To Mum, From Me: Mother’s Day gifts with thought

Mother’s Day is just around the corner – Sunday, to be exact. Finding meaningful gifts besides the perfunctory flowers, chocolates or perfume can be difficult. That’s where we swoop in to save the day with our top picks for mums of all walks of life.

For the gardener
This “bee hotel” (at right) is a clever and eco-friendly way to attract solitary bees, ladybirds and other beneficial insects into your garden. Made of timber, cane and other natural materials, this bee hotel is a snip at £19.95 plus P&P and is available from Not on the High Street.

If your greenthumb mum loves plants, but doesn’t have the space for a garden, she might find joy in caring for a bonsai tree. Bonsai is the centuries-old Japanese art of growing miniature trees and plants in pots. The name comes from the Japanese words bon (for tray) and sai (for seed). You can spend a significant amount of money – almost £1000 – on older trees, but there are plenty more affordable bonsai plants out there that are perfect for someone just starting out. The Chinese Elm pictured here is only £39.50 through britishbonsai.co.uk.

For the foodie
If Mum’s idea of a decadent afternoon includes a cream tea, let us recommend a Cream Tea for Two Hamper from The English Cream Tea Company. For £62 (includes delivery), you get scrummy sultana scones, cucumber and salmon sandwiches, jam, clotted cream, meringues, cake bites, tea and cutlery. There is also a gluten-free version of this hamper for £68, or you can add a bottle of champagne for an additional £35. If you can’t take your mum out for a proper cream tea, why not send the tea to her?

If you can’t take Mum out for a bite, but you want to go above and beyond a cream tea, how about gourmet takeaway sent to her home? For those in London, Manchester or Bristol, you can send a restaurant-quality meal to the house – complete with starters, mains, sides and desserts – for about £15-£30 per person. Housebites.com can point you in the direction of a chef in Mum’s postcode who can cook up a gourmet feast worthy of a five-star rating. You pick the items from a set menu , a delivery time, then pay online and the chef shows up with the chosen goodies. We’ve had Housebites many a time and haven’t been disappointed yet. With new cities and chefs being added, your (or Mum’s) neighbourhood should see service very soon!

If Mum’s a true foodie and loves to cook as much she loves to eat, then there isn’t a more decadent ingredient than truffles. White or black, these misshapen globes of tasty goodness add a unique flavour that can’t be matched. There are a variety of truffles (Bagnoly, Périgord, Bianchetto, etc.) on offer from Etsy seller, Truffles of Italy. Because these truffles are fresh, they must be used immediately or stored in a fridge where they will last up to seven days. A 10 gram black Bagnoly winter truffle will run you £6.50.

For the pampered
For the mums that like to relax and be pampered occasionally, a trip to the spa won’t go unappreciated. If Mum lives near Ediburgh, Liverpool, Poole, Kingston, London or Leeds, then she can have the distinct pleasure of experiencing a spa treatment at a Lush spa. From facials to massages, Lush treatments are all performed with their fresh, handmade cosmetics and bodycare products. A 60 minute facial is £75; a 60 minute massage is £65. All spa treatments with prices can be found on their website. Booking ahead is essential and gift vouchers are available.

If your mum’s a bit of a trendy clothes horse, then how about this artsy Front Row Society scarf from Yoox? At £41, it won’t bust the budget and it’s a comfortable blend of 70% cotton, 30% silk – it only feels expensive! It’s almost a metre square, so it can also make due as a snazzy summertime wrap in warmer months.

Last on our list is something a bit more traditional in the way of Mother’s Day gifts. Jo Malone fragrances mix unusual, yet pleasing combinations of fruits, florals, spices and wood. Not only do they sell perfumes, colognes, body creams and hand soaps, they now sell home fragrances as well. We’ve picked out a Jo Malone candle in Pomegranate Noir, a popular choice with Jo Malone fans. A 200 gram candle will cost you £38, but the scent is strong and the candle itself lasts for ages. As a bonus, Jo Malone also offers complimentary gift wrap and delivery!

And to mums everywhere, Happy Mother’s Day from Kelkoo!

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Rugs with oomph!

Making an impact in your home without painting, wallpapering or buying all new furniture is easier than you think. Something as simple as a contemporary area rug can spruce up a room in no time. Alternatively, you could also put a rug on a wall for even more dramatic effect – it creates a focal point and can act as a conversation starter. The choice is yours.

We’ve chosen some of our favourite rugs that have a little something extra in the design department.

After Matisse
After Matisse
From £530/sqm
Sonya Winner Studio London

Beci Orpin Tribal Rug
£100
Urban Outfitters

Kite Wool Kilim
from £38.02
West Elm

Paprika Patchwork Rug
£850
Andrew Martin

Pinocchio
from 1.699,00 DKK (£197)
hayshop.dk

Key Shadow by Suzanne Sharp
from £580 per m2
The Rug Company

Festival Rug
from £68
Anthropologie

Pebble mat
from £31.71
CB2
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London Fashion Week: AW 2013

It’s that time of year for top designers to show off their Autumn/Winter collections at various venues all over London. Tom Ford, Vivienne Westwood, Burberry Prorsum, Issa and Moschino Cheap and Chic were just a few of the names whose looks rocked the runways.

What trends can you expect to come later this year? Bold and fearless prints, bright colours, geometrics, you name it and almost every designer showcased a print somewhere in their collection. Many deliberately combined prints in a genius clash of fabric titans. Not everyone can pull of the look, but at least it can provide you some inspiration for your wardrobe.

We’ve chosen a few of our favourite picks for prints from AW 2013 below.

Sister by Sibling

Clements Ribiero

Moschino Cheap and Chic

House of Holland

Holly Fulton

Emilia Wickstead

Matthew Williamson

Peter Pilotto

Louise Gray

Tom Ford

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Apps for eating well and eating right

It’s a new year and with that comes resolutions. For most of us, the main resolution is to eat healthier and lose weight. However, I know that it’s not easy to keep that resolution for long. Studies show that 36% of resolution makers have already given up the ghost. In six months, 54% have thrown in the towel. The main reasons why people failed to stick with their new habits are: lack of tasks planning, organisation and the proper tools to achieve the goals.

Regarding tools, phone apps could be truly helpful to achieve your healthy eating goals this year. They help you to monitor and plan your meals and shopping trips. So if you want to lose weight or simply want to be eat healthier, here are five apps that could help your get your dream body in 2013.


Whole Foods Market Recipes
This app is amazing! It provides you great recipes according to your specific dietary needs. You can get vegetarian, gluten-free, low fat or even high fiber foods suggestions. Besides offering specific recipes, it also helps you assess your food’s nutritional quality, such as the level of fat, protein or sugar. It’s also great because it can be used as shopping list when you’re shopping at the market. For me, it’s one the most convenient apps I’ve ever used.
Cost: FREE in the iTunes store

Cooking Light Recipes: Quick and Healthy Menu Maker
The Cooking Light Magazine recipe app is a sure fire way to start cooking up tasty, low fat food at home. You can combine several ingredients you already have on hand and the app suggests recipes accordingly. You can either choose their suggested menu or customise your own meal. Everything is available – starter, main dishes or desserts. It also gives you number of calories per meal. Enjoy!
Cost: £2.49 in the iTunes store

Good Food Healthy Recipes
This app from the BBC contains everything you need to cook amazing, healthy dishes. With hundreds of photographed meals, this app offers many options: nutritional information per dish, ingredients, video tutorial, timer, and much more. This app will be your best companion when you’re in the kitchen.
Cost: £1.99 in the iTunes store

Green Kitchen
Green Kitchen is a great cooking app for vegetarians and vegans, alike. The app ties into the innovative Green Kitchen Stories blog with 78 recipes for mains, desserts and juices. Even though I am not vegetarian, I have been tempted to try some of their recipes. With items like Banana & Blueberry Pancakes, this app could turn a carnivore like me into a vegetarian.
Cost: $3.99 in the iTunes store

EatingWell Healthy in a Hurry
EatingWell.com has the app for the “healthy in a hurry”. The recipes available make it truly easy to eat well when you don’t have time to cook for hours. This app provides more than 200 quick and healthy recipes for simple breakfasts, quick dinners and low calories desserts. It’s also perfect to use the EatingWell app whilst you do your shopping. Their filtering is great because you can browse the app by category (starter, dinner, dessert), by individual ingredients or total cooking time.
Cost: FREE in the iTunes store

-Lisiane Ndong

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Boots No7 vs. Clinique: BB creams

Is paying more for designer brand cosmetics really worth it?

We wanted to know the answer to that question when we found a foundation from Boots that was almost the same as the one we had been using by Clinique.

How did they match up? Let’s go to the tape!

Boots No7 Beautiful Skin BB Cream for Normal / Oily Skin in FairClinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30 in Shade 02
£12.95 for 40mL£25.00 for 40mL
PROS: the price; SPF 15 is perfect for daily wear; face felt less oily and make-up stayed putPROS: a little goes a long way so one bottle lasts awhile; you can wear it as a primer or by itself; higher SPF is nice
CONS: one coat didn’t quite give the coverage we were hoping forCONS: the price
WINNER: Clinique, but only by a nose
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See the light and beat those winter blues

Wake-up lightI spent a good chunk of my teenage years complaining that I hated winter, and that I wished it could be summer all year round. However, I swiftly realised that I would be miserable for half of my life and began to look for the positives in those long, cold, dark winter months. Finally, winter and I have a better relationship since I discovered mulled cider and puff-pastry mince pies. But for some, the change in season can mean they find it extremely difficult to wake up on dark mornings, making them feel exhausted or triggering a significant change in their mood.

Up to 1 in 50 people in the UK are thought to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which can have symptoms similar to depression, and is caused by low levels of serotonin or melatonin. These chemicals are produced as a result of the eyes detecting sunlight and sending messages to certain parts of the brain. Severe cases can be treated with anti-depressants, but drugs aren’t the right option for everyone.

Those wanting to combat the winter blues or just find rolling out of that lovely, warm bed a monumental task, can try various forms of light therapy. You can either try a powerful light box which uses bright white ‘full-spectrum’ light. Full-spectrum light does not give out much damaging UV light, just the helpful rays. Spending time with your light box can be time consuming and requires a fair amount of commitment. Also, the results may not be felt instantly.

You could also try a dawn simulator which can really help eradicate that early morning struggle to wake up and face the day. It works by gradually increasing the light intensity in your bedroom just before you would usually wake up, as if the sun was rising. Exposing yourself to this bright light triggers signals from your retina to your brain, which in turn stimulates the production of chemicals which lift your mood making you feel more alert and energetic throughout the day.

There are numerous manufacturers who have designed light boxes and wake-up lights to help those who struggle with SAD or the winter blues. Philips have released a range of Wake-up Lights, which not only help to wake you up gently in the morning, but also feature dusk and coloured sunrise simulation, as well as natural sounds and FM radio. So whether you find it hard to nod off, or rise and shine, a Philips Wake-up light should help to lift your spirits! Prices start from around £70.

Lumie are another brand which has designed a slightly more affordable range of ‘bodyclocks’ which include night and security options and adjustable fade times. They also have models designed to aid  sports training, such as the Lumie Bodyclock STARTER and Bodyclock ACTIVE, both for under £100.

- Alison Wright
Kelkoo UK

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Blemish freedom

Blemishes, spots, zits, pimples. No matter what you call them, we can all agree that they are evil and need to eliminated!

If you’ve been unfortunate enough to suffer from a rogue bump to a full-blown outbreak, you might have tried everything under the sun in an attempt to put an end to your plight. The hard facts are that there is no one fix-all cure for everyone. What might work for you might not work for the next person.

The prescription-only drug Roaccutane and the topical gel Retin-A require a trip to your GP. Whilst these alternatives work well, these medications are also only for people afflicted with severe acne. So if you’re looking for a sure thing for an occasional bump, or if you have a light breakout during “that time of the month”, you probably won’t qualify for those types of treatment.

As a lifelong acne sufferer myself, I’m here to show you what over-the-counter treatments are available to you and where you can get them!

Acne

Proactiv is a group of four core topical treatment products that work in tandem to target acne-prone areas with a twice-a-day skincare regimen. With the Proactiv cleanser, toner, day and night lotions in your arsenal, most users see a difference in their skin within a matter of weeks. The Proactiv offered in the U.S. (the version I’ve used) differs from the version offered in the U.K. The U.S. version contains 10% benzoyl peroxide as its active ingredient, whilst the U.K. Proactiv utilises salicylic acid.

In the past, I’ve found that my level of acne never responded as well to the salicylic acid as it did to benzoyl peroxide. My very oily skin responds well to the drying effects of benzoyl peroxide. But at higher concentrations, you may find benzoyl peroxide too harsh. If your skin is sensitive, you may fare better with the U.K./salicylic version of Proactiv.

Now, where does that leave those who think they might prefer the benzoyl peroxide version? You can find unused kits from the U.S. sold on eBay. You can also find the cheaper version of Proactiv called Acne Free, an almost exact match to the U.S. Proactiv version.

The U.K. Proactiv system is based on a subscription service and a new 4-piece kit will be sent to your home every 60 days at a cost of £39.95 plus P&P. U.S. Proactiv products can be found on eBay for around £35-45. AcneFree kits on eBay go for around £25-£30.

For targeted spot treatments that pop up seemingly overnight, I can’t boast enough about the refining mask from Proactiv and the sulfur mask from AcneFree. Both masks look, feel and act the same. The creamy, white substance has the consistency of a traditional clay mask and works WONDERS when you apply it to a spot and then go to bed. For me, it has performed absolute magic on a pimple in a very short time and is worth every penny.

If you’re looking for a more long term solution that doesn’t require needles, surgery or potentially harmful drugs, I would certainly recommend a chemical peel. Yes, it does sound more scary than it really is. Done right with a qualified dermatologist or skin clinic, you should only see something to the equivalent to a medium sunburn for about five days afterwards. The skin peels off a bit and then you’re done!

Chemical peels typically treat such things as scarring, pitting and deep pores associated with long-term acne. Chemical peels can also lessen breakouts by removing the top layer of skin to reveal the fresh, new, supple skin that lies underneath! To maximise the positive effects of a chemical peel, it’s recommended that you have them done in a series, one treatment every 3-4 months with around 2-6 treatments occurring in total.

Sk:n Clinics offer chemical peels with an initial consultation to decide what course of treatment is right for you. They have clinics located all over the U.K. Whilst this is the most pricey option we’ve mentioned, we also think you get the most value for money with the results. If you’re short on cash, you can always see about having that treatment abroad. I had mine done in the States for $125-$150 a pop. Who could say no to that?

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Gelato vs. ice cream

Gelato and ice cream are very similar. Both are creamy, sugary, frozen goodness that we just can’t get enough of. Gelato is noticeably smoother in consistency than ice cream and, some may argue, tastier.

What’s the real difference between the two? In a nutshell, gelato acutally has a bit less fat than ice cream (shocker!) and about 25-30% less air. Gelato is also served at a slightly warmer temperature which only accentuates it’s velvety texture.

You might think you could adapt any old gelato recipe and use your standard ice cream maker to get the same results you get in a gelateria. The answer is a firm and resound “No.” Gelato needs to be mixed at a slower speed than traditional makers to avoid trapping that extra air that ice cream has.

Unless you churn by hand or have a variable speed ice cream maker, you’re going to have to stump up the money to buy a dedicated machine. Here are a few you might be interested in:

Expensive: Nemox Ice Gelatissimo – £520
Mid-range: Philips Gaggia RI9101/08 Gelatiera Ice Cream Maker – £294.47
Affordable: Tefal Gelato Ice Cream Maker – £49.99

To serve as inspiration, here’s a recipe for Nutella gelato from FoodNetwork.co.uk. Enjoy!
500ml whole milk
250ml double cream
100g sugar, plus 50g
4 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g Nutella

In a saucepan combine the milk, cream, and 100g sugar over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whip the egg yolks with the remaining sugar using an electric mixer until the eggs have become thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Pour 120ml of the warm milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture and stir. Add this mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Place a strainer over a medium bowl and pour the warm custard mixture through the strainer. Stir in the vanilla and Nutella until it dissolves.

Chill mixture completely before pouring into a gelato maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to freeze.

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The Colourful Kitchen

Adding a splash of colour here and there in your kitchen can be a fun way to update your decor without spending a fortune for new paint, tiles or flooring. Who has the money to do that, anyway?

A quick pick-me-up can be attained from colourful options in kitchen appliances. Brands like Kenwood, Smeg and Morphy Richards are all offering bold colours for their wares sure to please those who are sick and tired of white, black or stainless steel. We’ve picked a few of our favourite items that we think you will love.


Bodum Bistro Blender
from £110 to £120 from John Lewis


Ascaso Dream Coffee Machine, Multiple colours
£435 on up from Amazon


Kenwood KMX80 Stand Mixer, Barcelona stripe – £400 from John Lewis


Morphy Richards Accents 44799 4-Slice Toaster, Cyan Blue (also available in multiple colours) – £39.99 from John Lewis


Morphy Richards Accents 43829 Kettle, Cyan (also available in multiple colours) – £39.99 from John Lewis


Swan 800 Watt Solo Microwave, Red (also available in black, cream, green) – £55 from Very.co.uk


Smeg FAB30 Retro styled Fridge Freezer, Multiple colours – £1000-£1100 from Appliances Online

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Mid-century Modern Redux


When decorating your flat, looking for innovative inspiration can be quite the task. Where do you start? An interior designer? Pinterest? Google image search?

If you’re into modern, clean interiors, you can find heaps of inspiration in old magazines from the 50′s such as Time or Life, all freely available online with Google Books. Rather than trying to find vintage pieces, which can be pricey, why not find modern equivalents for a fraction of the cost?

We’ve taken inspiration from a 1949 design from interior designer T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings using modern finds amongst some of today’s more affordable home furnishings retailers. Check it out!

Söderhamn three-seat sofa in Isefall light turquoise – £395 from IKEA
Malton armchair in Oxford grey – £189 from Made.com
Chaplin large cowhide rug in silver – £349 from Made.com
Klubbo square coffee table in white – £45 from IKEA
Klubbo rectangle coffee table in white – £65 from IKEA
Hannah Glass Table Lamp – £150 from John Lewis
Bocksey modular shelving system in oak – £515 from Habitat
Flick extendable dining table in white – £159 from Dwell
Eiffel chair with wood legs in black – £59 from Dwell
Harlequin Wallpaper, Oralia 10967, Silver / Metallic – £42 a roll from John Lewis
Söderhamn footstool in Isefall light turquoise – £150 from IKEA
Vertical Dark Bamboo Solid Wood Flooring – £23.38 per sq. metre from Wickes
Husön galvanised plant pot – £18 from IKEA
‘Volta’ Cork Suspension Light – £360 from Graham and Green

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