Student Summer: Best Student Blogs

I couldn’t write this series and not link to some of my favourite student bloggers – here’s the ones where I read every post, bookmark (and even try!) their recipes, and generally just love. Apologies for the lack of photos, for some reason Photobucket is playing up and I couldn’t access them last night…so have a picture of where I’ve found some of these blogs instead (PS – I was featured too, in the Guardian!)

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Lottie’s Little Kitchen – this is a lovely little blog with some great recipes. It’s more slowly updated nowadays *sob* but her chicken is one of my favourite meals (my version is here). She does some lovely little lifestyle pieces too, utterly jealous of some of the fabulous things she gets up to!

The Scrimpy Student – even the name of this blog makes me smile! A great lifestyle blog, full of money-saving tips. She has a love of the yellow ‘oops’ reduced stickers too!

Handbags & Cupcakes – if you are planning a Year Abroad, this is a must-read for you! Rachel has been on her abroad year over the last 12 months and has kept the blog updated regularly, there’s some fab guidance posts, and again the most lovely recipes. Any girl who seems to feature peanut butter and chocolate so often is definitely on my reading list!

Birmingham Student Foodie – probably for when you’re feeling a little more flush (most of the recipes seems to be out of my budget) but there’s some really lovely dishes here. They would be great for when you are trying to impress.

Writing Essays with Wine – a new find for me, and also a new favourite. This blog is a great mix of all studenty-lifestyle posts, and she’s also writing a great “Guide to Starting University” at the moment!

Life and Times of a Student – another new find, but one that I’m really loving. This blog provides an excellent insight to student life through the interview style posts, it’s a must if you are feeling a little bit nervous!

Nouvella Daily – not specifically a student blog, but there’s some great posts here and here. There’s also some lovely and budget-y recipes on this site, so its definitely worth taking a look.

Diary of a Maths Student – go mathletes! Other than (I assume) a shared love of maths, this blogger and me feel so alike. I love the mix of posts, the gentle guidances through university. This post made me feel a whole lot better during my exam period!

 So there you go – some of my favourite student blogs. I’d love to know if you have any must-reads for me – so what are your favourite student blogs?

 

Baking: Autumnal Blackberry Brownies

 photo 3cc0736f-e26a-4a47-a57a-21e10786dc75_zps27620964.jpgI love autumn. I can’t be the only one who’s starting to long for pretty scarves, chunky knits, and lovely boots. Actually, I’m not longing for boots as I can’t find any that fit – if anyone knows of any affordable wide-calf-narrow-foot brands I’ll pay with brownies… On my walk to and from walk I pass by a long hedgerow that’s absolutely brimming with blackberries and plums. Sounds idyllic, although the reality is it’s right next to a trainline, and right under Gatwick’s flight path. But for those few moments I could be on a country walk, and so after a week of waiting for blackberries to ripen (and moaning when others got there first) I came home with a small handful. A good wash and they were as good as any I’ve picked from a field.

 photo 2014-08-21083403_zps5a2e9b2d.jpg photo 2014-08-21083320_zpsd8818175.jpg photo 2014-08-18083254_zpsfe4444fd.jpgI debated making a crumble, but lack of ripe fruit meant that was a no-go, and I wanted something I could share. Half my love of baking is sharing the goods around, so a crumble doesn’t really fit the bill. Then I remember the raspberry cheesecake brownies from Edinburgh, and decided to do something similar. Sans cheesecake.

 photo ed98a75c-345b-40ed-903b-fe6668b4059e_zpsdc01713c.jpgI ended up loving the combination of dark, fudgy chocolate brownie with the burst of sharp blackberry, the crunch of the seeds adding a welcome element too. The brownie mix is adapted from my Mayonnaise Brownies; I’ve made it simpler, easier, less washing up. Whilst here I did add a little nutella, I’m not too sure its necessary, and if I’m honest these were a little too fudgy. Just use your judgement – if its looking dry, add nutella!

I’m now convincing myself that using a low-fat brownie mix, and adding fruit, means it’s acceptable to eat four of these in a day. Agreed? Here’s the recipe to convince you…

Ingredients

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 pinch of baking powder
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 220g sugar
  • 1/3 mug of hot water
  • 1 egg
  • 150g mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tsp of nutella, if needed
  • 1 handful of blackberries, though I wish I’d had more!

 photo 2014-08-20182138_zpsdc448439.jpgMelt your chocolate in the microwave, and leave to cool.

 photo 2014-08-20182641_zpsd25ae499.jpgMeanwhile mix the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and sugar together in a bowl.

 photo a041942d-61ec-41a9-94e0-eac3006540df_zps5ca06735.jpg photo 3274b40a-e9a9-4d6d-92b8-2f3003c99040_zps3071bb9c.jpg photo cfb47624-4c67-4915-91b5-6c9e98e79c28_zps24c6b28a.jpgOnce the chocolate is cool, pour it into the dry mix, along with the mayonnaise and egg. Mix together, don’t overbeat. Add the water gradually until you have a gunge-y mix – add nutella if necessary.

 photo 3cc0736f-e26a-4a47-a57a-21e10786dc75_zps27620964.jpgStir through your blackberries, tip into a prepared tin (lined and greased – or just covered in tin foil if you’re lazy like me) and bake at 180C for 25-ish minutes.

 photo c987daed-3407-4bbc-97ed-1057a80e6e3e_zps3986e105.jpgAs with all brownies, do your best to wait until they are completely cool before cutting, or they will fall apart. Then stuff your face with five of them. After all, they are pretty damn healthy ;)
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Are you an Autumn lover?

Beauty: A Little Duty Free Haul

My parents went on a (seemingly lovely) holiday to Turkey recently, and to make up for leaving me at the 9-5 grind I gave them a little list of things I might like to receive from duty free. Now, this list wasn’t overly long, and it also makes up my 21st birthday wishlist – I was also asked to make it longer than just a few items so they had a choice, and I wouldn’t end up disappointed if they didn’t have specific items. Plus it meant I got a surprise in terms of what I actually received! Here’s what I got…

First of some Toblerone. This was technically for my boyfriend, but I’m sure I can get him to share! My parents also brought me back some Turkish biscuits. They are packet ones, not traditional, and cost about 30p for each packet – they are delicious and I’ve actually dreamt about them in the four years it’s been since I went out there. I may or may not have about six packets now…

 photo abc24cbd-b0eb-4a18-8a34-4e6612072a6a_zps8b51875b.jpgI also have a lovely new perfume. Since my operation last year (I had what is essentially nose-job, but not for cosmetic or beauty reasons) I’ve found my sense of smell has changed quite a bit. I’m now not as in love with some of my older perfumes, so I took the chance of asking for something new. I love a lot of the Miss Dior fragrances, but was given the original. This is a really sophisticated scent, it smells great on my skin, lasts ages, and just smells light enough for the office, but strong enough to actually smell distinct. I’m in love!

 photo c5c3b973-f52b-4e0a-91fd-e4159c8f53df_zps27f371a9.jpgFinally I have one of the (many!) MAC lipsticks I asked for. A lot on my list were either bolds or neutrals, but my lovely mum picked up Craving. On me this sits somewhere in the middle. Its not a nude colour, but it’s not totally bold either. It’s a lovely pink, but not berry toned (as I do tend to wear a lot of them!), and not the dreaded barbie pink either – you’ll know from this post last week I hate barbie toned pinks on me! I’m really looking forward to wearing this for work, as I’m conscious of nude colours washing me out under office lighting. I do wince at the price tags, but for the colour choice and wear-time I do think MAC lipsticks are worth it. If anyone has a recommendation for a dark, almost burgundy red, then please do suggest away!

Do you have a duty-free wish list?

Student Summer: Logitech Wireless Mouse Review*

I find that a laptop is pretty much essential for university, even for a maths-related degree. Yes, I hardly use it, it gets more use for blogging, but when I do need it for coursework I’m pretty much glued to it for a few weeks. A desktop for me wouldn’t cut it as I know there are occasions where I need access to it on campus, so laptop it is.

However a laptop isn’t ideal for someone, like me, who has Repetitive Strain Injury tendencies. Since suffering badly over exam period I’ve been prone to really painful twinges (in my other hand) if I use my laptop too often, so I started looking for a decent wireless mouse. Imagine my delight when Logitech contact me wondering if I’d want to review some products – the answer to my problems!
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After a great deal of discussion they sent out the mouse they felt would suit me most, the T630 Ultrathin Touch Mouse*. I have to say, I love it!

 photo 0173c082-ed07-4c07-94e1-8c03bde0f1e9_zps995d0527.jpgIts small and lightweight; I can take this to work and pack in my pocket if I need to. It doesn’t aggravate any pain in my wrist, hand or fingers, and best of all its incredible easy to set up. I did have to order a Bluetooth Adapter as for some reason my laptop seems to have forgotten it’s got one built in, but other than that getting this mouse good to go was painfree. Quite literally!

 photo 1ed69b5c-3422-4edc-aff9-fdef090ac401_zps470ae2a0.jpgIt is pricy for a mouse, but the quality is so, so high. If you do a lot of tedious work using a touchpad I’d highly recommend investing in a mouse. And if you are going to be using it often, I’d go for the best you can afford; I’ve actually gone through several cheaper ones throughout university so you’ll be getting your monies worth. Maybe not a university essential, but it’s an item that’s pretty damn important to me! So whilst it is a luxury item, its also something thats necessary for me!

Disclaimer: The mouse was sent to me for the purpose of this review. I received no monetary compensation, and all opinions are my own – I genuinely loved this product!

What necessary ‘luxuries’ do you use?

Student Summer: What To Take To University #1

I’ve decided to split the ‘What to Take’ post up into a few sections; bedroom; kitchen; study; clothes/makeup in order to make it a little easier for reading, and also so I don’t scare new students as you do need quite a bit of stuff. Today I’ll be covering the bedroom list. Here’s where you can really spend or save to be honest, as its up to you how much you want to get. I’ll take about the essentials first, then any nice luxuries. I’d say stick to the basics, then treat yourself to anything else when you arrive – you never know how well equipped your room is, or whether it will be big enough to hold much!

Bedding

 photo 2013-06-11162302_zps6e984899.jpgThe most important part. I suggest firstly trying to find out what size bed you have – and if you can’t; pick up a flat sheet, and a double duvet. Universities seem prone to having funny sized beds; my boyfriends was 4ft wide (too small to be a double, too wide to be a single); mine was extra long. Standard fitted sheets wouldn’t have fitted on either of our beds, so flat is the way forward. Though admittedly more difficult! In terms of what’s provided; I got a mattress protector, mattress (quite glad it was covered, it wasn’t pretty) and pillow but it does vary. I’d go for picking up a duvet and pillow set; they are generally packaged quite well so will fit into the car!

As for bedding covers, I really recommend ASDA and Tesco; the ones I have from there are really high quality, wash well and are comfortable. If you fancy a splurge, I bought a duvet set from H&M and it is admittedly the best one I’ve ever had; so, so, so soft, and handy holes in the top corner which makes making your bed so much easier! A word of warning – I had a pretty horrific skin reaction to Primark sheets last year, so personally would steer clear of those. I still have scars on my legs eleven months on…

I’d also try and pick up various cushions – great for if friends crash on your floor, and just for making it that bit more cosy. Don’t forget your cuddly toys too!

Hangers

Things a lot of people seemed to forget; generally your new wardrobe won’t come with hangers. Its a lot easier to pick new ones up as they will be packaged well, but if not just pack yours as you pack your clothes.

Alarm Clock

 photo 2013-06-11162131_zps894477ed.jpgI wouldn’t rely solely on a phone to wake me up – generally I never need it but as well as having my phone set three times (not just snooze settings!) I also have a traditional alarm clock which I set every night. It terrifies me if it does go off, but its something that I could never sleep through, and I know the batteries won’t fail! It looks great too, another Tesco bargain of two years ago!

Towels

Don’t buy towel sets; they don’t actually contain what you need. You’ll need a bath sheet; the really big one, and what’s usually left out of towel packs. Then a bath towel (which is what I use to towel dry my hair), possibly a hand towel, and a load of face cloths. I probably have at least 10 face clothes; one I get through them so quickly, and two I’m sure the washing machines eats them!

I highly recommend Tesco towels, they last forever and are so soft – they have survived two years of university washing machines and are still as good as new!

Washing Things

Another thing often overlooked is a washing basket, but its great to have a place to store all of your washing neatly away; and throw your floordrobe in when friends come round! They are available pretty cheaply, I have a really useful collapsable one.

I’d also recommend picking up a clothes airer for things that can’t go in the dryer (though I worked out most things can, regardless of label!), and an overdoor hook. Hooks are great for coats and bags – things you want out of the way but not in the wardrobe.

Extension Cable

An absolute essential. I actually had two of these in my second year room, but just one will do to start with. Go with something slightly better than the cheapest one you will find, ones from Argos are a good bet. You’ll thank me for telling you to get one when your laptop and phone needs charging, your hair needs straightening (though of course, you were meant to do this in the kitchen in my university halls…) and it’s dark enough to need the next item on the list!

Lamp

Yep, a lamp. Perhaps not an essential as such, as there will generally be a desk lamp provided. But I found the provided lighting quite harsh in my halls, so having a lamp for softer lighting before bed was really important to me.

Year Planner

You may get given one in Freshers, but I’d pick up a better quality one. I use mine heavily every year, for me this is a must-have in my room! Just check the rules on how you are allowed to fit it to the wall…

Pictures

 photo 2014-07-08105724_zps7e93b646.jpg photo 2014-07-08110119_zpscd552875.jpgI’m not going to lie, you probably will get lonely at some point during your time at university. I know I did, despite surrounding myself with friends I still missed people back home. One of the things that helped me was having lots of photos around – I’d suggest printing some off. My friend Libby had a wonderful way of displaying photos in her first year, it was a little like a mini washing line with pegs all the way round her room, it looks great!

Luxuries 

I’d always suggest a few little homey touches, trinkets, things you love – just bits and pieces that give the room your personality! I went with some lovely Salt & Pepper pots, cute jars, and coordinated stationery items. I also stacked cake tins on the floor, which I loved – though not when they slid off each other in the middle of the night. I also bought some cheap small canvases from Argos, which I stuck up with blue-tack (again check the rules!), and I filled my bed with blankets and cushions.

Don’t Bother

Personally, I’d forget about an iron/ironing board if you are thinking about it. The last time I actually picked up an iron I was probably 15 or 16 – I probably couldn’t even use one now! I’ve never needed to iron anything at university – hanging well after washing always seems to work, as does hanging creased items in a steamy bathroom. My halls actually provided these items too, so one of the guys I lived with found out after a few months!

And finally…

I ended up having ridiculously high shelves and a stupidly placed cupboard (on top of my wardrobe). Combined with being given the highest cupboard in the kitchen and being vertically challenged, I ended up buying a stepladder from Wilkinsons. Turned out to be a great investment, and I’ve used it a lot during university…without it I’d have had a lot less space!

You can read more about my university bedrooms here and here. What are you taking for your university room?

Restaurant Review: Sunday Lunch at The Windhover, Northampton

Another Sunday Lunch post from me this week, I’m clearly missing them this year! I’m actually living in a vegetarian’s house and feel a little uncomfortable eating me so jumped at the chance to have Sunday Lunch with my Nan for her birthday a few weeks ago. After scouring online menus I decided on The Windhover; a five minutes drive from parents house, with a lovely walk on its doorstep. It’s also priced excellently; not so cheap you get suspicious; not so expensive that you need to remortgage over a lunch.

The pub was completely full when we arrived; this is definitely a place where booking is needed! We were ‘squeezed’ into a corner, which actually suited us fine for a cosy catch up (just to note, the interior photo is taken from their website). On an allergy point of view I was really disappointed to find out I couldn’t actually have a Sunday Lunch, as the gravies had tomato-puree in them. On the plus side, this generally mean its a properly made gravy, so bonus points there!

 photo f05577b1-a769-4f78-abc7-515fd3e61f83_zps1a2fddc0.jpg photo 3d644d70-be53-42b0-8c65-7d6a136b67aa_zpsac7a1e81.jpg photo 02536149-0569-4180-9286-93ad2f13680d_zps23a0bec0.jpgI plumped for a massive portion of Chicken, Ham and Leek pie, with chips and peas. My nan had the Roast Beef; I got lucky ‘cos they brought out enough vegetables for two. Both mains were beautifully cooked; the pie was stunning with a crispy yet soggy underneath crust, a rich sauce, and massive pieces of chicken. Chips were average oven chips; a little dry, but perfect as a vehicle for pie filling. The roast dinner certainly looked beautiful, there were no complaints, and all of the vegetables were freshly cooked.

 photo ce1d92fc-1861-462e-9443-88e0c9608f91_zpsb729fd93.jpg photo fcae1323-d612-4a1c-a631-a4181fc1748b_zps079f6b11.jpgNormally I’m a starter-kinda-gal, but I’d spied the pudding menu as we walked in and deliberately saved room. I ordered a favourite with a twist; Creme Brulee, with raspberries. It was delicious, although the top was possibly verging on burnt, with the raspberries adding a tart and refreshing edge. Nan went for a St Clements tart; I sneaked a piece and it was delightful; zingy, crunchy base and a wonderful smooth filling.

Best of all was the bill; £35 for two courses, and drinks. For the quality it was superb. In fact, it was so good that my whole family is going back this Sunday to celebrate my parents 25th Wedding Anniversary…though I will be taking my own gravy!

Where do you recommend for a good Sunday Lunch?