As January ends, St Valentine and Cupid meet for their annual drink and hatch a plan to make or break relationships across the globe. Confectionery and card shops in every town have begun overloading shelves with all things pink, red and sparkly, while romantic menus are in progress across the culinary world.
Now, my partner is a bit of a tech geek, he loves design and loathes the traditional soppy gestures associated with the occasion. So this year I have been on the hunt for a card that suits him; I don’t want the standard ‘I love you’ plastered across the front, instead I’m looking to insinuate this in a cool and different way.
During my search, I visited a regular favourite of mine, www.notonthehighstreet.com. I receive the newsletter and often leave hints around the house in the hope that one day it won’t fall on deaf ears; we can but try! As suspected, they have a great range of cards for just such a need, enough for an entire post! So here are a few of my favourites:
This month I have been unfortunate enough to be struck down buy a nasty flu bug. Having never suffered from it before, it hasn’t been a pleasant experience and I will be the first in line for a flu jab as soon as possible. However, when we are suddenly overtaken by this king of viruses and the tower of medication beside the bed is not bringing relief, can we eat our way out of it?
After a bit of research, I found this great blog post on Mother Nature Network. Dave Grotto, author of “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life,” reveals 10 foods that provide top doses of vitamins and nutrients you need to protect and defend against such illnesses.
Mushrooms used to get overlooked as a health food, but they possess two big weapons you need this flu season: selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokines that clear sickness, and beta glucan, an antimicrobial type of fiber, which helps activate “superhero” cells that find and destroy infections.
Strong-smelling foods like garlic can stink out sickness thanks to the phytochemical allicin, an antimicrobial compound. A British study found that people taking allicin supplements suffered 46 percent fewer colds and recovered faster from the ones they did get.
In a recent study, participants with the lowest levels of vitamin D were about 40 percent more likely to report a recent respiratory infection than those with higher levels of vitamin D.
Researchers at Harvard University found that drinking five cups of black tea a day quadrupled the body’s immune defense system after two weeks, probably because of theanine. Tea also contains catechins, including ECGC, which act like a cleanup crew against free radicals.
The digestive tract is one of your biggest immune organs, so keep disease-causing germs out with probiotics and prebiotics, found in naturally fermented foods like yogurt. One serving a day labeled with “live and active cultures” will enhance immune function according to a study from the University of Vienna in Austria.
6. Dark Chocolate
Nutrition experts agree that dark chocolate deserves a place in healthy diets, and a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition says it can boost your immunity, too. High doses of cocoa support T-helper cells, which increase the immune system’s ability to defend against infection.
Zinc is critical for the immune system — it rallies the troops, or white blood cells, to attack bacteria and viruses like flu or cold. One medium oyster provides nearly all of the zinc you need for a day, while a portion of six gives you over five times the recommended amount.
Heart-healthy almonds provide the immune-boosting antioxidant vitamin E, which can reduce your chance of catching colds and developing respiratory infections according to researchers at Tufts University. You’ll need more than a serving of almonds for your daily dose though, so try fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, turnip greens and wheat germ, too.
Even though vitamin C-rich foods are probably the first thing you think of when you feel a cold taking hold, Grotto says the illness-preventing power of that antioxidant is debatable. That said, some studies show it can reduce the intensity and duration of cold and flu, so it’s worth a try. One cup of strawberries provides 160 percent of your daily needs.
10. Sweet Potato
Beta-carotene improves your body’s defenses. It’s instrumental in the growth and development of immune system cells and helps neutralize harmful toxins. Sweet potatoes and other orange foods like carrots, squash, pumpkin, egg yolks and cantaloupe are top sources.
There comes a time when you just need to get away; whether your running from a problem, stressed at work or just fed up. This weekend, I took the oportunity to do just that and spent a wonderful few days in Dorset with my partner. Although primarily to celebrate an anniversary, the pair of us needed to get some fresh air and we picked the perfect place to do it.
We chose the Jurassic coast in Dorset, famed for it’s dramatic coast and history. With a world heritage status, you expect something amazing. I’ve never been to the area before but I think it’s safe to say it’s now one of my favourite places in Britain.
We spent Saturday at Lulworth Cove, a beautiful natural cove carved out by decades of crashing ocean. We walked the local area, climbed the headland and strolled the stoney beach. Wrappped up in gloves and hats, even the cold couldn’t ruin the atmosphere and our bravery was well worth our effort. That night, we stayed in a little B&B so close to the water we could hear the waves in the night; bliss.
Sunday morning was spent at Durdle Door. This facinating stretch of coast had me captured from first sight; I found myself totally relaxed, it’s a long way from London! We spent lunch in one of the many small caves looking out on nature at it’s best.
After dragging ourselves away, we drove onto Poole for a coffee and Twix on the beach. With the sun on our faces, we attempted a romantic beach stroll, but a rather gusty wind took pay to that idea; shelter in an alcove of steps was the best we could wish for. But despite the wind and the cold, the two days provided a much needed cheap break from the city lights.
I’m not just sharing this to evoke jealousy, more advice; if a weekend away is much overdue, don’t hesitate to hire a car and go. This is defiantly a place to blow the cobwebs out, even more so out of season when it’s at it’s most blustery. The whole weekend took about £200 from our pockets, including petrol and food, not bad. Out of season is also quiet, relaxed and light on traffic.
If you need a mini break to do some big thinking, drive down to Dorset and let the view inspire you.
Winter always gets me down; cold, dark and often miserable. So I’ve started to try and change that with food. After plenty of research I’m putting the theory to the test and it’s working. So, as part of a series of posts, I give you ‘Happy Meals’; meals that will honestly make you a happier person!
Without further ado, here’s one I made earlier:
Pepper lime salmon with black-eyed beans
So what makes this dish so good for you? Oily fish, such as salmon, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Not only does this help your heart, it’s also been linked to reliving signs of depression. As well as this, the beans supply potassium, an important mineral for managing blood pressure and soluble fibre, which keeps cholesterol in check. Finally, brown rice is a relatively low GL food, good for managing blood sugar levels. All in all, it’s a pretty good package!
Ingredients (serves two):
2x salmon fillets
1 tbsp cajun seasoning mix
100g brown rice
400g can of black-eyes beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste (e.g. tabasco)
1 tbsp clear honey
2 limes; 1 juiced, 1 cut into wedges
Small bunch of coriander chopped plus extra to serve
- Heat grill to hot and roll the salmon in the cajun seasoning;
- Cook the rice as the instructions suggest (brown rice should take about 25 minutes);
- Add the black-eyed beans to the rice in the final two minutes of cooking;
- Once cooked, drain rice and beans, and set aside;
- While the rice is cooking, grill the salmon for about 8 minutes without turning;
- At the same time, mix together the pepper sauce, honey and lime juice. (I added a little more honey to this as I have a sweet tooth but taste as you go);
- When everything is ready, stir the coriander through the rice and lay the salmon on top. Drizzle a small amount of the sauce over the fish to taste;
- Serve with a little extra coriander and lime wedges.
On a cold winters evening nothing beats a good bowl of hot stodgy food. On my weekly shop this week I picked up a packet of paella rice and found this really simple recipe on the back of the packet. Always keen to try new things, I popped the ingredients in my basket and put my limited culinary skills to the test.
The recipe works a treat and so was easy to make. The end result was very tasty, colourful and healthy looking dish, perfect for a blustery January night. If you want a cheap and inviting bowl of food for friends, you couldn’t go far wrong with this.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 150g sliced chorizo
- 4 chicken thighs cubed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (if you don’t have smoked it works just as well)
- 300g paella rice
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 2 peppers (different colours for visual appeal) sliced
- 75g fine beans chopped into bite size pieces and blanched
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes drained
- fresh parsley and lemon to serve
I do love a good bold wallpaper print but this is something completely different. Artist Beth Katleman has taken wallpaper to a new level with her collection named “Folly”. The design is a three-dimensional rendering of the traditional Toile de Jouy wallpaper. Cast in ceramic, she has created a wall of exquisite Asian-inspired pavilions, occupied with fine kitschy figures.
Katleman created 12 separate installations of Folly, the first of which sold for $200,000 through Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary to a private Australian collector in 2010. “Folly” was exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York in 2011 and will be on view at The National Trust in the U.K at Claydon House in 2012. I think I’ll be off to have a closer look for myself.
I found this video (Folly by Beth Katleman) on the very cool design website Ifitshipitshere. It features Katleman explaining her collection in more detail. Commenting on her work she says, “I love the fact that these scenes are so frivolous but they’re so surreal at the same time because they take place on these floating islands of earth on your wall.”
The installations are defiantly enchanting and although not for everyone, would certainly provoke conversation around the dinner table.
Kids get all the fun. Over Christmas I can’t count how many children I watched jealously as they scribbled away with coloured pens. So, it got me thinking, do colouring books exist for adults? Can we to be guided by black lines to create quirky and intricate pieces of art and design?
Turns we can! Here are my top 5 colouring books for adults:
Natural Wonders Colouring Book by Patrick Hruby
Andy Warhol Colouring Book by Prestel
YSL Colouring Book
In Between The Lines Colouring Books, Volume 2 and Volume 3
Alexander Girard Colouring Book
Christmas is nearly upon us and its time to start wrapping all those presents you’ve spent so long searching for. I have a tradition of wrapping mine in fun newspaper articles or glossy magazine pictures but this year I may have to let that slide. How could I not after seeing the creations from Gift Couture.
Gift Couture is a start-up wrapping paper company that offers high-quality wrapping paper sets. They produce unique papers that coordinate together into conceptualized themes and sets. The initial project has been based on the humble cheeseburger and includes 5 different designs; a bun, hamburger, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. The product video is well worth a look purely for the funky music. Cleverly place pile your presents to create the biggest burger in town.
The company is now looking to get funding. Let’s hope they get some and release more creative paper sets for us to enjoy all year round.
Christmas is meant to be about giving thoughtful gifts to those most important to you. I think there is no better way to make a present special than make it yourself; this way you can put a bit of your own personality and twist into it.
I received a wonderfully creative gift this year at a pre-christmas drinks from a good friend and editor of Nested Home’s sister blog, Holly. She bough a pretty old fashioned jar and layered it with all the measured ingredients I needed to make Christmas cookies. I say all ingredients, by this I mean all apart from margarine, egg and vanilla essence… layering these may be slightly more difficult. Cooking instructions were handwritten on an attached card.
The resulting gift rippled smiles across my face and I was quite touched by the time taken to create a gift special to me. It certainly inspired me and the next day I was sat on the living room floor creating some of my own. Within a few days I had two different variations; tall jars filled with sweets and larger jars with ingredients, similar to Holly’s original design.
They were so easy to make and I’m certain they too will bring their new owners a huge amount of joy; anyone with a sweet tooth would be delighted! This is what Christmas is all about so why not give it a go yourself?
Christmas is around the corner and I don’t know about you but I’m getting very excited! I just love the colours this time of the year, but often find it difficult to focus on one particular range.
However, do not fret, help is at hand! Design Seeds, an amazing colour palette website, have got a huge selection of original and inspiring colour palettes on offer. Here are just a few great examples of how you can take one simple yet essential element and build a whole colour concept around it. It’s definitely made me think more creatively about colour.
As the temperature drops and my breath begins to crystallise in front of me, I am the first to head to the coffee shop. A combination of dark mornings and frozen toes has me begging for the warm brown elixir of life. However with many coffee chains, this means a take away cup and plastic lid, and therefore a rising environmental footprint.
You can imagine my pleasure then when I found out about a designer named Peter Herman. He has ingeniously designed a greener, all-paper disposable cup that folds closed like a takeout container to form a sipping spout; clever Peter. He calls it ‘Compleat‘.
An Architect by trade, Peter spent two years of his spare time coming up with prototypes, refining the design. He estimates that his creation could potentially save retailers money, since it’s just one piece, instead of the usual two.
Let’s hope he sees success with this. Its great looks, simplicity and green credentials are just what the market needs. It will certainly make my morning craving feel a whole lot sweeter.
For those looking for a simple yet very romantic way of saying ‘I Love You’ this must be a top consideration. I’ve just come across this beautiful little concept on Crafster and had to write a post about it.
Made out of a pack of cards, a pair of 1 inch binder rings and a bit of creativity, it would certainly put a huge smile on my face were I to receive it.
Here, scrabble pieces have been used to symbolise names but this is only one way of doing it. How about trying stamps, pressed flowers, pictures, shells or better still good old fashioned paint.
There aren’t any specific instructions to follow, it’s more your own judgement and creative flair. However, it is recommended that you try to laminate the front and back for protection. Other than that,it’s up to you, unleash your romantic side and have fun with it!
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