DIY Wellbeing Gift: Lavender ‘Handkerchief’ envelope – REVIEW

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Someone on a social media forum gave me the idea to make a lavender sachet from a handkerchief that she could give as a Wellbeing Present. I thought it was a nice, quick idea and a little ‘pick-me-up’.

All she did was collect vintage handkerchiefs, add some edible lavender flowers and essential oil and just sew it up to make a cute and easy ‘fabric envelope’. Add a pretty button for effect.

I made this one which was really easy to make and it went down very well as ‘sleeping aid’.I am a hygge fan, and this is very hygge!

REVIEW: It felt a bit flimsy at first, but you could always put in some lining in, though you wouldn’t get so much of a lavender aroma. I thought it was cute and I hope to make some more. It went down very well to the person I gave it to as a surprise. I would give mine 9/10 because I forgot the essential oil – oops! It’s a nice way of remembering people who have given you handkerchiefs and using spare ones you have round the house. It gives old handkerchiefs a bit of life. If you do make any, let me know what reaction you get…..

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Why don’t Men in the UK use much Aftershave?

I really wish men in the UK wore more aftershave, and not just for ‘special occasions’ or for ‘masking’ horrid things.

It was really noticeable when I worked in a hotel and we had guests from all around the world, particularly from France, who wore aftershave.

You walk in the street these days, and when you walk past some men, they either smell of nothing, which is really boring, smoke, pungent alcohol or cannabis, which to me, stinks of the bitter, stale aroma of dead rats (trust me, coming from a farm, I have smelt this!). It super compounds the problem when you walk past pairs or larger groups of men, stinking of smoke, garlic and onions, cheese, pizza, chicken legs, kebabs, alcohol and cannabis. Some their waft comes from their cars which can be smelly with smoke and food. There is a huge cloud of pong by them. When all these whiffs go together, it goes, er, ‘superstench’.

When you get a guest who smells of good quality aftershave, and not of huge splashes of it which can make them ‘look slimey’ particularly if wearing a blue suit, you feel that he has taken care of himself, feels ‘dressed’ and that he cares that he doesn’t stink badly when he is out in public areas. It creates a good impression. (Of course, he generally uses the good quality types of aftershave, not the ones you remember, such as the ‘honking ones with the cheesy names’ from 70s. However, sometimes, I have to say, there could be some good ‘cheap finds’ but you have to hunt really hard.

We women buy aftershave a lot for our men, but we notice that the bottle remains disappointingly full, a year after we have given it to them. There’s some really good products for men in the market now, many that have more natural incredients; my favourite aftershaves come from Penhaligans in Burlington Arcade. They are a reasonable price for the quality and the thought that goes into it. Aftershave isn’t just for ‘sex panthers’, it is for every day use too, not just the boudouir. The right aftershave, I think, is great for confidence and self-esteem. I have noticed in that in the UAE, they love aftershaves and they sell a huge variety of them and they often have interesting and well designed bottles. My ‘adopted half brother’ who was from the UAE, loved to put reddish type of perfumed ointment on his feet. I don’t know what it was exactly, but he showed a bit of pride.

Now, I can understand that sometimes some men can’t wear aftershave, for various reasons, such as they are allergic, cannot wear it at work or on the tube. But the vast majority appears not to be wearing any from what I can tell. Are they seriously worried that they may be ‘beaten up in the toilet or streets’ for wearing aftershave?

I like perfume on women, though not the overpowering or tacky kind, like Poison, and it is nice walking past them, but here in the UK, you almost wretch as some men here do pong, you can smell their breath, their skin, and stuff they have been smoking. It creates a bad impression.

Come on men, wear some decent aftershave, and use breath freshener, while you are at it. Even Fido the Old English Sheepdog, with his special deep-flea treatment, probably smells a lot better than some men. It really doesn’t have to be that way!

Wellbeing: DIY Coconut Milk & Rosewater Facial Wash for Dry Skin – Review

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After watching some YouTube videos on making a facial wash, I thought I would be confident enough to crib together some of my favourite ingredients and ‘make up my own’ favourite facial wash and let you know what I thought of it.

This would be one that I would recommend to people and those in my family. It would be a ‘family secret formula’ that I would ‘hand down’, like ‘Granny’s favourite’ (not that I am a granny, but you know what I mean)

This one really is my ‘piece de resistance’; it just goes to show you how much I love it.

I am inspired by people from Asia, who use a lot of coconut milk for their skin and haircare. In Western culture, we seem to be obsessed with harmful chemicals, which I find really strange. I was also inspired by the Persians and Phoenicians who loved rosewater too, and used it for all sorts of things. I bought my large bottle of rosewater and almond oil from a good Turkish grocer in London and it lasts a long time.

I was actually making this facial wash for a friend who buys that nasty, chemically stuff from Boots (so I had to put a stop to that!)

For me, this facial wash is not only gentle to the skin, but it makes my skin feel super amazing and makes me feel great too, particularly when used at the beginning of the day, so it has that ‘warm, wellbeing’ ‘hygge’ factor. I feel like Cleopatra using it. I am a bit of a Roman freak and I love using rosewater which the Romans also loved. Ok, Cleopatra was Eqyptian.I like my facial wash to have a bit of ‘history’ in it.

I would go so far as to say this makes a nice DIY gift too, perhaps as a ‘thank you’. Keep it simple, and add a pretty tag to it.

Ingredients (Eyeball)

Castile Soap (a natural ‘must ‘in your house)
Rosewater
Distilled Water (to top it up) (you can boil it and let it cool down)
Coconut Milk
Honey (great to reduce spots)
A few Drops of glyerin (optional)
A few drops of johoba oil
A few drops of almond oil (brilliant for dry skin)
Poppy seeds

Method:

Just mix up the ingredients and give it a good shake before using.
I keep it in the fridge before I use it. It’s so refreshing

Tip 1: If you don’t have all the ingredients, you can get away with just castile soap and honey, although it won’t have that ‘luxury feel’. It is very natural too and honey is great for the skin and does so many good things to it.

Tip 2: This is a special facial wash, so use a pretty glass bottle for it. Some small vinegar or bath salts bottles can be very attractive. You can get some pretty bottles from charity shops too.

Tip 3: If you want to tailor make it for men, swap the rosewater with drops of peppermint essential oil (keep away from eyes) and remove the poppy seeds. However, if your man loves ‘rosewater’ leave it in!

Tips 4: Always use cotton wool pads for this facial wash, it really adds a touch of luxury and gets the nasties off.

Tip5: For heavy make up, go over with a few cotton wool pads of almond oil.

Review:

I would give this 10/10. My skin feels clean and moisturised, the almond oil gives it my skin a touch of silky luxury and the light scent of the rosewater really gives it a wonderfully ‘homemade’ luxurious touch. I will never go back to shop bought facial wash ‘nasties’ again.

Homemade ‘Pirate Treasure’ Ice Lolly – Review

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I was inspired by the Caribbean and pirates to make this summer lolly. The dairy yoghurt symbolised ‘Europe’, the journey the Pirates came from, and ginger beer and bananas from the Caribbean. My father gave me some real ‘pirate treasure’ once and this ice lolly gives me memories of him too. The chocolate ‘coin’ is for the ‘treasure’. So, it was quite a fun one to make.

Ingredients (eyeball)

Natural Yoghurt
Honey
Ginger Beer
Mashed Banana
A chocolate coin (without the metal wrapping)
Optional: yellow food colouring (it can be a bit strong, so watch out)

Use an ice lolly mould (use more if you want to share). Store them in the freezer when you need them.

Mix the ingredients and add the chocolate coin afterwards and put in the freezer for a few hours.

REVIEW: 9/10 I probably used too much ginger beer (just go easy) which can make it a bit watery, but if you use less and mix the yoghurt and honey well, it will turn out very nice. The ginger beer really gives its Caribbean magic.

PS Hello to the Jamaican’s reading things (I am a huge fan of ginger too)

Kent: Passengers on South Eastern Railway take their dogs to work today

It is National #Takeyourdogtowork day which is great for mental health in the workplace, and gets the dog out too, and, of course, immensely spoiled.

I was pleased to see some railway passengers taking their beagle to work this morning, on my way to London Bridge. The lady took the dog after 10am and avoided the crowded rush hour so he was quite comfortable.

Hope to see more and more people take their dogs to work, perhaps more often than a day, to help animal welfare charities and reduce workplace stress and sickness. It also makes the workplace more fun and ‘human’.

To take part next year, keep a note of this website: https://bringyourdogtoworkday.co.uk/ for details.

London: 18 June, 2017: My trip to two ‘Great Get Togethers’ in 30c Heat

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PHOTO: Southwark Street

I went to two Great Get Togethers, the first with a social group in Holborn and the other at Bankside in Southwark. strong> The Great Get Together was designed to bring communities together in memory of a Labour MP, Jo Cox, who got slain by an extremist.

It was a baking hot all day and I had to slap on 50 SPF factor sunscream. I forgot my sunhat though.

In the first Gathering in Central London, we brought along some food to share including bones for any dogs that may come along, and had a picnic under the trees in Holborn. We played ‘multicultural frisby’ afterwards. We also met an OAP from Southwark and shared some doughnuts and talked about country walks.

Afterwards, we invited him to come along to the Bankside Street Party, which was another Great Big Gathering and listened to music, watched ‘multicultural maypole dancing’, the Surrey Docks Farm animals and went on a Crossbones Garden Tour. It was great to see just by a council estate, a Shetland pony, some sheep, goats and chickens. The kids loved them.

In the Red Cross Garden, near Southwark Street, a woman called Charmaine had made a cake in the Bake Off which looked just like the Red Cross garden, complete with pond. You can see the photo here:

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Am now very knackered and very very hot so, although the Gathering was very good, it was nice to be back home! Look forward to some more Gatherings too.

Homemade “Papua Sunset” Ice Lolly with Banana & Pomegranate – REVIEW

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I was inspired by Papua New Guinea where they first domesticated bananas, and my trip to the ‘Land of Milk and Honey’ in Lebanon, for this homemade ice lolly. I just used two large ice lolly moulds.

INGREDIENTS (eyeball)

Natural Yogurt

Pomegranate Juice (essential as it gels the yoghurt together)

Almond Milk

Honey

Mashed Banana, make sure it isn’t lumpy

METHOD: Just Mix up!

Optional tip: You can add a drop of red colouring, though, watch out, some people may be allergic. If you don’t add colouring, it’s just a very pale pink.

REVIEW: 10/10 OMG, one of my favourite ice lollies, and it reminds me of my trip going through ‘Sniper country’ in sunny Lebanon. You can really smell the wonderful aroma of the pomegranate. The taste brings the Mediterranean all back, with the fruit markets and arid hills.

Homemade Mango Yoghurt & ‘Rum’ Ice Lolly – Review

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This was recommended to me by a Kentish woman who works at a fruit stall in England. Sometimes we swap recipes. Instead of milk, I used almond milk which I thought would be healthier. It gels the ingredients well together. I used a couple of lolly moulds.

INGREDIENTS (eyeball)

Ripe mango – chopped

Natural Yoghurt

To sweeten: Sugar or honey

Almond or Oat Milk

Drops of rum flavouring (sometimes Eastern European shops have this)

METHOD
: Just mix up!

Review: 9/10 Very nice! It was slightly cheesy at first, but in a nice Icelandic Skyr way. Far nicer than the ones in the shops too. Personally I preferred a bit of sugar, but that’s me. The lolly took about 10 minutes to eat. I gave one to my friend, who also enjoyed it. I find the ice lollies in the shops far too rich for me, and they’re not very fruity.

Tip: Some chopped almonds would be fun to add and would work very well with the almond milk.

DIY British Sherbet: Review

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I made some sherbet today and I wanted to test it out.

Now, I am an aunt, so ‘I have to do ‘aunt things’ and get into practice for when I need it.

I was inspired by a stall selling sherbet at a Food Fair at Syon Park. They did lots of flavours, including pizza (which I am still working on). This particular recipe is a ‘plain one’ other than a few sprinkles. If you add liquid, like coconut flavouring, there will be a ‘fizzy reaction’. The photo above was when I put flavouring in it, so it is a bit ‘ball’ like but you don’t need to use any flavouring so it will be more powdery looking.

In the UK, sherbet is traditional eaten with a stick of licorice or eaten with the fingers. Nowadays, cooks use it as a topping for ice creams.

INGREDIENTS

Citrus Acid powder (I got this online, but you can apparently get it at pharmacies)

Bicarbonate of Soda

Sprinkles and/or edible glitter (from a cake decoration shop)This adds a little texture and colour if you want it.

Icing Sugar (be generous)

Vintage Sweet Bags (You can get a good range, blue, green, yellow, black and ‘mixed’ on Amazon.

Optional: Licorice sticks from Simpkins on Amazon (not licorice roots) If you can find a good health or candy store, even better as you don’t have to pay for any delivery charge.

Tip: You only need a little citrus acid powder and bicarbonate of soda. The more citrus acid you use, the more ‘sour’ it is.

REVIEW: It is not bad at all.You don’t need to buy sherbet in the shops now, it works! It is fun to have a variety of sprinkles to make it more unique and ‘homemadey’. I would give it a 9/10 and a Gold Star in ‘Aunt Points’

London Review: DIY Orange & Lemons, Lavender & Poppy Seed Natural Hand Lotion

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I made this gorgeous hand lotion this afternoon and I really was pleased with the results.

To make this lotion, I was inspired by the traditional English children’s nursery rhyme and singing game, “Oranges and Lemons” which refers to the bells of several churches, all within or close to the City of London:-

“Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
Chip chop chip chop the last man is dead”

INGREDIENTS (I eyeballed these)

Coconut oil (in solid form (I got mine from Tesco which was under £3) (Avoid being ripped off by specialist health shops)

Shea butter (I always keep some of this in my cupboard)
Grated Lemon Peel
Grated Orange Peel
Lavender Essential Oil
Lemon Essential Oil
Poppy seeds
Lavender Flowers (edible version, I used some lavender tea)
Orange, Tangerine or Mandarin Essential oil
Olive Oil (a nod to the Romans)
Organic Beeswax (from a local farmers’ market)
A silicon soap mould of your choice or you can use the ‘square’ of a milk box

I heated the ingredients up by putting a bowl and saucer as a cover in the microwave for a few minutes (I checked it every so often). Hot oil is dangerous so keep away from small kids.

I then poured the content into a silicon mould, left it to set outside and then put it in the fridge.

Tips: Be more liberal with the beeswax to make the mould harder. Be generous with your grated orange and lemon peel but it needs to be dried so the lotion lasts longer. Try to keep the lotion in the fridge, away from each other.

Suggested uses: As gifts and, even better, as a random act of kindness! Love to hear if you do that….

REVIEW: 9/10 The first time I did this, I forgot the beeswax, which meant a lot of it was used really quickly as it was too soft. This time I used the beeswax and the lotion didn’t fall apart. I also used too much olive oil the first time, so it was a bit oily. This time it was perfect and I didn’t have to use much for it to go a long way. It has a really lovely vintage, summery smell, great for wellbeing too.