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easy ways to go green

Going For Green, Step By Step!

Prompted by recent acquisition of a Brita water filter jug and watching the latest War On Waste TV programme, I am inspired to look for other small easy steps that I can take to becoming more environmentally conscious in my daily life.  I also recently saw the photograph below of a river estuary in The Philippines.

It was that photograph that sewed the seed of thinking more carefully about the world we live in. Plastic is a huge global problem.  If everyone made just one or two little changes to their daily lives all those little changes add up to a huge change. Not just with plastics but with all the other resources we take for granted every day.

Seeing this photograph prompted me to stop and think, we cannot go on like this, we have to change

Seeing this photograph prompted me to stop and think, we cannot go on like this, we have to change

In the UK a 5p charge is now levied on all plastic carrier bags.  This has resulted in an 85% reduction in the number of plastic bags in less than a year.  That’s an excellent start! I am not going to list lots of other facts and figures here as we are all aware of the problems we are creating for ourselves and our future generations. We can all do little things that can make a huge difference and not just with plastics.

easy ways to go green

This is how we would all like to see our oceans. Clean and clear!

Here is a list of 20 small and very easy steps that we can all challenge ourselves to do! Why not challenge yourself to do all or start to implement all of them over one month.

  1. Buy a water filter jug instead of bottled water – well that had to be number one of course as I just did that!
  2. Get a reusable BPA chemical free water bottle to use whilst you are out and about. You can find these My little Amazon Shop this week!
  3. Invest in a reusable coffee cup for your takeaway hot and cold drinks
  4. Don’t take a wooden stirrer at the coffee shop, ask for a spoon, even for your takeaway, then just give it back – I do!
  5. Take only 1 or 2 napkins at the coffee shop instead of a handful
  6. When you to need to replace your plastic food storage boxes switch to glass ones that have recyclable polypropylene lids
  7. Use a reusable lunch box instead of single use sandwich bags
  8. Turn off the tap whilst cleaning your teeth
  9. Try using a cold wash for clothes that are not very dirty.  I have started to do this and find it works just as well as a 30c wash
  10. Turn down the shower temperature by just a little, set a time goal and install an aerating shower head as they use a lot less water. Cooler water is better for your skin and hair too
  11. Use biodegradable clean up bags for your pet – A shameless plug here but my new online pet store launching in 2 weeks will be stocking 2 different brands of these!
  12. Use a lavender bag or a cloth sprinkled with your favourite essential oil in your dryer instead of tumble dryer sheets. Dryer sheets are packed full of  harsh chemicals and most are not biodegradable
  13. There are a number of brands that now make nail polish without the harmful chemicals dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde. Butter London, Zoya & Essie are all free of these three chemicals.
  14. Take up the paperless option wherever possible for banking, tickets, bills and invoices.  If the only option is paper why not photograph it and store it via a secure online cloud such as Shoebox App. This app gives you unlimited cloud storage.  Then, recycle the paper! This also cuts down on clutter in your home
  15. Read newspapers and magazines online instead of taking the paper option
  16. Take paper out of your kitchen.  Use fabric napkins and cleaning cloths. Here is my second shameless plug, I can make you a set of 5 dishcloths from organic cotton and a special knitting stitch that you can use in the kitchen or bathroom. They will last more than 2 years even with constant washing! My current ones are currently 26 months old and still going strong!
  17. Keep a fold up shopping bag in the car or in your bag.  Even if the shop offers you a paper bag you can use your shopping bag instead
  18. Try taking 1 or 2 meat free days per week.  Meat production takes massively more water per kg than wheat production and then we have the methane production from cattle
  19. Look to buy organic cotton when shopping for clothes
  20. Microbeads are the things you find in exfoliating soaps, face and body washes.  Millions of tonnes of these are ending up in the oceans and into marine life.  Try using coffee and sugar instead
Plastic is a huge global problem. If everyone made just one or two little changes to their daily lives all those little changes add up to a huge change. Click To Tweet

One Of The Easy Steps!!

This is the recipe for Homemade Body Scrub that my Offspring has been using for a few years and she loves it!

2/5 any filter coffee

2/5 sugar

1/5 coconut oil (you could use a natural baby oil instead)

Mix all the ingredients together and store in an sealed jar, it keeps forever!

easy steps to go green

Homemade organic cotton kitchen cloths that we use instead of paper towels. I can make these in many many different colours to match any colour scheme! Click To Tweet

easy ways to go green If you would like to see even more small and easy steps you can make plus more recipes for homemade body scrubs you can check my Really Useful Pinterest Board.

If it’s all or just one change that we all make every single one makes a difference. Every journey starts with the first step.  Which will you take first, I would love to know. Do you have any little and easy steps that you can share with us?

Don’t forget to check out this weeks Dreaming Of page for an insight into a very interesting glass water bottle system!

Random Things

All Sorts of Everything, LifeStyle

5 Random Finds This Week?

Firstly, one of these random finds is not Pokemon Go, although, I think the phenomenon is pretty random.  I do spend a lot of time surfing the web, this sometimes results in the occasional week where I come across things that are sometimes useful, sometimes not, sometimes practical, sometimes not, sometimes just lovely and sometimes just not! This week turned up a few things that I thought I would share with you! From the useful, the intriguing to the downright beautiful.

Let’s start where this blog usually does,

The Really Useful

I am using this app right now.  I did find this via a tipoff by a tech savvy person (Mark, that means you!).  It’s an app that allows you to control the speed of the fans within your computer.  I work on a Macbook Pro and it gets very very hot, especially when it’s on your lap.  With this app you can not only control the fan the heat levels of all the components within the inner workings of your machine, particularly the processor.

Random Finds

You can find this clever thing here

A Really Useful idea to keep your computer and it's components super cool in this heat! Click To Tweet

The Not So Useful

There is not a lot to say about these.  Number two on my list of random finds are these Ralph & Russo boots. They come under the category of downright beautiful.  Me and my love of all things pink just wish to have these boots. Not to wear you understand, but to place on a shelf and admire as works of art! Do not even look at the cost of these boots, they are the price of a work of art!

Random finds

“With ornamental filigree leaves spiralling naturally up the heel, this Pink Satin Print Eden Ankle Boot with Rose Gold leaves harks back to the beauty and perfection of a lost paradise. As if from an enchanted fairy-tale, entangled in the dense foliage of the forest and claimed by a wandering damsel, the Eden ankle boot is celestial, refined and romantic.”

The Really Intriguing

This random find I think is particularly intriguing.  I always knew you could buy and sell gold and that as a commodity the value would go up and down.  I had no idea you could just buy it, keep or trade it yourself.  You can buy your own gold bars.  How cool is that! “Well Julie, how many gold bars do you have??”  “Oh, you know, just the odd one or two I am saving for a rainy day”

There are a few ways to own gold.  You can just buy it as jewellery to wear or just keep.  Jewellery is usually sold at a premium over the actual cost of the gold and this cost is very rarely achieved should you wish to sell it.

If you are looking at gold as an investment the way forward is to buy coins or bars (you can buy REALLY little ones!) from a reputable source.  Like everything in the world gold can be faked and there are a lot of forgeries out there.  Buy from a recommended trustworthy source or from The Royal Mint in the UK.  The Royal Mint offers numerous options to buy gold from teeny weeny amounts right up to full sized gold bars. It will even store it for you if you wish!

Random Finds

Gold bars

The Royal Mint in the UK. The Royal Mint offers numerous options to buy gold from teeny weeny amounts right up to full sized gold bars. It will even store it for you if you wish! Click To Tweet

I really like the idea of buying a gold coin or little bar as a keepsake gift for a birth, christening, wedding or other special life event.  It is something to keep as an investment for the future.

Should you wish to use gold as an investment The Royal Mint is a great place plus an online site  This online site allows you to buy and sell gold or just keep it as an investment. You can also trade it in a number of currencies. However, Bullion Vault do not send you your gold, it is held in one of their depositories around the world.  It makes fascinating reading!

The Really Unusual

How many ways are there to keep ourselves fit and healthy.  It would seem endless! I used to be an aerobic, water aerobic and Step Reebok instructor in the early 90’s.  Lots of brightly coloured lycra leotards, slouchy socks and huge classes. Since I stopped in around 1993 I have not really taken much interest in gym classes, preferring to play tennis, run or do nothing!

Just recently I have been persuaded to take up going to classes once again at our local gym (pretty swanky place with views from the running machines to die for!).  One class that is not on our fairly comprehensive list, that is to me, mostly incomprehensible, is Hydro Spinning.  Spin class (i have a basic grasp of this concept!) but your bike is in the water! No, really, I have photographic evidence!

Random Finds


As you cycle in the water the massaging effect of the water helps drain the lymphatic system, taking toxins away from the large muscle groups of the legs (think, helping reduce cellulite!).  Then the resistance of the water increases the amount of calories you burn and if you are already at a high fitness level, this calorie burn can be significantly higher than the equivalent class on dry land.

One great advantage I can see is that if you fall off the landing is a lot easier in water than it is on dry land! I have yet to brave a dry land spinning class but maybe if I see one of these Hydro spin classes I may be tempted to try it!

This wonderful article from The Guardian just about sums up this one of my random finds.

Summer is in full flow in the Northern Hemisphere with a heat wave hitting a number of places so to help you keep cool, check the little Amazon Shop for cooling essentials!

Now I shall pack away my fan cooled computer and head out for a Zumba class, another new experience for The really Useful Girl.


Random Things

White Vinegar

Vinegar – Not Just For Chips!

As promised in my last blog, Easy Peasy Spring Cleaning, all things vinegar and cleaning related is next up.  I discovered so much can be done with natural things that you will already have in your cupboards and in particular white vinegar, lemons and baking soda.  With these 3 ingredients you can clean almost the whole house.  White vinegar is natural replacement for chemical products that performs better, is antibacterial and pet friendly and not just for chips or even salad!

What is White vinegar?

The Egyptians are probably the first to start using vinegar from around 3000BC primarily to kill bacteria. In Babylon around 5000BC it was used to preserve food, used in medicine and wine making.  Vinegar has been around and in constant use ever since.  White or distilled vinegar is achieved by the distillation of Malt. White Vinegar

A General All Rounder!

To create an all purpose cleaner from your white vinegar you will need to add just a few ingredients into your clean spray bottle

  • 8 oz / 225 mls of White Vinegar
  • 10 oz / 280 mls of Water
  • 4 oz / 110 mls of Lemon Juice (you can use fresh or bottled)
  •  2 oz / 55 mls of Washing Up Liquid
  • Your choice of essential oil.  I like to add a few teaspoons of lavender.  It reduces the smell of vinegar. You could also use the herb Sage or Orange or Vanilla essence. You can also add Tea Tree as an antibacterial element too.

white vinegar

You now have an all purpose cleaner that is effective, safe and free from chemicals. A few of it’s many talents include:

  • Removes sticky label residue (why do shops use those things!)
  • An effective spectacles cleaner
  • Removes crayon and pen marks off walls
  • A brilliant shower screen cleaner (soap scum – gone!)
  • Kitchen & bathroom surface cleaner
  • Keeps insects and ants away (they hate vinegar!)

White Vinegar

And There Is More!

Put two containers of white vinegar in your empty dishwasher, one on the top and one in the bottom.  Run the washer on the hottest and longest cycle.  The vinegar will clean all the internal parts, remove limescale and freshen your machine.  Next run a quick rinse cycle with nothing added to finish the job.

You can make an effective toilet or clogged drain cleaner by using 3/4 of a cup of baking soda and 1/2 a cup of white vinegar.  cover the drain as it will foam up. Leave this for at least 30 minutes then rinse with hot water.

If you have damp or musty smelling towels or bed linen you can freshen them in the washing machine.  Use 1/2 cup of baking soda instead of detergent and use white vinegar instead of fabric softener.  Voila, super fresh clean towels.

You can make an effective ink stain removing soak by mixing 2:1 parts milk and vinegar. This will also remove yellow staining too. If you heat white vinegar it will become an effective chewing gum remover.

A soak in warm water and white vinegar will remove cloudy stains from your glassware. This has been a particularly excellent use for me.

A soak in warm water and white vinegar will remove cloudy stains from your glassware. This has been a particularly excellent use for me. Click To Tweet

White vinegar is a fantastic weed killer.  Mix 1/2 cup of salt to a gallon of vinegar and add a squeeze of washing up liquid (this helps it stick to the foliage).  Use a spray bottle and spray the weeds.  The next day your weeds will be dead.  Take care spraying though as it will also kill your grass!

A bowl of water with 1/2 cup of vinegar and lemon juice will makes an excellent microwave cleaner. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for a few minutes. The steam released into the microwave dissolves all the dirt inside. When the few minutes are over, remove the bowl (carefully, it will be extremely hot!) and just wipe down the inside of the oven.  The lemon makes it smell fresh too.

If you add two tablespoons of white vinegar to the pan when you are boiling eggs it will prevent them cracking.

White Vinegar

So, as you can see, this inexpensive and natural product is a valuable asset to your cleaning cupboard as well as your grocery cupboard.  And anytime you want to mask the smell whilst using its cleaning powers just add a few drops of your favourite essential oil.

Try adding essential oils or tea tree oil to your homemade white vinegar cleaner to add a more refreshing fragrance Click To Tweet

I have to do this as I really do not like the smell but it’s worth a little bit of stinkiness to use natural ingredients instead of chemicals.

There are even more Really Useful uses for white vinegar on my Really Useful Pinterest Board. There is even a spray to use on horses!

Now I am off to clean something with my homemade natural spray which has, of course, a pink top!

You can find lots of natural cleaning products in my Little Amazon Shop this week too! XOXO


Spring Cleaning

Easy Peasy Spring Cleaning!

Spring has sprung! Well, in the northern hemisphere it has. Although I think a few places are less than spring like at the moment.  Snow in April in the North West of England is not so spring like. Has spring sprung where you are yet? It has here!

And what does spring bring, besides baby lambs and daffodils? Spring cleaning!! It’s that time of year again.  But what if I can help you make the spring cleaning a bit easier this year? Oh yay! I hear you cry.  So lets get on with it. Here are a few ways to make this years spring cleaning easy peasy.

First things first! Cleaning is always easier when you have some music to sing and dance to while you work! Here is a little playlist to help you along!

Spring Cleaning is always easier when you have some great music to sing along with! Click To Tweet

Don’t Forget

It’s easy to overlook certain cleaning tasks that are not right under your nose.  It’s easy to remember to clean the rugs and carpets or to have the curtains cleaned but don’t forget about the things that are not so obvious –

  • Clean the air filters on bathroom extractor fans
  • Clean the washing machine & dryer filters
  • Replace the filter or clean the inside of the cooker hood
  • Refresh and clean your mattresses (how to do this follows!)
  • Replace old winter room fragrances for spring ones
  • Throw away expired medicines, groceries, herbs and spices
  • Put soft toys into the freezer overnight to sanitise them (it kills off dust mites!)
  • Take winter coats to the cleaners, shoes & boots to be repaired before they are put away until next season
  • Change the batteries in smoke detectors, carbon monoxide monitors & security system panels
  • Check the garden furniture is all in working order and cleaned before you need to use it
Spring Cleaning

Replace winter fragrances with fresh uplifting summery scents of White Neroli, Mimonsa, Lemon & Fresh Grass

Easy Peasy Spring Cleaning Tips

White vinegar has so many uses when it comes to cleaning.  Rather than buy many different cleaning products packed full of chemicals, white vinegar with a few other natural ingredients will do almost all the cleaning you need.

This is an easy way to clean your shower head or taps

  1. Get a ziplock or sealable plastic bag
  2. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar
  3. 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  4. 4 or 5 drops of washing up liquid
  5. Put the shower or tap head in the bag and tie around with an elastic band
  6. Leave it for an hour (the mixture will foam up)
  7. Rinse off the mixture and use a small brush to brush away anything left of the shower head or tap (it will just come off really easily).
  8. Job done!


Spring Cleaning


White wine vinegar is such a versatile product it warrants a whole blog post of it’s own! Coming Next Time!!!


Spring Cleaning

An easy way to keep your fridge clean is to keep things in crates – just take the crates out to clean plus if there is a leak it stays confined to a small area!

  • To quickly clean lampshades use a lint roller
  • An antacid tablet added to water in vases will remove stubborn stains from the bottom which are not usually reachable
  • If you paint the rim of metal cans or aerosols with a coat of nail polish it will prevent them from rusting and leaving rings in your bathroom or kitchen
  • Clean the skirting boards using a dryer sheet, the residue it leaves keeps the boards cleaner for longer
  • Use half a grapefruit dipped in course sea salt to scrub baths, sinks and toilets.  The acid in the grapefruit breaks down grime quickly and the salt rubs it away
  • Put your bathroom soap dishes and toothbrush/toothpaste holders through the dishwasher
  • Get a Magic Eraser.  They are just brilliant!
Spring Cleaning

You can find these clever things via my little Amazon Shopping Page!

Easy Mattress Spring Cleaning!

This is an all natural way to clean and refresh your mattresses.  It’s really easy and can be done any time when you are changing your bed linen.  You can do this not just in spring but as many times during a year as you like! No chemicals involved here either.

Fill a jar wth baking soda and add around 15 drops of your favourite essential oil but Lavender is great for this particular job.  Shake the jar and so the baking soda and essential oil are mixed.  Then using a sieve sprinkle the mixture over mattresses.  Leave it for at least an hour.  The longer you can leave it the better.  Then using your vacuum hose just remove it. Your mattress will be refreshed and smell good too.  The baking soda draws out moisture and dirt and the essential oil repels dust mites.

Baking Soda & Lavender sprinkled over your mattress will naturally clean and refresh it! Click To Tweet

Spring Cleaning

If you have any spring cleaning tips to make life a little easier we would love to hear them! For now, I shall be off to find more storage crates to organise my fridge!


PS. Don’t forget that you can find magic erasers in my little shop this week!

fruit and vegetables
Healthiness, LifeStyle

Fruit And Vegetables! Are You In or Out??

How am I going to make this even remotely interesting! Fruit and vegetables are not exactly amusing especially when, like me, you are not their biggest fan.  Fruit, yes, I love fruit, but veggies I can take or leave and mostly would like to leave! The reason behind taking an interest in the health and well being of my fruit and vegetables stems from a big concern of mine – food waste! I hate food waste.  I hate waste full stop but food waste drives me crazy.  My mission is to throw away the absolute minimum amount of food. I have just returned from a two week trip to visit The Offspring in Thailand.  On my return my bowl of kiwi fruit and lemons were an overripe liquid mess as The Hubby hadn’t touched them. In my quest to learn from this, a re-think on fruit and veggie storage at Really Useful HQ is in order.

  • In the UK the food waste amounts to around 7 million tonnes per year and the bulk of this is fresh produce
  • One third of all the world food production is wasted each year – around 1 trillion tonnes (just how many 0’s is that?)
  • In the USA food waste is around 35% of the total supply.
  • This is a really interesting article of food waste by National Geographic 


fruit and vegetables


Fruits Produce Gas! No, Really? Yep!

Some fruits emit ethylene gas. Well who knew!!  Ethylene is a natural plant hormone that assists with ripening.  Storing fruits that emit ethylene next to non ethylene producing fruit and vegetables will cause them to deteriorate fast.

Fruits that produce Ethylene are –

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Figs
  • Pears
  • Honeydew and Canteloupe Melon
  • Unripe bananas
  • Tomatos
  • Plums
A wounded fruit will ripen faster as the wound triggers Ethylene production. Check your fruit for damage before you buy it to ensure you get maximum shelf life from your supplies. Click To Tweet

To Refrigerate or Not To Refrigerate?

I have been in the habit of throwing all the fruit and vegetables into the chiller drawer at the bottom on the fridge.  This is not the way! Oops, I have been doing it all wrong all this time! There is a bit of science involved and with just a few simple changes your fruit and vegetables will keep fresher for longer reducing your food waste.  By storing your fresh food the right way not only will it stay fresher longer but you’ll preserve their great flavours too. Think; fridge cold, tasteless tomatoes, yuk!

Out of the fridge, unwashed & in a bag (moisture from washing encourages bacteria. Wash when ready to use) –

  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Lettuces
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Potatoes
  • Onions

fruit and vegetables

Out of the Fridge –

  • Aubergine
  • Watermelon
  • Basil
  • Peppers
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Limes
  • Tomatoes

fruit and vegetables

In the Fridge –

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Green Beans
  • Sprouts
  • Leeks
  • Grapes
  • Courgettes
  • Cherries
  • Herbs (except Basil)
  • Apples
  • Strawberries

fruit and vegetables

Fruit And Vegetables Tips And Tricks

  • Keep Kiwi out of the fridge until they are ripe, then refrigerate them
  • To keep bananas fresh for longer, break up the bunch and wrap cling film around the stem of each one and once they are at your preferred ripeness keep them in the fridge to stop the ripening process
  • Some fruit and vegetables produce odour and others absorb it. Keeping an open box of baking soda in your fridge will absorb moisture and odours. Replace this every few months
  • Keep mushrooms in a paper bag to prolong their freshness
  • Have your fridge temperature set at the optimum temperature, -4 c or 40 f
Removing the tops off beets, carrots and radishes increases their shelf life Click To Tweet
fruit and vegetables

A fold away banana hook – what a great idea!

If you have any tips and tricks on how you store your fruit and veggies to keep them fresh and tasty for longer why not share them with us all.  In case you are need something to do with all your fruit that you are now storing and keeping fresh for longer why not try one of the fruit infuser water bottles from my Shopping Time page.  Watch this space for a blog all about these coming very soon!


Afternoon Tea

Tea Part 2 – The Perfect Afternoon

Remember in Tea part 1 I mentioned where the sport of Afternoon Tea originated? Yes, of course you do! This week I am going to expand on all things afternoon tea related*.  Afternoon tea is one of my favourite sports.  The mere fact that cake is involved is enough to hook me in.  Add into the mix delicious tea and maybe a glass of something fizzy and I’m in! A lovely way to spend an afternoon with friends and family to celebrate a special day or just to simply enjoy the experience.

Afternoon Tea

An amazing designer Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley London

Afternoon tea, in many places, is now a complete experience rather than just a cuppa and a sandwich. It is currently such a fashionable pastime that many places who create specialist afternoon tea must be booked months and months in advance to secure a table.

Where Did All This Scrumptiousness Come From??

In the early 1800’s the 7th Duchess of Bedford, Anna, friend of Queen Victoria, felt a little hungry in the late afternoon.  Not starving hungry so as to need a full meal, just a little peckish.  A pot of tea and a sandwich around 4 o clock was the solution to satisfy Anna till dinner time around 8pm.

During the summer months Anna invited friends to join her for Tea, Sandwiches and a stroll around the grounds of Woburn Abbey where she lived.  Very soon, this became such a popular event that many of the other important society ladies copied her and so the sport of  taking afternoon tea and afternoon tea parties was born.

To go with this new fashion for Afternoon tea, fashion took a new turn in the late 1800’s early 1900’s.  Dressing for tea became a very important part of the afternoon tea performance. Ladies would wear sumptuous gowns, long gloves, carry elaborate parasols to stroll around gardens and generally dress to impress. The men of the time had noticed these ladies gatherings, all dressed most attractively and so afternoon tea became an acceptable event for meeting.

Mariano Fortuny, a Spanish born designer, was working from Venice with his wife a dressmaker. He created a dress that became the classic tea dress. Inspired by the classic Greek column dress, Mariano created a dress of finely pleated silk weighed down with many beads so the dress held it’s shape and flowed with the body.

Afternoon Tea

A classic Mariano Fortuny gown. Just stunning! I would love to wear this!

What To Serve At Afternoon Tea??

Traditionally afternoon tea was just sandwiches. Then came the addition of scones followed by small cakes. As the fashion grew and grew, it became an event to serve more and more elaborate pastries and sweets. I think the reason I am such a fan of afternoon tea is that cake is always involved!

Afternoon tea

Now I know this is all a bit upside down compared to my rules below but its so stunning I just had to share it.

Get out your best 3 tier cake stand. The bottom layer is for the Sandwiches. Crustless, finger cut light bread with light fillings such as cucumber, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise are perfect. One of each choice per person is fine.

Layer number two is for your scones, jam, butter and clotted cream. The debate rages on; jam on first or butter? For me, if I was having butter (which I don’t usually, I like jam and cream on their own) I would put the butter on first. You?? Just one scone per person is necessary.

Layer number three (the best bit!) is for the cakes. Here, anything goes as long as the cakes are individual and delicious. Two cakes per person is perfect.

Lest we forget! The tea!  Traditionally Darjeeling was the tea of choice.  An ideal brewing time for the tea is 3 – 6 minutes.  If left any longer the delicate flavours of the tea can be damaged.

Milk in first or not?? There is no difinitive set procedure. If you pour the tea in first or your tea is poured for you this makes it easier to add the correct amount of milk to your own taste.

Afternoon Tea

A delightful Location for Afternoon Tea

Just to help you along if you are thinking of creating your own afternoon tea party, here are a few recipes that are a mix of traditional and contemporary.


Afternoon Tea



Find the recipe for these delicious Lemony, Crab & Cucumber Sandwiches HERE






Afternoon TeaFind the recipe for classic Scones HERE


Afternoon Tea

Find the recipe for these contemporary cake lollipops HERE

On my Really Useful Pinterest Board you will find lots of reviews of afternoon teas around the world including London, Paris & Hong Kong.

Turn your special occasion into a special day with an afternoon tea party. However you decide to have your afternoon tea, traditional or contemporary it will always be a memorable event. Enjoy!


Healthiness, LifeStyle

Tea Part 1 – 10 Terrific Teas

From my last blog, Chamomile got me thinking more about tea. How much do we know about the health benefits of drinking tea. Can we include our typical builders tea here not just herbal type? Yes, we can! It turns out that Teas are some kind of wonder drink that we should all be drinking every day, numerous times each day in fact.

I like tea, all kinds of tea. I do struggle with a builders brew unless the tea bag has been just waved over the hot water so it is weak. Mint, Earl Grey & Chamomile are my favourites.  I can drink it without sugar, a major achievement for me, something I have not quite yet managed to conquer with coffee.


I think I must find the pattern and knit some of these!

First, A Potted Tea History

(Hahaha! See what i did there!)

In England we became tea drinkers thanks to a Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza.  Catherine married Charles II in the seventeenth century. As a child in Portugal, Catherine had always drunk tea. She preferred it to the Ale the English drank at that time.  Tea was very expensive. Once the fashion had become established it became the preserve of the wealthiest in society.

The East India trading company was the first major importers to England. Teas was imported via the trading port of what was Bombay, now Mumbai. In the eighteenth century the government removed tea-taxes. More was smuggled into the country than was legally imported. Removing the taxes made tea become less expensive. As such the trend for tea drinking spread to the middle and working classes.

Cafes and coffee shops became established during the nineteenth century. These places served non-alcoholic drinks making them places suitable for ladies to attend alone. It is from these cafes and coffee shops that the fashion for afternoon tea evolved.


This is such a pretty tea pot!

Ten Top Teas

The list of herbal teas and their relevant properties is long, too long to list them all one by one.  The ten here are some of the most popular and all packed full of goodness.  I have condensed some into groups that have the same or similar properties otherwise we will be here all week!

Black, Green & Oolong

  • Lower the risk of high blood pressure
  • 2 -3 cups per day can lower the risk of a stroke
  • All three contain caffeine which increases metabolism
  • Long term regular drinking of these can lower fasting blood sugar levels thus lowering the risk of diabetes

Lemon Balm, Mint & Ginger

  • All three will aid the digestive system
  • Calming and aids sleep.
  • Powerful anti-inflammatory properties can ease aches and pains quickly
  • They calm stomach acid production and help ease motion sickness or queasiness
  • Soothe sore throats and ease coughs
  • Promote healthy blood vessels so improving circulation
Lemon Balm, Mint & Ginger Tea are perfect for a healthy happy digestive system! Click To Tweet

Fresh Ginger


  • Cinnamon helps to lower cholesterol
  • It has anti bacterial and anti fungal properties
  • Contains powerful antioxidants
  • Improves circulation
  • It is an anti-inflammatory


  • This is a red tea from South Africa that is low in tannins and totally caffeine free
  • It is an antioxidant
  • Can improve liver function significantly
  • It can relieve insomnia with it’s calming properties
  • Lower stress levels
  • Packed with minerals such as zinc, copper, magnesium, iron and calcium helping to keep bones and teeth healthy

Red Rooibos from South Africa


  • Caffeine free
  • Keeps digestive system healthy and stimulates the liver
  • A natural diuretic it will help to reduce water retention
  • Dandelion is packed full of vitamins and minerals
  • An Anti inflammatory
  • Anti-rheumatic properties
Dandelion tea is caffeine free, packed full of vitamins and minerals and will keep your liver in great working order Click To Tweet



  • A powerful aid to digestion
  • Fennel contains creosol and alpha-pinene that eases coughs and bronchial irritations
  • It is very calming and promotes mental clarity
  • It can help balance hormone levels during menopause

Here is my little collection! Fresh mint is not easy to find here so bags it is. Tregothnan is from a Plantation of in Cornwall.

Now I think it must be time to put on the kettle, maybe there will be a biscuit involved too!


Part 2 of this series will be my next blog and be all things Afternoon Tea related!

Facial Spray

Step Into The Mist.

Remember last year when I wrote about the wonders of Thermal Water Facial Sprays? Yes, of course you do and I hope you are are all still spritzing your face and feeling the benefits of well hydrated skin.  Do you want to step it up to another level? Again, yes, of course you do! Now, I am not a beauty blogger but I just wanted to share with you what I have been playing with for the past few weeks.

I have been trying out some different facial misting sprays.  I am such a fan of facial misting that I wanted to try out some that have added ingredients and see how these perform.  I have been in England for a few weeks where the weather can at best be described as suitable only for ducks.  In that kind of climate it’s important to be extra kind to your skin just as it is important in a hot climate.  Using a facial spray appeals to my love of all things easy and simple but which one to choose! There are so many choices so I have tried out a few different ones.

Facial Spray

What To do With Your Facial Spray

  • If wearing foundation on top of moisturiser feels too heavy then a facial spray with hydrating essential oil in place of moisturiser is the answer.
  • Create a dewy look to your finished make up with a spritz of facial spray
  • Eliminate a powdery look to make up
  • Boost moisture and skin nutrition?
  • Revive your make up look during the day with a facial spray
  • Lock in moisture by using a facial spray before applying moisturiser
  • A substitute for toner in your beauty regime

I like to keep my skincare as simple and quick as possible and I am a fan of the ‘no cleanse in a morning’  routine.  I give my face a spritz with a facial spray (instead of a splash of our calcium laden tap water) and then apply moisturiser on top.  The facial spray helps to lock in the moisture making my moisturiser more effective.

The Jurlique Rose Water Balancing Mist is a lovely way to wake up my face in a morning, it’s so refreshing and smells delightful.  It’s in a very elegant frosted glass bottle but it’s a too heavy to carry around in my handbag so this one stays at home.

Facial Spray


I don’t wear make up during the day when I am in a warm climate but when I am in the UK I wear make up every day. I don’t like to carry a big bag of make up around with me for touching up. I found a spray with my facial mist once or twice a day really did help maintain my look all day.

The aerosol types like  L’Occitane Hydra Vital Face Spray and Chanel Hydra Beauty Essence Mist are the best for this particular job as they gives a really fine spray with the added bonus of being a handbag friendly size.

The Chanel Hydra Essence Mist is my touch of indulgence. It smells divine and leaves my skin feeling very soft and refreshed.  As with all Chanel skincare it’s packed full of quality ingredients:

Chanel says:

“Empowered by the moisturizing Camellia Alba PFA*, and the antioxidant Blue Ginger PFA*, this luxurious, lightweight spray hydrates with a fresh, cool, comforting mist of enriched moisture. Vitamin C and E, along with Hyaluronic acid, boost skin with a dose of nourishment that restores, strengthens and ultimately sustains skin at its most optimal state. Use under or over makeup for a refreshed look.

*PFA: Polyfractioned Active. An ultra-pure, ultra-powerful ingredient created through an exclusive purification technique developed by Chanel.”

I was given the Tropic Facial Spray and it will definitely be on my shopping list once I have used up this one.  Tropic Skin care line is produced by Susan Ma (a winner from The Apprentice). It’s Available from Brand Ambassadors who can give you all the advise you need.  I like the natural ingredients and cruelty free message the brand offers.  The facial spray is full of cooling organic Aloe Vera juice which I found very calming.

This spray is actually a toner to use post cleanse but I am keeping mine in the fridge as a cool spritz after being in the sun. I also used it in the UK after being out in the damp weather to liven me up.  I wouldn’t use this one on top of make up as the mist spray is not light enough.

Tropic says:

“Bursting with organic rose water, aloe vera and cucumber juices, this instant skin refresher is infused with vitamins and amino acids that help to balance pH and reduce pore size. ”

Facial Spray


Cucumber and Aloe Vera also make a great combo for a home made face mask. More on those coming soon!

I am off on a long long plane journey in a few weeks. Off to Thailand to see The Offspring.  My facial sprays will be coming with me and I will update you on how they perform on planes and in extra hot climates! For now though, I hope you have found my little insight into a beauty find that I really love, Really Useful.

You can find lots of lovely Jurlique products in my little shop this week.






New Years resolutions

New Years Resolutions With A Difference

Have you made your New Years resolution yet and 6 days into 2016 are you sticking to it?  I try to make a New Years resolution every year and last year I set myself a really easy one.  An easy one in the hope that I could stick with it for the whole year and my trick worked.  I made the bed every day as soon as I got out of it. Usually I would just leave it till later in the morning and eventually ‘get round’ to it at some point.  Now, I do it automatically every day.  Such a simple resolution but i stuck to it and now it’s just routine to me to make the bed as I get out of it. Hence an orderly looking room all day, excellent!

For the last few weeks I have been thinking about what New Year resolution to make for 2016.  I want a resolution that is a bit different but also something I can stick to. Something achievable.

How about trying out one of these slightly different resolutions. I am going with the first one.  I have my colouring in Postcards already and have some printed note cards on hand too.

Send A Handwritten Card Once A Month!

A handwritten note is something everyone loves to receive.  Choose a family member, friend, colleague or neighbour each month and send them a card, note or my favourite thing, a postcard.  It will let them know you are thinking about them and I am sure it will make their day when they receive it.

You could even make the note more personal by choosing to use the colouring in postcards like the ones by Johanna Basford.  I have these and although they do take a long time to colour in as they are so finely detailed your recipient will thank you even more for all your hard efforts. You can find the Johanna Basford postcards book via my Shopping Time page.

New Years Resolutions

New Years Resolutions

Compliment Someone Everyday!

Complimenting someone makes you both smile. Smiling leads to laughter and laughter is good for your health, it burns calories! Compliments build up a trust between people and empower people with confidence. Karma, what goes around comes around.  You never know, people around you may notice your new found positive complimenting and adopt your kindness. The best part of compliments is that they are FREE!


Make a plan to donate or give away something you don’t use, want or need each month.  To see what this will do for your life check out this article on Decluttering from last year.

Go To A New Place Every Month!

This does not have to be a new country or involve lots of travel and cost.  Take a look at a new place in your local area or maybe one of these suggestions

  • Try a park you haven’t been to before.
  • A market in a local town.
  • Find your nearest Farmers Market
  • Have you been to all your local museums?
  • Take a scenic rail journey
  • Visit the location of a favourite novel or film

New Years Resolutions

Take the pennies challenge!

This New Years resolution is a lovely way to save your pennies without noticing how much you are actually saving. I think I would have to make a daily note of which day of the year it is or I would lose track of how much to add each day!  At the end of the year you will have £667.95 saved.  What would you spend that on or would you save it? I think a weekend away somewhere would be a lovely way to spend it.

New Years Resolutions

Take a Reading Challenge for 2016!

This New Years resolution is suggested by my Offspring who is an avid book worm and frankly I am not sure this would be a challenge to her but more like a complete dream.


New Years Resolutions


What ever you choose to do for your New Years resolutions I wish you every success and hope that 2016 is your best year yet.



Happy Christmas

A Very Happy Christmas

It’s that special time of the year once again. I am sure that by now you are all organised and already taking part in the Christmas spirit!  I have packaged up and posted gifts to the Offspring on the other side of the world. Gifts for Pepe have been procured, wrapped and put safely out of reach from curious little paws! Christmas brings with it many lovely traditions, one off events and things that only happen at this time of year.  We take part in these traditions mostly without knowing any of the history of where, why and how they came about. The Offspring happened to ask me just the other week, “what is boxing day for?” so……..I have been beavering away (with the help of lots of Latte’s) and I will share with you some of the why’s where’s and how they came about!

Happy Christmas

How beautiful do these little Christmas Gingerbreads look!


Why Do We Have Boxing Day??

Boxing Day is celebrated the day after Christmas Day, the 26th December.  In England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other colonial countries it’s a public holiday but why is it called Boxing Day?  There are a number of theories about this, the earliest being that around 800 years ago churches, on the day after Christmas Day, opened the collecting boxes or alms boxes  on this day and distributed it to the poor.

Another popular idea being that many years ago factory workers were given a Christmas Box by the factory owners the day after Christmas Day.  Christmas Box is an alternative expression for Christmas present.  Hence Boxing Day.

The day is also known to catholics as St.Stephens Day, Wren’s Day if you are in Ireland and Day of Goodwill if you are in South Africa.

Many traditions have developed around Boxing Day.  In the UK and Canada it has become a shopping day. Many sporting events such as cricket in Australia, football in England and Ice Hockey in Canada are associated with Boxing Day.

Happy Christmas

I love this natural looking Christmas Tree. Click the picture for lots more tree decorating ideas!

All Things Orange!

Another quandary that I muse over each festive season is the confusing situation regarding Tangerines! When is a Tangerine not a Tangerine but a Satsuma, a Clementine or a Mandarin??? All are little, round and orange but why all the different names. Let me enlighten you!

  • They originate in the Far East and having been routed via Tangiers in North Africa took on the nick name of Tangerines.
  • They are all part of the family of fruit known as Mandarins
  • All are packed with our good friend vitamin C.
  • Clementines and Satsumas are usually seedless
  • Tangerines have seeds
  • Tangerines are a pure breed of Mandarin
  • Tangerines have the toughest skins
  • Satsumas are the variety that are used in canned fruit
  • Clementines have a tighter skin than the others
  • Satsuma are the palest orange of the Mandarins
  • Clementines are the sweetest of the bunch
  • Satsumas can be grown in very low temperatures
  • Satsumas are the easiest to peel
  • Satsumas are fragile and will bruise easily

And I love all of them, always have done and I am sure I always will.  Sweet Clementines are my real favourite though! What’s your favourite?

Happy Christmas

Our favourite mince pies and two of my favourite cards so far!


Pies, Cakes & Puddings!!

It has taken me many years to appreciate a mince pie.  My younger self really did not like them and I still am not a fan of Christmas Pudding or Christmas Cake. Now though, I am happy to down a few mince pies over the festive holidays.  But why do we eat all things mixed fruit related at this time of year? Christmas Cake, Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies all started out as meat dishes.

Christmas Pudding can be traced back as early as the 14th century when Mutton, Beef were mixed with wine, raisins, prunes and spices. The pudding is traditionally made on the last Sunday of Advent. All the members of the family get a turn at stirring the mixture and making a wish.  Symbols for a good life, luck, wealth and marriage can be added.  Things like a silver coin for wealth and a ring for marriage are used. The holly that is usually placed on top of the pudding is said to represent the thorns of the crown on Jesus. Usually a pudding has brandy poured over it and is set alight during the serving.  This is said to symbolise the passion of Jesus.

Christmas Cake started out life as a plum porridge that was eaten on twelfth night. Over many many years the oatmeal in the porridge was replaced with eggs, butter and flour forming what we now know as cake. Over time celebrations moved from twelfth night to Christmas Day and so cake is now a Christmas Day tradition.

Mince Pies can trace their origins right back to the 11th century when the crusaders brought back spices that were added to the pies that again started out life with meat as the main ingredients. Originally the pies were oval or rectangle shaped to represent the shape of the crib Jesus. Mince pies were a particular favourite of Henry V who had them at his coronation in 1413.  Modern day mince pies are now much sweeter and smaller than the originals.

On my Shopping Time page this week you will find fab ideas for decorating your festive table so your Cake, Puddings and Pies will look even better!

Happy Christmas

This is my kind of Christmas Cake. I love the knitted mittens!


Happy Christmas

As we all become more global, travel more, have friends and family who move many thousands of miles away to new countries and continents it would be amazing to be able to wish them a Happy Christmas in the language of their country.  Here are just a few to help you out –

  • Hawaiian – Mele Kalikimaka
  • Greek – Kala Christouyenna
  • Italian – Buon Natale
  • Japanese – Meri Kurisumasu (or ‘Meri Kuri’ for short!)
  • Spanish – Feliz Navidad
  • Thai – Suk sarn warn Christmas
  • Welsh – Nadolig Llawen

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas!

Happy Christmas