Month: March 2013

Easter Sweets and Gifts

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Easter eggs from Belgium…yummy:)

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A really cute sheep soft toy from my sister in law. I named her Doris:)

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A present from my mum. Easter candles. I love the packaging:)

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Lindor Stracciatella Chocolate. Inspired by the classic Italian ice cream recipe. Super delicious.
http://www.lindt.com.au/swf/eng/products/lindor/lindor-gift-boxes/lindor-stracciatella

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A present for myself. Wooden wall hook.

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another present for myself:) NEW LOOK wedge heels

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Quinoa and Chicken Salad

The other day at work I saw someone eating what looked like barley / oats. I’m always curious when it comes to food so I asked what this type of ‘barley’ was. “Quinoa, it’s a super food, it’ s really healthy” was the answer. Quinoa! Of course! I had seen a video of one of my favorite directors (David Lynch) where he was cooking quinoa and raving about how good it was, but I never gave it a second thought.

Now I was intrigued. My colleague described quinoa as “Like couscous, but nuttier”. So quinoa is what’s on the menu for today, amongst other delicious ingredients of course. For this week’s journal I’m bringing you a super awesome superfood recipe! I’m ashamed to say that this is the first time I have tried quinoa, perhaps because it was never a common food in my mediterranean upbringing. There are limitless ingredients that you can add to quinoa. I wanted mine to be healthy, and low in carbs, here’s what I came up with:

Quinoa & Chicken salad (serves 4)

Ingredients:

A Bag of fresh spinach

Chickpeas (add as desired)

Can of corn

4 chicken breasts

Mushrooms (add as desired)

2 cloves garlic

1 spring onion

Bunch of parsley

A few slices of Prosciutto or Parma ham

Parmeggiano reggiano for grating

Method:

Cook the fresh spinach in a little bit of water (only fill about 1 inch or less of the saucepan) and a bit of salt

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In the meantime cook the quinoa.. ( Click here for a really good recipe for cooking fluffy quinoa, easy peasy ūüôā )

If you’re too lazy to click outside the article, basically you need to toast it for a few seconds in a bit of olive oil, then add water. For each cup of quinoa, add 2 cups of water (1/2 cup is enough for two people) Cook for 15 minutes on low heat, covered. Turn off the heat and let it set for a further 5 minutes (still covered). Fluff with fork and it’s ready to eat!

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Ok in the meantime, roughly chop the chicken & mushrooms.

Cook onion and garlic in olive oil, when browned add chicken and mushrooms.

When the chicken is cooked, add parsley, corn and chickpeas.

Season with salt and pepper.

There’s quite a lot of ingredients in this dish, and trick is to layer them nicely. I suggest first stirring the quinoa into your chicken mixture. Serve this on the plate first, add the spinach, layer the prosciutto (don’t flatten it if you want a dramatic effect ūüėČ ) Finish off with parmeggiano shavings.

That’s it! Enjoy your delicious, healthy quinoa and chicken salad (that will leave you feeling full & no bloated stomachs) ūüôā

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Figolli Easter traditional sweets

Today we are sharing a well-known traditional Maltese sweet, perhaps a new discovery for our followers from oversees. One of my fondest memories when it comes to Easter is ‚Äúhelping‚ÄĚ my grandma Bice making the Easter Figolli. I will never forget the table covered in flour amongst other ingredients. I used to love that mess and the smell of almonds and dough baking in the oven. Heaven:)

Later she used to place on the table an impressive number of these almond cakes in a variety of forms and shapes (most of the time symbolic shapes) and cover them in chocolate or royal icing. Obviously being a chocoholic  I used to have mine in chocolate:) As a finishing touch she would decorate the Figolli with tiny edible silver balls and an Easter egg in the middle.

This year I have tried to go back in time by making the Figolli with my mum and my sister in law Maria. I couldn’t resist trying a piece with a cup of coffee and it tastes delicious, maybe not the same as my grandma`s but it’s close enough. This time we experimented a little bit with the decoration, but we have tried to keep it traditional as much as we can. Up to a few years ago in Malta, children (including me) used to take their Figolla with them to the procession of the resurrection Christ on Easter Sunday and when the statue was passing by, they would start shouting with the Figolla held up in their hands, “Bless it for me!”. Sadly this sort of enthusiasm for simple rituals such as this is a rarity nowadays, however it is still a sweet and fond memory of mine.

We hope that you will enjoy and try our recipe so you can share it with your families and loved ones, and you have a peaceful and happy Easter.

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EASTER FIGOLLI RECIPE

Pastry

800g plain flour

400g butter, cut into pieces

350g  sugar

4 eggs

1 lemon/orange (grated zest)

dark, milk or white chocolate  (you can decorate your Figolli in the traditional way, with Royal Icing)

Filling 

600g pure ground almonds

2 drops of almond essence and vanilla essence

600g icing sugar (sifted)

Grated zest of one lemon

4 egg whites

Sift the flour into a bowl, add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips.

Add the Sugar and the lemon/orange rind and mix.

Mix in the egg yolk and gather the ingredients into a dough.

Knead the pastry and cover the pastry in cling film and leave it in a coll place for 30 to 40 minutes.

In the meantime mix together the ground almonds, essence, sugar and lemon rind in a bowl. Add the egg whites and mix well.

Roll out the pastry over a floured surface and cut  the pastry into shapes (using figolli cutters)

You will need to pastry shapes for each figolla. Place  3/4 tablespoons of almond mixture on 1 pastry shape . Moisten the edges of the pastry with a little water water and then top with another pastry shape.

Press down to seal the edges together well.bake in a moderate and to slightly hot oven for 35 minutes (until the figolli are golden)

Brush the melted chocolate over the cooled figolli (2 coatings) Decorate with easter eggs, sweets, vermicelli, etc…

Have fun and and be creative when you decorate your Figolli:)

Other related recipes:

http://www.raycalleja.com/gprec06/gp06mar26.html

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My Work at Milkshake; the Exhibition

Two weeks ago there was the opening of the long awaited exhibition, MILKSHAKE, in which several artists exhibited works that discussed topics such as the queer body, gender and sexuality. It is a very sensitive subject which is very easily one of the biggest taboos in Malta, partly due to the conservative catholic influence on the island. However, it was for this very reason that there was a need to have this publicly discussed.

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I am very glad to have taken part in this show, and for the first time I exhibited serigraphy (silk screen) prints. It is a set of 8 different prints, which all are tied to past experiences relating to my own sexuality. They are one of the most intimate body of work I have ever made, both because of content, and also because of the images.

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The development of this body of work was a long one, about ten months to be exact. However it was this process which led me to a much better understanding of the subject, thus enabling me to produce this work. It was important for me that the work would not reflect the subject from the outside in, but rather from the inside out. I did not want to give my thoughts on the topic, but rather how it affects me and my life. I felt it was better to record my experiences by working with my partner and record our experiences which although not experienced together, both of us can relate to.

After coming up with a lengthy piece of writing, I selected particular phrases and started building images around them. This allowed the pieces to evolve into an intimate record of both our experiences.

MILKSHAKE: The Exhibition at St. James Cavalier is opened until 1st of April 2013

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Project Deconstruction: Digital Illustration

You know besides being bloggers for Design Sorbet, we are first and foremost creatives. Ruth is a drawing ninja, Eleonora is a media guru, Sarah has kickin screen printing skills, and I do animations and digital illustrations. So project deconstruction is an excuse for us to show you our work, but because we’re a design blog and because we want you to be able to take something with you from our blog, and do your own thing, we want to show you the process & development behind each project.

Today I will guide you through the process of digitally colouring and adding light to one of my favourite illustrations that was created for a friend of mine. But before I want to give you a bit of background info on the subjects that are central to my drawings. A digital designer that I admire once told me ‘When you get good at something, let it go and do something else’. He wasn’t referring to dropping drawing and become a construction worker of course, but to challenge oneself as an artist. When I started drawing I was never fond of children and animals, I found them harder to draw than anything else, and also slightly boring.¬†You can guess what happened next; I started putting (especially) children at the core of my illustrations. The focus was not just children however, I was (and still am) interested in children and their sexuality. Finding a subject that interested me of course, helped me to want to undertake this challenge more than ever.

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A project that I did with fellow blogger Ruth Ancilleri. This was a part of a collective exhibition against censorship in Malta. The viewers were invited to look through the hole in the box…

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…Inside they would see what looked like two girls undressing in a girl’s room(this is actually not how the box was inside originally, this picture was taken later when some of the items had broken due to their fragility).

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An illustration of a girl standing naked surrounded by various objects symbolising childhood and adolescence.

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This is the illustration that we will be deconstructing today; two boys holding hands in one of the boys’ room. One of the boys is moving the curtain to the side and they are both looking out, perhaps to see if there’s anyone watching, spotting something outside or simply to wonder at the world.¬†That’s the poetic side for you, now let’s get down to the technical stuff! Since my work is semi-digital, the deconstruction is mainly what happens during the digital stage. Please note that this is not a Photoshop tutorial, however if you are interested to learn Photoshop (a visual graphics application) Mashable have compiled 12 Beginner tutorials right here. If you have any other questions about technical details, feel free to ask in the comment section.

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This is the original illustration with a hint of water colour. The boys’ clothes and their rooms are all inspired by real clothes and objects in children’s rooms that I find online and in books.

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The image is opened in Photoshop and the extra background cropped. I always keep a copy of the original in case I want to revert back to it.

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Pencil usually loses some of its sharpness when it’s transferred into data. The first thing I do before I start any colouring is adjust the levels to make the dark areas darker, and the light areas lighter.

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Time for some colouring. I tried to stick to colours that are low in saturation; mostly blues,beiges and hints of orange and yellows. In this case I have done the colouring all on one layer and using a very rough technique.

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After the colouring, I usually add highlights and shadows on separate layers. Here the black was added roughly and then erased depending on where the light hits the subjects and environment.

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Light was the focal point in this project seeing that my light source is in the middle of the composition. I really wanted to get the highlights right here. I started adding while colouring on a separate layer to emphasise the areas that are directly hit by the light.

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Still wasn’t happy with the light, so added even more light in a circular motion coming out from behind the curtain to imitate the radiance of the sun (notice the back lighting on the characters as well)

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and still messing around with light! The final touch was adding a lens flare effect (something I rarely use) but I wanted the light to really blast through the window, to give the feel of when one has just woken up and is blinded by the sun. The lens flare effect was then retouched through lots of erasing (to avoid the fakeness of it)

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Now I was thinking I wanted a slightly nostalgic environment, so I lowered down the saturation slightly.

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With me so far? Hope so ūüôā The final touches are basically getting the overall colour balanced and to my liking. I added an overall brown layer using the soft light transparency option. This obviously gives the drawing a brownish tint.

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…and finally, another layer but this time a greyish light blue/green once again using the soft light option, to make the overall colour slightly colder.

Home-made Protein Bars

Protein bars are ideal for a hectic and busy lifestyle and they can be eaten as a healthy snack before or after exercise (approx 1 and a half hour before). However some of the ready to buy bars are not always very tasteful (artificial taste) and  they are quite pricey.  They are candy in disguise;  full of sugars and preservatives and artificial colouring.  Some of these bars contain low quality ingredients such as soy protein isolate, high fructose corn syrup/solids (55% made in laboratory) and trans-fats.

Learn how to make healthy delicious¬†protein bars by following our ¬†recipe which I borrowed from my friend and ¬†professional fitness instructor Alice Galea. ¬†I have tried them myself and I promise you that they taste super delicious; like eating ¬†cake or ¬†pudding but healthier ūüôā These bars contain fibers,¬†protein, natural sugars and other beneficial vitamins.

Ingredients:

8 apples (chopped with skin)
8 pears (chopped with skin)
3 mashed bananas
1 litre egg whites (you can use whole eggs instead but you will be adding much more calories , use 6-8 eggs)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 teaspoons almond essence
15 scoops (3 full mugs) vanilla whey protein powder
200g to 400g  nuts ( any kind)
200g  rolled oats (Quaker oats)
3 teaspoons Cinnamon

Optional Ingredients:  WARNING:) the more ingredients you add the more calories you will be adding

You can add peanut butter, dates, coconut flour or shredded coconut, sultana, dried fruit, concentrated apple juice

You can also add cocoa powder to make it more chocolatey (very similar to a traditional /pudding/pudina)

Original recipe makes 30 to 35 bars (depending on the cutting size)

Method: 

Put the fruit in a blender or chop manually  (do not totally puree)

Stir in  all the other ingredients with the chopped fruit

Pre heat oven on 180¬į for 7 mins before and bake in a shallow dish for 25-30 mins , the shallower the dish the less time it takes to set and bake

Leave it to cool , cut it into portions , wrap in cling film and freeze

This can be a complete meal , you can eat it for breakfast , lunch or dinner (or before and after exercise/ approx 1 and a half hour before). Bon appetit:) Eat well and Stay healthy.

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BODY DIY: Benefits of the lavender plant

‚ÄúLavender is native to the mountainous zones of the Mediterranean where it grows in sunny, stony habitats. Today, it flourishes throughout southern Europe, Australia, and the United States. The oil in lavender’s small, blue violet flowers gives the herb its fragrant scent. The flowers are arranged in spirals of 6 – 10 blossoms, forming interrupted spikes above the foliage. The name lavender comes from the Latin root¬†lavare, which means “to wash.” Lavender may have earned this name because it was frequently used in baths to help purify the body and spirit. However, this herb has also been used as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled.‚ÄĚ

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/lavender-000260.htm

I have been using lavender for the past fifteen years now; initially I used to burn its pure essential oil in a burner (diluted with water).  The relaxing and fresh smell helped to relax me and make me sleep easier. Unfortunately I have been using this ritual for so long that my sense of smell became immune to these benefits and it did not affect me anymore; now I still use lavender in a variety of different ways. I use it to moisturise my skin; by mixing it with sweet almond oil and frankincense or any other preferred essential oil. I also apply it on any blemishes and small cuts; since it  has regenerative properties, and it is an anti-infection, analgesic and anti-flamatory substance.   I also add dried lavender to camomile and drink it before I go to sleep; actually this is one of my favourite daily habits. Lavender is so versatile and it has so many properties that one can also use it for cooking (sweet and also savoury).

Here I have some lavender recipes, just for your mind, body and soul:)

Recipes: 

Lavender  and camomile bedtime drink:

Add dried lavender (1 teaspoon of dried lavender flowers in a tea strainer) and a camomile tea bag into a cup of boiling water. Drink it before you go to sleep, you will sleep like a baby:)

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dried lavender. It can be purchased from http://www.suma.coop

Body massage oil:

Mix 4 drops of lavender pure essential oil, 2/3 drops of frankincense essential oil and sweet almond oil as base oil.  Massage this mixture all over your body in the morning after showering or bathing. You will feel and smell good all day long:)

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dried lavender. It can be purchased from http://www.suma.coop

Bath oil: 

  Add 6-8 drops of  Lavender essential oil after running  water, stay in it for a couple of minutes while listening to relaxing music. Great for aching muscles, relaxation and stress relief.

Burning lavender pure essential oil:

Add 2-4 drops of lavender with water in a burner. Light a tea light and place it underneath the burner to heat the water and oil so they evaporate and fill your room with a fresh and comforting pleasant smell.

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dried lavender. It can be purchased from http://www.suma.coop
burner from the body shop http://www.thebodyshop.co.uk/

http://www.afternoontea.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=830&Itemid=1#.UTULdzCkq5I

Granny`s Lavender Shortbread

300g flour

50g cornflour

50g caster sugar

50g icing sugar

250g unsalted cold butter, cubed

25g dried lavender

1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until you have a crumbly, almost pastry consistency.

2. Cover a baking tray with greaseproof paper or a baking mat and place the mixture on top.

3. Cover the dough with greaseproof paper and roll it out until it`s about 4mm thick and bake for 15 minutes at 165C.

4. Using a shape cutter cut out the shape 5 minutes after removing it from the oven.

5. Sprinkle  a light coating of caster sugar on top.

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Lemon and Lavender Sugar Biscuits

(makes about 30 biscuits)

200g caster sugar

2 tbsp dried lavender, plus extra to serve

2 tbsp lemon zest

245g plain (all purpose) flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

180g butter, chopped

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

icing sugar, to serve

1. Put sugar in lavender in a bowl. Rub the mixture together with your hands to bruise the lavender petals. Set aside for 20 minutes to infuse. Add the lemon zest to the bowl and mix.

2. In a food processor or blender, add the flour, baking powder and salt and pulse to combine. Add the sugar mixture and pulse again. Add the cubes of butter and pulse until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Transfer to large bowl.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, egg yolk and vanilla extract. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until ingredients come together to form a dough. Roll dough into a cylinder and cover tightly with plastic wrap ensuring dough is completely sealed. Chill in the fridge for two hours.

4. Preheat oven to 175¬į C (345¬įF). Line two baking trays with baking paper.

5. Remove dough from the fridge and discard plastic wrap. Allow to sit for five minutes to soften slightly and make it easier to roll out. Dust the work surface with a bit of flour and using rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circular shape, about 5mm thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and carefully transfer to the baking tray ensuring a little space is left between each.

6. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cookies  are slightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Dust with icing sugar and scatter a few dried lavender petals onto each before serving.

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Other related links: 

http://www.allthingslavender.com/

4 Inspirational Books to get you going

For our journal this week we’re bringing you three books and a¬†magazine that are sure to get you up and going, whether it is to create your own business, start your own blog or live a happier life. These reads have been tried and tested by yours truly, and one of them was actually what pushed us to start this blog! Enjoy ūüôā and feel free to add more to the list in the comments!

booksLinks: Crush it¬† The Happiness Project¬†¬†and the¬†author’s blog¬†¬†The Simple Things¬†¬†Blog Inc

Something Special featuring “Impress When You Dress”

Following our last article ‘My Eight Legged Love‘ which might have caused some of you to feel slightly jittery, for today’s post we have something a bit more on the girly-side. ¬†Our ‘Something Special’ features one or more of our (or your) personal favourite possessions. We give you the details and the story! For today’s something special we have chosen one of our followers who is both a fashion enthusiast and an illustrator, Gemma from Impress when you dress

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Objects:

A few of my favourite fashion headbands from my collection…

What’s so special about them?

The reason I’ve chosen to do a post on my headband collection is because I feel my slight obsession with headbands has become a part of my identity. I started my obsession when I first decided to have my hair cut into a pixie style last year. I felt more insecure after having my hair cut so short, not because I didn’t like the style, but with my school uniform I felt I was unable to look as feminine with a shirt and tie and wanted to maintain my girly style. This led me to browsing through a number of shops for a range of hair accessories that were acceptable for school and my everyday wear. At first I only had one or two headbands … since then I have counted I have up to 48 headbands! So here’s a few of my favourites!

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What’s the story?

Glittery Flower Headband ‚Äď This headband is a particular favourite of mine for summer because it matches nearly all my summer wardrobe! I bought this in a small boutique in Alcudia, Spain when on holidays last year with my mother. I love it as I can hide any of my messy bed hair with it and it instantly makes any ordinary outfit look a little more glitzy and glamourous!

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Skull Headband ‚Äď This headband I created with a skull broche I bought from a boutique I bought in Cardiff, and an ordinary studded headband from River Island. I like this headband as it looks really rock chic when worn with a skater skirt and rock t-shirt ‚Äď it‚Äôs great for concerts.

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Diamond Grey Headband ‚Äď This diamond grey headband was a bargain buy in the river island sales in January. It looks great with any type of outfit and sometimes I even manage to get away with wearing it to school with my uniform!

Want to see more? Here are some of Gemma’s other pretty, glitzy and flowery headbands:

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My Eight Legged Love

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my dog and how much I pamper her. What most people don’t know is that sometimes twice the legs is just as lovable, and hence my undying love for tarantulas.

Really and truly I have a deep fascination with a lot of arthropods, including phasmids as well. Phasmids are a family of insects which can grow quite large. More commonly they are called stick insects. However arachnids are my favourites, not only because they can have amazing colouration and interesting habits, but also because one can learn so much from them.

I get a lot of weird looks about my tarantulas, but I believe it is only because there are a lot of misconceptions about the creatures. For example, while ALL tarantulas are poisonous, they are not dangerous to humans and a bite is not strong enough to kill anyone. In fact, no one has ever died from a tarantula bite. This does not mean that you won’t have to handle a couple of hours of pain though. The fact that they are not deadly, unlike how many people perceive them, is probably one of the main reasons why they became so popular in the exotic pet trade.

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Tarantulas are divided into two sections, old world and new world. Old being from Asia, Australia and Africa, while new being from the South America. The old world ones have a more potent bite, however those from the new world can kick the so called urticating hair on their abdomen, causing itching. There is also another division, terrestrial tarantulas, those who are ground dwelling, and arboreal, those who live in trees.

They are often very hairy, which in my opinion makes them look really cute. They are able to spin webs like the common spiders, however for completely different purposes. While the spider makes it to trap its food, a tarantula makes its web to cover her borrow, or to produce hammock like structures to rest on. Another major difference is that while a spider’s average lifespan is two years, a tarantula can live up to 25 years.

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There are several reasons why tarantulas make perfect pets. First of all they do not need a large amount of space, they do not make any sound, maintenance is minimal, and they don’t smell. This makes them perfect for apartment living, especially for anyone who doesn’t have the time to go for long walks, or hates cleaning after their pet. They don’t need you to play with them, and they won’t require company. They won’t even raise you electricity bill as they do not need specific lighting, just a simple low wattage heat mat. And as an extra bonus, if you need to go on holiday you don’t need to worry about their feeding, as they can fast for months without any effect on their health.

Even though a lot of people are terrified of spiders, I do know of arachnophobes whose heart was stolen by a tarantula.

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