Trip to London: Buckingham Palace, Southend, Harrods and Jimmy Carr

Some of you may have been wondering where I was the past weeks, while other probably do not give a hoot. Nevertheless, if you choose to carry on reading this post, you will find out what I was up to.

This is the anticlimactic part for those of you who have made it to the second paragraph – I was on holidays. No surprise there in July. I was in London for just under a week, and spent a week at home in Berlin with my sister and her boyfriend. The activities carried out in the last two weeks were enough to keep me away from Joyful Antidotes, but were also enough to provide me with fresh meat to post here. So let’s get started with some snippets from my time in London!

We went to London to visit family and to enjoy some Jimmy Carr tour tickets (Funny Business) we received as a Christmas gift. Unfortunately I have no pictures to share of Jimmy (our seats weren’t in a good place to take clear pictures). I have no video footage of him either as I am hoping for a cut in his DVD sales if you all have to go out and buy it to see what he said. What I can tell you is that he was absolutely hilarious, and even more shocking than he is on the television. Sometimes I felt like the ground would open up and suck me straight down to hell for laughing at jokes about Oscar Pistorius, plane crashes and the disabled. I think sometimes I actually laughed out of sheer shock. Mr. Carr really is not one for the easily offended. But, if he is your cup of tea, I certainly recommend going to see him.

Buckingham Palace was on the list of ‘must-see’ spots although I have seen it three times already. We somehow managed to get a great spot at the front even though we arrived just half an hour before the Changing of the Guards started. Luck of the Irish! The guy in the picture below looked really stern but I think his crowd have a softer side as they played a Billy Joel medley. The policemen may have been the most entertaining though between their beautiful horses and the one liners they had to make people stop crowding up the area. The only negative part was that the cavalry were not there that day.

Harrods. What an amazing store! So much luxury and beauty in one place. They had a one person submarine in there!! Surprisingly there were some items in there that were relatively affordable and could be bought for a special occasion. Sadly. I bought nothing that day, but I did go to the Disney café. The equivalent of €14 may be pricey for a toastie but it was tasty, and shaped like Mickey Mouse!

Perhaps my most favourite thing we did was head for the day to Southend. While Berlin is great and all, I miss the freedom you have in Ireland to just head off to the beach for the day. As you can see from the picture below, the weather wasn’t the best, but it was still good enough to go bare-legged and fill my lungs with sea air. We spent some time at the Adventure Island Amusement Park there where of course I was afraid to go on most things. I only became brave towards the end when it was time to go and I went on a (tame) rollercoaster. The highlight of the day bar far, however, was fresh cod and chips at the Neptune Fish Restaurant. Naturally, I topped mine with mushy peas and curry. I definitely recommend dining here if you find yourself in the area.

Ps. If you want a stress free trip, then fly into London Southend Airport. Compact, clean and friendly staff – what more would you need?

So, there you are, the highlights of my recent trip to London. It is such a big place so I didn’t get to see half of which I wanted. Never mind, I will be back again! Leave any recommendations you have below!

 

Review: Sure/Rexona Roll On Deodorant

Beauty blogs. We read them for reviews on makeup, shampoos, perfumes and all other delights that leave us looking and smelling better. But like every topic in life, we as humans don’t like to get down to the reality of an issue. Today my friends, I am going there. I am going to talk about the not so glamorous topic of deodorant.

Let’s face it, we all sweat. Some worse than others, and all of us that bit worse during the summer. Human nature cannot be argued with at times, but we do have ways to fight against it. Deodorant! Without getting into too much gruesome detail, I looked for quite some time to find a deodorant suitable for me. Nivea, Dove, Adidas – none of them left me feeling with that wonderful dry feeling they promised. That was until I found Sure!

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I think I first came across Sure deodorant on The Makeup Fairy blog. After trying so many other brands, it was worth a try. It took a while to catch my eye on the shelves of Rossmann however as it is called Rexona here. Lucky for me I recognised the brand symbol. I use the roll on and have used all the variations of the product. the one I currently use, and use the most, can be seen in the picture above. All work equally as well. They are not sticky for a start. They smell pretty good and keep you smelling pretty good. I have had no ‘sweat patch mishaps’ with them either which is a good thing. With other deodorants, I avoided wearing tops with sleeves in the summer. Not very good for a clothing lover!  Finally, they actually last. I would never go 48 hours without using deodorant, but I have went 24 with good results. This is especially good for people constantly on the go.

So, that is my gushing review of Sure/Rexona deodorant which has probably provided too much information for some. I also want to state that this is not a sponsored post. I am just aware that the topic of deodorant and sweating can be embarrassing for some ladies and I wanted to let you know that there is a cheap and cheerful deodorant out there that might be a good solution for you!

Tips on Introducing New Foods to Your Diet

When I decided to cut meat out of my diet worry circulated amongst others. Would I be able to stay healthy? How would I get my protein and iron? Admittedly, this was a fact which worried me also, and which led to my decision to become a pescatarian rather than a vegetarian. I was also known for being a fussy eater in my younger years, and even at a later stage in life. I guess until it became embarrassing to leave vegetables behind on the plate. I didn’t even eat pizza until I was 16 and that is one of the greatest junk foods alive! Nevertheless, approximately one and a half years into my new lifestyle choice, I am healthy and enjoying my new widespread taste palate. Some people are shocked to see the types of foods I eat now and I am proud to have turned my eating habits around. I know I am not alone in regards to restricted eating and thought I would share some tips with you as to how I expanded my food horizons.

Test the water – We all have those foods which we say we don’t like but don’t actually know why. Adulthood is a good time to re-test these flavours. Ask friends or family for a little nibble of their lunch/dinner if there is something you want to taste. There is no point spending a lot of money on something that may potentially be dumped in the bin. I also tended to taste things for the first time in restaurants, by buying the food myself, or again tasting from the plate of another. This is not a good solution for some budgets, but it worked for me as many restaurants in Berlin are relatively cheap. As a bad cook, I didn’t want to prepare a food badly and put myself off it for life.

Start small – Sometimes you may taste a food and not immediately recoil in disgust. This is a good sign and you may actually end up like the item in question. This happened me with a few food items, namely fish and nuts. So, I started small knowing that immediately jumping into eating an octopus would put me back at square one. I began eating healthy nuts (almonds, cashews, etc) roasted and with salt. Not exactly healthy I know. It helped me get used to the flavour thought and now I eat them in their natural form. With fish, I started with fish fingers. I now eat salmon, cod, calamari and tuna, and am working my way up to other things.

Here is a calamari dish I prepared myself!

Here is a calamari dish I prepared myself!

Change the flavour up – This ties in with my nut example above. There were many vegetables I did not like before, now there are very few I dislike. What did I do to combat this? Lots of curry sauce! Eating vegetable covered in curry sauce helped me build up a taste for them. Now, I even venture into eating salads with no dressing! Pick a sauce you like and slap it on until you are comfortable with the taste and texture of the vegetables, or another food you are trying to introduce.

I can't say I ever had a real problem eating pizza once I tried, but this is a good example of the curry tactic!

I can’t say I ever had a real problem eating pizza once I tried, but this is a good example of the curry tactic!

There you have it – my top tips into introducing new foods into your diet. They make not work for everyone, but they certainly helped me. The main thing to remember, however, is not to be afraid. As gross as this sounds, you can always spit it out and after one bite, you need never eat that item again. I still struggle a bit with eating some foods though and would appreciate any tips which can help me confirm my love/hatred for them. I would also appreciate some suggestions of new and exotic things to try!

Review: Tommi’s Burger Joint Berlin

I am a sucker for a good burger and a cartload of fries. Whenever I am in need of some comfort (also hangover) food, this is exactly what I go for. When I first moved to Berlin it was rather difficult, in my opinion, to find a burger and fries which really hit the spot. It can be even more difficult to find a burger joint that do a decent veggie burger, that is, one that is not a soggy, greasy mess. It is hard to convince people that a vegetarian burger is worthy of the status when lumps of carrots and peas in a bun is your only defense. All that is changing now though and Berlin is becoming a burger heaven.

I have a list of burger places that I want to try because I am a nerd in certain ways. Yesterday, I ticked Tommi’s Burger Joint off my list. The vast number of good reviews, and its closeness to where I live, had put this place on my want list since the day it opened. I was also attracted to its old school McDonald’s menu. As you can see from the picture below, there are not many options on offer at Tommi’s. This is not a problem though as what is lacking in choice, is made up for more than enough by the quality of the food.

This is not a picture of the Berlin menu. However, the prices are more or less the same. The Berlin menu an be viewed at http://burgerjoint.de/. Photo via FlickrCC.

This is not a picture of the Berlin menu. However, the prices are more or less the same. The Berlin menu can be viewed at http://burgerjoint.de/. Photo via FlickrCC.

When ordering, I was told that the veggie burger being offered was not the usual one, but tasted equally as good. Considering I had never tasted the regular burger, this was no problem for me. Fries and cola were also naturally ordered and the whole lot came served casually in a basket with a helping of cocktail sauce. The addition of cocktail sauce immediately brought a smile to my face as I have only ever found that delectable treat in Ireland. The skinny fries were equally tasty although nothing mind-blowing. Certainly the best fries of that kind I have had in Berlin, but for me, nothing beats a hand-cut, thick fry.

However, one bite of the burger and it jumped to my number one veggie burger of all time! It was absolutely amazing and I have not stopped thinking about it since. It took me a few bites to decide what it reminded me of – a cheese and onion pie from the chip shop back home! Right, I have no confirmation that it was exactly this, but my taste buds told me that the patty was filled with creamy potato, cheese and some type of seasoning. It was incredible! The tasty soft bub it was placed between was a winner also. My boyfriend was with me and he had the cheeseburger with added bacon. Another winner! He really enjoyed the simple but tasty treat.

I don't have a picture of the veggie burger. Sniff. But here is a picture of the delicious cheeseburger. Photo via FlickrCC.

I don’t have a picture of the veggie burger. Sniff. But here is a picture of the delicious cheeseburger. Photo via FlickrCC.

I really cannot rave about Tommi’s enough. The food was great, the restaurant was cool and the people were friendly. I most certainly will be stopping by here again and look forward to seeing what their regular veggie burger has in store for me.

Film Review: The Fault In Our Stars

Friday the 13th is a day which fills many people with dread. Not me however. I was born on the 13th, not a Friday, but still on a date that most people consider unlucky. The ‘luck of the Irish’ keeps me balanced though no major disasters yet, tip wood (I never said I wasn’t totally superstitious). But on Friday the 13th, 2014, a certain type of fear was bubbling up inside me; the fear that The Fault In Our Stars movie would not be as good as the book.

If you haven’t heard of The Fault In Our Stars by now you must be on another planet and I refuse to support your ignorance so you must go and find a synopsis yourself. Any TFIOS fanatics who have found me, welcome. I will save you the anticipation of waiting until the end of the post to let you know that it was truly awesome and totally in tune with the book.

The actors played their parts well, especially Shailene Woodley who in my eyes was perfect. Ansel Elgort I was unsure of at first because he was not how I visualised Gus. I am always open to being wrong though and left the Sony Centre in Potsdamer Platz with a new actor crush. In all honesty, I could not name a single actor who I felt wasn’t fitting for the part.

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Highly recommend this cinema to expats in Berlin.

Nothing that happened in the book was removed from the screenplay (at least as far as I could see). This was a relief as I felt that every part of the book was crucial. It made watching the film as entertaining as reading it and I really enjoyed seeing some of my favourite scenes being played out in front of my eyes. I could feel every bit of heartbreak with the characters and it was impossible to keep the tears in, for anybody in the cinema in fact. It was easy to identify the people who had already read the book as they began sniffling almost as soon as the film begun.

At the same time, TFIOS had a lot of humour. Considering the storyline, it would have been hard to imagine the laugh out loud moments which occurred. It was such moments which helped certain minor characters (Hazel’s Mom and Isaac, for example) to come into their own.

So, my overall verdict on TFIOS which I am sure you have already gathered from my above comments. Absolutely amazing! Fans of the book will not be disappointed, and those new to the story will want to run out and buy a copy straight away. I am still a bit angry with John Green for putting me through such a rollercoaster of emotions, but hats off to the man for producing a story as magical as this.

Book Haul: The Old, The New and the Down Right Brilliant

You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. ~Paul Sweeney

For that simple reason, I cannot be without a book in my life. Even if they rustle up emotions in me that have me mourning a character as deeply as if they had been a living, breathing person. Luckily, they can also instill feelings inside me that I can take on the world.  I just need to find the right book.

Usually, I just read any book which comes my way. Sometimes they are recommendations, and other times they are books I have been longing to read for ages. Other times they are found in the bargain baskets of local bookshops. While the latter is a good option economically, it can also result in wasting my time turning the pages of truly awful books. So, when the time came a few weeks ago to restock my library, I took the time to really think about what I wanted to read. I had been making a list of books which had caught  my attention, and choose selectively from this long list of titles. Others where beauties I just happened to stumble by. The bookworm inside me cannot wait to get stuck into these, but first, for my fellow reading enthusiasts, a haul!

The books I bought can be separated into 4 categories, with the first being fiction. It includes ‘Sharp Objects’ by Gillian Flynn simply because of how great ‘Gone Girl’ was. I have ‘Nights of Rain and Stars’ by Maeve Binchy and ‘Message in a Bottle’ by Nicholas Sparks as these are authors whose work I always like to read. Finally, I selected the ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel. People have raved about the film so much I thought why not try the book (we all know that reading the book first is better). It was also just €1 at a market so it is not a major loss if I hate it.

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We have the ‘reread’ book next, and one I should be ashamed of if the reactions of some people are anything to go by. I am not going to apologize though. I loved ‘Twilight’ by Stephenie Meyer and I can’t wait to read it again.

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Next up are the classics, and I use that term as loosely as possible. This is not Jane Austen or Charles Dickens we have on our hands but ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ by J.K. Rowling and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ by Truman Capote. Both are older releases which I am finally getting around to reading.

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Lastly, we have the non-fiction section. All 3 are again books I have been wanting to read for ages. ‘Blog Inc.’ by Joy Deangdeelert Cho will do exactly what it says on the tin – help me to improve my blog. My interest in food (and perhaps the vain part of me who wants to stay looking young) brought me to ‘Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat’ by Naomi Moriyama. Finally, ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen because sometimes I need cheering up and a kick up the backside to keep me motivated in terms of my own life goals.

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I would love to hear your opinions if you have read any of these books. Please also feel free to send me some recommendations!

PS: As a quick tip, for any expats looking for English books in Berlin, get yourself on Sundays to the market in Boxhagener Platz where there is a large selection at €1 a piece!

Out With The Old And In With The New: Finding A New Style And Depop

Those who know me are probably sick and tired of me moaning about clothes. In fact, I have done it on here a couple of times too. I did that post where I grieved over being too old for the clothes in Forever 21, for instance. I also wrote a number of posts where I bragged how I was going to find a new style and change my wardrobe, but of course, none of that never happened.

Last year I read ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin (check the archives for a series of posts about it). One thing Gretchen suggests is getting rid of any clothes which no longer fit, of that you haven’t worn in ages, and are likely to never wear again. At that time, I did get rid of some clothes. I guess I am a hoarder at heart though because there were many ill-fitting and/or old pieces that I just could not let go of. The psychologist inside me reckons that one other reason behind this is that I was attaching these close to memories and a different version of myself. However, the past is the past and will never become the future again. This means it is time to let go of the old me and embrace the person I have become. One way I doing this is by dumping a lot of clothes out.

The new me also wants to keep up with the times and have decided to sell some of my preloved items on Depop. If you do not know what Depop is, I would explain it as an app similar to Instagram where close and other material objects can be sold. A lot of my clothes were never worn or worn once so I thought, ‘why not give it a try’? I should probably state here that this is not a sponsored post. I genuinely have an interest in Depop and am taking a chance on it to make some extra cash.

I don’t have many followers on Depop yet. Sniff. But I hope that some of you might come and check me out after reading this post. I am open to offers and am happy to ship all items worldwide (check out some examples of what I am selling below). In the meantime, I will be trying to figure out what the hell my new ‘style’ should be.

 

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Experience Life: Embrace Other Cultures

When my time in Berlin is over (if that ever happens) one thing I will be forever thankful for is how it has allowed me to become more open to other cultures. I used to think I knew a lot about other cultures when I still lived in Ireland, but in reality I was quite ignorant. Not that there is anything wrong with loving your own culture and being content in what it offers, I think I was just too immersed in Ireland and being Irish.

A few years before I left was when many Eastern Europeans and African nationals began moving to Ireland. I worked with some lovely people from these countries and thought my friendliness and the few off questions about their homeland was enough. Not really when they tried so hard to fit in with us. As much as we probably hate to admit it, we are Europeans now. It has its ups and downs I am sure some will argue, but it has opened up many doors for us in the sense of learning more about our neighbours, their customs and traditions. This is a great opportunity for those who have the interest.

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This post is gathering a lot of depth quickly here so I feel the need to simplify it. Let’s exclude any arguments about employment, state benefit, etc. Instead, focus on the music and cuisine of others – two things we can all enjoy. Last weekend I went to a Brazilian festival here in Berlin which was set up to celebrate a land of people situated far away. And to highlight the coming World Cup. It was held in Beach Bar Mitte and it was a fantastic day and night. There was a Zumba class, samba music, amazing dancers and wonderful musicians. There were some independent retailers selling traditional caipirinha cocktails, mouth-watering dishes and beer mixed with mate. Five stars were given by me for each one. My dancing however was more like a one-star show. The place was full of different nationalities having a great time. It opened me up to things I really enjoyed but had never taken the time to appreciate. I ate a spicy rice and potato dish that evening which was delicious but like dishes I have eaten from other countries. This brought back home for me the realisation that we are all different, but all alike at the same time.

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I never experienced anything like that in Cork. What a pity. I think I would have had more interest in languages and other food if I had the chance to attend such events. I am not targeting Ireland in particular here, or any individuals. Besides the great time I had, all I want to do is highlight that this is a changing world. Let’s open ourselves up to more in life and be pleasantly surprised. I know I sure will.

My Tummy Always Rumbles For Irish Food

Food is pretty much a recurring theme on this blog at this stage. I am surprised really that it hasn’t been the dominant topic on here much sooner as I am CONSTANTLY thinking of food. I am one of those people who are eating dinner in the evening and thinking about what to eat the next day. One of my most favourite (and saddest) games is to look up the menus of restaurants I may potentially go to and decide what I would choose from the menu. Luckily I will not bore you with the results of such a weird pastime here, nor will I share with you any cooking attempts or disasters. Instead I see this post as an emotional outreach to my fellow Irish expats. This post will be dedicated to the foods I miss from home.

Recently I came to the conclusion that I don’t really miss food from home anymore. But I was wrong. I do. Not all of it but quite a number of things. Luckily I have a wonderful friend named Helen who was able to come to Berlin with a few treats, namely Lucozade, Tayto and mushy peas, to tide me through until I return home in August to restock. Find the wonderful Helen over at: www.anseo-a-mhuinteoir.com. You can buy Tayto online (here) but the delivery price can be a bit steep and it is only from the Northern Ireland factory. I thought you could buy them from the Republic but I cannot see this option online anymore. Correct me if I am wrong and send me the link!

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You just can’t live your life without a stinky bag of cheese and onion Tayto once in a while.

With some other products or dishes from home I am a little more lucky. When I am feeling a little flush, I head out to an Irish bar to have some fish and chips drowned in vinegar! I wrote a post over on the Wimdu website which lists my favourite bars outside Ireland. This list was compiled before I found The Castle Pub in Gesundbrunnen though which is now on top for me. I certainly recommend checking them out. A full review will come when I go back again and can take some pictures!

Now the sad part. Sometimes it is not always easy to go out to eat, especially when I want to stay in my PJs all day. That is when I need to have a stock of goods for myself. For the little bits and pieces I just have to have in my cupboard, I head to a store called Broken English whom have a good selection of products from the homeland, as well as three locations across Berlin. Vinegar and Robinsons drinks are always on my list here!

Here are the mushy peas! Head over and ask Helen about the journey they had here.

Here are the mushy peas! Head over and ask Helen about the journey they had here.

There are some things that you can’t find in Berlin though like a good cup of Barry’s tea – something my fellow Corkonian boyfriend likes to have in the apartment at all times. That is when I had to go all detective and find some alternative shopping places online. It didn’t take my long to come up with Viking Direct. What a gem! They have Barrys AND Lyons tea! The sugar in the tea (bad pun alert) is that when you buy 2 boxes of tea, you get some free biscuits! They also sell my beloved Robinsons!

One thing about feeling so passionate about food from home is that you take on the mindset that everybody should like the food. I try to keep my forcefulness under wraps but then I see gift hampers like these on Viking Direct which seem like great gifts (possibly to myself):

http://www.vikingdirect.ie/a/pb/St-Patricks-Day-Treat-Hamper/pr=QD5&id=6742935/

http://www.vikingdirect.ie/a/pb/Irish-Relish-Selection-Hamper/pr=QD5&id=6742917/

Irish food hampers! A great gift so says my biased self.

This was a bit of a long-winded post but I couldn’t help get a bit passionate. If there are any links you guys know of where I can get food, drinks, cosmetics or anything else not available in Germany, then do let me know. I will be forever grateful!

Review: Luxurious Lashes Extra Volume Brush Mascara

I find myself pretty restricted when it comes to make up. I blame my over sensitive, red, dry skin for that one. For those very annoying reasons, I only use Clinique products on my actual face. This leave me with only eye and lip products to experiment with which admittedly does not happen that often.

Mascara is up there with diamonds with being one of a girl’s best friends so of course I like to try as many as possible – and if I can get a good one at a reasonable price then all the better. I found that with the Luxurious Lashes Extra Volume Brush Mascara by Kiko as seen below.

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So, what was good about this mascara? For one the shade of black was ideal. It was dark enough to give a pop to the eyes by day without going overboard. As I don’t spend very much time in nightclubs anymore, this was a good feature for me. Nevertheless, it could be built up to something more if needed.

*excuse my terrible skin

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So, what was good about this mascara? For one the shade of black was ideal. It was dark enough to give a pop to the eyes by day without going overboard. As I don’t spend very much time in nightclubs anymore, this was a good feature for me. Nevertheless, it could be built up to something more if needed.

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In terms of lasting wear, I think that this mascara does pretty well. It keeps its shape and colour over the course of the working day, mine being 9 hours. If I were heading out in the evening I would top up again but that is my personal preference. I wouldn’t say that the mascara is necessarily waterproof but in fairness the packaging does state this. It takes a good amount of wetness to the eyes to make the product drop.

 

Overall, I am happy with this product and would purchase it again at the bargain price of €7.20. If that is not low enough, keep an eye out online and in stores where sometimes the mascaras are on offer for just €3.90.

 

Have you tried Kiko mascara before? Tell me below in the comments what you thought.