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Member since: 26.05.2009

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      01.06.2011 01:30
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      Peas really, really do not belong in carbonara sauce!

      As you can see from the title I am not too keen on 'the ultimate student cookbook' - putting peas into a pasta carbonara is like going jogging in high heels. When I finished high school I moved to Milan in Italy to live with an Italian Family for one year. On my first day (and mind you, I not speak much Italian beyond 'ciao') the lovely but fairly intimidating Italian nonna thought me how to cook proper pasta. With her not speaking English at all it was quite an entertaining day. The one thing I learnt was definitely NOT to put peas into any carbonara sauce. But we digress here...

      The 'ultimate student cookbook' is another book in the endless line of books aimed at students that had their parents cook for them until now. They usually all follow the same scheme - cheap and easy recipes that can be prepared without much effort and, unfortunately, much creativity. I would simply love to see one student cookbook without the obligatory 'toast & cheese'. But alas, I do not think that's ever going to happen.

      The book features an introductory section including shopping lists, kitchen essentials and general advice. The actual recipes are divided into a few categories depending how difficult/expensive they are to prepare. Throughout the book indicators show if the recipes include veg (very important), how much it costs to prepare (even more important) and finally the time needed for prep and cooking (time is the one thing you do have as a student). I found the indicators to be fairly accurate in terms of time; however most dishes could have been prepared much more cheaply.


      - - - - Quick & Easy Meals for 1 or 2 - - - - -

      Right, let's get started on the recipes - and of course one of the first is 'Cheese & Toast'. I mean, honestly even as a student you do not need anyone to tell you how to do this. I would have appreciated some more variation, maybe something like 'curry cheese & toast' which is just a simple and tastes so much better. (In case you wonder, simple grate cheese, add cream and curry powder and stick in the oven - it's lovely!)
      The recipes get more adventures throughout the section with my favourite being Spaghetti & Bacon & Cockles. Still, there was nothing in there that screamed 'cook me'. If you read my review about the 'Levi Roots Cooking for Friends' book you know that I simple had to prepare some of the dishes the very day I got that book. Here it is just a lukewarm reception of dishes that we could try but probably would not bother to go out for to buy any ingredients for.



      - - - - Cheap & Tasty meals to share for 3,4 & More - - - - -

      This section includes dishes that can be prepared in bulk for quite a few people or frozen in smaller portions to keep for later. Dishes include all time favourites like pasta with bolognese sauce and mac&cheese. Right, these are fairly simple dishes that can easily be prepared in any student kitchen. I don't really see the point in following a recipe for pasta bolognese - it's so straight forward that I would not waste my time looking it up in the book. This might be just me but most dishes are so basic and intuitive that I just would not bother looking them up. Special dishes from a different cuisine - yes, I would look them up any day and take the time to understand them. But honestly, we are talking about mixing minced meat with chopped tomatoes.
      There are of course also some quite nice recipes including Greek shepherd's pie and cottage pie with guiness (which is very nice).


      - - - - Flashy, Show-Off Recipes - - - - -

      Well, this is just the most pointless section possible, If I want high end cooking I'm certainly not going to look in a student cookbook for help. Recipes like hair-dried duck and slow roasted lamb are neither possible to be prepared in my kitchen nor does my budget allow for them. I'm not saying that these are bad recipes but certainly not something that a typical student can afford regularly.


      - - - - Yummy Puds, Cakes & Cocktails - - - - -

      I'm not a big fan of baking and our oven is only a poor excuse for a working one so I cannot really comment on this section. The recipes look nice enough but would not tempt me to try any of them. The cocktail section is limited to the very basics and really nothing to get excited about. I do like my cocktails but honestly, I have yet to go to a house party where we actually mixed cocktails. But this might just be me and my mates...


      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

      This is actually quite a tough review for me. The Ultimate Student Cookbook is a book that I simply dislike without being able to pin it down to anything specific. It is more little things that annoyed me throughout the whole book and are responsible that its only function is to look good in our kitchen. I share my student house with 6 other people and let me tell you - no one ever uses this book. Whereas our Levi Roots, our Da Nonna and our veggi cookbook are in regular use. I love cooking and I like trying out new recipes and experience new cuisines, but in this book there are no interesting things that warrant the effort to look them up.

      None of the recipes in this book are 'new' or 'interesting' whatsoever. They are mainly the basic things but not tailored to student needs. Well, they are but more towards students that really, really love to cook. If you fall in this category I would recommend you to get a proper cookbook and not this watered down version.

      If, on the other hand, you are like me - on a very tight budget with a very old, limited kitchen most of these recipes are not feasible. What we would need is a book (or a booklet would do just fine) that has some interesting and creative things with very few and cheap ingredients. Something that uses ready made things to create something new. Like Tuna pesto pasta - simply mix a can of tuna with pesto in a jar and add to cooked pasta. There you go, that's what a student needs - no fancy cooking but a cheap and tasty dish.

      I guess that's my overall opinion - most students do not need a student cookbook. Option one is that they can cook and are much better off with a more in depth cookbook. Option two is that you are not that interested in cooking and are much better off using the internet for the very rare occasion that you want to impress someone.

      Reading back on this I am almost sorry how negative it sounds but this is just how I see it. If you are looking for a present to get your child when they are off to uni you are much better off getting them a year supply of baked beans and other tinned goods to use. That's what my parents do - every 3 months a huge supply of pasta, herbs&spices and tinned stuff. All I have to do is stock up on fresh veg and meat.

      However, if you do want to get a student cookbook you are better off with buying a different one for several reasons:
      The recipes in here are not described very well and assume that you have a variety of kitchen appliances and different sized pots and pans at hand. Our kitchen we share only a few things and our oven is hardly good enough to prepare a frozen pizza. Also, there are hardly any pictures in the book - in my opinion one of the most important factors when deciding on a new recipe.

      There are several books out there that teach how to cook with easy and simple to follow step by step guides. They usually include pictures of all major steps to make sure you are doing it right. A book like that would be more useful if you are trying to learn how to cook.

      Personally I can only give it 05 out of 10 possible points. It is not a book I would recommend and is not going to move with me in my next house. By bringing it to a charity store I hope somebody picks it up that will appreciate it a lot more than we did.

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      • More +
        31.05.2011 00:52
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        Never found the peppermint...

        First up I have to admit the only time someone can justifiably call me a girly girl is when it comes to my hair. After years of straightening it and experimenting with dyes I finally accepted my dark brown curls and take pride in them. Luckily for me is that my mum works in a cosmetic store and I don't have to worry about buying my own hair care products. The downside of this is that I cannot really stick with one brand but have to use whatever I get offered.

        Wella is a brand that I use whenever I can; for example my hair dye is almost always from Wella and so is my hair spray. Usually I leave my hair simply blow dried and without any spray or mouse. However, on nights out I want a bit more glamour and use foam to keep my curls well defined.

        The Wella High Hair Peppermint Pep comes in a 100ml pump bottle in the typical sleek Wella design. It is a clear paste that has nothing whatsoever to do with peppermint. I would not really want a hair product smelling of peppermint anyway. The paste - it's more a gel really - has this very typical hair product smell; slightly chemical but luckily it does not really stay in your hair for long.

        The paste itself is very, very sticky in your hand and causes me to wash my hands several times before getting rid of that sticky feeling. I can't stand any kind of sticky paste between my fingers and this hair paste is particularly bad. It seems to have a very slight cooling effect which makes matters even worse. This is the main reason why the bottle still stands in my bathroom since several months and has not been used much.

        There are two options to use the paste, either in wet or in dry hair. I hate using any kind of hair paste in dry hair and the Wella peppermint one is no exception. It is not too bad if you have very sleek and straight hair but with my curls that are all over the place it simply does not work. However, it has a lovely effect in wet hair (obviously not dripping wet but towel moist). Squirting a small blob the size of a 2p piece of paste on my hand is usually enough for very nice and defined curls. I would not recommend to use any more as it is not as light as hair foam and can cause your hair to hang down a little.

        When used in wet hair the Wella High Hair Peppermint Pep had the very nice effect of making my curls much more defined which gave me a more elegant loo that simply blow dried hair does. It's not a look I go for often but quite nice during nights out. It never made my hair feel sticky ( which I was worried about when I felt how sticky it was on my hand) so that is certainly better than a hair wax. Unfortunately it did not make my hair 'fluffy' enough similar to what hair foam does. The style itself seems to last quite long as long as it is dry outside. When using it in the morning before going to uni it usually guarantees me a nice style until I get home in the afternoon. Unfortunately it does not last as long on a night out - the first hour is fine but then it gives up and the well defined curls are gone.

        One of the main things for me is how my hair feels after using the product. With the peppermint pep it feels fine if not as natural as I like it to be. Not washing it out over night does surprisingly not result in a massive 'bad hair day' awaking but it feels as if I never used any product in my hair - a very big bonus.
        At the beginning I was slightly apprehensive about using a paste in my hair and then blow drying it. However, the Wella paste handles it perfectly well and did not have any noticeable negative impact on my hair.

        The Wella High Hair Peppermint Pep 100 ml used to cost around 8£ - however, I was somewhat surprised to see it here as I thought it does not get produced any more. My mum got me the bottle well over a year ago and I have not seen them around since. Anyway, if you do see them in a shop and you like the use of hair paste then go for it. It is certainly a high quality product from a well known brand. I have used it several time and never encountered any problems or allergic reactions. That is apart from the sticky feeling on my hands that I hate but that is caused by all types of hair paste and not just the Wella one.

        The price of 8£ seems rather steep but 100ml will last you for a very long time. I have a lot of very thick hair and a blob the size of a two pence coin is enough to style it (when used on wet hair). I have not finished the bottle but I would assume that with daily use it should last you at least 4months - pretty good for 8£!


        All in all it is a question of style - do you rather have defined curls or hair that is all over the place. Right now during exam time I'm going with the 'all over' look so the Wella High Hair Peppermint Pep is nothing for me right now.

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          30.05.2011 13:14
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          A great alternative to plastic bottles

          With it being very rainy here up north at the moment my mind wanders off quite regularly to think about this years summer adventure. In less than two months I will be on a train towards Spain about to walk along the Way of St. James - a 500mile walk from the French border to Santiago de Compostella. For a hike like that a lot of equipment is needed with the main importance being the weight (I'll have to carry my backpack for 15miles a day over 4 weeks) and the durability (4 weeks of intense hiking).

          The Sigg 'Think Green' water bottle was a well meaning present from a friend of mine who joined me on a couple of practice walking trips around the coast. So far I'm absolutely loving this bottle for weight and environmental reasons. However, I am still not 100% convinced that it is actually going to make it in my final packing list for Spain due to it not being a Thermos flask.

          --- Material & Durability ---

          Sigg is a fairly well know manufacturer of aluminium bottles useful across a wide range of situations and activities. The bottles come in different sizes with the 'Think Green' one holding 1L of fluid. Aluminium is one of the lightest yet durable materials possible. Of course there is a bit of a trait-off - stainless steel bottles would be much heavier but are less likely to break whereas the Sigg bottles are very, very light but not as durable. So far the bottles travelled with me on a couple of weekend trips around the country, on countless occasions to university or to my community garden and spend in general a lot of time in my backpack. There are a couple of scratches but nothing that would interfere with the integrity of to bottle and no major dents so far. However, I had a Sigg bottle before and somehow managed to make a massive dent into it.
          Anyway, from the weight itself and how durable it is I would definitely take it to Spain with me and highly recommend it to anyone. Let's take a look at the other issues to see if this positive feedback holds up.

          --- Taste & Hot/Cold Drinks ---

          Aluminium has the unfortunate characteristic to make any food or drink stored taste somehow off. The last thing I want is to taste 'gone-off' water while hiking through Spain in 40C this summer - luckily all Sigg bottles have a special coating on the inside that prevents the liquid from coming into contact with the aluminium. I've only used the bottle with tap water so far and never encountered any bad after taste when drinking it. From this point the Sigg bottle certainly wins over plastic bottles that - after time - seem to give of a very nasty taste into the water.

          In terms of keeping the drinks hot or cold respectively I have to say the Sigg bottle is not very useful. Of course it is not meant to be a Thermos bottle so that should be perfectly fine for you if you only want it as an environmental way to store your water. For my Spain trip I am still debating if a Thermos bottle would be more useful. They are usually a bit heavier bit might be worth it, thinking about a cool drink in the hot Spanish sun. Anyway, the Sigg bottle does seem to keep the drinks a bit colder than they would stay in a plastic bottle so Sigg wins here again!

          ---Does it leak---

          One of my worst memories of primary school was walking into class and finding out that my whole backpack was wet - destroying my homework and most of my books. Thanks stupid, cheap water bottle! Guess who had to iron all the pages in my maths book that day. Something like that is certainly not going to happen with the Sigg 'Think Green' bottle. The screw top has a special sealing that is supposed to prevent any leaking - and has done so far without fail!

          ---Design---

          The 'Think Green' design was chosen by my friend as he keeps calling me a 'tree hugger' anyway. It is a very nice design if you are into the more purist looks - personally I love it! However, Sigg overs hundreds of other designs and bottle sizes to suit all needs and tastes.

          The whole 'Think Green' think brings me to the one reason why I would always recommend Sigg bottles to anyone:

          ---The Environmental issue---

          Don't worry about reading this bit if you are really into your recycling and trying to minimise your impact on the planet. However, if you are a bit unsure about why Sigg bottles are great for the environment please do keep reading.

          I drink 2 litres of water very day - most of them while out and about where I have to bring my own drinks with me. While at university I would have the choice to buy small 0.5 plastic water bottles during that day. Doing this 4 times a week would result in an enormous waste of plastic and a substantial amount of money. Using my Sigg bottle I can simply fill it with tap water at home and carry it on me the whole day.
          Re-filling a plastic bottle instead to save some initial money is not going to save money in the long run as they are nowhere near as durable than the aluminium bottles. So please consider using a re-fillable bottles that will last for years instead of using unnecessary plastic bottles.

          Should your Sigg bottle eventually give up on you the aluminium part can be fully recycled.

          ---Final thoughts---

          I love my Sigg bottle - it looks great, is durable and environmental friendly. The 'Think Green' bottle costs between 14 to 10£ depending on where you buy it. It is a price worth paying and you will save money in the long run compared to buying bottled water.
          These bottles are very durable and you can expect them to last several years without leaking or major damage.

          The only downside is that they are hard to clean - the bottle neck is fairly thin and there is no way to get a sponge in the actual bottle. What I do is simply fill the bottle with hot water and a bit of washing up liquid, screw the top on and shake it a couple of times. After rinsing it the bottle is a good as new.

          This is a product that certainly deserves 10 out of 10 points!

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          • More +
            28.05.2011 16:35
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            An ok-ish product if used away from the actual 'spotlight' of your garden

            Since coming to university I have been involved in a community garden run by students and university staff. The garden started out as a unloved backyard that looked more like a building site than anything else. After months of hard work and a lot of donations received from both the university and garden lovers we turned it into a little paradise with raised beds, chill out areas and even a little pond. We tried to keep the garden as a perma-culture which means that we utilized everything we originally found in the garden. After a few articles in local papers people started donating things for us to use including these big 20L water bottles, tins, bits of carpet, pallets and a couple of packs of Good Ideas Hammer-In Edging Lakeland Stone Look. Right, this seemed very random to us but of course we were grateful and looked forward to use it.

            The pack contained 10 'rocks' that at their underside featured a long, flimsy spike. The whole idea is that you line the single pieces up in a line or in a (kind of) circle and hammer them in to create a border around flower beds and/or paths. As soon as we tried them out we realised why someone donated them to us - they are simply pointless! The system itself seems quite a good idea for people that are into a neat kind of gardening - my personal style is more real rocks and bricks and natural materials. However, they have the potential to look great and make the life of a lot of gardeners easier - if they only worked.

            The soil in our garden is very clay-y and compressed, we have to use raised beds to allow anything to grow. Using the Good Ideas Hammer-In Edging Lakeland Stone Look as a border for these raised beds proved nearly impossible. The spike is very flimsy and one of them broke when e hit a stone while hammering it in. The others were holding p but very, very hard to get into the ground. What I would recommend is to prepare holes by using a small trowel in order to avoid breaking these spikes. It should certainly be mentioned that they are only useful in soft soil.

            Now lets talk about the looks of it. It's very, very disappointing and the 'rocks; simply looks like cheap plastic. I've looked them up online to see how much they cost and as soon as I saw the price I knew that cheap plastic is all you can get for 5£. The pictures shows grey stones but in reality the colour is much darker and more dark grey into brown-ish. The whole looking like cheap plastic - given that it is indeed cheap plastic- is not too bad but the fact that the front looks different to the back makes them completely pointless for using them as a path border.

            The single pieces are only around 1.5cm thick (which I think is far to thin) and combined a bit more than 2m long. That is quite a lot of material for under 5£ if you prefer plastic to real stones. For everyone that loves their garden I would recommend sticking to the real thing - rocks look much more natural and give the garden a more real and rustic look. Plastic in any shape or form has to be of very, very high quality to look good. The Good Ideas Hammer-In Edging Lakeland Stone Look do look very cheap - and indeed they are. It's hard to say they are a bad product, given how cheap they are they can be used in areas where they are not in the spotlight and are used purely for a practical approach. However, they simply do not look good. The look reminds me more of concrete that of anything else. The hight of 12cm excluding the spike is certainly not high enough for a raised bed on ground that is as poor as ours. They are certainly high enough to function as a border for paths if they would look alike on the front and the back.

            Personally, I would never buy the Good Ideas Hammer-In Edging Lakeland Stone Look for any garden that I am responsible for. The main reasons are that they are fairly flimsy and I doubt they are very durable, Secondly they look simply cheap and don't really fit into the rustic garden approach that I like. Thirdly the manufacturer is fairly quiet about where the plastic comes from and how recycled the material is. If you do want to use any kind of plastic borders I would recommend to look for manufacturers that use mainly recycled products. By buying plastic that was recycled from locally used material you buy much more environmental friendly than buying recycled plastic that first had to be transported halfway around the world.
            I could imagine that they look ok if used around freshly planted trees as a bit of protection against slugs and to avoid disturbing the soil - and therefore the roots - too much when watering. However, if you suffer from slugs in your garden I would recommend setting up beer pots in the beds rather then relying on borders to prevent your veg being eaten by slugs.

            In the end we used then around our compost heap for purely decorative purposes - and our fellow garden friend who donated them bough real rocks for his garden. Unfortunately I can only award this product 4 out of 10 possible points.



            - - - - - - - - - --
            Thank you very much for reading and rating my review!

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            • General / Discussion / 57 Readings / 50 Ratings
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              19.05.2011 12:01
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              All about me - and I just realised that I am more annoying than I thought I would be!

              1. WHAT IS YOUR NAME?
              Sarah

              2. WHEN IS YOUR BIRTHDAY?
              2nd of May

              3. PLACE OF BIRTH?
              Saarland in Germany

              4. CURRENT LOCATION?
              Kingston - upon - Hull. It's not as bad as many people think it is and surprisingly very green once you get outside the city. If you ever visit Hull make sure you visit The Deep and go to Hitchcock's which is the best vegan restaurant on earth!

              5. WHAT IS YOUR JOB?
              I'm studying Aquatic Zoology (which is great) and work in a market research call centre (which can be soul destroying). Basically I am one of these people that phone you on a Sunday morning to ask about your coffee machine. 'Hello, my name is Sarah and I am calling on behalf of XXX. Could you please spare 5min to answer some questions for me please?'

              6. GRADES?
              Quite good, so far I'm aiming for a first.

              7. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CUISINE?
              Hard question here. I love Italian pasta & pizza for the pure flavours that don't require much to taste amazing. All I need is some parmigiano, olive oil and focaccia bread and I'm in heaven!
              The again, I love Asian food as well. A spicy curry or some delicious Tom Yum soup? Count me in any time.
              Or what about a German BBQ with potato salad... I guess by now your realise that I like food a lot.

              8. WHAT FOODS DO YOU DISLIKE?
              Doner meat - I just can't stand it. T tastes like greasy cardboard with loads of salt sprinkled on for good measure.

              9. WHAT IS YOUR TIPPLE OF CHOICE?
              Mojitos all the way. Usually I'm not really into cocktails but this is the one I would always go for. Bar that I love sparkling water and usually get a huge Tesco delivery every few weeks with bottles over bottles.

              10. WHAT KIND OF VEHICLE DO YOU DRIVE?
              none

              11. WHAT ARE YOUR PHOBIAS?
              Flying! I hate it with a passion and absolutely need someone to hold my hand while up there. Although I've been travelling loads and 'collected' around 70th flights I still shiver like a little baby with every sound change or turbulence.

              12. DO YOU HAVE ANY PETS?
              The most amazing, cute, lovely, adorable hamster Lennon! He is 8 months old now and a right little character. 'He' is actually a she - but I've chosen the name before we bought 'him'. For now, we'll stick to him :-)
              He loves his little adventures and managed to break out of his cage twice, but all I need to get him back is a little bag of chocolate drops.

              13. ANY PET PEEVES?
              Oh don't even get me started! I hate: word games, tuned cars that drive annoyingly slowly to protect their expensive wheels or whatever, people that are alternative for the sake of being alternative, using metal forks when cooking in a non-sticky pan, leaving on unnecessary lights in the house when nobody is in, people that constantly justify themselves...and the list goes on.

              14. FAVOURITE PIZZA TOPPINGS?
              Salmon and black olives with loads of olive oil for the crust.

              15. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE VACATION?
              My one year trip through South-east Asia seeing fantastic places in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia. Some people I met will stay in my heart for the rest of my live and I cannot wait to get back. Currently I'm trying to score an intern-ship in rainforest conservation but unfortunately places are very limited.

              16. WHICH FILM DID YOU ENJOY THE MOST?
              I'm not really into films so this is quite a though one. In general I enjoy horror films more than rom-coms and documentaries more than action films.

              17. TATTOOS OR PIERCINGS?
              None as of yet but I am planning on getting my first tattoo this summer. With my friend I'll be walking the Way of St. James across Spain. On arrival in Santiago I want the scalp shell tattooed on my foot.

              18. WHAT ARE YOUR PARENTS JOBS?
              My mother works for Douglas which is a posher version of Boots and my dad works in a small, local brewery. I'm very, very proud of both of them and love them very, very much!

              19. EYE COLOUR?
              Dark-brown

              20. WORST ACCIDENT?
              A few years ago I was involved into a serious motorbike crash in Laos. I was on the back of a bike and did not know the driver very well. He told me that he was experienced but alas, he was not. I'm still not sure what happened but we must have hit a patch of sand. Anyway, the next 10 min are missing from my memory. What I do remember is a broken wrist and a lot of pain. Thankfully I was wearing a helmet, I'm not sure I would have survived without it. There you go - the most important thing from this whole text - ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET!

              21. DRESS SIZE?
              Size 14 - hopefully a bit less after walking 450 miles across Spain.

              22. CELEBRITY CRUSH?
              My boyfriend allowed me to run away with any of the following guys in case I ever get the chance. Barney from How I met your Mother, the bug & slime guy from Bones and Mr E. from the Eels. Not to bothered who it is though I would quite fancy going on tour with the eels.

              23. SONG YOU WILL HAVE FOR YOUR FIRST DANCE AT YOUR WEDDING?
              You've lost that loving feeling! Sounds an odd song for a wedding but -and I warn you, this is very cheesy - I was the karaoke song my boyfriend sang the night we started going out.

              24. TV PROGRAM YOU WATCH THE MOST?
              Dr Who! The Saturday ritual in our house is take-away and Dr. Who with everyone sitting around the TV and all phones are switched off. Apart from that I quite like How I met your mother and come dine with me.

              25. FAVOURITE NOVEL?
              When broken glass floats - an account of a young girl living through the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia in the 80's. Having been to Cambodia for quite a while the history of that place never let me fully go.

              26. BEST QUOTE?
              "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."

              27. WHAT ARE YOUR BAD HABITS?
              I play Farmville! Yes, I admit it, a year ago I started using the app on Facebook and I got addicted to it very quickly. Well, addicted is a bit strong but I do play almost every other day and during revision time every day. It's harmless fun but somehow I think I have to justify that I'm not sad and lonely (which is what loads of people seem to think about playing Farmville).

              28. THE WORST SHAME OF YOUR LIFE?
              When I was brought home in a garbage truck (the driver part, mind you). It was one of my first nights out in Milan and I had a bit of a cold. The old trick of drinking tee and grappa got me drunk so quickly that it was to late to stop. I took the last tram home but, as I was still new there, got off at the wrong stop. So, now imagine me with 19, not speaking much Italian and very, very drunk. There was no way I could have walked home even though it was only like one mile. My saviour came in form of the garbage men who were absolutely lovely! They stopped, asked me if I was ok and offered to drive me home! So yes, my first night out in Milan and I was brought home at six in the morning in a garbage truck. Those men were so lovely and I will be eternally grateful for brining me home save.

              29. HOW TALL ARE YOU?
              1.70m

              30. WHAT ARE YOUR TALENTS?
              I got a green thumb - I love everything from planting flowers to laying hedges. Trees are my favourite thing and I get more excited about an apple tree in bloom than fluffy rabbits. Apart from that I think I'm quite good with picking up languages fairly quickly.

              31. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DESSERT?
              Tiramisu! With loads and loads of amaretto and shots of amaretto on the side.

              32. MOST ATTRACTIVE QUALITIES YOU LOOK FOR IN A PARTNER?
              Being spontaneous! I want someone that goes travelling with me, that is not afraid of new challenges and that is ambitious. With ambitious I don't mean driven by money but rather following his own way.

              33. WHAT IS YOUR WORST TRAIT?
              Too many to list here unfortunately. The worst is probably that I can get really, really bossy when things don't go my way. I'm a perfectionist and love to do lists - if anyone goes against that I can turn into a right cow.

              34. HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR STEAK?
              Burnt, charcoaled and as black as possible. Actually, scratch that - can I please have a piece of charcoal with peppercorn sauce. I'm never going to be able to value a nice piece of steak, give me raw fish any time but not a bloody piece of meat. It's the same with BBQs, a piece of charcoal between some bread with sauce is all I need.

              35. IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE WISH WHAT WOULD IT BE?
              I was thinking about this question fairly hard for about 5min now - and guess what, I really don't know. Obviously there are these things like world peace, end world hunger and fix the environmental disaster we are about to encounter but on a personal level there is nothing I can wish for right now. Today, I found a new house mate for my great house next year, passed a difficult exam and spent an hour planting wild flower seeds like a little fairy. What else could want today? And I am very grateful for that!

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                17.05.2011 16:57
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                One of my favourite cook books!

                Reggae Reggae Sauce and its creator Levi Roots are a phenomenon that swept over the whole of the United Kingdom and conquered all major supermarkets. Starting off with a simple cooking sauce Levi Roots himself soon turned into a brand selling Jamaican inspired sauces, ready meals, drinks and amazing music. A few months ago I had the fantastic chance to see him preform live with his band while also giving a cooking demonstration. Words cannot describe this fantastic and inspiring evening but let me try anyway.

                Now imagine this charismatic, bouncy guy jumping on stage playing amazing rhythms with his band. The sounds were incredible and everyone simply had to dance! So far everyone knew that he played great music and was a great chef - however, we soon found out that he is also an inspiring business man. Starting out from a rather dubious background he managed to start an empire worth millions in only ten years. I am telling you, if my economics lecturers would have been even half as inspiring than him I might still study economics and not biology.

                Now to the food part - it was incredible! Levi Roots cooked, sang and danced all at the same time. He prepared some deliciously spicy lamb dish, a zesty salad and a cocktail to die for. We all got to try some of it and trust me, it was good. The evening ended with lots of dancing, laughing and of course some shopping.

                Well, that is the story of how I came to my signed Levi Roots - Food for Friends cook book. The signature and a picture of my friends and me dancing to Jamaican sound to his band make this book rather special to me. So there you go, the story of a book that should not be missing from any kitchen:

                Introduction:

                This part clearly is not part of your standard cookbook but certainly well worth a read. It gives you on just 4 pages a little insight into the man and family behind the brand 'Levi Roots'. Influences that inspired are described and seem to bring the flavours to life. Certainly a great start and it actually made me buy his autobiography (which in itself was a great read). His life story is very inspiring and I loved how he described his family Christmases.

                Brunch - a zesty start into the day:

                Oh, this is different to your traditional toast with butter for breakfast. The first recipe in the book usually sets the tone for what follows and this start here is more than promising. Fish choka uses smoked mackerel and tomatoes for a very flavoursome dish. I tried it out on a Sunday morning but I have to admit that it was a bit too much for breakfast. The recipe is gorgeous and I have it quite frequently with pasta for supper. The other dishes I this section are a bit more suitable for breakfast like the tropical energy bar and Island granola (which is most delicious). The granola turns boring porridge into a tropical delight that is perfect for every sweet tooth and fairly healthy with nuts and dried fruit. It goes very well with the citrus fruits with a lime and mint syrup.
                I loved the brunch section, its full of light dishes that use healthy ingredients ideal for a strong start in the day. Nuts and grains are perfect breakfast food as they release energy slowly throughout the day. Fresh fruit is light and supplies most necessary vitamins right from the beginning of the day.
                The savoury dishes are great but I would probably not serve them for bunch but for a light luch instead.

                Lunch - veggies are good for you:

                The lunch dishes are very light and based around fresh vegetables and seafood. A light lunch is perfect as it provides enough energy to get through the day without being to heavy and weighting you down. Dishes include roasted root soup with a twist - coconut milk and ginger change this classic dish and give it a new, modern face. It is very creamy and full of flavour. The best thing is that you can easily substitute carrots with parsnips and potatoes with sweets potatoes - simply look what is left in your fridge and use this recipe as a base for a light lunch. Other dishes include spicy baked beans and a prawn dish that is beyond delicious. My favourite dish in this section are the coconut chilli mussels - by now I guess you realised that love coconut.

                Picnic - make at home and enjoy on the road:

                This section is fairly small with only five recipes. I have to admit that they are not really to my taste. Not being a big fan of flapjacks I ignored the banana and honey flapjack as well as the coronation chicken. The only dish that I have tried was the sweet potato, red onion and feta sunshine tart. Don't get me wrong, it is nice but the baked onion with thyme and feta cheese did not mix to well.

                BBQ and grill - let the sunshine in:

                My favourite section in the whole book! BBQ food simply means cooking with friends, having fun, enjoying great food and drink, and this section does not disappoint. The best recipe of the book are the grilled lime and honey chicken skewers. These flavours go together so well and are only enhanced by the bbq flavour. The marinade gets completely soaked up by the chicken and keeps it moist. Yet the honey gives it a crispy outside that is deliciously sweet and at the same time sour from the lime.

                Supper - from curry to shepherd's pie

                The largest section of the book features classic dishes spiced up to make them more interesting as well as exotic new foods. Imagine a Caribbean spiced shepherd's pie and special seasoned spaghetti bolognese. The Caribbean tamarind chickpeas sounded interesting but was not really to my taste; I might have used too much of the tamarind paste but for me the flavour was too strong and the texture not appealing.

                Special Occasions - lets get serious:

                Being a student most of these dishes were a bit too expensive for my wallet and too complicated for my fairly run-down student kitchen. Our oven hardly manages a frozen pizza let alone a sweet potato and parmesan soufflé. The dishes sound amazing and cover a range of occasions from Christmas fish to roasted lamb to an amazing sounding Cuban roast pork. For anyone that is serious with cooking and loves to cook for family and friends this section is perfect!

                On the side - maybe not a main but still a highlight:

                I already told you that I loved the honey & lime chicken from the bbq section. Although it is not as flavoursome when prepared in a pan it is still delicious. The chicken goes very well with the sautéed sweet potatoes with thyme. These two dishes seem to perfectly compliment each other combining Caribbean flavours with Mediterranean sweet potatoes. Other sides include chips, chutneys and cooking sauces.

                Parties - have some nibbles and a drink:

                finger food - my all time favourite. This section is full of little nibbles and snacks that will be the highlight of every party!

                Pudding - time for something sweet:

                The biggest section of the book features puddings and cakes suitable for all tastes. All of them seem delicious and I'm sure that one day I will have worked my way through the whole section.


                - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


                Right, that should give you quite a comprehensive overview on what to expect from the recipes compiled in this book. I was very impressed by the wide range of different dishes covered from vegetarian delights to fresh seafood and very classy meat. Some of the foods were a bit out of my range price-wise or simply very hard to get; for example I could not get hold of a scotch bonnet chilli. Most of the other ingredients can be found in bigger supermarkets or continental & Indian stores. Fresh ginger, garlic as well as a wide range of herbs are the base for these delicious dishes.
                Most ingredients can be bought in bulk and stored; things like pasta, rice and coconut milk should not be missing from any kitchen.

                The recipes are easy to follow and none of them , bar the Special occasion section, require cooking skills that are more than your everyday Joe would have. I'm not the best cook and only have limited equipment available but all the dishes that I tried worked out very well. The descriptions are very detailed and he actually explains how the different flavours work together so well. So while using this book I actually learnt quite a lot about different herbs and spices.

                One quick word about the pictures in the book - they are absolutely stunning from a photographic point of view. They are not your simple plate-food-garnish pictures but sometimes real pieces of art or snaps that could come from your favourite 'night in with friends' album. For me a good picture can easily convince me to try a new recipe and it certainly worked here!

                Overall I loved this cook book and used it very regularly. What I like most is that most of the dishes can be prepared for two or for ten people, and that to very low cost for some dishes. It is very surprising how the addition of ginger and some herbs can turn a well-known dish into something completely new and different. Take the shepherd's pie for example, with some Caribbean love it is suddenly exciting again - and that by simply adding a few fresh ingredients.

                Comparing this book to other Caribbean cook books it sticks out that Levi Roots does not try to teach Caribbean cooking but adds new flavours and twists to well known dishes. This makes this book very special and unique in its kind. The main advantage is that most recipes are simple to follow and even inexperienced cooks can create lovely dishes for their friends and family. It is every day cooking made interesting again!

                If I would have to find any kind of fault in this book it would be - and it really does take me a long while to find one - that some of the dishes can be too spicy especially for children. Having been an Au-pair for one year I know that cooking for children is very different to cooking for adults. With this book you do have to take extra care not to use too much chilli and/or ginger but most recipes are easily adapted.

                All in all - a great book with some amazing dishes! Well worth the 18£ and a good investment that will make your friends love you!

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                • Rice & Pasta Dishes / Recipe / 68 Readings / 61 Ratings
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                  15.05.2011 17:45
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                  Two very tasty pasta dishes

                  It is not a secret that, as a student, money is tight and pasta & tomato sauce is something you love because its cheap but hate because it gets boring very, very quickly. Having been a student for 2 years now I know my way around all kinds of pasta dishes and can prepare dinner for two people for 80pence. The typical Tesco Value pasta, Tesco Value chopped tomatoes, half an onion and a bit of garlic might be cheap but I really cannot eat it more than once a week.
                  With pure desperation and some plain and simple luck these following dishes made in in our dinner rotation. The most important qualities are: you do not have to be an expert chef, they are cheap and they are tasty. Read on for the insight into a student kitchen of value meals but surprisingly delicious pasta!

                  - - - - Tuna Pasta Bake - - - -

                  What you need for this dish can be found at every supermarket and should not cost more than 1£ per person. It is one of my favourite dishes because a) I do love pesto and b) the tuna is a more healthy option than meat.
                  For two people you need:

                  400g of pasta
                  1 small jar of red pesto
                  1 tin of tuna
                  1 small tin of black olives
                  cheese for baking

                  Boil the pasta in salt water until al dente - which is soft but still firm when you bite on it - and set aside. For the sauce drain the tuna and fry for a couple of minutes until it starts to crisp a bit. Add the chopped olives and the red pesto. Simply stir until heated and mix with the pasta. The dish itself can be eaten like this or placed into an oven proof dish and baked with a cheese topping.

                  The tuna pasta bake fulfils most of mu food criteria, it is very easy to make and with 1£ per person quite cheap. With the different varieties of pesto available you can mix up the base that you use. Personally I think green pesto and tuna does not mix to well but the walnut version one can get at Tesco is delicious! It is quite a homely dish that works well as comfort food and can easily be prepared for loads of people. Enjoy!

                  - - - - Cold pasta salad - - - - -

                  This is my absolute favourite dish and I could not get enough of it in Italy. The flavours of the olive oil, the sweet cherry tomatoes and the garlic just remind you of those sunny places in warm countries that you would love to live in for the rest of your live!

                  Serves two.

                  For the sauce you need:
                  1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
                  1 a small bits of garlic
                  1 red onion
                  Olive oil
                  Balsamic vinegar
                  Salt
                  Basil

                  The preparation is fairly simple. Just half the cherry tomatoes and place in a big salad bowl. Add olive oil and the vinegar. Personally I prefer balsamic but you can use malt vinegar instead as well. Now chop the onion and the garlic very, very thinly or use one of these kitchen slicers for extra speed. Add to the tomatoes with chopped basil and refine with salt to taste. By now the sauce should taste like a tasty, Italian tomato salad. Cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge for at least 1 hours. 2 hours should usually do the trick quite well.
                  In the mean time boil the pasta in salt water; short pasta sorts are better than spaghetti for this dish.
                  Once the pasta is cooked al dente drain and set aside to cool down. Sufficiently cooled down simply add to the tomatoes and stir thoroughly.

                  The different flavours go very well with each other and create a super tasty dish suitable for vegetarians. It is not the cheapest but one could substitute the cheer with normal tomatoes and use malt vinegar instead of balsamic. The one thing were I would never safe money on is good quality olive oil - it is the heart and soul of most pasta dishes!

                  Enjoy!

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                  • BBQ Recipes / Recipe / 39 Readings / 38 Ratings
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                    14.05.2011 13:34
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                    Some lovely ideas for a vegan BBQ

                    Being vegan is not easy in any form, way or shape. Depending how strict you are milk chocolate, wine and even some brands of sugar can be off-limit. Not being vegan myself my typical BBQ would include burgers, bangers and chicken wings - maybe the occasional mushroom and tomato to give it some colour. Coming from Germany BBQs are quite a serious business for me with my father introducing me from childhood on how to grill the perfect steak, how to keep chicken moist and how not to burn sausages.

                    Having vegan friends and loving BBQs put me in an interesting position this summer - how to create the perfect BBQ menu that would be suitable for them to eat as well as taste delicious and satisfied my meat hungry housemates. Read on the get a taste for healthy yet delicious vegan food that is as healthy as it is tasty!

                    - - - - - Grilled Spring Onion - - - -

                    All you need for this simple dish is

                    - fresh spring onion
                    - olive oil
                    - a tiny bit of vegetable stock powder
                    - tin foil

                    Prepare the spring onion by washing them thoroughly and removing the roots at the bottom. Do not peel off the outer skin but do chop off the top bits of the green leaves as they can be fairly bitter. Place the spring onion on the tin foil, sprinkle with the vegetable stock powder and olive oil; let it marinate for 10min.
                    Remove the spring onion from the tin foil and place on the BBQ until the outer skin starts to brown. Depending on how thick the bulbs are this should take not more than 7 to 10 min.

                    To serve, simply remove the outer skin and dip the spring onion in a spicy salsa sauce of houmous. The slow roasting brings out the natural sweetness of the spring onion that goes very well with both mild and spicy sauces.


                    - - - - Roasted Portobello Mushrooms with houmous topping - - - -

                    Portobello mushrooms are a popular ingredient for any kind of vegetarian BBQ and often served with stilton. the blue cheese version is delicious but unfortunately not suitable for vegans. A tasty yet cheap alternative is houmous which can be either shop-bought or home-made.

                    - Portobello mushrooms (2 per person)
                    - Houmous
                    - Olive oil
                    - tin foil

                    Place each mushroom in a small nest made out of the tin foil and drizzle olive oil on top as well as coating the sides and bottom. Season with salt and pepper if you use plain houmous. Spread some of the houmous on top of the mushroom, close the tin foil and place on the grill. After 10 to 15min you will be rewarded with a delicious mushroom dish that is not as heavy as the conventional version with blue cheese.


                    - - - - Banana & Chocolate - - - -

                    This is such a simple and genius BBQ dish that everyone will love! For a non vegan version you can easily substitute the dark chocolate with any other type. My favourite is milk chocolate but that's just a question of taste.

                    - Bananas ( 1 per person as it is quite a rich dish)
                    - Chocolate of your choice - dark chocolate without milk for vegan
                    - cinnamon
                    - tin foil

                    Slice the bananas lengthwise through the peel to form a small pocket but tale care not to make the cut too deep and do not remove the peel. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place inside the pocket. Wrap the banana into tin foil and place on the grill. Let it heat up for roughly 5min, open the tin foil and sprinkle some cinnamon on it before serving. This dish is very simple but always the highlight of every BBQ.

                    To create an adult version of the pudding simply add a shot of Amaretto or Baileys into the banana peel instead to the chocolate.

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                    • Matalan Wellies / Shoes / 59 Readings / 56 Ratings
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                      15.01.2011 00:08
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                      fashionable wellies that didn't last for long

                      I study Marine Biology and for one of my recent field trips I needed a decent pair of wellies. The ones we did before were mainly woodland areas but this was our first "we get wet" field trip to the shore where we spend 3 days looking at seaweed. Those field trips are not cheap especially when you consider that one needs waterproofs, thick socks and all that stuff as well. As I didn't really have much of those things at home a trip to the nearest fashion outlet was needed - Matalan was the choice of the day even though I regretted that later on.

                      - - - - - - - - - -

                      Wellies can be found at Matalan from autumn to late spring in all colours, which is probably their biggest appeal as it seemed the wellies were a real trend this winter. The ones I've chosen were incredibly cute with a black base and colourful dots all over. Matalan definitely wins here with the designs over the boring green wellies you can get at B&Q. Designs usually change every season with some being more fashionable than others; the funkier designs can definitely be worn when its cold and wet outside without making you look silly but actually rather fashionable.

                      The shape of the shoes itself is similar to "proper" wellies but they are much smaller around the legs. I wear a size 12 and had problems getting my trouser legs into the wellies. Please keep that in mind if you decide to go for these, they might keep your feet dry but the water will soak through your trousers upwards fairly quickly if you cannot wear the wellies over the trousers. The sole was a bit thin and the heel a tiny bit higher than I would have liked it to be. Still, they had a fairly good grip even on the rocky shore where I spent hours climbing over rocks and boulders. I wouldn't recommend wearing these as a substitute for winter shoes - something I did last winter. My ankles and knees started to hurt after wearing my wellies for several weeks which is probably down to the lack of support that they give your joints.
                      I have found the material to be rather thin and my feet were dry but cold most of the time. Thick socks are definitely a must with these wellies!

                      Having only paid 12£ for my wellies I did not expect them to last for years - but I certainly expected them to last longer than 6 weeks. At first one of them ripped open at the side which was not too bad as the hole was fairly high up. However, in strong rain which we do get here up north fairly regularly, the water would soak through quickly. A week or so later on the way to uni a huge hole just appeared in the sole leaving me with one very wet foot for the rest of the day. I had a closer look at it once I got home and saw the hole right where the heel and actual sole meet. It was too big to be fixed and given the other hole and the price of the shoes the way to the bin was all they were worth.

                      - - - - - - - - - -


                      All in all I would say Matalan wellies are cheerful and fashionable but don't last very long. Get them if you only occasionally wear them as a fashion statement but if you actually work outside or intend to wear them often go for a more expensive and higher quality pair. 12£ for six weeks is quite a lot of money so I bought my next pair for roughly double the price at a sports shop and hope that they are better quality. They have the advantage that the legs are wider so I can wear them over my trousers and the grip is better as well. Obviously the look rather boring compared to the fashionable Matalan wellies but at least they have kept my feet dry for several months now without problems.
                      Overall the Matalan wellies only deserve 2 out of 3 stars.

                      - - - - - - - - - -

                      Thank you for rating and reading my review!

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                      • More +
                        12.01.2011 01:07
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                        nice gift

                        The Kitchen Craft Chocolate Fondue Set is, just as the name implies, a small gift set to create an easy chocolate fondue. Being powered by a tea light it is quick to set up, quick to clean and cheap. Perfect for a spontaneous gathering with friends.

                        The Kitchen Craft Chocolate Fondue Set consist of a bottom half that functions as a tea candle holder, a bowl and 4 small forks. As I got it in a "less than 5 pounds" Secret Santa I assume that's what it costs and dooyoo informs me that it is around 5 pounds from amazon. I could imagine a place like a Tesco superstore selling them as well but that's just a guess.

                        - - - - - - - - - - - -

                        How to use it?

                        All you need for a lovely and not too unhealthy pudding is a pack of chocolate, fruit chopped in small pieces and the Kitchen Craft Chocolate Fondue Set - oh and of course a tea light. The chocolate, broken into small pieces goes into the top half where it melts through the heat of the tea light. Let me tell you, it takes ages! The tiny tea light is not strong enough to quickly melt the chocolate so I would advise you to melt it in the microwave first and then use the tea light to keep it warm.

                        Using the forks simply pick up a piece of fruit, marshmallow and whatever else you can think of and dip it into the molten chocolate. It makes for a very cheap and light pudding and is good fun when sitting with your friends around the table sharing a bottle of wine.

                        The bowl is easy to clean and is microwave proof. From the initial set up I have nothing to complain about bar the fact that the single tea light takes ages to melt the chocolate - not good if you are as impatient as me! Unfortunately it is also not strong enough to use it as a cheese fondue which is a huge shame; I would take a cheese fondue over a chocolate one any day.

                        - - - - - - - - - - - -

                        Is it worth it?

                        Overall I have to say that the Kitchen Craft Chocolate Fondue Set is not really worth it. 7 pounds is a lot of money for a small bowl and a candle holder when you can recreate the fondue set so easily with things you have in your kitchen. What we used to do was simply break up a bar of chocolate into small pieces and melt them in the microwave - works perfectly fine and has exactly the same effect as the fondue set.

                        However, I would say that it is a fairly nice present if you don't know anything useful to get. I got mine from a Secret Santa meeting and was quite pleased with it. We don't use it often simply because I'm on a diet and not the biggest fan of chocolate. My best friend loves it and always tries to steal it from my place :-)
                        Give it a go if you really like chocolate fondues and a normal microwave bowl is not doing it for you - I mean in all fairness it does look much more posh and I quite like the small forks that come in the set.

                        - - - - - - - - - - - -

                        Safety first!

                        As this little gadget does not use any electricity you do not have to worry about forgetting to switch it off at the end of the night or trip over cables and spilling the melted chocolate all over someone. However, the tea candle that is used is obviously a (tiny) fire hazard. The bottom piece is fairly stable but not heavy enough to be safe from being accidentally knocked over. When using the fondue set please ensure the necessary care as with all candles and don't forget to blow it out when you finish with dinner.

                        - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                        Thank you for reading and rating my review!

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                        • L'Oréal Out of Bed / Hair Care / 22 Readings / 22 Ratings
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                          11.01.2011 23:10
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                          good quality hair care

                          I have to admit that I don't actually own the L'Oréal Out of Bed hair wax - but it is one of those things for which I love living in a flat share! My (male, shorthaired) housemates swear on its qualities to make their hair looked really styled, well if you ask me they usually look like fresh out of bed after using it. Having long and curly hair is a blessing and a curse at the same time; I do need quite a lot of time to get it properly in shape after showering and not all hair products can manage my hair.

                          After accidentally melting my hair wax on our radiator in the bathroom I had to borrow my housemates L'Oréal Out of Bed hair wax - and felt instantly in love with it! After a while he figured out that I was using it as well and not it is my turn to buy the next tub when this one runs out. The hair wax can be bought in most drugstores and larger supermarkets for less than 3 pounds which is a fairly good price given that the 150g tub seems to last forever. We have been using ours for a couple of months now and still have quite a bit left.

                          - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                          The wax itself is fells very soft and is easily melted in your hand. To create a nice hairstyle I only need a tiny but to define my curls. The wax melts very quickly in my hands and is easily applied; thankfully it is not as sticky as hair gel and therefore it is much easier to define specific areas. I love how it makes my hair shiny - hair spray, while giving my hair a nice structure, often lets it look very blunt and dry. The wax is not visible at all and it is not flaky, something you sometimes get with cheaper products which inevitable leads to someone telling me that my hair looks dirty.

                          When my housemate uses it for his short hair he simply melts a tiny bit of wax in his hand and rubs it all over his hair to create that modern "just woke up" look. I'm always jealous that it only takes him 2seconds to get a proper hair style while I need ages in front of the mirror before a night out.
                          The style does last all day long for short hair but with mine I do need a bit of a freshen-up after a few hours. The wax is not strong enough to support the weight of my curls for too long but even when it wears off my hair looks at least natural.

                          The smell is somewhere between neutral and masculine; it is quite fresh and reminds me of this typical hair product smell from a hairdresser visit. Basically what I'm saying is that not much effort was put into it to make the hair wax smell nice. It's still not a bad smell and luckily it is not very intense. I think it is more oriented at a male market and has not much to do with all these sweet smelling hair products for women. Which in itself is not a bad thing as some of the hair products for women smell horribly artificial and intense.

                          - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                          All in all I would say that L'Oréal Out of Bed hair wax is a great product for any hair style - it's great for a "just woke up" look for short hair and perfect for wild long hair styles. The wax makes my hair feel quite soft while giving it a firm style whereas most hair gels make it feel very sticky and/or hard and dry. With just under 3 pounds it is not too expensive and L'Oréal is a brand I generally trust.

                          - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                          Thank you for reading and rating my review!

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                          10.01.2011 22:29
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                          Bed for small rodents

                          Just before Christmas I went on a 2 day field trip with university leaving Lennon, my hamster, with my boyfriend. He loves the little bugger and I knew that he would spoil him with loads of treats. Half expecting to come home to a severely obese hamster I was positively surprised that the treat bag was still almost full. However, I nearly had a heart attack once I saw Lennon's cage - my boyfriend apparently went a bit crazy in a pet store and bought more hamster cages, add-ons and toys than you can image. His excuse was that it was Christmas and that Lennon needed presents as well. I was all in favour for presents but I had some snacks in mind and not stuff worth the equivalent of a weekend trip to Paris.

                          Anyway, Lennon loved most of his new toys and definitely enjoyed the add-ons to his cage. Unfortunately there were a few products that were wasted on him like the fruity treats he didn't like or the play tunnel that was too small and just like the Trixie Hamster Napper. In all fairness, I could have told him that Lennon would not appreciate this little addition to his cage.
                          - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                          The Trixie Hamster Napper is a "bed" for hamsters and other small rodents that can be bought for roughly 3 pounds in selected pet stores. I have not seen it before so I don't think that it is widely available. The bed is made of a round waterproof material that is covered in soft white fleece. The fleece is wash-able to ensure that your hamsters bedding stays as hygienic as possible. That is if it actually gets used. Lennon unfortunately ignored the Trixie Hamster Napper and took no interest in it whatsoever. I think that it is simply not deep enough for him to properly hide in. If it would be deeper I assume he would just move his bedding and get cozy in the Napper. But as it stands he seems to prefer his bedroom attachment with loads of fluffy hamster bedding. I know how grumpy he gets when I clean it out so I could have told my boyfriend that you don't mess with his bed.

                          Still, I quite like the idea of the Trixie Hamster Napper and you might want to consider getting it for a new hamster or in case that you switch cages for your pet. Once they established their sleeping area it will be rather though to convince them to sleep somewhere else.

                          We kept the Trixie Hamster Napper for Lennon to play with in his "outdoor" area but he only gives it any kind of attention once we hide some treats in the fluffy fleece.
                          - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                          All in all I have to say that the Napper was a big disappointment and a waste of money - Lennon didn't even consider using it and does not even use it as a toy.
                          - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                          Thank you for reading and rating my review!

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                          • More +
                            09.01.2011 16:22
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                            great Lush product that should not be missing in any bathroom

                            Reading through my old reviews I feel like a proper girly with most of them being about Lush products and make-op. My New Year's resolution is to write a bit more diverse reviews but firstly I finish off all the Lush reviews waiting in the pipeline. Although I would rarely buy these rather expensive products myself I got a huge box full of soap and bubble bars collected from various holidays. The Lush Limited Edition Ghost shower gel is one of these few products that I bought myself as a little "very stressful week at work/uni" present to myself. 8.95 pounds for only 250 ml of shower gel is an exorbitant price and something I could only afford because I worked lots of overtime that month. Obviously Lush offers great quality products but I would doubt that it is always worth the hefty price tag.

                            The Ghost shower gel looks simple yet posh in the plain packaging with its creamy white appearance. I love white products in the bathroom as it fits the overall style of white tiles and white towels which was probably one of the reasons why I bought it. Well, the main reason was obviously the heavenly scent of flowers and candy floss. That does sound rather sweet and girly but it is actually not too bad. The scent is at first very flowery but posh flowers and not that cheap, fake rose fragrance that many beauty products use. The lily scent does smell like real lilies (which are one of my favourite flowers) and not artificial or plastic-y. I would have been perfectly happy with this but the second layer of fragrance convinced me to buy this shower gel right away. After a few seconds the lily scent gives way to a fragrance that reminds me of candy floss and baking sessions. When I say baking sessions I don't mean the heavy scent of cinnamon but more light vanilla and caramel - just like candy floss.

                            Surprisingly this combination is not too overpowering but rather light and pleasant. It does linger on my skin a bit longer than the usual Lush product which is a great advantage. I am not a big fan of perfume and this shower gel id certainly enough to make my skin smell nice for quite a while. Obviously this is a bit of a girly product and I can't see many men enjoy it for themselves. My boyfriend does sometimes use my Lush shower gels or soaps; some like the Olive Branch or Demon in the Dark are great unisex products. Ghost however is exclusively mine! Which is a good thing given how expensive it is and that it is only a Limited Edition.

                            Lush has this annoying habit of producing gorgeous product ranges for all kinds of holidays. Often these products are quite expensive but simply amazing! Ghost was produced as a Halloween Limited Edition and is unfortunately not available to be purchased right now. I'm quite sure that it will be re-released next year again and hopefully it will make the jump into the retro line - a range of previous Lush products that are re-released and can be purchased online through Lush.co.uk.

                            As a shower gel itself I have to say that I love Ghost. It has a very soft and creamy texture that is easily spread and lathered up. With shower gels like the Olive Branch I always criticize that they are too runny and that more ends up on the floor of the shower than on me. Ghost is perfect in this sense with a lovely texture and a pleasant overall feel. It is quite moisturizing and leaves my skin feeling very soft and silky. I never had any skin irritation or a burning/itching feel that one can get with shower gels that use many artificial ingredients. As Lush uses almost exclusively natural products I never had any problems here.

                            An added bonus to Ghost is that it contains small shiny particles that stay on your skin and give it a lovely shine. This actually surprised me as it is something you would expect more from a summer product than in winter where most people are covered up and wrapped in as many layers as possible. Obviously it looks great on my skin on a night out and gives it an extra bit of glow. Certainly recommended for anyone that likes to spoil themselves a little bit.

                            What I did not realize when I first bought it was that one can use it for both skin and hair. Now you have to understand that I am always very weary with these 2-in-1 products as they tend to leave my hair dry and knotted. My hair is very fluffy with loads of curls making it quite difficult to take care of. I did try the Ghost gel a couple of times and I did not have any big problems with it. My hair felt clean and it lathered up very nicely. But it was just not perfect and I am going to stick to my usual hair shampoo and use Ghost purely as a shower gel. Still, it gives Ghost the edge if you take it with you when you go travelling. Being a fairly small bottle it fits into every hand luggage and there is no need to bring a second bottle. As it didn't dry my hair out I see no reason why not to use it for a limited time and with a bit of conditioner it takes good care of your hair.

                            Ghost is a product that totally convinced me; both the scent and the actual shower gel qualities were perfect and there is nothing that I would criticize or change. However, it is at least for me not an everyday product. The sweet scent is something that I cannot stand in the morning; I need something much more refreshing to wake me up. Ghost is more for these moments when I need a bit of pampering like after a long shift at work or before a night out. It fits perfectly into the vision of a bathtub with candles or a girly night out with lots of glitter make-up and overpriced cocktails.

                            I cannot recommend this product highly enough! Try to get hold of it as soon as Lush offers it again which is hopefully soon and not only next November.



                            Thank you for reading and rating my review!

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                            • Lush Demon In The Dark Soap / Soaps / 26 Readings / 26 Ratings
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                              09.01.2011 14:39
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                              nice unisex soap from Lush

                              I have been called many things in my life and I thought that being given the "Demon in the Dark" soap bar from Lush for Christmas was a bit of a hint from my boyfriend that I am rather grumpy in the morning. Well, he is right - I can be a right cow before I had a shower and a cup of coffee. Let me tell you right away, the Demon in the Dark soap did not change this, I'm still grumpy but at least both me and the bathroom smell great now!

                              When I first tried to use the soap bar I was fairly confused until I realized that that soft black stuff is just a wrapping to protect the actual soap. I really have no idea why Lush would do that and I have never seen it with any of the other products before. The only explanation I could think off is due to the rather intense scent of the soap. Anyway, the wrapping is unfortunately fairly difficult to peel off and ripped bits from the actual soap and stayed glued to it in other places. Surely not a good start in the morning but I got rewarded with the most delicious fresh minty smell possible. The mint is surprisingly not that overpowering and more fresh than deep. The apple juice adds a bit of extra freshness and the combination works very well. I was afraid that it would remind me of cheap toothpaste but thankfully it is as far away from that as possible.
                              The scent does not linger very long on my skin which is probably a good thing as nobody wants to smell like a mojito cocktail in the morning. However, it does make my bathroom smell great! My housemates love my Lush addiction as we always have the best smelling bathroom possible.

                              Ignoring the scent and only concentrating on the soap I have to say that it is not as good as it could be. The soap bar is rather hard making it a bit unpleasant to use and does not lather up very well. This is something I noticed with most Lush products, the harder the soap the worse it actually is. Here it is really a shame as the scent is simply amazing - a real wake-up call in the morning. However, my skin has this particular clean feeling after using it and feels soft and moisturized so no complaints there.

                              The only thing I would love to see improved is Lush getting rid of the wrapping, making the soap a bit softer and of course the price. With 2.99 for 100gram it is still one of the cheaper Lush products but still a lot of money for soap. The soap being so hard has one advantages, it seems to last much longer than the softer ones meaning you get more for your money.

                              Give it a try if you like fresh and strong fragrances and definitely try it when you have a cold - the smell of mint and cloves makes breathing so much easier and works almost like a decongestion remedy for your nose!

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                            • More +
                              09.01.2011 00:11
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                              nice addition to a rabbit cage

                              This is a pet products review that is not about Lennon, my hamster, but about Murphy - my housemates' rabbit. Murphy is probably one of the cutest rabbits I have ever seen; he's huge, fluffy dark fur and one floppy ear. Unfortunately he is quite a lazy bunny (he is quite old already) so we thought of ways to get him to be more active. What usually works is making him work for his treats and he seems to really enjoy it; all the attention and of course the treats are just what he wants.
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                              After browsing loads of pet store websites I decided to get him the Boredom Breaker Food Ball for Christmas - and yes, we do get out pets small presents for our pets. The Boredom Breaker Food Ball is a round holder for food and treats for your pet. With 3 inches in diameter it is too big for hamster or gerbils but it is absolutely perfect for rabbits and guinea pigs. We attached it to the roof of our rabbit cage and fill it twice a day with hay. This has two advantages; firstly it keeps the hay clean as it doesn't get sit on or soiled at the bottom of the cage and secondly it makes Murphy work a bit for his food. He enjoys being active and working a bit to get his hay. I sometimes put a few treats in the middle of the hay and our little rabbit goes absolutely crazy once he finds them.

                              With just over 2 pounds it is a very cheap addition to any pet cage and should not be missing if you want your rabbits to stay active. It's a shame that it is too big for a hamster cage, I'm sure Lennon would enjoy it as well. I can highly recommend the Boredom Breaker Food Ball for anyone with rabbits and guinea pigs. It is available in almost all pet stores and is a safe and fun toy for your pets. The Food Ball can be filled with hay, vegetables or one of those nut/honey treats that most rabbits love. The wiring is quite open making it easy for your pet to reach the food. However, this obviously means that smaller treats fall out easily and it is not suitable for dry food or similar products.

                              The only huge, massive disadvantage is that silly little bell attached to the food ball! It is the most annoying thing on earth when Murphy decides that he wants a snack in the middle of a great movie or at night. Fortunately the bell can easily be removed making it enjoyable for everyone - Murphy and us!

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                              All in all the Boredom Breaker Food Ball is a product that I can thourogly recommend and I would award it 10 out of 10 points!

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                              Thanks for reading and rating my review!

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