Monthly Archives: December 2016

Chefs who don’t cook!

There are many celebrity chefs on TV and selling recipe books who have become famous by presenting cookery advice on TV programmes or starring in their own reality TV shows about failing restaurants. Some have also become famous for receiving Michelin stars in their own restaurants. Celebrity chefs can have a huge impact on what foods fly off the supermarket shelves and trends in cuisine. They also put their name to kitchen equipment and utensils. The very first celebrity chef is said to have been Bartolomeo Scappi back in 16th century Italy. He was the Pope’s personal chef and wrote one of the first modern recipe books. But how many of our famous chefs actually still work in their kitchens? Read more »

A British Institution

The Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day is as much of a tradition as mince pies and turkey. Her Majesty has now broken the record held by Queen Victoria to become Britain’s longest reigning monarch and is now still looking spritely at 90 years of age. Does anyone still watch her speech and is it a tradition worth keeping for future generations? Read more »

Four Sexual Health Apps that You Need to Know About

You can get an app for just about everything – train times, takeaways, taxis and many more. So why not think about getting one to help look after your sexual health? Whether you need condoms or you are worried about STIs there is an app for you. Here are four of the best.

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1. My Sex Doctor

First up, an app which covers most of your questions. My Sex Doctor can help you with issues ranging from what’s going on during puberty to a run down of STIs, offering relationship advice and flirting along the way.

It also includes a list of the 100 things you need to know, meaning you can discreetly check out anything you are worried about. No one needs to know you aren’t reading a text.

If you are worried you might have a sexually transmitted infection then London STI testing kits are available from

2. Sexual Health Guide

This one is based in Ireland and is a great place to check out terminology. If you are worried or embarrassed about asking your friends or a doctor it is a good way to find out about sexual health terms with a full list included. There is also information on the different types of contraception available and relationship advice.

If contraception is your main worry you can also get lots of advice from the NHS.

3. L Condoms

This is a great one if you are socially conscious or worried about what chemicals you put in your body. L Condoms make products with no harmful chemicals or things like pesticides. Unfortunately they are based in the US, so while you may not be able to buy them, this one can give you an insight into what is possible to help look after your health – sexual and otherwise.

Closer to home you can get free condoms from Greenwich Sexual Health. They also provide London STI testing kits. Don’t worry if you’re not in London, there’s likely to be a similar service near you.

4. SexPositive

A great tool if you’re worried about STIs. SexPositive lets you ask what happens when one part of your body touches part of someone else’s. It’s got a wheel you turn to check out the risks. It even mentions toes.

What natural pest control methods are there?

If you are keen to keep your home chemical free, there are many natural remedies you can use to eradicate pests. If you live with pets and small children, not only could toxic chemicals be harmful to their health, but they are likely to be ineffective in the long run, as you simply cannot keep your home completely sterile with sticky little fingers present. What you need instead is a sustainable solution to stop pests in their tracks and keep your home a healthy one.

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Ants are a menace, particularly if you have potty training toddlers in the summer! However, there are some very effective home remedies which do not involve harmful chemicals or caustic powder.

The first option is to pour kettles of boiling water into any outdoor nests you can find. It’s brutal but extremely effective. Secondly, you can put a mix of borax and corn syrup on a piece of cardboard where the ants are marching into your house. The ants will eat it and the borax will poison them. Just keep children away from the borax, as it is still toxic. Keeping poultry also reduces ant populations, as chickens and guinea fowl gobble them up like sweets. See Wellness Mama for more natural pest control tips.

Nuisance birds

Companies like specialise in natural methods of controlling pigeon and gull populations. Hawking is a highly recommended and skilled method of disrupting pigeon roosting behaviours and redirecting the birds to areas away from your property.

Nuisance bird management services can include methods like roof netting. However, you can manage birds with DIY methods such as putting wires and spikes on your roof to discourage perching, and painting popular landing areas with spicy gels containing things like paprika, chilli and cayenne pepper which are thought to be repellent to birds.


Rats are everyone’s worst nightmare. If you have cats or terriers, you shouldn’t have a problem. However, if you keep chickens, make sure you house them in a concrete based shed or barn at night. This prevents rats from pushing up panels or digging in to get to the feed and your flock. If you think you have rats, try a mix of sugar, rice and Plaster of Paris. Put it in a hutch with a small rat sized hole to exclude other animals.

How to use Japanese fabric wrapping techniques for your Christmas gifts

There’s nothing quite like the anticipation and excitement wrapped gifts create, especially after several days of looking at them under the tree. It is no surprise then, that come Christmas morning, the paper will be torn from presents in a frenzy until the treasure inside is revealed.

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If your heart sinks at the thought of so much paper waste, as well as the lack of care shown to wrapping someone put their precious time and effort into, why not change tactics and adopt a different style of wrapping gifts, one which is eco-friendly, as well as making your presents look super classy.

What is furoshiki?

Most people are familiar with the Japanese art of paper folding known as origami, but few have heard of the cloth folding practice called ‘furoshiki’. This traditional practice uses cloth to wrap all kind of items, whatever their shape and size, before they are moved or carried to another place. Although the end results look intricate and complicated to achieve, surprisingly, this uses a straightforward folding technique which is not difficult to learn –

The new interest in furoshiki was sparked by the desire to reduce the use of synthetic carrier bags in shops and supermarkets, and while the west has turned to reusable shopping bags the Japanese government has chosen to revive this traditional style of transporting goods by hand.

Say goodbye to Christmas paper forever

If you like the idea of reducing the waste paper mountain at Christmas time, learning how to wrap gifts in furoshiki is the perfect solution. You can impress others with your skills, and as an added bonus, the cloth you use is like a second present, as it may inspire the recipient to have a go at this wrapping method themselves. Directions with written instructions and diagrams are widely available online.

It is easy to find special furoshiki fabric if you look online, but not essential, as any piece of fabric will do if it is the correct size for the item being wrapped. For a touch of class, you could look at designer Christmas fabrics, widely available from online sources such as

Redefine the way you wrap Christmas gifts. Learning the simple techniques of furoshiki is a great way to combine disguising Christmas gifts with developing a new, and very practical skill.

How financial planning software can boost ROI

Return on investment, or ROI, is one of the guiding principles in financial advice. Money needs to be put to work in order to earn dividends, and financial planning software can be another tool used to identify all of the possible opportunities. Additionally, software can help financial planners to carry out other tasks.

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Increasing revenue

Software can be a great aid in generating an overview of a client’s financial status and options for consolidating gains. When software is creating excellent financial plans and adding value to what the adviser offers, he or she can feel confident in charging an appropriate fee.

The idea of using software for financial planning might seem strange to some people. However, a report from The Guardian predicts that automated financial advice could be the norm within two decades.

Staying on the job

Continuous planning of a client’s portfolio is made easier with software tools and is another value-added service that can be offered. With the right software, sending a regular PDF to clients every month with suggestions based on updates in the financial sector is not that difficult.

Software can also increase efficiency, saving time and money. Good software can make the most of opportunities for offering holistic planning. Additionally, software can be used for gathering and analysing data pertaining to a huge range of businesses and companies. When correctly collated and sorted, this information could feed bespoke messaging services that update clients on issues concerning their investments at the appropriate time. Revenue can be lost with poor communication, but effective software will mean no chances are missed.

Generating leads can also be facilitated by the right technology. Material for attracting new clients can easily be customised, used to engage people, and then consolidate them as business prospects. Bringing in new business could have the biggest impact on increasing the value a firm obtains from its back office systems for financial advisers.

If you want to know more about back office systems for financial advisers, consider consulting experts in the field such as

Survival in the financial planning business is all about adapting to change. It will not be long before clients expect sophisticated software-based planning tools, and they will turn to the professional who will supply them.

Top tips for dressing up your jeans

We all own at least one pair of jeans that serve as a go-to fashion item for all occasions, but they can get a little boring if you don’t add a touch of glamour and style once in a while. Read on for our tips for refreshing your denim. Read more »

Eat healthily – not for two – during pregnancy

If you are expecting, you are likely doing all you can for your baby. It is important to make good choices for your child throughout your pregnancy, including watching what you eat. Throwing caution to the wind and saying “It’s OK, I’m eating for two” is not a good approach.

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The best baby diet

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy is one of the best ways to give your baby a good start in life. By looking after yourself, you’re looking after your child, too. While you may have cravings to satisfy, it is important to keep a check on what you are eating.

Did you know that your diet during pregnancy can affect your child in future? If they do not get all the nutrients they need in the womb, it could cause long-lasting issues for their health. That is why it is vital to choose your food wisely and not think of pregnancy as an excuse to eat anything you like. Trying not to overeat will also reduce the chances of any excessive weight gain.

Other ways to help

While most of the vitamins and minerals your baby needs can be consumed through your meals, food supplements could also be helpful to ensure everything is in order.

One of the main things to make sure you are getting enough of is iron. The NHS says taking liquid iron supplements can help make a child healthier. There are also benefits for mums-to-be, with an increased iron intake helping reduce the chances of anaemia during pregnancy.

If you are worried you may not be getting enough iron in your diet, it might be worth considering taking liquid iron supplements like those available at

Does this mean no extra meals?

You might need to increase your meal count a bit, especially later in pregnancy. While eating for two doesn’t mean constant snacking on whatever you like, you do need to look after yourself and your baby. To make sure your energy levels stay high, you are likely to need your three square meals and a couple of healthy snacks. An iron supplement can also help increase your energy levels.

The best way to approach diet in pregnancy is to consider what you and your child need and listen to your body.

Christmas Countdown – Planning for your Christmas feast

The countdown is on – as the chocolate calendar doors of advent tick down, the pressure mounts for people around the country to get ready for the big day! Adverts everywhere encouraging us to buy things that we surely don’t need, and to do things that seem to make no sense are confusing, added to kids demanding toys that are impossibly overpriced – and probably impossible to find in any shops too! So, if your brain is in a whirl over the Christmas countdown have a look below at this count down to the big day and what you do need to do to make yourself and your family the perfect festive feast! Read more »