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Monthly Archives: January 2015
  • Posted on January 30, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend: #TeamPaleo edition!

    If you like us on Facebook (and if not, why not!) you might have seen that a few of us in the London office have been enjoying recipes from Plant-Based Paleo by Jenna Zoe this week. These recipes have been both delicious and nutritious and we’ll be telling you much more about our experiences next week. For now, you can take a look at our Facebook page or our Instagram feed to see more of what we enjoyed as #TeamPaleo!

    This weekend features a whole bunch of sport all over the world. For those of you on the other side of the pond, the Super Bowl is this Sunday, in Australia Andy Murray is in his first Grand Slam final since winning Wimbledon two years ago (come on Murray!) and there’s FA Cup football here in the UK too! Phew! So you’ll be needing some snacks. But these do not have to be unhealthy! Plant-Based Paleo has loads of tasty treats that won’t leave you feeling bad. We particularly enjoyed these two!

    Chilli-Cheese Butternut Squash Fries

    Sweet potato and fries are having their moment in the spotlight. These ‘fries’ have the benefit of being baked rather than fried, which not only reduces the calorie count but also cuts out the carcinogenic trans-fats that the frying process creates.

    1 medium butternut squash, peeled

    1 small red chilli

    4 tablespoons cashew butter

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 teaspoon salt

    2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

    sweet and spicy sauce (try Frank’s hot sauce), to serve

    a baking sheet, greased and lined with baking parchment

    Serves 4

    Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) Gas 7.

    Slice the butternut squash into thick batons and set aside.

    Thinly slice the red chilli into small pieces, discarding the seeds (unless you want the fries super spicy!), and mix together with the cashew butter, olive oil and salt in a large mixing bowl.

    Add the fries to the mixture and toss to coat, then dip each one in the nutritional yeast. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

    Remove from the oven and serve with sweet and spicy sauce.

    Craveable Crisps

    There’s a certain satisfaction that only a salty, crunchy crisp/chip can give you. I get frustrated when I see diet swaps that recommend swapping crisps for something like sticks of celery because usually what happens is that we eat the celery, feel unsatisfied, then end up eating the crisps/chips later anyway. I think these veggie crisps/chips do a pretty darn good job as stand-ins.

    2 beetroots/beets, peeled

    1 golden beetroot/beet, peeled

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    sea salt, to serve

    1–2 baking sheets, greased and lined with baking parchment

    Each Serves 4

    Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

    Using a sharp knife, thinly slice off the very bottoms and tops of the beetroots/beets and golden beetroot/beet. Thinly slice the trimmed beetroots/beets into rounds using either a peeler or mandoline and place them in a large shallow dish.

    Toss in the olive oil to coat, transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20–22 minutes, or until nicely crisped up.

    Remove from the oven and drain on paper towels to remove any excess oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

    Plant-Based Paleo by Jenna Zoe is available here.

    So whether you're watching All The Sports or not, have a lovely weekend and snack well!

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with vegan, savoury, recipe for the weekend, snacks, butternut squash, 2015, paleo, healthy

  • Posted on January 23, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    As we mentioned yesterday, Sunday 25th January is Burns’ Night and this weekend’s recipe will ensure that whatever you’re up to this weekend, everyone can bring a taste of Scotland to the table! Incidentally, this recipe by Hannah Miles features in The Creamery Kitchen by Jenny Linford, and we’re super excited at RPS Towers about her new book, The Tomato Basket! You can pre-order it here!

    Whisky & Raspberry Cranachan Cheesecakes

    This cheesecake is inspired by the classic Scottish dessert, cranachan – whipped cream flavoured with whisky and honey folded through with toasted oats and fresh raspberries.

    for the base

    50 g butter

    30 g caster sugar

    40 g golden syrup or maple syrup

    100 g rolled oats

    a pinch of salt

    for the filling

    150 g raspberries

    80 ml whisky

    300 g cream cheese

    300 ml crème fraîche or double cream

    80 ml honey

    2 eggs

    generous 1 tablespoon plain flour, sifted

    to serve

    a handful of fresh raspberries

    pouring cream

    baking sheet, greased

    8 x 6-cm diameter chef’s rings, greased and placed on a greased baking sheet

    makes 8

    Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.

    For the base, heat the butter, sugar and golden or maple syrup together in a saucepan until the butter and sugar have melted and the mixture is syrupy. Stir in the oats and salt and mix well so that all the oats are coated.

    Spoon the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for 20–30 minutes until the base is golden-brown.

    Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes. Whilst still warm, use one of the chef’s rings to stamp out 8 rounds of flapjack to use as bases, then leave them to cool completely. Leave the oven on.

    For the filling, soak the raspberries in the whisky for 30 minutes.

    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and crème fraîche. Whisk in the honey, eggs and flour, then fold through the raspberries and any remaining soaking whisky. Spoon the mixture into the chef’s rings on the baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 25–30 minutes until golden brown on top.

    Leave to cool then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

    When you are ready to serve, place a flapjack disc on each plate and top with a cheesecake. Serve with extra fresh raspberries, cream and a tot of whisky if desired.


    The Creamery Kitchen by Jenny Linford is available here, and The Tomato Basket can be pre-ordered here.

    Cheesecake by Hannah Miles is available here. Other cookery books you may like in our Food category as well.

    Happy Burns’ Night and have a lovely weekend, chaps!

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Recipes, Recipes, UK, US and was tagged with baking, recipe for the weekend, dessert, 2014, Burns Night, Scotland, The Creamery Kitchen, sweet, whisky

  • Posted on January 22, 2015

    All about Scotch

    This Sunday is Burns Night, celebrating the life and poetry of Robert Burns. But it also tends to celebrate all things Scottish, including another famous Scottish export: uisge beatha…the water of life…whisky! The Curious Bartender: An Odyssey of Malt, Bourbon & Rye Whiskies by Tristan Stephenson has taught us that there is so much more to this golden liquid than a dram of Famous Grouse. So in celebration of the Scottish poet, this extract helpfully explains the difference between the different categories of Scotch. And check back to the blog tomorrow, when we’ll have a recipe so that everyone can have a bit of a Burns’ supper this weekend! But for now, over to Tristan…


    The term Scotch Whisky by itself is a bit useless, since any given product must reside in one of the sub-categories listed below. But broadly speaking, Scotch whisky must abide by the following rules (according to the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009: it must be made in Scotland from water, cereal and yeast only, whereby sugars are obtained through malt enzymes (diastase). Mashing, fermentation and distillation must take place in the distillery and it must be distilled to less than 94.8% ABV. It must then be aged in oak casks no bigger than 700 litres/739 quarts, for a minimum of three years. Before the three years are up, it is known simply as ‘British New-Make Spirit’. Plain caramel colouring may be added.


    Single Malt Whisky must be made from 100% malted barley, but the barley can be grown and malted anywhere in the world. It must be distilled a minimum of two times in a copper pot still; you can distill three times (like Auchentoshan), or even more, but it’s not all that common. As with all Scotch Whisky, the maximum permitted distillate strength is 94.8% ABV, but most Single Malt Whiskies run off at 65–75% ABV.

    Ageing must take place in Scotland, but not necessarily on the site of the distillery. Obviously most bottlings are much older than the required three years, but it is possible to get young whiskies that exhibit a lot more distillery character than the 12-year+ drams most of us are familiar with. During the period in which the whisky is kept in barrels, it’s stored in a government-bonded warehouse.

    As with all types of Scotch, the age statement on the bottle must refer to the youngest whisky in the bottle. Vintage Single Malt Whisky poses another challenge, as it can be a little confusing when deciphering its age. These whiskies are permitted to list only one year on the label, and it can be either the ‘distilled on’, or ‘bottled on’ date, accompanied by an age statement. As of 2009, all Single Malt Whisky must be bottled in Scotland.


    As the name eloquently suggests, this type of whisky is a blend of two or more single Malt Whiskies. In the past, Blended Malt has gone by the title ‘Vatted Malt’ and ‘Pure Malt’, but 2009 legislation put a stop to that. This type of whisky is usually big, bold and not all that often seen, since most people would rather drink a Blended Scotch or a Single Malt rather than something inbetween.

    As is the norm, the age statement on a Blended Malt refers to the youngest whisky. Johnnie Walker Green Label is a great example of a smoky Blended Malt (partly down to the inclusion of both Talisker and Caol Isla in the blend), and I also love Compass Box’s Spice Tree, which controversially spent a brief spell out of production over a dispute with the Scotch Whisky Association.


    Like Single Malt, Single Grain must be the product of one single distillery, but it can be made from any combination of malted barley and other unmalted cereals (but not other malted cereals). It is typically produced in a column still, which produces a much lighter spirit than a pot still. Single Grain Whisky is seldom bottled for consumption on its own, and almost all of the Single Grain Whisky in Scotland is used in blends.

    If you are in the market for a bottle, check out Cameron Brig, which makes up the backbone of many famous blends.


    Despite the growing demand for Single Malt in the past 20 years, blended Scotch makes up over 90% of the global Scotch Whisky sales today. It must be made from at least one Single Malt and one Single Grain Whisky. As far as I am aware, there are no blends that contain more than one Single Grain Whisky, but many contain over 30 Single Malts.

    The Curious Bartender: An Odyssey of Malt, Bourbon & Rye Whiskies by Tristan Stephenson is available here.

    If whisky straight up makes you a little nervous, you can get your Burns Supper off to a great start with this whisky cocktail recipe. Enjoy!

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Interviews, Interviews, UK, US and was tagged with drinks, Tristan Stephenson, 2014, Burns Night, Scotland, whisky

  • Posted on January 21, 2015

    Midweek Chat with Jenna Zoe

    You might have noticed a bit of a healthier living trend on the blog recently, and not for nothing! Some of us in the office are embarking on a #TeamPaleo challenge next week, and we’re very much looking forward to enjoying some of the delicious and nutritious recipes in our new book Plant-Based Paleo.  So we’re thrilled to have its author, Jenna Zoe, here on the blog answering some of our questions about her new book and the ideas behind it.  She even has a few tips for us! And definitely keep an eye on the blog next week to hear all about our experiences, see some photos and try some recipes yourself!

    © Michael Watford

    Paleo is a bit of a nutrition buzz-word at the moment. Could you explain the ideas behind it and how they work?

    The word 'paleo' is short for Paleolithic, which is an era when humankind lived in the wild and survived on what nature provided. A paleo diet therefore, is simply eating the way our ancestors ate: focusing on fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds with very little processed food and no dairy or grains. My concept of 'Plant Based Paleo' is a bit more flexible - it's the idea that some people thrive off a meat-based diet, where some people digest dairy very well and others need grains in their life. So my guiding principle is, make fruits and vegetables the cornerstone of your diet and add whatever else it is that suits your body.

    Of course, there are some die-hard paleo fans who follow the diet to the letter, but for me, good health is about eating these unprocessed food about 80% of the time - total restriction from modern delicious foods that surround us is near-on impossible, so it's important to be realistic about our consumption. If we expect total abstinence we will always feel like failures.

    Where do you get your recipe inspiration?

    I get inspired by all the flavour combinations from our favourite foods. So for example, I used to love Terry's Chocolate Orange as a child, so I tried to translate that into a healthier dessert and got the Raw Chocolate-Orange Pie. Essentially - I get inspired by my own junk food cravings!

    What is your favourite part of putting together a book?

    I love all of it, but my favourite part is conceptualising a recipe and then challenging myself to see if I can make it a reality. It's always so rewarding to see that idea in your mind come to life.

    Who are your foodie heroes?

    The foodies I admire most are those super busy people who still somehow prioritise eating well and being healthy. I am in awe of them! Hearing stories of single mothers who get up an hour early to prep food for their kids or working women who devote their sundays to making lunches for the week - it doesn't get more inspiring than that for me.

    What three things are never out of stock in your kitchen?

    I always keep avocados on hand because they're my favourite fatty food and eating enough fats ensures you stay satisfied. To me, preventing that feeling of being deprived is key to sticking with a healthy path.

    The other thing I love to have on hand is fresh herbs which help to add flavour without the need for salt. Red onions, spring onions, garlic and powdered spice mixes are great for this too.

    Lastly, dark chocolate. I have at least a little bit each day after lunch which again stops me from feeling deprived.

    What would your one desert island foodie item be?

    Probably cold smoothies with raw cacao in them, topped with lots of almond butter. I could live on those. My current favourite combination is coconut water, protein powder, ice, spirulina and raw cacao powder.

    What is your favourite Plant-Based Paleo recipe?

    I have lots of favourites but the one I use (and eat) most often is the Tahini Caramels. They always satisfy my 3pm sweet craving but are actually sugar free, plus they're filled with protein and fat so they're satiating. The Asian Kale salad is also a staple for me, as are the Green-a-colada smoothie and the Snickers Cups. I mostly like easy things that don't take a lot of time to make, but deliver a ton of flavour. The whole idea of the recipes though, is that they're blueprints for people to play around with - if you want to add berries, or sub quinoa for some salmon, or you don't like avocado - you can't really go wrong with experimenting.

    Do you have any top tips for those of us in the office embarking on a plant-based paleo diet next week?!

    Yes! If you can, try to 'warm up' to eating a fully pant-based paleo diet a few days before by easing into it. Physiologically speaking, when we go cold turkey overnight it can be tough for our bodies to adapt. You'll feel a lot better if you start building up to it by say, having smoothies for breakfast the week prior and making lots of healthy treats to have on hand. Also, drinking water during any dietary change is essential because your body will start to release stored toxins. I make hydration a little more fun for myself by brewing big pots of ginger tea and adding lemon juice to it, or doing a chilled peppermint tea with some stevia in there for sweetness.

    Lastly, the most important thing to remember about embarking on positive changes is to remember your initial motivation and excitement! Often we sabotage ourselves hallway through any kind of self-improvement because we don't see instantaneous change. We start to doubt ourselves. We get bored. We start to question the process. Before you start, get clear on your desires and hold them close to your heart all the way through. Put post-its on your bathroom wall, doodle it in your notebook, set reminders on your phone - whatever it is that will help you remember the big picture.

    Plant-Based Paleo by Jenna Zoe is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Interviews, Interviews, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with january, vegan, detox, Jenna Zoe, working lunch, mid-week chat, 2015, paleo, healthy

  • Posted on January 19, 2015

    Cosy, Warm and Woolly!

    Cold isn’t it! It certainly got a little nippier over the weekend, and suddenly that snow we were promised during last week’s balmier weather doesn’t seem so far-fetched! Pairing this with a broken heater in the offices and we’re considering hibernation for the rest of the winter. Before we take such drastic steps, we thought perhaps our books might have some cosy inspiration! Beanies and Bobble Hats by Fiona Goble is just the thing we need during this cold snap, so we thought we’d share this classic bobble hat pattern with you – this quick knit will warm you right up! Now…is it Spring yet?


    Sometimes, only something classically simple will fit the bill. So here is a traditional bobble hat that you can customize to your own style. Knit it in two colors and add a bobble in another color—just like I have. Knit it totally plain. Or knit it in stripes. I’ve chosen a lovely cotton-rich yarn for this hat, so you can keep it to hand to ward off any cool spring breezes. And it’s chunky, so it will knit up in just an evening or two.


    Rowan All Seasons Chunky (60% cotton, 40% acrylic) chunky yarn

    1 x 3½ oz (100g) ball (93yd/85m) in shade 609 Jetsam (A)

    1 x 3½ oz (100g) ball (93yd/85m) in shade 603 Drift (B)

    1 x 3½ oz (100g) ball (93yd/85m) in shade 611 Samphire (C)

    Needles and equipment

    US 10½ (6.5mm) knitting needles

    Yarn sewing needle

    A pompom maker to make 2¾ in (7cm) pompoms, or two cardboard circles each measuring 2¾ in (7cm) in diameter with a 1¼ in (3cm) diameter hole in the center.

    Gauge (tension)

    14 sts and 16 rows in stockinette (stocking) stitch to a 4-in (10-cm) square on US 10½ (6.5mm) needles.


    The finished hat measures approx. 10½ in (50cm) circumference and 8¼ in (21cm) high excluding the pompom.

    For the hat

    Cast on 60 sts in A.

    Row 1: [K2, p2] to end.

    Rep row 1, 5 times more.

    Break A and join in B.

    Work 20 rows in st st beg with a k row.

    Row 27: K4, [k2tog, k8] 5 times, k2tog, k4. (54 sts)

    Row 28: Purl.

    Row 29: K3, [sl2, k1, p2sso, k6] 5 times, sl2, k1, p2sso, k3.

    Row 30: Purl.

    Row 31: K2, [sl2, k1, p2sso, k4] 5 times, sl2, k1, p2sso, k2.

    Row 32: Purl.

    Row 33: K1, [sl2, k1, p2sso, k2] 5 times, sl2, k1, p2sso, k1.

    Row 34: Purl.

    Row 35: [Sl2, k1, p2sso] 6 times.

    Break yarn, thread it through rem sts, and pull up securely.

    To make up

    Sew the back seam using mattress stitch.

    Using the pompom maker or cardboard circles, make a pompom using C. Trim the pompom and use the tails of yarn to sew it to the top of the hat.

    Weave in all loose ends.

    Beanies and Bobble Hats by Fiona Goble is available here. Other current craft books by us are here.

    Happy knitting and stay cosy!


    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with january, handmade, knitting, Fiona Goble, tutorial, 2015, patterns

  • Posted on January 16, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend!

    New Year’s resolutions are all well and good, but sometimes after a long week, the thought of snacking on a carrot stick dipped in houmous isn’t all THAT appealing and something sweet is the only thing that will cut it. Or perhaps you’ve got a mid-January dinner party planned but don’t want to fall off the wagon quite that early? We’ve got just the thing. Sugar-Free Snacks and Treats is packed with delicious recipes that are free from refined sugars, so you can enjoy a treat like this show-stopping chocolate tart and still feel virtuous. Plus, it’s so tasty that we’d wager even the most sweet-toothed of friends will love it!

    Chocolate Tart

    Convincing people that food, especially desserts, made without sugar can actually taste good, let alone delicious, is an almost impossible task. After tasting this chocolate tart, however, even the greatest cynics will beg you for the recipe, as well as another slice!

    Serves 10–12

    sea salt

    100 g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids

    For the base

    10 pitted dates

    150 g pecans, lightly roasted

    125 g Scottish oat cakes

    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    2 tablespoons agave syrup

    2 tablespoons coconut oil

    3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

    a pinch of sea salt

    For the filling

    3 avocados, not too firm

    ½ teaspoon sea salt

    6 tablespoons agave syrup

    1 tablespoon carob powder

    5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

    3 tablespoons date syrup

    4 tablespoons coconut oil

    20-cm/8-in. springform pan, base-lined with parchment paper

    food processor or blender

    To make the base, blitz the dates in a food processor, then add the rest of the ingredients and a pinch of salt and blitz until everything comes together into a sticky ball.

    Press into the baking pan so that you have an even and smooth base for the tart. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes until set.

    To make the filling, cut the avocados in half, remove the stones and scoop the flesh into a food processor. Add the salt, the remaining ingredients apart from the coconut oil, and blitz until smooth.

    Melt the coconut oil in a pan over the lowest heat possible – this will only take a few moments. Turn on the food processor and pour the coconut oil into the mixture through the funnel. Once combined, pour the mixture onto the set tart base and smooth out the top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or if you want it to set quickly, freeze it.

    When you are ready to serve, warm the chocolate to just above room temperature to make it easier to grate. I find leaving it beside the oven when you are cooking for about 10 minutes does the trick. You want the chocolate to be just beginning to soften – not in any way gooey or melting, just not rock solid, so it grates easily in long strips.

    Pop the tart out of the baking pan and transfer to a plate. Liberally grate the chocolate over, so it piles up high. The tart should be served fridge-cold so that it stays reasonably firm. It keeps wonderfully well and can easily be made a day in advance.

    Sugar-Free Snacks and Treats is available here.

    Have a great weekend folks!

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Recipes, Recipes, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with january, Jordan Bourke, baking, chocolate, recipe for the weekend, sweet, 2015, sugar-free, avocado

  • Posted on January 15, 2015

    So you think you're a skateboarder?

    Today we have some skateboard-style entertainment for you, in case you’re twiddling your thumbs at work or just love to skate! We start at the miniature end of the skating spectrum with a project from Build your own Fingerboard Skatepark. All you’ll need is a box, a pair of scissors and some tape, and you can be a tiny Tony Hawks or Nyjah Hustons, soaring through your own diminutive dreams in no time!

    We then have a hilarious characterisation of that mythical guy from the skatepark… You know, the one that everyone talks about because he does the most insane tricks, but hasn’t actually been seen for months… Head down towards the bottom of the blog post to have a read!


    How to build a very simple quarter pipe using just a box, scissors & tape

    This lesson is the simplest in the book, but in many ways it is also the coolest, because you can have a ton of fun with this little ramp, and anyone can make it in minutes. Once you have the basic idea down you’ll see that there are a lot of potential variations on this ramp, and using this system you can set up a sweet little bunch of chained ramps very quickly.

    You will need:

    Cereal box


    Tape (packing tape or duct tape is best, scotch tape could work)

    Extra stuff that helps:

    Maybe a pen or marker

    Maybe a ruler if you want to be fancy

    1. Find a big empty cereal box and remove all of its contents, either by eating or simply by putting the cereal somewhere else. The bigger the box, the bigger the ramp. With the box open, remove the extra flaps (the stuff that is used to open and close the box) on the open side only. While not completely necessary, I prefer the ramp not to have this extra stuff. Make sure you keep the pre-sealed “bottom” sealed.

    2. Lay the box down flat. It doesn’t matter whether the front or back is showing, but if you like the idea of a big cereal logo on your ramp, use the front. We’ll call whichever one you’ve chosen the ramp face. Measure 13/4in. (4.5cm) down from the closed end of the box at the fold and mark it (see diagram). Repeat this step on the other side. You can experiment with this measurement, but you’ll see after you’ve made one that this measurement affects the size of the flat and how sloped the ramp is. Take your scissors and cut down each side up to the mark.

    3. Now push the loose ramp face in, forming a curve. Put a strip of tape along the bottom, and a strip along either side. You can shape the flat more if you want to, adding a harder fold there for little slides and plants, or you can keep the curve to have a more fluid slope to ride. It’s all up to you, ramp-builder!

    4. Now you should have a cool little ramp! In addition to taping the ramp face in place, I usually tape the whole ramp down to a stable surface, too, so that it doesn’t move around and so that transitions are smooth. You could also push it against a wall to give yourself a little vert wall to play off.

    Build your own Fingerboard Skatepark by Marty Allen is available here.


    The Myth

    Sasquatch, leprechauns, unicorns, the Loch Ness Monster, a world free from kids on scooters... all these things share one glaringly obvious trait: they don’t exist. The Myth is a bit more of a gray area. He is definitely a real person, because your friend’s friend once met him and that friend knows this one thing the Myth did must be true because his friend said so. Make sense? Good.

    Every town and every city has one local skateboarder who has achieved mythical status through his skateboarding.

    “I heard he did this insane trick at the spot.”

    “No way man, I heard he did it switch.”

    “I heard he did it after being hit by a car.”

    “I heard he did it naked!”

    Mixing the Chinese-whisper effect that younger skateboarders create during their junk-food fueled conversations with the murky, beer-fueled memories of the reminiscing older generation easily can create a make-believe memory of a skateboarder, one that can be at least 50 percent fiction. The person may have existed, but exactly what he did or didn’t do may have been somewhat altered.

    Usually this mythical beast will have dropped off the scene due to some career-shortening, never-heard-of-before injury, or he simply disappeared into the ether after allegedly doing some mind-bending super stunt. This kind of exit from the skateboard game means this ethereal creature’s spirit is destined to live on in infamy. The drab reality is that this apparition, this distant memory probably just got older and had to join the rat-race and accept the responsibilities of real life. He probably had a kid, got a 9-5, and just ended up skating less.

    Regardless of the actual truth behind the stories, the enhancing of the Myth’s abilities, and truth-bending surrounding his stunt work, this guy is probably the most important person to figure in the formation of a young skater’s life. The mysteries and fables only serve to make a kid aspirational about what is possible on a skateboard. Without these fantastical stories, kids might think some things are just not humanly possible, and one of the most amazing things about skateboarding is how it continues to progress beyond what seemed possible in the years preceding it. Without knowing it, the Myth is the person we learn from, the one who teaches us lessons, inspires us, and makes us believe the impossible is possible. The Myth might not know it, but he is.

    Next time someone tells you a tale about the time the local legend did such and such, don’t question it and wonder about the validity of the statement; embellish it and relay it to someone else. It’s the only way to ensure things move forward. And it’s fun to mess with people’s heads, too.

    So you think you're a skateboarder? by Alex Irvine is available here. More craft related books also on offer here.


    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Craft Projects, Featured, Featured, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with Marty Allen, skateboarding, 2014, humour, tutorial

  • Posted on January 12, 2015

    Motivation Monday!

    Mid-January already?! Where does the time go? It’ll be Christmas before you know it (just kidding!) So how are those New Year’s resolutions holding up? If you’re anything like us, the intentions are probably there but the motivation might be just a bit lacking. But this week’s Book of the Week is here to help! Up and Running by Julia Jones and Shauna Reid is the newbie runner’s best friend. The 8-week running plan is ideal for beginners or someone who wants to give their workout a bit more of a structure, but there are also loads of hints and ideas about things like where to run and how to look after your feet, as well as advice on what gear you need and runners’ profiles and tips too! So, with those resolutions in mind, we thought we’d share Julia and Shauna’s tips for Getting Out the Door...after all, that’s practically half the battle!

    Why does getting out the door for a run feel like a monumental task to you? You push the snooze button one too many times. The phone rings and the conversation (deliberately?) eats up your workout time. You sit on the couch after work for just one moment, only to wake a few hours later and it’s dark outside. You’ll try again tomorrow. Promise!

    Despite appearances, even seasoned runners can have a difficult time convincing themselves to lace up their shoes. They’ve just cultivated clever tactics to squash any resistance.

    Here’s how to make it easier:

    Do your workout in the morning. You’ll have a much better chance of getting your run finished if you head out before anyone else is up, demanding your attention, and before work takes your head to another place. This usually works best if you’re already an early riser, but if you’re not, try a few morning runs—you may be surprised at how good it feels to be out and about while the rest of the world dozes on. Set the scene to make it more enticing: have your coffee ready to percolate or lay the breakfast table for when you return.

    Lay out your clothes in advance. You can waste a lot of time making sartorial decisions or searching for the perfect pair of running shorts. If your running clothes are set out ahead of time, there’s no scope for procrastination. Once you’re dressed and ready to run, you’ve won half the mental battle.

    Avoid electronic distractions. No checking your e-mail or announcing your run to your online friends—you’ll inevitably disappear down the Internet rabbit hole. Leave social media until after your workout and post a triumphant sweaty selfie.

    Connect with a positive feeling. What do you love most about running? Maybe it’s after the workout is done and you’re taking a hot, steamy shower; or that moment while you’re running and realize, “Hey, I’m doing this!” Tap into what gets you excited about running and let it carry you out the door.

    Make a running date with a friend. You may let yourself down but we bet you’d never dream of doing that to a friend; especially if you’re meeting in a park at the crack of dawn.

    Do not ask questions. While you’re driving home from work don’t ask yourself if you feel like running. Be robot-like: put on those running clothes and get out the door. We guarantee that after the first 10 minutes, you’ll start to feel better, energized and in the mood to move. You may even get one of those running smirks on your face, too.

    Up and Running by Julia Jones and Shauna Reid is available here.

    Good luck with those resolutions and happy running!

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with january, New Year, resolutions, 2014, eat clean, Book of the Week, running, healthy, tips, Motivation Monday

  • Posted on January 9, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    We’re slowly drifting further into January; work feels like a familiar routine again, relaxed afternoons filled with books and chocolate are now a distant memory, and as always, a few of those healthy eating resolutions are starting to wear a bit thin! If you’re struggling to stick to your lettuce leaf lunch or breakfast in a bottle then we’ve got a deliciously healthy recipe for you today that will keep you on track, because here at RPS and CICO Books Towers, we believe that healthy eating should still mean tasty eating!

    Taken from the flavour-filled new book, Out of the Pod, this recipe will make you reconsider the humble salad (and lovely lentils!) and will have you reaching for the herbs to freshen up your dull diet dishes. We hope you enjoy it and good luck with your resolutions!

    salad of puy lentils with roasted beetroot

    The habit of serving lentils with beet(root) goes back to Roman times. Writing in 2nd-century Rome, the physician and philosopher Galen recommended this health-giving combination in his treatise On the Power of Foods, dressing the salad with a sweet and salty fish sauce. If a fishy taste appeals, add some fish sauce to the dressing instead of salt. Serve the salad on its own, or strewn with crumbled salty cheese, such as feta, or slices of grilled halloumi cheese.

    500 g/1 lb. beet(root), peeled and cut into wedges

    3 tablespoons olive oil

    3 fresh or dried bay leaves

    1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

    200 g/1 cup dried Puy or French green lentils, rinsed and drained

    2 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole

    3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

    2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

    salt and ground black pepper

    For the dressing:

    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

    1 tablespoon maple syrup

    2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    salt and ground black pepper

    Serves 4–6


    Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF) Gas 4.

    Place the beet(root) in a small roasting pan, and toss in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil together with 3 tablespoons of water, 2 of the bay leaves and the thyme. Season with salt and pepper, cover with aluminium foil and roast in the preheated oven until they are soft – about 1 hour.

    Meanwhile, boil the lentils in a saucepan of water, together with the whole garlic cloves and the remaining bay leaf and olive oil, for about 30 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked.

    Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together.

    Drain the lentils and stir in all but 1 tablespoon of the dressing and the chopped fresh herbs. Arrange the chunks of cooked beet(root) over, drizzle with the remaining dressing and serve at room temperature.


    Out of the Pod by Vicky Jones is available here.

    Have a lovely weekend everyone and happy healthy eating!

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Recipes, Recipes, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with lentils, olive oil, beetroot, parsley, savoury, thyme, recipe for the weekend, vegetarian, 2014, balsamic, healthy, Out of the Pod

  • Posted on January 7, 2015

    Get organised for a year in crafts!

    One thing that we look forward to at the start of each new year in the RPS and CICO office, is getting started on a whole load of exciting new crafts! If you follow us on Instagram then you can check out our office crafternoons and lovely lunchtime makes – it’s so hard to resist when we’re surrounded by so many super craft books! And one book that we reckon will keep popping up throughout 2015 is A Year in Crafts by Clare Youngs. Full of seasonal projects and multi-media makes, there’s something in this book for every month and occasion!

    So, to kick start the new year, we’ve picked a project from the January collection. These printed clipboards are simple to make and the perfect craft to get you organised!

    printed clipboards

    It’s a new year, a fresh start, and time to make those resolutions. I usually make one that involves being more organized. I tend to work on small scraps of paper that pile up or get pushed into the back of a sketchbook. Last year I made clipboards and hung them in a row above my desk and it works! I can now have a board for each project and keep my desk free of loose paper, with more room for making.

    Hand-printing is a lovely way to personalize your makes. Once you have cut your printing stamps you can use them on all sorts of projects, from gift wrap, greetings cards, and gift tags to fabric. 

    You will need

    Selection of erasers

    Soft pencil

    Craft knife

    Cutting mat

    Lino-cutting tool

    Sheets of letter-size (A4) white paper

    Ink-stamping pads

    Sheets of letter-size (A4) heavyweight gray board

    Craft glue

    Large binder clips

    1. To make an oval-shaped pattern, use a rectangular eraser. Draw a leaf shape along the whole length of the eraser using a soft pencil. Using a craft knife, and working on a cutting mat, cut out the leaf shape.

    2. With the lino-cutting tool, score lines across the width of the oval shape. Draw some pencil lines to help place the grooves or cut freehand. Make the lines different thicknesses by applying more or less pressure as you cut. Score a few lines that cross over each other to give you a more textured surface.

    3. Use the oval stamp to print a repeat pattern on a sheet of white paper. You can achieve lovely effects by overprinting with a second color. I have printed rows of blue ovals and then used the same stamp to overprint slightly to one side using silver.

    4. Use a square eraser to make another stamp in the same way, and print a second sheet of white paper with a different pattern. I have rotated my stamp for alternate rows and have overprinted with a simple circle cut from a square eraser.

    5. To make a clipboard, stick a sheet of printed paper to the gray board using craft glue.

    6. Cut a strip of patterned paper to the same width as a binder clip. Fold the paper around the clip and trim the edges for a neater fit. Stick the paper onto the clip using craft glue.


    When it comes to printing, it is a good idea to experiment with different shapes and combinations of colors before committing to a final design. You can keep your experiments as references for future craft projects.


    A Year in Crafts by Clare Youngs is available here. Visit our craft section for other exciting craft projects and ideas as well!

    Have a lovely evening all and here's to a great year of crafting!


    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Craft Projects, Featured, Featured, UK, US and was tagged with january, Clare Youngs, 2014, quick, tutorial, A Year in Crafts, printing

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