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 ;)
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.
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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.
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.
I put on the news while I eat my breakfast, and flick through emails and Instagram.
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.
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.
Arrive at work, pop my lunch in the fridge and make a big cafetière of coffee for me and a colleague.
The days begins. Hello, emails.
How does your morning routine compare?
Do you commute by train or bus, or do you walk to work?
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.
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?
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?!^^^
^^^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.
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.
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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?
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!
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?
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m not a fan of pesto but Trout likes it, and pretty much always buys Zest. I can’t really comment though!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
Replaces honey in any kind of recipe, and can be found in all supermarkets and healthfood stores.
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?
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.
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?
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!
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?
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.
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!
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?
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.
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?
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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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?
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.
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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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
WEEK 26 OF 52
So much food this week!
A morning smoothie of banana, frozen berries, lettuce and water, topped with granola, trail mix and a teaspoon each of flaxseed and chia seed. Perfect start to the day.//A cherry crumble that I ‘made’, topped with a few scoops of Booja Booja vanilla ice-cream on top. When I say ‘made’, what I actually mean is I opened a can of cherries in syrup, popped it into an ovenproof bowl, melted some butter in a pan and dumped a packet of crumble mix from M&S in with it, gave it a good stir and popped the mix on top of the cherries. Into the oven it goes, and half an hour later you’ve got warm, gooey crumble. The top is almost like a flapjack, the cherries are warm and sticky and the ice cream is perfect. OK, I’ll stop now.//One of the meals I cooked this week – both recipes from one of my absolute favourite food bloggers, Maple Spice. If you haven’t read her blog before, GO! NOW! Without exception, everything I’ve ever made from her website has turned out wonderfully. If you like faux cheese and meat you’re definitely in for a treat. This time around I made Asian-style soya mince and avocado wraps and a side of golden potato salad. It’s a super summery meal, and really filling, too. Now go and make them!//An amazing meal Trout made mid-week was this take on a Caesar salad. We had a couple of schnitzels to use up in the freezer, so popped them in the oven and cooked up some croutons, chopped up a few gem lettuces and whizzed up this creamy dressing. It was incredible! He spoiled my plan of doing all the cooking this week, but it’s OK when meals taste this good.
Didn’t get up to much at the weekend – I did put together a Photo Ever Hour post on Saturday, so watch this space for that one. On Sunday we went to Trout’s Mum’s house for a BBQ, and were joined by his sister, her fiancée and their kids. More BBQs please! This was so good, such a lovely day. An afternoon of football for them and soggy knees for me. I had two of the kids on my lap while they ate their fruit salads and most of the juice landed on my knees. Worth it, though ;)
BBQ! We had a burger and a Vegusto sausage, plus a brilliant potato salad, coleslaw and grilled veggies. We ate out in the sunshine, and it was the best way to spend a Sunday.//Oh, and on Saturday morning we woke up to Ras making the most of that patch of sunshine – it’s so cute how he always finds the warmth of the sun!
So that was last week! Mostly food and family time. What could be better? Now it’s Monday and time for another week. Not too many plans again, just the usual, but we do have a wedding reception on Saturday so I’m off to do some dress shopping at some point, and hoping for plenty of beach time in the evenings. What are your plans? Did you enjoy the sunshine at the weekend?
All photos taken on my iPhone.
For more photos you can find me over on Instagram.
Every so often I’ll look back at what I was up to this time last year, this time the year before that, this time the year before that etc. I decided to do it again the other day, and realised that there was something of a theme going on in June…
What can I say – I guess I really like cookies in June! Do you ever have re-occuring foods in certain months? I had my first bowl of gazpacho soup earlier in the week, and I can see that being a regular occurrence in this beautiful warm weather.
The first photo is of me and my niece (well, fake niece – it’s Trout’s niece, technically) on the Eurostar to Disneyland. It was a really fun trip, a gift for her 5th birthday. The second photo is a batch of cookies I baked for a friend’s birthday. That last cookie? I’m still dreaming about it. Warm, gooey, chocolatey heaven from Cookies & Scream in Camden. Swoon.
WEEK 25 OF 52
A few things that I ate; leftover curry, shredded sweetness from Sultan’s Delights, and a lovely meal with Trout at Thai Pad Thai. The food is so good there. We started the meal with vegetable spring rolls (stuffed with sweetcorn, YUCK) and deep fried tofu, then I had a papaya salad, and Trout had the Massaman curry with vegetables and coconut rice. Perfect. This meal was partly an excuse to step away from our computers, and partly to celebrate the fact that we booked our summer holiday! I’m so thankful for Trout and our friends for organising this (I’m quite terrible at booking holidays…) and so ridiculously excited. A week of sunbathing, exploring, swimming and – most importantly – HUMMUSING in Greece in September.
Earlier in the week I met Lucie for dinner at Iydea. It was so lovely to enjoy a vegan meal in a relaxed environment in the evening – we’ll definitely be popping along again for dinner. We ate plates piled with salad (and a satay sweet potato roti for me) and shared blueberry cake and coffee while the sun was setting, it was the perfect end to a lovely meal and after a stressful couple of days it was the remedy I needed to relax. Afterwards we wondered around Taj and Lucie was embarrassingly crude with a banana ;)
On Friday evening we went to a friend’s 30th birthday. He had organised a gig just down the road, and re-united his band from back in the day, which was amazing. I can’t believe that ten years ago we would have been standing in our local venue (pub) watching them. It seems surreal. They even pulled the same tricks as they did all those years ago; getting everyone in the venue to crouch down on the floor. Albeit we’re slightly older, with weird clicky knees, it was so much fun. On Saturday I slept until 10am (!!!) and woke up to a plate of croissants and a mug of coffee. Is there any better way to wake up? I doubt it.
Saturday evening was spent at a lovely friend’s engagement party. It was so sweet, with a room filled with photographs of them and tubs of popcorn dotted around. I’m so happy for them.
On Sunday I made the most of the sunshine, packed a bag full of girly books and headed to the beach. I spent most of the time praying that I wouldn’t get pooped on by a seagull, but aside from that it was a beautiful way to spend the afternoon. Unfortunately I was so stupid and didn’t bother with suntan lotion, and I’m paying for it now…
And a couple of random snaps; hanging out with Rasputin in the evening, and spending more time on the beach with my hunky man and an ice-cream.
The photo of Ras is actually from a private conversation between him and his girlfriend, Luna.
How’s your week going? Any fun plans? So far I haven’t really gotten any further than a couple of gym dates and the souprun. I’m determined to make Laura’s Mexican salad bowl at some point – in fact I’m quite determined to do most of the cooking this week. I don’t really know why, I just feel like giving Trout the week off and getting in the kitchen. We’re off to Trout’s Mum’s for a BBQ on Sunday which I’m really looking forward to. Please let the weather be on my side! Talking of weather, did anyone else get too excited and have sunburn already?
All photos taken on my iPhone.
If you’re not following me on Instagram, you can find me here.
WEEK 24 OF 52
A typical evening lately; eating and working together. But really, who can complain when the food is this good and the company is this handsome? I’ve been trying to watch the football but so far have only managed a couple of games. I’m hoping to be able to head down to the beach at some point to watch it on the big screens they’ve put up. I’m sure there’s a fantastic atmosphere!
While I was at home for Father’s Day we decided to make Jasper the princess of the day. Which he totally didn’t deserve, as he kept me awake until 2am retching next to my bed and refusing to leave. He wasn’t even sick, he just kept making disgusting noises all night, making sure I didn’t get to sleep. Lovely. On the plus side I found three books that made my childhood; two books that came free with Just 17 and my favourite Nancy Drew book, A Greek Odyssey. Geez Louise these books taught me everything I know about romance and adventure.
Dinner at home on a Sunday night; pulled ‘pork’, dukka spiced potato wedges and ruby coleslaw. One of our favourite meals, I could eat this every week. p.s. I cooked!
In other news this week, I bought a new sports bra from Bravissimo and it’s true love! When I first started going to DanceFit I bought a sports bra from M&S, which has served me well but as I’ve started running it’s just not doing the job probably. I’m a 32E (sometimes an F), and this new bra is a dream! Although it doesn’t quite strap them down, I don’t feel any pain so it’s perfect for high impact sport. So if, like me, you don’t have the smallest rack, I would definitely recommend this sports bra.
This evening I’m off for dinner at Iydea with Lucie, which I’m really looking forward to. I haven’t been to the ‘new’ branch on Western Road (it’s no longer new, it’s been there for probably a year or more now…!) so it’ll be nice to see how different it is. It’s great that there is a vegan cafe open in the even – something that’s certainly lacking in Brighton. We have restaurants and pubs, but no cafes open past 6pm.
I hope everyone’s having a great week so far! Did anyone stay up on Saturday for the England game?!
All photos taken on my iPhone.
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As I mentioned last week, I was kindly invited to a photography workshop organised by Currys. It was a super useful day, if not quite daunting! I left feeling like I barely knew how to switch my camera on, let alone take a half-decent photograph, but at the same time really motivated and determined to get to know my camera better. One day it will come naturally! Sigh.
I definitely stick to my comfort zone a lot of the time, for a few reasons. Mainly because I don’t want to risk not capturing the moment, but also because I don’t want to faff around with different settings, numbers, calculations – sometimes it’s just easier to point and click and deal with the results later. I do experiment with manual a fair amount though – especially more recently. It feels almost cheating to have a decent camera and not use it to its full potential, so the workshop gave me the kick up the bum that I needed.
We started from the very beginning; what each of the settings meant, what you needed to increase and decrease depending on the light, how fast something was moving, how much of the photograph you want to be in focus. I scribbled down notes as fast as I could and tried to take it all in. Even though I knew most of it already, I felt as though half of my brain had fallen out and this particular envelope of information has dropped out with it.
There were quite a few of us in the workshop – more bloggers than I even realised lived in Brighton! – so it was really nice to meet new people and get to know them. I wish I’d have had more time to get to know everyone, but hopefully we’ll meet again at other events. It’s one of the things that I love about being invited to blogger events – not only are they all so unique, you have so many opportunities to try new things, learn new information and skills, and meet some great and diverse people.
See, I told you there were a lot of bloggers!
A row of bloggers and cameras.
After a spot of lunch we were given 30 minutes to get out and about with a brief of six different ‘types’ of photograph to take. The seafront probably wouldn’t have been my first choice, but as it turned out it had a lot to offer. Like Disco Grandad, for example.
For the ‘symmetry’ shot I found this couple relaxing on the beach. Sometimes I forget that this city is a tourist attraction, but at the same time it’s kind of cute. I quite like the romantic connotations that it has.
It was nice to spend time with the seafront in a different way. Usually I like to tuck myself away somewhere quiet and enjoy the sunshine, or spend time with good friends and a BBQ. As I walked around looking for inspiration, the air was filled with the smell of suntan lotion, chips and watered down beer. People smiled, they’d come down for a break from the city, or from the countryside, they were spending time with family, with friends, with the rest of a hen or stag party. Sometimes living in a city is strange – and even stranger when it’s a real tourist magnet. I know that when I lived in London it never felt my own – I felt like I part of this huge…machine? Not really. More like I was sharing with space with too many people, that it could never be my own, I could never take anything and make it my own. But Brighton? It was my home years before I ever had a postcode to my name. I remember so very clearly the first time I ever came to visit Brighton – nearing 13 years ago – and it was love at first sight. It was love at first sight, but it didn’t become my home for another nine years. It took a while, but finally I came home.
You can read Currys blog about the day here – and at the bottom there’s a link to a great guide on buying your first DSLR which you might find useful. Thanks for having me Currys!
Do you have a DSLR?
Do you stick to the auto setting, or do you know your way around manual?
I couldn’t quite believe it when LinkedIn reminded me that this month is the three year anniversary of paperbagblog. Another year has flown by, with loads of fantastic memories and changes on the blog. Originally I wanted to do something similar to last year and list all of the wonderful things I’ve been up to in the past year, the brilliant brands that I’ve worked with, the magazines and websites that I’ve contributed writing to, the places that I’ve been and the wonderful people that I’ve met. But given my recent musings and ramblings, I decided that it was far more fitting to look back at the changes I’ve seen in myself and right here on the blog.
So, what’s changed? Well, since last June I’ve been promoted at work, an achievement I’m really proud of, and have increased the amount of freelance work that I’ve taken on, including writing website copy. I’ve travelled to some amazing places in the past year, which I’m really grateful for. I also had a naked man walk into my hotel room in the middle of the night – that I’m not so grateful for. I’ve started going to the gym, and am really enjoying it. I still can’t quite believe it. I never thought that a) I would ever enjoy going and b) would be able to run for 20 minutes straight, at a decent pace. But there you go. Sometimes you can really surprise yourself.
In terms of changes in my blog, I’ve worked with some amazing brands and am slowly getting round to posting more frequently, which I’m really enjoying. I introduced the Photos of the Week series, which I’ve found has been a great way of documenting my week (year) and looking back at all of those little memories along the way.
Here are the things that I want to achieve in the next year:
- Grow paperbagblog in so many ways. New features, advertising, brand collaborations, giveaways, frequent posting and more
- Achieve that balance that I’m always jabbering on about
- Use my camera more, and rely on my iPhone less
- Throw in a few more Photo Every Hour blog posts, because they’re always fun to work on
- Save money and spend money. Kind of a strange balance, but I want to save a lot of money over the next year, whilst spending the rest wisely and thoughtfully
- Following on from this, I want to buy fairtrade, locally made, sustainable, ethical clothing. I know how difficult that will (most likely) be, but I’m quite sick of the destruction that the highstreet shops inflict across the world, and would like to not be a part of that. So, for now, I’m simply not buying anything (which is helping me save money!) and am researching my options when I need to replace something.
Happy Birthday little blog, thanks for being a place that I can always let my keyboard run wild and keep some of the good (and not so good) photographs of mine. Thank you Trout, for encouraging me to start this blog in the first place, thank you readers for sticking with me even when I don’t post anything for a week, thank you for your tweets, emails, comments, Facebook messages, and all the follows on social media. I don’t know if I really thought this far ahead when I started this blog. With around eight years of blogging behind me I’ve seen so many changes in how bloggers are perceived and their role in marketing and PR. It’s an exciting time to be out there writing. Here’s to another year!
I’m curious, how long have you been reading paperbagblog for?
I’d love to know, if you don’t mind sharing.