Monthly Archives: February 2013

El Tio Vivo

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Salamanca is a city of wall to wall bars. If you wanted to set yourself the challenge of visting each and every one, it wouldn’t be the easiest of tasks. Bars are literally everywhere – many are bright, loud and almost obnoxious, while others are tucked away around quiet corners, hidden at the bottom of steep stairwells or buried deep in the suburbs. I certainly have my favourites, all for different reasons (bar staff, cocktails, outrageously cheap drinks, music) and due to the volume of bars, I discover new ones quite often to add to my ever-growing list. The latest is El Tio Vivo, located on Calle Clavel, a stones throw from the Plaza Mayor.

20130223_191835‘Tiovivo’ is the Spanish word for merry-go-round or carousel. The name for the bar comes from the carousel horses suspended from the roof to the counter, the very first things you see when you enter. El Tio Vivo isn’t just a bar. It’s also a theatre, a music venue and serves a huge selection of teas and coffee. What makes this place special is the great atmosphere – It’s moody (thanks to the candlelight setting and red velvet curtains) it’s got old cameras, studio lights, a mirrored ceiling and plenty of mismatched knick-knacks.

20130223_192625Although they don’t serve food, Fear not, nibblers. There’s a huge treasure chest filled with monkey nuts, as well as a giant bowl of sunflower seeds at the bar – consumption unlimited. Wise choice serving shelled snacks – finally it’s ok to eat the bar nuts! El Tio Vivo is an incredibly relaxing place. It’s music selection is just as eclectic as it’s decor, with songs from the 40s one minute and The Strokes the next. They also offer free WiFi, and the bar has the largest alcohol selection I’ve ever seen in Salamanca. Whatever you feel like, chances are they stock it, at a very good price.

Speaking of alcohol, the most expensive drink to order is a Gin & Tonic. Be careful if you’re a fan – it’s quite pricy here. Although you will get a large fish bowl sized glass, it will set you back around €7-€9, about the price of a bottle in the supermarket.

20130223_200629_LLS20130225_22363920130223_20351020130223_20352020130223_192026_LLSN chewin’ nuts and taking advantage of the free WiFi

20130223_192250_LLSMe looking tired, awkward…

20130223_192209_LLS…and goofy.

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20130226_002438A very out of focus chest of nuts.

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Café Bar Tio VivoA photo taken from El Tio Vivo’s page, so you can see what it looks like during the day!

El Tio Vivo opens every Sunday-Thursday from 15.30pm until 3.30am, Saturdays and during city festivals until 4.30am. It’s a great place to consider if you’re visiting Salamanca or studying here. I just wish I knew about it sooner!

One little word of advice though…there never seems to be any soap or much toilet paper in the Ladies room. This happens a lot in Salamanca, it doesn’t seem to be much of a priority here. Yikes. Bringing along some tissues and hand sanitiser is a must!

♥ ♥ ♥

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Bacon and Egg Pie

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Do you need to harmlessly manipulate your Father/brother/boyfriend/male friend? Perhaps you need a favour? Or maybe you just want to treat the men in your life to something nice. Whatever the reason, it’s easy as pie.

How sexist! some may think. Women love pie and bacon AND eggs too! This is true, I do love this pie. It’s fast, comforting and perfect at any time of the day…yet I have no problem waiting for it to cook and then take it’s time cooling off. Each and every time I make this pie in the presence of a male, they hang about the kitchen excitedly, normally consume several slices and think I’m extra great…which usually lasts the rest of the day! The effect this pie has on a male is far greater.

Between preparation and cooking time, the whole thing takes 25-30 minutes. I will admit, I’ve become a little lazy over the years and now buy pastry instead of making my own..but it really is far, far quicker. This will leave you with more favour asking/praise time.
Depending on the size of the pie, you will need either a quiche dish or loaf tin. I only have a loaf tin at the minute, so that’s why I had to adjust sizes, but if you use a quiche dish, it will obviously serve far more.
The great thing about this pie is that it actually tastes just as good, if not better the next day. So leftovers are no problem.

Ingredients

Puff Pastry (1 pack for loaf tin, two packs for quiche dish)

1 packet of smoked bacon

Eggs (3 for loaf tin, 6 for quiche dish!)

Butter for greasing

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Preheat oven to 180C and grease your tin/dish. Carefully unroll the pastry. If you’re using the loaf tin, you can cut the pastry in half, which will be the base and top of the pie. If you’re using a larger dish, use one packet for the top, one for the bottom. Cover the bottom and the sides of the dish/tin with the pastry.

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Crack each egg right into the dish/tin on top of the pastry, being careful not to break the yolks. When you have cracked enough eggs to cover the base of your dish, it’s time for the bacon.

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Gently cover the eggs with slices of bacon. I used American bacon, but you can use lean maple cured rashers/bacon and cut the fat off if you like. Since the bacon is salty, there’s no need to add salt, but you can add pepper if you like.

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Cover the bacon and egg with the other half of the pastry, pressing the sides with a fork to seal the pie. Place on the  middle shelf of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry looks golden brown and flaky. To ensure the egg and bacon are cooked, stick a knife into the middle of the pie and if it comes out dry then its ready to go. Let it cool for 5 minutes and serve. The below picture might look a little gross, but it tastes great! Serve with a big mug of coffee or tea. Some like it with a cold beer.

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♥ ♥ ♥

Managing Eczema

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Eczema isn’t fun and certainly isn’t fleeting. Chances are, if you suffer from eczema, you’ve had it for a while. There doesn’t seem to be a permanent cure, so knowing how to manage it is probably your safest bet. Many unfortunate souls first experience eczema in infancy, and for others it appears later in life. A typical eczema sufferer’s skin can be very dry and tight, raw, red, cracked and generally irritated, as well as a strong sensitivity to the majority of skin products on the market, especially those that are scented.

I myself am no stranger to skin conditions. When I was 14, I had a bought of streptococcal pharyngitis (strep throat) which is pretty common and passes quickly enough. However, when it passed, Psoriasis flared up, which I have suffered with on and off in extreme cases for the past nine years. I have used every topical cream and oinkment, had UVB (ultraviolet) treatment at least once a year for several months until I finally had my tonsils removed in January 2012 and I haven’t had a flare up since. Fingers crossed!
I think my skin must have felt lost with the absence of psoriasis, as it decided that eczema was next. Rats. This proved to be pretty extreme too, with permanent patches for the last year on my forearms, elbow creases, neck and face. But the worst was the end of December 2012 and most of January this year, where I was bed bound and medicated, missing most of the Christmas festivities. So in summation (after all that rambling) skin conditions, at this stage, are a part of who I am.

If you can relate, you will know well how eczema on the face can be hard to cover. It can make you look aged, dull your skin and shake your confidence. Covering it with foundation just makes it look worse, and we don’t want that. After many trial and error cases (testing products that either dried out my skin or simply make it worse) and some serious spending, I finally found the ones that keep my face looking clear and healthy. I hope they can help you in some way too.

Cleansing
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Rosesalve
Two of my good friends have glowing, gorgeous and enviable skin. I asked them what their routines were, and both didn’t say a lot. They don’t wash their faces every day, and normally only do when they wear makeup. I thought this was bizarre…but was willing to give it a go. It’s safe to say that it  really does make a huge improvement. Although the results were good, I couldn’t abandon the idea completely, so once a week, I exfoliate with the St. Ives Apricot Scrub (sensitive skin). If you’re using this over the sink and not in the shower, it can be hard to remove all of the exfoliating beads. This is where my Clarisonic comes in. A Clarisonic isn’t necessary  but I’ve had it for a couple of years now and it really finishes the job to make my face smooth. I cover my face with Cetaphil*, wet the Clarisonic brush and clean my face. It removes the rest of the apricot scrub, which will dry out your face if not totally removed, so ensure to thoroughly cleanse!

* I also use a small amount of Cetaphil to clean makeup brushes.

Nivea Pure & Natural Cleansing Toner – This product really surprised me, as most Nivea products irritate me and I stay far away from them. This doesn’t dry out the skin because it contains Argan oil. I use this to clean my face every day, and to remove my makeup when needed.

Sephora Super Loaded Age Defy Serum – I realise not everyone has a Sephora in their vicinity, but I mentioned this product because it’s fantastic. I apply it before bed and sometimes in the morning..but within moments of putting this stuff on, your skin tone improves and feels incredibly smooth. Skin looks brighter and feels instantly better. It doesn’t irritate eczema at all and gives you a bright, smooth finish. It’s around €30. I got it before Christmas and I’m still using it, a little goes a long way.

Bigelow Rose Salve – Again, not the most readily available high street  product (sorry!), but if you suffer from dry skin around your eyes, this will remove it as well as moisturise the eyelids in one night. It’s relatively inexpensive and from Bath & Bodyworks, but it’s easy to get online. Vaseline will do the same job too, this is just far quicker, especially if you have a night out planned. It’s great for lips and dry elbows too.

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Caudalie Beauty Elixir – There are mixed reviews all over the Internet about this product. It’s about €12 for 30mls, which for me, lasts about three weeks. Although it’s quite expensive, it’s great for refreshing and cooling the skin, and if you feel any sort of irritation coming on, it calms the skin and perks you up. I spray it on my face every morning and it’s great when you’re hungover. I don’t mind spending a little extra on something I know will work, and this definitely soothes sensitive skin. I have to restrict my sprays though, it’s a little addictive. I buy mine on Bath and Unwind, a great site brimming with beautiful products (and a beautiful layout to boot) that’s worth checking out. Free delivery too!

Aveeno Moisturising Lotion – I go through tubes of Aveeno like nothing else. This is the ultimate (and essential) product for eczema. I use it every single day on my body and face, it’s the best out there for skin conditions. If you have particularly itchy or irritating eczema, go for the menthol Aveeno. It soothes as well as hydrates, long after you put it on. It’s very affordable, lasts for at least a month, but varies from price to price depending on where you get it. If you’re from Ireland, McCabes Pharmacy regularly have Aveeno special offers, where a tube costs just under €4.00.

Coverage

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The key to keeping your skin healthy and irritation free without becoming a creepy hermit is to use something that doesn’t cake your face, filling it with troublesome products, sure to cause an explosive aftermath. If you want your skin to look it’s best, Origins VitaZing is the secret. I don’t know how this stuff works, but the results are amazing….no need for heavy foundation or powder anymore. None of that stuff.
Squeeze a pea sized amount of this stuff on your fingers (it comes out white with a blueish sheen) and spread all over your face like moisturiser. The result is glowing, tinted healthy looking skin. This product won’t irritate you, even if your skin is highly sensitive. It’s about €30.00 (£27.00) but invaluable for eczema sufferers. Think of it as buying a bottle of foundation. It’s around the same price, but it’s good for your skin, while making it look it’s best with minimal effort. A little goes a long way.

The reason Boing by Benefit features in this picture is because it’s a creamy and durable  concealer. I use it under my eyes, and it’s the only product that doesn’t irritate my eczema. It’s the only additional coverage I use along with Origins Vitazing.

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(Wearing only Origins VitaZing, Boing concealer underneath my eyes and a cream blusher)

My final recommendation is a product for those who are a little skeptical about investing in Origins Vitazing and feel more confident with additional coverage. No problem. This product is Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer. The reason this product is so great for eczema sufferers is due to it’s consistency. A small pot like the one pictured costs €40.00, but will last for what seems like forever. If you put a speck of this stuff on your hand, mixed with a small blob of your favourite moisturiser (Aveeno!) you have essentially just made your own brand of foundation which will cover your entire face, with what seems like an airbrushed effect, which will stay put all night. A long sentence, fitting for a long-wear product. I bought mine at the Space NK concession at Harvey Nichols Dundrum. Aucoin products are also available on Amazon.

Although the prices range greatly between my featured products, I find these work incredibly well for particularly bad eczema. My other tips to manage eczema are simply to drink more water, apply vaseline to the skin to the spots where you usually apply perfume if you don’t want to spray it on your clothing (this will minimalise blotchy patches . If you’re drinking alcohol (eczema’s enemy!)  carry moisturiser in your bag. Apply to neck, arms, legs and hands in the bathroom if you get the chance – it will stop a flare up from happening the next day.

Although not medically certified, I have plenty of personal experience in this area. If you have any questions regarding eczema or psoriasis, feel free to email me. I would be more than happy to help.

If you have tried any of the products mentioned, I’d love to know how they worked for you.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

♥ ♥ ♥