet since my post-a-day challenge – my apologies. Things have gradually become more manic with the impending festivities just around the corner and a pretty big leak in our roof needing urgent attention.

I decided to do something a bit different this year and make the majority of my Christmas presents for friends and family. A while ago I shared a post about making your own liqueurs as gifts, which you can read here. If you gave it a go they are just about ready to gift or sample, depending on how generous you are feeling!

While I was visiting one of my favourite spots recently I picked up a great book full of hints and tips on how to make everything from beauty products to jams and even medicinal remedies, (although I’m not giving up ibuprofen just yet.)



One of the recipes in it was for some lovely strawberry and cream bath soaks – who doesn’t love a soak in a hot bath? I decided to make this for friends who have been working tirelessly, raising money for some very deserving charities. I hope they’ll get the chance to relax and enjoy them after the Christmas rush is over! Here’s how I made them:

Strawberries and Cream Bath Soak

You will need the following:

* 1/2 cup / 60g oats (regular or quick-cook)
* 1/2 cup / 50g milk powder
* 40g ground almonds
* 16 – 20 drops strawberry essential oil (I added more to get a stronger scent, customise it to your own tastes and remember – a little goes a long way!)



* In a small bowl combine the oats, almonds, milk powder and your essential oil. Stir well to make sure it’s well mixed. Close your eyes and take a deep breath – are you at Wimbledon enjoying a cream tea and a glass of Pimms? No? Then add more of your essential oil. Stir.

* Divide the mixture among pretty cloth bags. I chose to use organza favour bags I got in Tesco. They sell them in bags of 3 for £1.50. Fill about half full and close using the drawstring on the bag. If there isn’t one you can gather the material and twist it round, securing with a festive piece of ribbon. I managed to fill around 2 bags with this amount so adjust accordingly.

* I added a muslin bag to each of my gift bags. I got these off Ebay for around £5 for 10 bags. When you fancy a soak in the tub simply fill the muslin bag with around 2 dessert spoonfuls of your mixture and tie. Hang it on the end of the running tap of your bath and let it all infuse and you’re all set for a relaxing bath! The bags can be reused as many times as you like, just empty and hand wash with soap and warm water after your bath and leave to air dry.

* Keep your bath soaks in a cool dark place until you are ready to use them.


A few notes…

* Obviously this is not for human consumption, regardless of how delicious it smells.

* The oatmeal mixture is designed to sooth stressed and dry skin and can relieve itching. However, some skin types may become mildly irritated by the essential oil. You can reduce the amount of essential oil you add or eliminate it completely. It obviously won’t have the fruity scent in this instance but won’t stop you making like Cleopatra and enjoying a milk bath.

* These bath soaks are best enjoyed with emails unchecked and phones switched off. The world can wait. Just relaaaaaaaax.