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Member since: 18.11.2009

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    • etsy.com / Online Shop / 15 Readings / 13 Ratings
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      19.02.2010 21:05
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      I love it

      I discovered Etsy last year and I've rapidly become a huge fan. Etsy.com is a US based website which acts as a selling platform for creative and artistic individuals, showcasing their work. Simplistically it's an ebay for painters and creators.

      I do not sell on there so I can not rate that side of things, however as a buyer it is great. It can be hard to find the items I want, especially as the search engine is hit and miss at best. I'm unsure if the search engine picks up any terms in the listing not just the title, but it really needs working on to retern more relevant results.

      You can find items by category, or by handpicked items or most loved items from Etsys community members. It does tend to be the case that the people who are very active in the community, posting on the forums and so on are the ones who make a sale, its very hard for the majority to set themselves apart from the crowd.

      As it is US based prices are in $, although you can pay by paypal.

      I do enjoy etsy, and I tend to treat myself to a couple of hand made items per month. I wish it was easier to find when I want a specific item, but for now I'm happy to keep browsing and finding some great gems as they happen. Who knows one day I might find one of them turns out to be a priceless masterpiece.

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      • (500) Days of Summer (DVD) / DVD / 11 Readings / 11 Ratings
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        18.02.2010 20:11
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        Worth a watch

        This DVD is not a love story. It is a story about love. The story follows Tom, who is deeply in love with Summer. The plot is non linear, right at the start we see them on day 500, sat on a park bench, her wearing a wedding ring. But we also see day 300 and something, where they break up. The story is mainly focussed between these points.

        Tom is a romantic, he is a trained architect who for reasons not explained is working in a card company writing platitudes. Summer joins the company as the assistant to the boss, and their friendship and relationship blossoms from there.

        While a small ammount of time is given over to their early relationship and experiences together this is brief, sufficit to say Tom is clearly infatuated, Summer just wants a good time and draws away anytime anything close to commitment rears its head.

        What made the film for me was the cinematography and soundtrack. While Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a great performance as Tom, the non linear format prevented any strong attachment to any of the characters. The film is shot in a traditionally indie style, sad guitar ballads and moody shots of the sky are in abundance.

        Overall I think I was more impressed with the style of the film than the content. Summer was not a very likable character, I thought she was quite mean and petty to a guy who clearly loved her, and was taking her own frustrations out on him. I would watch the film again, but as it did not have a nice, clear ending, it is never going to be on my favourites list.

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      • Last Chance Harvey (DVD) / DVD / 20 Readings / 19 Ratings
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        14.02.2010 14:54
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        Won't watch again

        Last Chance Harvey is a romantic film, not so much a comedy as a slightly sad slow paced biography centered around a couple of days in the life of Harvey.

        Harvey, played by Dustin Hoffman is a jingle writer who travels to England for the wedding of his daughter. The reason for two Americans marrying in England is barely explained, and the film does feel a lot like a homage to the American love of all thins English.

        Harvey misses his plane back to the US, having left his daughters wedding half way through in order to make it back for a business meeting. In the airport bar he meets Kate, played by Emma Thompson, who is working as a market researcher at the airport.

        I found the film hard to watch as I could not releate to either Kate, who seemed too one dimensional, or Harvey, who just wasn't likable, who leaves their daughters wedding for a business meeting?!

        A lot of the humour seemed a bit corny and dated, and there is a distinct lack of chemistry between Thompson and Hoffman, they gave the distinct impression that had they not been so lonely they wouldn't have given the other the time of day.

        I do love a good love story, but sadly this just wasn't it. Sub plots were poorly interwoven, and despite the film only being an hour 32 minutes long, I was willing it to end sooner.

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      • Diet Coke / Soft Drink / 23 Readings / 23 Ratings
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        12.02.2010 22:12
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        Know what you put in your body

        Diet coke is seen as the drink of choice for those who love their carbonated fizz, but don't love the calories that come with it. A regular bottle of coke contains as many calories as nearly 6 jaffa cakes, but a diet one contains less than a piece of chewing gum.

        However recent research has shown that diet drinks have an interesting effect on your metabolic system. The sweet taste prompts your body to expect a coresponding burst of energy. When that energy does not appear you are likely to experience cravings for exactly the type of things you were trying to avoid, sweets and sugar.

        Therefore research has shown you are more likely to hit the biscuit tin after drinking diet drinks than after eating a piece of fruit or a glass of natural fruit juice, as these provide the sugar and energy your body is expecting.

        In addition it has been shown that people who drink diet coke rather than full fat are more likely to use it as a mental negotiating point (for example rationalising a bag of crisps, bigger portion of dinner etc) as they 'saved' the calories by having the diet branded drink. This negotiation with oneself rarely occurs in people drinking water, coffee/tea or hi-juice squash as despite being low in calories these do not market themselves in the same 'diet' manner.

        The other negative effect of diet coke is the sweeteners can interfere with your bodies natural chemistry, causing tremors, headaches and migranes in the short term, as well as a loss of concentration. Therefore intake should be limited to a couple of times a week at most, and no more than a can a day.

        Despite knowing all this, I do go for the diet coke rather than full fat, I actually prefer the taste as well as liking the 1 calorie label. I do stop and think though 'Yes it is low in fat, but at what cost to my health?'

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        • bbcgoodfood.com / Internet Site / 22 Readings / 22 Ratings
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          08.02.2010 15:08
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          Would be brilliant if the technical issues were resolved

          One of my most used websites is that of BBC Good Food. I love to cook, and own swathes of cook books, yet it is often tempting and lots easier to log on and search based on an ingredient I have in the fridge and want using up.

          The website is easy to use, there are sections for searching by course, ingredient or calorie count. There are also suggested recipies under headings such as 'best bakes' 'ways with fish' or 'tempting casseroles'. These are good as they help you think of recipes that otherwise you might not have tried.

          You can create an account on the website to save favourite recipes and to enter competitions. Unfortunately this is where the website falls down. A lot of the time it will not allow you to log in, and at busy times such as Christmas or Easter, when a lot of people are cooking, the website often crashes completely or will not let you log in at all.

          I do like this website, recpies are varied, exciting, and you can leave comments on them to get clarification and suggest ways to improve it. Unfortunately the technical basics really let the site down and I hope they can be fixed soon.

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            07.02.2010 19:18
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            We're stuck with them

            I live within the no mans land of Cleveland which has been taken over by Stockton Borough Council and I think we were a LOT better off before the powers that be decided to get rid of County Cleveland, certainly as regards road care in the winter at any rate. Since the snow fall got bad these last few weeks I have seen one snowplough and no gritting going on in my local area. I live in a large village and yet we had to wait over 2 weeks for the main road to be gritted, which serves over 10 cars per minute. Even going as far as Stockton and onto the A19 gritters and snow ploughs are conspicuous in their absence. In fact I have seen no evidence of gritting occurring within the catchment area of Stockton Borough Council. They claim that they are doing main roads 5 times per day, which is interesting seeing as there is no grit on the roads and they said they are spending less on gritting the roads this year as they don't have the money to spend.

            But its not all bad really. After all they did build a really nice and utterly useless foot bridge costing fifteen million pounds. But because it came from a totally separate pot of money and is being used to regenerate the business part and the college for the general public to get between these two bustling hives of activity which often requires the ability to transport oneself from one of these locations to the other with all possible speed. Yeah right.

            Stockton Council just another show of how tax payers money is being wasted.

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            06.02.2010 20:59
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            Wouldn't buy again

            I recieved a bag of these for Christmas this year, and I have to say I was chuffed. I'm a big fan of the milk Lindor's and to my mind raspberry and chocolate go together like cheese and crackers.

            The raspberry Lindor come in a big 240g bag, which is £8, although mine were reduced to £4 in the sale. I've only seen them for sale in BHS, although I'm sure they can be purchased elsewhere too.

            Nutritionally, they're bad. But really, what did you expect from chocolate, cream and fats!

            I bit into my large, gooey truffle with excitement. There was a strong raspberry smell, however despite these being dark chocolate the chocolate taste was extremely mild. The raspberry also tastes very artificial. In the end I only ate 2 of them from the whole bag before binning them, not impressed.

            I wouldn't really recomend these to anyone, they seem like a cheap, poor product and a not tiny price from a brand I expect more from. Sorry Lindt, these don't hit the spot with me.

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            • Subway / Restaurant / Cafe National / 61 Readings / 58 Ratings
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              03.01.2010 16:47
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              Fab sandwich chain

              There are literally thousands of sandwich shops in Britain, with a smattering on every high street, industrial estate, and near every large work force centre in the country. Arguably the most successful of these is Subway, who aren't just a UK chain, but an international one as well.

              People often profess to prefer eating at local shops, but when it comes down to it the lure of a place like subway which guarantees a certain level of quality is quite hard to ignore.

              For me, I like eating at chain restaurants as they provide nutritional information. I like to know what has gone into my food. I also like the amount of choice Subway offer, you really can make your meal exactly what you want it. They offer low fat options, as well as a sub of the day (sandwiches are called subs as they are made in subway rolls) which is one of their regular subs for only £1.99 for a six inch sub.

              Subs come in two sizes, 6" and 12". I'm always staggered how many people go for a 12 inch, nutritionally there is no need for that amount of bread, and a full 12" sub with a coke on the side and a cookie too can contain all the calories you need for an entire day! Subway have also started doing little bite sized side orders too, and its really easy to see how you can make a seemingly healthy sandwich really bad for you just by going for a few of the offers.

              As well as choosing what kind of meat you have, you can choose if you want the bun toasted, what kind of bread it is made of, if you want cheese on and how much, what kind of sauce you want on it, and which vegetables and salads. I do really like that as I hate mayonaise and lettuce, but like a lot of other salad vegetables, and prepacked sandwiches usually contain at least one of these.

              Subway is a really good sandwich chain, and you can get a healthy sub and soft drink for under £5, you just have to be careful what you order.

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                02.01.2010 21:00
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                Fun little application game for facebook

                My mum has been playing cafe world for a few months ago, and one morning she asked me to take some food off her stove while she was at Tesco. Dutifully I obliged, and straight away I was hooked.

                Cafe world is a facebook application, and can only be used by facebook members. The idea is that you run your own cafe, producing food to serve to your customers.

                Initially I thought it would be similar to 'Diner Dash', a cafe running platform game available for the pc and psp. However the premise is actually quite different. Rather than focussing on feeding individual customers, clearing up, and taking them the bill, you are solely focussed on producing enough food to meet the level of footfall.

                You can choose what you cook, and have to determine the right balance between speed, profit and number of portions each dish makes. If your cafe runs out of food you loose popularity rating, meaning less people come to your cafe. Thats not always a bad thing, as it gives you a chance to build food up again, however with fewer people coming it takes longer to make money.

                Levelling up is based solely on cooking points, which are gained from cooking food. In this regard it is almost completely irrelevent how much money you make, how many people come through the door, and what foods you make, all you need to do is keep making and serving food.

                As you level up you can purchase more stoves, more counters for serving food, and employ more members of staff. Daftly staff don't cost any money, so you might as well employ as many as you can.

                The game is oddly addictive considering the simplicity. Unfortunately it is this simplicity that means it quickly grows old. There needs to be more content added to this game to keep it challenging, as unfortunately I had maxed out my popularity rating by level nine, as it is quite easy to work out the most efficient set up, and decorating the cafe doesn't make people like it anymore. As content is added but popularity and footfall does not get any higher the game actually gets easier as it goes along.

                I really hope they add some more challenges to this game, and make more of the features have a purpose, then it could start to be really, really fun.

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                02.01.2010 18:30
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                Fantastic book

                I bought this book as an alternative to the wedding magazines, as it sells on Amazon for around £4 delivered, which is less than most of the disposable magazines which are crammed with adverts.

                I'm trying to work out what I can handmake for my weddin, as I think the personal touch really adds to the feel of the day. Anyone can go out and buy favours, but I really want to put the thought and effort in to let my guests know how much they've been appreciated. Likewise I'm considering making the invitations and the cake.

                I was pleased to find the book covers many aspects, from table settings and favours, to flower arrangements and buttonholes. The cover is quite hard to determine if its a modern book or a more traditional book, and luckily inside most of the ideas are contemporary, even when the ideas are for a more traditional wedding, there is no mention of gluing lace onto a flowerpot anywhere! All the ideas are quite classy and romantic.

                The book is primarily photographs, and is more for ideas than instructions on how to undertake projects. However as a jumping off point for ideas it really is fantastic, and I would thoroughly recomend this book to anyone planning their wedding.

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                29.12.2009 18:13
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                Lovely to recieve

                I love my chocolate, but there is no denying I only like the good stuff. Mass market greasy bars like Galaxy and Cadburys do nothing for me.

                I was first given a box of Lindt Lindor by my grandad. I've had their chocolate bunnies before, and their chocolate is a reasonable quality, so I was curious to see what these were like.

                The chocolates are individually wrapped and actually quite large, about the size of a 10p (but spherical). I never quite know whether to try to eat one whole or bite it in two.

                A thick chocolate shell holds a much less dense chocolate cream, which is meltingly smooth almost like velvet. The chocolates only really work at room temperature, too cold and they don't have the right consistency, and too warm and they go quite greasy.

                The chocolate is unflavored, quite a mild and creamy milk chocolate with a strong cocoa smell. Its sort of like a very thick hot chocolate, I've been meaning to try melting a few of these in milk for a while, see what the results are.

                These cost in the region of £3.99 for 200g, which certainly isn't cheap. For that reason I don't think I would be buying them for myself, although they are a lovely gift to recieve.

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                  29.12.2009 12:55
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                  Learn to make the most of your money and get out of debt properly.

                  For those of you who have never heard of this website it was set up by a man, I use the word man loosely, he has got to be on the fast track to sainthood, by the name of Martin Lewis.

                  The basic premise of the site is to help people to be a lot smarter with their money and to live more frugally without unnecessarily lowering their standard of living. Things like switching your utilities provider to save you money or to shop in Tesco rather than Marks and Spencer's, and if that is not enough to pull you out of the debt spiral how to make the painful cuts as painless as possible.

                  However it is also about how to make the most of the disposable income you have and how to make the most of special offers out there. It has even made it possible for me to do things with my money that I never even considered possible, to the point that I am doing a degree without paying a penny for it or getting a loan for it.

                  While this might sound a little bit weird or stalkery I have to say that www.moneysavingexpert.com is without a doubt one of the best thing to come into my life and that Martin Lewis is the best thing to happen to me in the last 12 months (my fiancée agreeing to marry me notwithstanding of course)

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                  • Nandos / Restaurant / Cafe National / 23 Readings / 23 Ratings
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                    28.12.2009 22:31
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                    Good chain restaurant

                    I had never actually been to Nandos until I went to university, however a friends birthday caused me to visit, and its now my favourite fast food place.

                    Nandos are not so much a nice sit down restaurant, as a more tasty and healthy version of a fast food place like pizza hut or McDonalds.

                    On entering the restaurant you are seated and given menus. The food is mostly chicken, although there are some good vegetarian options, and a couple of red meat items like a steak roll.

                    You pick how you want your chicken, such as a chicken breast burger, or a half chicken, and what kind of marinade you want on it. This ranges from the very mild to the blow your socks off. You can also choose any extras you want, such as cheese or pineapple. One thing to note is that sides such as fries, garlic bread or mash is extra, so for one side and a main you're usually looking at around £8-£9.

                    Orders need to be placed at the counter, which to be honest I'm not the biggest fan of, I prefer table service. Drinks are unlimited refill and also self service.

                    The quality of the food though is absolutely great, the chicken is natural, no breading, deep frying or unnessisarily added fat, and its just tasty and simple.

                    I like to go here for a quick bite before the cinema as its right next door. The interior of the restaurant is relaxed, sort of modern Mexicana. While its not the most stylish, it is unpretentious and easy to relax in.

                    I would recomend this restaurant to friends and family, not as a place to take a date or go on a special occassion, but as an easy, quick place to grab a bite to eat.

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                      28.12.2009 18:49
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                      Decent, but nothing special

                      I used to go to Frankie and Benny's a lot when I was a student, so I was really excited to find one was opening near me. Frankie and Bennys is a New York style Italian, by this there are lots of pizzas, but fewer pastas, and quite a lot of meat dishes.

                      There are some good weekday evening and lunchtime menus, where you can get 3 courses for under £15, and drinks are at around £2 for a pint of coke. There are usually some special seasonal cocktails for only £3, and a normal one will set you back about £3. An evening meal of 3 courses for 3 people can easily come to £50, which I do think is a bit expensive for a chain restaurant.

                      The food in Frankie & Bennys is quite basic, ribs, half chickens, pasta, pizza, lots of baked things with cheese on top and fries on the side. Its not exactly diet friendly! It is tasty for a chain restaurant, but its nothing exciting. The food does seem more American than Italian, there is a lovely cherry crumble with ice cream, and lots of sundaes and brownies. The garlic pizza bread is the best I've ever had.

                      Portions are fairly sizable, and realistically I could be full with just a main, sometimes even just a starter.

                      I like to pop in if there is a voucher going, or I'm going to the cinema next door, but its not the kind of place I'd travel especially for.

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                      27.12.2009 21:00
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                      Good accomodation for the money

                      I stayed at the YHA in York over the summer. Having never stayed at a youth hostel before I was actually pleasantly suprised.

                      The Youth Hostel in York is located in a large Victorian building, with several modern extensions. It has 147 beds, most of which are in large dorm rooms. There are several twin rooms available as well, which was what we stayed in.

                      The hostel seems large, and has a common room, kitchen for guests to make their own meals and bar area downstairs. Prices are from £13.95 for an adult, with £3 surcharge for non YHA members. For the double room we paid a slight under £50 for the two of us, for the privacy I think its well worth it.

                      The hostel is quite basic, but not shabby. While I certainly wouldn't recomend it for a romantic get away, it would be fine for a lads weekend away. Especially good for the lads is the absolutely collossal breakfast you get. A huge buffet spread including full English, yoghurts, cereals, pastries, hot drinks, fresh juice is all included in the room price and you certainly get your monies worth.

                      I was pleasantly suprised by the YHA in York, and while it was a little rough around the edges, I had a very pleasant stay there.

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