Gifts

Woodsetton Art Pottery's Workshop

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After a long week, there's nothing better than doing relaxing and creative activity. We think that pottery achieves just that, allowing us to take the time-out immersing ourselves in something that doesn't involve work, emails or social media. Something we actively try and encourage at The Amazing Blog, so we were excited to learn more about the Woodsetton Art Pottery's classes.

We came across Woodsetton Art Pottery's is the brainchild of Lorraine Bates, who aims to tailor classes, ensuring everyone leaves with a newfound knowledge (whether you're brand new to pottery, or more experienced). Based in Woodsetton, West Midlands, there is a space for everyone, from beginner classes to throwing and glazing. With a maximum of seven people per workshop, the courses aim to improve everyone’s creative skills, gaining optimum knowledge and interaction with a pottery professional. The studio is also well equipped, with electric potter wheels and a range of equipment for hand builders and sculptures.

The beginner's pottery course includes hand building, extruding and sculpting. The aim is that every student will learn to throw on the wheel, giving the opportunity to let your inner child out (and to get your hands dirty in the process). If you choose only to do this course, then you can make use of Lorraine's extensive experience, paying £2 per piece for her to tidy/turn your work, with subsequent biscuit firing, glazing and glaze firing. This means that however skilled you prove to be (or not), you will leave with a professionally finished piece.

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For a more advanced course, Lorraine offers throwing courses. These are a day long, with a maximum of five students, allowing each person access to their own wheel - improving throwing and turning techniques. Alternatively, if glazing is your interest, then there is also a separate glazing workshop. Here you will learn to apply different glazes, colours and dippings, to make your pieces true works of art. The created pots can also be decorated with sponging, stencilling and brushing.

The Raku Day workshop is slightly different, allowing students to bring in their own works from home (size permitting), to decorate and glaze in the workshop. The extensive experience of Woodsetton Pottery will ensure that you leave with new glaze recipes, with the focus being to teach correct mixing techniques, including ways in which to reduce oxidisation.

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If you’re interested in enhancing your creative personality, the workshops run from 10am-4pm during both the week, and on Saturdays. There is also the possibility to arrange a group workshop for you and your friends. Up to six wonderfully decorated objects are included in the fee, which will be bisque fired and glazed, and available for collection within four weeks. Generally, day courses are £75 each (Monday to Friday) and £90 on Saturdays, You can also purchase gift vouchers as a special treat for loved ones. You might like to attend a workshop in August (subject to availability)⚱17th August - Places - £90 - Throwing on the wheel plus associated handbuilding and decorating techniques. Suitable for beginner or those honing their techniques.⚱25th August - Places - £90 - Throwing on the wheel plus associated hand-building and decorating techniques. Suitable for beginner or those honing their techniques. Otherwise from September onwards course dates will 3 months in advance. Please visit their Tumblr page here to see an extensive list of specific workshops and prices. Enjoy!

Heathcote & Ivory's Salsa Silks Collection

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When you find a product that you love, there’s nothing better than discovering that there is a whole collection too. One that we are loving at the moment, is Salsa Silks by Heathcote and Ivory. We’re no strangers to this brand at The Amazing Blog, having featured their Vintage & Co. Baubles & Belles Festive Bath and Body Tin in our Gifts for Her feature in December. The Salsa Silks collection is vibrant, and contains three scented gifts (for a loved one, or yourself) encased in elegantly decorated packaging, and inspired by the colourful rhythms of salsa. Intrigued? We were too.

As a brand that embraces the world of interior design and the great British outdoors, Heathcote & Ivory are known for their mix of bright colours and floral patterns, in both vintage and modern styles. The Salsa Silks Collection is no exception, containing only the finest essential oils and actives, it is a luxury collection, without a luxury price tag.

The first product that we tried, was the Hand Wash. This vitamin E infused product helps to cleanse and purify, releasing the energising scents of lime, lotus flower and cedarwood. The uplifting essential oils of lemon and sweet orange really make it feel like a spa retreat at home, and the luxurious formula left our hands feeling soft and nourished. We were also pleased to discover that it didn’t leave our hands feeling dry, something we struggle with at this time of the year.

Secondly, we tried the Heart Soap In A Tin. This lovely triple-milled soap is presented in an embossed heart-shaped tin, and is blended with shea butter and glycerine, helping to gently cleanse and soften your skin. Additionally, and thanks to the beautiful packaging, this isn’t only a pleasure for your skin, but also gives your bathroom a touch of design sparkle. Gone are the days of a boring block of soap on the sink.

Finally, we were also pleased to discover that this collection contains a Lip Gloss. Delivered in a smaller heart-shaped tin, this moisturising peach lip gloss is made of beeswax and olive extracts, helping to keep your lips perfectly soft and, most importantly, kissable. The soft peachy smell of the pink glittery gloss is also a highlight, taking away the often chemical smell of other lip glosses on the market. It is also nourishing and less sticky than competitor glosses, something we’re thankful of!

To try this collection for yourself, check out the Heathcote & Ivory website here where you can find the Hand Wash for £9 (320ml), Heart Soap In A Tin for £6 and the Lip Gloss for £5. Perfect for a February birthday or as a treat for yourself.

SNiPH's Perfume Subscription Service

With February 14th fast approaching, you might be thinking about purchasing a little something for a loved one this Valentine's Day? Whether that's the case, or you're just looking to treat yourself, we’d like to provide a little bit of inspiration for you, here at The Amazing Blog. We like to gift perfume, but knowing exactly which fragrance to choose can be a bit of a minefield. This is where SNiPH comes to the rescue with their subscription service providing a plethora of different scents to choose from. The brand shares our belief that finding new fragrances can sometimes be overwhelming, so we were excited (and grateful) to discover that they have done the work for us.

By sampling vast amounts of scents from around the world, they then cleverly curate them altogether. Founders, Tara and Lisa wanted to make the world of fragrance a less intimidating one, offering to help us to discover new scents that we would perhaps not initially choose. The system is a simple one, either pick from their online shop (here) or subscribe to their monthly box, where you will have a monthly surprise delivered directly to your doorstep. Either way, you'll find a comprehensive selection of fragrances on the SNiPH website. They offer their 'Top Lists' for Men, Women and Unisex fragrances, which is brilliant for helping us to choose from the vast number of choices. We found this very helpful!

OK so let’s tell you what we tried. Firstly, the Biehl Parfumkunstwerke - PC02 EdP, a fruity and sweet fragrance from German fragrance company, Biel Parfumkunstwerke. We were surprised by the staying-power of this scent, a sweet yet spicy aroma that gently lingers. As with all fragrances, this perfume came with a fragrance card, which is very beneficial for helping to explain this complex notes of the fragrance to others. We received this as an 8ml atomiser, in a very stylish and sleek SNiPH branded black metal case, for £18. That said, you can purchase it without the case, or in a full size bottle (100ml) for £139.

The other fragrance we tried was Histoires de Parfums – This is Not a Blue Bottle 1/.2 EdP This instantly became one of our favourites at The Amazing Blog. It is a delicious, versatile and refreshingly light fragrance. Some of us here are particular fans of vanilla, so the further additions of ylang-ylang and pink pepper only further heighten our delight with this fruity and floral scent. Sourced from the famous French perfume house: Histoires de Parfums, we think that this perfume is something quite special. We also received it in the SNiPH black metal case (once again for £18, see here). After researching this perfume on their website, we saw that it also comes in a beautifully graphic and colourfully decorated bottle, as a rather appropriate named: 'This is Not a Blue Bottle'. Making it perfect for gifting, the full 60ml bottle is available here for £85.

Now if you're thinking, this all sounds great but I still have no idea which one to gift, don’t fret. SNiPH have recognised this inevitability, providing the option of gift cards (see here). Available for three, six and twelve-month subscriptions (ranging from £40-£130). All your recipient will need to do is choose a theme, and SNiPH will do the rest. They will receive a specifically chosen scent every month (within an 8ml case as photographed above), with free shipping and the option to cancel or pause anytime. What better way to gift the gift of fragrance!

Cudié Chocolates

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Want to know one of our simple pleasures in life? Chocolate. We can’t get enough of it at The Amazing Blog! Who cares if you had a healthy breakfast, or which strict New Year diet you’re following, it would be rude not to indulge in a few sweet treats once in a while. We recently discovered Cudié, a company that have produced family made chocolate since 1946. Based in Vilafranca del Penedes, Spain, all recipes are a family secret - with a plethora of products, from pralines, to Marconi almonds, premium chocolates and catanies (a combination of nuts and chocolate, signature to Cudié). We therefore couldn’t wait to try the brand - all in the name of research of course!

Among the range of sweet treats, Cudié offer collections of assorted delicatessen chocolates. We tried their Mediterranean Tiles chocolate box, consisting of 6 delicious and gourmet chocolates - perfect as an evening treat, with a cup of tea (or glass of red wine). These chocolates come encased in a stylish black box, with a vibrant pink sleeve. Each chocolate is delicately decorated, with rose, coffee, salt, orange, cinnamon and hazelnut flavours to choose from. Our favourites were the coffee and cinnamon flavours. The coffee had a surprising depth of flavour, and we were thankful that it didn't have the stereotypically bitter flavour often prevalent in other coffee chocolates. The cinnamon flavour was also an interesting one, adding a bit of spice and warmth, and definitely one we weren’t expecting to like so much.

To buy a box of 6 Cudié chocolates for yourself, then click here. You will find the box available for 3,91€. Additionally, you can also buy boxes of 18 or 36 chocolates, we will certainly be purchasing a larger box next time! Click here to see the full range of Mediterranean Tiles.

Christmas Spirits

It’s just four days until the big day - our trees are up, the food is ordered, and both children and adults are suitably excited. However, if you’re like us at The Amazing Blog, then you may still be on the hunt for some last minute presents, or a few Christmas tipples to add to your festive drinks cabinet. For our final blog post of 2018, we bring you our top Christmas spirits, helping you to become a stellar host, whether that be for Christmas Day itself, or perhaps even for the New Year.

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Firstly, we came across Pedrino, the brand bringing Mediterranean flavours to the aperitif market. Taking inspiration from Spain, Portugal and Italy, Pedrino’s three tonics are the ideal gift for an aperitivo lover or a great addition to your dinner party drink’s cabinet. We tried all three - Sherry & Tonic, Ruby & Tonic and Vermouth & Tonic, and were pleasantly surprised by their light and refreshing nature. Thanks to their low alcohol content, at 5.5%abv, these drinks are perfect as a pre-dinner tipple; only strengthened by the use of all-natural and carefully proportioned ingredients.

While they are delicious when consumed on a hot summer’s afternoon, we found these tonics particularly apt for the Christmas period too. Given that sherry and port are often consumed in the colder and darker months, we were pleased to find a lighter alternative. All three are handmade with citrus botanicals, giving freshness and depth. Equally, only the best and award-winning fortified wines are used, alongside good quality tonic to ensure that your guests (and yourself) will not merely be given a watered down spirit. Our favourite? As port lovers, we loved the Ruby & Tonic, especially when drunk over ice and served with a garnish of lime. That said, it was hard to choose, and the other two closely follow. The bonus though, is that they need only to be served over ice (with a garnish if you’re feeling fancy). If this sounds just the tipple, then you can purchase these aperitifs from Waitrose at just £1.95 per bottle. Click here to see for yourself.

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If you’re more of a rum lover, then let us introduce The Duppy Share. Founded by George Frost, the brand brings the essence of the Caribbean back to London, with a focus not just on the Jerk seasoned food and reggae music, but on the nation’s love for rum. Made from a unique blend of fiery Jamaican rum and smooth Barbadian rum, this spirit is both bold and tropical. For those less inclined to go for rum, rest assured that this was a hit across the office, so much so that we were flipping coins for who could take the remainder of the bottle home! We’re also not the only lovers of this brand, as The Duppy Share was the official sponsor of the infamous Notting Hill Carnival in the summer, testament to the brand’s ethos and high-quality product.

The use of a traditional copper pot still gives the Jamaican rum its poignancy, aged in old white oak bourbon barrels and utilising the perfect weather conditions to increase the rate of ageing. On the other hand, the Barbadian method of continuous and pot still distillation gives notes of caramel - which when combined, gives this dark rum a deep, yet refreshing flavour. We like to drink this 3-year-old rum with the classic lime and soda, allowing the rich flavours to take over. However, for a more fiery approach, we also enjoyed it with a high-quality ginger beer and wedge of fresh lime. To bring the Caribbean to your Christmas, then visit The Duppy Share website here where you will find a 70cl bottle for £27.50. Alternatively, you will find this product in many good supermarkets, well worth the crowded rush!

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For many of us, the festive season means it's time for bubbles, so we were thrilled to discover Sparkle Drops. This brand brings a vast range of fruity flavourings to your alcoholic beverages - particularly effective when added to something bubbly. Adding a lovely shimmer to your drinks, these drops are equally effective when mixed with gin and vodka, also giving cocktails a little extra pizzaz.

We were fortunate to try two of their sets, the Unicorn Collection and the Gin Collection. The Unicorn Collection contains three 10ml bottles, with Golden Passionfruit, Blue Raspberry and Pink Cherry flavourings. Our favourite was the Golden Passionfruit, which is pleasantly fruity, and thanks to the gorgeous shimmer, will not look out of place on your festive dining table. That said, the other flavours were close contenders, the Blue Raspberry is particularly striking, and the Pink Cherry adds a pop of sweetness to drier proseccos.

Equally, as gin lovers, we were thrilled to try the Gin Collection. This consists of a further three flavours: Silver Elderflower, Green Lime and Rose Gold Rhubarb. It's difficult to choose a favourite here, but as the Rose Gold Rhubarb transported us back to our rhubarb and custard days at the local sweet shop, this perhaps edges above the others. That said, the Silver Elderflower adds a classic flavour to our standard G&T and the Green Lime brings a much needed citrusy zing to combat rich Christmas foods. To use either collection, add a couple of pipette-fulls to your glass, and top with something bubbly. Each bottle will make 6-8 125ml glasses sparkle, and they need not only be mixed with alcohol, as we found the Silver Elderflower worked particularly well with sparkling water. To add a bit of shimmer to your festivities, then visit the Sparkle Drops website here, where each collection is available for £10.

Finally, we discovered the perfect after-dinner tipple from La Mere Wine Estate. Based in Jersey, and established in 1972, La Mere provides heritage products with the use of local ingredients. The company is also established as a Green Tourism Gold standard attraction, in line with adhering to 20 specific actions, designed to promote sustainable tourism. These include controlling energy consumption and water usage, so we were intrigued to try their Jersey Apple Brandy Cream Liqueur.

Blended with the use of Jersey dairy cream from local island herds, the Jersey Apple Brandy Cream Liqueur also consists of locally distilled Jersey Apple Brandy - creating a deliciously creamy and rich combination. Thanks to the use of aged brandy, the flavour is warm and uplifting, ideal for the festive period. Equally, with the use of dairy cream, the texture is smooth and velvety, adding depth and thickness to this tipple. We found this is best enjoyed over ice, however, we’ve become quite partial to this liqueur when drizzled over a vanilla ice cream - perhaps it may even work well with Christmas pudding! To try the 17% ABV Jersey Apple Brandy Cream Liqueur for yourself, then click here, where you’ll find this tipple for £17.50.

So there you have it, four new brands to try this Christmas or New Year. Whether you’re looking for a pre-dinner aperitif, a warming rum, or an after dinner night cap, we’re sure you’ll find something to encourage a little extra festive spirit. As our last blog post of 2018, there is nothing left to do but put our out of office on, wish you all a Merry Christmas and grab a glass (or two) of something nice!