Living in the UK Exam – there’s an APP!

Hello everyone! 🙂

I PASSED the exam! CELEBRATIONS are in place!  My husband picked me up from the centre and he got take away for lunch! How sweet of him.

I was in exuberance upon getting my result.  Ok, the actual exam was very tricky.  I was surprised that the first question left me dumbfounded. I was like huh? The Crimean War? What does that even have to do with Living in the UK.  Luckily, I remembered a bit here and there from the study guide.  I studied more on UK policies than the history.  Studying does pay off. I started off Uni in law school – that actually really helped me study smart and mind map concisely. All in all – I’m just so happy to get it out of the way.

Completely side tracking, but the examiner loved my nails. 🙂  Pretty nails are usually a conversation starter or just a simple ice-breaker.  🙂

YES.  So I passed.  The APP really did help.  I’d suggest anyone applying for a settlement VISA in UK to download the app.  It was 2 or 3 pounds – enough to make me pause and think.  Then I weighed out the opportunity cost and logically thought to myself that I just makes sense.  And it did.

There were about 7-10 exact questions, or very similar.  It’s a bit of a blur right now.  Somehow after an exam its always hard to recall EXACTLY what was asked.  Saying that, I know exactly what was not asked (nothing about the elections or the UK coalition party).  Which makes me wonder about the importance of the exam in the first place.

Furthermore, around 10 questions were completely new to me.  They weren’t in the trial mock exam database in the app and the remainders were just similar content but different wording.

Tips for people taking this exam in the future:

  1. I’d suggest to actually study.  Even if you feel nerdy doing so, do it.  It’s 50 pounds – don’t waste it.
  2. Download the app – do the mock exams repeatedly until you know the answer before reading the question.
  3. Make notes – trivial facts are actually asked.
  4. Be confident but not overconfident. Re-read the question.

Good luck to all.  Migrating often seems adventurous and fun to most.  Unfortunately there’s endless paperwork and issues regarding legality that need to be followed.  To top it off – an exam!

Nailin’ it with ART.

I love fashion, almost as much as I love food. 🙂  The finishing touch for me is definitely pretty nails.  When I notice a well groomed lady, head to toe in high fashion labels – the finishing touch must be the nails.  That pretty much seals the deal.  I usually get acrylics done to maintain that look.  Luckily, its pretty cheap to do nails in the suburbs of London.  I go to Javi Nails – the women there is excellent.  It’s good value for money.  A full set costs just 15 pounds.  Nail art is an additional depending on the intricacy of the design.  The city of London is about 2-3 times the price depending on location.  (Just FYI, if you ever go to Thailand, do your nails even if you don’t really want to.  It’s just that cheap that not doing it, is almost a sin)

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Just got this done today.  I absolutely love animal prints.  Thankfully, its still in fashion.  It’ll always be in fashion in my bubble! I can’t believe I went a month without acrylics – to let my nails breathe.  Although saying that, every time I looked at my nails chipping due to natural nails just being so naturally annoying – I cringed.

I have this undying love for immaculate nails.

Foodie Fridays : Afternoon Tea

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So there I was, gracefully stuffing my face with scones and tea.

My love for food extends to tea.  London’s traditional Afternoon Tea is the icing or rather clotted cream to my scone.  One of the perks of living here!  I met a friend on Wednesday in the city to catch up over tea.  We both love Afternoon Teas and have tried various ones around the city.

The picture above illustrates the beautiful way in which we were served.  I especially liked the modern three tiered serving style as opposed to the traditional type.  We went to Marylebone Hotel.

There was a vast variety of tea.  I enjoyed the citrus lemon tea and the hibiscus fruit tea the most.  My friend indulged in Earl Grey.  The tea was unlimited in case you were wondering.  We were both given a variety of sandwiches and they catered to my veterinarian request with a variety (grilled veggies, cream cheese and chives, mozzarella with vine tomatoes).  I was satisfied.  However,  I simply could not make it to the top.  The second tier was my limit, and I knew the next day I had to go for my workout without any excuses.

Let’s have a moment of silence for my over-indulgence.

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Technology Tuesdays: Whatsapp

My most used app ever. Whatsapp.  I honestly forgot it was even an “app”! I use it more than normal messaging. I downloaded it when it was FREE (I’m usually that sort) but as a paid app it’s definitely worth it – as once you have paid, unlimited text around the world with other whatsapp users.

In addition, it gives the user the ability to create group messages up with up to 30 participants.  This enables me to keep in touch with my cousins scattered around the globe.  Namely in:  Thailand, Singapore, London, USA, Copenhagen, Indonesia, Australia, Shanghai etc.  My phone is constantly buzzing due to the different timezones.  With this app, I constantly feel like there’s always someone who is a message away.  Though, don’t be alarmed – chats can be muted with ease if this level of social networking terrifies you.

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The picture above is a snapshot of my iPhone.  I absolutely love being in touch with my family and friends.  Relationships are a beautiful gift from life, some you are born with and some you create along the way.  Some obviously you are stuck with 😉  Whatsapp enables you to be in the person’s life without personally being there – just through a simple free text.  Somehow, I am not too keen to being on the phone extensively.  I prefer just sending a message across if I am thinking of someone instead of making a phone call.  Small talk isn’t me, small message is!

Features that Whatsapp has which enables users to:

  • Send free text messages to anyone with Whatsapp (You can view compatible contacts under “contacts” in the app)
  • Send audio/video/photos to users or in chats
  • SendCurrent location map – this is especially useful if you are meeting a friend and are lost!
  • Broadcast Message to groups of people – this is efficient if you want the same message sent to many different people.  I use this for New Year Wishes to all!
  • Personalize your display picture, and name

These are the predominant features of this app.  Hope you enjoy it 🙂

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Foodie Friday – Cheese Loaf

Yummm.  Did someone say cheese?  I absolutely love cheese. It’s so heavy and I always feel guilty but I LOVE IT.  Anything topped up with cheese is always a winner. Always.  So when I came upon this recipe, I had to give it a go.  I’ve never made bread before, so I wanted to try quick bread.  Quick breads are usually breads without yeast – thus no rising time involved and no need to knead. It’s quite a chore to knead with long nails anyways.  So I prefer not to!

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This is my Paprika Recipe. Found it on Betty Crocker and made a few amendments to suit me.  Firstly, I substituted egg to make it vegetarian.  Also, I didn’t have any pepper-jack cheese so I used a mixture of cheddar and red leicester.  The appetizing color of red leicester made the loaf hard to resist.  I’ve always lived by the saying “you first eat with your eyes”.  As a result, I like the food to first LOOK GOOD. That brings about the phrase “you look good enough to eat” – inextricably web of phrases that make a lot of sense!

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The picture speaks my thousand words. Undeniably delicious!  Nothing beats a loaf freshly out of the oven, except for a cheesy loaf.  I personally loved it.  Though it was very heavy for two people.  So make sure to give away half to your neighbors as a kind gesture and to prevent becoming fat alone.

Cheers to the weekend!

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Travel Thursdays – Barcelona, Spain

Hello everyone!  Hope you all have been wonderful.  I had a great day yesterday – reconnected with a friend that I haven’t met in 13 years.  Geet was a school friend from Singapore, one which I spoke to every single day for a few hours as I sat next to her in class.  She’s in London for two days and through technology, namely FACEBOOK she messaged me for a meetup.  Was heartwarming.  It’s always so nice to see people from the past in the present who then make it to your future (well if you want that is).

Anyways, over scrumptious lunch at Cafe Concerto (which I highly recommend to all shoppers at Westfield,London) we were talking about our 13 years.  Inevitably, being a person I could connect with, I shared my sorrows and my joys.  My joys included my travels.  Traveling is the joy of my life.  Well one of, but a great joy definitely.

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Beautiful Barcelona! The lights of the city definitely add sparkle to my little bubble.  I loved soaking in every bit of it.  🙂

Where I went & what I recommend there:

WALK WALK & WALK SOME MORE.  I recommend that highly in all my Europe trips.  Have a very comfortable pair of shoes, as your feet are going to need it.  You will never come across the small artisan shops in alleys by any other means of transport.  Thankfully, I did not sprain my ankle or anything (sounds absurd, but I sprained it in New York last year.  It was tragic but at least it didn’t stop me from exploring.  I rented a wheel chair as I could not move.  I will blog about that soon, as it gave me a different perspective to life).  But anyways, buy a day tripper, or 3 day tripper for the metro, grab a map and begin your journey.  It’s the only way. Really.

-Walk to Gaudi sites. Gaudi was a famous architect that has splashed his work all around Barcelona.  It’s gorgeous.  If you are not an architect enthusiast (like me), I’d suggest doing all the “free sites”.  My husband and I went to Park Guell which has Guadi’s old home in it.  His mosaic type of architecture can be seen throughout the park. It was very nice for photos! (I love photos for their memory and aesthetic value).

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Sagrada Famila– a Gaudi site that is very famous.  So much so that the metro station that is located there has the same name!  It is permanently in construction.  However, we just saw it from the outside as we were not interested to go inside. So I can’t comment on the inside but the outside was not very appealing to me. We walked to Casa Batllo and appreciated its beauty from the outside as well.  Being a smart traveler is about choosing where your money goes.  Don’t spend for the sake of it – then you’ll never travel for God’s Sake 😉  Travel on a budget – then you’ll end up seeing more of the world.

Magic Fountain.  Another FREE site.  Basically a rule of travel is being thrifty.  If you are too lavish, chances are you will not travel frequently as it will burn an enormous hole in your pocket.  I usually research on TripAdvisor as it gives a realistic view of the country through travelers’ eyes.  The Magic Fountain was magical, ipso facto.  The Fountain danced to the music and it was all so glamorous. I loved it.

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– Pappabubble located in the gothic area.  A candy artisan shop that demonstrates how candy is made!  Another free event which is really interesting to watch and eat (you get samples at the end!) Warning:  Shop is very tempting and no matter how much you restraint you will end up buying a bag of artisan candy which is far too sweet.  We ate only half in the next month and discarded the rest in fear of diabetes, just FYI.Image

Yeap!  It’s really that beautiful.  The candies in the shop were so colorful and attractive.  The high ratings online were justified.  Our long walk in the Gothic area to get to a little candy shop all made sense.  I loved it!  The foodie in me was excited and thrilled at the same time.  🙂

-We went to Barcelona FC.  I’m not a fan and uninterested in football, as a result I can’t say much!

EAT CHURROS with HOT CHOCOLATE.  It’s more important than eating TAPAS in Spain.  Do not leave Barcelona without it!  They can be found almost in any small cafe.  Cost about 3-4 Euros for heaven in your mouth.  You must.  If you could eat one thing, it should be churros.

Vegeterians – always find a Hard Rock. Their burgers are yummy and you really can’t go wrong with nachos and potato skins.  In addition, I’m a hard rock fan and I collect their tees.  So every country I go to, I buy a Tee.

– Shop at Desigual.  It’s originated in Spain – it can’t get cheaper.  If you find the fashion weird then obviously don’t.  It’s a bit strange, but that’s why I like it.  Though, I can’t do too many colors at one go but I do like some of their fashion range.  I ended up buying a beautiful overcoat!

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Yes! I kept admiring it, I couldn’t help myself.

– Go to a Spanish Beach.  I love beaches. Enjoy Spanish Music while sitting in a beach. We got off at the Barceloneta Station and walked around 20 minutes (my point about walking re-emphasized!) and there it was.  It was a pleasant day and we enjoyed the weather sitting, talking, and eating while listening to Spanish music.

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This reminded me of a scene from a movie!  🙂

– Lastly, I’d say walk the streets of La Ramblas. And walk some more!  Walk in fruit markets. Watch live dances on the street (very entertaining, the performer while spinning on his head removed his shirt) Talented way of stripping, I must say! If you are Sikh (like me, there’s a gurdwara in La Ramblas itself. Make sure to stop by!)

Enjoy being a traveler while you wander streets of Barcelona!  That’s it for now.

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  • Spain (malwinatomaszewska.wordpress.com)
  • Barcelona (rebekahfmccann.wordpress.com)

App Review: Flipboard

Flipboard is one of my most used apps on my iPad (it’s the mini, in case you were wondering!  And I absolutely love it.  It was a gift from my husband 🙂 I should bake him more cookies, it seems to be working ) 🙂  It’s become a digital age magazine, where while watching TV you can browse through saved sites, RSS feeds etc.

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This is how it looks.  I love the format, as its easy to use and easy on the eyes.  Nothing too complicated – which is good as that would contradict the very notion of it being like a magazine.  It’s meant to be relaxing, not complicated.  I usually browse News, Recipes, Blogs, Fashion, etc.  Since I have a blog now, I’ve added it to Flipboard 🙂 And besides, the brownies look far too tempting for it to be denied attention!

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The latest update allows users to save articles to read later and personalize their very own magazine.  This magazine would consist of articles that interest them which they have selected.  I think this feature is extremely helpful when users are commuting on the tube.  That is if they get a seat.  I can’t imagine using my iPad while standing in the tube next to thirty thousand other commuters.  The tubes here are a nightmare.  London should really learn from Japan.  The train system was brilliant 15 years ago compared to the present day tubes.  I seem to be going off tangent! 😉  If you lived in London you’d empathize with me completely.

In a nutshell – things I love about it:

  • Easy to Use
  • Digital Magazine Style that has gone right!
  • Saving articles for later is a brilliant idea (esp for commuting)

 

VERDICT:

TO DOWNLOAD OR NOT TO DOWNLOAD:  TO DOWNLOAD

 

 

Foodie Fridays – Chewy Brownie Cookies!

Hello food lovers!  😉  I LOVE food – which honestly makes it very hard for me to go on a diet.  Being a vegetarian (this year is my 10 year anniversary) – it’s ironically very easy to become overweight contrary to what some may think.  Many vegetarians do NOT like vegetables. This statement throws many off track – but its true.  My vegetarian friends (okay -and so do I)  love cheese, potatoes, bread etc – essentially food that turns into FAT.  So to combat all that – I regularly detox and try to go to the gym thrice a week. 🙂 Luckily though – I love fruit and veggies – which makes me the ultimate foodie.

My love for food makes me enjoy cooking.  I’m not talking about the before and after which consists of:  cutting, cleaning and washing up!  I enjoy the actual cooking – the mixing of flavors which has the potential to create something absolutely delicious! I usually view different recipe sites while watching TV with my husband at night on Paprika (my previous Technology Tuesday post was on this app).  I recently came across this recipe and thought I must give it a go.

Chewy Brownie Cookie

That’s the snapshot of my Paprika Recipe.  As stated in my notes, I made half the recipe – that’s because of the amount of sugar and calories these little bites of heaven had!  Although, I must admit – they were really yummy.  It’s that bit of brownie that everyone fights for – the chewy bite.  Every cookie was that exact bite.

Things to note if you are vegetarian:  you can substitute ONE EGG = 1/4 cup carnation milk + 1 tsp custard powder.  It always works for me.  I did this for these cookies too – and it would be impossible to tell that they are eggless. Also I didn’t have margarine at home – so I substituted it for unsalted butter and it worked fine 🙂 Happy Baking!

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Bon Appetite! That’s my end product – even the batter was divine.  And yes the next day I went to the gym.  Guilty as charged.

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Travel Thursdays – Hua Hin

I absolutely love traveling.  Like Benjamin Disraeli has once said,

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”  My most recent holiday to somewhere completely new was end of January.  I went to Thailand for a cousins wedding & an engagement ceremony!  In between all the parties and functions there was a gap of 3 days.  I finally got quality time with my family (since now we live continents away – Sydney and London often seem like different planets to be honest)!  We all have been to Thailand many times as my mom used to live there in her childhood and we have family there.  My dad decided to take my family to Hua Hin Sheraton Resort. We hired a minivan and off we went!

It was simply beautiful.  Reflecting on it,  there’s definitely more to it than I remember.  It’s tricky how memories are so elusive.  Thankfully, photos capture our memories quite accurately 🙂

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We went there to simply soak in the atmosphere.  Very different from my usual holidays- which you will see in my future Travel Thursday posts.  I usually maximize my time in any country with the desire to cover every inch of it – with no regret!  Yet this time, we were so happy to be with each other, that we just wanted to be.

Our typical two days were :  wake up and make it in time for the buffet breakfast.  A fantastic spread of cold, hot and anything in between!  Asian 5 star hotel breakfast spread puts Europe to shame, sadly.  There were hot pancakes, waffles, potatoes, sausages, hash browns, a table of assorted freshly baked breads, mouth watering exotic Asian fruits such as logans and rambutans, freshly squeezed juices, sandwiches, rice, etc etc.  I was in love.

After being so exhausted from eating, we sat and absorbed our surroundings, till it was time for our second meal.  We basically ate, sat, and got massaged. It was heaven.  Definitely how I picture it.

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The best massage I ever had in life – was on the beach. The picture above is of my feet that are about to indulge in a wonderful massage in the perfect atmosphere where I hear the calming effects of the swash and backwash of the waves.  It was peaceful.  Except for my sister who would keep interrupting the beautiful silence. 🙂  It was still perfect.

The hotel overlooked the beach, so we didn’t really have to leave the hotel at all. There were little canopies where you could sit and relax.

It was so easy to do nothing.  Something that is not as easy in a city-based life which we were all used to.  We loved it. Before we knew it, it was time to eat again (yaey to food!)  I absolutely loved the pineapple fried rice.  An authentic Thai dish which was served in a pineapple!  I was in awe.  I had never seen a dish served in a fruit. The flavor exceeded my expectation and it is definitely a dish I would recommend to all.  I had it all three days. 🙂  We ordered new dishes everyday – but one pineapple fried rice was a must.

In addition to that, I loved coconut ice-cream, which was also served in a coconut!  I was so pleased with these refreshing creative ideas of serving food, that I was being the typical foodie tourist.  Taking out a picture of my food before eating it!  It was delish!!  Coconut ice-cream topped up with Thai sticky rice and peanuts.  To top it off, a drizzle of coconut milk was poured over.  You might think that’s a coconut overload, but frankly it was very pleasing to the palette! All the food we had was simply divine.

My mom can speak very fluent Thai, so we didn’t experience any difficulty while ordering.  Otherwise, if I were the one ordering I cannot imagine the consequences of me having to play charades with the waiters!  (I have had an experience like that in Shanghai – while trying to ask the salesgirl if a jacket was waterproof.  Let’s just say it was very comical and I think I might stick to drawing instead of playing charades)

So here we have it! My first entry of Travel Thursdays! Hope you enjoyed reading it, as much as I enjoyed blogging about it.  I would definitely recommend Hua Hin Sheraton Resort as a place to unwind from the city life of Bangkok if you are holidaying in that region.

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Technology Tuesdays: Paprika (Recipe Manager App)

Today’s app – PAPRIKA.  My favorite Recipe App!Image

Hello there!  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  Weekends we mainly eat out and try different restaurants.  Or we go to the same restaurant and end up ordering exactly the same thing to avoid disappointment!  Sounds ironic but when you get to one of your favorite restaurants, you know exactly what would satisfy you and the risk of a new dish is almost frightening.

Weekdays we eat at home, which means I get to show-off my culinary skills or the lack of. haha! Which brings me to today’s featured app – Paprika.  It’s actually the only app I use for recipes.  I usually download mainly free apps unless the paid app proves to be very useful.  I’m quite frugal when it comes to apps (not so when it comes to designer handbags).  We have to save somewhere! 🙂  This app is usually $4.99 and you can check it out here: http://www.paprikaapp.com/blog/ (apparently there’s a sale at the moment!)

Firstly, the APP lets you search for recipes from all over the web through your internet browser.  It also provides suggested supported sites which are very useful.  I especially like to go to AllRecipes and BettyCrocker.   However. there are times I like to go to other sites and Paprika gives me this flexibility.  When you come upon a recipe that you would like to save – instead of a snapshot, it will save it in a uniform template into your recipe organizer.  Prior to this app, I used to snapshot what I liked and had to go through my photo gallery frantically when I was about to try something new.  That was pretty inefficient and time consuming.  Now I am able to save, categorize and store in an effective manner.

Sometimes, you come across a site that is not supported by this app as it cannot differentiate the text in the blog from the recipe.  There is toolbar at the bottom of this app that overcomes this problem.  You are able to manually copy the ingredients, method, title and store it in the template where you can then save.

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The picture above is a snapshot of my Paprika Recipes.  This demonstrates the way in which my recipes are stored.  There is a search button on the top which allows the users to search their own saved recipes.  Also, you are able to save your own recipes in the same format to add to this collection.

Secondly, if technology isn’t quite your “thing”, it allows you to print recipes so you can have them in a recipe file if that’s how you are used to storing them.  I have to admit, that I print some of my recipes instead of taking my iPad or iPhone in the kitchen with me all the time.

The last feature that this app is able to do is – plan meals.  Frankly, I do not use this feature much as I rather plan my recipes weekly.  Also – my husband sometimes doesn’t quite like sticking to the plan and has spontaneous food cravings.  🙂  Eitherway, the picture below shows how this feature can be used.

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