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Monthly Archives: January 2014
  • Posted on January 31, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend

    It’s Chinese New Year! So we’ve got some Chinese inspired recipes for you this weekend in case you're celebrating with a feast tonight and need some last minute ideas, or just fancy a tasty homemade Saturday night Chinese.

    The first of our recipes is for tempting Teriyaki Chicken from the gorgeous forthcoming book, Friends Around the Table, and can be easily enjoyed by a couple of you or a whole party of people! The second recipe is a nice and healthy wheat-free dish from Super Grains & Seeds - Buckwheat Noodles with Pak Choi, Cashews & Tamari Sauce - so you can enjoy a delicious meal without breaking your new year diet as we head into February.

    teriyaki chicken breast

    This is a great dish to prepare in advance when you have lots of guests, as it works perfectly served at room temperature. It’s an amazingly easy marinade that also works wonders with fish, especially tuna and salmon.

    4 skinless chicken breasts

    olive oil, for frying

    4 tablespoons soy sauce

    2 teaspoons sesame oil

    1 teaspoon fish sauce

    2 tablespoons Thai sweet chilli sauce

    1 teaspoon sesame seeds

    2 tablespoons fresh

    coriander/cilantro leaves, chopped

    1 red chilli, sliced

    1 garlic clove, finely chopped

    1 thumb-size piece fresh ginger, finely chopped

    2 spring onions/scallions, sliced

    salad leaves/greens or steamed pak choi/bok choy, to serve

    a ridged grill pan

    an ovenproof dish

    serves 4

    Preheat the oven to 220ºC (425ºF) Gas 7.

    Ideally you’ll need a ridged grill pan for this recipe. Don’t fret if you don’t have one – a regular non-stick frying pan/skillet will do just fine. Heat the pan until it is smoking hot. Rub a little olive oil onto the chicken breasts and cook for 3 minutes on each side, until the chicken is marked. Transfer to an ovenproof dish, cover with kitchen foil and cook in the preheated oven for a further 12 minutes, until cooked all the way through. Test the meat by pricking with a skewer and seeing whether the juices run clear. If they don’t, just cook it for a little longer. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes, covered in kitchen foil to keep warm.

    Meanwhile, gently warm a non-stick frying pan/ skillet and toast the sesame seeds, stirring frequently, until golden brown, then remove from the pan to cool. For the marinade, mix together all the remaining ingredients and add the toasted sesame seeds. Pour over the cooked chicken and leave to marinate for a few hours.

    Serve with a crisp green salad or some steamed pak choi/bok choy.


    Friends Around the Table by Acland Geddes is published in February. Click here for more details.


    buckwheat noodles with pak choi, cashews & tamari sauce

    This is a great go-to Asian dish. Buckwheat flour is often used in noodle dishes. Some buckwheat noodles do have wheat in them so check the package if you want them wheat-free!

    340 g/12 oz buckwheat noodles

    1 onion

    1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

    1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

    200 g/1 large head pak choi/bok choy

    50 g/1⁄2 cup roasted cashew nuts (see Note)

    tamari sauce

    1 tablespoon soy sauce (check for gluten-free)

    2 teaspoons sesame oil

    1⁄4 teaspoon finely chopped ginger

    2 teaspoons flaxseed oil

    2 teaspoons clear honey

    1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

    1 tablespoon white sesame seeds

    serves 4

    Note: If you can’t find pre-roasted cashews you can roast them yourself by scattering them on an ungreased baking sheet and cooking in a preheated oven at 180ºC (350ºF) Gas 4 for 10 minutes, or until golden.

    Prepare the tamari sauce in advance. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until combined.

    Cook the noodles in salted water in a large saucepan or pot over a medium heat for 10-12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions.

    While the noodles are cooking, chop the onion, ginger and pak choi/bok choy. In a large frying pan/skillet, fry the onion and ginger in the grapeseed oil until the onion is translucent. Add the chopped pak choi/bok choy, until wilted.

    Drain the noodles, then mix together with the fried vegetables in the reserved bowl of tamari sauce. Toss with chopped roasted cashew nuts and serve.

    Super Grains & Seeds by Amy Ruth Finegold is out in February. Click here for more details.

    Enjoy your celebrations everyone, have a lovely weekend and happy cooking!

    How about our book oodles of noodles as well?

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with New Year, party, dinner party, chinese new year, feast, recipe for the weekend, noodles, diet, friends around the table, super grains and seeds, celebrations, coming soon, Gluten-free

  • Posted on January 31, 2014

    Meet Selina Lake!

    Book signing for Romantic Style

    Head over to the beautiful Powder Blue Home & Garden next weekend to meet our lovely author and fabulous interiors stylist, Selina Lake!

    To see more of Selina Lake's gorgeous books, click here. Her new book, Selina Lake Outdoor Living is coming your way soon!


    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with interiors, event, Selina Lake, book signing, 2014, outdoor living

  • Posted on January 30, 2014

    Get crafty for the Chinese New Year!

    As celebrations for the Year of the Horse get underway, we have a little origami project to get you in the mood. Taken from Mari Ono’s lovely craft book, Origami Farm, this is one of the more difficult makes, but don’t let that put you off because by following these simple steps you can make your very own Chinese New Year Horse!


    origami horse

    Although it is tricky to make, this origami horse is a delightful model and, when running around its paddock, gives a true feeling of a working farm. Make the body first, taking care when expanding the paper in the middle. Folding the head may also be hard because of the many sheets of paper that lie on top of each other, but do your best.

    You will need:

    Two sheets of 6 in (15 cm) square paper

    Paper glue


    Fold the sheet that makes the horse’s body in half both ways to make creases, opening it out each time. Turn in the sides so that they meet along the central crease, then turn in both ends so that they also meet.


    Open out the lower flap and push the corners of paper out from the object, refolding so that they form triangular flaps on either side. Repeat at the top.


    Turn the object over and fold the top and bottom over so that they meet along the central crease of the object.



    Turn the paper over again and gently open out the model, folding the edges over so that they lie flat.


    Fold the object in half across itself to form the basic shape of the horse’s body.



    Make new folds on the insides of every leg, creating crease lines from the ends of the legs to the middle of the top edge of the model.



    Fold over the top left-hand corner of the object, then open up the model and refold the corner inside, reversing the direction of the creases. Put the body aside till later.


    Fold the other sheet in half from corner to corner through the design to make a crease, then open it out and fold the lower edges in so that they meet along this central crease.


    Turn the paper over and fold the object in half, then fold in the upper diagonal edges so that they meet along the central crease.


    Carefully open up these new flaps and refold them so that the diagonal fold is removed and the long edges run down the center. You will end up with a diamond shape.


    Turn the paper over and fold it in half lengthwise.


    Fold over the pointed tip at right angles to the main body of the model to make a crease. Release the end, then lift the paper up and carefully refold the outer layer of the creased end, reversing the direction of the folds to make an outside fold.


    Turn back the tip, then refold it inside the head to form the horse’s nose using an inside fold.


    Fold down the remaining part of the top point, making a crease inside the neck below the level of the head. Carefully open up the back of the neck and refold it, this time reversing the creases using an inside fold.


    Fold forward the back of the neck on both sides to reveal the design of the horse’s mane.


    Using a little bit of paper glue, join the two parts together, sliding the neck around the body inside the flaps of the legs.

    And there you have it! You're very own origami horse to celebrate the Chinese New Year!

    Origami Farm by Mari Ono is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with New Year, chinese new year, Mari Ono, origami, celebrations, paper crafts

  • Posted on January 24, 2014

    Recipe for the weekend!

    Burns Night has arrived for another year and countless celebrations will be held all over Scotland and beyond in honour of the great poet himself!  So whether you are heading out for a céilidh or celebrating with a hearty helping of haggis we have the wee dram to set you on your way.  In fact, we have two…!

    For a modern twist on an old classic try this reworking of the Manhattan:


    50 ml/2 oz. scotch whisky • 25 ml/1 oz. fresh lemon juice

    12.5 ml/1⁄2 oz. sugar syrup

    1⁄2 egg white (optional)

    a fresh cherry and a slice of lemon, to garnish

    Shake all the ingredients together with cubed ice. Strain into a beaker and blitz briefly with a stick blender or aerolatte. Pour into a rocks glass and garnish with a cherry and a slice of lemon.

    By Tristan Stephenson

    Most recipes for a sour with whisky in them would include the letter ‘e’ in whisk(e)y, denoting the origin of the liquor to be American (bourbon and rye) or Irish. Scotch whisky is not the norm for a sour, but not wholly unheard of either. I’ve chosen to use Scotch for one simple reason – it tastes really good. That’s not to say that this drink doesn’t work well with bourbon, rye, Irish, Indian, Welsh, English or Japanese whiskey, too – or in fact virtually any other spirit – but the Scotch sour deserves a bit of recognition in my opinion. The Sour is one of the staple cocktail families – not particularly exciting in itself, but an essential part of the cocktail demographic. Sours are the basis for other families of drink, such as Fizzes (a Sour shaken and topped with soda), Collins (a Sour stirred with soda), Rickeys (a lime Sour topped with soda) and the family that the Sidecar, Cosmopolitan and White Lady belong to. They are simple, dependable creatures that there is no shame enjoying from time to time.  Jerry Thomas’s 1862 How to Mix Drinks or the Bon Vivant’s Companion was the first cocktail book to publish a Sour recipe, five in fact, including the Whiskey Sour (with bourbon), Gin Sour, Brandy Sour, Egg Sour (with brandy and curaçao) and Santa Cruz Sour (with rum). The Whiskey Sour reads:

    Take 1 large teaspoonful of powdered white sugar, dissolved in a little seltzer or Apollinaris water. The juice of half a small lemon. 1 wine glass of bourbon or rye whiskey.

    Fill the glass full of shaved ice, shake up and strain into a claret glass. Ornament with berries.

    This formula has remained almost untouched over the last 150 years and there’s a very good reason for that – it works. Thomas’s recipe calls for the reader to mix a water/sugar solution on the fly, but these days we use sugar syrup or gomme. The combination of spirit, lemon juice and sugar syrup in a 4:2:1 ratio results in a balanced drink most of the time, every time.

    Why Scotch? Well, Scotch and lemon juice have as strong an affinity as any two ingredients I can think of (see exhibit A – the Hot Toddy), there’s something medicinal abut the pairing. I also love the way the malt and peaty (if applicable) notes shine through, softened by the sweet and sour balance, but still more than apparent. In fact, I’ve found that a Whisky Sour is an excellent tool for initiating non-Scotch drinkers into the balmy folds of malt whisky appreciation.

    The Curious Bartender by Tristan Stephenson is published by Ryland Peters & Small and is available here.

    Or try making your own version of this timeless original!


    The original Manhattan was made with rye whiskey and the slightly spicy flavor works well. If no rye is to hand, bourbon makes an excellent substitute – softer and slightly sweeter. This is often known as a “West Coast” Manhattan because of its more laid-back nature. Try altering the proportions slightly to your taste, and the particular whiskey and vermouth being used.

    4 parts rye whiskey

    2 parts sweet vermouth

    2 dashes Angostura bitters

    Garnish: twist of orange zest,

    cocktail cherry

    Stir the ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Squeeze the orange twist over the surface of the drink and discard. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

    Brown Booze by Michael Butt is published by CICO Books and is available here.

    Happy Burn’s Night to one and all!



    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with Burns Night, Scotland

  • Posted on January 17, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend

    Has this week been a test of your new year diet? Now that you're back into the swing of things at work and reality is kicking it, it can be hard to keep up with the optimistic healthy eating targets you set yourself on New Year’s Day. Well we don’t believe it should be a chore to eat healthily and you shouldn’t have to give up everything tasty to do it!

    Jenna Zoe, author of the "diet-saver" book Super Healthy Snacks and Treats, shows us that we can have all of the foods that we love and crave when we’re trying to diet by just substituting a few key ingredients.

    So this weekend, we thought you might just fancy this lazy morning porridge with a deliciously healthy twist; Apple Pie Oatmeal with Coconut Whip. Make it tonight and enjoy tomorrow morning for an effort-free (and guilt-free) breakfast! Over to you, Jenna...

    © Michael Shelford

    Apple pie oatmeal with coconut whip

    The benefits of eating porridge for breakfast are well known. As a child though, I always found the obligatory bowl of oats quite boring. I would spruce it up by eating it cold, made with apple juice instead of water or milk. This apple pie-flavoured oatmeal evolved from there. You can eat it as is on a hurried weekday morning, or if you have more time to enjoy it, top it with coconut whip for a really special breakfast. Please note that the oatmeal recipe needs to be started the day before you want to serve it.

    Serves 1

    40 g oats (rolled or whole oats rather than the “quick cook” versions)

    120–160 ml unsweetened apple purée, depending on how thick you want
    your oatmeal

    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

    ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

    splash of almond milk

    6–7 walnuts, coarsely chopped

    Coconut whip

    400-ml can of coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 2 hours (don’t use light or low-fat coconut milk as these won’t work in this recipe)

    1–2 tablespoons xylitol or stevia, or other granulated sweetener

    dash of vanilla extract

    The day before you want to serve the oatmeal, combine the oats and apple purée in a bowl, cover it and refrigerate it overnight. The oats will soak up the apple and expand, so when you take your mixture out in the morning it will be nice and thick.

    The next morning, put the soaked oatmeal in a saucepan over low–medium heat, stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg and heat it up very gently. Once hot, spoon the oatmeal into a bowl. Add a splash of cold milk – the contrast between the hot and cold is really delicious.

    Top the oatmeal with walnuts, plus some coconut whip if using. Serve!

    For the coconut whip

    Open the can of chilled coconut milk, being careful not to shake it. A thick layer of coconut “cream” should have formed on the surface of the milk and on the lid. Scrape this off and place in a bowl – this is the part you need to make the whip. Add enough sweetener and vanilla extract to taste – the coconut is sweet on its own, so you just need a little of these to bring out its natural flavours. Beat with an electric whisk until the mixture resembles whipped cream – this can take up to about 6 minutes.

    Store any leftover coconut whip in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, and feel free to whisk it again if the texture doesn’t hold up as desired.

    You can serve coconut whip as an accompaniment to cakes, ice cream and pies.


    Super Healthy Snacks and Treats by Jenna Zoe is available here.

    Have a lovely weekend everyone and happy cooking!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with january, 2013, coconut, breakfast, brunch, porridge, recipe for the weekend, 2014, diet

  • Posted on January 13, 2014

    Become a practical princess with Elika Gibbs!

    For the many among us for whom peering into the darker recesses of our wardrobes holds all of the potential mayhem, mystery and intrigue of a day trip to Narnia, help is finally at hand.

    Elika Gibbs a.k.a Practical Princess is the organizational whiz and wardrobe expert responsible for organising the closets of some of the world’s most stylish and impeccably groomed, Kate Moss, Tamara Mellon, Lily Allen and the Eccleston sisters among them. In her book Practical Princess Perfect Wardrobe, she shares the secrets of her unique approach to de-cluttering and re-organising our clothes storage.

    Every related aspect is also covered, from help on deciding what to keep, what to chuck and what to store to how best to identify any gaps in your wardrobe and practical advice when going shopping. There are even great tips on how to deal with that perennial pest and arch nemesis of cashmere, the common clothes moth.

    So, bid adieu to chaos and clutter, to the discordant wind chime sound of bent wire hangers clanging listlessly to and fro, to dusty balled-up socks – holey at toe and heel – and say a bright bonjour to a new colour coordinated clarity! Those of us who’ve recently put the book to the test have found that getting dressed in the morning (even after a very late night out) has become a total breeze. Which of course has the added advantage of freeing up more time to stay in bed – always a bonus during these drear winter months.

    Dip a toe in the water with Elika’s Six Pile Process – very good place to start.

    the six-pile process

    As you try on your clothes, you will need to create six piles to help you keep order throughout the process. I often use sticky notes to mark my piles, so that items don’t get mixed up.

    1 KEEP

    The fit and the look are working for you.

    There must be no question mark hanging over these items. They must look good, fit well and be in good condition. They must also be relevant to your lifestyle, as identified in your wardrobe assessment. At the end of this exercise, don’t panic if this is your smallest pile. You haven’t gone wrong; you are simply being realistic about what does and doesn’t look good. You must trust in this process, or you will not benefit from my tried-and-tested formula.


    Pieces that you no longer wear, but don’t want to part with.

    Of course, there are always pieces that we want to hang onto, and archiving clothes allows us to return to and reuse things at a later date. I have kept some cherished pieces that I can no longer wear for my little girl. You may also have items that you want to hand down to someone special. Having said all of this, you still have to be realistic about how much you keep and where you are going to store it. If you are not wearing it, you shouldn’t see it!

    3 MAYBE

    Your headache pile: should it stay or should it go?

    When you are umming and ahhing over an item, there are a few important things to consider. Does it fit? Is it flattering? Is the cut, shape or detail dated? For instance, even if you don’t have a good pair of jeans to put in your KEEP pile, don’t be scared to get rid of unflattering pairs. It is better to have a gap in your wardrobe that you can fill when you go shopping. This will help you to buy what you need and stop impulse buying. When the gaps are identified, you strip away the illusion of having a complete wardrobe with loads of clothes yet nothing to wear. Does this sound familiar?

    4 EDIT

    Things to move on, including mistakes, wrong sizes or worn-out items.

    The key to editing successfully is brutal honesty. We have all made a fashion faux pas (or two) and later destroyed the photographic evidence. With hindsight, remortgaging the house to buy that fabulous dress was clearly a mistake! Just because something is designer or expensive doesn’t give it the privilege to sit in your wardrobe. This pile should also contain clothes that are tired, worn out or over-laundered. There’s nothing worse than a dingy off-white vest, even if it is one of your day-to-day basic pieces that you might be reluctant to throw away. These wardrobe basics need to be continually edited and replaced.


    Very Important!

    There is nothing worse than going to put something on only to find it needs to be dry-cleaned or laundered. Equally annoying is when you have planned an outfit and then realize that a zip is broken or a seam has come undone. Make sure that your clothes are always ready to wear. Don’t put dirty or damaged pieces into your wardrobe until they have been dealt with.

    Often, dated clothes can be modernized with a simple alteration. It is amazing what a difference simply changing a hemline or swapping the buttons can make to an outfit. So put items that can be updated on this pile.


    The clothes that you wear in the depth of winter or the height of summer should be packed away for the reverse season. Doing this will create space in your wardrobe and help you identify any gaps.

    Practical Princess Perfect Wardrobe by Elika Gibbs is available here.

    £12.99 (paperback) PUBLICATION January 2014

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with New Year, 2013, how to

  • Posted on January 10, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend

    For many of us, this week has been the first week back at work and a bit of a shock to the system. While you might intend on a weekend of sorting and organizing so that next week feels less alien, you might also fancy an evening relaxing in front of the TV with a nice meal. And while nobody is craving a huge plate of meat-and-two-veg after all of the festive feasting, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy something tasty!

    So this weekend we have a recipe from New to Cooking for Lemongrass and Rosemary Risotto with Orange Roasted Roots. Lesley Waters, author of this fantastic beginner’s cookbook, guides you through all of the cooking basics, such as boiling, frying and roasting, and then shares a collection of delicious recipes, like the one below. If you’ve decided to take up cooking for the new year then you’ll find the recipes easy-to-follow and fun, and if you already love to cook then you're bound to love them too!

    lemongrass and rosemary risotto with orange roasted roots

    Always add liquid to a risotto gradually so that the rice absorbs it little by little, as it swells and cooks. The stock should go in hot, so put it in a saucepan over a low heat and ladle it in as you go.

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    1 large onion, finely chopped

    1 stalk of lemongrass

    a large sprig of rosemary, plus extra to serve

    375 g/1 3/4 cups risotto rice, such as arborio or carnaroli

    300 ml/1 1/4 cups white wine

    about 850 ml/3 3/4 cups hot vegetable stock

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

    salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1 recipe orange roasted roots (below), to serve

    serves 4

    Put the oil into a large saucepan and heat. When hot, add the onion and fry for 5–8 minutes until softened and turning golden.

    Using a rolling pin, lightly bruise the lemongrass and the sprig of rosemary to release the flavours. Add to the onion, then add the rice and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute.

    Add the wine, 1 ladle of hot stock and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to simmering. As the stock is absorbed, gradually add more, 1 ladle at a time, letting each be absorbed before adding the next.

    orange roasted roots

    Roasting butternuts, carrots and sweet potatoes until they caramelize is a fantastic way to bring out their natural sweetness and intense flavours.

    1 butternut squash

    4 carrots, halved lengthways

    8 shallots

    2 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges

    1 orange, halved crossways

    4 tablespoons olive oil

    2 large sprigs of rosemary

    8 garlic cloves

    salt and freshly ground black pepper

    serves 4

    Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6. Cut the butternut in half lengthways and peel, using a small, sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon and discard. Put the cut halves, flat side down, on a board and cut into chunks, about 5 cm/2 inches.

    Put the butternut, carrots, shallots and sweet potatoes into a large roasting pan. Squeeze over the juice from the orange and put the squeezed halves into the pan with the vegetables.

    Drizzle with the olive oil and put the rosemary on top. Add plenty of salt and black pepper, then transfer to the preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes.

    Remove from the oven and add the garlic. Shake the pan and move the vegetables around to stop them sticking. Return them to the oven for a further 20 minutes until tender and slightly caramelized.

    New to Cooking by Lesley Waters is available here. Have a lovely weekend everyone and happy cooking!


    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with 2013, recipe for the weekend, orange, butternut squash, risotto, rosemary

  • Posted on January 8, 2014

    Refresh your skin, awaken yourself!

    Make your very own lavender & witch hazel skin freshener from Natural Beauty by Karen Gilbert.

    We all know that “January feeling” of having enjoyed a little too much alcohol, too much food, and too many late nights over the festive season. Now we’re back into the swing of normal life it’s time to start paying your body back, and what better way than to pamper yourself with natural ingredients and homemade skincare? Below is a simple recipe for a gorgeous toner that can become part of your morning skin regime to get you back to feeling fresh and fabulous!

    Lavender & Witch Hazel Skin Freshener

    Skin fresheners, or toners, are something we were all encouraged to use in the past as part of a cleanse, tone, and moisturize routine, and although they seem to have fallen out of favor, I have included a couple of different options for you here.

    If you take a look at the ingredient listing of most good-quality natural toners, they are mainly made up of either water with herbal extracts added or from floral waters. Floral waters, or hydrolats, are the byproduct of the steam distillation of plant matter during the production of essential oils. For this reason, it is quite easy to get a huge variety of different flower waters, which can be used as skin fresheners on their own or blended with other water-soluble ingredients. Hydrolats go off quite quickly unless a preservative has been added, so you will usually need to use them within six months.

    Witch hazel bark is distilled not for its essential oil but for the sole purpose of producing distilled witch hazel, which has a variety of uses on its own. This hydrolat is great for oily skin, as it is slightly astringent, and it makes an effective eye soother in the summer if you suffer from hay fever.


    2 teaspoons (10ml) witch hazel

    2 ¾ fl oz (85ml) lavender water

    ½ tsp (2.5ml) yarrow tincture

    ½ tsp (2.5ml) vegetable glycerine


    3 ½ fl oz (100ml) spray bottle

    1. Simply measure and pour all four ingredients into the spray bottle.

    2. Screw the lid on tightly and shake well to mix.

    To use:

    Always dilute witch hazel with spring water if you are using around the eyes, as it is quite strong, and use a maximum of 2 teaspoons (10ml) to 3fl oz (90ml) water.

    Natural Beauty by Karen Gilbert is available here. We hope you have fun making the toner and feel great using it!

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with january, New Year, 2013, homemade

  • Posted on January 7, 2014

    Forget the fad diet and turn to mindful eating this January!

    Christmas is the season to be merry and  a hearty dose of overindulgence is usually involved somewhere along the line! Rather than feeling the pangs of post-Christmas guilt try the new positive approach of mindful eating.

    Rachel Bartholomew and Mandy Pearson talk us through the simple principles of mindfulness and aim to encourage us to nourish body and soul in their new book Mindful Eating.  So, apply the principles of mindfulness to your eating habits and become part of the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed foodie revolution that is mindful eating!

    • The practice of mindfulness can be broken down into several key principles:

    • Live on purpose. You cannot choose your circumstances, but you can always choose your response.

    • Know that you always have the choice to change.

    • Trust in yourself and in your innate ability to know and do what is right for you.

    • Connect to the wisdom of your body. You know best what you need.

    • Cultivate awareness—of your patterns and habits, of your emotions.

    • Be in the moment. Take time to smell the roses and allow yourself to switch from doing to being.

    • Develop curiosity not judgment. Curiosity opens you open to the possible of change, judgment closes you down.

    • Take responsibility (think response-ability). Taking responsibility for your world gives you the ability to choose how you respond.

    • Keep a beginner’s mind. Stay open and flexible to new learning—what you think you know can get in the way of your ability to see what is really there.

    • Learn acceptance of what is—don’t just pretend it’s not happening. Don’t be Cleopatra—(a Queen of denial!)

    • Enjoy the now—pay attention to the present moment, it is a gift and it’s all you’ve got.

    • Focus on gratitude for what you have now—the true path to happiness is about appreciating what you have.

    Try this recipe and begin your mindful journey towards healthy eating today!


    This deliciously hearty soup makes a perfect midweek supper.

    31⁄2oz./100g puy lentils

    2 tablespoons oil

    3oz/75g cooking chorizo, chopped

    1 onion, peeled and chopped

    2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, or finely chopped

    2 teaspoons ground cumin

    2 teaspoons ground cilantro (coriander)

    1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1⁄4 - 1⁄2 teaspoon dried chili flakes

    4 fresh tomatoes, chopped, or use 1⁄2 can tinned tomatoes

    14oz./400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained

    5 cups / 1.2 liters chicken or vegetable stock

    1⁄2 head of chard, leaves shredded, stalks finely chopped

    salt and pepper

    juice of 1⁄2 lemon

    Serves 4

    Put the lentils in a large saucepan, add water to cover, bring to boil, simmer for 20 minutes, until tender. Drain. Heat the oil, fry chorizo, onion, and garlic.

    Add spices and chili and fry for a couple more minutes.

    Add tomatoes, chickpeas, chard, and stock. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.

    Add the lentils back to the pan and continue to simmer for a couple of minutes until they are warmed through. Season with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice to taste.

    Mindful Eating by Rachel Bartholomew and Mandy Pearson is available here.

    Bon appéttit!


    This post was posted in Book Reviews, Book Reviews, Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new and was tagged with diet, mindfulness

  • Posted on January 6, 2014

    How to Make a Wooden Shopping Pad!

    Fancy trying something new this year?

    We hope you’ve all enjoyed a lovely Christmas and a fantastic start to the New Year. Today in the office there has been a lot of talk about new diets, new hobbies and new starts, so we wondered what new things you fancy taking up this year? Feel free to tweet us @RylandPeters or @CICOBooks with your plans for 2014, but in the meantime, here’s a project that might just tempt you to try crafting with wood!

    Taken from the adorable book by Jennifer Burt, Cute and Simple Woodworking, this shopping pad is fairly easy to make, fun to personalize and useful for New Year organizing! The book includes a ‘Woodworking Know How’ section that is ideal for first timers, but this project and template is perfectly manageable if you just want to give it a go!

    Shopping pad

    Make this pretty and useful notepad holder and you will never be short of a pencil or paper to quickly jot down notes or shopping lists. It uses a nice mixture of skills and is easily made from an off-cut of wood. You could decorate it by painting pretty flowers across the bottom, or add a decorative paper to the pencil ledge, which is my favorite decorative technique. The thickness range given is a guide; the thicker your wood, the chunkier your notepad holder will look.

    You will need:


    Notepad, approx. 5 x 3 in. (130 x 75 mm)

    Template (below)

    Planed pine, 13 x 37/8 x 3/8–3/4 in. (330 x 98 x 9–15 mm); the extra length is to allow for clamping

    Square molding, 31/4 x 4/8 x 4/8 in. (83 x 14 x 14 mm)

    26 in. (660 mm) string

    Pencil approx. 31/2 in. (95 mm) long

    Water-based paint in your color of choice

    Decorative paper and PVA glue (optional)


    Hand plane (if needed to plane off tongue and groove)

    Tracing paper, pencil, and cardstock



    Coping saw

    Miter saw

    Drill and 5/64- and 1/8-in. (2- and 3-mm) bits

    3/8-in. (10-mm) Forstner bit

    Electric sander (optional) and coarse and fine sandpaper

    Wood glue


    Machinist/engineering square

    1 Check that your wood is wide enough to hold the notepad. If you are using tongue-and-groove paneling, use a hand plane to remove the tongue and groove.

    2 Trace the template onto cardstock and cut out. Place the template at one end of the wood and draw around it. Mark where the hanging holes and the holes for the string are to be drilled.

    3 Securely clamp the wood to the workbench. Using a coping saw, cut the curved shape for the top of the notepad holder.

    4 Measure 101/2 in. (265 mm) from the highest point of the curved top that you have just cut and draw a line across the wood at this point. Secure the miter saw on the workbench and cut along this line.

    5 Place a scrap piece of wood on the workbench. Using a 1/8-in. (3-mm) bit, drill the holes for the string through the notepad holder. Now drill the hanging hole, using a 3/8-in. (10-mm) Forstner bit. Place the notepad holder best side down on the workbench. Place the point of the Forstner bit into each hole drilled for the string and drill a small rebate approximately 1/8 in. (3 mm) deep, taking care not to drill all the way through; this is where the knots of the string  will sit.

    6 Sand the notepad holder until you have the shape and finish you require. You can use an electric sander for the front, back, and sides, but you will need to sand the curved top by hand.

    7 Place a piece of coarse sandpaper flat on the workbench and sand one edge of the molding to give a slightly flattened angle. This makes a ledge for the pencil to sit on. Once you are happy with the angle, lightly sand the rest of the edges.

    8 If you have chosen to add the decorative paper to the front of your pencil ledge, paint the pencil ledge in your chosen color and then add the decorative paper. Then paint the notepad holder with your chosen color. Depending on the quality of the paint, you may need to apply two ore more coats. To add your own touch to the pencil, sand the pencil with fine sandpaper to remove any lacquer from the surface, then repaint it in a contrasting color. Any waterbased paint will do.

    9 Measure 11/2 in. (40 mm) up from the bottom of the notepad holder and, using a machinist or engineering square, draw a faint line across. This is where the pencil ledge will be. Apply a thin line of glue to the pencil ledge and place it on the line, making sure there is the same amount of space on either side. Remove any excess glue. Leave to dry completely.

    10 Using a 5/64-in. (2-mm) bit, drill a hole in the end of the pencil. Cut a piece of string approximately 14 in. (350 mm) long and thread it through the hole in the pencil. Tie a knot by the pencil and trim the string.

    11 Cut another piece of string 12 in. (300 mm) long. Push this string and the string for the pencil through one of the string holes with a twisting action, from the front of the notepad holder to the back. Knot both strings at the back, then pull the strings from the front so that the knots sit in the rebate, and trim. Take the string that does not have the pencil on across the front of the notepad holder and push it through the other hole. There needs to be a bit of slack to make it easy for the notepad to slide in. Tie the string in a knot at the back  and trim.

    12 Slip the notepad’s backing card behind the string, so that the string will sit between the backing card and the paper.

    We hope you enjoy this project and any other new hobbies you are taking up! Cute and Simple Woodworking is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with New Year, 2013, woodworking, 2014

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