Willow Basketmaking Course with Jenny Pearce

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We don’t know about you, but every so often we get the urge to flee the smoke and head to the country to get down and dirty. And if we can find a recreation that uplifts our spirts and occupies our hands - that’s even better! The Amazing Blog learned of a Willow Basket-making Course run by Jenny Pearce out in Herefordshire. Jenny, a Dublin native, has been a basket-maker since the early ‘90s. She honed her skills in the West of Ireland, England, and France. Nature primarily influences Jenny’s work, of which is based on Celtic and English regional designs.

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The course is run out of Canon Frome Court, a farming community. There, they host a number of different classes like basket-making; working with unstripped willow in a variety of colours and textures. The weekend will give you enough time to make a basket, and possibly a handle. This could be a basket to hold fruit and veg from farmer’s markets or perhaps to fit a potted plant. The airy look of baskets are darling inside and out. However, you’ll probably want to keep your basket out of the rain. We think that it’s very special to make something so versatile for yourself.


This course is a weekend-long affair, running from 10:00-17:00 on November 3rd and 4th. The total cost is £155, which includes tuition, materials, refreshments, and a lovely lunch on both days. Accommodation is not included. See Jenny’s list of places to stay here. If you would like to spend a relaxing weekend in the countryside learning to make a basket with Jenny, book here.

LOLA - Ultra Shine Nail Varnish

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Nail polish is the quickest (and chicest) way to change up your look from day to night, and from season to season. As we at The Amazing Blog make our way through these colourful autumnal days, we have handpicked a select few nail polish shades from LOLA Make Up by Perse to share with you. This isn’t the first time we have come across this Luxembourg cosmetics brand, we previously tried a range of their face and lip products (see here). We were therefore excited to try their nail polishes, which like their other products, are both professional and cruelty free. With numerous shades and an incredible formula, their nail polishes are affordable, and we found that they delivered a great manicured look.

The go-to classic shades we chose were: Plum Pudding and Nude. Both are from the #10 Free Formula range (a range free from chemicals like Formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, toulene, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene and TPHP). The Plum Pudding is a stunning medium berry shade that is perfect for a classic pop of colour, especially complementing our autumnal wardrobe. Nude is a light and delicate ballet-slipper pink shade. It leaves a subtle colour on the nails that is incredibly chic and with a couple of coats make a opaque base for the ever-so classic French tip.

We also received the Infinite Nail Gloss; a multipurpose base and top coat that helps to nourish and add a high gloss, ensuring that your LOLA colour will last. We used it on its own for a simple clear glossy look. However, it is specifically formulated to be applied with the LOLA nail polishes to help give a perfect home manicure.

These nail polishes apply with ease and the colours apply as a block and not streaky. We particularly liked that you only need apply one coat of polish (the Nude is an exception) as it gives a higher luminosity and intensity. Due to their special formula, with Gloss Seal’R, a patented technology - LOLA nail polish is an economical choice. The formula gives instant gloss from the moment of application, concealing it and preserving it up to 11 days as a glossy manicure. It also has a permeable film - a formula with a porous film that allows water and air permeability for your nails, engineered for a fluid and high gloss look that lasts. We mustn’t forget to mention that their entire nail polish range is 100% vegan. The LOLA Make Up by Perse #10 Free Formula Polishes in Plum Pudding is available here and the Nude is available here, both for £6.95, while the Infinite Nail Gloss is available here for £7.95.

Urtekram - Purple Lavender Shampoo and Conditioner

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Finding natural shampoos and conditioners that work, don’t leave the hair like the texture of straw, and are colour safe, leaving your hair smelling fresh; are for us at The Amazing Blog rarer than hens teeth! So on great recommendation, we were excited to try Urtekram’s Purple Lavender Shampoo & Conditioner. They boast that their Purple Lavender Conditioner is 45% organic of total, 78% organic of total, minus water and minerals, and 100% natural origin via COSMOS ORGANIC (certified by Ecocert Greenlife). That for us, is always a good start.


The company named is derived from the Danish word “urtekraemmer” advocated for organic foods in Denmark. The passion of the founders sparked the creation of the company, which eventually branched into other beauty sectors, such as bodycare. The organic pioneers, Lisbeth Damsgaard and Ronnie McGrail, began their adventure in the 1990s. Today, Urtekram has earned much success, with products in most supermarkets and health food shops. Each year, the company develops between 80-100 new products, and every part of the process is sustainable, from production, to packaging and ingredient choice. Now that’s the type of brand that we’re happy to get behind!


We tried the Purple Lavender Shampoo and Conditioner which are both certified organic, containing natural ingredients. This range is designed to moisturise the scalp, alleviate itchiness, and revitalise brittle hair strands. The shampoo gives an intoxicating aroma of lavender which helps enhance a tranquil showering experience. The blend of the lactobacillus ferment and willow bark extract creates shine and balance. We gently massaged the shampoo around the entire scalp, using the pads of our fingers to scrub and exfoliate. After a good rinse, we worked in the conditioner, leaving it in the hair for up 2-3 minutes. We’re delighted to report that this organic and natural Purple Lavender combination delivered the results that we were after, soft tangle-free and lightly fragranced locks. Purchase a 250ml bottle of shampoo here for £5.40 and an 180ml bottle of conditioner here for £6.30. You can also purchase the two as a set here, for £14.85

Summerdown Mint Teas - Peppermint Tea and Spearmint & Camomile Tea

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As the weather cools, there is nothing nicer than hugging a comforting cuppa. Besides the warming effect, tea can do so much for our systems. Dandelion tea helps with bloating and promotes liver health, green tea is full of antioxidants, ginger tea helps with nausea associated with motion sickness, and peppermint tea is known to aid digestion. The Amazing Blog was thrilled to receive a selection of teas from Summerdown Mint, a specialist British peppermint company.

Summerdown Mint was founded by Sir Michael Colman over twenty years ago, in green and leafy Hampshire. He decided to cultivate a unique variety of Black Mitcham peppermint, a type of mint that was grown in England over 100 years ago. Summerdown Mint also produce a variety of other mint infused products, such as chocolates and sweets, and products for the bath, body, and home. We wrote about their fragrant Lemongrass & Mint Body Wash here. Many of their products have already achieved great accolades, being winners in The 2018 Beauty Shortlist Awards and the Great Taste Awards. Best of all, with Summerdown Mint, you know you’re getting an authentic home-grown English peppermint oil. An added bonus is that all of the products are 98% natural, and are free of sulfates, parabens, PEGs, petrochemicals and artificial colourings.

The English Peppermint tea consists of Black Mitcham mint leaves and oil. It comes either in regular tea bags or their rather charming pyramid shaped bags, which not only give the loose-leaf tea more room to steep, but they are biodegradable too. The dried leaves are infused with their oil from the distillery, which is where you get a wonderful, authentic English Peppermint tea taste. This packs a bit of punch, with a crisp, bright and full fresh mint flavour, and apparently it does wonders to calm the nerves! We also tried the English Spearmint & Camomile tea and found that this had a gently sweet and refreshing taste, while the ingredients help to aid digestion and reduce tension. First, the camomile flowers are harvested and dried, and then they are brewed with spearmint oil. We’d definitely recommend trying these teas, as they make a terrific break from our regular black tea.

 

If you would like to try Summerdown Mint’s English Peppermint tea (either the pyramid tea bags with 15 sachets, or regular tea bags containing 20 tea envelopes) or the English Spearmint & Camomile tea (20 tea envelopes), they can be all be purchased here from £3.40 per box. There is free delivery when you spent £25 or more within the UK.

Botanicals for Cocktails

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With the explosion of microbreweries and distilleries forging their way ahead in the production of uniquely artisan beverage options, we began to wonder just how feasible it would be to create our own bottle of mellow magic. This sent all of us at The Amazing Blog into a tailspin at the water cooler, as we all came up with appropriate cocktails. How about The Amazing Daiquiri or even The Amazing White Russian perhaps …?

Once the germination of an idea starts, of course, there’s always someone who takes it to the next level - and we may well have found the perfect solution to what has become a challenge for everyone in the office. Originally created by The Old Hamlet Wine & Spice Co. the Botanicals For Cocktails range gives us three options for turning a run of the mill bottle of gin or vodka into something far more interesting. - It has been quite the conversation piece for the Christmas shindig at The Amazing Blog Towers … if we are permitted to mention the festivities yet?

All of the required ingredients are handily packaged in signature calico pouches, so you need only to add a bottle of your spirit of choice. The Orange Gin sounds quite a straight forward affair, but actually once you start mixing those spices, it is quite clear just how many different flavours are there to tempt us. Let us warn you, the aroma can be quite intoxicating, especially in a cramped kitchenette, so make sure there is plenty of ventilation. As with all the best things in life, a little bit of patience is required in the production process here, and so we have to wait at least 8 weeks until we can properly taste the fruits of our labours - but for the REAL magic to happen, we have to ideally wait 2 years.

However, the first signs are good, and are as enticing as the offerings we might get from a bar’s cocktail list. The Gingerbread Vodka is a heady mix and planned for consumption at the above festive party in a couple of month’s time, with the Gin version being kept as a possible tasting option. In fact, there is a wide and comprehensive range available primarily through the Steenburgs website, an organic spice merchants based in Yorkshire, who bought The Old Hamlet Wine & Spice Co in 2017. These pouches of perfection can additionally be sourced with a price of around £3.80 for a single bag - trust us, it’s well worth the effort!