Wednesday 31 January 2018

Nigella Lawson: At My Table

Hey everyone :)

When I'm not making one of Mary Berry's recipes I do love a bit of Nigella! The last book I bought was Mary Berry's 'One Step Ahead' and so a change was in order ...

For my birthday I had no idea what I wanted and so I settled on a couple of Nigella's books. My favourite has to be her "At My Table' book which was released to go along with her television series which aired on BBC a month or so ago.

My favourite recipe or at least one of my favourites is the chocolate coffee cake.

One thing I do enjoy at the book is that its not just a cookbook - Nigella talks about "the table" being the centre of a house and that was the first thing that she bought when she moved into her house. The table is the centre of the house and for everyone to live around.

The cookbook is absolutely full of recipes and I do enjoy a cookbook that has plenty of pictures so you can kind of guess what the finished product should look like.

Let me know in the comments if you have any of Nigella's books!


Wednesday 24 January 2018

Seed & Bean: Organic & Vegan Chocolate

Hey everyone :)

I'm a big fan of chocolate and sugar (much to my Dentist's dismay - she has told me off a few times!).

When I came across this chocolate company I had to buy some to try. I thought I'd try something different with my tasting and took it into work - safe to say it lasted all about 15 minutes before both boxes were gone.

I did something similar last year when I bought and tried some of Divine Chocolate which was great too.

Seed and Bean are a small chocolate company in Northamptonshire in England. They produce some great flavours of chocolate from milk, white and dark. There are many reasons to buy their chocolate - they know where their ingredients come from, the chocolate is made in small batches (compared to other companies) and as a company they always try to be green.

I went for the milk and white collection - there was four of them and the the extra dark collection - again four of them too.

My favourite had to be the lemon & poppy seed as this reminded me of the Starbucks muffin that they do. Closely followed by the cornish sea salt & lime - I just have a thing at the moment for sweet and salty flavours.

As I mentioned about - everyone at work loved them - I'd say the white/milk more than the dark chocolate but it still all disappeared pretty quickly ... although I have been told some of the guys will eat just about anything when its up for grabs!

Let me know in the comments below if you have ever tried some different chocolate (other than the usual suspects - Cadburys being one lol) in the comments below!


Sunday 21 January 2018

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Hey everyone :)

I remember when I first got into WOW (World of Warcraft) it was at my first year in University and I loved the game! Such a big community and so much to do and I never thought I would find anything similar to it until Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. I had just gone through a long period of Destiny and Destiny 2 - I even did a post on Destiny 2: The Reveal - when they announced everything that would be going on in Destiny 2.

I bought this game at the start of last year. Used up the 30 day free subscription and played it on/off and wasn't really interested - I just thought it was another grinding game (which it is, don't get me wrong). I then really got into it around October last year and started playing every night and now I'm in love!

Now I'm not going to list and compare the differences between WOW and FF but what I will say is a BIG difference is that in World of Warcraft you choose a race and a class and that's it ... yes you can have more than 1 character on your server but they are separate to each other. In FF you can have 1 character and be everything! If you want to be a Black Mage or a White Mage or a Rogue or a Lancer or a Summoner you can! It will take some time levelling them up but so does WOW. One other big difference is the professions ... in WOW you get two and you normally pick the two that go with your class. In FF you can do them all and they all intertwine so you might need something for cooking which you can only get if you go and farm it from a patch of grass etc etc.

For me these two things are the biggest differences and I hate restrictions so for me in a fight FF would win over WOW any day! I mean as I said above - levelling each profession and class will take time but so do most grinding games anyway!

As I type this there in the base game and two expansions (I don't think the first one is classed as an expansion as there wasn't anything before it I think).

- Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
- Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward
- Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood

The games themselves are relatively cheap (writing this on Sun 21st Jan 2018 - A Realm Reborn is £9.99, Heavensward is £15.00 and Stormblood is £25 these prices are all from Amazon UK) however it is a subscription service and I pay £8.99 a month to play the game too.

As I write this post I am nearly at the end of 'A Realm Reborn' but even though I'm at the end of the story there is so much still to do ... such as levelling up my Disciples of the Hand and Land (professions) and other classes that I've started, you also can join a grand company and do quests for them to get seals and then you can level up within their ranks too. There are hunting logs and gathering logs to fill up which get you experience and seals too. You can also find and join a 'free company' which is basically a guild or clan which have other players. I recently joined one and the owner is amazing he/she (not sure yet) - I've never had so much help before or seen a guild that talks and interacts so much! When I first joined FF a random person added me to their free company and I just accepted but they were so quiet, hardly anyone was ever online and if you asked a silly "noob" question you got sarcastic answers back ... not the point of a free company I don't think.

Now I've watched a couple of "let's plays" on YouTube and one thing that sticks out is the amount of time and effort people put into their character creation. I mean the list is extensive - you can choose skin colour, hair colour, highlights for your hair, size of woman's breasts and they even have iris size, jaw size, variations in tattoos and their colours ... as I said the list is extensive!! 

There are 5 different races in the game (I think they have just added a sixth for Stormblood):

- Hyur (human race)
- Miqo'te (cat-like race)
- Elezen (elf race)
- Roegadyn (troll-like race)
- Lalafell (dwarf race)

Each race can then have a clan so for the Hyur - you can choose to be a Midlander or a Highlander. There isn't any effect in the game - the Midlander just looks smaller and has paler skin and the Highlander are more well-built and have tanned skin.

The game then breaks the classes down into four disciples:

- Disciples of War

- Disciple of Magic

- Disciple of the Hand

- Disciple of the Land

Once you have then achieved mastery in a disciple of war or magic you can then specialise in a new skill: Paladin, Monk, Warrior, Dragoon, Bard, White Mage, Black Mage, Summoner, Scholar or Ninja.

I currently play on the Ragnarok server so if you are on that server and see this post - please add me or message me and let me know - it would be cool to hang out!


Monday 15 January 2018

What I'm Watching 2018 #1

Hey everyone :)

The end of November and most of December was television-less for me as most of the television programmes I watch stopped for the Christmas period or the season ended and they haven't announced the new season yet ... if they do.

I wanted to chat about a few of my favourites programmes - some are on Netflix and the rest I catch on Sky:

Once Upon A Time
Currently on their seventh season - I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this season. If you didn't watch the other six - at the end they all got their happy endings and all was well. However in season seven they have "reset" and are doing it from a different angle and different fairy tales. All seasons you can get on Netflix - I highly recommend it though! Such a good show and you get invested in the characters.

The Big Bang Theory
I have watched this show since it started. I think I began watching it when I saw Billie from Charmed (now Penny) in it and I thought it looked good as I liked the actress. It's comedic and easy to watch. It kind of reminds me of Friends - a quick 20 minute show you can pop on while you are eating dinner.

Will & Grace
I remember watching Will & Grace on Channel 4 on weekends when I was young and still at school. They did a skit for the election and it was that loved they decided to do a few episodes for a new season and I think they are even signed on for another season now (might be wrong but I'm sure I read that somewhere). I don't know what to say about them - they are still Will & Grace, Karen and Jack are still around. The only difference is that the maid Rosario is not as the actress retired in real life. If you watched all eight seasons - they basically erased the last episode and it never happened.

Grey's Anatomy
This show has had me in tears more than I'd like to admit! I get so invested in characters like they are my best friends and I shouldn't really. They are on season fourteen now and it's like I've grown up with the characters - I hope it goes on for many more seasons like ER did. It's about interns, doctors, their partners, life ... everything really and it's set in a fictional hospital in Seattle. You can't get too attached to the characters though as Shonda Rhimes (the writer) likes to kill main characters off quite alot!!

Star Trek: Discovery
I absolutely love Star Trek - I first fell in love with Voyager (yes, I can hear you all groan) - it was my favourite, probably followed by Enterprise and I didn't really watch the other two fully. Netflix brought out Star Trek: Discovery (one of their original series) and it's amazing! I'm drooling right now thinking about it - they have been on a break but it will start soon again and I can't wait!! This is set in a universe where an officer killed a Klingon and started a war ...

I won't go on about every show I'm currently watching - but if the above four don't interest you then you should look up: Family Guy, The Orville, Scorpion, How To Get Away With Murder, Shadowhunters and 2 Broke Girls.

Let me know if the comments below what you're watching and give me some ideas for new shows I could potentially start watching!!

If you want to check out my last "what i'm watching" which was way back in 2015 - I've linked it for you.


Sunday 7 January 2018

Amazon Echo

Hey everyone :)

If you don't know I moved house in October - I moved from a room share in a 5 bedroom house (that I've been in since I moved to England 5 years ago) to a 2 bedroom flat in a new development. My old place was furnished and the new place was un-furnished so we had to buy lots of household equipment - kettle, toaster, microwave etc.

I couldn't help myself on Cyber Monday when I saw Amazon had the Amazon Echo on sale so I picked one up and had it delivered the next day - thanks Prime!!

I managed to pick the Echo up for £69.99 on Cyber Monday - it's normally £89.99. It also comes in a range of different colours - I chose the charcoal fabric design - but there are another 5 you can choose from.

Amazon describe the Amazon Echo as:

A hands-free speaker you control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, answer questions, make calls, send and receive messages, provide information, news, sports scores, weather and more. All you have to do it ask.

Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound. It has seven microphones and beam-forming technology so it can hear from across the room - even while music is playing. When you want to use Echo, just say the wake word, "Alexa", and echo lights up and responds to your request.

The 2nd generation Amazon Echo (the one I got) has a 2.5" downward-firing woofer and 0.6" tweeter powered by Dolby, delivering crisp vocals and dynamic bass throughout the room. You can play music from Amazon Music, Spotify, TuneIn and more.

The Amazon Echo is full of features such as:

"playing music everywhere" - if you have more than one echo or one dot then you can link them into groups and then ask Alexa to play music wherever you want and in as many rooms as you want.

"voice-control your room" - if you have the correct equipment you can link lights, tv, thermostats to Alexa and control it all via her.

"hands-free calling and messaging" - you can easily send messages to anyone with a supported device or the Alexa App. You can also send messages or voice to anyone in your contact book with an Echo device or the Alexa App.

"far-field voice recognition" - underneath the light ring are seven microphones that use beam-forming technology and enhanced noise cancellation.

"Echo has skills" - think Apps for iPhone - basically there are over 25,000 skills for Alexa - some good, and some just utter crap! You "enable" the skill via the Alexa App and then there are voice commands to activate and control it.

"Always getting smarter" - updates are automatic and Alexa is always learning. The more you use her, the more she will adapt to your speech patterns, vocabulary and personal preferences.


One thing I really enjoy about Alexa is that you can link your calendars to her and she add tell you what you have coming up - Dave and I use the calendar's on our iPhones so we know what each other have going on and don't double book things.

I have Spotify Premium so I always play music in the living room when I'm wandering around tidying up or playing a game. We have a Amazon Dot (the smaller version) in the kitchen so when I'm washing dishes and my hands are wet I just have to shout "Alexa, play ..." and I'm sorted.

I'm really happy with this purchase and glad that I forked out for it! Let me know in the comments below if you have an Echo (or Dot) and what you make her do :)

If you are interested I also did a post/review/unboxing on the Elgato Game Capture Card HD 60 S.

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