Monday, 16 May 2011

The Perfect Nail Varnish: Finally

For all those of you who still struggle with chip-prone, thin-textured, borderline-useless nail varnishes, read on.

Image taken from

I have used all kinds of nail varnishes from high street to more high end. Until fairly recently I thought that my journey on finding the perfect nail varnish ended when I started using OPI. Also used by professionals, OPI has a wide range of shades and the quality was fairly good. At least it was better than the rest of makes I had already used.

Until I (almost accidentally) used 17 for the first time, earlier this year. I was shopping at Boots, and had already got 2 make up items. Anyway, I go to the till to pay and the lady there tells me that there's an offer 3 for 2 on make up, and I should get a third item (by the way the offer was on display all around the shop but for some reason I didn't notice). I decided to try a new colour on my nails, and got 17 because the bottle was small and quite inexpensive, so if I didn't like it in the end, I wouldn't end up with an almost-unopened bottle of  Chanel's le vernis. Little did I know at the time, my dear reader, that it would mean a new beginning for my relationship with my nails.

I now have about 4 or 5 different shades, and have not been let down once. The nail varnish does not chip, does not break, the texture is not too thick to make it difficult to apply evenly, nor too thin too make it impossible to achieve an opaque colour. What's more I love the fact that they are in such small bottles because apart from the classics (burgundy, knockout red, pale pink for french manicure etc), the rest are going to be on trend for probably a maximum of two seasons.

PS: The top coat is also great!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Princess Beatrice's... thing

The hairpiece/sculpture Prince Beatrice wore at the Royal Wedding was hideous - fact.

Probably she realised as well (after the wedding that is), and decided to auction the unique (of course it is) hairpiece in aid of UNICEF and Children In Crisis. One week left and the bids climbed up to £9,700.00.

I applaud the people who are so incredibly zealous to help out 
UNICEF and Children In Crisis, that are willing not only to pay 
almost £10 000, but also to win and receive the ...hairpiece.

Image taken from

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Proof that sometimes animals are valued higher than humans

There are two things I will passionately defend: helpless children and animals. This post is for the latter.

I am scandalised. I've read yesterday (and today in more detail), about a man trying to smuggle baby wild animals from Bangkok airport to Dubai. He was stopped by airport security, and in his check-in luggage were found two leopards, two panthers, two macaque monkeys and an Asiatic black bear cub, which were all sedated and under two months old. For some reason I fail to understand, the 36-year-old seemed to believe that the animals would have survived the flight keeping in mind the conditions they were in.

Apparently animal smuggling is big business with endangered species such as these being sold for 3 000 pounds each in Bangkok, and fetching much higher prices overseas. Nevertheless, cruelty on animals does not have a price. Today's Times report that if the criminal is convicted, he could face up to four years in prison and 40 000 baht (816 pounds) fine.

I disagree. What can four years in prison and 800-pound fine do for him? How about stuffing him in a suitcase, throw him with the rest of the luggage at check-in and let the airplane take him to an unknown destination? I bet that would enlighten him concerning what those animals were going to experience if his masterplan succeeded.

A two-month leopard cub - one of the animals found in the luggage
Image taken from

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Education for Sale

It seems that apart from shops, universities will also have a period of sales.


Apparently universities are desperate to fill up their last remaining places, and are lowering their fees to attract potential students. This is in spite of already accepting students which would pay the maximum fees of 9 000 pounds for the same quality of education as the students filling up the last places at a lower cost.

Oh yes. There has been a reduction. In ethics, fairness and inevitably education.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Why I love Silicon Muffin Cases


-They come in wonderfully bright colours (I got mine in lime green and orange)

-They are easy to wash afterwards

-Nothing goes to waste (as you would with the paper cases)

-You don't end up with used paper cases lying around

-They are quite economical if you think about how many times you can use them (many!)

-There's no way you'll be left without muffin cases to use (I once had the batter ready for blueberry muffins - serving 12 - and realised I had only 9 muffin cases left)

-They don't need lining because muffins simply spring out of them

Yes, I am smitten :)

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Simple Chocolate Muffins (for emergencies)

Today I woke up and craved something chocolatey. I usually don't keep ready desserts at home because a) they are too much a temptation and summer is fast approaching and b) they are usually tasteless especially when compared to freshly home-made bakes. I was in a dilemma: I had too little time to go to town to shop for ingredients and come back, but I still wanted to bake something because I find the process unbelievably relaxing (and enjoyable) particularly in such hard times (cf two courseworks and two exams in the next ten days). 

I had to do something. I looked at my cupboard: cocoa, eggs, flour, sugar, some leftover chocolate chips (from another time when I experimented with a range of cookie recipes), and other bits and pieces. I thought of chocolate muffins; simple, not much fuss, and most importantly, chocolatey. For a recipe I went to my favourite Channel 4 food collection and came up with this recipe:

Chocolate Muffins (makes 10) I used half of the ingredients, to end up with 5, but I still got 10!

250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
100g caster sugar
75g plain chocolate chips
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
250ml milk

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C, fan oven 170°C, Gas Mark 5. Put 10 paper muffin cases (I used silicon cases, so much more convenient!) into a muffin tray.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and chocolate chips (I guess one could use chopped chocolate instead and achieve a gooey effect - chopped chocolate doesn't have the stabilisers chocolate chips have and so it melts more easily).

3. Beat together the egg, vanilla extract and milk. Add the oil, stirring to mix.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Do not beat or over-mix – the batter will still be a little bit lumpy.

5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.

The end result:

To be honest they are not the most unbelievably chocolatey muffins I've ever had, BUT considering the circumstances, they are the ideal quick fix if your PMS is approaching, you are a chocaholic but don't have enough time, or if you simply detest ready-made deserts (or all of the above like me).

PS: In the next post I will be singing the praises of silicon muffin cases which I have used for the first time today (and will unquestionably be using in the future).
PS2: If you do make these muffins, let me know how they turn out! :)


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