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5 Common Tips for Being a Lazy Eco Warrior

The Most Bizarre Spa Treatments from Around the World


Spa days are for feeling human again when we’ve burnt out. But sometimes a treatment can leave us feeling confused; has anybody else had that one massage that left you thinking, what just happened?

But we’re not here to discuss questionable massages. The treatments featured here are bizarre, true, but they have strong ties to different cultures, science, and rituals drawn from ancient times … and are worth trying, even just for the experience.

From unlocking the secrets of deep sleep to getting massaged by an actual waterfall, here are the most bizarre treatments from around the world. Which one would you surrender yourself to?


DeepSleep, Swissotel, Berlin

Sleep. We all need it, and some of us are certainly better at it than others. If you belong to the 27% of people in the UK who find sleeping a formidable task, book yourself in for the DeepSleep treatment at the Swissotel in Berlin.

What you’ll experience is a few hours of light and aromatherapy while power-napping on a sound pillow. If that makes no sense to you, basically you get to sleep in a wonderful smelling room surrounded by things that’ll swiftly lull you into a tranquil slumber.

The scientific-based treatment was created by Dr Michael Feld who describes it as ‘bio-physiologic regeneration’ (that’s the renewal and restoration of your body and mind). Napping in the name of science has never sounded more appealing.


Snake Massage. Ada Barak’s Carnivorous Plant Farm and Spa, Israel

“Hi Darling, fancy a weekend at Ada Barak’s Carnivorous Plant Farm and Spa? I think we could both really do with a snake massage.” Said nobody, ever.

Apparently, though, snakes dropped on your naked body is a thing in Israel. Anyone with Ophidiophobia might want to skip this one, but there is logic to this rather slithery treatment.

According to spa owner Ada Barak, it’s a soothing experience because when snakes move on your body they produce a relaxing kneading sensation.

The bigger the snake, the deeper the massage, and because that isn’t a reassuring bit of information, you should know all the snakes are non-venomous. Phew!


Face Workout, FaceGym, London

We think about our phones a lot. What we don’t think about is the impact staring at our screens has on our on our pretty profiles.

Luckily FaceGym has a treatment that can fight the consequences of the ‘phone face’, an expression most of us pull for four hours per day (according to Hakernoon).

Forehead creases, jaw tension, tight neck muscles, and tired eyes: we don’t realise how much we aggravate these unwanted symptoms from our phone-time.

But now you do, and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. Sorry, I guess your best option is to tackle the problem head-on and book yourself in for a treatment before the wind changes.


Fire Cupping, Oriental Taipan Spa, Beijing

Holistic healing centre, Geppert, explains that Fire cupping “is where suction is created by placing an inverted cup over a small flame before placing the cup on the skin.”

Is it dangerous? Sure, if your ‘cupper’ isn’t a qualified professional. You might not have ordered them but burns and bruising could be on the menu if you’re in the wrong hands.

And sure, even in the right hands, fire cupping is a massage technique known for being famously brutal. But apparently, it treats acne, anaemia, asthma, and arthritis to mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Is it really that effective? Try the Chinese Meridian Aromatic Oil Massage at Oriental Taipan and find out!


Silence, Shreyas Retreat, India

Silent treatment has less to do with being ignored and more to do with the importance of removing everyday noise pollutions. Sound overwhelm has been found to lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks and other various health issues.

For five days of silence combined with meditation, yoga, and luxurious massages, travel to India and book a treatment at the Shreyas Retreat.

Remember to leave your voice at home, and you’ll experience peace like never before.


Chocolate Facial, Hotel Hershey, Pennsylvania

The fact that you can get a chocolate facial at the ‘Hershey Hotel’ isn’t a coincidence. The largest chocolate company in North America is 100% responsible for this facial pudding.

If you get the chance, try it. It’s the only time having food on your face is appropriate above the age of two. And when your chocolate face is ready to come off, you won’t need to eat anything for dinner.

It would be sacrilegious to neglect the Hershey Hotel’s other treatments too. Wrapping your entire body in chocolate is possible, as is soaking in a whipped cocoa bath at this delicious establishment. Well, I know what I’m doing next Easter.


Waterfall Massage, Sankampaeng Hot Springs, Thailand

Possessing a love of nature might sound like a cliche this century but most people mean it when they declare it. People aligned with the earth’s greener attributes will appreciate how special this nature certified treatment is at Sankampaeng Hot Springs, near Chiang Mai (Thailand).

The experience? Like a very intense, cold shower. But one you value highly. The surrounding national parks around Chiang Mai offer extraordinary beauty. It’ll be a battle for your senses, but a privilege you’ll remember nonetheless.


Surrender yourself to new experiences …

Want to combine a massage with a meal? Try the chocolate facial. Treat anxiety with fire? See a doctor first, then try fire cupping. Got a knot only a waterfall can knead? Travel to a jungle-come-spa for a powerful dose of h2o.

Whatever you try, remember, if it hurts, it may or may not be good for you.

10 Life Changing Books For New Year You

We all start the year with ambitious intentions that we’ll be turning a new leaf, getting healthy, losing weight, taking up exercise, getting better with our money yadda yadda. Except it’s not so easy when you have to get through January, the bleakest, darkest month of the year, without any perks or treats.  Our good intentions often crumble after the first rubbish boring day we have, then we are desperately seeking our normal pick me ups. Whether that’s a glass of wine, a cake or slouching in front of the TV.  And poof, that’s the end of the New Year’s resolutions.

But how about a more inspiring and realistic approach to resolutions? We’ve selected ten books that will get you excited about embracing change. And healthy new habits are always so much more achievable if you feel passionate and motivated, rather than just because you hate yourself for putting on weight.

So here we go, happy reading

1. You Do You - Sarah Knight


Being yourself should be easy. But instead of feeling comfortable in our own skin and flourishing as our true selves, most of us fight it, listening too closely to what society tells us. You Do You helps you shake off those expectations, start looking out for number one and celebrating your badass self. From career and finances to relationships and family, lifestyle and health, Sarah Knight rips up the rulebook

2. How to Stay Sane - Philippa Perry

No matter how loved, how clever, successful, healthy or popular you are, none of these factors guarantee sanity.   But if you want to overcome emotional difficulties and become happier, psychotherapist Philippa Perry has some brilliantly simple suggestions to bring about change.

By developing your self-observation skills, looking at how you relate to others, breaking out of your comfort zone and exploring new ways of defining yourself, she shows that it is possible to become a little less anxious and a little more fulfilled.

3. What Would Beyonce Do? - Luisa Omielan

Luisa Omielan is a stand-up comedian who turned her life around after she answered the mantra every person needs in their life: What Would Beyoncé Do?!

When we meet Luisa at the beginning of her memoir, things couldn’t be worse, at 29 she is nursing a broken heart, dealing with mounting student debt and has just been forced into a move back in with her mum. Life isn’t looking too rosy.  However, her new Beyonce mantra gives her a new lease of life and Luisa starts to fight back.  Get ready for an uplifting, hilarious and brutally honest read. 

4. Jamie’s Everyday Super Food - Jamie Oliver

It’s often hard to find the time to eat healthily, let alone feel inspired by nutritious food. Jamie’s Everyday Super Food is a joy to cook from and will fill you with enthusiasm to get healthy because the recipes (not to mention the beautiful pictures) are awesome and easy to make.

You can breakfast on smoothie pancakes and berries, snack on sweet potato muffins, enjoy tasty fish tacos for lunch and then pig out on griddled steak with jewelled tabbouleh rice for dinner.  And let’s not forget the sweet treats. They’re allowed.  Make sure you try the mango, lime and ginger fro-yo.

Jamie proves that eating well is not only achievable but can be an adventure and a delight too.

5. The Pants Of Perspective - Anna McNuff

Amateur runner Anna follows the 3,000 kilometres long Te Araroa Trail through New Zealand’s backcountry for 148 days, she scrambles through forests, along ridge-lines, over mountain passes, along beaches and across swollen rivers. Running up to 52 kilometres in a day, she sleeps wild most nights, and is taken into the homes and hearts of the kiwi people in between.

The Pants of Perspective is a witty, colourful and at times painfully raw account of a journey to the edge of what a woman believes herself to be capable of. It is a coming-of-age story which will lead you on a roller coaster ride through fear, vulnerability, courage and failure. For anyone who has ever dreamt of taking on a great challenge, but felt too afraid to begin – this story is for you.

6. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying - Marie Kondo

Transform your home into a permanently clear and clutter-free space with Marie Kondo’s incredible method.  It will not just transform your space. Once you have your house in order you will find that your whole life will change. You can feel more confident, you can become more successful, and you can have the energy and motivation to create the life you want.

7. Big Magic - Elizabeth Gilbert

Celebrated author, Elizabeth Gilbert digs deep into her own writing process to share her wisdom and unique perspective on creativity. With great empathy and generosity, she offers insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. Whether you are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in your work, embark on a forgotten dream, or to simply fill your everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic opens up a world of wonder and joy

8. Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world

Mindfulness lays out a set of simple yet powerful practices that fit very easily into daily life to help break the cycle of unhappiness, stress, anxiety and mental exhaustion and promote genuine contentment and joy. The book is based on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBCT revolves around a straightforward form of mindfulness meditation which takes just a few minutes a day to start noticing the full benefits.

9. Sleep - Nick Littlehales

In this ground-breaking book, Nick Littlehales, elite sleep coach to some of the world's leading sports stars and teams, lays bare his strategies for us all to use. Discover how to map your own sleep cycle, what the optimum room temperature is, which bedding is best and why napping is actually good for yo

10. The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin

Each month, Gretchen pursued a different set of resolutions -- go to sleep earlier, tackle a nagging task, bring people together, take time to be silly -- along with dozens of other goals. She read everything from classical philosophy to cutting-edge scientific studies, from Winston Churchill to Oprah, developing her own definition of happiness and a plan for how to achieve it. She kept track of which resolutions worked and which didn’t, sharing her stories and collecting those of others through her blog. Bit by bit, she began to appreciate and amplify the happiness in her life.


Get Reading and Get Changing

These books offer opportunities to embrace change that are a lot more fun than banning yourself from your favourite things as part of a New Year regime.  It’s time to start your New Year with a bang and get out there and have an adventure instead!

5 must-have travel apps to get the most out of your holidays

Smart phones and apps have made travelling to new and exciting places easier than ever before. Here are five of the best apps out there that you may not have heard of yet but can help you to travel with ease.

How many times have you left important items behind because you packed in a rush?

Pack point tailors a list of suggested items based on the country or city you are visiting and the activities that you have planned while you are there. Whether it’s sunglasses or thermal gloves, you can tick off items as you pack and make sure that nothing important gets left behind.

Available on iOS and Android

Nicknamed “Google Maps on steroids” by the travel community - Moovit is a transit app with a difference. Moovit provides public transit data to show you how to make trips, however unlike some of its competitors it is updated in real time so you know if your bus will be late. It also shows you how close you are to your destination and can let you know when it’s time to jump off a bus or train – helpful when you’re visiting somewhere new and unfamiliar.

Available on iOS and Android

As the name may suggest, this is an excellent app for planning journeys between two places. Say you’re visiting Berlin and you decide to make last minute plans to visit a friend in Madrid, this app will show you every possible route to get there including flights, buses, trains and boats. It will show you all the information you need including prices, distances, times and mileage to help you carve out the easiest, most affordable route from point A to point B.

Available on iOS and Android

TripIt works by scanning all your reservations in your emails. Whether it’s restaurants, hotels, flights or other activities – TripIt will organise them all into one helpful timeline to show you your activities for the day.  Of course you can do this yourself with a bit of pen and paper, but TripIt automates the process for you and will send you push notifications for delays, gate changes and other alerts.

Available on iOS and Android

Google Translate
Most travellers would love to be able to speak a few different languages. However, it’s difficult and time consuming and despite your best efforts you might just not have mastered it yet. But that shouldn’t preclude you from being able to visit exciting places. With Google Translate you can download entire dictionaries offline so that if you want a quick reminder of how to ask for the bill you simply type in “the bill, please” and hey-presto it reminds you how to say it. Google Translate also has another exciting feature where (when connected to the internet) you can hover your camera over a sign, menu or other written text and the phone will translate it into your mother tongue for you. At present Google Translate supports English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Arabic, Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish and around 90 more!

Available on iOS and Android

Do you use any special apps for travelling? Tweet us at @TimeForYouGroup and let us know your favourites.

How to make more time for holidays and travel

For some people travel is an addiction. Backpacking around the world, trekking through jungles or up mountains or simply soaking up the sun on a tropical beach are vital ingredients for a happy life. While you may have a bucket list longer than your arm, it’s not always as simple as just picking a destination and going there.  For most of us, the constraints of work, family and finances mean that the prospect of visiting far off foreign lands becomes nothing more than a pipedream. However, in this blog we’ll show you a few tips and tricks to help you travel further and more often – without winning the lottery.

Be clever with holiday planning
If you work for someone else the chances are you are limited in the amount of holiday you can take. One of the easiest ways to maximise your holidays are to plan them around bank holidays and public holidays. Using this technique you can stretch a mid-week holiday further and only use up a few days of your allocated annual leave. While it might not win you many friends at work, it will guarantee more travel with less.  

Use work to your advantage
Another way that you can get more travel in is too use your job to your advantage. Look for opportunities to get outside the office. For example if you have a business trip you could take a couple of day afterwards to explore areas nearby that you always wanted to go to. You could also approach your bosses about the possibility of remote working – one of the best ways to travel so long as you can find a good internet connection. Try and get out the office wherever possible.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew
One of the easiest ways to have a disappointing holiday is to try and cram too much in. Holidays are best enjoyed at a slow, mindful pace. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do exciting things – just that you should try and soak up as much of each destination you visit as possible. If for example your goal is to experience authentic Thailand, then trying to traverse the whole countryside and islands in just a couple of weeks will never work.

Ask yourself how much you really want to travel. You might not think you have much time for exploring but if you look hard you may see it really starts to add up. Well, at least it does when you take away personal engagements, birthdays, nights out and other activities. Of course, there are many personal obligations that we just can’t say no to – and we wouldn’t want too – but by having a real audit of your engagements you may be able to free up a little more space for holidaying.

Do you have any special techniques for making travel easier and more frequent? Tweet us at @TimeForYouGroup and let us know.

November Prize Draw Winner Announced

In November we ran a photography prize draw and asked our customers to send us their best picture of their garden in its vibrant Autumn colours.

We're delighted to announce the winner......drum roll, please.!

Congratulations to Marion Robinson from Scunthorpe who wins £100 of house cleaning.

Be sure to follow us on facebook to enter our December prize draw for your chance to win.


New Year New Home - Styling Techniques For Your Guest Bedroom

A well designed guest bedroom will make friends and family feel welcome, even when they are far from home.  It doesn’t need to cost the earth, but it does require a bit of planning.

Apart from getting the decor and furniture right, providing your guest with all of their favourite home comforts – beautiful bedding, plenty of storage and even a light to read by at night, will all add up to a wonderful experience for your loved ones.

Have a think about these different elements that will create a relaxing and inspiring space to stay:

A Neutral Colour Scheme

Create a room that is clean and serene with a neutral backdrop that will please any taste. Opt for walls and furniture in muted hues of grey, brown and white to evoke a feeling of calm for your guests. Soft and soothing shades make any bedroom look timeless and sophisticated.

An Inviting Bed

First impressions count and the first thing a visitor will notice is the bed. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of sleeping in your own bed, but an inviting sleeping space can act as the next best thing. Go for cotton sheets with a high thread count for a touch of luxury, and a nice big duvet and fluffy pillows.

And a trick to make the bed look extra inviting is by adding a mixture of different sized cushions to incorporate colours and textures, as well as a throw. Don’t be afraid to add a pop of colour to neutral bed linen, or mixing in some woollen knits and velvet to plain cotton.

Bedside Tables

Always useful for you guests to store their bedtime essentials on. And if your budget doesn’t stretch to new and costly bedside tables, then why not repurpose chairs, use simple stools, or even stack some stylish storage boxes to create inexpensive alternatives.

Dress Your Windows

You want your guests to have brilliant sleep while they are staying.  Make sure to get curtains or blinds that really block out all the light.  You can buy black out blinds very cheaply and then dress the windows with some stylish ready made curtains.

Plenty of Storage

Before turning your spare room into a junk room for all your excess belongings, be careful to allocate some storage space for your guests.  Perhaps buy a nice wardrobe or a chest of drawers (these could be second hand or luxury furniture items - go with what your budget allows).


Is such a good way of giving a room character a warmth. The more different types of lighting you have the more you can create that atmosphere.  Perhaps drape some fairy lights across the chest of drawers or have a floor light for some soft lighting.  And small lamps on both the bedside tables will be just the thing for your guests to enjoy a bit of night-time reading.

A Dressing Table

How useful would it be for your guests to have a dressing table? Search for items like a small table or desk and chair and a small stand up mirror and voila, there you have it. Don't worry if they don't match; mismatched styles and finishes lend a collected-over-time look.

Creature Comforts

There a number of lovely little touches you can add to the room to really make your guests feel welcome and cared for.  How about a bunch of tulips in a vase? Or some interesting books and magazines on a shelf for them to browse? Also nice extras you could provide include guest dressing gowns, an alarm clock, a box of tissues and some luxury towels.

Hopefully these tips will have given you some inspiration for your guest bedroom.  Bear in mind that if you spend some time planning the room out in advance, it will really pay off and save you from ending up with a mish mash effect.  With a bit of effort, a splash of paint and some accessories you can create a cosy haven for your guests.

Cookbook Conundrum, Which Books to Give as Gifts this Christmas


Theoretically cookbooks are an easy win as a Christmas present.  Even if your recipient never ever cooks from the darn thing, much pleasure will be gained from drooling over the lovely pictures.

But surely, you would like your giftee to actually cook from the book you’ve given them? Too many cookbooks contain convoluted recipes with hard to find ingredients and require the use of obscure kitchen kit.  Not all of us want to bankrupt ourselves and spend 6 hours in the kitchen just to cook one flipping recipe.

Well here are 5 great cookbook gift ideas for Christmas, all of which contain recipes that are inspirational, but simple, and don’t involve too many ingredients.

1. Nigella Lawson ‘Simply Nigella’

Nigella always seems to know how to conjure up unusual, gorgeous flavours with the laziest of efforts.  And she does it yet again with ‘Simply Nigella’.  The idea behind this cookbook is to strip things back to basics and tap into the rhythms of our cooking lives, with recipes that are uncomplicated, relaxed and delicious.

Simply Nigella’ is by no means a clean eating book - there is plenty of classic Nigella naughtiness and gluttony in the form of chocolate liquorice cake and chocolate cookie dough pots.  But there is a definite leaning towards more wholesome offerings, with on trend healthy eating ingredients making an appearance, from matcha, kimchi and miso to chia seeds and avocado.  However it’s all done with Nigella’s distinctive flourish and irreverence.  Some of the ‘semi healthy’ delights include miso salmon, matcha cake with cherry juice icing, cauliflower & cashew nut curry, sweet potato macaroni cheese and chai muffins.

Ultimately it’s a really straight forward cookbook with dishes that are easy to throw together and comforting and uplifting to eat.


2. John Whaite ‘Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients’

John Whaite was the winner of bake off in 2012 and he’s gone from strength to strength ever since, he’s now written four cookbooks and runs a beautiful cookery school in the Lancashire countryside.  The premise of ‘Perfect Plates’  is that all the recipes contain just five ingredients (although basic ingredients like oil, butter and seasoning don’t count as an ingredient).

The recipes, as well as the stunning accompanying photos, are decadent, inspired and fabulously creative. And bonus, it’s easy, fun cooking.

If you’re looking for lazy weekday dinners, John has quite a few up his sleeve. There’s the fried gnocchi and mushrooms with crispy fried sage which is just gorgeous buttery naughtiness! And then there’s the ham and fennel pasta made with cream - ingredients that are just lovely together – the subtle fragrance of the fennel with the strong meaty ham and cream in the background work so well.

And when you’ve got a bit more time, why not wow dinner guests with ox cheeks in port with parsnip mash? And for dessert serve up chocolate fudge cake made with condensed tomato soup. It’s sounds bizarre, but try it, you’ll be amazed. And it’s ridiculously easy to make.


3. Nigel Slater ‘Eat’

‘Eat’ is bursting with beautifully simple and quick-to-cook recipes, in fact in total it contains 600 easy recipes and ideas for midweek dinners.

Nigel’s introduction in the book sums up what  ‘Eat’ is all about: ‘sometimes, we just want to eat...... This little book is for those times. The recipes here are straightforward and within the grasp of most of us. I would like to think that many of them will work for those who have never cooked anything in their lives. It is not a book of detailed, obsessively honed directions. Sometimes cooking is about the classics, but it should also, surely, be a light-hearted, spirited affair, alive with invention, experimentation, appetite and a sense of adventure.'

From sizzling chorizo with potatoes and shallots; to sharp and fresh green soup,  Vietnamese-inspired prawn baguettes and one-pan Sunday lunches, this cookbook will have something for everyone.


4. Katriona MacGregor ‘Healthy Speedy Suppers: Quick, Healthy and Delicious Recipes for Busy People’

This is absolutely what is says on the tin. If your giftee needs quick, simple and deliciously healthy recipes, ‘Healthy Speedy Suppers’ will inspire anyone who feels too tired or busy to cook at the end of the day. Katriona MacGregor started her Speedy Weeknight Suppers column for The Telegraph online in 2013, after returning to London office life caused a slump in her diet.

Resolving to break away from eating ready meals and cheese on toast every night, she began developing recipes that took no more than 40 minutes to make, were packed with good quality, wholesome ingredients, and tasted fantastic. And she’s well and truly succeeded.


5. Anna Jones ‘A Modern Way to Cook’

Anna Jones trained as a chef with Jamie Oliver at Fifteen.  She’s a vegetarian and passionately believes that meatless cuisine can be exciting.  ‘A Modern Way to Cook’ really delivers. Anna’s recipes are simple to make but somehow exotic, surprising and healthy.

Her curry leaf and smoky celeriac pilaf is a real winner, it’s like a vegetarian kedgeree - spicy, fragrant and unusual. And try the lentils with roast tomatoes and horseradish -  a plate of multi-flavoured, multi-textured deliciousness!  The wholesome earthy lentils provide the base to sweet squelchy roast tomatoes with creamy horseradish for a kick and garlic and thyme breadcrumbs for crunch.

And if you’re bored of your breakfasts and fancy a reboot, Anna does a superb Nordic breakfast bowl. A slow cooked porridge with grated apple, almond butter, raisins, coconut yoghurt and all manner of nuts and seeds.  

And for the ultimate healthy nibble Anna’s salted almond butter choc bars are quite something. Think really fresh tasting bounty bars, but better for you.

Six Beautiful Handmade Christmas Gift Ideas

Gift giving at Christmas can be a wonderful experience. Watching your favourite fellow humans open presents they love from you will proffer all kinds of good feelings.

 But we spend a lot more cash than we need at Christmas. According to Nationwide, “people in the UK spend, on average, £117 on Christmas presents for their partner, £145 on presents for their children, and even £20 on their pet.”

 The solution? It’s simple. Create beautiful, handmade Christmas gifts that are just as thoughtful and much less expensive than anything you could buy at a shop.

 Even if you simply want to do something different this year, get your friends or family involved for some valuable bonding time, or crafting is a hobby you want to explore further, these six brilliant gift ideas are a great (and affordable) way to try something new this festive season.


 1.Galvanised Shrubbery Pot

 Add a personal touch to your green gift this year! Turn a galvanised bucket into a trendy plant pot that will twinkle its way into your loved one’s heart.

 You will need:

 A chalk pen

  • Galvanised buckets
  • Fake or real greens
  • A vase for each bucket
  • Ribbon
  • Battery powered fairy lights

Step 1: Using your chalk pen, write whatever you desire on each bucket.

Step 2: Add water to each vase and then place your greens inside.

Step 3: Place each vase in your buckets.

Step 4: Tie a ribbon around the top of the buckets.

Step 5: Add fairy lights by wrapping them around the plant.


 2. Charming Wreath

 Get creative and add your own personal style to this enchanting wreath that will look gorgeous on someone’s front door this winter.

 You will need:

 Green floral wire

Step one: Spray the embroidery hoop with your desired spray paint colour. Leave to dry for two hours.

Step two: Attached your faux greenery and ornaments to the bottom of the hoop using the thin floral wire.

Step three: Secure additional greenery to your taste.


 3. Mischievous Pine Cone Elves

 A fantastic gift for the little ones. Create an adorable felt Christmas Elf and inject a little magic into somebody's home this festive season.

 You will need:

Step 1: Cut out your felt pieces using a small cone hat pattern.

Step 2: Blanket stitch the felt triangles into cones and sew a bell on top.

Step 3: Cut out small felt triangles to create elf feet.

Step 4: Glue the feet on the bottom of the cones.

Step 5: Using dots, draw on eyes and a mouth onto the wooden balls.

Step 6: Glue your felt hats onto the wooden balls.

Step 7: Glue the Elf’s head onto the cones.

Optional: Create felt scarfs and glue them so they sit around the top of the cones.


 4. Homemade Raspberry Lemon Sugar Scrub

 Give your friend this chemical-free scrub and make their TLC time extra special. Coconut oil is amazingly nourishing, and sugar is a natural exfoliant that will leave the skin glowing.

 You will need:

 Granulated sugar

  • Coconut oil (melted)
  • ¼ tsp Raspberry extract
  • ¼ tsp Lemon extract
  • Red food colouring (optional)

Step 1: Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, then add the lemon and raspberry extract.

Step 2: Continue mixing until you are satisfied with the scent and colour.

Step 3: Spoon your mixture into a jar and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes, then leave it at room temperature.

Optional: Create your own labels and attach them to the jar with some twine for an extra festive effect.


5. Reindeer Treat Bags

 These simple gifts are super-easy to make and a great stocking filler for kids. You might even have some leftover chocolates to make your creative work all the more enjoyable!

 You will need:


Step 1: Mix your chocolates together in a large bowl.

Step 2: Put two strawbs into the bottom of your bag.

Step 3: Carefully place your mixed chocolates into the bag.

Step 4: To secure the bag, tie one brown pipe cleaner around the top and fix in place like reindeer horns.

Step 5: Stick your googly eyes just above the middle of the treat bag.

Step 6: Store in a cool dry place.

 Optional: Fill your reindeer treat bag with animal treats for a seriously-cute present for your favourite pet.


6.Jewelry Storage Frame

 Do you know someone whose middle name is shabby-chic? Then this gorgeous handmade jewelry storage will surely put a smile on their face this Christmas.

 You will need:

  • 1 Medium or large picture frame
  • ½ Plywood backing cut to size
  • Hooks and screw eye hooks
  • Screws
  • Paint
  • Gorilla glue

 Step 1: Measure your layout, keeping in mind how many earring hooks you want to install and (if possible) the length of the necklaces your chosen gift receiver has.

Step 2: Screw the hooks into the plywood to your preference.

Step 3: Glue the plywood backing to your frame using the gorilla glue.

Step 4: Leave the glue to settle for one hour.

Step 5: Paint the frame and plywood with your chosen paint.

Step 6: Leave to dry for two hours.


What will you create this Christmas?

It seems that Santa’s elves might not be the only ones crafting Christmas gifts this year! It might take a little extra effort to create your presents from scratch rather than heading towards the shops, but the benefits will be worth it.

 Create your own presents this year and …

 Save money

  • Personalise your presents
  • Display your thoughtfulness
  • Create multiple gifts easily
  • Improve your crafting skills
  • Get your family and friends involved in the present making process
  • Eat your leftovers! (Except maybe the plywood and screws…)


Eight Cooking Courses to Satisfy Your Culinary Curiosities

  “No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing” - Julia Child

 If you’ve ever experienced curiosity about how the delicious food on your plate came into creation, you’ve come to the right place.

 Get your chef hat on and discover how to be better at cooking and how to recreate your favourite dishes from around the world.

 Feel inspired by experts who are passionate about food, and find ways to get your family involved too (unless the idea of other people in your kitchen makes steam pour from your ears …)

 Here are eight sensational cooking courses that will help you achieve all of the above, revolutionising the tasty cuisine coming out of your kitchen.

 Padstow Seafood School

Riverside, Padstow

 Fresh seafood cooked to perfection can be a joyous experience for your taste buds. But the skills required to cook this tricky ingredient so expertly can be difficult to build on your own. So, if it’s your goal to become a connoisseur of seafood, Rick Stein’s Padstow Seafood School could be your best stepping stone.

 Discover how to marry tastes of the ocean with delectable flavour combinations while overlooking Cornwall’s stunning Camel Estuary. An exceptional array of wine is yours to enjoy, and you get to eat everything you cooked under expert tutelage.

 Price: £95 for a half day. £1,690 for a four-day residential course.


Cordon Vert Cookery School

Parkdale, Dunham Road, Altrincham

 Are you a recent vegetarian? Or has it been a lifestyle choice for years? Perhaps you’ve just decided to go vegan and feel a little overwhelmed by your new dietary restrictions. Cordon Vert Cookery School was created for people like you and has been around since 1982.

 Recognised as the World’s top vegetarian cooking school, a course here will help you gain a greater understanding of vegetarian and vegan food (and gluten-free food if you fancy), giving you techniques and recipes to take away that will transform your at-home green menu.

 Price: £195 for an evening class, £1678.70 for a Professional Diploma


School of Wok

61 Chandos Place, London

 Learn how to cook Asian food so great you’ll never have to eat out to savour your favourite Thai, Chinese or Japanese dish again. Based in Covent Garden, the School of Wok draws its inspiration (and ingredients) from nearby China Town.

 Explore the nearby markets and learn vital information about cooking with Asian food. The tutors here are known for being both patient and informative, and with the free-flowing wine and artisan beers, you’ll be cooking mouthwatering dishes in a deliciously relaxing environment.

 Price: £95 for half a day. £750 for a five-day course.



Shanagarry, Co. Cork, Ireland

 Eating what you cook from a course at Ballymaloe is closest to wild eating you can get (without the risk of snacking on poisonous berries!) Formed by celebrity chef Darina Allen and Rory O’Connell, the school uses the freshest of ingredients sourced from its one-hundred acre organic farm; it’s no surprise that Ballymaloe’s defining principle is sustainability.

 So, if you’re looking to learn wholesome clean-eating recipes that endorse green living, this charming cooking school residing in wild Ireland will deliver in fantastic ways.

 Price: £30 - £175 for half a day, £5,585 for five weeks


The Avenue Cookery School

3 Enterprise Way, Wandsworth, London

 Thinking of getting your family more involved in the kitchen? The Avenue Cookery School can help you. This is a family-run business with a friendly and fun vibe; learning how to cook here is something to enjoy rather than endure!

 There are a plethora of classes to choose from, with some specially aimed at children while others are centered around a specific ingredient, like fish. Or perhaps you want to brush up your chopping skills. Take a knife class and never fear the onion again.

Course prices vary


Food at 52

96 Central Street, London

 Vietnamese, Italian, Moroccan, Southern Indian, and Spanish cuisine; learn how to cook all of these different types of dishes at Food 52. The choice is entirely up to you, with separate classes for each gastronomy.

 And the recipes are easy to follow, giving you a prime opportunity to build your confidence if you feel a little uneasy in the kitchen. And the best part? Make sure you go into your class hungry because at the end you’ll be devouring everything you make!

 Course prices vary


Burro e Salvia

252 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, London

 Burro e Salvia is all about pasta (and nothing else, but when you love pasta, do you care?) Take a course here and discover the secrets behind cooking Italy’s finest pasta from scratch.

 Burro e Salvia’s pasta workshop will teach you how to create Italy’s staples like lasagne and tagliatelle, to more complicated shapes such as tortellini or cardinali. And if you really want to test yourself, book a Semolina course and work with water-based dough (serve your friends the unique ear-shaped orecchiette and they’ll be talking about it for days!)

 Price: £45 - £65 for one hour or one and a half hours.


“Great cooking favors the prepared hands.” - Jacques Pepin

 Now you have an incredible selection of cooking schools to choose from. So identify what you want to learn, whether it’s brushing up your skills with a knife and chopping board or your ability to recreate a dish you’ll never want to stop eating.

  1.  Then embark on an expertly run (and fun) cooking course, and gain newfound love and confidence for producing food that will satisfy and exceed your expectations.