28 May 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey - the read of the summer!

Well, I could not resist all the hype surrounding this modern day bodice ripper-cum-page turner. Originally marketed as an e-book and print-on-demand in June 2011, 50 Shades of Grey is the creation of E.L. James, a British television producer who has apparently made herself wealthier than her entrepreneurial character Christian Grey.

50 Shades of Grey has caused quite a sensation. It hit number one on the New York Times' bestseller list at the beginning of March 2011. It has been suggested that the book's popularity may be because it can be downloaded to an e-reader, away from prying eyes. The book has also elicited some hilarious knee-jerk reactions from the usual suspects.

Here are a few headlines:

I personally LOVE this book!
It's quite addictive,entertaining, and sexy.
Exactly what you'd expect from a holiday read.
All the above reviews just make it that much more appealing to me.

Enjoy girls...and guys

London Spa Girl x

27 May 2012

My favourite online jewellery store

I'm in love with the jewellery on the Cotton and Gems website.


Here are some of my fave pieces:

Evil Eye Hamsa Hand CZ and 18ct Yellow Gold Plate Cord Bracelet at Cotton & Gems
Lucas Jack Lucas Jack 24ct Yellow Gold Plated Blue Resin drop Earrings at Cotton & Gems
Lucas Jack Lucas Jack 24ct Yellow Gold Plated Black Resin CZ set Squid Ring at Cotton & Gems
Lucas Jack Lucas Jack 24ct Yellow Gold Plated Blue Resin Rams Head Ring at Cotton & Gems


£66 per piece

Have a look! I'm sure you'll find your favourites too.




London Spa Girl x


Easy Peasy Gazpacho recipe

During its long, hot summers, AndalucĂ­a cools itself down with chilled  gazpacho a hearty and pungent soup that has gained fame throughout the world for its amazing thirst-quenching quality.

Often described as a liquid salad, gazpacho descends from ancient Roman concoction based on a combination of stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt, and vinegar. As Romans labored to build roads and aqueducts across Spain in the scorching heat, this creamy soup replenished them with the necessary salt and vitamins lost through physical exertion.

Later, shepherds and farmers added vegetables to make it more hearty and satisfying. Because tomatoes and bell peppers were not indigenous to Spain, these ingredients were not added to the soup until after Spain's discovery of the New World. Since that time, gazpacho has remained relatively unchanged - an unpretentious soup designed to quench the thirst evoked by the unrelenting Spanish sun.
The Brits have long been suspicious of chilled soups – they seem unnatural somehow, in a climate more suited to tartan vacuum flasks and steaming broths...

But just as they've taken tapas to their hearts and embraced the pungent joys of goat's cheese and garlic, they've  come to see the virtues of a cool, liquid lunch.

Elizabeth David quotes the 19th century French writer Theodore Gautier on gazpacho: "At home, a dog of any breeding would refuse to sully its nose with such a compromising mixture." But the "hell-broth" works its magic even on this superior Parisian: "strange as it may seem the first time one tastes it," he continues, "one ends by getting used to it and even liking it."

... Most gazpacho recipes include bread. I decided to make a fairly standard, basic gazpacho excluding the bread option. It just sounds healthier...


The ingredients for my gazpacho are:

Serves 4

300g of ripe vine tomatoes 
2 cucumbers
2 ripe red peppers
A chilli pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 medium size onion
a pinch of ground cumin
a pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
.....all chopped, and then blend until smooth. It's that easy...

Chop all veggies and place into a deep bowl.

Mix the diced tomatoes, peppers, onion and cucumbers with the crushed garlic and olive oil in the bowl and blend until smooth.
Add the cumin, salt, vinegar and olive oil.

Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

London Spa Girl x

26 May 2012

My English countryside chronicles

"To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment." Jane Austen

"Of all the great things that the English have invented and made part of the credit of the national character," wrote Henry James, "the most perfect, the most characteristic, the only one they have mastered completely in all its details, so that it becomes a compendious illustration of their social genius and their manners, is the well-appointed, well-administered, well-filled country house."

The lure of the English countryside sometimes just proves too great. It's scorching hot in London this week so J and I fled the city for a quiet R&R in the beautiful county of Berkshire.

We stayed at the Coworth Park hotel near to Ascot and bordering on Windsor Great Park. This wonderful 17th-century manor house and polo estate has recently been treated to an intelligent and eco-friendly modern makeover that’s given it three restaurants, a spectacular spa, and an air of quietly confident grandeur. 

I don’t want to spend too long waxing lyrical on how much we loved the hotel (possibly my top UK country retreat), but suffice to say it was a weekend of wholesome outdoorsy ‘Famous Five’ fun, with bike rides, walks, picnics and plenty of wishing we actually lived there.

I'm grateful to J for keeping me company for hours suntanning in a meadow. As a heyfever sufferer he knows his enemy and being at one with nature in the summer months doesn't come particularly natural to him:)...

The perfect way to begin the weekend? I think so...

Afternoon tea, of course.

.....the tea. Top notch – really.  I was happy to see the mini cakes, as I sometimes think that the full-size versions leave you feeling a little sugared-out, and not always in a good way. I substituted my beef sandwiches for an extra smoked salmon and an extra cucumber and cream cheese. Good move. Soft bread, fresh fillings, and a stunning vista....Simply divine

Nothing aids the digestion so much as a few rounds of competitive croquet outside on the lawns...

All and all a very happy camper indeed..

London Spa Girl x

Diet soda dangers

You’ve probably noticed I mention diet soda quite often as something you need to eliminate from your diet as quickly as you can. It is a huge peeve of mine (along with a few others, like agave). I know many people enjoy Diet Coke and feel it is a “freebie” because it contains zero calories. What many people fail to realise is diet soda can be very detrimental to their health. It is also not beautifying at all- in fact it will diminish your beauty.

Why is diet soda unhealthy? Let me count the ways!

1. Neurotoxic

While artificial sweeteners may be a zero calorie alternative to sugar, they are in no way healthier. Diet sodas may use a variety of artificial sweeteners in place of sugar, including aspartame, which acts as a neurotoxin.

Also known as NutraSweet, aspartame originally received FDA approval for use in carbonated beverages in1983, and it still remains the most commonly used sweetener in diet soda. Annually, reactions to aspartame result for a majority of the adverse reaction reports made to the food and drug administration.

Made from L-aspartyl-L-phenylalanyl-methyl-ester, aspartame is 200 times as sweet as sugar and contains negligible calories.  Once in the human body, aspartame breaks down into phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol. Methanol is a wood alcohol poison that, when heated above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (the human body temperature is 98.6 degrees), converts to formaldehyde. Aspartame is also an excitotoxin that builds up in the brain, and can excite brain neurons to the point of cell death.

2: Causes Headaches and Other Symptoms

Another artificial sweetener commonly used in diet sodas, sucralose, may cause a host of health problems including headaches.

Made from a modified sugar molecule, sucralose is supposed to pass through the body unabsorbed. Because sucralose is relatively new in the market still, its long-term effects have not been measured. Some evidence suggest sucralose may cause migraines, gastrointestinal issues, and thymus gland damage. Sucralose may also intensify sugar cravings, increase appetite, and trigger insulin release.

3: Acidifying

Soda is made up of a number of acidic chemicals. It is one of the most acidic substances humans ingest. The acids in diet soda demineralise the bones and teeth, and can lead to fractures and osteoporosis. Acid in the body also can lead to a number of health conditions such as inflammation and corrosion of body tissue. When your body is overly acidic your skin will not be as beautiful or youthful. It will contribute to looking older.

4: Caffeinated

Many diet sodas contain caffeine, which is an artificial stimulant and an addictive substance. Caffeine also excessively taxes the liver and can hamper its ability to cleanse and filter toxins from the body. Additionally, caffeine can trigger stress hormones, which can result in chronic stress and weight gain. Caffeine is also a diuretic, which dehydrates the body. It’s best to avoid caffeine in all its forms, particularly diet soda.

Studies show that although diet soda has no caloric value, it may have an impact on insulin similar to sugar ingestion. This is most likely due to the cephalic phase insulin response in the brain. When you taste the sweet in diet soda, your body perceives it as sugar and causes the pancreas to release insulin just as it would if you were consuming actual sugar.

Some studies show that drinking diet soda may increase the incidence of obesity and/or prevent you from losing weight. In fact, researchers at the University of Texas Health Center made some startling findings when testing the link between obesity and diet soda.

6: Increases Toxic Load

There’s not a lot that’s natural in diet soda. Here are just a few of the ingredients you may find:
Carbonated water
Artificial coloring
Phosphoric acid
Potassium benzoate
Citric acid

Doesn’t sound so delicious and healthy, does it! It sounds nasty, and that is because it is indeed a nasty product. Diet soda places a significant toxic load on your liver and can contribute to toxic sludge in your intestines. You are much better off drinking pure, filtered, non-tap water.

7: Increases Risk of Heart Disease

A study at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine4 showed that people who drank diet soda daily had a 61 percent increased risk of a cardiovascular event. The study followed more than 2,500 participants for about nine years, during which 559 vascular events occurred. Even accounting for age and other risk factors, the risk with diet soda consumption appeared to be at least 48 percent higher. With that kind of risk, why take a chance on diet soda?

8: May Contribute to Metabolic Syndrome

A study at University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health in 2008 linked diet soda to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of metabolic disorders including obesity, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides and hormone resistance.  According to the study, consuming diet soda increased the risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 34 percent, which was higher than the elevated risk from consuming two other unhealthy types of foods – meat (26 percent increased risk), and fried foods (25 percent increased risk).

All the above doesn't mean you should skip on over to regular Coke. Most full sugar fizzy drinks contain around 200 calories, but wont fill you up.

This is what 200 caloris look like:

 * Article by Kimberley Snyder

London Spa Girl x

21 May 2012

30 pieces of wisdom from favourite novels

"You know what charm is: a way of getting the
answer yes without having asked any clear question."

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
 what is important is invisible to the eye."
 "To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin"

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
"Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the
cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the
few honest people that I have ever known."

What happens but once, says the German
adage, might as well not have happened at all.
Mother Night
"We are what we pretend to be, so we must
be careful about what we pretend to be."

The Old Man And The Sea
"Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky.
But I would rather be exact.
Then when luck comes you are ready."

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
“Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful.
But not knowing which to do is the
worst kind of suffering.”

The White Lioness
"‎Not having time for a person, not being able
to sit in silence together with somebody,
that's the same as rejecting them,
as being scornful about them."

The Secret History
“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful,
we quiver before it.”

High Fidelity
"It's no good pretending that any relationship
 has a future if your record collections disagree
violently or if your favorite films wouldn't even
speak to each other if they met at a party."

On The Road
“The best teacher is experience and not
through someone's distorted point of view”

The Sound and the Fury
"It's not when you realise that nothing can
help you - religion, pride, anything - it's when
you realise that you don't need any aid."

To Kill A Mockingbird
"People generally see what they look for,
and hear what they listen for."

The Catcher In The Rye
"All you have to do is say something nobody
 understands and they'll do practically
anything you want them to."
"The more you love a memory the
stronger and stranger it becomes."
Breakfast at Tiffany's
"Because no matter where you run,
you just end up running into yourself."

Invisible Monsters
"The only way to find true happiness
 is to risk being completely cut open."

Long Goodbye
"There is no trap so deadly as the
 trap you set for yourself."

Brave New World
"Great is truth, but still greater, from a
practical point of view, is silence about truth."

Enduring Love
"When its gone, you'll know what a
gift love was. you'll suffer like this.
So go back and fight to keep it."


The Fall
"You know what charm is:
a way of getting the answer yes without
having asked any clear question."

Great Expectations
"We need never be ashamed of
our tears."

War and Peace
"We can know only that we know nothing.
And that is the highest degree of human wisdom."
"By definition, you have to live until you die.
Better to make that life as complete
and enjoyable an experience as possible,
in case death is shite, which I suspect it will be."

Atlas Shrugged
"Never think of pain or danger or enemies a
moment longer than is necessary to fight them."

The Road
"You forget what you want to remember,
and you remember what you want to forget."

The Bell Jar
"If you expect nothing from anybody,
you’re never disappointed."
Fear Nothing
"Never leave a friend behind.
Friends are all we have to get us
through this life--and they are the only things from this
world that we could hope to see in the next."

To say I Love one must first know how to say ‘I’

 The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket & Related Tales
"Sensations are the great things, after all.
Should you ever be drowned or hung,
be sure and make a note of your sensations;
they will be worth to you ten guineas a sheet."
London Spa Girl x


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