Free legal resources; reading and films.


Books (Photo credit: henry…)

Hello nice to be back. Sorry it has been a while since my last post I have been busy with end of term chaos. For this post I decided to write about the availability of free books on the internet.

I have just got a new tablet so have spent several hours creating a collection of books for different purposes. However you don’t need a tablet to access these books just access to the internet.

If you download the amazon kindle application there are thousands of free books available. Not just the classics. Some are specifically published free for kindle. Some are free when first made available however then the price goes up. So if its free its worth grabbing it whilst you can.  The best thing to do is type in any key word and then tell amazon kindle store to order it cheapest first. There is usually about a hundred pages of free books available at :

I may have got slightly carried away and downloaded 700 free books yesterday.

For those of you who have a tablet but can’t access the kindle software I recommend Aldiko.  This allows you access to feedbooks who have a variety of books written just for them and made available for free. Their website can be found at they are fantastic with free original and classic books. The ordering isn’t always as consistent ass amazon but its worth bearing with for some truly awesome free reads.

Then for those of you who like romance books check out just read the description first as there is a selection of teenage and adult romance. Depending on your preference of graphic detail and avoidance of sex I suggest checking the category before purchase.

There is loads of websites that offer free reading; both online and available to download to your laptop so don’t miss out.  The latest sight I have found is which I will be testing out in the next week or so. Also don’t forget anything out of copyright is often available free online.

I use sight such as for out of print academic texts. There is also which has a range of out of copyright resources including films. These are legal ways to pass the time. I particularly love the films found on as they are often a bit different from the mainstream genre.

If you have ideas of where to get free films and books legally why not share. It is always nice to support the websites that give something back by sharing with friends.

Until next time I wish you a fabulous week.

Best wishes



Test subject A- a follow up TEFL: Finding Legitimate Companies.

No one want to apply for a job half way across the globe, only to be short changed and have no one to turn to.

So, I’ve spent the better part of the evening looking into different companies which claim to offer jobs all over the world.

Of course sometime you can tell from just looking at the site. However, that is not always the case, from there you need to do more searching.

As is common with most companies now a days, they have twitter and facebook account, and becoming more common, having a LinkedIn page. I consider these to be good places to check. The more likes or followers they may be more trust worthy. Of course if you click on the link and the page doesn’t exist then you get away from that site.

Another good thing to look into is partnership information. If the site has the icons and names of other companies that are backing them, go look them up and see how credible they are. Some times this can be really easy, other times you are might have to search for online Australian newspapers to get information about AustChem. Even after you have seen a photo of the Australian PM at a lunch set up by the AustChem, can’t be too careful.

It’s not just sites with jobs offers to worry about. How can you work out the trustworthiness of a site that is offering TEFL courses? In this area I didn’t really do much searching. I found i-to-i from a graduate job website, so I took it as okay and I ended up doing my course with them.

I did go looking at other courses when I decided I did want to go through the process of getting TEFL qualified. Some of them again I judged on the look of the website, while others it was based on how much they were offering the online courses for. If a 120 hour course is normally around the top end of £200s and they are offering it at £60 something not right there.

Always look into a company as far as you can before applying. With doing a TEFL course you can gauge if it’s too good to be true. Whereas with the jobs the more common benefits always seem a bit too good to be true when you first go in. To me if someone offering you free accommodation, to pay for your flights there and back AND offer to pay for one round trip home, something’s always going to feel off. However, these are some common features, so it can be hard to gauge at times.

Anyone else have any tips for doing research let me know! J

Ellie aka Test Subject A.

How to make banana cake

Today we decided to have a go at making banana cake. It is one of those deliciously moreish things that never seem to last in our house. It’s really simple and a fantastic use for those bananas that are a bit too ripe.

Here is the original recipe we were supposed to follow courtesy of test subject A’s mum.

Banana Loaf

2 ripe bananas

2oz marge

5oz sugar (I use a bit less and add extra banana)


8oz self raising flour (sometimes I use 4oz white SRF and 4oz wholemeal SRF

Pinch of salt (I don’t bother)

1.   Mash bananas

2. Cream marge and sugar

3. Beat in eggs

4. Add flour salt and banana

5. Add any extras like choc chips/chunks cardomon seeds etc.

Line baking tin with baking paper or if you haven’t any, grease the tin well.

Bake at gas 5 , 190°c ( the recipe I have says 1hour but its never taken that long when I’ve made it. Try about 20 minutes then check.


Here’s what we did:

Warning we may have messed up slightly although it was still tasty. For this reason we suggest you follow the above recipe. And read directions before beginning (unlike us).

1)      We took 3 overripe bananas and mushed them using a fork in a glass bowl.

2)      Next we added the sugar and butter (soya pure) into the same bowl (this is where we went wrong).

3)      We mixed these together to get a smooth mixture.

4)      We beat the eggs in a separate cup. Then added them to the bowl.

5)      We added the flour, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of chilli and mixed well.

6)      We poured the mix into a silicon cake tray (hoping it would all fit).

7)      We turned on the oven to 190 degrees ( forgot to do this earlier)

8)      We waited for the oven to heat up. And used this time to wash up our stuff and put away the ingredients.

9)      The mix went in the oven. And we waited again.

10)   After 20 minutes we checked the cake but it was still very gooey.

11)   We kept checking on it at regular intervals until cooked. (tested by sticking a normal knife into the cake and waiting for it to come out clean)

12)   Once it had cooled it was well received.

Overripe banana's

mush banana's with a fork mush banana’s with a fork

Overripe banana’s
mix in sugar and butter

mix in sugar and butter

a nice smooth mixture

a nice smooth mixture

break two eggs into a cup

break two eggs into a cup

fun 15.5.2013 025

pour into bowl

pour into bowl

banana cake banana cake

Mix in eggs

Mix in eggs

pour mix into baking tray

pour mix into baking tray

put baking tray in oven

put baking tray in oven



Kombucha – homemade mushroom tea


Kombucha culture fermenting in a jar

Kombucha culture fermenting in a jar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is Kombucha-  non-alcoholic fermented mushroom tea

I went out a few weeks ago to celebrate the end of the academic year with friends and as a last day out before everyone starts to leave. We dropped into our favourite health-food café and they had something new called kombucha on the menu, naturally I wanted to try this. It tasted like apple cider without the alcoholic content. When I got home I looked it up :Kombucha is a tea based drink with possible medicinal properties made from special fermented mushrooms. It has been suggested to help the liver and have a positive effect on people with chronic fatigue and ME. Although there is no medical evidence to prove or disprove the suggested properties of the drink.

I decided that I would love to have a go at making this tea and looked into how it was made. I discovered it was simple however you needed a starter batch of previously made kombucha to begin. My health food store didn’t have any but suggested checking online. I purchased the scoby starter mushrooms from ebay and will be having a go when they arrive. I will be posting more here as I go.

If you have any questions please leave feedback.

The recipe I am using is below. I don’t have a starter tea so will be replacing this with white vinegar as suggested.

Will let you know how i have got on in a few weeks.

How to Make Kombucha Tea at Home

Makes about 1 gallon

What You Need


3 1/2 quarts water
1 cup white sugar
8 bags black tea (or 2 tablespoons loose tea)
2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored) kombucha
1 scoby per fermentation jar
Optional flavoring extras for bottling: 1 to 2 cups chopped fruit, 2 to 3 cups fruit juice, 1 to 2 tablespoons flavored tea (like hibiscus or Earl Grey), 1/4 cup honey, 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh herbs or spices


Stock pot
1-gallon glass jar or two 2-quart glass jars
Bottles: Six 16-oz glass bottles with plastic lids, 6 swing-top bottles, or clean soda bottles


Note: Avoid prolonged contact between the kombucha and metal both during and after brewing. This can affect the flavor of your kombucha and weaken the scoby over time.

1. Make the Tea Base: Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled. Depending on the size of your pot, this will take a few hours. You can speed up the cooling process by placing the pot in an ice bath.

2. Add the Starter Tea: Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea. (The starter tea makes the liquid acidic, which prevents unfriendly bacteria from taking up residence in the first few days of fermentation.)

3. Transfer to Jars and Add the Scoby: Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar (or divide between two 2-quart jars, in which case you’ll need 2 scobys) and gently slide the scoby into the jar with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band.

4. Ferment for 7 to 10 Days: Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, checking the kombucha and the scoby periodically.

It’s not unusual for the scoby to float at the top, bottom, or even sideways. A new cream-colored layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. It usually attaches to the old scoby, but it’s ok if they separate. You may also see brown stringy bits floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles collecting around the scoby. This is all normal and signs of healthy fermentation.

After seven days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.

5. Remove the Scoby: Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch of kombucha, as outlined above. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. As you do, check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick.

6. Bottle the Finished Kombucha: Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch. Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if desired) into bottles, along with any juice, herbs, or fruit you may want to use as flavoring. Leave about a half inch of head room in each bottle. (Alternatively, infuse the kombucha with flavorings for a day or two in another jar covered with cheesecloth, strain, and then bottle. This makes a cleaner kombucha without “stuff” in it.)

7. Carbonate and Refrigerate the Finished Kombucha: Store the bottled kombucha at room-temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Until you get a feel for how quickly your kombucha carbonates, it’s helpful to keep it in plastic bottles; the kombucha is carbonated when the bottles feel rock solid. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.

8. Make a Fresh Batch of Kombucha: Clean the jar being used for kombucha fermentation. Combine the starter tea from your last batch of kombucha with the fresh batch of sugary tea, and pour it into the fermentation jar. Slide the scoby on top, cover, and ferment for 7 to 10 days.

Additional Notes:

Batch Size: To increase or decrease the amount of kombucha you make, maintain the basic ratio of 1 cup of sugar, 8 bags of tea, and 2 cups starter tea per gallon batch. One scoby will ferment any size batch, though larger batches may take longer.

Putting Kombucha on Pause: If you’ll be away for 3 weeks or less, just make a fresh batch and leave it on your counter. It will likely be too vinegary to drink by the time you get back, but the scoby will be fine. For longer breaks, store the scoby in a fresh batch of the tea base with starter tea in the fridge. Change out the tea for a fresh batch every 4 to 6 weeks.

Other Tea Options: Black tea tends to be the easiest and most reliable for the scoby to ferment into kombucha, but once your scoby is going strong, you can try branching out into other kinds. Green tea, white tea, oolong tea, or a even mix of these make especially good kombucha. Herbal teas are ok, but be sure to use at least a few bags of black tea in the mix to make sure the scoby is getting all the nutrients it needs. Avoid any teas that contain oils, like earl grey or flavored teas.

Avoid Prolonged Contact with Metal: Using metal utensils is generally fine, but avoid fermenting or bottling the kombucha in anything that brings them into contact with metal. Metals, especially reactive metals like aluminum, can give the kombucha a metallic flavor and weaken the scoby over time.

Troubleshooting Kombucha

• It is normal for the scoby to float on the top, bottom, or sideways in the jar. It is also normal for brown strings to form below the scoby or to collect on the bottom. If your scoby develops a hole, bumps, dried patches, darker brown patches, or clear jelly-like patches, it is still fine to use. Usually these are all indicative of changes in the environment of your kitchen and not a problem with the scoby itself.

• Kombucha will start off with a neutral aroma and then smell progressively more vinegary as brewing progresses. If it starts to smell cheesy, rotten, or otherwise unpleasant, this is a sign that something has gone wrong. If you see no signs of mold on the scoby, discard the liquid and begin again with fresh tea. If you do see signs of mold, discard both the scoby and the liquid and begin again with new ingredients.

• A scoby will last a very long time, but it’s not indestructible. If the scoby becomes black, that is a sign that it has passed its lifespan. If it develops green or black mold, it is has become infected. In both of these cases, throw away the scoby and begin again.

• To prolong the life and maintain the health of your scoby, stick to the ratio of sugar, tea, starter tea, and water outlined in the recipe. You should also peel off the bottom (oldest) layer every few batches. This can be discarded, composted, used to start a new batch of kombucha, or given to a friend to start their own.

• If you’re ever in doubt about whether there is a problem with your scoby, just continue brewing batches but discard the kombucha they make. If there’s a problem, it will get worse over time and become very apparent. If it’s just a natural aspect of the scoby, then it will stay consistent from batch to batch and the kombucha is fine for drinking.


Recipe taken from:


Good place for more info

Another blogger who writes about their experience of kombucha:


Resource review

In my last post on teaching I decided to test some of the different resources available to revise for the QTS skills exam. I struggled to find any official QTS website so concentrated on basic skill sites instead. If you missed it you can check it out here:

I noted that I would examine the following sources:

1)  – a basic literacy site with tests

2)^AF4^xdm005&gclid=CNKG8tmYibcCFWXJtAodU3QAxg  – an online game app for maths and english

3) – a key skills site that requires a free login but provides feedback

4) – a website for teachers or those hoping to become teachers.

Here’s how I got on:

1)      Grammer Monsters a basic literacy site with tests. It is a down to earth easy to navigate site with plentiful information on the structure of the English language. This basic guide was just what I needed to get to grips with the ins and outs of adjectives and adverbs. I am now far more confident about my use of language and ready to progress to more complex grammar. I might even (possibly) have another go at the official literacy practice test.


2)      An online game app for maths and English. Despite the enticing image and description of this product I did not test it. This I due to the need to download it and my aversion to downloading anything that isn’t from a 100% credible source. It may have been the best resource however I do not know. Instead I contented myself with the other resources, the contents of my university library and the suggested reading for QTS revision.


3)      Key skills 4 you a website with a free login and provision for feedback. This website has audio explanations with the option to test yourself. There is the option of training or testing. Training teaches the basic skills for ICT, maths and English. I really enjoyed this resource and found the use of interactive tools very helpful in remembering all the new skills. It was especially useful as you could change your preference of font size, colour and background colour making it easy to read. I am going to continue using this, especially for maths, as I continue to progress towards my exam.


4)       A website for those hoping to teach. I liked this site as whilst it did not provide any resources it did provide moral encouragement and the chance to interact with other students in the same situation. I would definitely recommend this to anyone going into teaching.


So that is my short review of four resources available online for anyone who wants to brush up on their literacy or numeracy. Please do share if you have found a useful resource.

Hope you are having a fabulous week.


Guest post – TEFL adventure!

HI! I’m Ellie, or Test Subject A. Rachael asked me to do a bit of a blog about TEFL, which stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This is because I am on my way to getting TEFL qualified and hopefully getting a job from it soon. This is just a basic overview of what I have done and found out so far on my journey. I am now on a 120 hour course so I may write more as I go through the course and learn more.

TEFL came to my attention from a graduate job website. It was offering me a TEFL job in China, with some very nice additions to it, the main one to me being free provided accommodation, while also being a paid job. Both there’s areas were appealing. Owning to the fact I want to find a job in order to be able to pay my way thought a Master Course. However, I’m not one to just jump into something without looking round it.

I also looked around at the different ways to gain a TEFL qualification. You can one either online, in a class room or a combination of both. Some jobs offer to put you through a TELF course, which would be done online, and with the last 20 hours in a classroom in the country of the job.

The courses differ in length from 20 hours to 120 hours, and ranged in price from around £90 to around £300.  The cost of the courses meant I had to be sure about wanting to going into TEFL.

So I went about looking at the different locations that employ native English speakers and the range of payments and benefits you could gain. This was to make sure it wasn’t just the China job I had seen that offered accommodation. As it turned out most jobs did come with this benefit, or provided money to use in renting an apartment or flat and help in finding one.
The majority, if not all (if a long term contract), of them offer help with VISA applications. A small amount will also pay for flights or provide you with a flight allowance. As well as all many other benefits that I shall not list here.  Along with this the pay seemed to remain good for the different types of jobs.

However, it was not these benefits that made me choose this line of work. The possibility to travel and earn money while doing so where the defining factors. The ability to help others in learning the convoluted mess we call the English language also played a factor.

I came across a few websites that offered TEFL courses, job lists or both.  Here are the main ones I am using:

  1. i-to-i was the first company I found, and not really thinking about it I signed up to the sight, which included giving a phone number. I didn’t question giving them this until after I had done it. It is easy to search for jobs on this site, however, it has a habit of saying it is unable to load the pervious when you click back, and when you tell it to try again will load and early search result. This is annoying if you had been looking at jobs in Asia and have moved onto Europe. There is also a tester here:
    ADVICE- DO NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS SITE UNLESS YOU ARE SERIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT GOING INTO TEFL. They will call you up, and ask you about it. However, if you are thinking about and are still unsure it is useful, and the guy I spoke to was very friendly and helpful.
  1. This site I used to look into more jobs. So far I have just looked into Europe, but they offer a larger selection of jobs than the previous website. However, the majority of the jobs in Europe they have seem to be based in the UK, which is not something I personally want to do. At the same time they have more, paid, jobs available in Russia than i-to-i which I like.  They seem to also offer training as well, but as I am using i-to-i I’ve not looked into it. They also offer an overview of the cost of living in a country you are viewing a job in (you do need to be logged in to see this page) With an account you can save jobs you are interested in, making it easy to find again when you want to apply.

(More to come later as I find them)

Other sites I have come across: :- This one claims to find you a job as soon as you have finished your course. :- Same as above and they also offer a free tester, however, you need to make an account to access it. :- Definition of different teaching qualifications.

Some books that might be useful:

Lessons from Nothing: Activities for Language Teaching with Limited Time and Resources Bruce Marsland

Learning Teaching: A guidebook for English language teachers. Jim Scrivener

A Training course for TEFL. Peter Hubbard.

Well that’s it for now. May do more later, with details on what the courses give you.

Test subject A

Beans of any other name

English: Pitha made from rice flour with cocnu...

English: Pitha made from rice flour with cocnut,jaggery,black pepper filling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my quest to make gluten-free flour for my friend, after the unsuccessful attempt at grinding the rice, I decided to see what else I could get hold of locally that would allow me to produce flour at less than the supermarket price.

I returned to my initial site: and worked my way through the list looking at what my blender could survive and was cheap enough to be in my limited budget. Anything nut based was automatically disregarded as my fiancé is allergic to nuts.  I didn’t want to try rice flour again so began to research the other possibilities.



buckwheat flour

Corn flour
mesquite flour
millet flour
quinoa flour
sorghum flour
sweet potato flour

teff flour


arrowroot flour
potato flour
potato starch
sweet rice flour
tapioca flour
white rice flour

However, one section that interested me was the bean flours. I had never heard of flour made from beans before. On the other hand I had never heard of any of the beans on the list either: fava bean flour, garbanzo bean flour and kinako (roasted soy bean) flour.

I worked my way through the list to see how much they were on amazon as an example. Then realised I had no idea what these beans looked like and if I had to use these specific ones or if I could use others. I Googled the fava and garbanzo beans and found that fava beans are a type of broad bean and that garbanzo was another name for chickpeas.

Apparently chickpea flour classes as a whole grain, so following the rule from earlier of 40% wholegrain to 60% white flour or starches; I needed to find another flour to create my all-purpose celiac substitute.

I really wished I could use the white rice flour as that was the easiest to get the ingredients for however after my last attempt I needed something else. This left me with the option of garbanzo flour.

To make the garbanzo (chickpea) flour:

You take dried chickpeas blend them in a food processor and then sieve out any remaining lumps.

However it has been suggested that it is possible to use canned chickpeas instead if the recipe you intend to use the flour for will be adding liquid anyway. We used canned chickpeas to make pizza (Post to follow soon) and added less water than suggested by the recipe as the chickpeas were already soft.

White and green chickpeas

White and green chickpeas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hope this post was helpful. There will be more up shortly on how we used the flour, hopefully, with pictures.


How to make your own bean flour can be found at along with ideas of the best things to use it for at

Over at the little house on the prairie Julie also suggests the ways different bean flours can be used why not check it out at:

Whilst Googling for garbanzo beans I discovered the recipe for a gluten free snack which I will test out and let you know the results asap: – an article about different uses of gluten free flour. No recipes but helpful nonetheless. – a cooking dictionary where I learnt about bean flour this week. – a recipe for pizza using chickpeas as the base – one way to make chickpea flour

Mango Madness

When I went to the shop they had mangoes reduced from £2 to 40p each. I love mango and at this point got carried away buying three instead of just one. So here is what I decided to do with my mango’s:Mango Madness 001

1)      I decided to have a go at making Aamras suggested by : I got the recipe from

Aamras is very easy to make you blend a mango, add the flavouring of your choice, mix together then chill in the fridge before eating with puri or rice. I am going to be trying mine with cinnamon and rice.

I found a recipe for puri here with pictures for anyone who wants to try making their own puri:

2)      Next I had a go at Mango curd suggested by recipe taken from You add the fruit of one mango, 1/3 of a cup of sugar, 3 tbsp citrus juice and a pinch of salt to the food processor. Blend. Add 4 egg yolks ( I use the whites to make omelette). Blend again for about 15 seconds. Pour contents into a metal bowl. Place metal bowl above a saucepan of boiling water (not touching the water). Stir until mix starts to thicken. Take bowl off heat and mix in ¼ cup of butter. Then place in the fridge overnight. Once set it is ready to top toast or bind cakes.

Mango curd about to go in the fridge

Mango curd about to go in the fridge

You can find a video of my attempt here


3) Finally I made Chicken and mango curry. I used my final mango and 3 chicken breasts. Both sliced.  I cooked 1 sliced onion and my chicken in a wok then added the mango and a tin of tomatoes. I added a tiny bit of coconut some chilli, cardamom and a teaspoon of curry powder. Stirred everything together and cooked on a low heat whilst I made rice. Once the rice was cooked I served the curry and enjoyed. I hope you enjoy too.

Fruit leather

Preserving fruit for later may not save you much money (in season fruit is usually cheaper) but it is a lot of fun. There are many different methods for preserving fruit other than freezing or making jam. Here I explain how to make fruit leather.


Cheese making 004


I wanted to have a look at some of the different methods available for preserving fruit and try them out. So I Googled fruit preservation. I keep getting the suggestions of canning, dehydrating (or salting), pickling and freezing .

The first thing I decided to try was fruit leather. This is involves making fruit mush, boiling it down with water and honey before then allowing it to dry out at a very low temperature (about 50 degrees) in the oven. This can then be stored in an air-tight box for months (there has been suggestion of years). I got the recipe for this from: . My experience of having a go was fun. I cooked pears with cinnamon and honey before using my hand held processor to create a smooth mush. Unfortunately, I got halfway through the recipe before realising that we had run out of cling-film (obviously I should have learnt by now to check stock before I begin a recipe). It was an early closing day and the shops had already all shut but I had a pan of fruit puree ready to dehydrate. Instead of lining my baking tray I just poured it straight on and anxiously hoped for the best.

I placed this in the oven at 50 degrees with the door shut then waited. Checking every few hours to see what was happening.

Eventually, about eight hours later, the leather had dried out. It smelt wonderful and I had to resist the urge to eat it then and there. I scraped it off the tray using a metal spatula and folded it up so it would fit in a box. It is now stored in the fridge.

I have had a few pieces and it is amazing. It is great to take out to munch on when busy, I just stick a bit in a food bag.