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Diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of eleven T L Spencer turned to writing as a way to cope with her condition. Her vivid imagination and love of all things paranormal influenced her writing. T L Spencer enjoys all forms of literature and is currently studying at university, hoping to become a teacher.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Wake Up and Smell the Herbal Teas!

We’ve all done it. It’s the morning, we’re on auto-pilot, still groggy from sleep, we trudge through our early morning ritual of waking, dressing and when we get to the kitchen the first thing we do is switch the kettle on. The very smell of fresh, hot coffee seems to rejuvenate and many people swear by the rush of energy that caffeine brings. But is it the only solution? Can there be another way?
Caffeine, a naturally occurring chemical stimulant, is a drug and increases concentration and reaction speed. It does this by blocking something called adenosine, a chemical which makes you naturally sluggish and drowsy. When you feel like your mind is racing after one too many espressos, you’re a lot closer to the truth than you might think. It isn’t a new drug either. Though extremely popular in the twenty-first century, the discovery of caffeine’s energy boosting powers had been recorded as early as twelve hundred years ago. Though it didn’t become a British staple until the eighteenth century, coffee has always been a part of mankind’s medical and luxury arsenal.

Like everything, caffeine has its ups and downs. Caffeine, as with other drugs, certainly has its benefits when taken in small doses. Research has suggested that 200mg of caffeine per day (two cups of coffee or tea) can do wonders. It has been found to slow the dementia process in women, preventing cognitive decline. Caffeine also increases the happy hormone (dopamine) in your brain, protecting against Parkinson’s and depression. The same amount of caffeine has also been found to cut the risk of skin cancer by up to twelve percent by working as an anti-oxidant.

But with the sweets comes the sours. Caffeine is a drug and with taking it you run the risk of addiction. Long term side effects of caffeine, if you drink over four cups of coffee or tea a day, can become serious over time.

Caffeine is only a temporary stimulation. The more you take, the more the brain cells need. This is because the adenosine in your system adapts to the caffeine, so once the stimulation wears off you’ll feel more sluggish than ever. If you love a cup of tea or coffee before bed and wonder why you toss and turn, look no further than that cup! Caffeine is notorious for causing sleep disturbances. And remember it is an alkaloid (a poisonous chemical) and therefore takes twelve hours to be completely eliminated from your body.

 High caffeine consumption can increase the loss of bone mineral density. As caffeine is a diuretic, it speeds the urination cycle but overtime it ‘steals’ calcium from the bones, flushing it out through the urine. In the long term, caffeine can cause osteoporosis.

Anxiety disorders can also be made worse by caffeine because of the over stimulation of the central nervous system. Too much caffeine can also aggravate bipolar disorder, overriding sedative medications. Experts are also concerned about men and women with bleeding disorders, urging people to be cautious with their caffeine intake.

Diabetes can also be affected by caffeine consumption. Research suggests that it can alter the way the body uses sugar in dangerous ways and can potentially worsen the effects of the illness. Caffeine should be used with caution or avoided altogether in these cases.

Though safe in small amounts, women either pregnant or breast feeding should be careful of drinking more than one or two cups of tea or coffee. Higher doses of caffeine can increase the chances of miscarriage. As caffeine passes into breast milk, nursing mothers can cause insomnia, irritability and stomach problems in infants.

If you have an upset stomach, caffeine is one of the worst things possible to have as it can make it worse. Caffeine is also known to enhance dehydration, which is not recommended when suffering from diarrhoea.

In daily users, large caffeine intake can also cause nervousness and restlessness. As a stimulant, caffeine could potentially raise the heart rate, increasing blood pressure and respiration.

Caffeine can be an effective way to wake up, but as you can see, overuse can cause problems. Kicking the caffeine habit altogether, if your intake is greater than three to four cups of coffee a day, might be a long and arduous process, so cutting down slowly is the best way to go about it. Instead of just quitting ‘cold turkey’ why not substitute the caffeine for a healthier and more natural alternative. Whether made fresh from the garden, or bought in a bag from the shop, herbs can have many health benefits. Herbal teas are widely available and specialist teas easily obtained off the web.  There are herbs for every occasion; here are five of them that can help to dispel the drowsiness without the artificial high.

Most people love a bag of All-Sorts. Why not try some tea? Licorice is extremely beneficial.  A great stimulant, Licorice improves the function of the adrenal gland and gives you a much needed energy boost in the mornings. Unlike other teas, this is safe to take every single day and is even known to enhance memory and fight viral infections!
Mint is a powerful restorative, stimulating and revitalising the body and the best thing about it? It tastes really good! Peppermint tea is highly effective. One cup in the morning kick-starts the system, refreshing the mind, blowing away the cobwebs.  It is also a useful anti-sickness herb reducing stomach cramps, nausea and even headaches – an ideal hangover cure!  Though a tasty treat in teas, mint is also yummy when heated with milk. If peppermint is too strong, try spearmint for a lighter flavour.

Korean Ginseng
Often described as sharp and earthy, Korean Ginseng can be an acquired taste but it’s an essential pick-me-up for the early risers among us. Containing chemicals called ginsenocides Ginseng assists the body by stimulating the Central Nervous System. By kick starting the adrenal glands and promoting immune function, it also fights stress and when taken in small amounts, is an effective anti-aging tea!

There is nothing worse than having to get up and go to work with a cold. Teeming with flavonoids (immunity boosters) and lots of antioxidants such as rutin and limonene, eucalyptus tea is great for these early morning dilemmas. Known as eucalyptus globulus to the scientific community, it controls blood sugar levels and reduces viral infections. It also eases breathing difficulty, allowing more oxygen into the brain, making it brilliant for concentration. You’ll be wide awake and breathing easy with no sniffles in sight!

Raspberry Leaf
Containing many vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and calcium, Raspberry tea is the most perfect and healthy stimulant. Furthermore, Raspberry tea is one of the safest and commonly used tonics for women wishing to get or who are already pregnant. Raspberries are rich in vitamins A, B, C and E as well as important minerals such as iron and potassium. These nutrients increase blood flow, preventing anaemia and reduce fatigue dramatically.
While everything is good in moderation, natural alternatives are always good to try. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any complementary medicine, especially when pregnant or while taking prescription medications.

Harry Potter - A Top Ten Character List

Well, it wouldn't be a Harry Potter month without one, would it?

The characters of our beloved HP have captured so many hearts and minds over the years (both in book and movie form) that I simply could not resist this Top 10...

Regular readers should not be surprised by my number one... at all!

A small note: I am not putting in pictures because most of the movie versions do my head in.

Harry Potter
Yes, at number ten is the central character, our determined yet utterly lovable hero, Harry.  He's had a pretty hard life, you'll have to admit; a stupid prophecy here, evil masterminds trying to kill him over there... And he copes with all this without his parents. It's very sad, but that's what makes him all the more endearing. He keeps calm in the face of danger and he carries on. He saves the day again and again despite the secrets and lies and he kicks some Voldemort ass!
Perhaps my favourite villain of the piece because she is completely psychotic, Bellatrix is a pure blood witch and a sadistic wacko. Despite having a husband - who seems a bit browbeaten, if you ask me - she seems infatuated by Mr Voldy and, as one of his best wands (so to speak) she gets to know pretty much anything that goes on.
Also, if you've read the books, you'll know that she's the evil cowbag responsible for torturing Neville's parents until they were completely insane. In my mind, this makes her worse than Voldemort, who at least has the decency - if you can call it that - to kill his victims and not play with them first.
Despite this, she's an awesome character. her unhealthy obsession with power makes a fascinating, if slightly disturbing read.
Professor Minerva McGonagall
Back onto the good guys! Our lion heart prof takes no nonsense from anyone, is wicked smart and can turn into a cat with spectacle markings!
That pretty much sums up why she's in my top ten. Anyone who can turn into a cat, is ace at transfiguration, tells Pansy to hightail it to the dungeons and fights Voldy is a winner for me.
Luna Lovegood
This is the girl who tells us that it is okay to stand out in a crowd. She tells girls that, yes, you can be smart and a little strange... you can be yourself. People should love you for who you are and if they don't they really aren't worth your time.
Thank you, J.K for bringing us a girl like Luna.
Ginny Weasley
The definition of a red head is: fiery temper with a heart of gold. Ginny has this in spades. She is yet another character that I adore - and not just because she's ginger. Ginny has so much to live up to but doesn't let fear get in the way: she confronts her demons and fights for what she wants. Ginny is strong, loving and independent.
Take one for the team!
Fred and George Weasley
The practical jokers who made the dark times seem just that little bit lighter. they gave light to those shadows... And really, on reflection, there has always been someone in life exactly like that. A person who deals with stress by making light of it, making jokes, chasing people's fears away... They also remind me of family. The closeness the two brothers seem to share really comes across.
That's what these characters mean to me.
The Mums
Lily, Molly, Tonks, and even Narcissa... Each of these characters deserve so much more.  Liliy gave up her life protecting Harry, Molly protects, fights and cares not only for her children but for everybody else's, Tonks dies fighting to save her child's future and Narcissa's love for Draco was so strong she fooled Voldemort.
Mums really are the best.
Ron Weasley
'Sunshine, daisies, butter, mellow...' From Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, these words I shall always remember. The typical 'Ronness' that did then ensue, from troll remarks, spiders, ghosts in bathroom, to Hermione and a certain Quidditch player... all of these things (and of course, he's ginger) earn him a place in my top 3.
But, more important than all of that, is his character; despite him having difficulties with potions, having wand issues, and on the whole not being as talented or as poewrful as his friends, Ron has heart.
Ron binds the group together; his all too human view of things, his normal reactions to the dire situations allow everyone to see the humour in all the bad stuff. He's probably the funniest character in the books.
Hagrid lives in a hut, likes a drink, is extremely brave and has an awesome beard... he's also half giant.
But he has a dog, a three headed dog, had a dragon, keeps thestrals...
You get the idea.
Basically, he's epic!
 Professor Severus Snape
My all time favourite character and probably the most complex of them all. I have raved about Snape soooo many times...
I just love him.
And who couldn't, really?
Harry thinks he's surly, moody, judgmental... But tell me, if you had to watch the love of your life fall in love, marry and start a family another man ( a man you hate) and  then discover that the evil monstrosity you're working for wants to kill them...  mmmm.
And then the love of your life dies but the boy survives and you have to live with the knowledge that it was all your fault. And you have to protect the boy - who looks exactly like the father - with all your might because you want to honour the woman you loved.
But then your evil boss comes back and you have to be a spy. And you have to kill the one man you looked up to as a father and then you have to let the boyget himself  killed because it's meant to be and then sacrifice yourself in the process... all because you're still in love with this one woman. Because it's an ALWAYS kind of love.
You know, I think Snape is entitled to be a bit bitter.
And I apologize for the rant, but he's my favourite.
Always x

Saw this and Smiled...

This is sooo cute. I found it on Pinterest and it really made me smile - my thanks and madness goes out to whoever originally posted this!

The Family...

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Friday, 17 May 2013

Harry Potter and the Invasion of the UCG students...

Okay, so that title totally sucks, but what other wacky title would be catchy enough to describe our day out at the totally epic WB Studios?

So, before I cram this post full of pictures... actually Ill just cram this post full of pictures.

With the proviso of:


So, above is the sight you are greeted with on arrival. I have to say it is extremely impressive; there are two large stages - aptly named J and K - and both are gi-huge. As soon as you get near the entrance, you are bombarded with the sound (awesome sound of course) of Harry Potter. And believe me, even after four hourse, you don't tire of it.

Remember these? All of the chess pieces from HP1 are still around folks, just guarding the stages and ticket sales folk. I wanted one to move - I was sort of half expecting one to actually - but they didn't... or did they?

Can you believe the car found its way out of the forest? It now hangs happily in the entrance hall - which is huge by the way - for everyone to see. Along with Hedwig, in her cage, and several massive canvas pictures of the cast, the car decorates the entrance hall; there is the standard info deak (cloakroom) blah blah and the employees are awesome! They all know just a little too much about HP...
Which was fine with me.
Plus, we all got these Harry Potter passports for the tour. They were cool. And they'd come in ahndy later on too; stamps you know. Stamps. And flying lessons... and duelling club.
Into the Great Hall, and it is Great. They called it a 'hot' set. Meaning, of course, that it was ready to be filmed on at any moment. The hall is massive and so incredibly detailed. You have to take care not to gawk! The goblets and pitchers were cool, as were the costumes (see above).

What is the HP tour without Dumbledore's office? Need I say more?

I had to stick this in, because I just loved this from the film. I always did wonder how they made all the props look so realistic... I asked one of the tourguides. Did you know every label you see, every book, every picture frame; they were all hand-made? People took the time to write every single label in Snape's potion room, Ollivander's wand shop... Think of all the books the characters have read over the years... That is just mind blowing.

And speaking of potions. Here is a little snippet of the Potions classroom. That set was seriously awesome. And kind of creepy.

And creepy does not do this set justice. Umbridge's office was so pink it was almost sinister. Voldemort's cave and Malfoy's dark manor had nothing on this. The pink was seriously revolting; it looked so happy it was evil. Shivers...

Favourite bit!
Outside was where we tasted Butterbeer!!!! Only two places in the world sell the stuff. And it is yummy. You must try some. Anyway, Privet drive, Godric's Hollow, the Hogwarts Bridge, the Riddle tombstone and the Knight Bus can all be found outside. So much fun.

Past the monsters and into Diagon Alley! So much to look at, so little time. That is all I'm saying. ;)

And can you believe this is a model? Just wow. It's the last part of the tour and certainly the grandest.
It was an ace day and something suitable for anyone with the slightest HP tendency. Add that to the huge shop at the end of the tour an dyou have a winner. I hope you all like the pictures. I ended up snapping over 400! Most of them were rubbish but a good proportion of them were damn good, if I do say so myself. The whole tour was superb; I'd definitely go again.
Even if I'd have to force my dad to take us.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Harry Potter Land

I am on my way to Harry Potter land!

The coach is uncomfortable and sleeping is seemingly impossible but I am looking forward to my tour of WB studios! 

May the foolish wand waving soon commence!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Magic Wands

We all love the magic... And what is magic without the wands!
Especially when Ron snaps his like a twig!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Harry Potter Countdown

Keep Calm and Potter On! It's a good motto and one worth remembering... Harry, bless his soul, with his messed up hair and awkward ways, his awesome flying skills and his uncanny ability to attract trrouble; who wouldn't love him? And Hermione? I'm sure everyone has known a girl like that... And a Ron... And a Pansy...

The Harry Potter books really are a work of genius. they've got so many people reading, laughing and crying; it's simply incredible what JKR has accomplished.

So, what is my favourite Harry Potter book? It was difficult to decide my all time favourit, because I love them all but nevertheless,  here is a fun little countdown...

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Enter Sirius! The misunderstood and wrongly accused murderer... This book has some major plot points in it: Padfoot, Prongs, Moony and Wormtail with the Marauders Map, the Dementors, and of course the Prophecy. It's got humour (Malfoy gets hit) and some interesting animals. 
Overall, I love this book; it has everything I've come to expect from a HP book.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Can anyone say 'issues' fast enough? Poor Harry, you can't help but feel sorry for him when reading this book. He's been stuck by himself all summer, Voldemort's been doing God only knows what and to top it all off he gets attacked by Dementors and nearly killed. His friends have been together all summer, without him and everywhere he goes, Harry is facing secrets and lies. If that isn't enough, the man he looks up to as a father gets killed! Ouch.
Plus, Umbridge...
Admit it: you wanted her dead more than Voldemort.
Action, action, action... lots of action! And tears too...

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Now this is awesome. Speaking to snakes! The chamber of secrets has been opened; enemies of the heir beware! Brilliant. And Lockhart? The best and most stupid character to have ever graced the pages of Harry Potter.
Harry Potter the Half-Blood Prince.
Severus Snape! We all love a misunderstood character and Snape... Snape is just epic. I love how the character description of Snape is exactly the same as Alan Rickman. Anyway, Harry discovers an old potion book with 'added instructions' and spells... And the mystery begins. Snape has got his wish; he's DADA teacher. What is Dumbledore thinking?
And Harry is having is going back in time (technically) to discover information on Voldemort's past in an effort to discover his weaknesses and find the Horcruxes. Only Harry and Dumbledore run into unexpected trouble. One death and a battle later, Snape is declared a murderer, Dumbledore is dead and the one horcux they have discovered is fake...
This book is great. Not only does it have a lot of drama, it is packed full of humour and romance: Ginny and Harry get together! Yay!
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Now, this... Wow.
There's a traitor in their midst... and they are trying to kill Harry. Or are they? His name is put into the Goblet for a reason, but no one can figure out why and with the muggles at the World Cup being attacked... things are just getting out of hand.
And the Dark Marks are getting darker.
It all happens in this book. Harry and Ron argue... Harry gets a crush... Ron makes a complete fool of himself (again)... Hermione dates a Quidditch player...
Voldemort returns...
And RPatz dies! :)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
It all ends... The one who died for power, the one who died for love and the one who greeted Death like an old friend. This book is very clever and so deep. the battle scenes are brilliant and it is quite emotional. I have an urge to go and read it...
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
Well, the genius has to start somewhere and it started here. The vanishing glass, the giant,  Platform 9 3/4, Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, Voldemort... everything we have come to know and love about the magical world of HP began with this book.
Which is why it will always be my favourite.

HP reflections...

Check this out... Such cool stuff on Pinterest.

House Pride

Are you a lion, a snake, a badger or an eagle? Whichever you are take a peek at these...