Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Peanut Butter Popcorn


What day is it today?
Wednesday.
And what does Wednesday mean?

Orange Wednesday!

I love the cinema, but maybe, just maybe, I love the popcorn more. Popcorn is my kind of treat. However sometimes, the getting to cinema just seems too much effort, but fear not, with my recipe for popcorn as delicious as Ed Westwick, a home movie will be just as good!



You will need:
  • 100g Popcorn kernels
  • 2 Tbs Peanut Butter
  • 65g Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tbs Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tsp Salt
  • Cooking Oil

In a large saucepan, pour in a thin layer of oil, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan, and heat on a medium temperature until its hot but not smoking.

Then add in the kernels, swirl to cover all of them in the oil, then put on the lid and wait for the magic to happen!

The kernels should start to pop- first one scared the living daylights out of me!

Once all have popped, transfer to a bowl to cool down.


Now in another pan, heat the sugar and syrup together until completely dissolved.

Next add in the peanut butter until completely melted in.

Then add the salt (I actually added a bit more salt because I like my popcorn more salty, but salty popcorn isn’t to everyone’s taste, so 2 is a middle ground.)


Finally, take off the heat and immediately pour over the popcorn and start to stir and cover all the popcorn quickly as it sets fast.



Now, you can either let it cool completely in the fridge for a while so it sets, or I quite like to heat it up in short bursts of 15 seconds in the microwave for that ooey-gooey goodness... a bit like Ed really.




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Saturday, 23 February 2013

Studded Sleeve Jacket


Can you believe we are already nearly 2 months in to 2013? But more importantly, can you believe I’ve only just made my first clothing purchase of 2013?!

Feeling my inner rock chick calling I opted for heavy metal- A Mango studded sleeve jacket, which I bought on ASOS. 


The small pyramid studs run all along the sleeves and across the shoulders, very Burberry I thought.
The jacket itself is of such good quality, thick material, which I’m impressed with. 


Keeping up my rock chick persona, I paired it with a lace blouse, shimmer leggings and leopard print courts to give it edge.


Studded Sleeve Jacket- Mango; UK here, USA here
Basic black T-shirt
Leggings- Zara Sold out but similar here
Leopard print courts- Matalan Sold out but similar here




I’ll never make model material if I can't be serious, will I?

Any good purchases lately you would recommend?




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Friday, 22 February 2013

ICEBAR London


All work and no play make Laura a very dull girl, which I feel I may be slowly turning into due to the mountain of dissertation papers I currently reside under. This post is a little cheeky as it was actually sitting in my drafts from over 4 months ago! Typical me! However I feel I should share to prove to you all that I was once quite social, and do not make habit of living in a papery existence.

I’d heard of ICE BAR for years- the UK’s only bar made purely of ice at a chilly -5°C. It’s by the people who designed ICE HOTEL in Sweden. Everything is made of ice including the walls, the bar, the tables and the glasses which is all sources from the Torne River ice in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. Every year the bar changes theme, as new ice is brought in, as well, the old one eventually wears and melts. This year is Glacial Frontiers. 


You have to book, as you are given a 40 minute time slot to spend in the bar. The bar is hugely popular so I would recommend booking in advance. When we arrived we still had to queue for a while as they were clearing up after the previous slot. When we did get in, we were given a thermal cape and gloves to keep us warm.


Although it was still cold!


We were then shown down to the bar which is underground. I will admit, I was rather... underwhelmed. The bar is really small, more of a room than a bar. The floor is obviously not made of ice to prevent accidents, and while the walls are ice and so is the bar, it just lacked the wow factor I was expecting.

On closer inspection the overall design is incredible, as to think people have carved this by hand is amazing. The walls are illuminated by colour changing lights which do show off the pristine quality of the ice.



For the price of the ticket includes a cocktail from a limited menu, and while sounding nice, they were nothing special, and already pre-mixed. They were all served in a glass made of ice which was cool [pun intended] but with (small) refills costing £6.50 upwards, I didn’t bother.



We chatted to the guests about the uniqueness of the bar and of course larked around with the ice sculpture.


Overall I did enjoy ICEBAR and as it describes it is an EXPERIENCE, however it is not a bar you would go purposely for drinks, more to experience the novelty they have created. Its somewhere to go to tick of the to do list and say you have been. The fact that it does cost £16 pounds to get in is ridiculous really as it isn’t a club, or a bar you actually would go for a night out. I’m glad I went but now I’ve done it, it isn’t something I would go back to, however I think it is good to go once. 

If you fancy going it’s located in Heddon Street, which is just off Regent Street.

31-33 Heddon Street, London, W1B 4BN
info@belowzerolondon.com
+44 (0)20 7478 8910




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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


Lent is the time of year we usually give up something gluttonous, with chocolate being the most popular. Yet even those who don’t tend to consume that much chocolate seem to all of a sudden crave a ridiculous amount. I’m slightly ashamed to say I haven’t give up anything for lent, I just couldn’t, there were too many excuses! A 3 course dinner here, a girls night in there... and shamefully I didn’t want to go without. However, if you have got more will power than I and have given up chocolate, then I have the perfect recipe for you.

Gorgeous, sweet chewy cookies, without a speck of chocolate in sight. The raisins provide the sweet, the oats an added crunch while the spices give it touch of luxury.

Go on, you deserve them after you’ve sacrificed so much all ready! 


To make 8 cookies you will need:
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 25g soft brown sugar
  • 80g rolled oats
  • 50g raisins
  • egg
  • 1tbsp black treacle
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1tsp baking powder

Pre heat the oven to 180 C / gas mark 4 and line a large baking tray with grease proof paper.

Mix together the butter and both sugars till soft and combined.

Then mix in the treacle and the egg. (An electric whisk is advisable, or if you fancy a good arm muscle workout…)

Next add the salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg powder.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, oats and raisins before adding to the butter mixture.

On the baking tray, spoon heaped dessert sized balls of the dough onto the tray, and then press down slightly with the back of the spoon.

Into the oven they go for 10-12 minutes or 15 for crisp biscuits.

If you can resist, allow to cool on a wire rack to firm up before devouring with a cold glass of milk.



Even better, the sun is finally shining! I’m going to take my coursework, sit on the grass with a cookie and study hard... or watch the rugby team get sweaty. It’s a tough call!



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Monday, 18 February 2013

YSL Touche Eclait Vs L'Oréal Touche Magique


If I had to some up what being a student, currently midway through final year feels like, I’d probably say broke.

There just seems to be so many outgoings lately, mainly train journeys to graduate interviews, but also the all important graduation gown. However sometimes when you’re staring into ANOTHER bowl of Tesco Basic tomato soup, you just need to treat yourself. So over the weekend I purchased a bottle of YSL Paris eau du parfum, which is my night time fragrance, but also I also thought about trying something new, something classic, something legendary.

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat


I already use a similar imitation product by L'Oréal Paris called True Match Touche Magique Concealer, which actually I have no problems with, but I thought why settle for OK, when I could have amazing?

However, actually, despite its legendary status, I’m quite, well, unimpressed. Now it’s not to say it isn’t good, not at all, it does cover my dark circles, and give a healthy glow, but… nothing more than L'Oréal achieved. 

Therefore let me walk you through both products…


Now yes, YSL does hands down win in style and luxury. I did receive this gorgeous gift box with my purchases, which I will be using for storing various things.



The product it’s self does too come boxed, however packaging alone really should hold that much influence, especially if money is a factor
.



Again the design of the product will always be won by YSL, it just looks expensive, and the gold shines in the light, unlike L'Oréal which does look cheaper, and gets quite grubby after a while.


YSL uses a push button to pump product onto a brush, L'Oréal uses a click wheel effect. Both are very simple and I have no preference.




Now in terms of the brush, there is nothing wrong with the L'Oréal version, and i have been quite happily using it for years, I did notice the difference with the YSL one. It is much smoother and better quality. The L'Oréal tends to split off, while the YSL holds together, minimising visible brush lines.

However of course the proof is in the pudding. I chose to buy the original Touche Éclat, although they do now do different shades. As you can see from the picture the two products are different colours. On the left is Touche Éclat and on the right is Touche Magique. The Touche Magique was actually closer to my face skin tone (although the other way round for my hand), as I did find the YSL a little too rosy in tone for my skin, as I am very pale with icy undertones, rather than a warm complexion. The YSL was also thinking in texture which while shows quality, it actually hindered it when being applied to the face, as I didn’t want a thick product on my face giving me a cake’d on look. Both blended in well and were not visible to the general observer, although as said, the L’Oreal one was a closer match for me.


Overall while both were great, I didn’t find much to different, and therefore from a purely cost perspective, the L’Oreal one wins.

I wanted to highlight this, as I know being a student sometimes with a tight budget can feel disheartening, especially when you read people buying new, luxury products. And yes, of course we all need to treat ourselves, but if you are on a budget, I would suggest splashing out on maybe something with more of a look value, rather than a product, as a nice new bag people will see, but a concealer, I found no visible difference, and so no one else will be non the wiser, and to be honest, nor was I.

Don’t worry, student life doesn’t last forever. Just think, if you put in the work, get a good degree, hopefully we’ll all be laughing to the bank soon... or on second thoughts, maybe we’ll just have to find a rich husband!



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Thursday, 14 February 2013

1 Billion Rising



1 in 3 women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. This equates to 1 billion women. This figure is an atrocity and must end.

1 billion rising is a global campaign to end violence against women, which calls for 1 billion women on 14th February to stand up and join together to dance in a defiant act. The campaign is by the V Day Movement, the campaign behind The Vagina Monologues, and is currently in its 15th year.

This is a photo taken by Eve in Ghana, which shows how many surgeries are due THAT DAY for women who have been sexually mutilated.

On Tuesday I went to go see my universities production of The Vagina Monologues, as my friend was performing in it. Over the last few months, through her I’ve heard more and learnt more about the amazing work that The Vagina Monologues and V Day do for women who have suffered. Eve Ensler, the creator of the movement is an activist, who after working in The Congo with victims of horrific violence and rape wrote the first draft of The Vagina monologues in 1996 after interviewing 200 women in America about their views on sex, relationships, and violence against women. In 1998, the charity, "V-Day", was conceived with the intent of using The Vagina Monologues to raise money to help women who had suffered.

The Vagina Monologues is now performed in 193 countries around the world, from professional stage shows, celebrity endorsed shows, to amateur dramatic performances, like my university one. 


It is made up of 18 monologues, all highlighting different issues, some hilarious and some quite shocking. One called The Vagina Workshop had me was crying with laughter at, as it is about 2 women who attend a, well... vagina workshop in order to rediscover their body and become liberated. They talk about the sheer embarrassment of vaginas in the wittiest way. Yet another, Crooked Braid is about domestic violence and was quite harrowing. 



The performance I attended was so good, I couldn’t believe how confident and passionate the cast were. Yes, everything is centred on vaginas, including the cakes for sale- Gingerbread women with little sugar hearts where their vaginas would be, however there was a good strong male presence in the audience too. 

Through some of the performances I discovered I’m quite prim! I couldn’t bring myself to chant along with the word ‘C@nt’. It was about reclaiming the word from the negative connotation it has got when people use it as a derogative term, but still, when the audience was asked to chant it in defiance, I just couldn’t muster my voice. I did however cry with laughter, if not go a little red at one monologue of a sex worker simulating her ‘triple orgasm’!


At the event, there was information stands from various charities which were benefiting from the money raised as 90% goes to local charities, and 10% goes to the main V Day fund. Reading the information, I just couldn’t believe the stats. More than 95,000 rapes happen in the UK alone each year and yet only just under 1000 of them are ever brought to justice! I’m disgusted by this fact, as the thought of 94,000 women suffering in silence really grips my core.


While The Monologues are suppose to shock you into thinking, the message is truly important, and only from this have I actually really thought about what goes on everyday in the world, which I am disappointed in myself for.


Please if you can, donate to this amazing cause here, or better still go see a local or national Vagina Monologue, as I promise you won’t be disappointed and you will be helping to change the lives of so many women.

So on this day, February 14th 2013, stand with me against violence against women, and rise!




Update: The Lancaster University Vagina Monologues raised over £9000! 


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