The Value Of Loving Your Leisure Time

HOBBIES, LEARNING NEW SKILLS AND BUILDING YOUR OWN TERRARIUM!

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 Obby.co.uk* 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 Obby.co.uk, 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!

Louise

 

*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.


Understanding How Food Can Make You Feel

COOKBOOKS TO KEEP YOU INSPIRED FOR A TASTY, HAPPY YEAR AHEAD

I'm often on the lookout for healthy inspiration in the kitchen but also on my mind is ease and cost effectiveness. I've been on my fair share of faddy diets in my time, and my relationship with food hasn't always been a happy one. Not only that but the information out there on what we should and shouldn't be eating can often be overwhelming and all consuming with conflicting and misleading messages backed by pseudoscience that renders us completely and utterly confused! Anyone who watched the recent BBC Two Horizon Documentary on "clean-eating" will know what I mean. So these days I'm far more concerned with cramming the good stuff in than I am with obsessively cutting stuff out and punishing myself. I refuse to give up my love of cake entirely, but it's all about finding a balance and still ensuring that amongst the odd treat here and there, you're getting in the goodness too.

Understanding How Food Can Make You Feel

Using food as fuel and understanding how it makes you feel both mentally and physically has become something of an interest to me and this month I've made a couple of fab foodie book discoveries that have been helping me to learn more and cook good, (mostly) quick and tasty food to boot. Goodness doesn't have to be boring, nor does it have to take ages or involve a load of expensive ingredients. Two books that I've discovered this year so far have been teaching me just that.

Understanding How Food Can Make You Feel

Personally I find cookbooks so useful for inspiration, even if I don't fully follow every morsel of a particular author's philosophy and perhaps don't always follow each and every recipe to the latter, I still enjoy using books to inspire and encourage me to step out of my comfort zone and to introduce me to, or perhaps even just remind me of, some different ingredients for my usual weekly shopping list. Using a book to inspire and learn doesn't mean you have to be rigid with your food or diet, I still believe it's important to be creative with the recipes in order to make sure you're getting the most out of what you have in your cupboards and avoid unnecessary waste. With almost 50% of food thrown away each year in the UK being domestic* it's important to work with what you have and try to make small, healthier choices and changes along the way.

*Source Olive Magazine Jan 2017

Understanding How Food Can Make You Feel

Two books that have been offering up some delicious, healthy and achievable recipes for me this month have been The Medicinal Chef: Healthy Every Day by Dale Pinnock and The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food by Rachel Kelly and Alice Mackintosh. I've spent much of this month trying many recipes from both and have enjoyed each and every bite! I also love how each book celebrates food rather than making it seem like a complicated chore. Fresh recipes that use everyday ingredients and invite you to view food in a positive light, for all of its benefits and abilities to enhance our sense of well-being. To enjoy food without feeling guilty whilst still understanding the effects that it can have on the body and to use that in a positive fashion. 

Understanding How Food Can Make You Feel

When it comes to busy lifestyles both also offer up quick and easy recipes alongside recipes that you can take your time over at the weekends, or whenever you have longer, and want to enjoy the process of creating something mouth-watering just much as you want to eat it - because the act of cooking in itself can be incredibly therapeutic and calming. 

In Healthy Every Day you will find a little run down on each recipe that explains the benefits of the ingredients that you are using. Three of my all time favourite recipes so far from this book have to be the cold-busting wasabi salmon skewers, can-do chicken kebabs and the feel-good fish pie.

The Happy Kitchen has been collated into sections that depend on what you might be looking for your food to do fo you. For example, choose from recipe sections such as beating the blues, balanced energy and sweet dreams to find a suitable recipe that's right for you at that particular moment. I've recently made the zingy courgette, pea and coconut soup and the kedgeree and have totally delighted in the warming, tastiness of both during this chilly winter that we've been having.

So those are two of my favourite, totally personal (and not sponsored!) picks for a thoroughly appetising New Year! I love to share the things that have been making me tick and with New Year being a time that many focus on healthier habits, I feel that these books offer up useful, non-faddy advice that's just made to make your mouth water!

Let me know where you like to get your feel-good and actually actionable foodie inspiration from too? It's always good to know where my next source of foodie fun might be coming from!

Louise

 


Post Work Refresh: Super Simple Gazpacho Soup

A FRESH AND HEALTHY KICK

It's been a while since I shared anything foodie related here on the blog so today seemed like a good day to offer up a simple, refreshing soup recipe that I've been enjoying all summer long. Even though September is here and the autumn is showing slow signs of breaking through, the days are still pretty warm and stuffy right now. So this easy little number is both tasty and revitalising, along with a good dose of healthy goodness as well. 

Gazpacho Soup

Now cold soup might not be everyone's bag! But I love Gazpacho, especially when it's really fresh, a little crunchy with a good kick of spicy heat and super chilled when served. The recipe I've been using comes from the latest book by nutritionist Amelia Freer called Cook Nourish Glow and is really pretty easy to master. Basically chuck a load of good stuff into a food processor, blend, chill and then eat. Simple! I use red onion instead of the suggested spring onion and that works really well - mainly because red onion is normally what I have in the house hence the simple substitution. 

Gazpacho Soup
Gazpacho Soup

Gazpacho Soup

(slightly adapted from the original recipe, check out the book for more tasty and healthy inspiration)

Serves 4

YOU WILL NEED

1 red pepper (deseeded and chopped), 1/2 stick of celery roughly chopped, 1/4 cucumber (you can deseed but I don't bother and it works fine), 500g ripe tomatoes, 1/2 red onion (or 1 spring onion if you prefer), 1/2 clove garlic, 1 handful of fresh basil, 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons of sherry vinegar, a healthy dash of tabasco, sea salt and ground black pepper.

TO MAKE

Basically put all of the ingredients (apart from the basil) into a food processor and blitz to your required consistency. The recipe states until smooth but I like mine a teeny bit chunky to have some crispy bite so I stop just before it is fully blended.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and add more tabasco and sherry vinegar if required to bring it to your preferred heat and sharpness. Sometimes I actually add a little more garlic and give it an extra blitz to blend. We love garlic in our house and we aren't afraid to show it!

Leave your soup to chill in the fridge for at least two hours. I just put it into a clickable tupperware box. 

Serve garnished with a sprinkling of fresh basil leaves. You can make this in large batches and it will happily keep in the fridge for a good few days.

 

So this weekend why not try this ultimate veggie hit of goodness to cool you down and keep you fighting fit. Make a batch on a Sunday evening and enjoy it, nicely chilled and fresh, when you get home from work throughout the week. Enjoy!

Louise

 


Desktop Nails: Spring Picks Suitable For The Office

The recent bank holiday has left me feeling all spring like! Despite the spell of stormy weather over the weekend here in the UK, we still had the odd glimpse of spring sunshine with clearer skies and a hope of brighter times ahead. Today I've been having a rifle through some of my makeup and nail varnish stash, still trying to get more organised following our move, and I stumbled upon three of my all time favourite neutral nail colours just perfect for welcoming the season of spring into the office. 

Desktop Nails: Spring Picks Suitable For The Office

I love the pretty pastel colours out there, the blues, greens, lilacs. Yet these aren't always necessarily workspace, meeting-friendly styles. Sometimes you just can't beat a trusty nude, pale-pink or neutral that's quick and easy to apply, looks smart and chic for work and is also equally easy to remove ahead of a wilder choice for the weekend! These three all fall in to this very category and are very well tried and trusted. Staple polishes that you can always rely on and that are well worth adding to your collection. So without further ado let's take a look at my top three picks for the office this spring.

1. From left to right, first on the list is the subtle pink offering, Revlon Classy. I love the formula of Revlon nail varnish but trouble often comes with the paler colours that require a multitude of coats to get any effect and yet still remain watery and streaky. Well this colour causes no such trouble with an opaque finish that satisfies with even one coat. So if you're looking for a very quick fix of perfect but subtle pink colour then this is a great option. It's by no means one of Revlon's newest releases but for me it's an old faithful that never fails to deliver.

2. Sally Hansen Mauve Along pictured in the centre is a delicate pale mauve that I adore, think of an ever so subtle tinge of lilac in a lovely neutral disguise. This colour glides on effortlessly for a smart finish that leaves you feeling put together for both work and play! Just two quick coats and you'll achieve a ready to go, fully opaque look. This varnish is also extremely glossy. I admit I rarely ever use a topcoat anyway but with this colour you just don't need to. This really is one of my all time favourite picks for super smart nails in a flash.

3. Last but by no means least is the beautiful Leighton Denny High Performance Colour in the shade Supermodel. If pinky or mauve based colours such as the above aren't quite for you then this lovely mink colour might be just what you're looking for. I've loved this ever since it initially came into my life via a freebie on a magazine! I've repurchased since which is actually quite rare for me and nail varnish, but that's how often I love to reach for this shade. Again it's a really easy one to apply - you may well sense a theme here, I can't be doing with lots of faffing when it comes to painting my own nails!

All three of these picks are pretty hard wearing and chip resistant. Plus that's part of the beauty of neutral shades such as these, tiny chips when they do start to appear don't notice nearly as much as with bolder colours, allowing you to get away with it for longer!

I'm intrigued to know what your all time favourite nail colours are? What recommendations do you have suitable for days that you need to be a little smarter in the office? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Louise