Office Blog Posts in the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

Your guide to making eggs-cellent Easter eggs

Monday, April 7th, 2014

It’s almost that time of year again, when we get to gorge ourselves silly on tasty chocolate treats, all in the name of Easter.

But this year, rather than buying a bunch of Easter eggs from the supermarket we thought we might try making our own. If you fancy following in our culinary footsteps, here’s a guide to making your own chocolate eggs-travaganza (sorry we can’t help ourselves!)

What you’ll need

  •  Chocolate; dark, milk, white or all three. About 300g should make eight small eggs.
  • Easter egg moulds; you can pick these up in most specialist cook shops or on good old eBay.
  • A saucepan, heat-proof bowl, spoons and pastry brush.
  • Icing, piping bags, food colouring and your choice of sweets to decorate.

Get cooking

Making your own Easter eggs is easy peasy. First you need to temper the chocolate (don’t be tempted to stick it in the microwave, or you’ll end up with

a burnt mess). To temper chocolate simply break it up into small pieces, place in a heat-proof bowl and pop over a saucepan full of water, on a gentle heat. Stir until melted.

While the chocolate is cooling slightly, it’s time to prep your moulds by polishing the inside with oil. This will prevent your eggs from sticking and also give them a shiny appearance like shop bought ones.

Now you’re ready to start making the eggs. You spoon your melted chocolate into the moulds and use a pastry brush to spread it into a thick even layer. You can then leave it to cool upside down so that any excess chocolate drips off. After ten minutes or so, repeat this process another two or three times until you have a lovely thick egg in each mould.

Leave to set in a cool place.

Once the chocolate has hardened, you can remove the egg halves from the moulds and stick them together by gently warming the edges so they soften and then pushing them together.

Now it’s time for the real fun; decorating your eggs! You can let your creative sides run wild and use coloured icing to pipe designs on, or ice blobs all over the

egg and stick sweets on.

To keep your eggs still while you decorate, why not pop them on top of a mug or egg cup?

Top tips

  •  If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try filling your eggs with sweets before sealing the two halves together?
  •  If you want truly colourful eggs, you can buy coloured chocolate candy melts from most supermarkets.
  •  A great way to heat the edges before you stick the eggs together is to briefly pop them down on a warm baking tray. Don’t leave them too long though!

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Get running

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

 

With the London Marathon set to take place later this month it seems that we are surrounded by running addicts. We can’t leave our front door without seeing joggers whizzing by or even check Facebook without being inundated by posts about how many miles our pals have racked up this week.

 

So we’ve decided if you can’t beat ‘em, why not join ‘em and have decided to take up running ourselves. Look out Jess Ennis!

 

If like us, you fancy pounding the pavement for a spot of exercise, here are some tips to get you started.

 

Get the perfect trainers

What’s not to love about a hobby which starts with you getting new shoes? Before you start running you need to make sure you have some trainers which are up to the job.

Our pick are these Nike Roshe Run Mango Sunset numbers, which are ultra light and have a soft cushioning and EVA foam midsole to provide minimal impact. Plus they look great.

 

Set a goal

The next step is to set yourself some running goals. Do you want to be able to do 10k eventually? Or maybe even a half marathon? Or do you just want to get a bit of exercise? The reality is that it’s easy to put running on the backburner if there’s a bit of rain or your favourite film is on the TV, so it’s important to work towards something, whether that’s just running for a certain length of time without a break or entering an official race.

Office - running

 

Build up gradually

If you are new to running, don’t burn yourself out in the first week. Build up your distances and speed gradually, starting out with a couple of short runs a week and running faster and for longer each time you go out. Listen to your body, if you’ve pushed yourself too hard in one session, have a few rest days or treat yourself to a massage to soothe your aching muscles.

 

Make it fun

Running is a great way to get fit, but it should also be fun. Let’s face it, if you don’t enjoy it you’re going to find it pretty tough to motivate yourself some days. Find a way to make running fun for you, whether it’s creating the perfect playlist to listen to as you run, running with a buddy or simply choosing a beautiful spot for your evening run rather than just jogging twice around the block.

 

SHOP ALL RUNNING TRAINERS

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Are you brave enough for sample sales?

Friday, March 28th, 2014

 

Designer goodies for up to 80% off? It sounds too good to be true, but, thanks to the growing popularity of sample sales, you can indeed bag yourself some truly great designer discounts, if you know where to be and when.

 

Samples sales started off as a US phenomenon. Designers and retailers would open pop up shops, often at relatively short notice, and sell off their excess stock at a fraction of the price. There’s often only a few of each item and sales run for a limited time only, meaning that sample sale shopping is actually a competitive event as people vie to get their hands on the best pieces (remember the scene from Friends where Monica tries to get her hands on a sample sale wedding dress?).

 9cda4b578683ea52ac1ed1b4cd209687

Photo found on Pinterest from laurenconrad.com

 

But, if you’re brave enough to take on the crowds at a sample sale, the good news is that you no longer have to cross the Atlantic to do so as they are becoming increasingly popular in the UK.

 

We take a look at the golden rules for getting the most out of sample sales and some of the best upcoming events.

 

Sample sales rules

Set a budget – it’s easy to get carried away when you see big 80-90% off signs, but remember, ten designer items, even with huge reductions, soon add up. Take a set amount of cash and stick to it.

 

Dress comfortably – we weren’t joking when we said sample sale shopping is competitive; it could be an extreme sport! Dress for battle in your comfiest shoes and avoid bulky jackets and bags. There often aren’t changing rooms, so you may want to wear something which you can try items on over the top of.

 

Arrive early – if a sales starts at 9am, be there at 8.30am waiting for the doors to open, that way to stand a chance of seeing some of the best merchandise.

 

Grab first, think later – we’ve already stressed how competitive sample sales can be, so if you spot something you like, grab it straight away, no taking another lap around the shop while you think about it. You can always review the items in your basket and put anything you don’t want back before you pay.

 

What’s coming up?

Margaret Howell Sample Sale at the Music Rooms in Mayfair, London until Friday March 28

 

The Secret Sample Sale will be at the Old Truman Brewery in London until April 6

 

Nicholas Kirkwood Sample Sale, at the Music Rooms in Mayfair, London between May 29 and 30

 

Fashion Sundays at The Oval Space in Bethnal Green, London on April 6, May 11, June 1

 

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Bringing fashion into your home

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

 

If you thought the only place fashion belongs in the home is in the wardrobe, think again.

 

You can ensure your home is the most stylish abode around by incorporating trends from the runways into your rooms. We take a look at some of the top trends from London, New York and Milan Fashion Weeks A/W 14 and how you can make them work in your living room, bathroom, bedroom or kitchen.

 

Geometric patterns

Geometric shapes were a key trend at London Fashion Week, with Christopher Kane, Roksanda Ilincic and Jonathan Saunders all championing them. However, rather than the monochrome shapes of previous years, patterns were softer and mixed with bolder, brighter colours. We think this Polygon wallpaper by Sharon Jane from Not On The High Street is the perfect choice for a feature wall and you can team it with splashes of colours throughout the rest of the room.

 geometric

Wallpaper

Cushion

Papercut

Votive

Lampshade

Tea & coffee canisters

 

 

Matching sets

Everything on the London and New York catwalks was matchy, matchy, from the satin pyjama-influenced outfits at Paul Smith to the coordinating suits at Erdem and Emilia Wickstead. Achieving this look in the home is simple enough. If you’re handy with the sewing machine, you can buy metres of fabric and make matching curtains, cushion covers and even lampshades for your room, or alternatively, you can shop for accessories in coordinating colours so there is a strong theme running through the space.

 

Florals

Once again florals proved highly popular on the catwalk and there’s no easier trend to incorporate into your interiors. A floral feature wall featuring bold bright flowers or smaller, chintzier blooms will work well in the bedroom, or if your DIY skills aren’t up to much, accessorise, accessorise, accessorise. Floral scatter cushions, throws and prints will all help you get the look. We love this rose print cushion from queen of florals Cath Kidston.

floral

Shabby chic wallpaper

 Yellow floral duvet set

Floral floor cushion

Purple floral cushion

Floral print mug

Patchwork double quilt

 

 

Bold blue

Bold blue was undoubtedly the colour of the season, with Giles, Holly Fulton, Jean Pierre Braganza, Temperley London and Topshop Unique all sending models down the runway in shades of cobalt. We think this cool, clean shade is perfect for the kitchen and will be ditching our boring toaster and kettle for bright blue versions like this Russell Hobbs number.

 

All pictures are courtesy of Not On The High Street . Com

 

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Bands we’d like to see reunite

Friday, March 21st, 2014

 

As we confessed earlier this week, we’re huge fans of the Big Reunion and as we sat down to enjoy the latest instalment, we started thinking about all the other bands we’d like to see giving it a go for old times sake.

 

After all, Take That have proved that giving it another bash can be the best decision a band ever makes.

 

Destiny’s Child

We know that Beyonce is a global superstar in her own right but we’d love it if she could team up with old pals Kelly and Michelle for a new album. The trio teased us at last year’s Superbowl when they joined forces for a show-stopping performance, but sadly no reunion announcement followed. Come on ladies, we’re still waiting for Independent Women Part 2!

MTV Music Video Awards 2005

N’Sync

Now Justin Timberlake has made the return to music, surely the next logical step is to reunite with his former N’Sync bandmates? They’re another group who got our hopes up after they took to the stage together for a medley of Gone, Girlfriend and Bye, Bye, Bye at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, only to dash them by saying they have no plans for a formal reunion. The way we see it, they owe us another tour…

 MTV VMA N Sync

Oasis

Earlier this year we got the news that all Britpop fans have been waiting for with bated breath; battling brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher have finally buried the hatchet! But does this mean we’ll get the Oasis reunion we’ve been keeping our fingers crossed for? The rumour mill has hinted that they may stage a comeback at Glasto this year, but since that particular piece of gossip has done the rounds every spring for the past four years, we’re not getting our hopes up…

 

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Twitter feeds you should definitely follow

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

 

If your Twitter feed is looking a bit lacklustre, it could be time to start following some new accounts.

 

Here’s our suggestions of tweeters who’ll have you giggling away to yourself…

 

Alice White (@alicewhitey)

The List columnist Alice White (who writes Misadventures in Wonderland) is a great person to have popping up on your Twitter feed four or five times a day with the latest updates on her chaotic life. Expect screenshots of texts from her mum, witty one-liners and a lot of over-sharing.

 

The Dark Lord (@Lord_Voldemort7)

Ever wondered what Lord Voldemort’s up to when he’s not waging wizarding wars? The Dark Lord account combines popular culture with Harry Potter references perfectly, making it a must follow for fans of the books. Our favourite recent tweet? “Dicaprio barely ages. The Academy must be avoiding giving him an Oscar because they think he’ll turn it into another horcrux”.

 

Tweets from ’98 (@tweetsfrom98)

If you grew up in the 90s, Tweets from ’98 is perfect for getting your daily dose of nostalgia, we’d forgotten all about Encarta, Cresta Lemonade and the simple joy of sticker swapping until we started following.

 

Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47)

Pitch Perfect star is so refreshingly down to earth it’s easy to forget she’s famous when reading her tweets about stress eating, reality TV show addictions and what keeps her awake at night.

“I don’t think I completely washed out my conditioner this morning so I’m gonna throw on some sweats call this day a win,” pretty much describes how we feel most Mondays!

 Drinking Buddies screening - 57th BFI London Film Festival

James Blunt (@JamesBlunt)

No other tweeter tackles trolls with the same enthusiasm as James Blunt. Follow the You’re Beautiful singer to see some of his withering put downs for yourself.

Our favourites include: “And no mortgage. RT @hettjones: James Blunt just has an annoying face and a highly irritating voice.”

 SeriousFun Children's Network London Gala - London

Weird Horse (@WeirdHorse)

No Twitter ‘following’ list would be complete without a tweeting animal and our preference is Weird Horse, a witty horse which tweets all about its life on the farm.

 

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Events not to miss this summer

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

 

If you’re already busy planning your summer, make sure you book some holidays around these great events which will be taking place on UK shores in June, July and August.

 

Tour de France hits Yorkshire

We’ve been cycling fans ever since the London Olympics and can’t wait to see Wiggins, Froome and co in the saddle in person when the Tour de France kicks off in Yorkshire in July. The Tour hits Leeds on July 5 and York on July 6. Or if you’re based down south, the riders will be heading through Essex and London on July 7 before crossing the Channel to France.

Sport - End of Year Review 2013

Field Day

Field Day has gone from a one-dayer to taking up a whole weekend in June in 2014. Head to London’s Victoria Park to see some of the best alternative acts from across the globe. This year’s performers include The Pixies, The Horrors and Simian Mobile Disco and they’ll be taking to the stage on June 7 and 8.

 

Creamfields

What better way to spend the August bank holiday than pulling on our wellies and heading to Daresbury in Cheshire to dance the weekend away to the likes of Avicii, DeadMau5 and Pete Tong?

Austin City Limits Music Festival - Texas

Port Eliot Festival

The Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall is always one of the quirkiest events on the summer calendar. There’s something for everyone including musical performances, a cabaret tent, food stalls and the Wardrobe Department, where you can play dress up to your heart’s content. The fun takes place between July 24 and 27.

 

Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky is an all new festival coming to London this August. The two-day event aims to bring together acts which are rarely featured on other UK festival lineups. This year American indie rock band Neutral Milk Hotel and Swedish duo I Break Horses will feature on the line-up and in addition to the musical performances there’ll be cinema screenings and a host of other entrainment options. The festival will be housed at the ExCel Centre on August 15 and 16.

 

Film4 FrightFest

If you enjoy nothing more than being scared silly, Film4’s FrightFest will be heading to the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square, London, over the August bank holiday. There’ll be a terrifyingly good line-up of premieres, previews and special screenings of fantasy and horror films over four days.

 

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Let’s go Back to the Future…

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

 

We can’t have been the only ones who desperately wanted to believe that the hoverboard showcased by Back to the Future actor Christopher Lloyd earlier this month was real?

 

The star, who played Doc Brown in the 1989 film, was seen testing the gravity-defying Huvr board at a recent star-studded event, and the video went viral within hours. However, it turned out to be a hoax orchestrated by the pranksters at Funny or Die, much to our disappointment.

 

 

However, since Back to the Future II was actually set in 2015, we figure scientists have still got nine months to invent a real hoverboard, right?

We take a look at some of the other amazing tech from the flick which we hope to see made available next year.

Power Laces

Marty McFly’s self-tying Nike Power Laces are every Back to the Future fan’s dream shoe and it seems that we may actually be able to get our hands on a pair soon.

Nike released a limited edition version of the hi-tops in 2011, with manual laces. However, the brand did apply for a patent on Power Laces and designer Tinker Hatfield revealed this year that the coveted shoes will be released in 2015.

Neon curbs

We wouldn’t have to worry about tripping over curbs in the dark if they were decorated with neon lighting like in Back to the Future.

 

Auto-drying clothes

Why oh why has no-one invented auto-drying clothing like the jacket Marty wears in the film? Just think, you’d never have to find something else to wear because your favourite top isn’t quite dry yet and turning up at work bedraggled and soaked to the skin after a downpour would be a thing of the past…

Holofilms

We already have 3D movies so surely holofilms (or holographic films) are the natural next step for filmmakers? We’re not sure Jaws 19 is ever going to make it to the big screen though…

 

Automatic dog walker

Everyone loves taking their pooch for a stroll when it’s sunny, but a hovercraft we can leash to their collar and send out when it’s raining and cold? Yes please!

Slamball

We’re hoping that by next year, Slamball, which is played in an anti-gravity magnetic field, will have replaced football and rugby completely. A version of the sport was actually developed back in the mid-1990s, but players used trampolines rather than electronic shoes to propel themselves into the air.

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Hobbies we’re loving at the moment

Friday, March 14th, 2014

 

If your mind always draws a blank when it comes time to fill in that ‘other interests’ section  on a job application or you have no clue what to write in your Twitter bio, it might be time to embrace a new hobby. In 2014, we’ve been enjoying a few new pastimes and they’ve been a welcome addition to our normal cycle of shopping, socialising and dining out.

Here are a few of the things we’ve been getting up to over the past few months.

 

Baking

 

GBBO may be in between series but that doesn’t mean our passion for baking has dimmed. We’ve been whipping up a host of tasty treats, from brownies to cupcakes and even macaroons. Mary Berry would be proud and let’s just say our co-workers aren’t complaining! We’re even wondering whether our ‘rainy day fund’ will stretch to a Kitchen Aid as well as those heels we’ve been eyeing up…

 cake sale

Bodyweight training

 

All the baking means we’ve had to take up some exercise and the fitness fad we’re in love with at the moment is bodyweight training. Perfect for gym novices, bodyweight means ditching all the fancy equipment and simply using your own body. We’re push-up, pull-up, burpee, lunge and squat experts now. Classes are also the perfect excuse to pull on our new Reebok Classics.

 

Knitting

 

It may only be March but we’re already planning next winter’s wardrobes and hopefully they will feature some pieces created with our own fair hands. Yes that’s right we’ve followed in our grandmothers’ footsteps and taken up knitting. If you fancy having a go at knitting and purling, start small with a scarf and build up to more complicated patterns like jumpers. We love the fact that you can combine knitting with chatting or relaxing in front of the TV, as long as you don’t mind dropping a few stitches…

 

The theatre

 

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a culture vulture, going to the theatre is a great way to spend the evening, especially if coupled with a post-play discussion over a few drinks. It doesn’t have to be a pricey hobby either, Travelzoo often has last minute deals on theatre tickets across the UK so check it out if you’ve got a spare evening.

 

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Top reads for 2014

Friday, March 7th, 2014

 

Yesterday was World Book Day, and seeing pics of our nieces and nephews heading off to school dressed up as their favourite literary characters on Facebook and Twitter (why can’t we do that at work??) has got us thinking about adding to our own reading lists. After all, sometimes there’s nothing better than cosying up with a big mug of tea and good book.

 

Here are our suggestions of some of the best books to read at the moment:

 

The big screen adaptation

If like us you are still reeling with shock that Leo didn’t win a best actor Oscar for his role in The Wolf of Wall Street, see how spot on his interpretation of Jordan Belfort was by reading the real-life wolf’s memoir. Expect it to be every bit as shocking and scandalous as the film, Jordan famously said that his antics had actually been toned down for the silver screen.

 NY Premiere of "The Wolf of Wall Street" - Party

The chick-lit chart-topper

Jojo Moyes is the current undisputed queen of romantic novels. We wept our way through her last two chart-toppers, Me Before You and The Girl You Left Behind, and we can’t wait to get stuck into her latest offering, The One Plus One, which hit the shelves last month. It tells the story of single mum Jess, her chaotic family and what happens when a quirky stranger enters their lives.

 

The award-winner

Nathan Filer was the surprise winner of the Costa Book Prize in January with his debut The Shock of the Fall, which we think was well worth the £30,000 prize money. The novel was heavily influenced by Filer’s experience of working as mental health nurse and follows two brothers who are “separated yet united by a tragic accident”, and deals with themes of grief, loss and schizophrenia.

 

The ‘I can’t believe that really happened’ biography

We’ll admit we are addicted to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and so couldn’t wait for the show’s star Brandi Glanville to release her autobiography, Drinking and Tweeting. The hilarious memoir tells all about her rivalries with her fellow Housewives stars and her ex-husband’s affair with LeAnn Rimes.

 

Brandi Glanville Book Signing

 

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