Sunday, 28 September 2008

GARDEN - Topiary Elephants

Elephants in the park - images © Jenny Hayden

I decided to go for a nice long walk on Friday as the weather was glorious for this time of year. As I strolled around Brighton, where I work, I came across a whole herd of topiary elephants. It would have been impossible to miss these life size replicas, made unfortunately not from real shrubbery, but from plastic imitation foliage with the effect being no less dramatic.

They were a real talking point and prompted interactivity with walkers, onlookers, parents and children. If you had a garden big enough, one of these would be a unique addition.

The purpose of the installation of Asian Elephants is to raise awareness of a catastrophic loss of habitat taking place and you can learn more about the tour the elephants have just completed by visiting

Friday, 26 September 2008


Photo Credit: *phototristan on

So many people seem to hate gherkins so I thought I would try and convert some people with some ideas on how to use them. Gherkins are probably most known for being included in many fast food burgers, which is a great use for them. The sharp tang sits well with beef and cheese.

My favourite use for them is in salads. You can even take some of the vinegar to use as a dressing, and because the flavour is quite strong, it can make you feel more satisfied than a salad without them. They are a great little appetite suppressant and contribute to your five a day.

Sandwiches are another perfect way to get some gherkins into your diet. Beef or chicken with salad and gherkins is a great combination.

Photo Credit: on


Jamie Oliver's Elvis Burger with Chopped Salad and Pickled Gherkin

Delia Smith's Gammon Steaks with White Wine and Gherkin Sauce

Summer Bean Ham Hock and Gherkin Salad

Gherkin Dip

Why not try gherkins pickled with chillies for a real kick!

Thursday, 25 September 2008

FURNITURE - The Ripple Chair Rocks

By rocks I meant literally! I love this modern take on the traditional rocking chair. Made from leather this is perfect for lounging and I can imagine being curled up on it with a good book. It is also as aesthetically pleasing as it is functional, and I expected nothing less from renowned retailer Dwell. Available in classic black or white, it would suit any contemporary interior.

This can be yours for £99. Not the cheapest chair, but worth it for the WOW factor.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

TIPS - Aggie says 'Clean Smarter not Harder'

TV's resident cleaning expert, Aggie Mackenzie, is promoting a campaign by Zoflora that encourages us all to clean smarter, not harder! A great idea, but how can we do it? Read on for some of Aggie's tricks.

1. Do a little each day – meaning more time for the weekend
2. Dust from top to bottom to avoid having to re-clean areas
3. Involve the whole family and take a room each, say bathroom versus kitchen and see which of you can finish first
4. Store all your cleaning products in one bucket to avoid time-wasting trips up and down stairs
5. Plan your cleaning before you start

I must be one of the few people who like cleaning; the part that I don't like is cleaning up after lazy people who never contribute. If only Aggie could come and teach my housemates a thing or two!

The survey conducted as part of this campaign found that two thirds of women found men who did housework more attractive. I am definitely in that two thirds, messy men be warned.

Monday, 22 September 2008

GARDEN - Conifers for the No-Space, No-Time Gardener

National Conifer Week 27th September – 5th October 2008

Today’s hectic schedules mean that many people struggle to look after a garden. According to PlantforLife, more than one in five people (22%) tend to their gardens just once a month or less, yet 91% of people want to enjoy an attractive or easy-to-maintain garden.

Since garden aesthetics are still hugely important and people are short of time, there is a need for plants which are easy to maintain without losing impact.

Conifers fit the above criteria so they are an ideal solution for many gardens. Conifers are a wonderful way of adding colour and shape to the garden. What’s more, they last all year round – unlike many other plants. They can be used in pots or as dramatic standalone features in the garden. They also give height to borders or create a striking look around a front door.

Many conifers are easy to look after. As long as they are planted in the right spot and conifers only need an occasional trim or prune to keep them looking good. They will need watering to get them established, but once growing will need little attention and will provide year-round interest.

The fourth National Conifer Week takes place from 27th September – 5th October 2008. Roger Ward, Chairman of the Association of British Conifer Growers, comments:

“Conifers are sadly underrated – they are fabulous plants which are easy to care for. National Conifer Week aims to change perceptions of conifers and give them the recognition they deserve!”

Visit to download a free Conifer booklet and for gardening advice, planting information and your nearest garden centre or nursery.

Wyevale Garden Centres

Sunday, 21 September 2008

FOOD - Sugar & Spice From My Secret Kitchen

With the launch of their exciting new Chocolate Infusions range, My Secret Kitchen, the UK’s first nationwide food and drink tasting company, believe they have something to wow our senses.

My Secret Kitchen’s Chocolate Infusions are a unique combination of white or dark chocolate curls, blended with a selection of whole herbs and spices to create three new hot drinks. When mixed with hot milk, the chocolate melts and the herbs infuse to create a unique new drinking experience.

The three infusions in the range comprise of Morning Magic, Midday Melt and Midnight Mystery. Morning Magic boasts an exciting mix of white chocolate, lemongrass, ginger and wasabi; Midday Melt sees white chocolate, complemented by star anise, cinnamon and cloves; while Midnight Mystery blends dark chocolate with orange slices and juniper berries.

Phil Moran, co-founder of My Secret Kitchen says, “Some of the ingredients may seem like odd ones to put together, but the results are amazing. For example, the white chocolate and wasabi in our Morning Magic infusion gives you a hot drink that will kick start your day – and your tastebuds. What’s more, as My Secret Kitchen is a tasting company, people can try before deciding if it’s for them.”

My Secret Kitchen have also launched three other delicious new foods, all designed to make meals more amazing:

• Red Wine and Port Finishing Sauce is deliciously rich and fruity and adds a finishing touch to meat dishes such as spaghetti Bolognese, lasagne and steak. But while it’s magnificent with meat, as this sauce is vegetarian it can be used to give greater richness and depth to a whole host of vegetable-based meals too.

• Fig Pudding Pickle has been developed to have a profusion of sweet and savoury uses. It’s gorgeous with goat’s cheese, great with Greek yogurt and pretty darned good with virtually any pudding or dessert.

• Wholegrain Beer Bread is a new addition to the Beer Bread Mix range. Simply add a bottle of beer to the mix to make a great-tasting malty wholegrain loaf. No kneading, measuring, proving or bread maker required!

I am hungry just thinking about it!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

GADGET - Get a Quikpod, Get in the Picture

Quikpod - IWOOT - £19.95

Sometimes getting the perfect shot is all that matters, and sometimes being in that shot is just as important. All too often holiday snaps are full of landscapes and rarely feature those who actually went on the trip.

The Quikpod is a handy little invention that enables you to easily take a photograph of yourself, or a small group without having to trust a complete stranger or temperamental timers. Probably not necessary for the average night out, but for backpacking, or solo trips abroad this is an absolute must have item.

Monday, 15 September 2008

ART - Picturebook: Putting Literature in the Frame

Some book covers are as good as art. So why not display them as just that.

The picturebook allows you to slide your favourite book into a stylish frame so that you and your visitors can admire your fabulous taste in literature. It even comes with a book for you to use, just in case your idea of literature is more 'Marie Claire' than Shakespeare.

Designed by Stephen Bretland, this great little product is available at loglike, an ethical website with other hidden treasures simply waiting to be discovered.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

INGREDIENT - Cornish Sea Salt

Imagine your salt being harvested straight from the sea, from the clearest grade A classified waters. It seems an impossible ask, but Cornish Sea Salt is exactly that. In fact, it is the first British company to achieve accreditation by The Soil Association making it as good as organic.

This tasty sea salt is home grown and sustainable, two things that are becoming more and more important to the British consumer. Why not try this award winning product for yourself. You really can taste the difference.

I suggest sprinkling it on new potatoes with butter. You could also use it to make your own rub for seasoning steak along with peppercorns, crushed chillies and extra virgin olive oil.

For stockists and more information visit

Friday, 5 September 2008

KITCHEN - Snazzy Spoon Design for Olives

Blomus Stainkless Steel Olive Spoon - TCH - £1.99

This ingenious little design will make getting olives out of the jar a whole lot easier. The rectangular slot in the stainless steel spoon drains away the liquid so you are left with just the olive. They are also a great idea for silverskin pickled onions, and at this price every kitchen cupboard should have some.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

WIN! - Taer beauty goodies worth over £60

Beauty goodies to give away!

Iceland is noted for its crystal clear springs and pure water. Taer Icelandic produces luxurious skincare products based on the principle that natural goods are better for people and for the planet. All herbs are chosen from sustainable sources, and coming from Iceland, are renowned for their purity and potency.

Silky Refining Scrub - £19.50

A sumptuous, creamy scrub containing Icelandic yarrow and angelica to purify and detoxify, fine walnut dust to gently exfoliate and apricot and lime oils to uplift and brighten. This scrub is gentle yet powerful and leaves you with a glowing complexion.

Active firming Serum - £47

A superior serum, rich in antioxidants, to firm, brighten and protect the skin from the effects of stress and pollution. Containing mineral-rich algae extracts, potent organic Icelandic herbs and an exceptionally active blend of rosehip, lotus and geranium essential oils. All contained within a chunky glass bottle. This sumptuous and silky Taer Incelandic serum leaves the face feeling absolutely divine. Friends will envy your soft, smooth and nourished skin.

To win these products send an email to with the subject line 'Taer competition'.

Don't forget to include your name.
The winner will be notified by email on Tuesday 30 September 2008.

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