The Value Of Loving Your Leisure Time


When was the last time that you tried something new? Or even just indulged for a while in something you truly love that doesn't involve work or day to day life chores and admin?! Hobbies, trying out new pastimes and learning new skills can be a beautiful thing and an incredibly important asset for our stressful, busy lives. They provide a way to pass the time that can greatly improve our health and wellbeing. Yet they so often fall by the wayside as we grow up, fill our lives with all sorts of other necessities and forget to make some time for a leisurely activity that we truly love.

Terrarium Building Class

Recently I was invited to spend an evening immersing myself in trying something different via a new online resource called* and so I took myself along to the beautiful florist Grace & Thorn in Hackney to learn how to build my own terrarium! Now I'm a real fan of all things green, especially succulents and cacti. Readers of this blog will probably be aware of my previous efforts to encourage people to bring green into their workspace as it can greatly help to create a healthier environment in which to work day to day. So I was more than keen to take the time to learn how to build and to better look after the greenery in my space from the experts.

Want to embrace the benefits of bringing green into your workspace? Learn more here: 3 Quick Ways To Create A Healthier Workspace

Terrarium Building Class

During this two-hour evening class we learnt a little about the history of the terrarium before going on to build our own using all of the tools provided; including an array of beautiful succulent plants, moss and other welcoming green goodness! Cue the passing around of copious amounts of gravel and soil over a glass or two of prosecco, whilst chatting to new friends and pimping our plants. We swiftly created a little haven of peace and prettiness in the beautiful glass bowls that we got to take home containing our creations at the end of the evening. We were also guided in the care of the plants and took some time to look around the florist itself which was a very cool space in which to spend an evening. 

Terrarium Building Class
Terrarium Building Class
Terrarium Building Class

Whilst I don't anticipate building many terrariums on a regular basis, (I'll quite possibly have trouble keeping this one alive as despite my love for what should be very low maintenance plants they still seem determined to whither on me!) this was nonetheless a really fun way to spend an evening in London and a great way to meet new people and experience something very different. Obby is a great new site that enables Londoners to discover classes just like this that they can go along to and try out for themselves. Whether it leads to a new longer term hobby or just provides a welcome break from the stresses and strains of everyday life, Obby offers a platform from which to get started. From terrariums to cooking, to welding and spoon making, there really is something to suit all tastes and interests and their easy online booking system makes finding and planning your newest passion all the more simple and exciting. Plus they are quickly adding new classes and interests on a regular basis. 

Terrarium Building Class
Terrarium Building Class

If, like me, you have a love for all things green and fancy building your own terrarium - or if you just have the urge to try something new and completely different, whatever your taste and interest, then Obby have kindly offered What Now readers the chance to retrieve 10% off of any class booked on their website. Just head on over to, take your pick of the exciting classes that are on offer and enter the code WHATNOW10 when completing your booking.

If you do decide to take a class then I'd love to know how you get on and hear all about your experience so make sure you share it with me via Twitter or by leaving me a comment below. 

I'd also love to know how you spend your leisure time? What are your favourite hobbies and pastimes or have you just started something new and exciting that you never thought you'd so enjoy making the time for in your life? I love to hear your stories so be sure to let me know!



*I was very kindly invited to try this class out on a complimentary basis. However, if I hadn't of enjoyed the experience I wouldn't be sharing it here with you on the blog today.

From A Passion For Florals To A Blooming Beautiful New Business


It'll come as no surprise to regular What Now readers when I say that I'm a lover of everything floral! I mean who doesn't love flowers? Guaranteed to brighten anyones day and bring a little beauty into everyday life. So it's a pleasure today to bring to you a little floral and career inspiration combined, as I discuss turning something you love into your own business with Jo Lambell, the founder and brains behind the brilliant 'letterbox' floristry company Beards & Daisies.

Beards And Daisies Bouquet

Beards & Daisies was started by Jo as she pursued her real passion in life - a love of beautiful flowers. Leaving her corporate career and a poor work-life balance behind her, Jo sought out the skills to build her own business and create a better sense of wellbeing doing something that she really loved. Whilst the hours may still at times be long, especially during popular holidays, events and occasions, the joy found in doing and creating something that she is passionate about, from scratch, and calling it her own, seems to be what drives Jo to continue to succeed with her ever growing business.

This is a florist with a unique idea. It's not just the usual flowers to your door in a big bouquet or box, although that option is available, it can also be a bouquet of beautiful flowers that fits neatly through the letterbox. Flowers in a custom designed box, that can survive for a prolonged period of time without water. Ensuring that even if the recipient is not in to receive their gift, they will find their way safely onto the doormat and still be a beautiful bouquet of fresh, floral goodness once opened and displayed.

So today I share a little from Jo about her business and how and why she decided to take a leap of faith and set up on her own. Plus don't miss your chance to win a beautiful bouquet of your own, or get your hands on some stunning blooms with The What Now Blog unique discount code. So stay tuned!

Beards And Daisies Rose And Glasses

Hi Jo, Firstly could you tell us what led you to set up your company Beards & Daisies and how you arrived at where you are now?

I felt like a square peg in a round hole having a career in sales. I desperately wanted to be doing something more creative. I was working long hours and just felt I could be spending that time on growing something that was all mine rather than contributing to someone else’s business. Plus having my own business would also allow me to balance work and life a little better. I’d always been surrounded by flowers having spent most of my twenties living on London’s famous Columbia Road with its weekly flower market, so I finally took the plunge to quit work and retrain in floristry. 

I probably did things the wrong way around really as I started the business at the same time as re-training which was a little ambitious! The idea for the business began when I sent some flowers to my mum for her birthday as I couldn’t be with her in person and as lovely as the flowers were, I was disappointed that they didn’t look as beautiful as a bouquet I could have picked from my local high street florist. I realised that not everyone has the luxury of a local florist and although the supermarkets have a fantastic selection these days, it lacks the personal approach that my hand tied bouquets have. Plus they come in pretty snazzy wrapping as I’m a sucker for great packaging! So the idea for Beards & Daisies the online florist was born.

Beards And Daisies Rose On Keyboard

What's your biggest passion when it comes to your business, what keeps you going day after day?

Whenever I feel stress creeping up on me, I remind myself that a). I work with flowers for a living... I mean come on, how lucky am I! and b). I remember the place I was in two years ago. I honestly love having something that I can call my own and how utterly progressive a start-up business can be.

I'm intrigued to know what's behind the name Beards & Daisies, it's such a great name! How did you choose it?

I was helping plan my sisters wedding which was to be held in her garden. She wanted it to be informal with lots of wild flowers. This mixed with the fact that her fiancé and most of his friends have beards meant we coined her wedding theme ‘beards and daisies’ in amok. The phrase stuck and I’d like to think it’s memorable which can only be a good thing!

Beards And Daisies Rose

How do you set about conquering your biggest fears and setbacks in your working life?

When I was working in sales there were always scenarios that took me out of my comfort zone, whether it was a project, a meeting or a presentation. It would be easy to play it safe when you have your own business as there's no one to push you or challenge you other than yourself. It’s cheesy but at least once a month I try to force myself to do something which takes me out of my comfort zone or makes my stomach turn with fear. For example going to a networking group where I don’t know anyone. Living in fear of making mistakes, is the only mistake you can make’ is a great motto to live by.

With the season of autumn upon us, which blooms should we be looking out for to keep our home or office spaces looking and feeling seasonally happy and cosy?

I’ve just finished shooting the Christmas collection of bouquets and we will shortly be seeing anemones and ranunculus back in season, which I will be using a lot. They come in the most amazing array of colours and ranunculus has an amazing petal formation, like a more delicate version of a rose. Just like fashion everything gets richer and deeper in colour, which is refreshing after a summer of colourful flowers.

Beards And Daisies Flower Card

Finally, with the idea of wellbeing in mind, what's your personal idea of the perfect weekend, how do you like to switch off and relax?

I’ve by no means mastered the art of switching off as having your own start-up business can be demanding, but my perfect weekend would be a magazine and coffee in the deli on my high street in the morning and then getting away to the coast for the rest of the day. I just love being by the sea and I feel very content when I’m there - it’s good for my soul! 

Beards And Daisies Rose And Keyboard

Thank you to Jo for sharing her journey and I hope it has inspired any of you out there with a burning entrepreneurial spirit, not to give up on your goals and aspirations for the future. 

Jo has very kindly offered a giveaway prize of one beautiful bouquet to one lucky What Now reader. If you would like to be in with a chance of winning please follow the instructions and T&Cs set out below.

Plus if you have a special occasion coming up and are looking to treat a loved one (or indeed yourself) to some beautiful blooms then What Now readers can receive £10 off of their first order using offer code THEWHATNOWBLOG between now and the 30th of September 2016. Take a look at the Beards & Daisies website and get yourself inspired:



TO ENTER THE BOUQUET GIVEAWAY follow @TheWhatNowBlog on Twitter and RT the competition tweet. 

The competition will close at midnight on Friday 30th September 2016. After this time the winner will be notified and I will arrange for your prize to wing its way over to you so that you can enjoy your beautiful blooms asap.

PLEASE NOTE entrants must be 16 or over and the competition is open to residents in the UK only on this occasion. The bouquet may differ from the one pictured in this post but will be a beautiful, seasonal arrangement that I know you will enjoy!

Best of luck.



*As part of this interview I was sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers as a sample of Jo's work and as depicted in the photographs in this post.

Add Colour To Your World With Graphic Designer Sam Osborne

"Add some colour to your world"

This is the tagline that jumps out at you when you enter the website of today's interviewee - Designer and Illustrator Sam Osborne. It's the perfect way to sum up Sam's bright, colourful and joyful designs and in honour of National Stationery Week that starts today, I thought it would be nice to get to know Sam a little more and take a look at some of her beautiful work. Geometric, eye catching stationery and home-ware that you can be certain will liven up any office space this spring to summer season. 

Oh and stay tuned for a What Now reader discount to help you get your hands on some of these little beauties and brighten up your own space!

Photograph  : Sam Osborne

Photograph: Sam Osborne

I don't know if I've confessed this on here before but I'm in fact a bit of an Etsy fiend! I love to browse through the beautiful online shops and find unique offerings from the talented designers that have set up shop on this platform. This is exactly where I stumbled across Sam and I knew instantly that I'd love to learn more.

So without further ado let's find out a little about Sam's career as a graphic designer and look at some of her lovely products ...

Photographs  : Sam Osborne

Photographs: Sam Osborne

Sam - what is it that inspired you to become a designer and illustrator?

I come from a creative family - both my Dad and Sister are graphic designers and my Mum is very crafty, so I always knew I was going to do something creative. At school I took every art and design option going and developed a real love for both design and illustration. I decided to focus on Graphic Design for my degree and after graduation I worked for various agencies in print and web design having a blast designing everything from brands and brochures to websites. However I missed the more illustrative side, so in 2010 I decided to set up my own business where I could focus more on that and I haven't looked back! 

Is it a difficult career to get involved in?

I don't really have much to compare it to - I've never worked in any other industry but, like most things, it involved hard work, doing good work and sharing it and. most importantly, learning all the time. A portfolio is the key tool for an aspiring designer and time spent building the quality of the work you present is never time wasted. Generally the more you put out there the more you get back so sharing work online and with people in the sector of the industry you want to work in is also a great way to get noticed.

Photograph  : Sam Osborne

Photograph: Sam Osborne

Could you give us the low down on your business and the passion behind what you do?

I'm a graphic designer and illustrator and there are many sides to my business - I create bespoke illustrations for all kinds of clients, work with a marketing agency on graphic design projects and I also make and sell my own range of products. I love the variety that brings to each working day.

My main passion is colour and people say they can recognise my work due to the colours I use. Colour is so powerful - it can change an environment, design or product completely and I love experimenting with new colour combinations. As a kid I painted my bedrooms all sort of colours, from bright red to blue and purple stripes, so it has always fascinated me. And that hasn't really changed as I've gotten older, although I now restrict the really bold colour combos to my work, not everyone can live in a bright red room apparently! 

It all starts with a sketch ...   Photographs  : Sam Osborne

It all starts with a sketch ...

Photographs: Sam Osborne

How do you find being your own boss? What are the challenges, what are the benefits?

The last few years have been a huge learning curve. It's easy to have rosy idea of what running your own business is like but the reality is that it's hard work. You have to be involved with every aspect of your business - including the bits you don't like very much (admin and paperwork in my case!) but for me the benefits far outweigh any of the negatives. Being able to control exactly how my days and weeks go, when I work, where I work and, to a certain extent, what I work on has changed my life completely.

Where do you find your inspiration and ideas for your designs and your your products?

Stylistically I'm very influenced by mid century modern design, 1950s and 60s advertising, pop culture, second hand books and retro sci-fi movies. I love the forward thinking, optimistic nature of design from this period and the colour palettes are some of my favourites. However in terms of topics and themes my influence comes from all over the place; I especially love nature and often break up my day with a walk or cycle in my local nature reserve or simply sit in my garden and watch the birds, I enjoy sport and science and read a lot! Part of the deal of being a creative is that you absorb so much from almost everywhere - everything is an opportunity to make a connection or spark off a new train of interest or inspiration.

The manufacturing process ...   Photographs  : Sam Osborne

The manufacturing process ...

Photographs: Sam Osborne

What is it that you love most about what you do?

That I can take a blank piece of paper and turn it into something that solves a problem, brightens up someone's living room or communicates an important message - the process of creating my designs is still the most exciting thing for me and I love the journey that each project takes me on.

How do you find balance between work and life when your workload just gets too busy?

Maintaining a balance between work and home life can be really difficult, especially as both myself and my boyfriend work at home. In an effort to try and make the boundaries clearer we've just built ourselves a new office space, a dedicated studio rather than the second bedroom we were using. This means that once the studio door is closed we can forget about work until the next day, in theory anyway!

However sometimes, when it is really busy, you do have to throw all ideas about work-life balance out of the window and just get the work done. I try to make use of down times as a way of maintaining a balance over the long term. If I have a quiet week work wise I'll try to get out and visit a gallery or museum or simply take an afternoon off to sit in the sunshine or visit friends. The nice thing about working for yourself is that you are not restricted by the idea of 9-5, five days a week.

What are your top tips for staying positive when facing difficult situations or stress at work - or indeed in life in general?

For me good support networks are the key to staying sane. I come from an entrepreneurial family and have many friends in the local area who also work for themselves so there is always someone who has 'been there and done that' to talk to. But it's not just local networks that I find helpful - I'm a member of a few online communities and associations that offer support and assistance and a much needed place to vent. I'm also a member of a local book club and my home town's brand new Women's Institute both of which are great ways to meet new people and learn new skills away from the world of work. If all else fails, go for a run, put on some loud music or meet a friend for a drink and put the world to rights!

What has been the most important thing you have learned since starting out?

Probably two things get joint top spot for best lesson I've learned:

  1. That I can't do it all. Asking for help and getting outside input is a vital part of running a business. Hiring experts to do my accounts, PR and ad-hoc projects is by far the best thing I've ever done and frees me up to do the things I am good at.
  2. Celebrate every success, even the really little ones. Obviously you don't always have to throw a huge party but find some way of marking all the good things like sales in your shop, hitting a goal you've been working towards or landing a new client, even if it's just opening the posh pack of biscuits!
Photograph  : Sam Osborne

Photograph: Sam Osborne

A huge thanks to Sam for sharing a little insight into her world. If you're feeling suitably inspired after this post and you're thinking you would like a little extra colour in your office or indeed your home-life then for the duration of Stationery Week (27th April - 3rd May) What Now readers can get 15% off in Sam's store by using the code: WHATNOW15 

So hurry and get your orders in now to ensure a bright and snazzy summer in the office!



That Spring Floral Feeling: Appleyard London

I love flowers. They're guaranteed to make me smile and if you follow me on Instagram or Pinterest you will probably have noticed a fair amount of floral based posts on a regular basis. You just can't beat a close up of a beautiful flower in bloom and now that spring has certainly sprung, there is bloomin' inspiration just about everywhere!

Appleyard Spring Bouquet

When I was recently approached by London based florist, Appleyard London who asked if I would like to pick a bouquet from their spring range to see what I thought of their beautiful looking floral designs and service, the flower lover in me instantly felt this would be something I would love to do. Plus the former Personal Assistant in me was also intrigued!

Having at many times over the years, been the person responsible for seeking out flowers for my work colleagues, be that for birthdays, births or whatever the occasion might be, I was always keen to find something a little prettier and more special in feeling than the usual. As well as wanting to ensure smooth service and delivery to the relevant recipient.

Appleyard Flower Delivery

What's lovely about Appleyard is that they collate their designs together in seasonal collections. So you can pick out a bouquet of the most seasonal and fresh flowers for the right time of year and your chosen occasion.

My choice was the very vibrant, Spring Garden Bouquet* from their current spring Seasonal Flower Collection. A lovely vibrant mix of tulips, scented stocs and yellow roses, it was a delight when it was delivered to my door - and, as you can see, my four legged furry colleague certainly agreed!

Appleyard Flower Collage

The flowers were a real delight. Bright, fresh and colourful. They made a great addition to my home office and cheered me up no end - helping to usher in the spring in exactly the way that I adore. They also lasted well over a week despite the growing and wilt inducing warmth in the room in which they sat. I felt that was pretty good going by any standard.

Whether you're after something bright and cheery for family, friends or colleagues, or if you just want to treat yourself to a little spring luxury, these lovely fresh flowers and boutique designs will make just the perfect gift to add cheer to someones day. Not only that but the design of the bouquet is so, that you can pretty much unpack them, pop them in a vase and be presented with a beautiful display. So if you're not a natural flower arranger like me this is really very helpful!

Appleyard Bouquet

If you'd like to get your hands on one of these beautiful luxury bouquets to give your home or a friend a little burst of that sunny, spring feeling then get yourself down to the lovely Appleyard London boutique on 69 Leonard Street near Old Street. This spring, What Now readers will be entitled to a wonderful 40% off of their purchase by using the discount code BLOG40 at the checkout.

Unfortunately this doesn't apply to their online delivery service but if you're after something special do check them out. There's a great selection of options available in their Flower Delivery service and they will provide you with beautiful flowers fast for any occasion. They also offer a very handy date reminder service so that you never end up missing that very important, special occasion again!

Happy Saturday everyone. Enjoy the spring sunshine (and occasional April showers) and see you on Monday for something new here on the blog.