News & Articles

Juicing on a budget

Understandably one of the most common reasons that people are hesitant about taking up juicing or a smoothie diet is the cost. While the benefits of introducing more fruit and vegetables are pretty clear – better skin, digestion, weight loss and more – people naturally worry that filling their shopping trolley full of organic fruit and vegetables is going to make a big dent in their finances. However, if you go about things the right way then it’s more than possible to do juicing on the cheap. Here are some of our favourite tips that we want to share with you.

#1 – Plan your diet
A great way to save money on juicing is to be mindful about what you are buying. It’s quite easy to wander around the supermarket and pick up various exotic fruits and vegetables but it’s often an unnecessary cost.  By planning out your weekly drinks and then purchasing only what you actually need then you’ll cut down drastically on your shopping bill. Sit down the night before your weekly shop and put together 3-4 different recipes that you enjoy and buy only those ingredients.

#2 – Buy in bulk
Another good way to cut down on costs is to buy what you need in bulk. Instead of going back to the shop every evening to pick up more bananas or spinach simply buy large amounts during your weekly shop which will be more affordable than buying smaller amounts individually. Once you get home you can prepare your ingredients, chop them into smaller pieces and freeze them for a later date.

#3 – Buy frozen ingredients
Mixed bags of berries, frozen spinach, pineapple and other ingredients are readily available from supermarkets. Not only do they free up valuable space in your fridge, they last longer and can save you money in the long run. The only downside is that frozen fruit is rarely organic, but if you are trying to save money then you may have to make some small concessions. While non-organic fruit and vegetable is not as good for you as organically grown, it’s still better than having hardly any fruit and veg in your diet at all!

#4 – Buy local
You can get some great deals from local farmers and independent markets. It’s normally much easier to buy in bulk, you can find out all about their growing practices and you may even be able to haggle for an even cheaper haul!

#5 – Grow your own
Probably the single cheapest way to juice is to grow your own fruit and vegetables in your garden, greenhouse or allotment. Growing your own spinach, cucumbers and carrots is relatively simple and easy to do in the UK and you may also have some success with fruits and berries too.

For more tips and advice including our favourite smoothie recipes, take a look on our News & Articles and Tips & Advice sections or share your cleaning tips with us by tweeting @TimeForYouGroup.

Cleaning your juicer or blender the easy way

A build up of gunk and matter in your juicer or blender is not only a nuisance affecting the taste of your drinks but also presents a health hazard as debris from your fruit and veg starts to decay. Here we look at some simple techniques for thoroughly cleaning your equipment.

A common reason that people fall out of love with juicing or making smoothies is that the appliances can be tough to clean. This is why it’s important to find an appliance that can easily be taken apart and that is relatively simple to wash. Many appliances have awkwardly shaped components that make it hard for the owner to scrape out those leftover seeds or small strands of fruit and vegetables which make them a chore to clean. The best way to ensure that you find one that is free of headaches is to do plenty of research – read reviews on Amazon and watch videos on YouTube of your potential new appliance before committing to a purchase. While some reviews are very brief and might not mention daily use, there are often reviewers who give a much broader analysis of how their appliance has performed and how it suits their every day needs, including how easy it is to clean, which will be useful in making your decision.

How to clean your appliance
The best time to clean your appliance is immediately after you’ve made your juice or shake. By cleaning at the first opportunity you can tackle leftovers before they have a chance to harden. If your juicer has a catch container which collects pulp and matter then a good tip to reduce unnecessary cleaning is to add a plastic bag which can hold it. Unless the bag is particularly wet and soaks through to the container then you shouldn’t need to clean it too thoroughly afterwards. After making your juice or shake carefully begin taking apart your appliance and give it a good rinse under the tap.

After rinsing each component use hot water and soap to clean each piece before laying it down on a towel to air dry. Long handled sponges and cleaners are your best friend when cleaning a juicer as the extra length can help you to reach hard to get areas - if you can find one that holds washing up liquid inside it then even better.

Some parts of juicers such as screens and cutting teeth can be particularly troublesome to clean. Dried up pulp that gets stuck in your juicing screen can reduce effectiveness of your machine, so you need to make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned. To do this, take it out and hold it up to the light. You should be able to see any holes that are filled with pulp. If you spot any that are filled then give them a good rinse and scrub under a hot water tap. If you still struggle to free up the holes then let them soak in soapy hot water for a few hours before scrubbing again which should help to ease up the dried pulp.

Fruit and vegetables can easily stain and discolour your blender or juicer but this shouldn’t be your primary concern. While discolouration doesn’t look nice it’s not going to affect the quality of your drink. Instead focus on making sure that no plant matter is left behind on your appliance as if you leave it to long it can breed bacteria and the next juice you make might be dangerous to drink.

For more tips and advice including our favourite smoothie recipes, take a look on our News & Articles and Tips & Advice sections or share your cleaning tips with us by tweeting @TimeForYouGroup.

6 natural supplements to make your shakes healthier than ever before

Juicing is one of the best ways to get your daily fix of fruit and vegetables and with each new recipe there is a whole new range of health benefits that comes with it. However, not all ingredients are created equally and some supplements and ‘super food’ add-ins can give you a boost that could rival any vitamin tablet. Here are six of our favourite powders and potions that will supercharge your smoothie and make you feel on top of the world.

Cacao – not to be confused with cocoa – is the purest form of chocolate that you can consume. Cacao is rich in magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, copper and zinc. In fact the levels of magnesium are among the highest in any food source. With a chocolaty taste, cacao not only makes your smoothies taste better but can also regulate your insulin, boost your cardiac health, lower your blood pressure and boost your mood. What a way to start the day!

Chia Seed
Often used to add some texture to a thin smoothie, Chia seeds thicken up when wet. High in protein and rich in trace minerals, they contain a powerful dose of essential fatty acids which are responsible for regulating blood pressure and blood viscosity as well as immune and inflammatory responses.

Flax Seed Oil
Whether in seed form or as cold-pressed oil, flaxseed is an important source of fatty acids and a powerful anti-oxidant that makes a great addition to your shakes. While research is still ongoing, flax seed has been documented to aid digestion, reduce inflammation, protect against some forms of cancer and boost cardiac health.

Hemp Seed Oil
Another good source of your protein is hemp powder or oil. Packed full of fatty acids and antioxidants hemp seeds and oils are great for cardiovascular health, skin conditions and your immune system. Due to its high protein levels a spoonful of hemp protein powder in your smoothie can work wonders after an intensive workout.

This fresh water plant is one of the most popular super foods around. Grown in fresh water it is blue - green algae that is available commercially in powdered form – perfect to add into meals or straight into your smoothie. Spirulina can be used to detox heavy meals, may help heal Candida and leaky gut syndrome, certain types of cancers and reduce cholesterol.  It is also said to increase energy and promote fat burning. If you’re not sold by that then try this for size – some strains, like Spirulina Pacifica, have almost 4000% more iron than spinach in just a 3-gram serving!

Grown high up in the Andes Mountains in Peru, Maca is a leafy root plant similar to a radish or turnip. Maca has been used for over 3,000 years by locals and is said to be helpful with everything from memory and blood problems to menstrual issues and stomach cancers. Today Maca is available around the world in both tablet and powder form and is commonly used for sexual health, anti-aging properties and energy levels.

Other popular super foods include coconut oil, avocados, goji berries, flaxseed, acai, camu camu and many more. What’s your favourite super food to include in your smoothies? Let us know by tweeting us at @TimeForYouGroup or for more tips and advice visit us at

Energy juices to help you start the day right

Breakfast is the most commonly skipped meal of the day – however it’s also often called the most important. As your body spends all night fasting without food, it’s absolutely essential to find time to eat something nutritious come the morning.

Studies show that breakfast improves concentration and memory as well as cognitive function and general long term health, helping to reduce high blood pressure and obesity. However, not everyone has time to get a good hearty breakfast in the morning. You may have a long commute; have to manage the school run or perhaps just like an extra 20 minutes in bed – in which case you should look for an alternative way of getting your morning fix of the good stuff. Energy juices and shakes are a fantastic way to set you up for the day and can be made the night before, or even earlier in a big batch to last you the week. Here are a few of our favourite recipes to get you started.

Pineapple, apple, turmeric & ginger
1 diced cup of pineapple a teaspoon of turmeric, grated ginger and a teaspoon of black pepper which helps your body to absorb the curcumin found in turmeric. Curucmin has been shown to boost the immune system and be beneficial in helping reduce inflammation such as with irritable bowel disorder, psoriasis, arthritis and other similar health problems.

Beetroot, apple & ginger  
All the best morning juices are brightly coloured. None is more vibrant than this beetroot smoothie. Beetroot has a very distinct taste and will really awaken your taste buds first thing in the morning with its zingy kick – especially with some added ginger. Beetroot is full of folic acid which is a powerful anti-oxidant while apples give you some much needed fibre.

Coconut, kale and ginger
Another popular morning energy smoothie is that of coconut and kale. Kale is one of the best sources of protein around while coconut water has a uniquely refreshing taste that gives you a fantastic morning boost. Once again ginger can be added to give the smoothie more of a ‘zing’ but it also has some good health benefits such as easing upset stomachs and promoting digestive wellness.

Kale, apple, cucumber, lemon and ginger
If you’re looking to get your fix of greens then this is the smoothie to start your day. Kale is low calorie, high fibre and packed with nutrients, vitamins and magnesium. Cucumber is equally impressive with potassium, molybdenum, magnesium and silica. Lemons are filled with vitamin C, B6, A and Vitamin E, while ginger aids digestion and improves flavour.

Try introducing these juices into your daily diet and observe how they improve your energy levels. For further recipes take a look on websites like Pinterest and be sure to tweet us @TimeForYouGroup to let us know which one’s you’ve enjoyed the most.

Having Your Cake And Eating It: 3 Delicious Healthy Cake Recipes

Make no mistake, these cakes might be virtuous, but miraculously the healthy ingredients (including spelt flour, nuts, dried fruit, even vegetables) elevate the flavours, giving a complex, sophisticated taste to the baked treats. I think you’ll find the three recipes below to be rich and indulgent and deeply satisfying. And once you get a taste for healthy cakes, you’ll be hooked!

Healthy Millionaire’s Shortbread (recipe inspired by Alessandra Peters)


For the base

100g ground almonds

75g arrowroot

30g coconut flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of salt

85 ml honey

85 ml coconut oil (melted)

For the caramel

12 large medjool dates, pitted

3 tbsp peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp salt

4 tbsp hot water

Chocolate topping

150g dark chocolate broken into small chunks

1 tsp coconut oil


Preheat the oven to 160C and line a 20x20 baking tray with baking paper and grease lightly.

Put all the shortbread base ingredients into a bowl and mix until smooth. Press the dough into the baking tray and cook for 15 mins. Let the base cool.

Put all the caramel ingredients in a food processor and blend until they clump together. Press the caramel onto the cooled base. 

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a bowl over a simmering pan of hot water. Stir together and pour over the date caramel.

Put the tray in the fridge until the chocolate has set (about 20 minutes).

Use a knife to slice it into 12 squares.

Carrot Crumble Cake (recipe inspired by Amber Rose)


255g wholemeal spelt flour, sifted

1½  tsp allspice

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Large pinch of salt

180g carrots, grated

225g runny honey

60g unsalted butter, melted and cooled for ten mins

225g Greek-style natural yoghurt

1 large free-range egg

40g almonds

40g sultanas

For the crumble

45g white spelt flour, sifted

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

30g unsalted butter, cubed

Pinch of salt

3 tbsp roughly chopped pumpkin seeds


Preheat the oven at 180C. Grease and line a 22cm springform cake tin with baking paper.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and then add the grated carrots. In another bowl, mix the honey, butter, yoghurt and egg. Beat with electric mixer until combined and then fold this wet mixture into the dry mixture. Pour into the lined cake tin and smooth the top with a knife.

For the crumble, put the flour and sugar in a bowl and rub in the cold butter until the mixture is like breadcrumbs. Add the chopped up pumpkins seeds and salt and the sprinkle on the cake mix. Put in the oven and bake for 35-40 mins.

Remove from oven, test with a skewer (if it comes out clear it’s cooked) and leave to cool for ten minutes before putting it onto wire rack.

Coconut, Carrot And Banana Cupcakes With a Cream Cheese Topping (recipe inspired by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl)


80g unsalted butter

4 tbsp honey

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

60g spelt flour

50g dessicated coconut

200g grated carrots

1 large ripe banana

4 egg whites


200g cream cheese

3 tbsp maple syrup

Juice of half a lemon

A handful of hazelnuts roughly chopped


Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a muffin tray with 12 cupcake cases.

Gently melt the butter in saucepan, add the honey and the spices and stir together. Set aside for ten minutes. Put the almonds in a bowl and add the spelt flour, coconut and baking powder.

Put the grated carrots and banana in a food processor and blend until the banana is mixed in with the carrots. Add to the dry ingredients and stir well.

Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold in the cake mixture and add the spiced butter and stir until smooth. Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake for 25-30 mins until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, whisk the cream cheese, maple syrup and lemon juice in a bowl. When the muffins are cool, spoon on the icing and sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Photos courtesy of Katya Willems at





Five Mini Break Destinations For Foodies

Some people think food is great. Others worship earth’s edibles. We call these people foodies. The first thing they think of when they wake up is tucking into something tasty. They probably even plan their days specifically around meals.

If this sounds like you, and travelling also ticks another box, I have a treat for you. Feed that wonderful obsession of yours by discovering five magnificent mini breaks that will satisfy your taste bud’s aspirations in glorious ways.

Even if you’re not a foodie, your appetite for travel and food will grow from reading this list. You have been warned.

1. Burgundy, France

France is the epitome of sophisticated wining and dining. Food plays a huge cultural role, used as a cornerstone of social gatherings, dinners here can often feature up to six courses. And if you want to experience French cuisine at its finest, Burgundy should be your first point of call.

Epoisses, a cheese distinguished by it’s nutty and citrus flavours, is sourced from the region's distinctive cream-coloured Charolais cows; a local delicacy not to be missed. Burgundy is also famed for its succulent beef bourguignon. You can enjoy this famous dish in the city’s many stylish restaurants. For exceptional French gastronomy, you may want to visit Relais Bernard Loiseau: a Michelin three-star restaurant named after its celebrity owner. You won’t regret a single mouthful from their menu.

2. Zurich, Switzerland

A spectacularly beautiful country, Switzerland is notorious for its otherworldly landscapes, with storybook towns surrounded by snowy peaked mountains and crystal clear lakes. Add heavenly confectionery into the mix and things get really special. Switzerland is the epicentre for Lindt chocolate... and it’s magic. The way the outer casing melts to reveal a cool and delicate fondant centre is a marvel we can’t explain.

What we can tell you is that Zurich is a chocolate lover’s paradise. It’s a city teeming with enough chocolateries to put you in a permanent sugar stupor. But if you’re more inclined to savoury delicacies, tuck into Switzerland's most famous dish, Zürcher Geschnetzeltes. It’s a creamy medley of earthy mushrooms, sauteed veal, and crispy potato rosti; pure gluttonous heaven.

3. New York, America

New York has earned its right to be in the top five places to visit on almost everyone’s list. And while it’s cosmopolitan attractions are what make the city so magnetising, the food on offer here is also a hot topic.

New York is a fast-food mecca combining cultures from around the world. If Mexican cuisine is your passion, chow down on some grilled corn layered in mayonnaise and Cotija cheese. Or pick up a fried chicken sandwich served on a buttermilk biscuit. Weirder, you say? Finish on a sweet note with Schmackary’s maple bacon cookies… yes, bacon cookies (only in America, right?).

4. Naples, Italy

If you spell Naples backward, it won’t say pizza... but it definitely should. Travel to Italy’s bustling city and be hypnotised by the smell of freshly stone baked pizzas around every street corner. And you don’t have to empty your pockets for a first-rate meal. Even the best pizzerias, such as La Pizzeria Sorbillo owned by Gino Sorbillo, offer this iconic meal at reasonable prices.

Simplicity, not sophistication, is the secret ingredient to the city's gastronomy; Naples prides itself on using fresh ingredients from the region (you won’t ever find pineapple on your pizza here). Choose to stay here for a mini break and spend your time adventuring up Mount Vesuvius and exploring the ancient city of Pompeii. Finish your day with the tastiest pizza you’ll probably ever eat.

5. Northern Ireland, Belfast

Encompassed by rough seas and wild landscapes, it’s easy to see from where Northern Ireland sources the hearty, fresh food that puts a smile on many a traveller’s face. And the best place to sample such divine dishes? Belfast. This dynamic, vibrantly cultural city is full of restaurants offering succulent seafood, meat cooked to perfection, hand-picked fruit and organic vegetables.

Choose to dine here and experience menus inspired by the land. Feast on Mountain Lamb and lobster at the Michelin-starred Ox. Or head over to Deanes (owned by top chef Michael Deane) for a tender fillet of Fermanagh beef with braised ox cheek, complemented with triple cooked chips and bordelaise sauce. And don’t forget to leave without trying the famous Ulster Fry, best sampled at a local B&B where home cooking is a given.

Eat, travel, and be merry

Turn your mini break into a food filled weekend away, experimenting with both classic and modern dishes that’ll make your holiday a talking point for weeks. Here are the destinations we discussed, and the fare these holiday hotspots are famed for:

  • Burgandy, France - Wine, Beef, Cheese
  • Zurich, Switzerland - Chocolate, Veal
  • America, New York - Fast Food (the good kind)
  • Naples, Italy - Pizza
  • Northern Ireland - Ulster Fry, Seafood, Mountain Lamb


5 Tips For Decluttering Your Home From Tidying Expert Marie Kondo


Marie Kondo is a Japanese organising and decluttering professional and her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has sold over five million copies worldwide. So popular is her method that ‘to kondo’ has even become a verb.

So what’s so ‘life changing’ about her process?

Her book breaks down her two-pronged approach to tidying:

First, put your hands on every single item you own, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, thank it for its service and throw it away.

Second, now only your most joy-sparking belongings remain, put every item in a place where it’s visible, accessible, and easy to pick up and then put back. Only then, Kondo says, will you have reached the holy grail of housekeeping, and never have to tidy again.

The book is well worth a read, but here are five of the best tips from the book:

Tip 1: Tackle Categories, Not Rooms

Kondo’s first rule is to tidy by category: deal with every single one of your shoes at once, for example, otherwise they’ll continue to appear in other rooms, and you’ll never control the clutter. She advises beginning with clothing, since it’s the least emotionally charged of one’s possessions (books are next, old photographs left until last).

Tip 2: Focus not on what to bin, but on what to keep

When doing a big clear out, most of us focus on what we’re going to throw away. Kondo’s approach is the opposite, she says we should look instead at what we’re going to keep. It is overwhelming to part with sentimental items, especially those attached to parents, children or cherished friends. By first identifying which items are true treasures, it’s much easier to say goodbye to the rest.

Tip 3: Fold, Don’t Hang

Once you’ve sorted out the things to discard, you can decide where the remaining things should go. And in the case of clothes, rather than hanging in a wardrobe, Kondo thinks a lot of our clothing would be better off (or as she’d say, happier) folded in drawers using Marie Kondo’s special folding technique.

Kondo’s vertical folding technique makes everything easy to find and hard to mess up (you don’t have to turn a whole pile of t-shirts upside down every time you want something at the bottom). Folded this way, clothing looks almost like origami, lining your drawers in neat rows.

To keep these little folded packages standing perkily in the drawer, Kondo suggests using shoeboxes as drawer dividers. A smaller box is perfect for knickers and pants, a deep one can go on a bottom drawer for jumpers or jeans.

Tip 4: Fall in Love with Your Wardrobe

This is why people become so obsessed with the Marie Kondo method. Once you’ve cleared away the clutter and put things away, your dresses and skirts - the good stuff, is finally visible. There’s actually room between pieces, so you no longer have to fight to see your clothes. All of which means you get a hit of excitement just opening your wardrobe, whether you’re getting ready in the morning or planning a party outfit.

Tip 5: Streamline Your Photos

Tidying your photos should be the final stage in your journey to clear the sentimental clutter in your home, says Kondo. She recommends that you collect all the photos you have around the house and lay all the photos on the floor according to the year or period in which they were taken. Let go of any that are similar and if you have several photos from the same day, choose the best one. And negatives? Just get rid of them. Another smart rule is to only keep pictures in which you, or your loved one, is looking good.














Six Reason a Staycation is Better Than a Holiday Abroad

Are you ready to pack your suitcase? To leave all the everyday stresses and ties behind, if only for a little while. We all need a holiday from time to time to unwind and rejuvenate.

But what you might not realise is that going overseas isn’t necessary to achieve the perfect holiday. Not when we can indulge in adventure, relaxation and natural beauty much closer to home.

I’m going to share with you all the reasons why a staycation should be your first choice when you’re in need of a break. Discover the benefits of holidaying on your home turf and get excited for all the incredible experiences you can enjoy.

1. Say Goodbye to Airport Stress

Avoid airports and all the anxiety that accompanies flying overseas by staying closer to home. You won’t miss your heart skipping a beat when you think you’ve forgotten your passport (or if you suddenly realise it’s not in date). Nor will you long for that sinking feeling when your flight is delayed or when you're running late.

And let's face it. Who loves airport security? Fitting all your liquids into a tiny zipper bag can be a huge pain. Not to mention unpacking all of your electronics with a queue of holiday makers sending daggers to your back. Take a vacation that doesn’t require long hours at an airport and eliminate these stresses that accompany flying.  

2. Make it a dog-cation

The last thing you want to feel when you’re about to embark on a well-deserved holiday is guilt. But, if you have a dog, watching those big sad eyes follow you as you leave can be like a knife to the heart. Instead, choose to take your four-legged friend with you and be treated to fluffy faces full of joy and tail wagging happiness.

What’s more, dogs love exploring new places. Stay somewhere with beautiful hikes and have your pooch join you as a mega-happy walking companion. It’s a perfect bonding opportunity, and you’ll feel great waking up to their happiness every day of your holiday.

3. Open your eyes to beauty closer to home

It’s easy to be swept away by the idea of Mediterranean coastlines and tropical paradises. But it’s important to remember that English, Scottish and Welsh landscapes harbor storybook rapture begging to be explored.

From rolling green hills to towering mountains. Secret coves with turquoise waters to long stretches of white sandy beaches. Castles brimming with history to ancient ruins from forgotten times. Our homeland has it all and is yours to discover if you’re ready to become a local explorer.

4. Treat your taste buds

Fish and Chips. Roast dinners. English breakfasts. Pizza and pasta dishes. Tapas and Greek banquets. Street food and barbecues. Feeling hungry now? Same.The good news: all of these mouthwatering meals from around the world can be found (pretty much) anywhere in the UK (unless you’re fifty miles from the nearest town, then a pre-shop at your nearest supermarket might be a smart move).

In short, you could spend lots of money traveling abroad to taste delectable dishes. Or you could save your pennies (to spend on more food, of course) and holiday at home, with an array of mouth-watering choices rarely far from your front door.

Top tip: Use sites like Tripadvisor for restaurant reviews to separate the not-so-great eateries from the culinary delights.

5. Huge choice of hotels

When picking the perfect pillow to rest your head on during a staycation, you have a plethora of options, from the luxurious to the weird and wacky. A great example of the latter: overlooking the British channel in the City of Newport, you could be barbecuing from the roof of a lighthouse above your hotel room.

Or if you like the outdoors but camping isn’t really your thing, you might be tempted by Holycombe’s very own treehouse hotel. You might not find Tarzan and his entourage, but you will discover a deluxe double bed furnished with Moroccan fabrics and a log fire to warm your toes in the chill of the night.

6. Relax in familiarity

There’s no question: holidaying abroad can be a thrilling adventure. But even the most experienced travelers can be flustered by the unknown. Not speaking the native tongue, knowing which road will take you where having to deal in foreign currency and being thrust into a new culture; all of these aspects to traveling overseas can make it difficult to relax.

Instead, you could be comforted by familiarity. A staycation rarely features unpleasant surprises because you know what to expect and what to avoid. And if you’re in a situation where your destination isn’t what you hoped it would be, you can feel easy that you aren’t stranded thousands of miles away.

Should you stay or should you go?

Are you currently pondering your next holiday? Or perhaps you’re raring to get something concrete in the diary sooner rather than later. Use what you’ve learned here to consider a staycation over taking a break abroad. 

The health benefits of house plants

You might have admired a house plant before as an attractive addition to an indoor space. But have you ever looked at one and thought, I’m so glad this plant is here to make me healthier.

Perhaps not. But you should! And we’re going to learn why. Discover the mind blowing health benefits of bringing a little bit of nature into your home.

1. They clean your air

We see it a lot in sci-fi movies: spaceships often have a sealed off greenhouse in zero gravity as an oxygen back up plan. Of course, we don’t need to produce our own oxygen seeing that we’re not in space… But dismissing the effect a house plant can have on the air in our homes would be a mistake.

Plants can reduce carbon dioxide levels and certain pollutants such as benzene and nitrogen dioxide, purifying the air you breathe. According to a study on the health benefits of controlling carbon emissions in China by Richard F. Garbaccio, minimising these pollutants can result in “reduced premature mortality, fewer cases of chronic bronchitis, and other health effects.” Neat, right?

Here are the best plants for removing indoor pollutants:

1. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
2. Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
3. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
4. Bamboo Palm (Bambuseae)
5. Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)

2. They deter illness

Speaking of preventing sickness, a plant’s ability to produce moisture as part of its photosynthetic and respiratory process can result in further health improvements. To compensate when the air is dry, extra moisture is drawn from our mucus membranes. This can result in cracked sinuses which is as bad as it sounds. Nosebleeds, scratchy throats and other illnesses owing to your body's decreased ability to trap and filter viruses is a genuine risk, as highlighted by the Bayer Advanced studies at the Agricultural University of Norway.

Having that extra humidity might be unwanted in the summer months. But in winter, adopting a house plant to produce moisture can be a godsend when it comes fighting bothersome ailments. No more nasal sprays or lemsips; pick up a potted friend instead.

3. They help you focus

Findings from the Royal College of Agriculture in Cirencester revealed that students had 70% greater attentiveness when plants were part of their study environment. While the reasons behind this result require more research, it wouldn’t do you harm to test it out in your own home.

Perhaps you’re learning a new skill that requires a lot of focus. Or maybe you need a tranquil space to tune into your creativity. Having plants in your study might just give you an extra boost in concentration to increase the rate you learn.

4. They create a feeling of well-being

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. So it’s important to ensure that your personal space is as welcoming and relaxing as possible. Having house plants is a great way to inject beauty and colour into your home. This might make you feel happy when you’re around those leafy greens and beautiful flowers.

Moreover, since many of us associate nature with peace and tranquillity, adding greenery to your decor might emulate this feeling too. This could be especially effective when you experience the daily hustle and bustle of built up areas like cities and towns. Say you lived in a flat without a garden. Plants can give you that slice of nature most humans crave but can’t always be near to.

5. They give you a sense of fulfilment

When you bring a seedling into you home, the act of nurturing your new plant can bring you a comforting sense of responsibility. Similar to having a pet, taking care of it and watching it grow into adulthood is a satisfying experience.

It’s a reminder that you were in control of its well being, you cared for it properly, and now it has bloomed into the beautiful specimen it was always meant to be. That’s an accomplishment and a half and having that as a daily memento every time you step through your front door can give you a great sense of fulfilment.

Time to pop down to your local greenhouse?

As we have discovered, houseplants can do amazing things for your physical and mental health. The idea that a potted plant can:

● Clean your air
● Prevent nasty ailments
● Enhance your mood
● Clear up brain fog
● Make you feel accomplished

… is incredible, to say the least!

Is your home already filled with plants? Do they impact the way you feel? Or perhaps you have none at all and now feel like you should. To help you make a decision on which is the right plant for you, here are ten beautiful potted greens that can thrive indoors:

1. Orchids (Orchidaceae)
2. Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)
3. Guiana Chestnut (Pachira aquatica)
4. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
5. Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
6. Silver Dollar Plant (Xerosicyos danguyi)
7. Jade plant (Crassula ovata)
8. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
9. Chinese Water Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
10. Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)

How to create a geometric feature wall


You have a fresh blank wall (or soon to be blank) and you’re thinking, How can I turn this into something special?

A geometric design might just be your perfect solution. An eye-catching focal point, it can be crafted to your taste, whether you’re looking to inject bright and bold colours into your decor or grey tones to an already colourful room. And while it might look like a professional hand is needed to create those perfect lines, the opposite is true.

All it takes to create this unique wall art is seven simple steps to wow your friends and family.

Here’s what you’ll need:

● A step ladder
● A roll of Frogtape
● Two or three contrasting emulsion paints
● A small roller and tray
● A fine paintbrush


Step 1

Prepare your wall by filling in any holes and gaps with filler. Sand down until smooth.

Then draw your plan on a piece of paper and stick it to your wall. It’s much easier to create your pattern if you have a physical reference to always go back to.

Step 2

To create an outline of your design, mark your points with a pencil and use a ruler to link your points with ultra straight lines. Try not to create lines that are difficult to remove; use a light hand when drawing with a pencil.

Step 3

Place Frogtape along your outline to mask the wall. And if you’ve recently painted, pick a delicate tape to reduce the risk of ruining all that hard work.

Step 4

Take a rubber and gently remove all traces of pencil so your lines won’t show through your final design.

Step 5

Time for the fun part! Carefully pour paint into a tray and layer your roller with your chosen colour. Avoid drippage by removing excess paint.

Using a steady hand, move the roller over the masking tape, right up to the edge of your outline. This will give your geometric design crisp lines once you remove the Frog tape.

Top Tip!

Remove the risk of going over the edge of your design by using a small brush on tight corners where the Frogtape meets.

Step 6

Leave your paint to dry for at least two hours. Then apply a new coat to make sure your colours appear bright and bold.

If you’re creating overlapping or adjacent shapes, wait 24 hours for your paint to completely dry and then place tape over your chosen area.

The finish line

The finale is very satisfying. Slowly pull off your tape to reveal your sharp and professionally looking geometric design. All that’s left to do is admire your artistic mastery (and clean up…).

Ready to connect with your creative side?

The beauty of designing a geometric wall is that, by following these easy steps, the finished piece will look perfectly crafted. What’s more, you get to choose the colours, the size and the angles of your project to make it entirely individual to you.

My final word? Observe the prominent colours used in your current decor. Then decide on your shades and hues to create the perfect colour scheme.