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Catering for Food Allergies this Christmas

Any food allergy is going to be a worry for children and adults alike over Christmas. The biggest thing that is important nowadays, is asking our guests if there are any allergies when the come to us for food. It’s easy to cater for allergy or intolerances if we know what they are. For me, I cannot have anything with almonds, hazelnuts or with high refined sugar. All the nice things !!!

Just Love Food wanted to find out what happens with cooking and possible allergies, and sent me this information, which might be helpful for some of you.

With 1 in 5 people in the UK suffering from a food allergy[1],  and the rise of Brits having other dietary requirements to cater for, it can be a challenge when hosting friends and family over the festive period.  Research from Just Love shows that 26% of children with allergies have had an allergic reaction when visiting a family members house, and 20% when visiting a friend’s house.

With so many social events over the Christmas period, it is not surprising that hosts find it difficult to cater for the allergy and other dietary needs of their guests.

Research from Just Love reveals that 99% of parents of children with allergies take additional steps to consider allergies when hosting Christmas events.  65% of parents ask guests for their allergies in advance, while 43% ensure they provide a variety of options to put on the table. 

Bringing the nation together with inclusive celebrations year-round, Just Love provide cakes that can be enjoyed by everyone without sacrificing texture or flavour, meaning hosts won’t need to buy multiple dessert centrepieces this year.

Mike Woods, CEO and Founder of Just Love said: “Christmas celebrations are an important time of year, yet we know that a huge percentage of families will be catering for loved ones with allergies or specific dietary requirements.

To us, it’s our mission to bring people together with cake, ensuring inclusive celebrations can still take place and that people with food allergies and other dietary needs are not made to feel different or left out whatever the setting.”

Just Love want to make Christmas hosting easier for everyone, whether you’re catering for your own allergies and dietary requirements or for those joining you, festive celebrations should be enjoyed by all. Just Love cakes can be found on the Celebration Cake Aisle.

https://www.justlovefoodcompany.com

@instagram: justlovefoodcompany


[1] https://www.allergyuk.org/about-allergy/statistics-and-figures/

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How To Buy The Right Car Tyres Near You Before The Christmas Holidays

During the festive period, it isn’t always possible to obtain the things you need. Many shops are shut over the bank holidays and some places that provide services – such as tyre fitting centres, for example – may be closed for longer periods of time.

This can constitute a problem for motorists. Why? Because in midwinter, you are more likely to encounter tougher road conditions with snow and ice. What’s more, potholes and other hazards on the tarmac may be more difficult to spot, resulting in a greater likelihood of tyre damage. Even worse, some motorists will be travelling further than usual to visit family and friends.

Sorting out your tyres before Christmas Eve is usually advisable.

Look For A Suitable Tyre Fitter

This is the case wherever you live but it can be especially important further north in the country. In places like Fife – from Kincardine in the west of the historic county to Crail in the east – you are more likely to drive in sub-zero temperatures. Even if you don’t encounter ice, the lack of daylight hours in mid-winter often means that your tyres could face more unavoidable road debris than would be the case at other times of the year.

To help overcome these issues, book ahead. Look for a tyre centre that not only supplies but fits new tyres. Ideally, you’ll be able to shop online, reserve your chosen set of tyres so they are in stock when you turn up and be able to book an appointment at a time that suits you. For example, you can book car tyres near you from Fife Autocentre – they have been in the automotive industry since 1993.

Look for a local tyre dealer with fitting facilities which is open during the holiday period and reserve your chosen tyres sooner rather than later. Some tyre centres may face problems from the tyre manufacturers and distributors between Christmas and New Year. If they can’t get the tyres you want, then you may have to settle for inferior models.

Opt For Winter Tyres 

Of course, all of this is even more important if you have non-standard tyres. Drivers of cars with larger wheels or wider tyres will need to think in advance or they may not be able to have new tyres fitted at all until January. There again, if you want to drive on winter tyres, mid-December is the best time to have them fitted ahead of any potential cold snaps when they’ll be of most use.

Although people who live in high-ground locations, such as the Scottish Highlands, the Lake District or the Pennines are often most likely to have winter tyres fitted, it can certainly be cost-effective wherever you reside. Winter tyres are widely available from good tyre fitting centres and you can always keep your normal set to have re-fitted once the ground is less frosty in spring.

Know A Local Tyre Fitter At Your Destination

Finally, bear in mind that if you are travelling somewhere away from home for the holidays, then it is always a good idea to know of a local tyre fitter in the place where you’ll be staying. If you end up needing roadside assistance to change a tyre or to replace your limited-mileage spare tyre, then you could end up paying a pretty penny.

By planning ahead and knowing where to turn on your trip away from home, it is often possible to buy superior quality tyres for less than standard ones, even at Christmas. Whether you will be visiting family in Fife or passing through on your way to a location further north or south in the country, always do a little research beforehand so you’ll know where to turn in an emergency even if there is no mobile phone reception.

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Regifting at Christmas

What is Regifting?

We all know someone who does it. I don’t have many friends nowadays, and very little family, so regifting is something that I haven’t done, but I have given away gifts that I haven’t used, like slippers two sizes smaller than I wear etc, but in the size of the giver…..

Anything I don’t want tends to go by way of charity raffles or into a charity drop off, but given that I don’t get more than a few presents these days, it’s not really an issue.

When you get a battered or dusty box wrapped up, or one that just looks a bit dog eared, it’s a dead giveaway that it’s been an unwanted regift, which is fair enough if someone has no other option. Personally, I’d rather receive nothing than someone else’s unwanted gifts, but that’s me, because it’s usually junk.

Unwanted gifts are usually unwanted for a reason…because the recipient didn’t like it, so they’re pawning it off onto someone else. Maybe that’s my age showing, because a study undertaken about regifting this year seems to show that younger people are happier to regift.

Regifting Study Results by The Works

Leading Book Retailer, The Works, were interested in regifting and how often it happens, so they commissioned a study to find out just how many of us were regifting unwanted pressies.

  • Around 40% of the UK regifts for different reasons.
  • Women are 20% more likely to regift than men and it’s estimated about 50% of all women regift.
  • Women are less likely to get caught regifting.
  • One in 10 regifters get caught.
  • Younger people are more likely to regift with feelings of guilt than older people, with guilt showing at under the age of 34.
  • Over 55’s have a more casual approach to regifting.
  • The most popular regifted products are health & beauty and alcohol, with books alone making up about a quarter of all regifts.
  • Women tend to wait about 7 months before regifting, while a quarter of men regift almost immediately, leading to them being discovered more frequently.
  • Charlotte Blaquiere, Search Marketing Manager at The Works said, “There’s no shame in regifting presents today. While many people do feel guilty, we should be pleased by the one in five aged between 25 and 54 that see it more as an eco-friendly exercise.”
  • Regifted and unwanted items are more likely to come from friends and also to be passed onto friends.

The Works commissioned a survey of 2,000 people across the UK asking questions relating to gifting, sentiment around it, and who they are most likely to receive unwanted gifts from and who they’re most likely to give them to. The survey was undertaken in October 2023.

Are you a Regifter?

So, are you a regifter? I’m more guilty of having a couple of extra gifts and then using them the following year as birthday presents or Christmas present add- ons.

For the last few years, I suspect there are more and more gift regifts. It would be surprising if there weren’t, due to the economy and finances with the increase in the cost of living and energy prices. Perhaps saving gifts by regifting is the new Secret Santa, and beats finding a decent present for a tenner any day.

My biggest snort of laughter had to come from getting back the gift I had given someone two years before. I am sooooo glad I didn’t open it in front of her. I’d probably never have seen her again, and I do like her an awful lot. In fact, she’ll probably phone me and laugh her head off when she sees this post, as she’ll recognise herself, and she is lovely.

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Dehumidifiers Simplified. 10 Reasons to Use a Dehumidifier

This post contains affiliate links and images,

which may earn me a small commission if you click on them and make a purchase.

Dehumidifiers seem to be everywhere in the news, with few people really understanding what they are for and why they would use them. Until a couple of years ago, I only used one when my business premises back wall got wet during winter, or when I’d painted walls and wanted them dry quickly.

The increase in costs of energy have pushed people towards different uses for dehumidifiers, and there are many different reasons for buying and using, other than controlling the dampness in a property.

In this post, I’ve outlined the main differences between dehumidifiers, and the top 10 reasons to use a dehumidifier, and then added some links to dehumidifiers that I think are good buys. Browse any specs, check reviews and make your own decisions if you decide to buy a dehumidifier.

Is Your Home Damp?

The first step in any dehumidifier exploration, is to find out if you have a damp problem in your home. Everything else is just gravy as they say.

A cheap hygrometer from Amazon will keep you up to speed on the humidity levels in your home. I bought a set of three and have them dotted around the house. Ideal humidity levels are around 30-50%, however the fifties are considered acceptable.

Most Common UK Dehumidifiers

There are two main types of dehumidifier, Desiccant and Refrigerant.

Desiccant Dehumidifier

A desiccant dehumidifier works differently from a refrigerant, is usually more expensive than a refrigerant buy, and costs more to run in electrical energy. The desiccant releases more heat into the room that it is placed in, and removed water from the air by soaking it up in the same way that a sponge works, and drips from that into a condenser tank. These dehumidifiers can be used in very cold spaces of less than 15C.

The heating effect is not significant, however, over several hours, there will be some heat into the room, but is not needed where heating is already being used. People generally use a desiccant dehumidifier if they are not using heating in winter, for unheated garages, conservatories or garden rooms.

Refrigerant Dehumidifier

The refrigerant dehumidifier works similar to your household fridge and are the most popular in the UK, are generally cheaper and work best in an environment that isn’t too cold. Like your fridge, the dehumidifier cools and when warm air comes into contact with it, it changes to condensation which is then collected in the condenser tank. I have two refrigerant dehumidifiers.

When the warm air is cooled and condensed, more warm air is then drawn to the cooler air and the cycle is continuous until switched off or the programmed setting is achieved. Output waste air can be 1-2C higher than the air temperature, however, this might not be noticeable over a few hours. If my dehumidifier runs in a room overnight, the room feels warmer in the morning, which is likely due to less water in the air, so the air feels warmer and is easier to heat.

Capacity

The important thing to remember about dehumidifiers, is that the size of dehumidifier does not relate to the size of the water collection tank. Examples:

  • A 12 litre dehumidifier has the capability to pull 12 litres of water from the air over a 24 hour period in optimal conditions stated in the specifications.
  • A 20 litre dehumidifier has the capability to pull 20 litres of water from the air over a 24 hour period in optimal conditions stated in the specifications.
  • Any dehumidifier may have any differing size of water tank. My dehumidifiers have 4.5 litre tanks and are able to draw 20 litres from the air over a 24 hour period if the conditions are optimal. In practice, I can take out about 3 litres over a day.

Main Dehumidifier Features

  • Small, Medium or Large capacity. Up to 12 litres is a small capacity suitable for small homes with few issues with dampness. Up to litres is medium sized and will help with extra moisture or more people using bathrooms, cooking and washing/drying clothes at home. It is more helpful if there is an obvious medium damp problem. Large dehumidifiers are usually in the range of 18, 20 or 25 litre capacity and can help with laundry, dampness, larger households and water damage.
  • Drainage can be an issue with larger tanks, but some options have the ability to connect a hose and empty the tank without removing it from the dehumidifier. My ones have a hose, but I have never used it, as it is easier for me to take out the tank and empty it. Some people recycle their water and use it to water plants.
  • Hygrometer/humidistat readings. This measures the current level of moisture in the air and changes the settings of the humidifier to enable reaching the setting you have put down. My humidity can begin about 70%, which isn’t too wet, but I am happiest when my house is sitting in the 50’s. Very wet houses can have a very high percentage of water in the air or the walls, and reach 90% or more.
  • Timers for best or most economic time of use for electric tariffs, but if yours doesn’t have one, buying a plug timer is simple enough.
  • Laundry mode is often in the specifications, and on dehumidifiers that don’t specify this, it is usually simply the highest setting that the dehumidifier can be set to.
  • Smart apps can help with the more modern eco dehumidifiers, and lets you control it from a distance. Very handy for checking the humidity and changing the settings.

10 Reasons to Use a Dehumidifier

My top ten suggestions.

1 – Dry Home After Leak / Flood / Water in the Walls / Mouldy Dampness

We all have spells where our homes come into contact with water at some time. For us, the usual is a broken tile on the roof, causing water to leak into the house. We have had two floods or non natural disaster. One where an upstairs bathroom bath drain failed ,and the whole bath emptied onto the roof and downstairs, flooding the whole area with water dripping through the lights and soaking the roof. We had to take off all the plasterboard and insulation and redo. Nightmare.

The other was when three three year olds went into my bathroom, took off their socks and stuffed the bidet with them, then were dancing around in six inches of water. I was downstairs with the two other mums, thinking our kids were in my kids bedroom, when the drips started coming through the roof and the water started running down the stairs. Five to ten minutes is all it took to destroy three rooms and drench the stairs. They were my first ever forays into the world of dehumidifiers, taking out most of the water damage from roof and floors quickly.

2 – Laundry Drying Option

I have never used mine mainly for this, but I know many people who do, especially with the energy crisis, or those who don’t have room or budget for a tumble dryer. I did use it a few times last winter when I had towels out drying and nowhere to dry them and trying to keep the heating at a reasonable cost with the price rises.

Our gas meter wigged out with a blank screen and we had no idea how much we were using. British Gas took months upon months to change the meter, and the estimates just went up and up and up. My tumble dryer broke, and there was no option but dry indoors. I hated the feeling of breathing damp air in, as it affected my lungs, so I went and got a new dehumidifier while I waited for my tumble dryer to be fixed.

I think it is important to cost things here. I can dry a load of washing in my vented dryer, about 10kg in an hour on my tumble dryer at 60C, which costs about 58p at todays money. To dry the same load overnight with the dehumidifier costs me about 5-6p per hour for 12 hours, and then it all needs ironed or popped in the dryer for 5 minutes to soften.

For me, if I do one load of washing a day, it is cheaper for me to use the dryer than to have a dehumidifier running all night or until the clothes are dry. I can’t cope with hours to dry one load in the way heat pump dryers do, so they are not an option for me.

3 – Make Home Heating More Efficient

I wasn’t prepared for how much quicker my home would heat up after using dehumidifiers. If I have removed a load of water from a room, it heats and retains heat in half the time, keeping my gas costs significantly. For 5-6p an hour for a few hours, that might be about 50 or 60p, but my boiler is 35kw gas, and at decent heat, can start off about £1.50 an hour. Without using the dehumidifier, the air struggled to heat, and my percentage of moisture was not over 70%.

Using the dehumidifiers one night a week in my largest rooms with doors open, means the heating settles into about 50 – 60p hour on gas, sometimes bit more, which is a massive saving, and the house stays warm for much longer. It means we don’t need the heating on so often or for so long. People have to make their own decisions on if they feel a purchase will help them with their own homes. For us, our house is a largish 4 bed, and I bought the biggest dehumidifiers in my budget. I don’t think small or medium would have made much difference.

4 – Help Keep Home Dry

I’ll admit it. We used very little gas last winter when we had no idea how many kwh we were using and the prices skyrocketed. I found a couple of clothing items and a suitcase in a cupboard which had a few mould spots. They went in the bin, but I can see how easily a home can go from perfectly good to wet and mouldy in a short space of time. Even though I didn’t class my home as very wet, we drew litres and litres of water from the air, which was a surprise. Once the rooms are cleared of excess water, it can be left on the automatic setting, but I tend to switch mine off.

5 – Help Control Allergies and Asthma

This is one I hadn’t really thought about. Allergy symptoms are an issue in our home due to asthma in the family, which cases wheezing, sneezing, sore chests, sore eyes and itchy skin. Things that can trigger allergies are dust, dust mites, mould, pollen and cat dander.

Drying the air helps reduce these triggers as keeping the humidity below 65% can stop dust miles from breeding or mould from increasing. I didn’t realise my dehumidifiers had an air purifier setting and filter when I bought it, so it has done a double job in summer here when the pollen count was high, at reducing allergy symptoms.

Remember not to let the air get too dry, as that can increase symptoms of pneumonia, dehydrate those in the house and make cold symptoms like sore throat and stuffy nose worse. Keep to the recommended levels of your manufacturing instructions.

6 – Protect Our Homes

When the air in our homes is too wet, it can begin to break down and destroy the bones of our homes, or in other words, compromise structural integrity. Support beams and floor boards might swell up, burst or twist, and mould can begin to grow in the walls, roofs and floors. Metal door handles may begin to rust and our homes can begin to smell musty.

7 – Portable and Moveable around the House

Having a portable dehumidifier helps to keep the whole home more dry and warmer as a result. Although dehumidifiers can sometimes be heavy, they usually have caster wheels and handles to help carry them. This means that instead of having a dehumidifier in each room, you can move one around the house. Many people use them in the most damp rooms first for a few days, then work around their homes, finally settling on a place in a hallway with doors open to maintain a comfortable level of humidity,

8 – Reduces Window Condensation

In homes where there is too much water in the air, condensation can form on windows where the temperature is cold outside and warmer inside. Much of this condensation is the air we breathe, shower mist etc, but although this can happen in any room, bedrooms are the areas where this is often most noticeable. By running a dehumidifier on a low setting, this can eliminate or reduce the condensation on windows as there will be less moisture in the air to turn to water droplets when the air touches windows.

9 – Auto Settings

With automatic settings, you can just let the humidistat do its job. When the dehumidifier is set to come off and on at a certain percentage of moisture in the air, it will turn off and on as and when it is needed, which will also make the dehumidifier energy efficient by not being on 100% of the time.

10 – Choice of Dehumidifiers

Although some dehumidifiers can be very expensive, including desiccant ones, there is a huge difference in the options available and the brands available. Try to stay away from brands that are not well known as there will be little or zero aftercare and advice if something goes wrong.

Popular dehumidifiers include ones from:

  • Toolstation. My ones are the 20 Litre Wessex ones. Mine were £159 each. They have everything I needed, but I would perhaps have liked a smart function, but hey ho. Princess dehumidifiers among others are also there.
  • Screwfix have Blyss and Evac dehumidifiers which seem to have good reviews.
  • Meaco have the big brand name, recommended everywhere. The 20 litre ones were out of my price range to buy two of them at over £300 each, but they are said to be amazing. (Amazon Affiliate Link) Meaco 20 Litre
  • Argos always have a good selection.

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Why Mums Should Invest in ISAs

The world of investing can often seem like a complex and daunting landscape, especially for busy mums who are juggling family life with a myriad of other responsibilities. Yet, there’s a gem within the financial world that can serve as both a haven for savings and a potential source of income: the Individual Savings Account, or ISA. For mums in the UK, ISAs represent a flexible and tax-efficient way to secure your family’s financial future.

Understanding ISAs

There’s nothing more exciting than planning your future. But before delving into the reasons to invest, it’s beneficial to find out more about ISAs here in the UK. They come in different forms – Cash ISAs, Stocks and Shares ISAs, Innovative Finance ISAs, and Lifetime ISAs, each with its unique features and benefits. They are designed to encourage saving and investing by offering a tax-free status on the interest or returns you earn, which can be a significant advantage over traditional savings accounts.

Tax Efficiency for Family Savings

One of the prime reasons mums should consider ISAs is their tax efficiency. With the personal savings allowance already in place, the interest earned on money in ISAs does not count towards this limit. It means that whatever your tax status, you will not pay tax on your ISA earnings. This is especially beneficial for higher-rate taxpayers who might otherwise see a significant portion of their investment returns diminished by taxes.

Saving for the Future

Mums know the importance of planning ahead, and ISAs can be a vital part of that strategy. Whether saving for your child’s education, a family holiday, or even your own retirement, the money in an ISA can grow over time and be withdrawn tax-free. With the flexibility to contribute up to £20,000 annually (as of the current tax year), you have the potential to build a substantial nest egg.

Flexibility and Access

Life can be unpredictable, and financial needs can change rapidly. Unlike pensions, which are also tax-efficient but can’t be accessed until later in life, most ISAs offer flexibility. Cash ISAs, in particular, often allow instant access to funds, meaning you can withdraw money without penalty should an unexpected expense arise. This makes them an excellent option for an emergency fund.

Education in Investment

Investing isn’t just about putting money away; it’s also about educating oneself about financial markets. Mums who invest in Stocks and Shares ISAs can learn about different types of investments, risk management, and the nature of market fluctuations. This knowledge is invaluable and can be passed on to children, teaching them about financial responsibility and the value of saving from an early age.

A Tool for Home Decor Dreams

For readers of a home decor blog, an ISA might seem like a distant concept from the world of interior design. However, the funds accumulated in an ISA can be the very means through which long-term home improvement projects are realized. By investing wisely, the returns from an ISA can finance that dream kitchen renovation or the extension you’ve been yearning for without dipping into other savings.

Long-Term Growth Potential

The potential for long-term growth, especially with Stocks and Shares ISAs, can outpace the interest rates offered by regular savings accounts. Over time, this can result in a significant difference in the amount of money you have saved. For mums with a long-term outlook, this can mean more for your money and, ultimately, more security for your family.

A Personal Wealth Builder

Ultimately, ISAs can be an empowering tool for mums looking to build personal wealth. With the gender pay gap and the potential for career breaks to raise children impacting women’s savings, having a tax-efficient savings vehicle is more important than ever. ISAs provide a way to counteract some of these financial challenges.

Conclusion

Investing in an ISA offers a plethora of benefits that align well with the goals and responsibilities of motherhood. From tax efficiency and flexibility to the opportunity for long-term growth and financial education, ISAs can be a cornerstone in securing a family’s financial future. For mums looking to make smart choices with their money, harnessing the power of ISAs is a move that can pay dividends for years to come, offering peace of mind and the potential for a more comfortable lifestyle. Whether for home decor dreams or educational futures, ISAs stand out as a versatile and wise investment choice for mums across the UK.

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Wild and Game British Pie Week Recipe

I’m a bit late for this one, but it’s not to late to make this at home for yourself.

Enjoy a game pie, with the recipe developed for British pie week

To celebrate British Pie Week (March 6-12), game specialist Wild and Game released a simple recipe for home-cooked game pie.

By specialising in frozen products, Wild and Game is making British game available all year round. The company champions game as a lean, high protein alternative to farmed meats. Wild game is also good for the environment, with some meats, such as venison, produced by necessary culling to protect ecosystems.

Wild and Game’s award-winning pies are made to traditional recipes and run from cold pies with hot water crust pastry through to luxury hot pies such as pheasant, steak and ale or venison, beef, red wine and cranberry.

Wild and Game co-founder Steven Frampton said:

“One of the most satisfying ways to enjoy game is cooked in a traditional pie. At Wild and Game we focus on making it easy to try game for the first time – and a pie is a perfect way to start.”

Game Pie

Feeds 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pack Wild and Game game mix
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • A big knob of butter
  • Olive oil
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 160C/150Cfan/gas mark 3.
  2. In a lidded, oven proof pot, fry the onion in the butter and a glug of olive oil until soft.
  3. Toss the game mix in the flour and season.
  4. Add the game mix to the pan and brown.
  5. Add the mushrooms and cook until softening.
  6. Add the stock and heat until bubbling.
  7. Put the lid on the pot and cook for 2 hours.
  8. Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the pie filling into a pie dish.
  9. Top with the pastry.
  10. Brush the top with egg.
  11. Turn the oven up to 220C/200fan/gas mark 6.
  12. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until the pastry has browned and risen.
  13. Serve with vegetables of your choice.

Founded in 2017, Wild and Game sells a wide range of ready to cook game, pies, pasties, charcuterie and ready meals from its website and from selected independent food shops and supermarkets in the UK.

Wild and Game started life in Bristol and recently moved to its own distribution centre in Somerset.

The Wild and Game website is at www.wildandgame.co.uk

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The First Million Dollar Facials in Kingswells, Aberdeen

I’ve loved the Million Dollar Facial products for a while. There are just so many lovely ones to choose from. In Kingswells, Aberdeen, there is a little cabin providing Million Dollar Facials for anyone looking to increase the health and appearance of their skin.

My favourite products are the Nourishing Balm and the SPF50 from the Brand, with the i-tx coming a close third. Treatment wise, I really like the Miracle Mask and finishing with the ice globes is a lovely ending to a treatment.

Visit The Therapy Cabin to find out more about what they offer and what is provided. The wee garden salon has been offering these facials for a few months, and will open more appointments at time goes on.

Some details are below.

  • Million Dollar Mini Facial – A taster session of facials for those who are new to the brand.
  • Million Dollar Superfacial – The Glow or Hydrate facials, which are full luxury options with gorgeous masks and wonderful ice globes to finish.
  • Million Dollar Facial – This is the top of the pack. A full facial, with dermaplaning, microneedling of the face, and finishing with a soothing mask, and of course the SPF 50 that everyone needs everyday.
  • Dermaplaning – Removal of peach fuzz and the dead top layer of skin cells.
  • Microneedling and Mesotherapy with the new and gorgeous Empire pen from Million Dollar Facial, making sure the treatment is perfect and allows the therapist to get into little nooks and crannies on the face.
  • Microneedling for the Body, for scarring and stretch marks, helping you to feel better in your skin.
  • Microneedling for the Hand, for rejuvenation and scar removal.
  • Microneedling for Hair Rejuvenation. A specialist treatment for those with hair loss, which is run over an 11 week programme with home care.
  • Back Facial (Bacial) helping to get the area under control for an all important night out or holiday.
  • Miracle Mask – Lifting, firming and tightening with this specialist mask for the face.

There are also other treatments, which you can find at the online booking link here on Fresha.

FREE GIFT for every Microneedling booking for July 2023.

I’ll be showing the results of the menopause bootcamp after eleven weeks of the programme.

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How to use Lemons to Clean your Home

*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon in images and links. If you click on these and make a purchase, my blog may earn a few pennies.*

My mother was a whizz with the vinegar and the lemon. I keep meaning to write them up on the blog, and have forgotten over and over again to actually do it. These are not my tips, but simply the ones I saw her use over the years. I can’t say I copied them all, but if you have lemons going spare, these are some great uses to put them to.

Lemons smell absolutely amazing. It’s no accident they are in so many cleaning products, toilet cleaners and air fresheners. Lemon scented diffusers also kick the pants off any of its closest competitors for fresh and clean smelling scents around the house. My mum had an old lemon juicer, and while I tend not to use it often, there are now some much more effective lemon squeezers and citrus juicers out there.

Traditional Juicer

Modern Citrus Juicer

Deluxe Squeezer

Fresh or Bottled Lemon Juice

This can be an individual preference. Some forms of cleaning will benefit from direct rubbing of the lemon to help break down the dirt by using direct enzyme action, and others will be fine with the juice of fresh lemons, or even bottled lemon juice that you might use for preserves and cooking.

I know that I’ve bought lemons in the past, made some lemonade or curd, and decided they are too sour for me to do anything much with. These are perfect for squeezing and making our own products from. When I make juice for cleaning, I keep it in the fridge, and although I’ve heard of people keeping theirs in the freezer, I’ve never gone that far. My mum would have, however.

Where is Lemon Juice Unsuitable for Use?

Lemon acid is antibacterial, and makes a great natural alternative to cleaning chemicals. Remember that lemon is not a disinfectant and will not totally replace your cleaning routine.

Always test the areas where you plan to clean with lemon, as some fabrics and surfaces will not be compatible. Rinse after cleaning and dry thoroughly.

Lemon is not suitable for cleaning anything that contains brass, hard wood or natural stone, such as granite worktops, sandstone surfaces or tiles and wooden floors.

Here are just a few places in your kitchen you can clean with lemons—and how to do it.

1. Laminated Worktops and Surfaces

Lemon juice is perfect for cleaning laminated surface. Use juice directly or put it into a spray bottle to spray directly on the surface. Spray or rub on, then leave for a few minutes before wiping off with a clean damp sponge or cloth, then drying. The emzymes from the lemon juice will help remove stubborn stains.

2. Chopping Boards

Clean these the exact same way that you clean your laminated surfaces, being sure to leave the juice for a few minutes on stubborn stains. Where your chopping board has been used for products such as poultry, the chopping board will need additional cleaning prior to using your lemon juice, as it is not a disinfectant.

The main use on chopping boards, apart from removing stubborn stains, is the ability to help remove stubborn smells from the boards, especially wooden ones, which can suffer from lingering onion breath.

3. Window Cleaning

Like vinegar, lemon juice excels at window cleaning, but leaves a much nicer scent in the room. I remember trailing after my mother and the dreaded scent of vinegar, and I remember how pleased I was when she swapped that to lemons.

Use the lemon juice in a spray bottle again, using two to three tablespoons of the lemon juice and diluting it with some warm water.

4. Degreaser

Lemon is a perfect degreaser. I’ve had some success with it on my hob burners that I sometimes take off and pop into a bowl of hot water. I do struggle to keep those clean, and steeping them in a mix of lemon juice with a teaspoon of salt and scrubbing them with a pad helps. I let the mixture seep into the burners and leave them for half an hour before rinsing and popping them back onto the gas hob.

I haven’t used lemons for pans, but I imagine they would be good for degreasing frying pans and burnt on grease.

5. Blitz the Microwave

This one is as easy as pie. I really detest the grease and build up that settles on the inside of my microwave. To use it properly, just mix some lemon juice to a micro safe bowl, with 500ml water and blitz for up to 5 minutes. Leave to let the steam from the water/lemon juice do it’s work for another five minutes, then simply open the microwave and wipe down the surfaces.

6. Fridge Deodoriser

This is even easier than cleaning the microwave. Simply slice a lemon and pop it into a small dish, adding it to the door, or the back of the fridge. Simply swap out weekly for a fresh and clean smelling fridge.

*Note, please test an area before using lemon juice on your surfaces. Some surfaces are totally unsuitable and may be damaged with incorrect use.

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Cooking Measurements and Kitchen Conversion Chart

When we measure ingredients, it’s important that for some dishes, the measures are precise. For us in the UK, it’s fairly simple. We use scales for pretty much everything. I don’t think I even own anything that measures in cups, apart from an old glass jug that has liquid cups on the side.

Saying that, I don’t feel measuring in cups is at all accurate, but I know it’s how most ingredients are laid out in the recipes we use from America.

It’s fairly frustrating for us this side of the pond, as dry ingredients can be both flour and sugar, and their weights are very different. Which is why I really struggle with the inaccurate cup method of measuring for baking especially. I would like to try a few American recipes, but I’m not at all confident, so I try to convert them to more familiar grams and ounces.

Using conversion charts can also be quite tricky. They don’t explain the difference in volume of sugar and flour, so we can get really mixed up.

I’ve made a free kitchen conversion chart for you, to help with the difficulties in interpreting recipes from metric to imperial, US to UK.

Free Kitchen Conversion Chart

Downloadable PDF – Printable

Measurement Abbreviations for Conversion Charts
Metric

ml = millilitre
l = litre
g = grams
kg = kilogram
C = Celsuis

Imperial

tsp = teaspoon
tbsp = tablespoon
oz = ounce
lb = pound
fl.oz = fluid ounce
F = Fahrenheit

Kitchen Scales
(Affiliate Links are included in this paragraph, both in images and text links)

If you want to buy a kitchen scale to help with measurements, there are loads to choose from. Here’s an image of my favourite Salter scales on Amazon.

Kitchen scales aren’t all equal. Some of more traditional size are dependent on the old UK imperial system, which is rarely used in Europe now. They are more imprecise and won’t allow for liquid volume weights.

If we don’t have scales that help with liquid volume, buying a good quality jug, that has several liquid volumes marked, can be very helpful.

Liquid versus Dry Ingredients

When we measure liquid ingredients, they are measured by volume, or in other words, by the space they take up for measuring. They are heavier and fluid ingredients.

Dry ingredients tend to be dry, and are measured more by weight than liquid volume. While a good set of scales can measure both dry and liquid, a heavier ingredient will like water, will take up less space than a dry ingredient like flour. For baking, it is especially important that weights and measures are accurate. Just a few mls too much of fluid can ruin a great pastry, and a few extra grammes of flour can totally throw a light cake into an unappetising mess.

While in the US, many ingredients are weighed out by using cups or jugs, neither measurement is totally accurate. Measurements by kitchen scales are more accurate, and are easier to manage.

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Easy Air Fryer Conversion Chart For Better Results

The biggest problem we have when cooking in an air fryer, is knowing how to convert traditional recipes to fit with the tiny oven style cooking of air frying. Our air fryers are essentially just mini ovens on steroids, with faster cooking times and the ability to churn out delicious meals at a lower cost than a traditional oven.

Fast forward to the air fryer explosion, and the biggest problem we all have, is the conversions. To help with that, I’ve added an easy air fryer conversion chart for better results. It’s free for anyone for anyone to use. Feel free to save the chart and download it to your hearts content.

This link will take you straight to the Air Fryer Conversion Chart for the UK.

Air Fryer Conversion Chart

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5 Simple Reasons to Buy an Airfryer & Save Money

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links and images to Amazon UK, which may earn me a few pennies if you click on them and make a purchase.

I’ve spoken about energy saving already recently, but the news is still going mad for air fryers. After spending a whole week last week, furiously looking for a new one, I found it quite frustrating to even be able to tell the difference. In the past, I wanted one that turned, and cooked chips for the special needs lad. Nowadays, the choice for what he would be able to use is dire. Exceptionally dire. Almost every machine I’ve look at, is geared to the reading population, with temperatures, dials and fancy icons.

1 – Cooking With An Air Fryer Saves You Money

The statistics speak for themselves. An airfryer uses much less energy than your regular house oven. I’ve spoken about this sort of thing several times in the past, as I’ve used airfryers for years, and they really are perfect for our lifestyle.

Most electric ovens use from 3000 to 5000 watts on electric, but you should always check your own appliance. An airfryer is heating a much smaller space. That means it tends to cook faster, as a big oven takes longer and uses more energy to get to temperature and be ready to cook. With an airfryer, you switch on and it’s up and running. A full chicken can take about 40 or so minutes. So, as well as saving on usage, at approximately 1200-1800 watts, it saves cooking time.

2 – Healthier Cooking With An Air Fryer

We switched years ago. I have not had a deep fat fryer in any house I’ve lived in for my whole adult life. I did want something that gave the crispy deep fat fried look and crunch. Being in two house fires before the age of 12 has a habit of putting you off ever owning anything with a large pot of bubbling fat. Fryers in those days, were just big pots with fat in them. Even though there are now thermostatically controlled versions, I’ve never been able to live with one.

Air frying means using little to no oil. When we first got one, we used a very little oil. Nowadays, I just don’t bother to add any at all. Not cooking oil, means less fat, less calories and better preservation of the nutrients in our food.

3 – Time Saving In More Ways Than One

We’ve mentioned the speed of cooking is increased, but the one big thing that is in my life, is the complete bug bear of having to clean my big ovens. I have a very old, four cavity range cooker. I do love it, but it is old, probably very energy inefficient, and is a nightmare to clean.

With all my air fryers, where cleaning has been a challenge, it has solely been my own fault for letting some grease build up for too long as the teens cook. They never clean it afterwards. Even so, cleaning is so much easier than cleaning the oven, and I looked for my latest air fryer to have dishwasher safe parts, so that I can simply just throw them on in there.

4 – Reheat Your Leftovers In The Air Fryer

I was blindly reheating in the microwave for a long time. My old convection microwave gave up the ghost early on during the pandemic, so I resurrected my even older basic supermarket £20 microwave from a box in the garage and it’s still going strong. Granted, it had hardly been used, but I certainly got my money worth from it.

Fairly recently, I began reheating much of the leftovers in the air fryer. I’m absolutely gutted that I hadn’t thought of doing that before. It doesn’t work so great if you have an airfryer without temperature control, but I think most of the older style ones that are simply on/off and timer control, have been mostly phased out.

Leftovers reheated in the airfryer retain that newly cooked flavour and don’t go all soggy. Give it a go, as you won’t be disappointed.

5 – Accessories For Everything

We all have busy lives, right? The main thing we have to think about is value for money. Again, blindly just doing what I’ve always done, meant I was missing out on new things. There are accessories for almost every type of air fryer these days.

From inserts to keep the airfryer base clean, to tongs and racks for doubling or tripling the usable space, I really think there is an accessory for everything. The main problem is cutting it down to the accessories you will really use.

Buying An Air Fryer

To be fair, I still want that Phillips XXL Airfryer. It’s got a massive amount of space, and an app to make checking food easy. Cooking a large chicken could easily be an easy task with it, but it was slightly more than I was willing to pay. I’ve only used low end airfryers in the past, and they’ve served us well. I went with the Ninja due to replaceable drawers and I believe speed of cleaning.

When you look for an air fryer, you have to look at what your lifestyle needs. For me, it’s a high usage household with various cooking times during the day due to shift work, and speed of cleaning. Your needs may be very different.

What to look for.

  • Look at the specification of each airfryer. Having a super dooper airfryer that feeds 6 people may be completely unnecessary for someone who only wants to use it once or twice a week for a couple or small family.
  • Compare prices and reviews. Prices and availability change frequently, due to the higher uptake in 2021/2022, which saw many fryers out of stock for long periods. To get my Ninja, I had to spend about 2 months on the waiting list of the manufacturer, as every notification was already sold out before I got to the website.
  • Size of the machine. Do you have enough counterspace for the machine you want. We all know that if a machine ends up in a cupboard, it rarely ends up being used, if ever.

My Favourite High End Air Fryers on Amazon

Good Value Air Fryers Under £100 on Amazon

Mini Oven Airfryers

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10 Energy Saving Cooking Tips

Wee Notice: This blog post contains affiliate links to Amazon UK, which may earn me a few pennies if you click on them and make a purchase.

Many people are in fuel poverty this winter, likely reaching into the millions, of whom, many have never struggled for their energy bills in the past. I’ve been a member of a wee group for a while now, and it’s one that helps people who are struggling with their bills, and gives advice to help them bridge the current gap.

The biggest problem is that there are literally unending amounts of people who have never faced debt before, but energy costs are fast putting them into situations where they might never have been. I’m not going to get drawn into the political rant, no matter how much I’d like to, but instead, I am going to focus on ways to help us save money on our daily life.

People everywhere seem to be speaking about getting dehumidifiers as they might be cheaper than tumble dryers, but we all have to make our own choices.

10 Ways To Save Energy in the Kitchen

1 – Preparation of Cooking Methods

Take the time to look at how you prepare and cook your food. There’s no point having loads of gadgets and small appliances languishing on your counters unused, or shoved in a cupboard and out of sight. Our ovens use a lot of energy, and some of your small gadgets could easily save you money if you look at the wattage used to run them and compare it with your oven.

2 – Work Out How Much Money Your Appliances Cost to Run

As an example, my slow cooker is 300w. That means it uses 300 watts of electrical energy per hour to run. My slow cooker is also a 6 litre large capacity one, and yours might use half of the energy that my cooker does per hour.

My oven is rated at around 2 kw per hour, for each oven. I have two. That means each oven uses approximately 2000 watts per hour. Ovens can use up to 5000 watts per hour, so make sure you check your own appliance ratings and do your own calculations.

At the moment, electricity is about 34p per unit of electric Jan 2023.
I tend to use my slow cooker on high for 4 hours = 1200 watts, or 1.2 kwh of electric, which is 1.2 units.
– Slow Cooker 4 Hours 300w = 1.2 Units at 34p = 41p
– Single Oven 4 Hours 2000w = 8 Units at 34p = £2.72

This comparison isn’t comparing apples with apples however, as using an oven is unlikely to take 4 hours, unless slow cooking on low heat.

My Calculation For Chips in the Air Fryer or Oven
34p/60 mins = 0.0057p per minute = 1000 watts

Air Fryer (Large) = 1500 watts for 25 minutes = 25 mins x (1.50 x 0.0057p) = 21.4p
– Oven (2000w) = 2000 watts for 25 minutes = 25 mins x (2 x 0.0057p) = 28.5p

For me, using the Airfryer is 7p cheaper than my oven, to cook a batch of chips. Given my teenagers sometimes cook 3 or 4 times a day, with a pie here or a portion of chips there, the airfryer is cheaper.

3 Cook Efficiently

One way to help save money at home is to look at our cooking choices. As a house, we’ve used air fryers for years, so it’s nice to see them get so much publicity at the moment, allowing us to make some savings. Choose your gadgets wisely.

Do the calculations for each of your appliances, and then choose the most efficient appliance for you. I have family who don’t use a microwave to reheat leftovers, and the oven is regularly on for long periods of time. I don’t have the luxury of wasting energy, and over the years, I’ve build up a good stock of countertop appliances that I can use.

Oven v My Appliances
– I use my oven when I am cooking large batches or big dishes.
– The microwave is mainly used for reheating.
Slow cooker for cooking cheaper cuts of meat and casserole type dishes.
Pressure cooker for making baked potatoes.
– Pan on the gas hob for large pans of soup.
Soupmaker for small batch of soup, up to 4 people.

4 Clean Appliances & Change Pan Usage

Dirt can build up around a gas burner or an electric hob. As well as wasting heat if you are using the wrong size pan for a dish you are making, the dirt build up can also make the cooking less efficient. If you are using a smaller pan, use a smaller burner if possible on gas, and you will be less likely to have inefficient cooking and food/heat wastage through spillage or heat distribution to the room.

Using lids while cooking on the hob or stove, helps to keep heat in, and uses less energy to cook food.

5 Use Timers For Cooking

This one might be a little like the old saying ‘trying to teach your granny to suck eggs.’ That might no mean much to you as a saying, in the way it does for me, but it simply means ‘stating the obvious.’ No matter which appliance we use, many of us are guilty of cooking for too long. My kids always made fun of me for how I can cook a full meal perfectly, but stick oven chips or pizza in the oven, and I forget about them and burn the food, as well as waste energy.

I’ve been making use of the timer function on my phone, and I no longer burn the junk food. I’m sure the boys will be happy with that, but they have now also learned to set their phone timers too, so we also no longer waste cooking energy.

6 Food Preparation & Meal Planning

Keeping cooking time down is quite important now, as cooking from frozen can use up a lot of unnecessary energy, that we could be better spent on heat in the cold weather. Defrosting food before use might save a few pence, as will planning your meals and knowing which ingredients you will need, and how you will use them. Many frozen items can be defrosted in the fridge overnight, just read the instructions to find out which ones are usable.

7 Batch Cooking

Batch cooking is sensible if you have the budget for buying larger quantities of ingredients than usual, as making meals this way means that a simple reheat is all that is needed for many items. If buying ingredients more in bulk, but if full batch cooking isn’t an option, you can take the time to work this differently. When I make meals nowadays, even soup, I make enough to also pop a couple of portions into the freezer for the boys to eat later. It’s just one or two extra portions with each cooking session, but it quickly adds up to food for later.

8 Leftovers

I have family and friends who won’t eat second day food. I think they’ve lost their minds, and one or two are on benefits and still won’t eat refrigerated leftovers. To me, that’s nuts. Bonkers. I can understand it if someone does not have a fridge, but throwing away perfectly good food that can eaten later makes my brain fry.

Simply reheat the leftovers in your microwave, ensuring they are nice and hot to eat

9 Storage, Best Before and Use By

There is easily accessible information on the internet, to know what is safe and what is not safe to eat. Almost everyone has a mini computer in their pocket, and can look up the fridge temperatures to be economical and keep food safe, while also not wasting energy.

Personally, I increased my fridge from 4C to 5C, and reduced my freezer from -20C to -18C. I am not recommending you change your settings to match mine, so research it for yourself and check you are not throwing money away when you don’t need to.

Know the difference between best before and use by, to ensure you get the best out of the products you buy for food and drinks.

10 Mindset Changes

Many of the ways to reduce energy usage while cooking needs a change of attitude and approach to making meals and being kitchen efficient.

One pot meals are easy and simple to make, saving cooking and heating times. For me, my baked tatties done in my pressure cooker are far cheaper than cooking them in the oven.

Planning ahead can mean you have the correct ingredients for when you need them. Even if I only save 7p on each air fryer cook session, it could easily save me about £50 a year. I know it doesn’t sound much, but that is just one single gadget saving. We do have to offset that against how much the gadget costs to buy, so don’t forget to factor that into your calculations.