Retap Bottles : Update Review two years on...

There are things I buy because I think they're cool to have. They're fun for a few months and then one morning for some strange reason I place them in a cupboard to never take them out again....why ? well because they weren't so great nor practical to use after all or because I simply got bored of them.

It's a completely different story when it comes to the Retap bottles. I'm just as fond of them now as I was two years ago when I discovered them and wrote my first post about them. I believe when things are well thought through they'll always be the cool thing to have. They were the "Must Have" bottles when I bought them and they still are today.

The Retap bottles are beautiful with a nice choice of attractive colour lids. They're extremely light, useful, durable, easy to care for, designed and made in Europe and of course good for the environment. Overall the Retap bottles are the perfect choice for me.

Carrot Juice
I have a few bottles in different sizes and I use them all the time mostly for water but also cold pressed juices made with my slow juicer, smoothies, infused water, home made nut milks made with my soyabella (almond, hemp and hazelnut being my favourites). I really appreciate the fact that the lids are leak-proof especially when I have smoothies on the go.
Hemp Milk

My husband likes to carry the 05 size (500ml) bottle in his tennis bag whenever he's got a match or just for "hitting some balls" on the tennis court. I like to carry the 03 size (300ml) bottle everywhere I go. I find the size perfect to slip it in my handbag. It doesn't take up much room and remains pretty light even full of liquid. I also like to carry the 03 size bottle in my sport bag. That one get bumped against lots of surfaces and is still in tip top condition.

Another thing I like about my Retap bottles is how beautiful they look. No more environmentally unfriendly plastic bottles or ugly stainless steel ones. I'm always very happy to take my pretty Retap bottle out of my bag to rehydrate. And EVERY time someone will come up to me and say "Oh what a beautiful bottle you've got !!!!" and ask me about it. Don't get me wrong I'm not the kind of person who likes the attention (I'm actually quite the opposite) but I love having nice things and I'm always happy to talk about them when someone notice them.

So after two years of use, I'm still very happy about my Retap bottles and I still can't recommend them highly enough around me. If you're looking for an alternative to plastic bottles, this is THE bottle to go for. I would advise on buying a few spare lids in different colours as well. It's fun to alternate the colour lids.

Spinach/Orange juice
You can check the Retap Where to Buy page for online orders and shops and also like them on Facebook. I'd like to point out that I'm not affiliated with Retap in any way.....I just love their bottles.

Filofax Malden Personal Size in Purple and Paper review

My friends and family know how utterly organised I am so it came to no surprise for anyone when I asked Santa for a Filofax last Christmas.

Since Santa is such a busy man, I decided to help him a little and ordered my Filofax a few weeks before Christmas from Colemans-online (I'll write more about this website at the end of this post) just to make sure things go according to plan.....well, my plan anyway.

So when Christmas day arrived, I was of course delighted to see a personal size Malden in purple under the Christmas tree. It was very thoughtful of Santa to also bring me some stickers, washi tapes, sticky notes, magnetic tabs and a sterling silver charm to go with my new Filofax.
I was over the moon...who wouldn't be ?

Needless to say I was very busy setting it up and playing with it the whole day....and more. This is my very first Filofax so I still have a lot to learn.

I usually use my computer to do almost everything in life thus I take it everywhere with me (even on holiday) but for whatever reason, I've never liked using it for my daily planning and even less for my diary. I think it's not as nice as having a leather organiser which is smooth to the touch, beautiful to look at and fun to decorate not forgetting the immense pleasure of writing with a pen...fountain pen for me.

My first impression of the Malden was very good. The leather is supple, smooth to the touch and it smells divine. The stitchings are precise and neat and the inside pockets are well thought through.The full description of the organiser can be found on the Filofax Website. I was thrilled and felt very lucky to be the owner of such a beautiful organiser. I inspected it under every angle and I liked everything about it. It combines quality, elegance, practicality and I think it's such a beautiful organiser to have.

Then came the writing part and this is where I was a bit disappointed with the quality of the Filofax paper. I like to write with fountain pens and unfortunately, the ink bleeds through the paper....all of them. Not as much on the coloured paper but still. 

At first I thought it was my fountain pen that's not such good quality since it's a Pilot Petit 1(fine nib) but even with a more elaborate fountain pen like the Pilot Cavalier (fine nib) the ink bled through.

Then I thought maybe it's the ink I use (J.Herbin in Poussiere de lune) which is too dark....so I tried the J. Herbin Bouquet d'Antan which is lighter but the bleeding through problem remained.

In the end, I tried another type of paper and it was it. The paper !!!! The ink doesn't bleed as much on the ordinary 90gsm paper (that can be bought anywhere) and it doesn't bleed at all on the Clairefontaine 120gsm which by the way is also the smoothest paper I've ever written on (I bought mine from Amazon). Here's a comparison:
From left to right: Filofax paper - 90gsm paper - Clairefontaine120gsm paper. 
Note: The Stamping on right top done with Memento dew drop dye ink in Lulu Lavender. Stamping on the bottom left done with Versamagic dew drop chalk ink in Pixie Dust.
Reverse from left to right: Filofax paper - 90gsm paper - Clairefontaine120gsm paper. The writing is speaking for itself.
Note: As you can see the stamping done with the Memento dye ink clearly shows on the filofax and 90gsm paper and barely shows on the Clairefontaine paper. Though the versamagic ink doesn't show at all on the wrong side of any of the three papers on the picture, I have noticed that if I have a lot of ink on my stamp or if the ink is darker in colour, it will clearly show through the Filoax paper, slightly show on the 90gsm paper, and doesn't show on the Clairefontaine paper.



Looking at the pictures above you can understand why I won't be buying any inserts from Filofax. Their paper is not good enough for my need so I'll be printing all my own inserts on the Clairefontaine paper. The Philofaxy website gives free inserts downloads for those of you who'd like to print your own.

I use my own template because the ones on their website only fit two personal sizes on one A4 paper while the template I made can fit three personal sizes on one A4 paper. On duplex printing, it means I can print three weeks on one A4 paper.
It's a pity to have such a beautiful organiser and open it to find poor quality paper to write on....for a fussy fountain pen writer like me that is. Having replaced the Filofax inserts with my own, I absolutely love my organiser and will keep it for a long long time. I might even have a few more in the future. I'm actually planning on buying a personal size Original in fluoro pink (or pillarbox red)... or a personal size Holborn in brown...or all of them :-)

A few words about the company I bought my Filofax from : Colemans-online First I'd like to point out that I'm not affiliated with them. Still I highly recommend this company to everyone because they have an outstanding customer service. They do care about their customers and would go the extra mile to help. When my Filofax arrived a few weeks before Christmas (I was only allowed to have a quick look at it to see if everything was all right in order to avoid disappointment on Christmas day) I've had a few doubts so I contacted them about my worries. The person who answered my emails was nice, understandable and very helpful. A few days ago I was after a holborn and tried to arrange to see it in one of their shops. I was in contact with another person from Colemans who again, was extremely nice, patient and helpful doing the very best to find a solution to accommodate me. Such customer service is so rare nowadays they really deserve to be known!!! For readers living outside of the UK they do international shipping and last but not least, at the time I'm writing this post there's 30% off all filofax organisers on their website.

Hand Warmers...A Must Have for Cold Weather

The weather is starting to get cooler day after day. Though we still have sunny spells from time to time there's no chance of seeing the temperatures rising again. This is a good time to get prepared for the colder days. 
I don't know about you but I have problems keeping my hands warm during the winter no matter how thick my gloves are. I even spun a 100% angora yarn and knit myself a pair of gloves with it. Angora being a lot warmer than wool, I thought it would do the trick but to my despair it didn't. So I decided to try hand warmers and I'm so glad I did because I no longer have frozen hands with blue fingertips during the cold winter months. 

There are different kind of hand-warmers with their upsides and downsides. I've tried the basic ones with a little metal disc you flex to activate the heat and the more elaborate usb rechargeable ones and I'm going to share my thoughts on both hand warmers with you. 

The basic ones I've tried were the "Heat In A Click". They come in different shapes and I chose the square ones. They're actually little pads filled with a gel like substance which is a non-toxic mineral salt and a metallic disc. They're quite small, light and easy to slip in a pocket or hold in the hand.
To activate the heat, just flex the metallic disc and a chemical reaction will form. The liquid will become harder and the pad will heat and stay warm for a while. The period of time it stays warm will depend on the outside temperature and whether the pad is well insulated or not. It will keep warm longer in a pocket. Once the pad is used and cold, it will become solid. To "recharge", just place a tea towel and water in a saucepan. Bring the water to a boil and add the pads in the boiling water. Let them sit there until they have completely liquefied. Fish them out being careful not to burn yourself and place them on a dry towel. Once dry, they're ready to be reused. That's it really ! There's also a website if you want to know more about those little pads.

On the upside, those pads are portable, they can be taken everywhere and due to their small size, they can easily be slipped in a pocket, or even into large gloves. They're very easy to use and keep warm for a while if well insulated. They're also cheap to buy.
On the downside, they don't have an on/off button so they'll heat continuously until they get cooler again. The recharging process is a bit of a hassle to me.

Last year, I decided to try the USB Rechargeable Hand-warmers. After reading many reviews on different devices, I chose the Energyflux slim 4400mAh rechargeable double sided hand-warmer by Human Creations. They have different models but I liked the shape and colours of this particular model.
Those more sophisticated hand-warmers are usb rechargeable and can also be used as chargers for mobile phone, MP3 players, digital cameras etc....I've only used this function once to charge my mobile phone and see if it works and I have to say I was impressed on how fast it did the job but I will only talk about the hand-warming function since this is the main reason why I bought this device.

The Energyflux need a charging time of four to six hours and will heat for approximately four hours depending on how well insulated the device is and which setting is chosen since it has a low and high setting. I honestly can't feel a significant difference between the two settings. As you can see on one of the pictures there's a micro usb port to charge the hand-warmer and the standard usb port is used to charge a digital device using the Energyflux slim.

It's pretty easy to use. Once it's fully charged, press the white button once and the three blue lights will lit up meaning it's fully charged. After a while, there will only be two blue lights on and when there's only one blue light on, it's time to charge the device again.
Press the white button and hold for a few seconds and a red light will start to flash slowly. The device is heating on its lower setting. press once more the white button and the red light will start to flash faster to indicate it's on its highest setting. Press and hold the white button to turn off the device. It's as easy as that.

I absolutely love those hand-warmers and couldn't do without them. They keep my fingers really warm and the on/off button is very convenient. I only turn the device on when needed and turn it off when I feel I've got enough heat. No need to keep it on constantly thus once charge last longer. I also like the cylinder shape because it makes it natural to hold to and though they're a bit thicker than the basic pads, they can still be slipped in a pocket.

On the upside, those hand-warmers have an on/off button and two level of heat. They have a nice shape and the material is very smooth making them nice to hold and they are also really easy to use and recharge. They're slim enough to be slipped in pockets and they come in a cool variety of colours.
On the downside, they take some time to recharge and they're quite expensive. 

Overall I believe the Energyflux hand-warmers are worth the investment. I find myself using them a lot more than the basic pads because of the on/off button and also the ease to recharge.

The Heat In A Click pads can be bought on Ebay or Amazon. I'm sorry I can't give you any link since the seller I bought mine from a few years ago doesn't sell them anymore.
In the UK EnergyFlux Slim can be bought on Amazon UK
In the US EnergyFlux Slim can be bought on the Human Creations website and on Amazon.com

Seb Multidelice Compact Review

When my yogurt maker broke down after many years of heavy usage, I went on the internet searching for a new one. The first thing I noticed was how much things have changed from the look of the new machines to their technology. It didn't take long for me to realise it would be a harder search than I expected. I thought "for god sake, I jut want a simple normal yogurt maker !!!"

When I saw the Seb Multidelice I liked its look right away so I started reading its specifications. I was amazed to see that on the top of doing yogurt it could also do fromage frais, creme au four, rice pudding and everything that need to be steamed or cooked in a bain marie.

The latter function won me over and after reading many many reviews I decided my initial need for a simple normal yogurt maker was too basic. Yes, what I need...or should I say what I really want was the Seb Mutlidelice and nothing less would do. I purchased the machine about a year ago and have no regret.
 
I've made delicious cakes, rice puddings, "petits pots de creme au four", fromage frais, cheese and of course, lots of yogurts. It is such a wonderful machine and I am recommending it to everyone I know.

The function I love the most is the steam/bain marie. In the past, every time I had to bake something in a bain marie in the oven, I struggled to find a roasting tray big enough to place all the little ramequins in. Pouring the hot water around the pots and placing the tray in or removing it out of the oven was always a dangerous matter. Well, this is all forgotten with this wonderful machine.

It's also very convenient to make cheese because of the little sieves inside each pot that allow the excess water to drain from the cheese before seasoning and adding some herbs. Very clever devise.

It's safe to use and fast to clean, energy efficient and because it looks nice, it can be left on the worktop. It has three settings: Yogurt - Fromage Frais - Steam and a a timer. Yogurt can be left to ferment from 6 to 12 hours. I like to leave mine for 8 hours. Fromage Frais from 12 to 18 hours, and you can steam.....The machine does bip once the process is finished.

So far, everything I tried was a success. I really like it. If you're thinking of a new yogurt maker it's worth checking this one out. It's complete and it's easy and nice to use.


Gluten Free Brownies

50g dark chocolate
45g butter at room temperature
60g sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
20g Almond powder
20g Gluten Free self raising flour (I use Doves Farm)
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 pinch of salt
Chopped Candied Peels
A12x12cm (approximately) square tin. I use a small Ikea glass tin.

In a bowl, weight the almond powder, flour, cocoa, and salt and et aside. In another bowl, mix together butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy and smooth. Add the egg and keep mixing thoroughly. Then add the dry mixture followed by the melted dark chocolate. Pour 3/4 of the mixture in a lined tin, sprinkle the top with as much candied peels as you like and cover with the rest of the mixture. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 40min covering the top with foil after 20min to avoid the surface from burning. It's cooked when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

I've been Feeling..... Crafty Lately

After months of training really hard for my Aikido grading exam, I needed some quiet time for myself to relax. I felt the need to be crafty. I could dye some fibers, spin some yarn, knit or weave something, or why not sewing ?

I always moan about the fact that I don't seem to have a decent coin purse. The ones I've got are all too deep and not practical at all for my taste. So I decided I would make my own coin purse.

I started searching for free patterns on the internet. First I thougth I would knit one and felt it but I couldn't find one pattern I like so I decided to look for sewing patterns....and I found several pretty ones.

First I made a few frame purses of different sizes. I started with the brown/red one with a 8.5cm frame followed by the little flowery one which was made with a tiny 6.5cm frame. I then made the big flowery one with an 8.5cm frame an I ended with the square one which was made with a 7.5cm square frame. It was fun to make them and I find them very pretty and practical.

Though I was very pleased with the result, I wanted something without a metal frame. It took me some more hours of searching the internet for that one, but I think I found the perfect coin purse for me.
 As you can see on the left, it's a simple and well organised little purse.





After a few days of sewing, I wanted to do something different.... like jewelery making. I've always wanted to try byzatine chain maille, so I thought it might be the good time to find out how that works.
I've got some jump rings left from a completely different project I did last summer so I thought I'd like to try my hands on a bracelet for this summer. A few youtube video viewings later, a bit of patience and here it is, my first byzantine chain maille bracelet.


Who said that byzantine chain maille was difficult to do ? .....honestly :-)

Soyabella Review

Since I was a little girl I've never really liked cow milk and always had problem digesting it. Needless to say I was pretty happy when my doctor told me I was intolerant to cow milk. I could eat dairies (yogurt, cheese...) but should find an alternative to cow milk.

I decided I could make my own milk from nuts and I found the perfect machine to do that : The Soyabella.

It's a versatile machine that can make soya and nut milk and also soups, porridge, rice paste though I've only made soya and nut milk. I mostly do raw milk with soaked almonds, hazelnuts, cashews etc.....It's easy, fresh with no additives and so good.

To make Almond milk:
I just just soak 80g of whole organic almonds for approximately 12 hours.
I then peel them and place them in the stainless steel cup with the fine screen.
I pour 800ml of water in the stainless steel chamber.
I close the head unit, plug the machine and press mill.
Once the milling stops, I press mill again and repeat this for 5 times.
And my milk is ready.


I've made soya milk a couple of times and found it sweeter, milder and a lot nicer than the store bought ones. The tofu I made was also very good.

The Soyabella comes with two screens, a fine one and a rougher one (for rice paste) and a grinder cup because it's also possible to grind with the soyabella. I've successfully
managed to make small quantities of nut butter with this accessories and it was really good.

The machine is easy to use and to clean. It has three programmes: Milk-mill-paste that allows you to make all the above.The manual that comes with it is clear and straightforward. A Robust machine that works well, exactly what I like.

I bought mine directly from Tribest in the UK but it can also be found on other UK websites like UK Juicers or Just Nutrition.