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Vegan Life magazine | Issue 2

October 26, 2014

You might remember me mentioning Vegan Life magazine at the end of August? Well, it’s already time for Issue 2! As I did last time, here are a few of my favourite articles in this issue.

Fashion! I like to think I’m fairly clued up with vegan brands, but this one is new to me, and I am already saving my pennies to pick up the pieces I’ve got my eye on. It’s great to see so many fantastic brands creating clothing, shoes and accessories that are cruelty-free and ethically made. Oh – and they look GOOD! It’s a rarity, trust me.

My skin has been going absolutely bonkers lately, and it’s driving me nuts. I know that really the reason is that I’m just eating too much sugar; from bread to ice-cream, sweets to gingerbread porridge – it’s all to blame, I’m sure. But I just love these things too much! This article helped a lot. Oh, and looking younger? Definitely down to a vegan diet ;) I usually get my age guessed at around 21-25 (although last Christmas I got 16… I didn’t take that as much of a compliment) when in fact I’m 30 next year. I kind of really hate it when people can’t believe I’m 29, but I know I should see it as a compliment. I guess I just associate being younger with not knowing what the hell I’m doing – especially when I’m at work. Am I mad?! I’m sure I’ll be grateful if it continues on as I grow old. Saying that, I do have the start of laughter lines, and my forehead is definitely showing signs of a Gordon Ramsey situation happening, which is unfortunate, as I definitely can’t grow a fringe.

 

Cheese! I’ve made one cheese recipe before, and was really impressed with it, so will definitely be experimenting with a couple of these recipes.

Finally, CHRISTMAS! Oh, I can’t wait. I love everything about Christmas, and every time I see a decoration, recipe or pot of glitter I get a little stomach-flip of excitement. CHRISTMAS!!

So, there are my top pics for the latest issue. Check out their website for details on how to buy a copy – I definitely recommend catching up with both issues, as I’ve personally found them really lovely to read and save for later.

Did you pick up Issue 1? Any favourite articles?
Will you be picking up Issue 2?

Vegan Life magazine kindly gifted me this issue, however all views are my own. Especially the bit about my LOVE FOR CHRISTMAS.

Photos of the Week #43

October 26, 2014

WEEK 43 OF 52

Last week consisted of a whole lot of catching up with old friends, and enjoying some time at home – the perfect combination, if you ask me. I’m such a sucker for a quiet night in, but it was fun to force myself off the sofa and out into the late-summer evening. I paid for it by the weekend, though, and was so tired it took me until Sunday to catch up! I think that extra hour was definitely needed ;)

On Tuesday we went to a friend’s surprise birthday party, which was super fun. It was really nice to catch up and hang out with his little one, Luca. I haven’t seen them since they moved to London a few months ago, and he had gotten so big since then! Twit Twoo Bakery created this beautiful cake, as well as some vegan chocolate orange cupcakes, which were amazing. The big birthday cake was a four-layer carrot cake, wowza!//

Luca wasn’t the only little cutey at the party – this guy got a whole load of attention from everyone, too!//

On Wednesday we went to see The Antlers at The Old Market in Hove, a venue that I’ve never been to before, and will definitely be keeping an eye out for future events now. Afterwards we went for a drink at the Bees’ Mouth, just around the corner, and didn’t end up getting to bed until 2am – it completely threw me out. How sad is that?! Granted it definitely counts as a late night – but I was still absolutely exhausted when Saturday came around. But again, it was so nice catching up with them, especially as we only get to see them every couple of years when they come over. I really recommend listening to their music. Start with Hospice, sit down alone and listen to it from start to finish, it’s just amazing. One of my favourite albums, it’s pretty breathtaking.//

 

When you haven’t done any washing up for a few days (it happens to all of us, right?!) I had to really reach into the back of the cupboard for my morning coffee, and found one of my favourite mugs which I had completely forgotten about! It’s so beautiful. I bought it in a charity shop in Surbition years ago, and I’ll certainly be using it more often.//On Thursday evening I was home alone so decided to pick up some dinner from Iydea after the souprun, and it was as delicious as always. It was a really special evening, and completely unexpected – starting with a lovely conversation with the guys working at the cafe. I think it’s amazing when you have a connection with a complete stranger. I’m terrible at talking to people I don’t know, so it was nice to know I can actually get through a conversation. I left with a smile on my face and a bag of good food, and when I got home I dished it up on a plate that my neighbour gave me years ago when I left for uni. It was so sweet of him, and I’ve still got so many of the dishes, mugs and cutlery that he gave me out of his own cupboards.//

 

Saturday afternoon was spent with these three lovely ladies. We had lunch at Wai Kika Moo Kau before going bridesmaid dress shopping, which was so much fun! We went to a beautiful shop that sows every dress themselves, and I think we found The Dress. They’re going to be made to our measurements, too, which will be fun. My very own dress!//Saturday evening was spent curled up on the sofa with a tub of mint choc chip ice-cream (SO GOOD! It tastes like vienetta) and a movie; Safety Not Guaranteed. It had a touch of the awkwardness and beautiful cinematography that comes with Miranda July films, with loads of friendly faces like the guy from New Girl, the girl from Parks and Recreation and the guy from The League. So yeah, I completely recommend watching it, I loved it.//

 

Sunday morning was spent catching up with the mountain of newspapers, supplements and magazines I’d hidden under the coffee table to read at some point. And yes, the top one is from August… Please tell me I’m not the only one that does this?! Anyway, it was a very satisfying feeling to drop the whole pile in the recycling.//I really needed that extra hour in bed on Sunday morning. Finally I felt like I had caught up on my sleep, and we started the day with toast, coffee and a really good glass of orange juice.//

 

My rocking Friday night! I had the flat to myself, so tucked up with Ras and watched Sex and the City 2. I had forgotten how rubbish it was! Oh well. At least I got plenty of snuggles with Ras in.//

 

Pink skies in the morning, and it’s cold enough for tights and jumper dresses!! As much as I love summer (well, I love the weather and swimming in the sea and the warmth of the sun and BBQs on the beach – however I do not like it when it’s so hot you are forced to wear shorts out in public or vest tops or bikinis) I really love autumn and spring. When it’s bright with blue skies but you can wear layers with bare ankles and scarves that can be removed when it gets too warm. That’s heaven!//

Picking up a few bits for dinner at Taj on Sunday evening. I love this shop – it’s filled with so much fresh produce, and yeah there are a few flies here and there, but for the most part you can’t beat it for fresh herbs, tomatoes, homemade curry (think the same quality that you get from a takeaway, only half the price), vegan naan bread and every vegan alternative you could possibly think of.//

 

Burgers for dinner! Did I ever tell you that I love burgers? I think I might have mentioned it once or twice. These are VBites burgers in a pain rustique roll from Waitrose, stuffed with shredded iceberg lettuce, red onion, gherkin, Infinity Foods mayo and BBQ sauce. So good.//

This week is looking a bit crap as Trout is leaving me for America tomorrow, so I’m just focusing on the weekend, when I get to see my sister and a couple of friends for In Conversation with Oliver Jeffers and Quentin Blake at the Southbank Centre. Holy crap I am too excited! Oliver Jeffers! Quentin Blake! Oh my. On Sunday I’m meeting up with the lovely Lucie. Have you read her blog, The Glow Within? If you haven’t, sit down and read it all, it’s so beautiful – and great for vegan recipes. Finally, I bought Walk the Line and Her at the weekend, so I’ll be having some quiet alone time with Joaquin Phoenix while Trout’s away. I’ve seen both films before, and they’re two of my favourites.

Are you a fan of The Antlers?
Are you a fan of Joaquin Phoenix?

All photos taken on my iPhone.
For more photos, follow me on Instagram!

Photos of the Week #42

October 14, 2014

WEEK 42 OF 52

Eek is it really only ten weeks until the end of the year?! Or have I completely messed up my calculations… either way, I can almost smell Christmas, and that’s the main thing. This week was absolutely jam packed, which was pretty awesome. I always savour those evenings when it’s just the three of us, relaxing together – because sometimes it feels like they are few and far between. Not that I’m complaining! I just really like being lazy with these two ;)

 

Shall we start with food? Ok, how about PIZZA! From my favourite place, Pizzaface. On Mondays + Tuesdays they have a vegan specials menu, so we usually end up ordering on those days to make the most of them. The left slice is The Moby – chorizo, smoked sausage, marinated pepper, red onion and sour cream, and on the right is the Funghi pizza – field, shiitake, chestnut and oyster mushrooms topped with garlic, thyme and truffle oil. We also ordered garlic bread with cheese. All vegan, and all amazing.//

 

One mischievous munchkin at the end of my bed, waiting to pounce.//Soaking up snuggles on my day off with whiskerface.//

 

A pretty good way to spend my day off; the Sex and the City movie and a lunch date with Trout at Street Diner to eat a box full of food from Sultans Delights. It’s so good! And just FYI, don’t watch the SATC movie when you’re on your period. I seriously cried about 17 times. By the end of it I don’t think there was even a gap between cries. Weird. Obviously The Bridge scene really kicked it all off.//

 

A super quick meal during the week; lime and coriander rice and BBQ spiced peppers with shredded lettuce and wraps, plus tortilla chips and guacamole on the side. Fifteen minutes, not too shabby. Who needs Jamie Oliver ;) //After a busy long weekend  it was lovely to lie on the sofa on Sunday evening with Trout, eat ‘cheese’ toasties and watch a documentary on Russian prisons. My goodness, they are a harsh place to end up.//

We were in London on Saturday to see War Horse, and afterwards we popped to Mildreds for dinner. It’s one of my favourite restaurants, but we haven’t been for so long. I cannot resist a burger when it’s on the menu, and theirs never disappoints, and is ever-changing so you never end up with the same meal. Plus the basil mayo is SO.GOOD. We shared the artichoke crostini to start, which was absolutely amazing; warm melty artichoke, crisp bread, basil mayo and salad. Oh my! And I finally got to try the chocolate peanut butter brownie. Holy crap was it delicious. Trout had the passionfruit mousse cake which was also amazing; perfect if you’re looking for a light end to a meal (which I never am, but more often than not I should be. I spent the rest of the journey home complaining about how full I was).//

 
 

So that was my rather busy (and expensive!) weekend. It was great to be in London, and to spend time with Trout’s family on the Sunday. His cousin made us some vegan chocolate brownies, and his aunt made the best curry. I really should have asked for the recipes because they really were so good. Two brownies in two days, too! That’s the mark of a good weekend, right there.

Have you been to see Warhorse, or eaten at Mildreds?
What are your guilty secret pleasures when you’ve got a day off?

All photos taken on my iPhone.
For more pics, follow me on Instagram!

Photos of the Week #41

October 13, 2014

WEEK 41 OF 52

Before we get started, I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone that Liked, commented and tweeted about yesterday’s post. I was completely taken aback by everyone’s kindness, and totally unprepared for it. I was fully expecting a mixture of positive and negative feedback (and hoping that the negative wasn’t too harsh!), but it was quite the opposite. Wow. So yeah, thank you everyone. Now, onto last week’s photos.//

  

On Saturday evening Trout and I went to the Dome to see Dave Gorman. We’ve seen him live before and he is absolutely hilarious! I had tears rolling down my cheeks I was laughing so hard. Plus, the Dome is one of my favourite venues – it’s so beautiful and has so much history. We arrived a little early, after stuffing our faces at Bombay Aloo, and found a secluded part of the balcony upstairs. It felt like a really lovely, private moment, and we mostly talked about a house that we had viewed that morning. It was really nice, and we have some decisions to make over whether we’ll put an offer in, but I’m very excited to say the least.//

 

On Friday evening we celebrated a friend’s 30th birthday at a lovely pub (well, lovely now – it never used to be!) and Bruce, their dog, joined us, too. He’s such a cutey! I went wild and had two small glasses of red wine, and we shared some salty cashews, and then on our way home we picked up a falafel wrap and some chips, and boy did I wake up with a sore head the next morning! A total dehydration headache. Kind of worth it, though. And plus it made me smile like Wallace, which was weird (see photo below).//After we came back from Dave Gorman we sat in bed, Trout catching up with F1 and me catching up with Take a Break, and we shared the last couple of white chocolate chip cookies that I’d made the day before. It was a lovely way to end a pretty darn good day.//

 

In other unhealthy news…

 

…Waitrose have started stocking Almond Dream ice-cream!!! So far I’ve tried the salted caramel and the praline crunch, both of which are amazing. I hope they make a cookie dough flavour, that would be awesome.//On Monday I met Trout for a little burger date at lunch time. We went to VBites and I ordered one of my favourite meals in Brighton; the hickory chick burger. It’s incredible! As are the sweet potato fries.//

 

Candles kept me company while I finished up some freelance work on Friday.//Katsu curry on Thursday evening. I LOVE katsu curry!//

Rasputin was full of love for Trout.//

 

Rasputin’s pants dungeon. Trout said, “I like what you’ve done with the place”, and I couldn’t stop laughing.//Ras stealing Trout’s chair as soon as he gets up. It’s hilarious that he fully implements the three-second rule.//

And finally, Sunday’s roast dinner. It was the perfect day for a roast; it rained all afternoon and evening, it was so cold and dark. I always feel so satisfied making a roast dinner! We bought one of VBites’ celebration roasts from Holland and Barrett (it includes slices of ‘turkey’, pigs-in-blankets and an awesome gravy) and I made stuffing, roast potatoes, roasted parsnips, broccoli, sprouts, mashed swede and carrots. Yum!//

So that was last week! Plenty of food and Rasputin, as per usual. I can’t believe this weather! It’s a shame; I wish we had proper autumn’s here in the UK. With blue skies and crisp cold, not wet rain all the live long day. This week includes loads of exciting things to look forward to. It’s the start of The Apprentice tomorrow! Who’s excited? I’m also having dinner with Lucie tomorrow, and really hoping I don’t turn up looking like a drowned rat. On Thursday Trout and I are going to see David O’Doherty as part of the Brighton Comedy Festival, and Friday I have a day off work! Perfect. Saturday we’re going to see War Horse in London, and then visiting one of his uncle’s on Sunday. Busy busy!//

What do you have planned for the weekend?
Are you a fan of The Apprentice?

All photos taken on my iPhone.//
For more pics, follow me in Instagram.//

Disillusioned with blogging

October 12, 2014

I’ve been thinking about blogging a lot lately. A lot. In fact this is the third blog that I’ve drafted on the matter, and I’m yet to publish any of them. Maybe this one will make the cut?

Just a heads up – you might want to grab a drink and a snack because this turned into a bit of a rant.

Over the past few months I’ve gradually become more and more disillusioned with the online world of blogging. I don’t quite know where it began, when those tiny seeds of doubt came from, because for a long time I was so happy with the way that my own blog was growing, the way that I was working with some of my favourite brands, finding some new ones along the way, and being given the opportunity to share them with my readers. But somewhere along the way I just stopped feeling quite so positive about the whole thing.

I think part of me has this quiet sadness about the way the blogging world seems to be going. Every man and his dog is writing a blog right now and I see all too many who are clearly in it for one thing. The whole ‘industry’ is just tiring me out.

I feel like a bad person for saying these things, to be honest. I think it’s incredibly exciting to see this very open form of media – opinions and recommendations that could just as easily have come from your friends, but at the same time I just see product after product after product and there’s nothing behind these reviews and all-expenses paid trips and freebies. It feels like a lot of blog posts are constructed to fit around a product, rather than slipped into the conversation.

‘I’ve always wanted to spend a freezing cold afternoon on a boat in Scotland learning how to dissect fish whilst wearing a fabulous jacket, so I was super excited to hear from blah blah who paid for my entire trip and for me to write this post and for this fabulous jacket.’

I know I’m equally to blame, and I’m sure plenty have read my blog and thought exactly the same thing. Which is why I’ve decided to take a break from all product placement, unless it’s a project or company that just feels like the right fit. The long-term projects and relationships with PR agencies and brands that I’ve worked with over the years have really made me smile, and I think that the results have been great. I’ve always been selective – I don’t say yes to every product I’m offered, and a lot of the time curiosity makes me hit the ‘reply’ button. So you might see products pop up every now and again, but on the whole I think I’ll be focusing much more on content that’s just mine.
My life. My family and friends. My travels.

It’s why I started blogging, and it’s why I keep reading other people’s blogs. The number one reason why I follow them is for the words. A very close second is the photographs – especially if they are perfect and beautiful and imperfect and kind of make you stop and catch that breath of yours. But mostly I’m there for the words. The ones that make me want to grab a scrap of paper to write a few words myself. I started my blog to create a space for my writing, to get back into a routine of blogging and to have a space to fill with creativity. I don’t think that I necessarily veered too far off track, I just want to make sure I’m driving in the right direction.

I hope I don’t lose too many followers from this post, and I hope that no-one reading this thinks that I’m directing it at any particular blogger(s). I’m sincerely not. It’s also not about product placement/article placement/paid content/making money from your blog. It is mainly a reflection of my own decisions, and in seeing one too many artificial bloggers. It’s about repetition and seeing others possibly losing their way a bit. I’d love to hear what you think about the subject. Please do leave a comment – even if it’s to tell me I’m an arsehole. Or a hypocrite. Have you been thinking the same? Have you thought the same about my own blog? Seriously, any feedback is more than welcome.

Photos of the Week #40

October 10, 2014

WEEK 40 OF 52

I’ve been majorly slacking on the blog front lately. Thank goodness for this weekly update to keep me going! Even if it is three days later than usual… Work, freelance work, life – it’s all been pretty manic (good manic!) and I’ve been trying to steer clear of computer screens as much as possible in the evening, favouring books, magazines and the odd episode of something on TV or Netflix. In fact when I opened my laptop this morning, the date was frozen on the last time I used it – Saturday! So yeah, avoiding screens apart from a couple of TV shows. I’m loving the new series, 24 hours in police custody. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend it. We’re also watching the odd episode of Parks and Recreation, which took me a little while to get into but I love it now.//

 
 

A few things I’ve been eating lately; chickpea and lemon soup. One of my favourite soup recipes, and really simple to make. We had this for dinner one evening, with buttery ciabatta. Yum.//While I was at my Grandparents at the weekend we went out to a local Chinese restaurant that serves vegan mock-meat, which is amazing.//The trip to my Grandad’s was a little bitter-sweet. It was so lovely to see him and to catch up, but Alice Gross was found near to where he lives, and the body of the guy that is thought to have murdered her was found even closer, in a park that we went to all the time growing up. It was always The Good Park – it has a big lake and the best playground. It felt surreal to drive past and see it closed, with police presence on every corner. All of the trees and lamp posts had yellow ribbons tied around them – this one was in front of my Grandad’s house. So yeah, it was quite emotional being in the area.//

While I was at home I sorted out some of the dozens of photo albums that my Grandma kept. While I was sifting through them, we found a very old album of my Grandad’s photos, which was just amazing to look through. He looks so handsome and popular! I can totally see him in these photos, I feel like he hasn’t changed at all.//


 

^^In the top photo he’s on the left, the middle left photo he’s furthest on the right, the middle right photo he’s in the middle, and in the bottom photo he’s in the middle again. I think he looks super cool!^^

 

^^The top photo is me, my sister and my Grandma, middle left is my family, middle right is my Grandma + Grandad on holiday in Greece, and the bottom photo is me and my sister again. Amazing 90s style right there.^^

 

I spent as much time as possible with the dogs over the weekend – I miss them so much! The top two photos are of Jake, and the bottom photo is froggy-legged Jasper.//

 

Finally, I had two of my jabs for India! They didn’t hurt, but my arm ached a lot for the next couple of days. Ouch.//Luckily I could spend the rest of the afternoon on the sofa, snuggling with Ras and a good book. I’m currently reading A Windfall of Secrets, by Paul Harland. It’s written by my sister’s father-in-law, and it’s so good! Such a page-turner. Actually, it’s a chapter turner – I’m seriously finding it hard not to skip through big chunks of the book to find out what happens. If you fancy something new to read, I highly recommend it.//

So that’s what I got up to last week! I’ll be posting up this week’s photos soon enough (unless I slack off again…). I’m on annual leave today so am catching up with freelance work, planning a visit to the gym and then off to a friend’s 30th birthday party this evening. Have a great weekend, everyone!

What do you have planned?
Has the weather been awful for you too this week!?

All photos taken on my iPhone.
For more pics, follow me on Instagram

Photos of the Week #39

September 29, 2014

WEEK 39 OF 52

Let’s call this a Rasputin special, shall we? Trout was away all weekend in Cornwall, which clearly turned me into Crazy Cat Lady. I had a big deadline for a freelance project I’m working on so sadly missed out on the Cornish fun, but Rasputin was cracking company.

  

Here is in various positions around the house: Keeping watch.//Hiding under the covers.//Keeping me company while I worked.//Sleeping while I worked.// He’s a bit cute, isn’t he?

 

We met up with some friends earlier in the week to celebrate a birthday and eat some lovely Indian food. It was such a nice mid-week treat, and we stayed chatting long after our plates had been cleared. Of course I had a dosa! I just can’t resist them.//

  

Other things I’ve been eating; Christmas Pud Nakd bars! They’re so good. Super cinnamony and they really taste like Christmas. I was kindly sent a box of these fruit and nut bars by Natural Balance Foods, and they’ll be available online nearer Christmas.//A lot of sugar…! The company we share an office with organised a little coffee morning and we took it very seriously indeed. Not everything’s vegan, but most of it was – doughnuts (jam and custard), party rings and hobnobs. I love that there is so much vegan food on the highstreet now, and it’s not even noticeable.//Breakfast one early morning. I love taking time to myself in the morning before work. Am also still in love with Coyo ;) //Espresso chocolate is one of my favourites – it tastes so good! Just be careful how much you eat when you’ve made an extra large cafetiere to yourself. I vibrated across the office that afternoon, and was particularly productive.//

And finally, mushrooms. ALL the mushrooms. I was a good housewife on Sunday and cooked a stout and mushroom pie ready for when Trout got home in the evening, and very tasty it was, too! If you’ve ever wondered just how many mushrooms are in a kilo of mushrooms, I can tell you – a lot of mushrooms. I mixed things up with chestnut and regular and tiny button mushrooms and shitake mushrooms to make it more fun. And I bet you’ve never seen a paragraph with ‘mushroom’ written so many times in it ;)

p.s. mushrooms

So, that’s what I’ve been up to over the past week. As lonely as my weekend was, it was nice to hit a deadline and know that I didn’t have to stress about being behind on work. Is there a worse feeling? I get a little panicky pit of stress in my stomach when I miss deadlines, and it feels awful. If I think about it for too long my hands start to sweat a little. That’s normal, right?! I feel as though I didn’t get a weekend, as I was still getting up at 7am and working through until 8pm, but this week is a short one, and then I get a four-day weekend, wahoo! Now that’s something to look forward to. Plus I’m going home to see my family and we’re driving to London to visit my Grandad which will be nice. I haven’t seen him since… Easter? I feel bad that I leave it so long between visits, I really should make the effort more throughout the year. Anywho, that’s the plan for the long weekend. Another one without Mr T :(

Another thought – I swear Christmas is coming round so quickly! I think it’s because our plans for India are slowly coming together, with the intention of flying out on the 27th December, so we’re thinking about things like when we can take Ras to the cattery and whose family we’re spending Christmas Day/Boxing Day with, and then there are all the holiday days I’m taking off before then and what am I going to ask for for Christmas and what am I going to buy everyone else for Christmas and oof it’s a lot to think about. But I’m really excited! I do love Christmas.

Have you started making plans for Christmas already?
Are you a fan of mushrooms?

All photos taken on my iPhone.
Follow me on Instagram for more photos!

My morning routine

September 26, 2014

06:30
My alarm goes off. It goes off early so that I have time to snooze – I’m a sucker for snoozing – and depending on how cute Ras is being, it can take a while for me to drag myself out of bed.

07:00
OK, OK, I’m up! Stare at the mirror to figure out whether I can go one more day without washing my hair (thank you dry shampoo!) before washing and cleansing my face and brushing my teeth (I’ve just got my first electric toothbrush, and it’s awesome!) I shower, apply REN Day Cream, get back in my pjs and head downstairs for coffee and breakfast.

07:30
I put on the news while I eat my breakfast, and flick through emails and Instagram.

08:00
Time to get ready. Hair, make-up, get dressed, change my mind, wear something else, apply lipstick after the final piece of clothing has gone on (I’ve ruined too many items of clothing doing this wrong) then head downstairs and prepare my lunch. At the moment I’m loving soup – I bring a carton to work and it lasts me a couple of days, or I pack a salad or maybe some dinner leftovers.

08:30 (ish)
Once I’m ready I sit on the sofa with Ras and we wait for Trout to finish getting ready, before walking to work together (me and Trout, Ras stays at home to look after the flat) –  another perk of working 30 seconds away from each other ;) I like getting to work early so that I don’t have to rush around – I prefer to ease myself into the day.

08:40
Arrive at work, pop my lunch in the fridge and make a big cafetière of coffee for me and a colleague.

09:00
The days begins. Hello, emails.

 

How does your morning routine compare?
Do you commute by train or bus, or do you walk to work?

Photos of the Week #36, #37 and #38

September 23, 2014

WEEKS 36, 37AND 38 OF 52

I’m just slightly (!!!) behind with my Photos of the Week series, so here are the last three weeks all updated at once. It’s a combination of a few more holiday photos, plus some bits and bobs that I got up to before and after our break in Greece.

 
 

Wearing one of my favourite t-shirts to bed.//Rasputin may look cute in this photo, but that night he was not cute at all. He pissed on the carpet, and we weren’t speaking. Although I’m not sure he totally realised that we weren’t speaking.//Cinnamon buns! As an alternative birthday cake my sister bought me a tube of Jus-Rol cinnamon buns, and they are amazing! I’m picking up another tube ASAP – they’re so simple to make (chop the pre-made dough into six pieces and bake for a few minutes. They’re the perfect way to start the day, and they keep really well so they lasted me for a few more breakfasts. Yum!)//

 

Exactly what holidays are about; spending time at a beautiful beach, fresh nectarines, a brand new book, suntan lotion and some swimming pool accessories.//

 

I loved having a full length mirror! We don’t have one in our flat, and I forget how good they are when you’re getting ready (and for taking outfit selfies…)//

 

This was amazing! A true cake/life hack. One box of cake mix. One can of coke. Combine, pop in a tin, bake for 20 minutes and BANG! You’ve got yourself a cake. How does it work?! It must be vegan pixies or something.//

 

After a night out in town (during a thunderstorm, great planning!) the boozy boys bought cigars. They’re so gross! But it was kind of funny, too.//

 

Here’s Barry Big Balls, our resident cat for the week. He was so cute, and he really loved Christina. It was so sad to say goodbye!//

 

Another stray cat in a restaurant. Oh, they are just the sweetest.//My view one afternoon by the pool. These guys are nearly 30, and hold some pretty serious positions in their working lives, but put them in a pool and they digressed to teenagers…! This would be a ‘holding-your-breath-underwater’ competition.//

 
 

Back to reality, and a trip to Kingston to warm a friend’s new home. It was so lovely to catch up with these girls, and Rosie put on the best spread of food.//Simpson’s Monopoly! So much fun, especially as I won ;) Rasputin also kindly played banker for a while. He was so interested in the game, it was so cute. I think he loved all the movement, like when we were rolling the dice and moving pieces around. He kept trying to walk across the board, before retiring to take a nap in the lid of the box.//


 

GIANT COYO! My love really has taken on another level.//A lovely lunch put together by Trout at the weekend; a bed of spinach and watercress, an amazing tahini dressing that I found in Waitrose, noodles, cauliflower and broccoli, tofu, spring onions, another yummy dressing and a few pieces of jerky that we buy from a local Korean supermarket. I sat in bed eating this while catching up with Made in Chelsea. Perfect Saturday afternoon!//Aaah Rasputin. Too cute.//

So, that’s what I’ve been up to in the past few weeks. I am still dreaming of our amazing villa in Greece (you can see a few photos here) but right now I’m back in full on work mode, which is taking my mind off missing the sunshine. I’m trying to figure out when I can use up the many holiday days I seem to have saved up (not a bad thing!) and dreaming about all these Friday’s that I could take off. I think I prefer a long weekend starting from Friday – or do you prefer a weekend that extends into Monday? I think it sometimes throws me off for the rest of the week.

Do you end up with loads of holiday to take at the end of the year?
Have you tried this amazing cake hack?!

All photos taken with my iPhone.
For more pics follow me on Instagram.

Holiday reading

September 20, 2014

One of the best things about being on holiday was having the time to read. I somehow manage to convince myself that I never have time to read at home, but really, I have all the time I could ask for – I just choose to spend it in other ways. Having a whole week to relax meant I could really get stuck into the two books that I brought with me, and another that I was given as a belated birthday present while I was away. And guess what? I read them all in a week.

1/ Dead Men Talking is the latest book from one of my favourite writers, Christopher Berry-Dee. I’ve read a few of his books, all of which are about serial killers. Whether he’s interviewing a serial killer, profiling a case or, in this book, extensive letter-writing, Berry-Dee has a great style of writing. It’s relaxed with a touch of his tone of voice, making it somewhat of a personal read. The cases he looks at are always verging on the bizarre. Whether it’s a serial killer who changes his story every other interview, denies all charges or revels in re-telling murder stories over and over again, the people profiled have all committed some pretty gory acts. His books aren’t for everyone, but if you think you might be interested in this kind of ‘genre’, then I would definitely recommend starting with Christopher Berry-Dee’s books.

2/ Leandra Medine’s name may not ring a bell, but you might recognise her by her alter-ego – Man Repeller. One of my favourite fashion bloggers, Leandra is one of the funniest, quirkiest, confident and engaging journalists I can think of. If you’re not following her blog and Instagram already – please do! You don’t even need to be hugely into fashion – her sense of humour is enough to keep you hooked. Seeking Love, Finding Overalls is a fashion autobiography, from the early years of delusional style to her ‘feminine emergencies’, it sparks memories of some of my own ‘fashion disasters’ and reminds me that no matter how clumsy and awkward we may be, you will find a place in whatever industry you have set your heart on. It sparked a few memories for me – the amazing booties that I begged and pleaded my Mum to buy me for school (think Doc Martens in pink suede), and the dozen or so times she asked me if I definitely wanted them (which, of course, I insisted that I did) only to wear them proudly on the first day, mocked by my entire class for wearing these clunky boots and not the feminine jelly shoes that everyone else was sporting, and came home crying, instantly changing my mind about my true-love shoes. Kids can be mean, and I look back at my class photo and those boots were awesome. Those were just the start, though. Pink crepe baggy trousers, a luminous green zip-up dress (the Spice Girls have a lot to answer for), the Arm Party gone wrong (bracelets from wrist to elbow. How on earth did I write anything?), trousers that dragged and dragged along the ground… the list goes on.

3/ Finally, Sophia Amoruso’s book #GIRLBOSS. Oh my, this is a book and a half. I read this one the fastest – it was probably over in under a day – and it was absolutely fantastic. It’s part-autobiography, part-inspirational-motivational-thought-provoking-wondertale. If that helps at all. Amuruso started out as a scruffy teen that swung from job to job, hating the capitalist society she was resigned to live in, before finally finding her calling. An avid fan of vintage, she began selling vintage clothing through ebay, alone in her studio flat. Now she’s CEO of a multi-million dollar company with 350+ employees. Buy her book to find out how she got there – but don’t expect a to-do list or step-by-step guide. This is an inspiring instruction to get off your bottom, chase your dream and work DAMN HARD to get there. That’s what a #GIRLBOSS does ;) One of my favourite bits of the book was her view on recruitment. She gives out a few tips on how best to present your CV and cover letter if you’re applying for a job, and what she’s looking for when she’s recruiting and promoting her staff. The key piece of advice that stuck with me was: Never say, ‘that’s not my job’. Because you know what – you’ll never be anything more than your current job with that attitude. It’s how I’ve always approached work – not in a ladder-climbing mentality, but with the mind-set that I’m not above or below doing any task that needs doing. Whether it’s cleaning out something a bit gross to tackling a role that’s above and beyond anything I’m trained or experienced enough to do. It’s an attitude that makes sure you get recognised for your hard work, and keeps you on your toes.

Have you read any of these books?
Do you convince yourself you don’t have time to read?
Any great book recommendations?

A week in Greece

September 18, 2014

So, I feel like I’ve finally caught up with everything and can now put together a post with a few photos from our week in Greece. It felt so good to just relax and do pretty much nothing. Trout and I often go on busy holidays that mean a lot of travelling around, which I LOVE, but sometimes you just need to spend the whole day by the pool sunbathing and reading. Which is pretty much all we did in Kefalonia! The villa did have WiFi, so I was still checking emails and social media, but for the most part I wasn’t really interested in the digital world, as I had such beautiful surroundings to occupy myself with.

We went away with a couple of friends and rented a truly amazing villa. It certainly wasn’t the cheapest place that we found, but we all fell in love with Villa Ersi as soon as Trout found it on Airbnb. It was a three bedroom/three bathroom villa so it meant we each had plenty of space, plus a huge kitchen and lounge and an area for dining/playing cards. I can’t recommend it enough – take a peek at their website if you’re looking for somewhere special. The island itself was really quiet, and we hired a car to travel to nearby towns and some amazing beaches. Here are a few photos from our trip.

^^^This was the view from our villa. It was so peaceful to wake up to, and I loved that you could see the sea. We spent quite a lot of time at the villa because it was so nice, but we did go out every other day to explore parts of the island.^^^

^^^We took a short boat ride through some caves, which was amazing. Other caves that I’ve visited have involved trekking through them, so it was strange to just glide through them, but the light was stunning and our ‘guide’ was hilarious.^^^

^^^Next to the caves was this beautiful cemetery. It’s amazing how much care and money goes into remembering the deceased in Greece – from the shrines that you pass on the side of the road to beautiful places like this.^^^

^^^After the caves we stopped at the restaurant next to them for lunch. It was right on the shore, and had a resident family of kittens. Could there be any better place to eat?!^^^

^^^So cute!^^^

^^^There were so many stray cats around the island, especially in the restaurants, and none of us could resist playing with them. We even had our very own resident cat that came to visit every day. He was lovely, and I think he loved having a little family to visit and get fed by!^^^

^^^The beaches that we visited were so beautiful. Between the clear blue seas, the warm sun and the quiet surroundings, it was bliss. Apart from the pebble beaches, which were so painful to lie on! It was lovely to swim in such clear water, and at one of the beaches we went on jet skis which were amazing! We took the GoPro out with us and I filmed the whole 15 minutes. I want to be back there right now!^^^

^^^We stopped at the top of the route down to the beach to take a few photos of the view.^^^

^^^And a few selfies while we were there ;) ^^^

^^^Another photo-taking pitstop. Here I am with Christina (yep, not confusing at all).^^^

^^^I loved having the opportunity to make meals at the villa. Usually when it’s just Trout and I we eat out a lot because it’s so cheap, but because there were four of us we made more of an effort with cooking. I was so happy to find vegan croissants in one of the local supermarkets! It was the perfect start to a day by the pool. It’s really easy to find vegan food in Greece – although it can get a little bit repetitive.^^^

^^^One of our evening meals. I was heartbroken to find that there was almost no hummus on the island. I was not expecting this at all! In the end we found three restaurants that served it – but it really wasn’t great. You have been warned! Above we have Greek salad (with the feta taken off and given to our friends), stuffed vine leaves, hummus, fried courgette and fried aubergine, pitta bread and giant beans. Yum! Another dish we enjoyed during our time in Greece was stuffed tomatoes and peppers, which usually came served with salad, rice and potatoes.^^^

^^^We also had a BBQ one afternoon. We had a built-in BBQ at the villa, and cooked sweet potato, vegan burgers, portabello mushrooms, veggie kebabs and made an orzo pasta salad. It was so good! Trout and I brought packets of burger mix with us so that we can cook them up – it made the BBQ even more fun.^^^

^^^I love the colours in this photograph. As we went in September we didn’t always enjoy clear blue skies – in fact one evening we had a thunderstorm! – but this one is pretty good.^^^

^^^Another beautiful beach.^^^

^^^On our way back to the villa we saw a whole herd of goats. They were so cute!^^^

So, that was our little holiday! I’ve got a few more photos from our trip to share, but I’m saving them for the next Photos of the Week blog. Which I know I’m horribly behind on, so watch this space on Monday when I’ll recap the last three weeks!

I will always have a soft spot for Greece. My grandparents have visited around 40 islands over the years, and my Grandad loved it so much he learnt Greek and gave lessons for free in their home. I’ve been ten times, and worked out that my first visit to Kefalonia was over 20 years ago. So yeah, I feel old…

Have you been to Greece?
Any favourite islands?

Final note: I feel I should point out that I didn’t get gifted any part of this holiday – I just really loved the villa. 

Photos of the Week #35

September 2, 2014

WEEK 35 OF 52

Last week was just lovely. I kind of really like my birthday – it’s an excuse to do fun things with the people that I love, and I always spend the day with a smile on my face. Well, apart from last year when I had food poisoning – I didn’t smile that much then. Here’s what I got up to last week.//

  

Here’s where my feet (and lap) have been; the gym on Bank Holiday Monday (yup), wearing boots in August (ugh!), wearing clothes that I’ve had for years (thrifty!) and lying on the sofa in jogging bottoms stuffing my face with peanut butter Oreos (sexy). Holy crap these are good! I spent my last day as a 28 year old eating Oreos for dinner, but I’ve left this immaturity behind me now that I’m 29. Ahem.//

  

Here’s what I’ve been eating; a brilliant pub lunch at The Royal Oak on the Bank Holiday Monday. The weather was just terrible, so I was very happy to hide away in a warm pub, before heading home and getting into my PJs. It was amazing having a hire car for the long weekend, and we caught up on loads of things you need a car for – like driving to a pub in the middle of nowhere, buying huge bags of cat litter and alcohol-free beers from Tesco.//I found gingerbread man flavoured Alpro desserts in Tesco – hello! Can’t wait to try these.//My birthday breakfast, courtesy of Trout. It was the best start to the day! Scrambled tofu with mushrooms and onions on sourdough bread. Yum!//A brilliant salad, also courtesy of Trout. I bought a ginger and sesame ‘creamy’ salad dressing from Waitrose which is so good! It has tahini and toasted sesame oil in it. Yum!//

  

Here’s what I got up to on my birthday. We went to my favourite restaurant; Terre a Terre. Everything about this place is wonderful. This is my love waiting eagerly for our Terre a Tapas. I don’t usually like to get my phone out at a fancy restaurant, but I couldn’t help it when the food looked this good! The tapas is a mix from across the menu, so it’s a great way to try everything.//CHURROS! The best thing you could ever put in your mouth. Ever. It comes with pots of chocolate sauce, salted caramel and vodka soaked cherries. I’m still dreaming about this dessert.//My birthday cake! Trout delivered it to my office so everyone got to tuck in, too. It was a giant chocolate cupcake with peanut butter icing – the best kind of cake!!//After we got home from Terre a Terre, completely stuffed, we took this photo. It makes me smile.//
 
 

Two of my presents; a new purse from Matt and Nat, and #Girlboss. I can’t wait to take this book on holiday with me and get stuck in.//Breakfast; back on the Coyo!//On Sunday my parents came over to spend the day with me, and we went for a roast at The Sussex Yeoman. Their roasts are so good, and they always have a vegan option which is brilliant. It was huge! [That's what she said.]//

  

On Friday I took the day off work to spend with my sister. We went to Street Diner for the first time in so long (I’ve missed it!) and drank coffee and chatted and she gave me some of the sweetest presents. I’ve been so spoilt this year! In the evening we sat down with a glass of Moomin fizz, a packet of poppadoms and Made in Chelsea. It was bliss!//Oh man I love those peanut butter Oreos.//

 
 

Happy Birthday Rach! This was such a fun evening. We went round to our lovely friends for some 30th birthday celebrations, so we were obviously super mature and civilised for our age. Mostly the party involved stuffing our faces (I totally did not eat a full plate of savoury food then five cookies, an Oreo, a cupcake and 17 marshmallows. Nope) followed by a fantastic acoustic set from Dave House, which was really lovely. There’s something I find so amazing about acoustic music. It’s so admirable how someone can just stand up and sing, alone with just a guitar. Music that’s so personal to them; emotive and played out in front of strangers. It’s quite magical. The minute we’d finished applauding it all descended into karaoke madness, and all our secrets were revealed; who knew the entire rap to Forgot About Dre, who didn’t know the full length version of the Fresh Prince theme tune – and who knew that Mr Boombastic had so many words?! I had my moment with Peter Andre, before the sparklers and cake came out. There was a lot of glitter. More glitter than you could ever imagine. Over everyone. Rach will be finding glitter for months (years) all over herself and her flat. We were basically partying with Ke$ha.//

This week I’m in full-on countdown mode. I’ve got 101 things to do before we go away on holiday on Saturday, so my list-writing is kind of out of control! So much to do at work, so much to do at home, so much to pack. Breathe. I just can’t wait to be picked up at 3am (zzz) and get to the airport. Actually that’s a lie, I can’t wait to arrive at our villa, drop my bags and slip into our infinity pool. Here’s hoping for hot sunshine, and blow those thunderstorms away, please. Do you get super stressed before going on holiday? Any tips on how to cope!?

All photos taken on my iPhone.
For more pics, follow me on Instagram

 

A weekend in Cambridge

August 29, 2014

I’d wanted to visit Cambridge for such a long time. I wasn’t quite sure why, but I had seen a few photos from friends who had lived there and it just seemed like a lovely place to visit. So we picked the Bank Holiday weekend, right before my birthday, to finally tick it off our list. I did a bit of research, asked friends who had studied there, and asked Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for their recommendations. I got such a great response, so thank you to everyone who made suggestions – sometimes it’s better to go by recommendations than Trip Advisor reviews.

We mainly spent the weekend walking around. It’s always the best way to explore, and because the city is much smaller than I thought it was it meant that we could circle a few times and really take everything in. Plus we were really lucky with the weather, so we took full advantage of being able to walk around without getting soaked! The architecture is amazing – and strange that the University is such a tourist attraction. It must be bizarre to study there. Here are a few (ahem) photos from our weekend.

Once we had arrived in Cambridge we were both quite hungry, so of course the first stop was to find some decent food. We went to Nanna Mexico, which was pretty good. I ordered a burrito bowl which actually arrived on a platter and was huge! I was disappointed with the rice – honestly, who serves white rice in a Mexican cafe? It should be Spanish or coriander rice. Puh. On the plus side though, the hot sauce was really tasty and the guacamole was great. It all did the trick anyway, and kept us going for an afternoon of shopping and wandering.

After we walked around most of the city, we took a friend’s recommendation and paid a visit to The Eagle. He had said to look up at the ceiling when we got there, which was a little confusing. We walked through all of the rooms looking up with only plain ceilings to be found, until we reached another section of the bar and found this.

Which was pretty amazing. It’s covered in the graffiti of World War II airmen, and although we couldn’t find a spare table in the room, it was amazing to look up at and try to decipher the scrawled words. What an amazing piece of history. I was quite happy that I didn’t need the loo while we were there, as I’m 100% sure this pub would have haunted toilets and that’s one of my biggest fears. We only stayed for a swift drink, and were seated next to a table of three American women who were super excited to be in England, and had ordered fish and chips. It kind of made me cringe whilst at the same time feeling so happy to be in a city, even a country, that people from other countries are so excited to visit. I guess it’s the same stupid excitement I feel when I go to Berlin, or New York.

After plenty more wandering and shopping we headed back to the hotel to relax before going to Cocum for dinner. It was OK – I loved that the menu was quite different to a lot of other Indian restaurants, plus I will always have a soft spot for South Indian food. I actually managed to resist the dosa this time!! Instead I enjoyed a coconut milk-based curry, a rarity which I took full advantage of, and we shared some tasty starters too. What is it about curry houses – I always leave absolutely stuffed?! I was very happy to retire to one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever stayed in. Nothing fancy, just a Premier Inn on the outskirts of the city, but the bed was so ridiculously comfy! Even thought it was outside of the city, it was a short walk to the bus stop, the journey was a few minutes to the city centre, and a day ticket was £4, making it really convenient. Well, unless you forget to bring your ticket with you when you go out in the evening and you have to buy another ticket. Who would do that, though?

Waking up early and just enjoying being in bed was a great start to the Sunday, and we were in no rush to get out of the hotel. In fact we checked out at 11.59am ;)

By Sunday lunchtime I just wanted something simple, so we found a cafe and scoured the menu in the hope of something vaguely veganisable. We were in luck, they actually had the word ‘vegan’ in one of their dishes (tomato and mushroom ciabatta) and, upon further questioning, could also offer us a veggie sausage baguette. Nothing too fancy, but it did the trick. Well, the ciabatta was pretty crud but I would recommend the sausage baguette with chips if that’s what you fancy.

After an energising lunchstop we walked along the river and investigated more of Cambridge.

Look how handsome he is ;)

We didn’t actually end up going on a boat ride, but I enjoyed watching everyone else enjoying themselves on the river.

After wandering around for a while we stopped off at the Rainbow Cafe for some coffee and cake. It’s an odd cafe that can be found underground with low ceilings and a sort of hippy feel to it. I didn’t fancy the menu for lunch, they didn’t have any ‘lunchy’ kind of options – more dinner dishes, like stew, roti and shepherdess pie. However I liked the sound of the desserts, and had heard pretty good things about them. They have loads of vegan options, including a daily special cheesecake, crumble, pudding and cake. I went for a soya cappuccino and a slice of chocolate rose and raspberry cake, and Trout went for a guava juice and fig pudding. Both were really, really good – I would definitely recommend popping in if you’re in Cambridge! Everything is veggie, with plenty of vegan options, however there are very few tables so I would think about going when it might be a bit quieter – especially if there are more than a couple of you.

I really hate having my picture taken, but here’s a snap of me eagerly awaiting my cake to be served.

And here it is. Delish. For some reason both cakes look quite small here – but they definitely weren’t! After we had inhaled our cake we walked back towards the bus stop, made our way back to the hotel and picked up our car. We drove just outside of Cambridge to the IWM Duxford, which Trout had been wanting to visit for a while. It was actually really good! It had a few hangers filled with planes, and a few other bits and bobs like that. It had an actual piece of fabric from the first Wright Flyer, which I thought was amazing! It was made out of fabric that was usually used to make women’s underwear.

My love checking out the exhibits.

Lots of guns.

These two planes were probably my favourite’s. I love the original fabric and wood, there’s something so beautiful about them. We did sign up to go on the flights they offer in original World War I planes, but they were fully booked which was a shame. It was only £39 each, which I thought was pretty darn cheap – next time we’ll turn up earlier!

Thanks for a lovely weekend, Cambridge! I would definitely recommend you to a friend.

Today I’ve got the day off, and am currently enjoying being in my PJs  watching trashy TV at 9am! Can’t wait for Real Housewives to start at 9.25am. My sister is arriving around 10am and we’re having a belated birthday fun day. I’m hoping that the weather is lovely, and we can make a trip to Street Diner – I haven’t been in so long, and am craving lunch from Sultan’s Delights. What are your plans for today and the weekend?

Have you been to Cambridge before?
Did I miss anything that you would recommend?

 

Photos of the Week #34

August 25, 2014

WEEK 34 OF 52

I hope everyone’s enjoying the long weekend! Here are a few photos from what I got up to last week – not too many photos as I’m saving most of them for a blog on Cambridge. There are a few breakfasts, a pizza and a few other snaps to sum up the week.//

  

I picked up a little pot of Coconut Collaborative’s mango and passionfruit ‘yogurt’ for breakfast. It’s pretty good, although the bright yellow of the mango and the whiteness of the coconut yogurt made it look like egg! A tub lasts me a couple of days, and I topped it with granola, a couple of blobs of peanut butter and plenty of strawberry chunks.//I’ve also been indulging in some Coyo with blueberries.//Pizza! The base is from Waitrose and topped with Daiya, ‘chicken’ pieces, onion and mushroom, and drizzled with BBQ sauce afterwards. Love this pizza!//

  

While I was packing for Cambridge I noticed a re-occuring colour scheme…//Wearing jeans. And a jacket. And trainers. In August. Ugh!//Pink toes, and matching fingernails, for our weekend away. I hadn’t noticed my ridiculous tan lines until I took this picture!//Rasputin tucked up in bed with us. There’s nothing better than being in bed with both of my boys – especially when I wake up early in the morning to find them both snuggled up to me. It’s just amazing.//

I’m putting together a blog of photos from Cambridge that I’ll be sharing during the week. Tomorrow is my birthday, but it really doesn’t feel like it at all! I think because I’ve left it fairly low-key this year, with no big celebrations with friends. We went for a pub lunch (well, pub salad) today with two of our friends which was really lovely, and of course we had our weekend away, but no big birthday drinks or anything. I prefer to just spend time with Trout as it’s only the big 2-9 this year. Next year will probably be a bit more of a celebration. I hope everyone has enjoyed their long weekend! I’ve loved having an extra day to relax after our busy weekend, and I’ve taken Friday off work to spend with my sister so it’s just a three-day week for me this week!

In case you missed them, last week I blogged about the launch of Vegan Life magazine (which is fantastic, and you should totally download it or buy it now!) and Photos of the Week #33, which includes a few photos from a weekend in London. I also want to say congratulations to Laura and James on the birth of their beautiful baby boy, Finley! Laura’s posted a photo on her blog here, and he’s absolutely gorgeous. I can’t wait to meet him!

All photos taken on my iPhone.
For more photos follow me on Instagram!

Vegan Life Magazine | Issue One

August 21, 2014

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been chatting to the folks behind Vegan Life magazine for a few months ahead of their launch date. I was so excited when the first issue finally went live in the App Store a few days ago, and I could scroll through the pages! I think I’ll pick up a printed copy, too – there’s nothing quite like turning those pages in your hand and tearing out bits and pieces that you want to keep. I’ve got a little folder at home filled with pages that I’ve torn out of one of my favourite supplements, Observer Food Monthly – and I can see articles from Vegan Life joining them. It’s out today, so I’ll be popping out shortly.

Here are a few screen-grabs from the downloaded magazine – you can pick up a copy yourself by searching ‘Vegan Life Magazine’ in the App Store and downloading it for a mere £1.99, or £9.99 for six issues. If you download it, let me know what you think!

Of course, some of my favourite pieces are the recipes and delicious food photography. Look how good they look! I was also really interested to read about the vegan options at Las Iguanas. I thought that they might have some vegan-friendly food, what with it being mexican-inspired, but had never looked into it. It’s great to see so many highstreet chains taking note. I generally avoid them if I have to, especially living in Brighton as there are so many wonderful local independent restaurants, but when you’re travelling or eating out as a group it’s nice to know that there are options that cater for everyone.

 

 

One of the articles that really struck a chord was a debate on eating eggs. It’s a question that I get every so often, so have thought about it quite a bit, but still haven’t really made up my mind. I can see both sides of the arguement – in this case, the ‘pro’ writer argued that hens lay eggs naturally, so in a wholesome environment there’s no reason not to eat them. Which I do agree with (let’s put aside how disgusting an egg is really, if you think about it…). The ‘anti’ side of the arguement is partly based on the fact that vegans do not eat or wear anything from an animal. Another side to the arguement is based on the problem that vegetarians seem to have found themselves in, thanks to those that choose to eat fish. You see a lot of restaurants listing meals that contain fish as vegetarian – which also causes problems for vegans, too. I can’t help but think that this side of the arguement – although valid – doesn’t really come under ethics, but more convenience. For me, I personally wouldn’t eat eggs. I’ve gone so long without them that I don’t miss them. I can replace them in almost every form – and I can’t say that I particularly miss the things that I can’t! I don’t need them in cakes, I can go without egg fried rice, and I don’t need to drink them whole, Gaston-style, for protein.

What do you think? Are you vegan, and would you eat eggs from ‘Happy Hens’?
Have you downloaded Vegan Life magazine? What did you think?

Photos of the Week #33

August 19, 2014

WEEK 33 OF 52

You know how some weeks seem to fly by? Well last week was different – it felt like it went on forever! It was worth it in the end though as we had a great weekend to look forward to, including a day in London and a day in Brighton celebrating a friend’s birthday. It felt all topsy turvy – usually when we go to London we’ll head up on the Saturday and then spend Sunday at home relaxing. This weekend we kind of did it the other way around, with a busy Friday night, Saturday spent with friends on Hove Lawns and in a couple of pubs, and then Sunday in London. I was knackered by the time we crawled into bed on Sunday evening at midnight!

While we were in Soho we saw a bunch of Vespas zipping around the streets – there’s something so nice about them! The sound, and the fact that they were in a ‘pack’ driving through the area with no apparent destination.//

 

We met a friend for a drink in the afternoon, before meeting another couple of friends for drinks later in the evening. It’s so nice to catch up with our friends in London, and we always try and squeeze in plenty of time for them if we can.//We had dinner at Pizza Pilgrims, a place I’ve been wanting to try for so long. I’ve heard such good things about them, and they totally lived up to the hype. Really delicious.//Before dinner we headed to a bar/restaurant that we had visited before with friends – it’s a beautiful bar with a lovely menu, and we dived in with Indian street food and drinks.//

 

What I’ve been drinking: Earlier in the week I went wild and had a thimble of wine. It’s something I really miss, and there’s no replacement for it.//While we were in London we went to a beautiful bakery for a rest and something to wake us up a bit. Trout had this lovely fruity iced tea and I had an iced soya latte. They were both really good.//

 

So, that was my week. Nothing too exciting, other than a lovely weekend, but fun none-the-less. I can’t believe that summer is over! At least it feels like it. I’m really hoping that it makes a brief re-appearance at the weekend, though – Trout and I are off to Cambridge so would love a bit of sunshine while we’re there! Does anyone have any recommendations for places to go/eat/visit? Any suggestions would be very much appreciated! It doesn’t seem that there are a lot of vegan options, so we’ll probably be sticking to ‘normal’ restaurants that offer vegan-by-default dishes.

In case you missed it, last week I blogged about all the basics I use in my vegan kitchen. I’ve had such a fantastic response, both in the comments section on the blog and through Twitter. Only one horrible tweet! Isn’t it stupid how you can receive dozens of positive messages and yet when you get one single negative one it just sticks in your mind? Anyway, it’s been really lovely to hear how it’s helped people, even in the smallest way, and so many people have shared the link. So, thank you.//I also blogged all the photos from week #32, which you can find here.//You might remember me talking about the launch of Vegan Life magazine? Well, it’s now LIVE! Head to the App Store and search ‘Vegan Life Magazine’ to download it. I was reading it all evening last night and it’s fantastic. I can’t wait to pick up a printed copy – there’s something so nice about reading print still. If you download it, let me know what you think!//

All photos taken on my iPhone.
For more pics follow me on Instagram!

The Basics: A Vegan Kitchen

August 14, 2014

I little while ago I was asked by someone on Twitter if I could put together a basic guide to what everyone needs in a vegan kitchen. I’m very lucky in that Trout is also vegan, so I never have to worry about stumbling upon any meat or dairy in my fridge. It also makes cooking easier, and we both get super excited about new vegan products.

I thought about the products that I use quite a lot, as well as the basics that everyone probably uses on a daily basis, and here’s what I’ve come up with. If there’s anything I’ve missed that you would like to know, please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help.

 

FRIDGE STAPLES

Milk

This is down to personal preference. I love soya milk and almond milk, some like oat milk, rice milk, coconut rice milk, hemp milk, anything else you can think of milking milk – plus sweetened or unsweetened. I would recommend trying out a few of them and seeing which one you like the most. You can also get flavoured milks like strawberry and chocolate if that’s what floats your boat.

Butter

Vitalite is my ‘butter’ of choice. You can also buy Pure, but personally I find Vitalite is super creamy and tastes really good. Pretty much every supermarket stocks it – in fact a lot of people buy it without even knowing it’s vegan, plus I found it in my local 99p store so, bargain!

Cream

I use Alpro soya cream for creamy pasta dishes, on top of desserts and any other cream-based ingredient you could ask for. Again, there are soya-alternatives like oat cream. Available in every supermarket I’ve seen, plus the usual healthfood stores.

Mayonnaise

I love Infinity’s vegan mayonnaise. I don’t know how available it is – I’m guessing you can order it online? Luckily Infinity is local to me though, so it’s available in a lot of places.

Meat

Some people prefer to avoid meat replacement products, but personally I like switching things up from vegetables. I probably eat meat replacement three times a week, in various forms – usually ‘chicken’, mince and some kind of sandwich meat, like ham or pepperoni. I buy VBites quite often as it’s readily available, but I also like to buy Frys (which you can order from Ocado) and Vegusto (available in some healthfood stores and online – their sausages are so good! You can see them in the picture at the top of this blog, bottom right-hand corner). The majority of meat replacement products are also quite high in protein, which is a bonus.

I keep a couple of boxes of this Granose mix in the cupboard, too – you can make sausages, burgers and falafel, and they’re really handy to have on hand. You can find them in Holland & Barrett.

Tofu

A staple! Grill it, fry it, smash it into scrambled ‘egg’, crumble it into a pad thai – it’s so good for you, and packed with protein.

Pesto

I’m not a fan of pesto but Trout likes it, and pretty much always buys Zest. I can’t really comment though!

Jus-Rol Croissants

So good! The perfect weekend breakfast, and one of those fantastic products that just happen to be vegan. Jus-Rol make a lot of vegan products – their puff pastry is stocked everywhere, which is great.

Trex

Introduced to me by Ms Cupcake, this is a staple in my fridge for cookies and icing. It’s fantastic! Available in pretty much all supermarkets.

 

 

FREEZER STAPLES

Soya Mince and Sausage Rolls

Most minces are vegan, although some have egg in. You can usually find them in most supermarkets, but healthfood stores will also stock them. Trout’s in love with sausage rolls, so we pretty much always have them in the freezer.

Ice-cream

I stick to Swedish Glace – you can buy it in all supermarkets and healthfood stores, and it’s really good – plus relatively cheap compared to other brands like Booja Booja, which I also love but at around £7 it’s definitely a bit of a treat!

 

CUPBOARD STAPLES

Worcester Sauce

Regular worcester sauce is not vegan – this one is though, and you can find it in most supermarkets and healthfood stores.

Tuong Gia Vi

Replaces fish sauce and can be found in most Chinese supermarkets.

Sweet Treats

Mostly I like to bake my own brownies, cookies, tortes etc., but sometimes you’ve got to have something on hand that’s fun to indulge in!

 

BAKING STAPLES

Egg Replacement

Available in Holland & Barrett, this is really useful for baking with.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Again, great for baking. I recommend Ms Cupcake’s book to find out how she uses all of these ingredients – her recipes are full-proof!

Agave Nectar

Replaces honey in any kind of recipe, and can be found in all supermarkets and healthfood stores.

 

RANDOM EXTRAS

Nutritional Yeast

Great to add to dishes to make them a bit cheesy.

Chia and Flax Seeds

Full of omega-3 and pretty much tasteless – sprinkle them over your cereal in the morning, stir them into dinner – anything you like, really!

 

I’ve probably forgotten loads of basic essentials, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far. If there’s anything that I’ve missed just let me know in the comments below and I’ll put together a part two if there’s enough of them. Let me know if you have any questions about vegan products/restaurants/cafes etc., too. One final product which I’m not 100% convinced on but I quite like that it exists; Vegg. It’s a vegan egg replacement and can be turned into dippy egg for breakfast, which is quite a fun idea!

What are your vegan essentials?
Which products do you love that haven’t been featured here?

Photos of the Week #32

August 12, 2014

WEEK 32 OF 52

Let’s start with a photo of Rasputin, shall we?

Doesn’t that make everyone feel better? Well, it makes me feel better in the middle of a busy day. He’s just the cutest (mostly). If you follow me on Instagram you might have spotted a few photographs from when he was a kitten, to celebrate National Cat Day. Sometimes I just wish I could have him back as a kitten – just for one day – because he was so tiny and adorable and his head was too big for his body and those ears and aaah.//

 

Plenty of great breakfasts. I’m still loving Coyo, so I’ve been enjoying that with granola and chia and flax seeds, and chunks of nectarine.//Another smoothie bowl – my classic combo; banana, frozen berries and spinach, topped with granola and dried fruit, plus chia and flax seeds.//

 
 

Lots of lunches and dinners! I made a batch of giant couscous and so in love with it! It will definitely be featuring more often. I boiled it in stock, waited for it to cool, and then tossed with diced cucumber and red pepper, slow-fried red onion, parsley, lemon and little bit of oil. I ate it with spinach and rocket, and a couple of slices of toast.//I enjoyed hospitality at the cricket ground again while we were shooting a video for them, and it was pretty good! Roasted potatoes, dressing, roasted veg, tomatoes and asparagus.//Trout made me one of my new-favourite meals! A tostada bowl. This man is too sweet. It took him a couple of hours to make everything, and it’s stuffed with refried beans, spanish rice, salsa, lettuce, guacamole, avocado, queso sauce aaand I’m sure there’s more I just can’t remember. So yummy!//A little meal I threw together; cucumber salad, cold noodles and hoi sin tofu. I’m certainly not the chef in this relationship ;)//

 
 

A few sweet treats; this amazing discovery at Kosher Kingdom. So fun!//Another find from the same place, these were addictive.//An afternoon to myself, with a soya cold brew coffee and a good book by myself.//

Good grief this post really is all about food! I promise I will try to cut back on the food and improve on photographing other things… Last week I didn’t get much time to blog, but in case you missed them I wrote about an exciting new magazine that is launching very soon – Vegan Life magazine. More details over on the blog here. I also rounded up the week before in Photos of the Week #31, which you can find here.

This week is looking ridiculously busy, filled with a dozen meetings on top of my usual workload so deep breath and let’s get on with it! This past weekend was a relaxing one, thankfully. We had a massive clear out yesterday, cleaning our bedroom pretty much from top to bottom, and it felt so good! It was one of those unexpected days when I got up in the morning and started clearing out underneath my side of the bed (embarrassingly enough I found bits and pieces dating back to 2011 or so…) and layers and layers of dust. Trout followed my lead and together we cleaned and hoovered and threw away two binbags of stuff. Let’s see how long that lasts ;) I found some old books that I hadn’t finished, so that was one positive, too! The real countdown to our holiday begins, so in turn so does the holiday diet and a little ramp up in exercise. Do you have any fun diet-friendly dinners that you can recommend? I’ve pretty much got my breakfast and lunch nailed, but in the evening I struggle to find healthy dinners – especially at the weekend! And of course there’s my super sweet tooth…

All photos taken on my iPhone.
More photos can be found on my Instagram page.

Vegan Life magazine

August 7, 2014

I’m really excited to introduce a new vegan magazine that I’ve been in touch with over the past few months, which will be launching in September! Vegan Life is a lifestyle magazine that covers all aspects of veganism; clothing and accessories, cleaning products, cosmetics, activism, product reviews and celebs that are living a vegan lifestyle. You might remember the blog post I wrote a couple of months ago on the vegan beauty products I’ve been trying out? I’m still experimenting with different brands, so am really excited to read reviews of cruelty-free products that I haven’t heard of before. Even though I’ve been vegan for nine years there’s still so much changing every day – new products to try, new clothing to buy and new recipes to experiment with. The key idea behind Vegan Life magazine is to promote veganism as an accessible, easy way of life – which is exactly what it is!

Vegan Life will be available in both a print and digital format, and you can find a sneaky peek of what the magazine will look like here: http://veganlifemag.co.uk/preview/

Subscription packages can be found here, and you can choose from a one year, two year and three year subscription. If you sign up by the 16th October you’ll also receive this cracking free gift! I’ve kindly been set up with a bloggers profile on the Vegan Life website – and you can check out the other bloggers here. Make sure you’re following Vegan Life on Twitter and Facebook!

You’ll find Vegan Life magazine in WHSmith, Tesco and other independent wholefood outlets, as well as available online.

Do you think you would find a magazine like Vegan Life useful?
Are there any aspects of being vegan that you think should be addressed?

 

Photos of the Week #31

August 5, 2014

WEEK 31 OF 52

This past week has certainly been busy! I haven’t done so much walking in a long time, or woken up so tired. My boss is on holiday at the moment so work is even busier for me, although it’s been quite nice to have a little break from having so many meetings. Let’s get started with what I’ve been up to.

  

Plenty of good breakfasts; smoothie bowls and Coyo bowls. The picture on the top-right isn’t great because it was so dark that morning! I had to turn the light on and wear a thick cardigan while I ate. Thanks wintry summer!//

We spent the weekend in London, hence all the walking, and it was so much fun. We went to go to the Secret Cinema, and managed to squeeze in plenty of time with good friends, which is always the best way to spend a weekend. I stupidly didn’t take any pictures of faces! Too busy eating…//

  

On Sunday we met a friend at Black Cat Cafe in Hackney. I’ve never been before, and it’s such a lovely place! I definitely recommend paying a visit. I had a flat white and a cinnamon bun and it was amazing, and Trout and Zock had milkshakes which are yum, too. The cafe is 100% vegan and not-for-profit, and has a shopping area with everything you could need – food, books, cupboard staples as well as loads of fun things to buy.//On Saturday we had a super rushed dinner at Wahaca before heading back to the hotel to get ready. It’s a great restaurant, and they have their vegan menu organised now so just ask and they can bring it over and help you work out how to veganise different dishes. I wish we’d ordered a side of sweet potato – it’s really delicious, and would have been a great addition to this tortilla bowl. I love eating out of tortilla bowls!//On Sunday we met some lovely faces for lunch at Manna. I was lucky enough to enjoy lunch with both Mitsu and Sasha of the To Happy Vegans and Naomi of The Gluttonous Vegan. It was so lovely to catch up after so many years, especially as one of our friends brought her little boy, who drew the best pictures especially for us. I love that we met online. Being vegan bloggers we knew each other for years before finally meeting – which was probably around five years ago – and have kept in touch on and off since then. I’m really hoping we can make it a regular thing – they’re promising to come to Brighton next, which I will hold them to ;) //

 

Getting ready to go out and so not impressed with being given a room with twin beds! We slept like grandparents, and I did not like it one bit.//Ready to go to the Secret Cinema! It was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. If you didn’t get tickets, GET THEM! There are still some available, both through SC and on the Hill Valley Facebook page as people try to get rid of surplus tickets.//

 

While we were in London we paid a visit to Kosher Kingdom to stock up on vegan goodies. This place is amazing! So many fun things. Here’s our haul, and goodbye any hope of a bikini body in the next month…//

 

A few random bits and bobs; my outfit from a chillier day, with my beautiful cat accessory, and the man himself joining me under the covers one evening. He’s such a funny cat – I wonder if he thinks he’s hidden under the covers? Either way, utterly bonkers.//

I hope everyone’s having a great week so far! I just spent the day shooting a video at the cricket ground – thankfully the weather was on our side and the food was really good. Plus I got home just before 5pm which felt like a flippin’ luxury! Not many plans this week, in fact I’m just looking forward to a relatively free weekend! Here’s hoping the weather is lovely, and we get in some more beach time. What are your plans?

All photos taken on my iPhone.
For more pics follow me on Instagram!

Life lately, in a list

August 1, 2014

After reading Rosie’s post, Currently I am, I was inspired to put my own together. I think it’s lovely to look back at what I’ve been up to lately, what I’ve been thinking about and what I’m looking forward to.

WATCHING Utopia and old episodes of The Office US. Both are so, so good//
READING Hunting Evil: Inside the Ipswich Serial Murders, by Paul Harrison and David Wilson//
LISTENING to The Flatliners. Pretty sure I’m going to miss their London show in August *sob*//
COOKING well, arranging salads that are quick and easy in the evenings//
DRINKING coffee. Some things never change ;) And 0% pear ‘cider’ and Radlers!//
EATING a lot of Daiya. Pizza, lasagne, reubens *swoon*//
WANTING the summer to never end! I’m fine with the odd Autumnal day, but that’s about it//
LOOKING for a new bikini. It’s so hard to find the perfect one//
THANKING the inventor of dry shampoo. Hello five days without washing!//
TRYING to get back into the 30-day ab challenge//
STARTING to put together a blog on vegan kitchen essentials. Anything you want to know?//
OBSESSED with Instagram! So many beautiful and inspiring people on there//
WAITING impatiently for our holiday in September!//
WONDERING if eating 27 fizzy fangs in a day is really that bad for you?//
APPRECIATING being so close to the beach. It’s just amazing in the summer//
WEARING either super bright or nude/ ‘lychee’ nail polish on my toes, with black sandals//
BLOG LOVING the usual suspects; Love Taza, Bleubird and Hey Natalie Jean//
EXCITED about Secret Cinema! I’m Allison Hacker, Copy Editor at the Hill Valley Telegraph//
LAUGHING at Cats and Beer, and wondering why none of them are drinking the beer? Ras would be//
BUYING… not much! Or trying not to, anyway//
THINKING a lot lately. And spilling it into blog posts that I’ll most likely never publish//
PLANNING my birthday weekend and getting super excited!//

So that’s what’s been going on lately. Tomorrow we’re off for a weekend in London, and I get to see some lovely old faces. (Not actually old faces, just faces that I haven’t seen for far too long). I’m super excited! Really hoping that the forecast isn’t quite right for tomorrow, as we’re off to Secret Cinema. Please don’t rain!

What are your plans for the weekend?
Have you been to the Secret Cinema before?

Photos of the Week #30

July 29, 2014

WEEK 30 OF 52

Last week I spent as much time as possible outdoors – summer days are few and far between in the UK, so I cherish them as much as possible! Well, I was enjoying them until yesterday, when the rain and the floods came. I can’t believe the damage it caused, flooding a number of local stations, plus so many houses and roads. It’s pretty awful.//

 

As I mentioned in my last post, we finally got that BBQ! We headed to a friend’s house for the day, and everything tasted so good – guacamole is one of my true love foods, there’s nothing better than some freshly made guac.//

 

Trout’s mostly been hanging out with cats. Our friend’s kitten, Luna – such a cutey! – ventured into the garden for the first time, which was fun. She spent so much time exploring that she was absolutely pooped by the afternoon!// Ras and marmite. It’s a love affair no-one can understand.//

 
 

Here’s what my feet have been up to! Mainly spending time on the beach, preparing to head to the beach, and wearing sandals.// Speaking of the beach, I’ve been loving some evening swims. Watching the sunset while you’re in the water is just amazing.//

And finally, here’s what I’ve been eating. After an evening swim we headed up Preston Street and found this awesome Lebanese restaurant. It was really veggie/vegan focused, and we dove straight into this amazing mezze. It was so good we hardly said a word to each other, we were too busy stuffing our faces. We had falafel, kibbeh, hummus, babaganoush, roasted potatoes, salad and a couple of soured cabbage pastries. I recommend trying this place! It’s near the top of the road, on the left.//

 

Here are a few more things I’ve been enjoying; half of my favourite sandwich (sausage, rocket, mayo and caramelised onion) and half of Trout’s favourite sandwich (a BLT). Both are from Infinity.// Quesadillas! Whenever we make a Daiya order we always cook them. Yum!//

 
 

Sweet things; raw chocolate pie with pink Himalayan salt. It’s so good! I love the little pink crystals of salt, they kind of pop in your mouth when you bite into the bar.// Chocolate chip cookies. I use Ms Cupcake’s recipe and it’s the best I’ve ever tried.//

A follower on Twitter asked if I had ever put together a guide to the basics in terms of vegan products. I haven’t, but am thinking of putting one together. If this is something you would find useful, are there any specific ‘replacement’ products you’re keen to find out? Let me know in the comments section below.// In case you missed them, last week I blogged about the week before’s Photos of the Week #29, the things I love to do when I’m home alone and I put together a guide to vegan BBQs.//I hope everyone’s having a great week so far!//

All photos taken on my iPhone.
For more photos, follow me on Instagram.

What to bring to a vegan BBQ

July 27, 2014

As the sun is starting to make a regular appearance, I thought I would put together a little post on what I love to bring to BBQs. Living by the beach means I try to spend as much time as possible on the pebbles in the summer. In my lunch break, after work, after dinner, at the weekend. Bliss. I also try to eat as much BBQ’d food as I can get my hands on – there’s nothing quite like packing up some food and cooking it by the shore, surrounded by other groups of people doing exactly the same thing. It’s an amazing atmosphere.

So, whether you’re cooking on the beach or a back garden, here are a few of my favourite things.

Sausages and burgers: Tofurky, Taifin, Redwoods and Vegusto are some of my favourites. Sometimes I buy Vegetarians Choice (really cheap, 99p per pack). Bring some oil to make sure they don’t dry out while they’re cooking, which can happen sometimes.

Marinated chicken pieces. Any which way you like it, really – BBQ sauce, vinegary-oily-tomatoey-BBQy, or just plain and simple. Thread them onto skewers and pop them on the BBQ. I love them eaten on their own, or stuffed into a bun or roll with coleslaw. I love VBites’ chicken pieces.

Dips and condiments. Ketchup, mustard, guacamole, salsa, hummus and plenty of tortilla chips to dip into them.

Sides. Roasted potatoes , tabouleh, coleslaw and salad, plus some caramelised onions to go on top of sausages.

Veggies. Slice up courgette, pepper and (par-boiled) sweet potato and grill them so that they are only just the crunchy side of tender, or crispy in the case of the sweet potato. The smoky flavour makes them taste amazing, especially if you dip them into some hummus.

One thing that I do not take part in though, is sweetcorn eating. So you should probably ignore the photo below if you have any taste. If you don’t have any taste, then go ahead and take a bunch of disgusting sweetcorn with you and knock yourself out.

I also like to bring something sweet for afters; oatmeal and raisin cookies, chocolate peanut butter brownies, something like that.

Finally, bring something to lie on if you’re on the beach, and make sure you’re stocked up on plenty of beers, pear cider, lemonade, diet coke – whatever takes your fancy. Don’t forget the lime if you’re having Corona!

 

So, those are my favourite things to make and bring to a BBQ. I hope it helps if you’re catering for vegan/veggie guests, or enjoying your first summer as a vegan. Email or tweet me if you want any more pointers!

An evening to myself

July 25, 2014

On Tuesday evening Trout left me to go and watch the football, so I decided to stay at home and enjoy a little ‘me-time’. We very rarely spend an evening apart, but when we do I quite enjoy spending time alone in the flat. It wasn’t a particularly interesting evening at all, but it felt quite nice all the same. Here’s what I got up to, and at the bottom are a few of the things that I love to do when I’ve got the flat to myself, as well as a few ideas people suggested to me on Instagram.

Shoving the fridge into a bowl. I love using stuff up, rather than buying new ingredients all the time, and this was a pretty darn good dinner. Leftover BBQ beans and veggies from fajitas the night before, on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce, topped with tortilla chips, a teaspoon of guacamole (all that was left!), chopped jalapenos and the amazing coconut hot sauce that I bought at the Eden Project last year that I will be so sorry to see go. It took me ages to eat this as I kept getting distracted by other things – another thing that tends to happen when I eat by myself, rather than sitting at the table or on the sofa with Trout.

A non-alcoholic fruit beer. So good! And a cheeky cat in the background.

Relaxing on the sofa. The whooole sofa.

Sex and the City! I’m not normally such a cliché, but my sister dropped over her old box set so that I could fill in the (many) gaps in mine. I’ve been loving catching up with all the episodes that I haven’t seen in years! It seems like half my disks have gone missing over the years – where do they go?! I’m guessing I’ve left them in DVD players that I’ve given away after moving house, but who knows really. DVD pixies?!

Loony cat. Best evening companion ever. He’s so funny now that the weather is so hot, he really lets it all hang out plus he’s being super cute right now.

After a couple of episodes of Sex and the City (including the one where they go to Raw! One of my favourites) I headed upstairs to tidy all the laundry away and tackle the wardrobe. You might remember me saying weeks ago that our wardrobe had collapsed. Well, yeah, it’s still not fixed. It’s stressing me out so I decided to empty the mountain of clothes, sort them into winter, summer and stuff I won’t wear right now and pack everything away. I’ve only lost one pair of shoes to the collapse, which is a shame, but better that than a beautiful dress or coat. I hadn’t worn the shoes for a while, anyway. So yeah, we really need to get on with fixing that rail. I did try last night but it definitely needs taking apart and installing again. Sigh.

I do tend to be quite productive when I have the flat to myself, rather than just snuggling up on the sofa with Trout and Ras. Whenever I have the whole day to myself I inevitably end up cleaning. Super cool, yeah? I like to think that if I lived by myself my flat would be spotless, but at the same time I know that that wouldn’t really happen ;) Sometimes I’m really not productive, though – I’ve been known to stay up until the early hours of the morning pissing around on the internet and listening to music, which isn’t ever really a great idea. Other people suggested they love going to bed early – or late – and not feeling guilty, which I thought was quite interesting. And a lot of chocolate/ice-cream eating, too!

Do you have any SSB? (Secret Single Behaviour) (Yep, just throwing in another SATC reference there.)
Are you more productive or lazy when you’ve got some time to yourself?

Photos of the Week #29

July 22, 2014

WEEK 29 OF 52

What a lovely week! I can’t believe how much I’ve packed into just a few days, it’s a pretty good feeling.

Earlier in the week I was treated to hospitality at the cricket ground. The food was really good, the sky was blue and Sussex won – so no complaints here! Sussex are one of our clients, and we organised a spot of guerilla marketing as people were walking in and during the tea break. We had a couple get ‘married’ to promote weddings and civil partnerships at the ground. It was fun!//

 
 

On Thursday I headed up to the Content Marketing Show. It was my first time attending, and although a couple of talks were really interesting, a lot of what was said was simple common sense. I’m not really sure who it’s aimed at, but I can’t imagine much of the audience learnt anything groundbreaking – there was a lot of ‘no-shit-sherlock’ moments for me…// We ate the last of the quiche with wedges and beans. Yum!//

 
 

On Friday we headed up to London to see Conor Oberst. I love staying in hotels, and even though I get a little stressed packing, I packed very lightly which always makes me happy!// A random photo but I loved this jar of cotton wool balls in the bathroom at the hotel. So cute!// You’ve got to love a hotel that has coffee-making facilities – and vegan biscuits to go with!// We finally tried one of the pretzels at Pret. It’s so great that they’re vegan, and pretty good, too.//

 
 

While we were in London we spent far too much time in shops that have security guards on the door, but it was kind of fun at the same time. We ended the day in Harrods, and couldn’t leave without picking up a few things from the chocolate counter. The staff were super helpful and have an allergy list so could tell us what was vegan. We had a slab of chocolate that had plum, cranberry and hazelnut, another with orange and ginger, and a fig stuffed with marzipan and coated in chocolate. So delicious! The dark chocolate tasted so sweet and creamy.//

While we were walking to the tube on Saturday morning I spotted this great window display. I love how you can see a big red bus in the reflection!// Conor Oberst on Friday night. Wonderful.//

 
 

On Saturday we had lunch at Vantra on Oxford Street. Everything looked so good – and this large box was only £7 so a bit of a bargain in central London. However the food was absolutely disgusting – one of the worst meals I can remember eating. Some of the cold food was OK, but the warm food all had the same bitter, awful taste. I don’t know whether it came from the pans they were heated with but it was vile. Trout described it as ‘perfumy’ which was quite accurate, but too polite if you ask me. I suppose they rely on one-off customers every day but I will not be returning or recommending to anyone! I tend to feel sick if I eat something that tastes bad – hence why I have a fear of checking whether something has gone off – so I spent the next hour or so feeling queasy afterwards. Yuck.// On Sunday I decided to have a go at making Trout some custard creams. I was never really a fan but he’s been going on about them lately, so I thought I’d give it a try. I didn’t realise that Waitrose shortcake biscuits were so big, though! Oh well, haha. I love that they list what’s vegan on their website – so useful! Thanks Waitrose.//

 

On Sunday evening we packed up a coolbag with our BBQ bits – including wedges, marinated ‘chicken’ kebabs and caramelised onions that we’d made – and were just about to get changed when the rain arrived, accompanied by thunder. BBQ plans ruined :( We decided to give up and make the food at home, and eat it on the floor. I wore my bikini and we listened to the Beach Boys to try and re-create the summer feeling but it wasn’t quite the same. This was the third BBQ that didn’t end up happening – what’s a girl got to do to get a BBQ round here!//

So that’s what I got up to last week – how was yours? I don’t really have any plans for this week, mainly due to a lack of funds! I’m looking forward to a relaxing week, and (HOPEFULLY!!) a BBQ at a friend’s on Saturday, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up after last weeks series of disasters. Do you have any plans?

All photos taken on my iPhone.
If you’re on Instagram, you can find me here.

Waffles and Scones

July 20, 2014

This morning Trout and I had our fingers and toes crossed for a tube of croissants to be hidden somewhere in the fridge. We kind of knew that they had all been devoured, but you can always hope.

I snuck downstairs and searched, but it was fruitless. So instead I picked up one of my favourite cookbooks – Vegan Brunch – and flicked through the pages until I found the perfect pick of recipes: one savoury, one sweet. Trout’s very much a savoury man in the morning, while I love something sweet to start the day with.

Tomato and rosemary scones. I added olives.
Gingerbread waffles. A staple of mine years ago.

I got to work and within 30 minutes we were sitting down to our plates of food. There’s something so satisfying about whipping up a meal from scratch, ad-libbing with whatever is in the house.

A friend has just returned from a holiday in Canada and not only did she bring me back a couple of bags of Daiya, she gave me a pot of maple butter. I’ve never heard of it before, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. It’s made entirely of maple syrup, and tastes incredible. I’ve mostly just been eating it straight from the jar, but spread on gingerbread waffles was a taste sensation. I’ve not found anywhere that sells it in the UK, but if you know anywhere that does please let me know!! Have you ever heard of it before?

Trout split his scones and filled them with butter and ‘cheese’. They were pretty good, and could be eaten at any time of the day.

I should point out that we did not eat all of the food above ;)
We’ve got half of both left for another time.

This weekend has been so much fun! Slightly stressful, and my legs are aching from all the rushing around and walking, but packed with so many lovely things. I’ll probably write a bit more about it in a couple of days when I put together this week’s Photos of the Week, but rest assured I took plenty of photos. This morning has mainly involved cleaning and tidying, I’ve got some work to do now, and then I’m hoping to get out of the house and enjoy this hot, humid weather. Perhaps a BBQ in the evening?

I hope everyone’s having a lovely weekend! Did you get hit by the storms? I’m so thankful that yesterday was clear and hot (humid). Thursday evening was incredible; we woke up at 2am to the loudest and brightest storm. I can’t imagine what it’s like for those living outside, it must have been just awful.

What are your plans for today? 
Do you ever have weekends that seem to last much longer than others?

Photos of the Week #28

July 15, 2014

WEEK 28 OF 52

What a week! It was always going to go quickly. The culmination of nine months preparation came to a head on Thursday, I had eight days worth of work to squeeze into three (interesting!), I was counting down the days before my sister came to visit on Friday and had a few other things on my mind.

Let’s start from the top. I’m back to the smoothies after a brief love affair with lemon & lime soya yogurt – they’re just such a great start to the day. I’ve also been enjoying bowls of gingerbread porridge – yes it’s July, but the weather last week certainly didn’t realise. Plus who can resist gingerbread anything?// Freeze-fried strawberries coated in white chocolate. So good!//

  

Trout and I made a pretty large order of Daiya and dove straight into making pizzas. I had two pizzas last week (actually, technically three. Wow.) We use ready made pizza bases from Waitrose, which are awesome! One pizza was a sausage BBQ (sausage, onion and mushroom with BBQ sauce on top) and the second was a version of Papa Johns’ The Works (vegan pepperoni, bacon, sausage, onion, mushroom, green pepper and jalapeno.) Yum.//

At the weekend I tried another brand of coconut yogurt, this time by The Coconut Collaborative. It was really good! I’ll be writing about them a bit more another time.//

 

On Thursday I was at the Tech4Good Awards. We’ve been working on the Awards with the organisers, AbilityNet, for a number of years – this was the 4th year of the Awards, but my first event. The finalists were fantastic; so many amazing stories, and they were so chuffed to win. I’ve absolutely loved getting to know people from each of the organisations and individuals who made it to the finals and those who won – their emails have been so sweet, and finding out the impact of being nominated for them is just amazing. In the past, winners have been granted additional funding, reached a much wider audience and have been taken more seriously as a result. I also got to meet Mariella Frostrup and Hannah Cockroft, which pretty much made my YEAR. Here are the amazing awards, designed by a very talented artist from Brighton.//

 
 

After the Awards I headed into London to meet a friend for dinner, and somehow managed to make him walk almost the entire length of London in search of pizza. Finally we settled on an Italian restaurant near Waterloo, and the walk wasn’t so bad. We passed by The Festival of Love on the Southbank, which was super bright and fun. I just love the Southbank – it always feels like an amazing part of central London, with so much history and energy. I felt so bad for all the walking, but at the same time it gave us an extra hour or so to catch up. In fact we talked so much the restaurant pretty much asked us to leave to make room for another group of customers.// More walking, but check out this view outside Blackfriars station. It was amazing to sit by the river with our backs to the water.//

On Friday my sister came down and we had a bit of a pampering day. I took her to The Final Nail as a belated birthday gift and she absolutely loved it. Look how amazing those nails are! The girls are so lovely there, and they’ll be launching a range of vegan treatments soon so watch this space.//

  

Before her nail appointment we went for lunch at Wai Kika Moo Kau – their wraps are just too good! I really need to venture into the rest of the menu, but their bang bang tofu wrap is so hard to resist.// Later in the afternoon we stopped off at Infinity for coffee and cake to escape the torrential rain, before heading home and making quiche.//

 

Happy Campers! At the weekend we pitched up our tent with a few friends and spent the evening stuffing our faces with BBQ, quiche, hummus chips, white chocolate chip cookies and marinated figs, and sat around a bonfire listening to music and chatting. It was a really lovely way to spend the evening, especially as we were also celebrating an engagement. I finally got to catch up with them and find out all the what’s-who’s-how’s-then’s-tears-photos! I headed to bed at around 1am and fell asleep to the sound of friends crowd-surfing and circle-pitting in the tent next to me.//

 

HI Mr Whiskerson! He was leaning over the banisters looking down at me and I couldn’t resist getting a quick snap. He’s such a funny cat.// Finally, here’s what Rasputin wishes he was eating; peanut butter on toast. Utterly bonkers.//

All photos taken on my iPhone.
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Weekend Weddings

July 10, 2014

I’m definitely getting to that age. The age when every weekend seems to be a 30th (+) birthday, an engagement party or a wedding. We’re not quite at the baby-stage but we’re definitely all growing up. I don’t find it particularly scary – it’s not happening to me, after all! And when weddings are as relaxed as the one we went to at the weekend, it definitely makes the whole committing-forever-til-death-amen thing much more inviting.

We were invited to the reception of our friend’s Jam & Julia’s wedding, just outside of Brighton. I loved how simple everything was; bunting and flowers decorated the venue – and that lightbox sign! Brilliant.

Got to love awkward first-dances. Especially when we were given strict instructions that when she gave the nod after 30-seconds everyone had to start dancing too. There was a lot of vigorous threatening nodding going on. And yep, the groom wore shorts and vans. I told you this was a good wedding.

This is probably my favourite bit of the venue. Not just because that’s a table heaving with entirely vegan cake (apart from the one with the sign on), but the lettered bunting is brilliant. I ate so much cake! Well, more specifically I ate a lot of rocky road bars. And a chocolate peanut butter cupcake! Swoon. Their close friends baked the cakes, the groom baked an amazing rainbow cake and there were so many cake disaster stories that it made you want to cry into the crumbs, but it all worked out in the end. The end being my belly, mostly.

We danced. A lot. To 90s pop music, Taylor Swift, 90s pop punk, noughties hardcore – it was brilliant. After a lot of dancing, and a few trips to the cheap bar, one of us finally asked what was happening about food. Apparently there were hotdogs in the kitchen, so a friend marched in and started making round after round of vegan hotdogs. The champagne-fuelled groom came out with a tray for us and, as you can tell, we were more than happy. At almost 11pm we stood and ate hotdogs and danced to Less than Jake and Eternal.

So basically, the moral of the story is that you really shouldn’t be scared of getting married or organising a wedding, because it can be as simple as hiring a village hall, getting your friends and family to bake cakes, make your own homemade grapefruit vodka, have a nap in the middle of your reception, top up your own champagne flute regularly, ignore tradition and walk your bride down the aisle and wear whatever the flip you like. As for us, all we’ve got as far as deciding is that we’re really not sure if it’s for us in general, that possibly we’ll just have a massive party, all the alcohol will be free, there will be a photobooth and polaroids and we’ll have some kind of food truck/street food served. How about you guys? If you’re married, would you do anything different? If you’re not, what ideas do you have?

 

Photos of the Week #27

July 8, 2014

WEEK 27 OF 52

Let’s start with the usual; what I’ve been stuffing my face with this week:

  

We finally went to Curry Leaf Cafe, which I’ve heard so much about. They don’t have many vegan options (one starter, two main courses and a dessert) but the food is pretty good – definitely give it a try. The meat eaters we were with raved about their meals, so sounds like a good choice all round.//A gigantic summery salad, courtesy of Trout. Hello sweet potato! We had sweet potato hummus, topped with chunks of roasted sweet potato, and a handful of sweet potato crisps on the side. Yum.//

 

More summery meals; a bowl of Alpro lemon & lime soya yogurt topped with granola, seeds and nuts, chia and flax seeds and blueberries. So good!//A falafel wap with hummus and tabouleh (the falafel and hummus were from Taj, the tabouleh was homemade by me. I cooked! Kind of.)//

 

I’ve been slightly obsessed by cheesecake this week. Here we have a chocolate mousse torte and a baked blueberry cheesecake. I’ve never had a baked cheesecake before, and this was my first experiment with vegan condensed milk. Oh my gosh, this was amazing! I’m definitely making this again. I veganised this recipe, replacing the cream cheese with vegan cream cheese and using powdered egg replacement that you can find in Holland & Barrett. Do you have any condensed milk recipes that you can recommend? Vegan or otherwise, I definitely want to make more sweet things with it. Maybe dulce de leche?//

 

Spending time on the bed has been pretty nice in general – the skylight window open, a glass of sparkling Mexican lime and lemongrass (in a champagne flute so I feel fancy) and the last slice of that chocolate torte. These were all enjoyed with the last episode of Made in Chelsea and a cheesy book to read in the advert breaks.//

 

The beach. As often as possible. Trout persuaded me to spend my lunch break there (after many protests of, ‘I don’t have time!’ and, ‘I have so much to do!’) but you know what – sometimes you just have to ignore that to-do list and make the most of summer and your lovely BF and the naked burrito from Tortilla and the praying that the seagulls don’t like Mexican food.

All photos taken on my iPhone.
For more pics follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/paperbagblog 

Photo Every Hour. Sort of.

July 5, 2014

I woke up last Saturday and realised that I hadn’t ticked off one of the things that I wanted to do this year – put together another Photo Every Hour blog post. So, today’s the day, I thought. But then the day didn’t turn out quite as exciting as I had hoped – in fact it was incredibly boring in terms of  how interesting a Photo Every Hour blog post should be. So here are a few highlights from my Saturday – I hope yours was more interesting!

8am

We woke up around 8ish, and I headed downstairs to make that first coffee of the day and to feed Rasputin, before bringing coffee and water back to bed. Yes, I’m re-reading Nancy Drew! It’s set in Greece, so the perfect read before we head there in September.

9am

After a little more snoozing and chatting I headed back downstairs and made a batch of croissants, which we took back to bed to eat. Rasputin was enjoying the morning’s sunshine.

10am

We wanted to watch the final episode of Orange is the New Black (I put off watching it until the perfect opportunity, because I knew I was going to miss it so. And I totally do). BT broke the internet though, which threw a spanner in the works, so we gave up and watched Saturday Kitchen instead.

11am

I was restless, so decided to head to the gym. Trout joined me, and that’s where we spent 12pm, too. Here’s my red, sweaty face afterwards!

1pm

Back at home, after I had showered and changed, it was time for my favourite flavour of Builders bar. It tastes absolutely amazing! I then spent the next couple of hours working and watching TV, lounging around on the sofa. Finally, I knew I had to get out there and enjoy the sunshine.

3pm

I headed into town to pick up a few things, including some food shopping, presents for Trout’s family and a few other bits and bobs. Sometimes this face makes it really hard to leave the flat. I spent 4pm and 5pm in town, too.

6pm

Finally home, and I dumped all my bags. I’d bought a fair bit of food, plus presents for Trout’s family, and treated myself to a new foaming cleanser. I’m a sucker for beautiful packaging, and this one ticked all the boxes. I love REN’s day cream, and really need to pick up another bottle of it.

After that, I’d only just finished putting the shopping away when Trout rang me asking if I wanted to go for a drink with one of our friends. Yes please! I headed straight out the door, and we spent the next couple of hours in a pub garden, before popping inside to watch the penalties and heading home to ‘fish’ and chips, another football match, the 30-day ab challenge and finally, bed. I was pretty knackered so thankfully fell straight asleep!

So, that was my Saturday last week. It was a fun day, even if it was slightly dull. We’re off to a wedding reception in a bit, and I can’t wait to get there and congratulate the beautiful bride and groom. I’m pretty sure all the food and cake is vegan, too – wahoo! I just have to be careful not to stuff my face too much as the dress I’m wearing is quite tight and I’m scared I might burst out of it. I hope your weekends are all going swimmingly!

 

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