Friday, 23 December 2011

1 day left!

Merry Christmas people!

1 day left until Christmas Day :)

Very excited!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Why I love Farmers' Markets

- The variety is huge! (It is the only place I can get my favourite yellow plum tomatoes)
- They are sourced locally, thus the chances of them being fresh are much higher. Plus, I don't think they bother putting the tomatoes in the fridge and then taking them out to sell them.
- I support the local farmers rather than national supermarket chains - I don't think I have to elaborate on that one do I?
- You can pick your own fruit and vegetables since most of the time they are sold loose. Yes, you can do that at some supermarkets as well, but I prefer the farmers' market!
- They are cheaper than the supermarket (last week I bought a bunch of fresh organic spinach to use in my spinach canelloni. It was 50p. And I also got a punnet of blueberries for 80p. And a 400g packet of cranberries for a pound. Take that Sainsbury's).
- The difference in taste is ENORMOUS- particularly if you are eating them raw, e.g. in a salad.
- The guys behind the bench always smile - and I inevitably smile back! :)

The only downside up until now is that the vegetables usually need a very good washing before eating raw or cooking them. But really, is there any competition?

This post could save your cluttered wardrobe.

If your wardrobe is filled with clothes, shoes and accessories you never wear (and probably never will), worry not, bigwardrobe is here to offer you a new wardrobe without having to spend a fortune!The idea is  to swap your clothes with other members', getting rid of anything which is too good to throw away, and getting new items with minimum cost and fuss. Upgrade to a pro account (for £1.50 per month), and you can sell them for money as well! The range is quite big, with everything from vintage designer items, to perfume and cosmetics (there's even a 'wedding' section!), you'll certainly find a replacement for that old top you've never worn, or that bag that never seems to suit any of your outfits.

I personally just listed one item (a top I bought but have never worn) up to now, and I already got an offer, but I'm still at the early stages of getting to know the procedures. But I can't wait for my wardrobe to have a makeover! Some things to keep in mind: you can connect your account to PayPal (like on Ebay), for easy and safe transactions, choose whether you want to offer UK only or worldwide delivery (yes, it is open for customers overseas as well!) and pick a guide price for each of the items you list. It is actually easier than I thought!

Happy browsing ladies and swap away!

Have you used before or any similar websites? What do you think? :)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Help - Kathryn Stockett

Set in Jackson, a small town in Mississippi of the 1960s, the story follows Skeeter, a young girl who just came back from college determined to become an author. However, as soon as she comes back she slowly realises the racism against the coloured domestic help and comes up with an idea: to write a book which is a collection of the experiences of several coloured maids.

Of course, this was easier said than done. She had to confront her supposed best friend, Holly, who is basically the female version of the Devil, her boyfriend who cannot understand why she would take such a risk and thus leaves her, her conservative mother who is dismissive of her aspirations to write, but most importantly she had to confront  isolation and disappointment as she was abandoned by the people closer to her.

Written with sensitivity, honesty and humour, Stockett captures the essence of human relationships and their complications, as well as the contemporary racial prejudices - and pushes for them to change. The book is written from three perspectives, Skeeter's, Aibeleen's, the first maid who decides to write her story for Skeeter, and sassy Minny, another maid who also one of Hilly's sworn enemies after the Terrible Awful Thing she had done to her.

It is not like any other book I read before, yet I would easily give it a 10/10. You might need some time adjusting to the slang, but when you do, you won't be able to put it down, I promise!

PS: It has recently been made into a film, but I always recommend to read the book first and then watch the movie, because when I do it the other way round it always ends up in disappointment!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Asian Tuna with Soy Sauce and Honey

This is the way I had my tuna steaks (because they are so much healthier than the tinned tuna), using a few (asian) basic ingredients I had at home. It is very easy since most of the work is done beforehand, and the tuna just takes minutes to grill, but I'd point out that this recipe is not recommended for anyone on a low-sodium diet.

Ingredients: (Serves 1)
-1 tuna steak (or two smaller ones)
-50ml of soy sauce
-1 tsp honey
-1/2 tsp ground ginger
-1 clove of garlic, minced
-1/2 tsp sesame oil (regular sunflower oil will do if you don't have sesame oil)
-1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes, or finely chopped fresh chillies (optional)

1. Put the soy sauce and the honey in a pan over medium heat and stir until the honey dissolves.
2. Add the ginger, garlic, sesame oil and chilli flakes if using. Give it a final stir and remove from heat. Let it cool.
3. In a bowl (or freezer bag if you want to be practical), put the tuna steak and the marinade and leave to marinade overnight (ideally) or for an hour minimum.
4. In a medium grill, grill the tuna steak for about five minutes per side or until lightly charred, basting with the sauce every now and then.
5. Serve with rice or asian salad.


Saturday, 10 December 2011

A Lipstick Truly Infallible

Before you read further, I have to point out the following: this is not a proper beauty product review, I haven't bought it and I haven't tried it on my lips. Also I'm not being paid to say this, but I simply HAD to share it with you!

Due to Christmas (and Christmas parties) approaching, I was in a search for a new lipstick. Naturally, I went down to Boots and tried several lipsticks on my wrist (I never try them on my lips for hygiene reasons). I carefully examined the shades and thought that maybe I could extend my search to other stores as well (eg my favourite Body Shop). And then (here comes the important part!!) I take out a tissue from my bag to wipe the lipsticks off my wrist. I wiped off all of them apart from two. They wouldn't come off. Not even after two days. Even my Simple make up remover who has never disappointed me in the past, failed to remove them. By now you'd be curious to know what kind of amazing, heaven-sent lipsticks these were which stayed put despite my repeated efforts to defeat them.

They were L'Oreal's Infallible, and yes you can write this down.

Unfortunately I didn't buy any of them because a lot of shades were shimmery, and I'm not a real fan of shimmer on lips, and those who were matte, were shades that I already had from previous purchases, or shades which I didn't already own but didn't suit my complexion or style anyway *sad face*. BUT as you can understand by now, I highly recommend them! They come in twos (one is the coloured lipstick - the one I tried - and the other one is a kind of lipbalm to keep your lips hydrated) in a pretty case in a variety of colours ranging from browinsh-gold, to raspberry and true red.

Yes, I understand that at £11.29, the price is a bit steep for a high-street brand (considering that MAC's lipsticks are priced at  £13.50), but if you know which shade you want you can easily get it online for a fraction of the price. 

Let  me know what you think! :)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The art of having a Tiger Mother

This is about an article I read today in the Times, and which really made me think that mothers everywhere are not so different after all. It considered the Chinese way of raising children, based on the concept of a Tiger Mum and a Wolf Dad, who tend to punish their children for achievements which are anything less than perfect; the article cites the example of Amy Chua (who published a book on the matter by the way), whose daughter got an A-minus in maths, she won second prize in a regional history competition and she passed her piano exam with distinction. Ms Chua, being the Tiger Mother, demanded to know why she didn’t get an A in maths, berated her for disgracing the family by not coming top in the history contest and threatened to burn her toys if she doesn’t do two hours of piano practice, adding that there will be no sleepover with her friends today, or indeed ever.

But of course, little did the Chinese mothers know, since recently, a couple of young schoolgirls published a book of advice and tips on how to deal with a tyrannical mother. The Complete Book of Combat With Mum, includes tricks ranging from crying and burying your head in your mother's chest, to threatening to leave home, or for the less dramatic but more courageous, start singing in the middle of a punishment. As expected, the book became an immediate hit, being forwarded tens of thousands of times in the Chinese equivalent of Twitter (at this point I should point out that it was initially uploaded by the girls' father who evidently took a more humorous approach to the matter).

Amy Chua with her daughters Louisa and Sophia

However, given that there are Western mothers dangerously resembling the Chinese Tiger Mother, is it really a matter of culture and government propaganda? Or are the children virtually reduced to tools for personal glory?

Monday, 5 December 2011

Stuffed Peppers with Feta Cheese

I was a bit homesick last week, so I decided to make something greek-inspired in the kitchen. Stuffed peppers are considered quite a delicacy back home (we all get very excited when my grandmother makes them - and she also makes stuffed vine leaves and onions), although they are traditionally made with minced meat, rice and spices. However, I didn't have any minced meat at home, so I stuffed them with a mixture based on feta cheese - which is more of a Greek way to do rather than Cypriot. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did if you try it at home. :)

Ingredients: (serves 1)
-100g feta cheese
-2 large peppers (preferably red, orange or yellow because they are sweeter than the green ones)
-1 tsp finely chopped pepper
-2 rashers of smoked bacon or pancetta, excess fat removed and chopped
-1 teaspoon thyme
-1 teaspoon dried mint
-1 small tomato deseeded (you don't want the filling getting too liquidy) and finely chopped
-2 spring onions, finely chopped
-1 tbsp of olive oil plus more for brushing the peppers
-Black pepper

1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.
2. Cut off the top of the peppers and scoop out the seeds.
3. In a bowl, crumble the feta, add the chopped pepper, bacon/pancetta, the herbs, the tomato, spring onions, 1 tbsp of olive oil and crack a bit of black pepper. Blend well.
4. Carefully scoop the filling into the peppers.Cover them with their tops and brush with a bit of olive oil.
5. Put them in the oven for about half an hour or until the peppers soften and the cheese melts.
6. Serve warm, ideally with a dollop of greek yoghurt.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Witty jumpers!

Yes, we are officially in December, and the last month of 2011! This post is about the jumpers that seem to become a trend, the ones with animals, fruit or whatever other witty thing on them - which apart from being soooo cute, they are also so full of character. Needless to say, they are a definite must on my Christmas list! I give you my top picks:

The one with the lips:

Markus Lupfer

The one with the birds:


The one with the leopard print:

H! by Henry Holland

The one with the lipsticked kisses:


 The one with the snowman:


The one with the strawberry (my personal favourite!)


And I've saved the best for last, the one with the REINDEER (that's Christmas on a jumper):

Any thoughts? :)


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