Monday, 31 December 2012

RECIPE: Easy Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky toffee pudding with ice cream (I think so!)
This is an absolute classic British winter pudding, and often my choice if I'm ever out for a pub lunch (which, quite frankly, isn't that frequent an occurrence in student life). Somewhat shockingly, I'd never actually tried to make my own before a few days ago, but I am so very glad that I did.

Adapting an extremely highly-rated recipe from trusty old BBC Good Food, I had high hopes, and I was not disappointed. Very easy to make - and even easier to eat! - it went down a treat at our big family party yesterday.

I baked my cake in a large brownie tin the day before, and after it had cooled, cut it into squares and wrapped in foil. Then while we were all eating our main course, I whacked the foiled up package in the oven to warm through, and it was as if it was freshly baked. I also made the super yummy sauce in advance and just kept it in the fridge - a quick zap in the microwave is all it needs before being drizzled on top of the sponge (and preferably topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!)

This really is delightfully sticky, and the sponge would be delicious by itself, perhaps with afternoon tea. If fussy children don't like the sound of dates, they needn't fear, as you can't actually pick up either the texture or taste of them in this. They're just like little fudgey morcels of deliciousness (and who wouldn't want that?)

I kid you not, I would eat the sauce with a spoon by itself. But then again my sweet tooth is beyond ridiculous. It's also yummy over ice cream, just don't tell any weightwatchers the ingredients! Or maybe just tell them to go easy. It's a deliciously decadent pudding, no-one should deprive themselves.

I used a 25x33cm tin, making 18 squares, but they weren't very deep pieces so you could always use a smaller tin, just be careful not to over-bake it. And don't forget to take your eggs and butter out of the fridge well in advance.

Freshly baked and cut into squares

Ingredients - Sponge:

200g dried dates, stoned and chopped
250ml black tea (not too strong)
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
85g unsalted butter, softened
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
175g golden caster sugar
2 eggs


150g light muscovado sugar
150g unsalted butter
200ml double cream

Pre sauce smotherage


1. Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line your tin or ovenproof dish. Put the dates and tea in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook for 3-4 minutes to soften the dates, stirring as you go. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda - it will fizzle and turn into a bit of a mush.

2. Beat the butter and caster sugar together with electric beaters until pale and creamy, then beat in the egg, flour and mixed spice. Fold in the date mixture and pour into the tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is just firm to touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Once out of the oven, go round the edge of the tin with a palate knife and leave to cool completely before turning out of the tin.

3. To make the sauce, put the sugar, butter and cream in a pan over a low heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Cook until the sauce is a lovely toffee colour.

4. Cut the pudding into squares and serve with the warm sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Mmmmmm... A comfort pudding at its best.

PS. Have a happy and healthy New Year everyone!


Friday, 28 December 2012

Tackling a food obsession

Hi. My name's Rachel, and I seem to be a bit obsessed with food. I want to make one thing very clear from the start: I know I’m not fat. Got that? Good. I’ve ummed and ahhed for a long time about whether to post this blog or not, and it’s quite personal, so please be nice, OK? Not that many people talk about this kind of stuff.

For anyone who doesn’t know me, let me catch you up quickly: By my mid-teens, I’d got a bit chubby. By my late-teens, I’d successfully slimmed down (which you can read about here), purely by healthy eating and exercise – I never skipped a meal or cut out carbs or anything drastic like that. Then at one point, I decided I was actually a little thinner than I wanted to be (yes, really), so I let myself put on a bit of weight and all was great in the world. I was slim, and – I’m not going to lie – really happy with my figure, which gave me a real sense of confidence.

Then I went to uni. Classic error in the quest to remain slim. By the end of my fresher year, I’d put on a little weight. Obvs. ('Freshers 15' anyone?) ‘No big problem’, I thought to myself, ‘Now I’m home I can get everything back on track’. But by the end of the summer holidays I’d put on yet more weight. Oops. ‘Oh, well now I’m going back to uni, and as I’ll be cooking for myself this year, I’m sure I can curb this weight gain’. Only I didn’t. I’ve come back home for Christmas bigger still, but this time I didn’t even try to tell myself I won’t gain weight this holiday, because it’s Christmas, after all. *pauses to think whilst munching a Quality Street*

It was pretty depressing a few weeks ago when I tried to put on a dress I hadn’t worn for a few months, only to find it no longer fits. We've all been there though, haven't we? I know it’s not all about what the scales say, but I went on the Wii Fit for the first time in a few months the other day, and it told me I’ve gained 11 lbs. Not ideal. This was pre-Christmas feasting too.

The scary thing is that time and time again I’ve told myself ‘This is it. C’mon Rachel, get it under control’ and yet I haven’t. I know I’m not fat or overweight at all, but I don’t want to keep gaining weight. Not only is it unhealthy, but I worked so damn hard to slim down in the first place that I don’t want it all to have been for nothing (if for a couple of years being slim). Quite frankly, I have no bloody idea how I lost the weight at all a few years ago. Oh, to have the metabolism of a 17 year old again, eh?

Part of the problem, I think, is my thrifty mindset. Damn you, student lifestyle. I have it drilled into my brain that if food is free, I mustn’t say no. So whenever I’m offered anything, I take it. (Please, never take me to a buffet. They are fatal.) Mostly, I tend to eat pretty healthy meals, but then I’ll graze, snack and binge on chocolates and sugary treats. Curse you, sweet tooth.

Here’s another factor: because I’m not actually overweight and I used to be slim, most people are all too keen to feed me up. If I’m in a group, they will nearly always encourage me to keep eating, and shove the bag of Maltesers under my nose, even when they know we’d all feel better if we didn’t eat our 100th one. But quite frankly it really annoys me when people are like this (encouraging others to do what’s not best for them), and I think they just do it to feel better about themselves for eating/not going to the gym/procrastinating with an essay.

In most areas of my life, I’m really proactive and I take control. If there’s something I don’t like, I’ll set my mind to it and sort it out. I’ve always hated people (OK, hated is a bit of a strong word) who moan about something – often their figures – and then don’t do anything about it, even when  (as Paddy McGuinness would say) the power is in their hands. Now I’m one of those people.

There are people who will be reading this thinking ‘Why do you even care? God, it’s not a big deal! Why obsess so much about what you look like?’ But the fact of the matter is that being in good shape and healthy is important. Not only that, it’s about feeling good in yourself. It’s not for men or to try and get a boyfriend, it’s for myself. And I think every woman (and man for that matter) should have control over their bodies. Quite frankly, if I can’t be in the shape I want to be in aged 20, what hope is there for the rest of my life? Older people always say that it’s so much harder to lose weight when you’re old.

I’m not going to deprive myself of anything (after all, this is basically a blog about cake half the time!), but I think the trick is to eat in moderation and develop some willpower again. We’ve still got all sorts of yummy Christmas goodies in the house, Quality Street everywhere, and big family parties coming up over the festive season, so obviously I’m not going to miss out on such yumminess, I just need to be sensible. For example, maybe I should try to have three chocolates a day instead of six. Easier said than done though... *tries oh-so-hard not to reach for the Quality Street tin again*

At this time of year, a lot of us try to make these healthy resolutions. We need to show food who’s boss. It’s not like I don’t know a lot about nutrition, fitness and how to lose weight. I just need to put it into practice again. But it’s bloody hard, isn't it?

Word on the street is that willpower is like a muscle – the more you use it, the easier it becomes to resist further. From my experience, I’d say that sounds about right. I just need to start building up that muscle again, which is the hardest bit.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s good to enjoy delicious food, but it’s not right to obsess. We need to find the balance. All I really want is to have a healthy relationship with both food and my body, and I know I’m the only one who can take control, make the change and do it.

Hopefully there are other people out there who can relate to all this, as I’ve kind of laid myself bare. Tomorrow I’m going to buy my annual post-Christmas copy of Zest magazine for some healthy inspiration, probably eat some Stollen/Pfefferkuchen/chocolate flapjacks, but hopefully not too many, and try to remember what will make me happiest in the long run. LET'S TAKE CONTROL AND BE HEALTHY AND HAPPY, YEAH!?

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

This is actually from 2011, but it's basically the same as today. I'm just a bit chubbier now.
Right now I am sitting in the living room with my whole family, including the dogs. We have a gently roaring fire on the go, Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special on the TV, and newly unwrapped presents all around. We've changed out of our nice clothes into our slobby (expandable waist) gear, and are happily stuffed with mince pies, a full Christmas roast, trifle and chocolates. And I'm loving it.

I've been thoroughly spoilt today - not only by the presents I've received, but also just by having such lovely people around me on this special day. So on this December evening, I'd like to wish you all a very merry Christmas. I hope everyone has had a wonderful day surrounded by friends, family and loved one, full of lots of love, joy and peace (oh, all right, and presents and food too.)

It's so easy to take what you have for granted, but if there's one day on which to appreciate the lovely people in your life, it's today. So don't forget to do it. Seriously. Go on. Before you watch Downton, make a turkey sandwich or start shopping the sales online, take a moment and count your blessings.


PS. I'm totes sad about how long it is until next Christmas.

Friday, 21 December 2012

VIDEO RECIPE: Christmas chocolate orange cupcakes

Getting my bake on for the camera
Well then. This is exciting (or potentially should be embarrassing but I'm going to go with exciting). I have done my first little show for my uni TV station, UBTV, and - quelle surprise - I am baking!

Any avid blog followers will recognise the cupcakes I'm making for you all in the video as I wrote the recipe up a few weeks ago: Christmassy chocolate orange cupcakes. But if that wasn't enough you can now watch me make them too. And laugh at my posh TV voice. And witness the awesomeness that is this year's vintage Christmas jumper. Quite frankly the jumper is probably reason enough to watch.

And let me know what you think, lovely blog readers.

Nigella, eat your heart out.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

50 reasons why Christmas is the best

I can't quite believe it's less than a week until Christmas. The build up to the festive period seems to have been going on for ages, and despite the commercialisation of it all, this is my favourite time of the year. I recently read something that said Christmas isn't a day, it's a state of mind. And I have been well and truly in that state of mind for a good few weeks now. Loving Christmas 2K12.

Yup, I'm the girl who wears tinsel in her hair, glittery eye-liner and jingle-bell earrings from 1st December. I'm the girl who walks down the street with a huge grin on her face because she's listening to her Christmas playlist. And I'm the girl who gets a little bit sad around about now every year because the festive period is almost over. No, really. Even though we've not even had actual Christmas Day yet.

Most people like Christmas. I love it. I know it's a hard time of year for some, and others find it very stressful - I'm not going to name this person for fear of the backlash they would receive, but a certain someone I know suggested we have Christmas once every two years, or "Christmas Lite" every other year. Just no. Don't even get me started.

But I digress. I LOVE Christmas. And here's why:

  1. Everything is sparklier
  2. Christmas TV
  3. Christmas films
  4. Mince pies are everywhere
  5. Finding the perfect present for someone
  6. Singing carols
  7. Harmonising in a carol
  8. Belting out the descant of a carol (final verse of Hark The Herald, anyone?)
  9. People offer you chocolate. All the time
  10. Beautifully wrapped presents under the tree
  11. Putting up a Christmas tree
  12. The smell of a real Christmas tree
  13. Decorating your Christmas tree with the same decorations as every year
  14. Going to Church for (probably) the only time each year
  15. Bumper Christmas editions of magazines
  17. Leftovers from Christmas lunch
  18. Writing Christmas cards
  19. Getting actual nice post (in the form of Christmas cards)
  20. Hearing from and seeing old friends
  21. Family traditions (as weird as they may be. Yes, Hosies, I'm talking about us)
  22. Glitzy Christmas parties
  23. Sparkly Christmas dresses
  24. Seeing your boss get drunk at the work party
  25. Festive specials at Starbucks and Costa and the like
  26. Christmassy carrier bags and packaging (loving Costa's takeaway cups this year)
  27. Christmas adverts that actually bring a tear to your eye - it's not just me, right?
  28. It being acceptable to have chocolate with breakfast for 25 days
  29. It being acceptable to have chocolate and Champagne for breakfast on actual Christmas Day
  30. It being acceptable to eat as much as you want on actual Christmas Day
  31. Seeing relatives
  32. Hanging out your stocking
  33. Going to see a panto
  34. Everyone is jollier
  35. People are generally kinder
  36. Getting presents (c'mon, it's true)
  37. Christmas lights around city streets
  38. Christmas lights on houses
  39. Christmas wreaths on front doors
  40. Seeing Christmas trees in front rooms from outside
  41. Shops' window displays
  42. Stollen
  43. Christmas-themed baking
  44. Reminiscing about Christmases past
  45. Waking up to see a bulging stocking
  46. Everything smells good (I'm thinking cinnamon, ginger and spices...)
  47. Nativity shows
  48. Christmas spirit
  49. There's a magical feel in the air
  50. Christmas jumpers
Boom. Am I right or am I right? What have I missed? YAY CHRISTMAS! 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Viva Forever the musical: A fan's view and why the critics were wrong

pic from
On Tuesday this week, the long-awaited musical written by Jennifer Saunders and based around the songs of the Spice Girls, Viva Forever, opened in London's West End. Despite an all-star turn-out with appearances by all five of the original Spices (in some highly questionable outifts, but that's by the by) on opening night, Viva Forever was absolutely panned by the critics. The Daily Telegraph gave it one star, and Christopher Hart of the Sunday Times said the musical is "Three hours of tedious cliché, amateur dramatics and endless yowling". Ouch.

However, I was fortunate enough to go and see the show myself last night, and feel the need to explain why the critics were wrong.

For starters, Christopher Hart (and probably the majority of the critics) is a middle-aged man - hardly the target demographic of the show, am I right? Viva Forever is a show predominantly aimed at young women who were fans of the Spice Girls way back when, and I think the critics need to bear that in mind when they write their reviews.

What's more, the stuffy theatre critics probably love their high-brow culture, so naturally weren't going to get any of the hilarious popular-culture references that had us in fits on Saturday night. The story of Viva Forever is set around a reality TV show, and we had judges making clear caricatures of Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne, another one who claimed a performer had "spunk" (Nicole Scherzinger on this year's X Factor, anyone?), and a host who was clearly the love child of Dermot O'Leary and Ant & Dec (I realise that's three people, but you get my drift), who even did Dermot's signature pointy twist to open the show. There was TOWIE speak, Twitter hashtag jokes and fit topless men. Obviously, the show was never going to be your standard theatre critic's cup of tea.

And the thing is, I highly doubt the atmosphere in the theatre on opening night was anything like it was yesterday, when it was full of Spice Girls fans. It was almost like a panto really, and the show lent itself very well to that. We were singing along, doing the dances, whooping, and even calling back to the performers. And because we were having so much fun, the actors will have undoubtedly lifted their energy and performances as a result. I think my favourite moment of the whole show was in Two Become One when two of the performers were singing "I need some love like I've never needed love before", and pretty much the whole audience sang back "Wanna make love to ya, baby". It was brilliant. I highly doubt that happened on opening night.

Sure, Viva Forever isn't the best musical I've ever seen, but by no means is it the worst. I feel like it needed some more hit songs earlier on, and the storyline isn't the strongest, but it's a lot better than the critics have made it out to be.

I highly hope that it's one of those shows which - just like with a lot of films - proves the critics wrong and does really well with the public. We don't always want to come away from a performance questioning the meaning of life and feeling depressed, sometimes we just want to leave singing the Spice Girls and with huge grins on our faces. And after seeing Viva Forever, we all did.

Viva Forever is on at the Piccadilly Theatre in London.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Simple homemade foodie presents - studentbeans article

Yes I've been rather busy powing out articles for recently, and here's my latest one:

"5 simple homemade foodie Christmas gifts"

The recipes I've selected are perfect for showing just how much you love your friends and family (or how broke you are.) The trick is to package your foodie creations up with cute bags and ribbons to turn them into a really special gift. Here's an extract for you all:

"No money? No problem. These gift recipes are perfect for the broke student. Or just the Scrooges of the world who refuse to splash out on their nearest and dearest.

All of the following recipes are much easier than most people would think, which means minimal effort on your part, but maximum impression on your friends and family.

If anyone judges your DIY approach you can always say that the reason you haven't bought presents is that you don't want to fuel a consumerist society (but we won't judge you if you're just broke).


Everyone thinks truffles are difficult to make, but these are really very simple (and utterly delicious). They're essentially Ferrero Rochers. But cheaper. A treat for your loved ones and your wallet.


175ml double cream
200g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g hazelnuts, chopped into pieces
Icing sugar, cocoa powder, more chopped nuts or sprinkles to decorate


Put the cream in a small saucepan on the hob. When it starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Stir until smooth, then add the hazelnuts and vanilla. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and chill the mixture until it’s thickened but not solid (about 30 mins in the fridge). Scoop out teaspoons of the mixture and roll into balls using your hands. Put your chosen decoration on a plate and roll each truffle over until coated, then chill again to firm up.


Fudge is another lovely present that is a lot easier to make than people think. Try adding nuts, mini marshmallows or butterscotch if you fancy something a bit more exciting.


300ml milk
350g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract


Grease an 18cm square cake tin. Put the milk, sugar and butter in a saucepan. Heat gently, constantly stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted. Bring to the boil and boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring all the time. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Leave to cool for a few minutes then beat the mixture with a spoon for a couple of minutes until it starts to thicken and lose its gloss. Quickly pour into the prepared tin and leave to set at room temperature. Once set, cut the fudge into small squares and store in a sealed container.


These are great for those (strange) people who don't have a sweet tooth, and also make for great party nibbles.


25g Rice Krispies
70g plain flour
50g unsalted butter, softened
115g grated Cheddar cheese
½ tsp paprika


This recipe should make about 14 biscuits. Preheat the oven to 190C. Bash the Rice Krispies in a sealed bag with a rolling pin. Rub the butter and flour together in a bowl using your fingers until they resemble breadcrumbs. Stir in the cheese, Rice Krispies and paprika. Shape the mix into about 14 balls and flatten slightly on a greased baking tray. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden."

And of course I'd love for you all to click through to my article on studentbeans, so for the whole article and the other two recipes - apple chutney and hanging stained glass window biscuits - follow this link.


Monday, 10 December 2012

Easy and cheap DIY Christmas decoration ideas - studentbeans article

It's nearly 1am as I write, I've just finished working on an essay about the German Democratic Republic in the 1950s and I'm rather tired, so I'm going to keep this opening spiel pretty concise.

My latest article for is up, in which I reveal a load of ways to make your own Christmas decorations and jazz up your home without having to splash a load of cash - "15 cheap DIY Christmas decoration ideas." And c'mon, who wouldn't want that? Exactly. You would. In fact, you do. I can tell. There's more to a student-friendly Christmas than Primark's finest tinsel, that's for sure, so don't let a limited budget stand in the way of a festive few weeks of joy!

Here's a cheeky lil extract for my lovely blog readers:

"So, it’s Christmas time, and you’re at uni. All the beloved decorations from your childhood Christmases past are at home with the rest of your family. What’s a broke student to do?

Well, having a decorationless Christmas isn't even an option, that's for sure! Just look at all the simple ways in which you can Christmasify your house/hall without breaking the bank…

Crank up the Mariah Carey, whack out the mince pies and get all your mates involved. Aww. Students making Christmas decorations together - I think we all know what next year's John Lewis Christmas ad should be, don't we?

1. Paper chains

Minimum effort. Maximum Christmas impact. You can buy special paper chain-making kits with pre-prepared strips of paper if you’re feeling extra lazy, but why not save money by making your own: cut strips of paper (Christmas wrapping paper is perfect) about 2cm wide and as long as you like - the longer the strips, the bigger the loops will be, obviously. Curl one strip into a loop and secure with sellotape, then do the same with the next strip but loop it through the first one before sellotaping, then just keep going like this. With all your housemates involved, you’ll have enough to cover the whole house in no time.

2. Pinecones

Pinecones have a really festive feel to them. You could buy some from a shop, but why spend the money when you can find perfectly good pinecones for free in the good old outdoors (bird poo can totally be washed off, after all)? Give them a wash if needs be, and whack some in a nice bowl as a pretty table centrepiece. If you’re feeling particularly keen, dip the tips of the pinecones in gold or silver paint or glitter for an extra festive touch.

3. Christmas cards draped over ribbon

Or if you’re feeling like a bit of a Scrooge when it comes to splashing out at Christmastime, string will do the job. Use pins or blue tack to stick it to your walls, then proudly display all your Christmas cards (hang them sideways). Not only are you adding Christmas cheer, you’re also letting everyone know just how popular you are. Or not, as the case may be. It’s probably because you’re a Scrooge.

4. Paper window stencils

These are surprisingly easy yet really effective. All you have to do is draw a silhouette of a festive shape on to a piece of paper, cut it out and stick it on to your window with a little blue-tack. Particularly pretty when it’s dark, these are lovely for passers-by to look at (and any visitors will obviously be impressed.) If you’re lacking in artistic talent, find a picture online and either print it out or copy it.

5. Tree branches

The whole tradition of Christmas trees started off with the ancient Egyptians bringing palm leaves into their homes to mark the winter solstice, so if you can’t afford an actual Christmas tree, why not take a leaf (see what I did there?) out of their book and find a spare branch outside to bring in. Cover it in tinsel and no-one will know the difference."

So for ten (yes, TEN!), more fabulously innovative ideas of how to turn your home into a Christmas wonderland this December, I'd be honoured if you'd click on through to read the rest of my article here. The above ones will also make more sense with the pictures on the website as well. 

PS. If you like this type of thing, you may very well like my previous blog post in which I reveal the 20 best ways to decorate a student room.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Easy chocolate no-bake fridge cakes - studentbeans article

Being the end of term and all (essays and deadlines galore!), I'm unfortunately not finding as much time to blog as I'd like to (boo!). However, I have managed to write another article for "12 simple chocolate fridge cakes".

All the recipes can be made without even turning the oven on. Yes, really. So, do you like the sound of chocolate peanut butter granola squares (which are also on my blog here), super chocolatey cheesecake, classic chocolate fridge cake, Mars Bar Rice Krispie cake, sweetie rocky road, Maltesers cheesecake, chocolate cornflake nests, chocolate custard biscuit layer cake, chocolate tart, rocky road cheesecake, jazzed up chocolate biscuit cake, or chocolate orange mousse cake? Phew! Anyone craving chocolate now? 

And if you like what you read (and it would seem my cake-related articles always do get the most "likes"), why not click on through and read the whole article here.

""What's that you say? I can make cakes without actually baking?" Yes my friends, yes you can.
The following recipes don't require you to go anywhere near an oven (although it's likely that you will be if both your fridge and oven are in the kitchen), so you don't have to worry about forgetting your cake while it's cooking and ending up with a sad, blackened mess. We've all been there. It's tragic.
These easy chocolatey cakes will go down a treat with everyone and are merely set in the fridge. Simples."

Saturday, 1 December 2012

RECIPE: Chocolate orange Christmas pudding cupcakes

Chocolate orange Christmas pudding cupcakes

Oh, there's nothing like a spot of Christmas-themed baking! With festive tunes to set the mood, I had a blast concocting this recipe today.

Essentially, they're chocolate orange cupcakes, and you could leave them at that at any other time of the year. But now that it's December, why not go that little bit further? Not that many people actually like Christmas pudding (children in particular), but I think it's highly unlikely that anyone won't like these yummy chocolate orange cakes!

Everyone eats more chocolate at Christmas time, and oranges are also a traditional favourite (well, you've got to balance out all the chocolates somehow, haven't you?), and together, they make a distinctly festive flavour combo. With the orange glacé icing too, these cakes have a lovely intense flavour.

Chocolate orange Christmas pudding cupcake

What makes these cupcakes extra special is the cheeky chunks of Terry's Chocolate Orange inside - from the outside they look like plain chocolate cakes, and then you bite in and WOAH! Hello, chocolate orange. You are a pleasant surprise.

These mini Christmas puds make a lovely change to the usual cakey offerings at festive parties, and are guaranteed to go down a treat with all ages.

In order to make them look like Christmas puddings, I didn't use muffin cases, so it's crucial to grease your muffin tray reeeeaaally well. I mean really well. Of course you could use muffin cases, but they would look less like Christmas puddings (but would still be delicious!) And don't forget to take your egg and butter out of the fridge well in advance. It makes nine cupcakes.

Chocolate orange cupcakes - delicious just like this
UPDATE: You can now watch me explaining how to make these yummy cupcakes here! I'm basically Nigella. Or maybe Mary. I'll take either.

Ingredients - Cake:

50g dark chocolate
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder
40g softened butter
The zest of 1 orange
1 egg
125ml milk
1/2 a Terry's Chocolate Orange

Icing and decoration:

250g (ish) icing sugar
1 tsp custard powder
1 tbsp (ish) orange juice or water
9 dried cranberries/red smarties/red sweeties
A few little green leaves (washed)


1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a muffin tray (really well!)

2. Melt the chocolate - either in the microwave on low power, stirring frequently, or in a bowl over simmering water. Leave it to cool slightly while you carry on with the recipe.

3. Measure out the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and orange zest in a bowl and mix together with a handheld electric mixer, gradually increasing the speed until there are no lumps of butter and the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

4. In a jug, whisk the milk, egg and melted chocolate together by hand. Don't worry if the chocolate doesn't completely combine and it's not perfectly smooth.

5. Stir the wet mix into the dry until just combined, then spoon it into the muffin tray until each is about 2/3 full. Break each segment of Terry's Chocolate Orange into about three bits, and lay them on top of each cake (one segment's worth for each).

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and go round the side of each cake with a palate knife. Leave in the tin until completely cool and then place them on a drying rack (trying to remove them early will probably result in broken cakes. Which is jolly sad.)

7. Once cool, make the icing: sift your icing sugar and custard powder (to thicken it), then add orange juice in tiny bits until the desired consistency has been reached. It should be quite thick so that it will droop down the sides a little bit, but not completely run off. Spoon a bit on to each cake, and top with a red sweetie and leaves to look like holly.

There you have it - Chocolate orange Christmas pudding cupcakes!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

In praise of praise: How to be happier and more positive

pic from
Recently a thought occurred to me. And, being one of my better thoughts, I obviously tweeted it: I have realised that I'm one of those people who are happy a good 95% of the time. And this in itself makes me happier still.

Here's a classic exchange in my daily life...
Friend: How are you, Rachel?
Me: Oh great thanks, I'm actually in a really good mood.
Friends: When are you not in a good mood!?
Me: Fair point.

I know I'm a naturally jolly person who's more optimistic than most, but one of my twitter friends replied to the aforementioned tweet asking "How do you do that?" And the thing is, I couldn't really give an answer. I don't feel I have control over being happy, I just am.

I think some people just naturally have a more positive outlook than others, and I feel blessed to be one of the lucky few. I hope this isn't just the naivety of my youth... I always tell my pessimistic parents (one of which describes herself as a realist, but she's in denial) that I don't want to end up jaded by age and thus lose my inner optimism and zest for life. I've seen it happen. Sad times.

However, I do think anyone can change their mindset and become happier. It's all about appreciating what you've got. Guys, I'm just going to put it out there: LIFE IS GREAT! Sure, it's not a perfect romcom all the time (now wouldn't that be amazing!? Preferably a musical one if I'm being picky), but in the scheme of things, we all have so many blessings for which to be thankful.

I know everyone has their problems, but the fact that you're reading my little blog tells me that your life can't be too bad - not because my blog is that great, just because you're obviously not dying of famine in a third world country. Well, it's unlikely that you are anyway. If you are, I'm really sorry. I never waste food, I swear!

One of the things I think people don't do enough is to give praise. How GREAT do you feel when you get a bit of praise or a compliment? From something like a friend casually saying "Love your shoes", to your professor saying "I was very impressed with your dissertation that basically counts for your whole degree and thus your whole life."

If you like something, SHARE IT! If I really like a zumba class, I tell the teacher at the end! He or she may have been wondering if anyone was actually enjoying their routines, and can then go home reassured (and more likely to do more great ones in the future. Win-win!) If I think a classmate has given a really interesting presentation, I'll let them know. They could have been worrying that everyone was bored to tears. And if I think one of my friends looks pretty in her new profile picture on facebook, I'll comment and probably" like" it too - I'm a bit of a "like" slut on facebook. I can't help it, I just like so much stuff! I remember a friend at school a couple of years ago telling me "Rachel! Stop loving everything!"

So the point is that by saying nice things to people, not only only will you make them feel great, but you will feel better too. Trust me. I don't mean you should go round doing a Regina George and give compliments when you don't actually mean them:

"Regina: Oh my God, I love your skirt! Where did you get it?
Girl: It was my mom's in the '80s.
Regina: Vintage, so adorable.
Girl: Thanks.
Regina: [after girl walks away] That is the ugliest f-ing skirt I've ever seen."

Oh, Mean Girls, you cannot be beaten.

But anyway, I just don't understand why if you're thinking something nice, you don't just say it? It could make someone else's day. And karma comes back around, you know? (Or so Justin Timberlake once said, anyway.) It's like that classic mum line: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Well, I'm going to twist this and say "If you can say something nice, say it!"

It's the little things that often make my day, so why not spread some joy yourself, and you might just make someone else's? I really think this might be one of the reasons why I'm so happy most of the time. I'm very rarely in a bad mood because I just love life! (As cringe as that sounds...) YAY LET'S ALL BE HAPPY, OK!? Good.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Guys' style and my fave looks on a man

A good sense of style (along with an equally good sense of humour) is extremely attractive in a man. I know I'm not the only girl who's spotted a potential male in the wild, only to be put off instantly by a dodgy earring or pair of shoes.

Although men's fashion doesn't get as much attention as women's, I think it deserves to. There's a lot men can do with their look, and this seems to finally be getting a bit more recognition thanks to a new generation of stylish men, such as my friend Nathan Beesley (whose fabulous blog you can read here). It seems that it's much more acceptable for guys my age to show an interest style and their appearance than it was for my dad's generation. This is definitely a good thing in my eyes.

As a single lady, I do often think it would be nice to have a guy for whom to choose the odd nice item of clothing - as hard as I try, there's only so much a girl can do to get her man-styling kicks out (my dad and brother suffer/benefit from this at every Christmas and birthday).

I recently wrote a post about my style 'no-no's for girls, so here are my style 'yes-yes's for guys:

1. Pointy shoes. Preferably in tan leather, but I'm not picky. (Yet picky enough that I couldn't find the perfect picture of what I mean online.)

2. Swishy hair. (I am powerless to resist)

Could it be any swishier? (pic from

3. Blazers.

Oh Look Harry Styles is illustrating my point perfectly again. (from
4. Colourful trousers - boldness in general really.

Definitely NOT a member of One Direction (pic from
5. Breton striped tops.

See? I like other 1D members too. Here's Louis Tomlinson. (from

Thinking about it, I really like these styles on girls too. In fact, it's basically my style. But on a man. Hmm. That's odd. I know it may also seem like I have just described Harry Styles, but I assure you that is purely a coincidence. He just happens to illustrate my points nicely. I think. Moving on... Here are my 'no-no's:

1. Skinny jeans. Just no. Even Harry Styles wears these some times. Not ideal. (I do love wearing these myself though.)

Frankie Cocozza. Pic from
2. Piercings. Hate them.

not even David Beckham makes an earring look good. (from
3. Jewellery in general (unless you're a sun-kissed Australian surfer dude. Yes, I just said dude.)

4. Football shirts. You are not a professional footballer. And even they look stupid.

5. Long hair. Leave it to us girls, please.

I just don't think this looks good. (from
Got it? Good. Please do not offend my eyes with such atrocities in future. Do you agree with my opinions?

UPDATE: The aforementioned stylish male Nathan Beesley has written a cracking response to this blog post which you can read here. Although he may not share my love of Harry Styles, it's refreshing and amusing as ever to hear his view.

Tricks to slip exercise into your daily life - my studentbeans article

This guy is not only ironing and getting fit, but he's clearly having a ball
The party season is upon us. We're all rushing around like lunatics trying to get everything ready for Christmas, keep on top of our work and go to all the festive social engagements possible. How is there possibly time to exercise? You must be thinking.

Well, my latest article for has come at the perfect time to solve your dilemma. I've found 9 easy peasy ways of fitting exercise into your daily routine - they're so simple you won't even realise you're doing them! And here's an extract for all my lovely blog readers:

"Whether it’s a lack of time, motivation or money that’s preventing you hitting the gym, don’t despair at your squidgy cheeks and dive into the Malteasers for comfort!

Try these simple ways to sneak exercise into your daily routine – you’ll barely notice you’re doing anything different, and could be in your best shape yet come Christmas (mince pie, anyone?)

1. Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator

Going up two extra flights of stairs every day could result in losing 6lbs in a year. You'll also be toning up your legs and bum without realising. Could there be a simpler way to shift the puppy fat?

2. Walk instead of getting the bus

...and if it really is too far, just get off a couple of stops early. Regular walking reduces your risk of all sorts of health problems, from strokes to coronary heart disease. Plus, it’s free, so you'll be saving money and getting fit at the same time.

3. While watching TV, get up at every advert break

...and do a few squats/sit-ups/press-ups. If you’re watching X Factor , you’ll be as toned as Nicole Scherzinger herself by the finals*!


4. Have a catch up stroll with friends

...rather than meeting in a café. Or at least go for a stroll first… Nowadays, we all spend far too much time on our backsides - whether at your desk, in a lecture, or just on the sofa - but purely by standing up your body burns three times as many calories as when sedentary."

If you liked those four, do be a babe and click on through to read another five super handy hints! Thanks. Oh, and click the "like" button to if you, er, like it. I know, I'm not exactly promoting myself subtly, am I? But a wannabe journo has to do what she can, and I appreciate everyone and anyone who reads what I write. Seriously. You, reading my blog, right now. Thanks.

PS How funny is the picture I found for this article? I swear I laughed for a good ten minutes when I first found it. Ha ha ha - oh god, here I go again... #easilyamused

Monday, 19 November 2012

Men’s Style: The Five Commandments, by Nathan Beesley

I would like to introduce you to someone who I know is one to watch in the world of fashion journalism, my ever stylish friend, Nathan Beesley. Yes, he's male and yes, he's into fashion. No, he's not gay.

Nathan has a wonderful blog called The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, where he shares all sorts of interesting musings in an oh-so-witty fashion, and today (in response to my last article "My ultimate style and beauty 'no-no's for girls") he has written a brilliant post entitled "Men’s Style: The Five Commandments".

Now this is a man who knows how to dress, so I suggest you listen up and follow his wise words. (Although, one point which I'm willing to debate is that of the gilet, but hey.)

You can read Nathan's full post on his blog, but here's a little taster of said Commandments to whet your appetite:

"1)       Thou Shalt Not Wear Drop-Crotch Jeans

The whole purpose of clothes in the first place is to create an appealing silhouette and flatter your figure, so why would you wear jeans that make you look like you’ve emptied the contents of your bowels into the base of your trousers.

2)       Black and Brown Doth Make a Frown

This is mainly concerned with suiting and other formal wear: Black shoes with black trousers. Brown shoes with navy or grey trousers. Capiche? Moving on.

3)       Thou Shalt Not Wear Garish Branding

Walking around looking like Hollister mannequin? Plastered with the word ‘Superdry’? You’re a human being, not Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One Car. Burn it all.

4)       Thou Shalt Only Dress for the Gym Whence Going to the Gym

Joggers are not for going to lectures. Joggers are for…do I really have to spell it out?

5)       Thou Shalt Not Wear a Gilet

No need to elaborate on this, simply read my post Rah, Rah Black Sheep: Escaping the Clifton Cliché."

So go on, what are you waiting for!? Go and discover Nathan's hilarious and insightful blog. When he's a big star you'll be able to say you knew about him aaaaages ago, dahling. You're welcome.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

My ultimate style and beauty 'no-no's for girls.

Whilst in no way, shape or form am I claiming to be an effortlessly on-trend fashionista who never puts a sartorial foot wrong and always looks immaculately styled; there are certain "looks", shall we say, that really rile me. These are things that I see and I just think "WHYYYY, LADY, WHYYY? It does NOT look good." Obviously, style is a subjective thing, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder and whatnot, so maybe you'll disagree with me.

Oh, and if any of my friends are reading this and realise they frequently commit any of the following faux-pas (in my eyes, that is), don't be offended. We can still be friends. You'll just know that I'd like you better in another way. JOKES. I love you all for who you are on the inside. (Phew, just about saved myself there, I hope...)

pic from
1. Leggings as trousers

I'm sorry, but why oh why do so many girls wear leggings without a top long enough to cover their crotch? I believe leggings should be thought of as more like tights than trousers. I mean HELLO, have you heard of the camel-toe!?

pic from
2. Shorts as underwear

Oh, I didn't realise that underwear came in denim. Sadly I cannot take credit for this humourous line, however it is a page that I - along with 136,177 other people - like on Facebook. I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about here: shorts so short that you can see the line where butt meets leg. It's not a good look, girls. Luckily for us in England at the moment, we should be protected from said horror for a good few months until the weather warms up again. Thank God.

pic from
3. Super chipped nails

Now, don't get me wrong, I understand that nail varnish chips very easily, and am a victim of such an annoying occurrence all too frequently myself. Sometimes, you leave the house in the morning with a freshly-painted mani, and by lunchtime, there's a chip. #firstworldproblems, right? There's nothing you can do about it. However, what I don't understand is when girls literally have a scratching of nail varnish in the centre of each nail, with unpainted nail all around. I just think it looks horrible. The whole point of nail varnish is to elongate your fingers and make you look glamourous/funky/classy. Come on, ladies, when your nail varnish starts to chip, TAKE IT OFF! It only takes a few minutes, and you can do it whilst watching TV. No excuses.

She must've run out of dry shampoo - pic from
4. Super greasy hair

Two words: dry shampoo. Of course, sometimes we don't have time to wash our hair, but thanks to the wondrous invention of dry shampoo, the "someone just poured a chip pan over my head" look is completely avoidable. So avoid it. Please.

pic from
5. Tatty shoes

Didn't someone famous once say that if you're shoes aren't in good condition there's no point in the rest of the outfit? Or was that just my mum? Either way, they knew what they were talking about. I'm partial to a pair of Primark shoes as much as the next student, but when they're frayed, holey and worn down, it's time for your beloved, trusty footwear to meet the bin. I know, it's hard. I'm sorry to have to be the one to break the bad news to you.

pic from
6. Toe overhang in sandals

Speaking of shoes, why do so many women buy sandals that are just outright too small, thus resulting in their toes falling off the front!? As a girl with big feet (thanks a lot for that gene, Dad), I know full-well that it's not always easy to find shoes that fit, but no matter how much you try to convince yourself in the shop that those gorgeous embellished heeled sandals are big enough, and you're feet are probably just hot and swollen from shopping all day, if they don't fit, don't buy them. It's for your own good.

I realise that now I have set myself up for a backlash if I ever have a slightly chipped nail or slightly less-than-fresh hair, but what can ya do? Obviously, this is just my personal view, so don't go leaving me irate comments, please. Do you agree with my choices?

Friday, 16 November 2012

A Message to Freshers

Happy Freshers (pic from
Dear all first year university students out there - Freshers, as you're commonly known,

I write to you today with an important message from the oh-so-wiser-than-thou position of being a few weeks into my second year of uni. It's probably one you've heard before, but maybe you never really thought much of it, or ever bothered to change your ways as a result, so I'm going to take the liberty of reiterating the point: MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FIRST YEAR!

Every time you move up a level in the world of education, those who've been there and done that will tell you "Oh, it's a lot harder now. The work will really step up" etc, but to be honest with you, I've found it all pretty manageable thus far. From GCSEs to A-Levels, and then AS to A2, sure it got a little harder each time, but it's meant to, isn't it? I never felt "Woah! OMG! Ahh! Suddenly so much work that is so difficult!" *Cries into beautifully organised, colour-coded folders*

However, unfortunately this time - going from first to second year of uni - the people who warned us actually had some truth to their cautionary tales. And yes, there has indeed been some crying into my work. German, natürlich, because it's a stupidly difficult language, but that's by the by.

Last year, I thought I worked pretty hard, compared to most freshers anyway, because despite only having to pass my first year and it not counting towards my final degree, I wanted to do well, and I didn't want to have a huge shock to the system when I moved into second year. That said, I rarely worked past 9.30pm at night. Not because I was off out clubbing and being a crazy Fresher, but because I had Glee/Gossip Girl/90210 to catch up on, obvs. This year I've been going to bed later and later purely in order to get my work done... Oh, to have time to watch all the TV I'd like to this year! Woe is me, I know.

The thing is, I genuinely would have time to watch plenty of TV this year if I didn't do so many other jobs and extra-curricular stuff. I know, I bring the stress upon myself, so shouldn't complain. And I don't (not too much) as I do love being busy.

Last year, I thought I was busy. I was. But compared to this year, I barely knew what busy was. And I imagine if there are any final year students or graduates reading this you'll all be thinking "Pah! Second year! What do you know about work and being busy!? Just you wait till final year..." And yes, perhaps when I'm in their position I'll blog again explaining that realistically I didn't know what I was on about when I wrote this. Meh.

So, my advice to freshers isn't actually what you might usually hear - recommending you don't bother trying with your uni work when it doesn't count, and going out partying the year away (do it if you want. Whatevs.) Instead, I want to encourage all first year students to make the most of having the time to get involved with uni life. Start a student radio show, audition for a production, play for an intramural sports team, join the Scottish dancing society... There is SO much going on at uni, and it's unlikely that we'll have so many great organised activities at our fingertips at any other point in our lives.

Don't regret not getting involved. First year is the time to try out all these new things, because now as a second year student, it really pains me that I don't have time to do them all again. I'm really glad I auditioned for and performed in the musical last year, as I don't think I'll be able to do another one unfortunately (which wasn't something I even thought about at the time.) Unless I stop doing all my other jobs, but realistically we all know I can't say no to work. What a weirdo, I know.

So, go forth and get involved with everything while you still can.

As for me, I really shouldn't have written this blog post (have you noticed an unfortunate decline in blogging from me since coming back to uni? Sad times) as I have far too much work, but hey.

Lots of second year love,

Rachel xxx

Saturday, 10 November 2012

RECIPE: Apple and pear crumble cake

Apple and pear crumble cake
This evening I'm going to a dinner party with a group of my fellow German student girlfriends, and to make it a student-friendly affair, we're each bringing a dish. Obviously, I was charged with cake (before I could even volunteer myself!) For a wintery dinner party pudding, a crumble is a classic choice, so I decided to merge a crumble and a cake to make this lovely crumble cake with a streusel topping (appropriate for German students, don'tcha think?)

A rather sizeable slice
As I said in my recipe for apple, cinnamon, raisin and walnut cupcakes, I'm a huge fan of the apple/cinnamon combo, especially come autumn. Adding the pears works brilliantly too. And of course you don't have to stick to apples and pears - at this time of year blackberries and plums would be yummy too. I used tinned fruit to guarantee the moistness, as unripe fresh fruit wouldn't soften enough. I may also have used tinned because they're a lot cheaper and I'm a poor little student, but that's by the by. The beauty of this cake is that you can serve it up as it is for afternoon tea, but then warm it up (and add a cheeky bit of ice cream on the side) for an evening dessert.

My quantities made two cakes in 20cm sandwich tins, as they're quite shallow. My housemates are all very pleased about this as it means there's one cake for them (which is being devoured as I type) and one for the dinner party. However, if you had a deep springform tin you could use that and make one big cake, but do bear in mind that it would take a lot longer to bake. If you only want to make one sandwich tin's worth, just halve the quantities. As always, remember to take your eggs and 175g butter out of the fridge well in advance.


Crumble topping

85g plain flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
50g unsalted butter, chilled
50g caster sugar


175g unsalted butter, softened
175g light brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1tsp vanilla extract
175g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
550g tinned apples and pears
1 tbsp caster sugar

Wooo. All my ingredients and utensils out and ready to bake!


1. Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and line two 20cm round sandwich cake tins.

2. Make the topping: Place the flour and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into little pieces and rub into the flour using the tips of your fingers until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and set aside.

3. Make the cake: Using a hand-held electric mixer, whisk the butter and sugar together until light, pale and creamy - this may take a while, but keep going and it will get smooth - then gradually beat in the eggs and vanilla. Fold in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder. The mix will be quite thick.

The crumble and fruit mixes set aside
4. Toss the fruit in a separate bowl with the caster sugar, then fold it into the cake mix. it will seem like there is a lot of fruit compared to cake, but the cake will rise up whilst baking. Divide the mixture evenly between the two prepared tins and smooth the tops.

Ready for baking!
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes (if the tops get too dark, cover loosely with foil), then sprinkle half the crumble topping on to each cake as quickly as possible and bake for a further 25 minutes or so. The cakes are done when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, although it will be slightly wet because of the fruit. The crumble topping should be golden and crisp, but don't worry if it still looks like crumbs.

Just out of the oven
6. Once out of the oven, go round the outside of each cake with a spatula knife to make sure they don't stick to the walls of the tin. Leave to cool in the tin for at least 45 minutes (they will be very fragile) before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully. Or, do what I did and dig in while still warm. If some of the loose crumbs fall off while you're manoeuvring and transferring the cakes, don't worry, just sprinkle them back on top afterwards. Yum! Here's hoping it goes down a treat at the dinner party tonight...

Friday, 9 November 2012

Easy food swaps to save you money - my studentbeans article

Yup, I've got another article up on the fab student website, Yay! I've learnt a lot about how to be a savvy supermarket shopper, and with a bit of research, found out the best ways to cut back on your food shopping costs without compromising too much on quality. It's an essential skill, not just for students. Here's a taster of my article, but for the full list of TEN simple swaps, click through to my article here. Please.

"We all know that beans doesn't actually always means Heinz (Sainsbury's Basics will do just fine, thanks), but if you want to be really thrifty, there's more to savvy supermarket shopping than just choosing budget brands.

These food swaps will help you save a little bit here and there and it really will all add up, leaving you more money for the important things in student life. Like textbooks, of course.

1. Swap fresh fruit for tinned

Granted, it’s much easier to grab an apple than a tin of fruit to munch on your way to a lecture, but tinned fruit is a lot cheaper than fresh. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about finding a mouldy tin of peach slices at the back of your cupboard like you may do with a sad, forgotten banana.
Tinned fruit keeps for ages and is really delicious with custard or yoghurt. If you like making smoothies, it’s definitely not worth wasting expensive fresh fruit, so use tinned, frozen or even dried instead. All cheaper, with just as much nutritional goodness. Now you have no excuse not to get your five a day!
A punnet of four fresh peaches (about 440g) costs £3 in Sainsbury’s, whereas a 213g tin of peach slices in fruit juice is 38p, or £1.78 per kg.

2. Swap refrigerated pizzas for frozen

Freezer food is nearly always cheaper than their refrigerated equivalents, so if you can get from the supermarket to your freezer without your food defrosting, it’s definitely worth hitting up the freezer section. You may be surprised by what you find as well – frozen broccoli, anyone? There’s more to freezers than ice cream.
A Sainsbury’s cheese & tomato thin & crispy pizza from the fridge sections costs £2.19, whereas their thin & crispy margherita pizza from the freezer costs £1.60.

3. Swap snack packs and buy in bulk
The bigger the packet, the cheaper the price. Simple. So why spend more than you need to if you can manage to carry heavier shopping bags back home? Snack-sized products are ridiculously over-priced, so it’s best to buy large quantities and then decant into a little Tupperware for when you’re on the go.
A 1kg bag of Sainsbury’s Californian seedless raisins cost £2.85, whereas Whitworths 35g snack packs of juicy raisins cost 45p each or £12.86/kg."

So What are you waiting for? Reading the full article could just save you enough money for that green velvet skater skirt from ASOS that you've had your eye on for so long (just me?)

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