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Vegan cheeseburgers, films and the last of the Christmas cake

January 14, 2014

A couple of weeks ago I decided to pick a recipe out of one of my new cookbooks; Veggie Burgers Every Which Way, by Lukas Volger. While I was making them I realised I had made way too many for just the two of us, and they wouldn’t really keep, so we decided to invite a couple of friends over to join us at the last minute. It turned out to be a really fun, unexpected evening, and the perfect opportunity to try some cheese that I had been sent. Veganic had kindly gifted me a huge selection of Violife vegan cheeses, and I didn’t quite know where to start!

The cheese was a big hit, even with our non-vegan friends! It’s perfect added to burgers, lasagne and any kind of toasted sandwich, it melts really nicely. Pop over to the To Happy Vegans website and you’ll find loads of great ideas for what to cook with the cheese. I’ve got my eye on that mushroom toastie ;) You can see the full range of Violife cheese flavours here, and details on where you can buy them here. Be sure to Like Veganic Foods on Facebook, too!

After we had stuffed our faces with burger and chips, we settled down with some leftover Christmas cake and watched Monsters Inc University. It’s such a good film! There’s something so brilliant about both of the Monsters Inc films. I think I might add another resolution to my list for this year; to watch more films. Especially at the cinema. We still haven’t gotten around to going to see American Hustle, and The Wolf of Wall Street has caught my eye, too. I haven’t read any reviews yet, but the clips and trailer all look fantastic. So far this week I’ve mostly been in incredible pain because of my back, but I’m really hoping it’s on the mend now and I can get back to work and start planning these cinema outings. These chiropractor appointments aren’t cheap, are they?!

Have you tried Violife Cheese? Have you watched Monsters Inc. University?!

Life Lately, including breakfast, wearing my pjs to work and a good old roast dinner

January 11, 2014

Life lately has involved plenty of food (obviously), both of the healthy variety and the not so healthy variety. I’ve been enjoying one of my favourite breakfasts everyday; vanilla soya yogurt, maple and pecan granola, fresh fruit and a blob of salty peanut butter on top. Delish.

Then there are those breakfasts that aren’t quite so healthy. Like a whole stack of pancakes on a Sunday morning. Geez Louise these were good. Thanks Wai Kika Moo Kau!

I popped to Street Diner on Friday and had another amazing lunch thanks to Sultan’s Delights. Everything just tastes so good! Or maybe that was because I am bringing my own lunch to work every day, in a bid to save money and eat more healthy meals, which inevitably can’t compare to lunches like this!!

Trout and I have taken on the 30-day plank challenge, which is good because we’ve also been enjoying plates like this…

Millionaire’s Shortbread and a slice of chocolate and vanilla cheesecake.
Both vegan, from Infinity Foods. 

Just after Christmas we met up with friends for a good old roast dinner, it was so nice getting everyone round the table together.

I’ve also been doing plenty of photography for clients, which I love. It’s funny to sit back after I’ve finished and watch colleagues devour the plates of food – it must look quite strange to the other diners!

I also wore my pyjamas to work. Not really! This is the beautiful shirt I blogged about a few months ago, and my Motherbear kindly bought for me for Christmas. I love it!

And these are the wonderful sales shoes that I had been hunting for, and finally they are mine. It’s true love.

And finally, I was featured in Healthy Magazine! All be it as a simple tweet, but still…!

So that’s mostly what’s been happening lately. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably already seen a few of these pictures – if you’re on there let me know and I’ll give you a follow, I definitely need more inspiring photos to enjoy every day.

It’s the weekend! What do you have planned? We don’t have too many plans; drinks for a friend’s birthday this evening and that’s about it I think. We really want to go to the cinema to see American Hustle, so that might be tomorrow, and might include vegan hotdogs at Dukes at Komedia! I can’t resist a good dawg. I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

WIAW: Croissants, Chaat, Chapattis and Cleaning

January 8, 2014

It’s been quite a while since I took part in What I Ate Wednesday, so last weekend I decided it was as good a time as any to jump back in. Here are my meals and snacks from Saturday, which was a pretty relaxing day, mostly spent trying to avoid getting caught in the rain, and catching up with housework. That’s how super cool my weekends are at the moment!

I slept in until around 9.30am, which was lovely – the longest lie in I’ve had in months (years?) and it kind of set the tone for the rest of the weekend. I lounged around for a while before finally getting out of bed and heading downstairs for coffee and a chocolate croissant. These are so good – I bought a bag of them in Barcelona and they are really delicious.

Oh HI sexy chocolately vegan croissant. Hello there. And my mug has cats on!

Trout and I sat together in the lounge listening to music while we had breakfast. It was a really lovely start to the day, spending time together and listening to different bands. After breakfast Trout went to the gym and I darted around the flat, changing the bed, cleaning Ras’ poo parlour, working my way through two loads of laundry, the washing up, taking the Christmas decorations down and recycling our Christmas cards. After that it was time for a shower and some writing on the blog.

Trout decided to rustle up some French onion soup for lunch, which we had with some warm ciabatta. It was perfect for a rainy day spent indoors together.

The afternoon mainly involved another load of laundry, some reading, a catch up with my motherbear, and a trip into town for dinner supplies. For dinner we had daal with chaat and chapattis. It was so good! I could eat Indian food every day for the rest of my life and not get bored.

So those were my meals from Saturday! Anything catch your eye?

This week is creeping along quite nicely. It’s been pretty busy at work, I had DanceFit on Monday, and last night I caught up with a few things that I’ve been meaning to do for a while on the blog, so it was nice to finally get around to doing that. I’ve added social media buttons to the right hand bar – there’s nothing quite like a bit of late night HTML to frazzle my brain! I’ve kind of missed it though, so it was fun to mess around with it again. I finally got an iPhone! Which means I’m finally on Instagram! Do give me a follow – at the moment I pretty much only have pictures of Rasputin, but give me some time and there will be photos of cake and Rasputin.

Sunday at the Seaside

January 6, 2014

On Sunday morning Trout and I had seen a few photographs taken on the seafront, and we were too curious not to walk down and investigate. The strength of the storms had pushed thousands of stones up from the shore, and it was quite a sight. The trip turned us into real tourists, complete with a tray of chips!

The ground was a slippery mess of seaweed, shells and rocks.

Would you like to take a seat?

How was your weekend? Mine was pretty relaxed; some housework, some blogging, some drinks, some breakfast with friends. It’s my one year anniversary at DanceFit this evening, and I think it’s probably the best (and most successful!) New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever made. I’m so happy that I went to that first class in the new year. I hope that everyone has had a great start to the week!

New Years Eve in Barcelona

January 4, 2014

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you’ve all had a great start to 2014. This year we spent a few days in Barcelona with friends to celebrate the new year. It was so lovely catching up with Laia and our friends from uni, and of course spending another new year with Trout. I decided not to take my DSLR to Barcelona with me this time. It was a hard decision as I hate leaving it behind, but I wanted to give my poor shoulders a break, and as I took a whole load of photos last time I came, I saved room in my suitcase and grabbed Trout’s iPhone whenever I wanted to take some photographs.

Trout and I arrived on the 30th, checked in and got straight onto walking around. We were given an upgrade on our room which was a great start to the weekend! Hello giant bathroom and wonderful view. After grabbing some lunch we met Laia from work and headed for coffee and cake. We have our priorities straight! We walked around in search for the places Trout had researched but found that most of them were shut, so we went to Gopal. I love this cafe, the food is really good and it has a relaxed atmosphere. It might be a little too preachy and AR for some, which kind of cuts out the customers who just want to eat a good animal-free burger and maybe aren’t vegan or vegetarian. The cafe has a lot of pro-vegan prints and posters dotted around.

I had a cinnamon bun which was so good! Super cinnamony. The carrot cake and chocolate cake were really good, too. The rest of the evening was filled with drinks, walking around the streets of Barcelona, meeting a friend and having a pretty awful, but quite hilarious, dinner.

Before dinner we walked through the food market, which is one of my favourite places to visit. It’s so colourful and alive with energy and passion.

The next day two more friends flew into Barcelona and we headed for lunch and drinks pretty much as soon as they had dropped off their bags at the hotel! We went to a bar called Obama, which had a statue of Mr Obama in the doorway. Quite bizarre.

We had lunch at The Dog is Hot, an amazing cafe that sold meat and vegan hotdogs, with a ton of vegan topping options. I had the Mushdog, with a tofu hotdog, mushrooms, fried onions, olives, jalapenos and ketchup. Trout and I shared a box of nachos, and it all came in a brown paper bag. So cute! We found some steps nearby and watched skateboarders and guys ride their BMX’s off the steps. It was so nice to catch up.

After some more walking around, we headed back to the old faithful, Gopal, for something sweet. On the way I decided to have a quick haircut.

This time it was doughnut time! Here we have a cinnamon bun, chocolate covered ring doughnut, and two chocolate doughnuts covered with fruity icing.

Later on in the afternoon another friend flew in to join us, and we had a few more drinks before getting ready for the evening. We met up at Laia’s Dad’s apartment for dinner and drinks and then headed out for fireworks. Laia made a tortilla, we had grilled vegetables, salad, hummus and plenty of pa amb tomàquet and olives. Trout and I picked up a couple of slices of vegan tortilla from Gopal, and it was so good! You can see a little slice of it in the bottom left hand corner of the picture.

Grating tomato for the pa amb tomàquet. 

Frying potato for the tortilla.

After dinner we headed out to watch the fireworks. It was the first year that Spain had put on a fireworks display, and it was pretty amazing. The crowds were huge, and we huddled together, gripping our bags of grapes and waiting for the countdown before the countdown. In Spain it’s traditional to stuff a grape into your mouth in the countdown to midnight – twelve grapes in twelve seconds. I think I managed eight at the most, but Trout had 16 stuffed into one section of his mouth like a hamster, it was hilarious.

 

After the fireworks it was a bit of a struggle getting back to the main roads – the crowd was huge and heaving, but finally we managed to make some progress, and began the long walk back to the hotel. I headed to bed while the others went up to the rooftop bar in the hotel, where they had cava and churros. The perfect end to the evening!

The next day we met up at midday and headed to Starbucks for some much-needed coffee. I will never understand the obsession with this brand – the coffee is just awful! Weak, bizarrely sweet. Bonkers. It seems to be just an accessory, or a statement. Whatever. It’s so expensive, too!

After we had fueled up on coffee we walked around the corner to a lovely tapas bar for lunch, called Cervecería Catalana. The restaurant looked so nice, and the food was really good. So many options, us vegans were spoilt! Grilled artichoke (SO. GOOD!), patatas bravas, mushrooms and asparagus, pa amb tomàquet, pimientos de Padrón.

Blue skies! We enjoyed some beautiful weather while we were there. 14c, sunshine, blue skies. Perfect.

I already miss these girls! It’s always so nice to catch up, especially when it happens to be in such a nice place ;)

So, that was our New Years Eve!
What did you get up to? Have you been to Barcelona before? 

New Years Resolutions, 2014

January 2, 2014

Happy New Year! It’s 2014!

I loved looking back over the last year and seeing what I got up to. Not only does it remind me of things that I may have forgotten, it also reminds me of things that I wish I had done, or would like to do more of. Here were my resolutions for 2013 – I think I did alright! Exercise: I took up that DanceFit class I had in mind, and I’m so glad that I did. I never got back into yoga, maybe this year I will? It would be nice to be more bendy. Blogging: I took part in the ‘Photo Every Hour‘ series a couple of times (you can find them here and here). I don’t really think I’ve developed paperbagblog, but I’ve worked with some great brands, and have the sweetest readers you could ask for, so that’s what counts. Reading & Writing: I have read more books since last year – but still not as many as I would like. I’ve written a lot more; I’m now a freelance writer, and recently become a regular contributor to Fresh Vegan, an online magazine. Eating & Drinking: Hmm, this old chestnut. I have stopped drinking! But I have also been eating a lot of sweet treats, which my skin is really not thanking me for. That one is definitely going on next year’s resolutions list! Explore & Inspire: Sort of. We’ve been roadtripping and ticking places off my Bucket List – but we haven’t been to the cinema more, and I’ve only been to a couple of galleries. Fail! Save & Spend: Hmm.

While we were in Barcelona, we sat around the table in an amazing tapas restaurant on new years day and took it in turns to say what we had planned for the new year, and what we wanted to achieve. It was so interesting to discover what each of us wanted to get out of 2014, what we weren’t happy with about our current lives, and what we wanted to do more of over the next twelve months. Hearing everyone’s different ideas made me even more inspired when it came to my own.

Here are my New Years Resolutions for 2014

1/To be more present, and to relax and enjoy the moment. I have a tendency to rush things, rather than sit down and really enjoy them. And that’s so important.

2/To be more thankful for the people around me, what I have, and how very lucky I am.

3/To be better with money. This is always, always on my resolutions list. One day I’ll get it right, *sigh*. I want to pay Trout back the money I owe him for holidays, save more each month for future holidays and generally stop spending money unless it’s really necessary…!

4/To get my diet back in check. I eat way too many sugary, sweet, chocolatey treats and my skin is not happy. I have also developed Bingo Wings after Christmas, and they can go away thank you very much. More fruit, more vegetables, more exercise and less sweets. Yup. Which is why I started the day with a chocolate croissant…

5/To plan things more in advance. I started my Christmas shopping at the end of October, and it really helped to spread the cost and make sure that I had everything bought and wrapped before the big day. I think I’ll start doing this with things like birthdays and Easter – any way of making life run a little smoother is fine by me!

6/To make time for friends, old and new. Getting back in touch with an old friend a few months ago made me realise how important my friendships are, and how easy it is to never get around to spending time together. I met up with a sweet friend in 2012, just by chance, and at the time we both said we would meet up properly in the next month. We never have, and I’m annoyed with myself that it’s now been well over a year and no date has been set. I want to always make time for my friends, they are so important to me.

7/To use up everything that’s in the fridge before going out and buying more food. Plan meals, use up leftovers and don’t buy take-aways if we have a fridge full of food!

8/To write more. I think I might be dishing up far too much on my plate here, what with the amount of freelance work that I do, but I would like to push myself more and contribute to other magazines, blogs, websites – any one that will have me! And again, read more, and blog more frequently. I was given a couple of books for Christmas so I’m hoping to get through those fairly quickly.

9/To spend less time online. This is a strange one, as I absolutely love catching up with blogs, emails, comments, Twitter etc. But if I’m ever going to start reading and writing more, I really need to spend my time more wisely. So really, maybe this is more about planning my time more effectively, which includes less time online – or perhaps more constructive time online?

10/To travel to more places in the UK. It’s strange to think of how many cities in Europe that I’ve been to, and yet I’ve never been to Manchester, Cambridge, Oxford… these are all on my to-visit list for 2014! I also want to stay in one of the hotels in the Hotel du Vin chain. They look so beautiful! Just a shame that they are mega pricey…

Do you have any resolutions for 2014? How did you do for 2013?

2013, what a year

December 29, 2013

Looking through my round-up of 2012, I can’t help but pinch myself. Honestly.
I can’t believe how much has changed in only one year, the whole thing just seems surreal. It makes me even more excited for 2014, I just hope that I can keep doing more exciting things, and keep documenting them here on my blog.

Here’s a round-up of what I got up to in 2013. I’ve picked out some of my favourite highlights and achievements, the brands that I particularly loved working with, the places that I’ve travelled to and some of my favourite days.

January

2013 started in Hamburg, which was a pretty awesome way of starting a brand new year! Surrounded by insane people setting off fireworks, with good friends. January marked my first project working with Alpro, which I absolutely loved. The campaign was called DeskFest, and involved coming up with recipes and innovative ways of having a healthy breakfast at your desk.

February

February is one of my favourite months, because it includes Valentine’s Day. This year I received a bunch of flowers with a Breaking Bad reference! It was also the month I found a new job and won the Dorset Cereals Little Blog Award.

March

March is a special month for us; it’s our anniversary on the 8th, and we celebrated 11 years in 2013. It was also the month that I started my current job, and was Pick of the Day on Bloggers.com.

April

April was a fun month – it’s Trout’s birthday, which I always love celebrating. I spent the day with a sweet friend in Kingston, and finally met up with my friend Mel, who I’ve ‘known’ online for years.

May

May was also filled with good friends! I met up with Laura for lunch at VBites, and enjoyed plenty of Alproccinos! I took part in another project with Alpro, covering the Brighton Fringe Festival. Brighton was beautiful that month, with blue skies and blossom just around the corner.

June

June was filled with street food and new opportunities. I visited Street Diner plenty of times, and Trout and I stopped for some chaat one evening. I took part in the first Blogger Brunch at the Wellcome Collection, which was amazing. We were given a guided tour of the exhibition, which was really interesting, and great to meet so many other bloggers and writers. I’m really looking forward to working with the Wellcome Collection again in 2014.

July

Hello blue skies! I spent most of July on the beach with friends. I also got to hang out with this sweet dog!

August

More fresh flowers for the flat! Plenty of roasted chickpeas (can you say addiction?) and plenty of new recipes. I also celebrated my birthday, which began with food poising (not cool) so I postponed it to the weekend, which was spent in London (very cool!).

September

September we roadtripped! We flew to Berlin, where we spent a few days, then drove to Dresden, Prague, Bratislava and then Vienna. It was so much fun, I love roadtripping with Trout.

October

My sister got married! It was a beautiful day. I also photographed my favourite restaurant, which I’m really excited about finishing up and revealing more details over the coming months.

November

November was an absolutely packed month! We had our photo taken in a photobooth – I absolutely love these booths. I met up with Laura and Lucie, and we had a fun coffee date. We celebrated Rasputin’s 5th birthday, I bought some great new music, went to see one of my favourite bands play, hung out with the coolest friends, and picked sloe berries to make sloe gin! I was interviewed by Amazine, made cheesecake and painted pottery with my family. Phew!

December

More photobooth fun! Trout and I went to Cornwall to visit the Eden Project, and met some ponies on the way back. I also had an article and a few photographs published in Fresh Vegan magazine. Oh, and it was Christmas, too!

What a year it’s been! So much to be thankful for. New job, becoming a freelance writer, getting the opportunity to photograph more and more, and plenty of travelling. I just don’t know how 2014 can top that! We’re starting the year in Barcelona, which I’m so excited about. I’m not really sure what else we have planned – perhaps a trip to India? I’ve put together some New Years Resolutions which I’ll post in the next few days.

I hope everyone has had a great 2013, and will have an even better 2014. Thanks for helping make 2013 my favourite year yet!

Christmas fun and plans for New Years Eve

December 28, 2013

Happy Christmas one and all! I hope everyone has had a great few days. It’s been a whirlwind of driving, lovely dinners, so many amazing presents, and most importantly, spending time with loved ones. The photo above is of one of the cookies a couple of friends made for us, as part of a Christmas hamper of home made treats. Everything tasted so good!

This year we spent Christmas Day at Trout’s family’s home, and Boxing Day at mine. It was strange not spending it with my family, but so lovely to spend it with his, especially as his niece was there, too. It was so sweet watching her open her presents and play with them all. It reminded me of how obsessed I was with my set of plastic cans of beans and spaghetti hoops. When we lived in Yorkshire we had a table football and I put the lid on and made my own natural history museum, but all of the dinosaurs were made up of baked bean cans.

Waiting for Dad to bring the car round. She was pointing and shouting, ‘Daaaaaaadddddyyyy!’

This is the first year that I’ve made a Christmas Cake, and I have a feeling I’ll be making one every year. It was so much fun! Though I will remember to buy decorations earlier than Christmas Eve next year… Somehow I managed to forget, and let me tell you, it’s flippin’ impossible to find anything decent (or anything at all…) on Christmas Eve. I did the best that I could with what was available, and we ended up with twerking Santas.

These weren’t actually Christmas cake decorations, I think they are meant to be hung on a Christmas tree, but I went with it and pushed them into the blanket of icing and let them do their thing. The legs aren’t stiff, I think they are meant to sway with the branches of your Christmas tree, hence why each Santa is pulling a different disco move.

 

Trout’s Mum and I had a Battle of the Christmas Cakes – all the non-vegans sampled both cakes, but were too polite to make a decisive judgement, so no-one will ever know who won the battle.

I loved her icing shapes – definitely stealing this idea next year, especially as I had quite a lot of icing left over. 

On Boxing Day we headed over to my parents house and my Mum and sister prepared an amazing brunch. We had vine roasted tomatoes, ciabatta, great coffee, garlic mushrooms, croissants and fruit.

After brunch we opened our presents. I was so spoilt this year! So many lovely gifts, and I hope everyone liked the presents that I bought them.

 

Jake and Jasper making sure that they are never more than a few inches away from my Grandad…!

After we had opened our presents we all sat in the lounge and Dad brought in a ‘bar’ with drinks for everyone, and bowls of snacks. I ate so many Pringles, they are just too good! And non-alcoholic Kopparberg, which tastes amazing.

Jake was so pleased to see us…

So, that was my Christmas! How was yours? What are your plans for New Years Eve? We’re off to Barcelona on Monday with a few friends, and I can’t wait. I can’t believe I’ll be seeing Laia in just a few days, wahoo! I don’t think we have any plans as yet – we may ditch the boys and do a spot of coffee, catching up and shopping. Speaking of shopping, has anyone braved the sales yet? I started with the sale most people wait for every six months; the Zara sale. I was quite restrained and only bought a couple of pieces, but I always pop back every now and again to see which lines have been added and what’s been reduced. I picked up a bag from Bershka that I’d been eyeing up a few weeks ago, and was super happy to see it reduced to £10. I also popped into New Look and spotted a pair of loafers that I’d seen months ago at the Oxford Street store and instantly fell in love with – but because we were rushed in time I didn’t even try them on. As sad as it sounds, I’ve regretted that decision ever since, and have been constantly checking their website to see if they had appeared again, or gone on sale. I couldn’t believe it when I found the very last pair, in my size, and for just £8. It was meant to be!

Today is a day for catching up with work. I’m still in my jimjams and don’t really plan on getting dressed until I’ve ticked everything off my to-do list. Trout’s off to watch the football so I’ve got the flat to myself, just me and Ras hanging out. Trout bought me a vegan burger cookery book for Christmas, so I think I’ll make something from that for dinner this evening. It’s such a good book! Trout knows I cannot resist a burger when it’s on the menu.

What were your favourite Christmas presents this year? Any plans for New Years Eve?

Cornwall, the Eden Project, rough seas and some ponies!

December 27, 2013

A little while ago I was asked by the lovely people at Superbreak if I would like to choose one of their weekend breaks to review. There were so many tempting options to choose from, but as the Eden Project has been on my ‘Bucket List’ for such a long time, I jumped at the chance of taking a trip there. Trout and I decided to turn it into a long weekend, and drove down to Exeter straight from work on Friday. We spent Saturday morning at the Eden Project, explored more of Cornwall in the afternoon, and on Sunday we stopped in Bournemouth for lunchies.

By the way, baking something sweet for breakfast while we were roadtripping was one of my finest ideas yet. It was so nice to wake up to a little treat to enjoy with a cup (or two) of hot coffee, and gave me time to relax in bed before heading out. Much better than being starving and unable to find anything vegan-friendly for miles!

The grounds weren’t as big as I had imagined them to be, and each had their own theme, from the rainforest to the Mediterranean. I was really disappointed that the Sky Wire wasn’t open, look how long it is! It looks so much fun.

I loved all of the mechanical sculptures dotted around the grounds – this giant bee was brilliant! We were so lucky with the weather – apart from the odd grey cloud here and there, we were warm and dry for almost the whole weekend.

 

Giant crocheted snowflakes! These were so beautiful. You could even have a go at making one!

Waterfalls were dotted around the Mediterranean Biome, they were stunning.

Trout was back to his old photo-bombing ways – except this time he was trying out a new motive. The Bored Photo-Bomber. What a ninny. I’ve got so many photographs of him pretending to be bored, but I assure you he wasn’t. He’s just a fool.

We climbed this huge staircase to stand on the top platform, where you could see the whole of the Mediterranean Biome. It was an incredible view!

We saw reindeer! They were so sweet! I loved listening to the children with their families, asking their parents why they weren’t flying, and why were they sleeping. Obviously it was because they are resting before next week! One little girl was so happy that she had met Rudolph.

Thanks again to Superbreak for giving me the opportunity to cross off one of my ‘Bucket List’ dreams!

After we had checked into our room we drove down to Tintagel Castle, stopping at a restaurant nearby for a traditional Cornish pasty. It was called Pengenna Pasties, and it was amazing that they had vegan pasties on the menu! They were pretty darn good, and the restaurant was so sweet.

After lunch we walked down to the castle, but unfortunately we had just missed the last entry time. Instead we went for a little walk, exploring the nearby paths and steps. It was so incredible windy, I thought we would get knocked right off! Wind, rain, and the sun was setting – it was an incredible atmosphere. Trout went exploring up a steep set of steps, but I was too chicken and stayed near the bottom and carried on taking photographs, and taking in the view. The combination of slippery ‘steps’ (they were really just a mash-up of wood and stone!), the wind, and a pair of not entirely practical boots meant that I was too scared to attempt these steep steps.

The next day we drove back to Brighton via Bournemouth, and had to take the country roads for a lot of the journey due to a couple of accidents on our intended route. It’s so sad to think of people being in these awful crashes so close to Christmas, I just hope that everyone was alright.

While we were driving through one particular road we came across these guys! Trout stopped so that I could take a photograph, and the guy at the front made a beeline for his window! We had to drive off, but I would have loved to have seen how close he would have come! I’m sure he would have stuck his head right into the car in search of sugar lumps.

I hope that everyone had a lovely Christmas Day and Boxing Day! I’ve got a few photos to come from ours, plus a roundup of my 2013 to finish putting together. What are your plans for New Years Eve?

Merry Christmas to all!

December 24, 2013

image from My Little Fabric

It’s Christmas Eve! I hope you’re all relaxing and looking forward to the next few days, whatever you have planned. All of my presents are wrapped and packed ready to go, and I’ve just got our Christmas Cake to ice and decorate this evening. For some reason I completely forgot to buy any decorations, and let me tell you it’s pretty darn hard to find them on Christmas Eve. Oh well, there was always going to be something that I forgot to get, and better to be a plastic miniature santa than someone’s gift! I’m so looking forward to waking up tomorrow with my two favourite boys, exchange Santa presents with Trout, crack open a tin of croissants and then head over to his Mum’s to celebrate with family.

I want to say a big Happy Christmas to all of my lovely readers, and thank you for all of your support, comments, Likes, tweets and mentions in the past year. It’s been a real whirlwind, and I can’t wait to post a round-up of everything that I got up to in 2013. Thank you all, your support means more than I can say x

Thankful for bananas and avocados and a few other things.

December 19, 2013

We’re really lucky to have such a great view from our flat. We can see the sea and the wheel from our bedroom window, and I can watch the sunrise from our lounge, while I’m relaxing in the morning before work. Occasionally you get really lucky and can see the most amazing displays of colour, spreading across the sky in different shades.

This photo of Rasputin makes me laugh. It’s not the best, but it totally sums up his start to the day – relaxing on his favourite spot, the windowsill, with his paws on the radiator to make them toasty and warm, and with a slightly miffed expression as he is being disturbed by me and my camera and the breakfast news and the kettle.

I’ve had a couple of days off this week to use up my annual leave before the end of the year, so this morning I woke up early and made Trout and I a special breakfast. Not only did it use up ingredients lurking in the fridge, and an avocado that was dangerously on the verge of being thrown away due to its mushyness (in fact, it was perfect when I sliced into it. Thank you avocado! You were the icing on our breakfast), it was really nice to spend some time together before the day started. We spend most of that time passing each other by, him coming downstairs for breakfast just as I’m going upstairs to finish getting ready, and then the other way around as he finishes getting ready and I’m heading out the door.

This weekend we’re off to visit the Eden Project, I’m so excited! We decided to plan a long weekend away together before Christmas, and even though I’m in work on Monday, it feels like a great way to start the Christmas break. I’ve baked a loaf of banana and walnut cake to bring with us, so that we have something to eat for breakfast on Saturday morning. It’s one of the recipes from Ms. Cupcake’s amazing cookery book, with the chocolate chips removed. Don’t tell her, I’m sure she wouldn’t approve! I didn’t want the loaf to be too sweet as neither of us like a particularly sweet start to the day (especially Trout!). I had a couple of bananas getting browner and browner, which is why I wanted to make this recipe – I love using up fruit and veg that might otherwise end up in the bin.

I didn’t whip the bananas up into a total mush, I wanted some chunks of banana to melt through the loaf. Look at the gooeyness! That end slice may have already disappeared somewhere.

Tonight is Christmas party #3, this time with a company that I do freelance work for. It’ll be nice to meet other freelancers that work for them, as well as people that work internally for the company. Then tomorrow is Christmas party #4 with my company. So many parties, and plenty of great food. I feel so spoilt this Christmas!

Each day I am so thankful for the place that I’m in right now. I can’t quite believe how different everything was just one single year ago. So much has changed, and it kind of makes my head spin all the time at the moment. I know that for so many people the life that I have now probably seems nothing special, or that there are people doing way more awesome things than I am, earning way more than I am (and probably will ever earn) but you know what? I can’t remember a time when I’ve ever been happier. And that feels like a pretty darn strange thing to write down.

How is your run-up to Christmas going, do you have any plans? Any presents left to buy?

First Christmas Party of 2013

December 14, 2013

Thursday evening marked the next stage of the festive period – the staff Christmas party! Trout kindly invited me to his company’s Christmas party, and it was such a fun evening. After ridiculous party games in their office, with a few glasses of champagne and mince pies, we popped down to Chilli Pickle for dinner. It’s such a great restaurant, and the food is really good. Bonus points for a menu with vegan labels!

I can never not order a dosa when it’s on the menu – it’s pretty much my favourite meal in the WORLD. I love them so much.

I couldn’t even fit the whole dosa into the picture!

After dinner we popped next door to a cocktail bar for a drink – they made me an amazing non-alcoholic mojito, YUM. We spotted a photobooth in the corner so of course we had to all cram in.

It was absolutely hilarious! We all forgot that you get four pictures taken, and after each photo we thought that was it and started relaxing, only to have to cram back in for the next one. Over and over again! So funny.

Tonight is Christmas Party #2, with old friends from Kingston, at one of my favourite restaurants – the Riverside Vegeteria. I’m so excited to see everyone, in a really special restaurant. It was where we had our ‘final meal’ before Laia and I left Kingston, and a place where I would often go to celebrate something, like our second year degree show, or a weekend when Trout was visiting. The food is so good! Tomorrow is Christmas Party #3 (kind of) as we have two of our favourite people coming round for dinner, and Trout and I are cooking a special Christmas dinner for us all. I can already see us napping on the sofa after that!

I’m off into town now to pick up a couple of presents and then I should be all finished. The rest are all wrapped, it’s such a relief to think it’s all out of the way. Hopefully, anyway! Rasputin’s gift is wrapped up under the tree ready for him – I’ve told him not to peek. The house is stuffed with presents, which I kind of love. It’s so nice to see all the presents grouped together, with bags of presents for family and friends.

How is your Christmas shopping going? Do you have a Christmas party to look forward to?

An evening putting up Christmas decorations

December 10, 2013
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On Sunday afternoon we tidied the flat and put up all of our Christmas decorations – nothing too exciting, just a really cute tree and a few other bits and pieces here and there. I decided to make it a festive evening, with Christmas music playing, some non-alcoholic mulled wine bubbling in the background, an IPA chilling in the fridge, pieces of iced fruit cake to snack on, and a party tea to finish it all off in the evening. It’s so nice to have all of our decorations up, I love switching on the fairy lights in the evening and lighting wintry candles around the lounge.

I was so excited to find non-alcoholic mulled wine! I didn’t even know it existed. Thank you Infinity Foods! I know that Marks and Spencer make one, too. They also make amazing vegan party food! It’s a tradition every year for Trout and I to pop in and stock up so that we can have little party teas together over Christmas, but I couldn’t resist popping in on my own to grab a couple of packs for the Decorating Day. We had a few bits and pieces from their Indian selection and Chinese selection packs. I absolutely love the spring rolls with stars on! So yummy. Not the sweetcorn ones, though. Yuck.

I love that Rasputin knows when it’s advent calendar time! When I pick it up he runs straight over to the sofa, and we perch on the edge while I find the window and empty the treats into my hand. Sometimes he eats them out of my palm, but most of the time he’ll pick up one or two at a time, leap down and eat them, then jump back onto the sofa to repeat the process. It’s pretty cute.

In other Christmas news, I couldn’t help myself – I had to make a little family elf video. They’re ridiculous, but also ridiculously funny! Click here to watch it. It’s got me, two of Trout (don’t ask), Rasputin and Trout’s niece Jasmine. I hope the link works – if it doesn’t, let me know and I’ll take it down.

Have you put your Christmas decorations up yet? We decorated our office yesterday, and our tree is kind of ridiculous. It’s even covered in fake snow – this stuff is incredible! It comes in a powder, you mix it with water, and it turns into snow. Brilliant! I also sprayed it with fake snow, and it’s covered in classy decorations, with a colour scheme and everything. We did our office proud!

A weekend with my family

December 7, 2013

Last weekend I went home to spend a couple of days with my family, as my sister and brother-in-law had kindly bought us an early Christmas present to enjoy together. He had booked us into Glazy Daisy, a pottery painting shop, on Saturday morning, followed by lunch at Juliets, a super sweet café nearby. It was so nice to spend time with the ladies in my family! And such a thoughtful present. As part of my sister’s hen party we had organised for everyone to go to the same pottery shop for a few hours, but I was unwell that morning so couldn’t make it. It was really nice to be able to make something for her, still.

My Mum and I accidentally wore matching outfits. I tried to make her change and she refused, but it was kind of nice wearing matching mama and daughter outfits. We arrived at the pottery shop a little early so headed over the road for a much-needed coffee. The cakes looked incredible! Sadly none were vegan, though.

Tea for my motherbear.

Coffee for me and my sister. I told you I was hooked on flat whites! 

Getting started at the pottery shop.

A little girl was sat on the table behind us with her Grandmother, and out of the blue she said, ‘Last week I found a dog hair in my sandwich!’. It made us laugh so much, and we all thought, welcome to our world. Cat/dog/hamster hair absolutely everywhere.

My Mum and sister working hard on their ornaments. We chose baubles of different shapes and designs to give to each other for Christmas.

My sister made matching mittens, one for me and one for her tree. You’ve got to love family nicknames!

My Mum forgot her glasses but I think hers came out pretty darn well. 

After we had finished painting (well, after Mum and Nat had finished waiting a good half an hour extra for me to finish – this wise guy decided that four baubles was a really good idea, and the perfectionist in me just had to make them perfect) we drove down to another part of Tunbridge Wells, near The Pantiles, for lunch.

Amazing lemonade! 

Such a sweet cafe! The staff were lovely.

Lunch! The salads all looked amazing, and almost all of them were vegan. I picked a kind of bruschetta that was topped with hummus and roasted peppers and basil, with a beetroot salad and a roasted carrot and sweet potato salad. Delish!

The bruschetta was super tasty, but for some reason the bread was stale and tough as anything, so halfway through sawing it apart it shot across the table and, obviously, landed upside down. Hummus literally everywhere.

After lunch we did a spot of shopping near the Pantiles before heading home. I had to get back to Brighton that evening as Trout and I were going to see one of our favourite bands, but it was lovely spending time with my Mum and my sister, with no boys around!

The next day Trout and I had a relaxing Sunday at home, catching up and pottering around the flat. We headed into town as I had a craving for cupcakes, and we picked up a few bits for dinner. I dragged Trout around three cake shops before we finally found one that had vegan cupcakes left, but it was totally worth the wait. Vegan and gluten free carrot cake, packed with cinnamon. It felt really seasonal! We scoffed our cupcakes and read our newspapers and magazines with my salted caramel candle burning away in the background. Welcome, December! You started off pretty well.

A simple dinner of falafel, hummus, couscous, chaat and naan bread. 

Yesterday I had a day off, apart from taking some photographs for one of our clients. I spent most of the day cleaning, making lists and Christmas shopping, met Trout for a little lunch date in the middle, and in the evening I went to a friends’ house to meet their brand new baby boy, Luca. He was just the sweetest! What a great end to the week. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

 

November/December

December 3, 2013

image found via Pinterest

I don’t think I’ve been more thankful for a single month is a long, long time. November, you treated us so well. There were plenty of highlights shared on the blog, and others which I’ve kept to myself which shall be revealed in the coming months. Let’s see what I got up to over the past 30 days.

I finally made a Christmas cake! And a white chocolate torte. And ate toast.

The toast wasn’t exactly super exciting, but it was part of a Photo Every Hour series. I loved putting this together!

We celebrated Rasputin’s 5th birthday!

I bought some lovely new music.

We picked sloe berries and made sloe gin!

I photographed the fabulous Sultan’s Delights for Fresh Vegan magazine. That involved food, too.

I met up with Lucie (twice!) and Laura, and we had a sweet coffee date. More of those, please!

I had so many flat whites, I’m a total convert.

We had fun in a photobooth! I absolutely love them, and these photos are so special.

And last but not least, I was interviewed by the fantastic Amazine! This was pretty exciting for me, and I’m still so chuffed that they got in touch.

Other things that I got up to, but didn’t photograph; I saw one of my favourite bands, and caught up with old friends at a really fun show. I spent the weekend with my family, went to a pottery painting shop with my Mum and sister, and had lunch together at the sweetest cafe – photos will follow of that this week. I’ve been settling into our new office and slowly meeting all of the other people who work in the building. It’s been really nice having Trout working next door, and he’s been great at introducing me to everyone.

image found via Pinterest

Oh, December, what do you have in store for me? Of course there is Christmas. I’m so excited! I have so many Christmas parties to look forward to this year – between my full-time work, freelance work, Trout’s company and a few dinners with friends, it’s going to be a month of spending time with loved ones by the looks of things. Just the way it should be. Trout and I also have a long weekend planned in Cornwall, and tickets to visit the Eden Project. We’re so excited! It’s been on our must-visit list for such a long time, and everyone that I’ve spoken to has raved about it. Then there is a trip to Barcelona for New Years Eve! I feel spoilt with so much positivity lately.

How was your November? Do you have any exciting plans for December?

Fresh Vegan – LIVE!

December 2, 2013

A little while ago you might remember I mentioned that I was contributing to a new online vegan magazine called Fresh Vegan. Well, the magazine is now live, and you can view it here! As a regular contributor I’ll be writing about some of my favourite places to eat in Brighton, and in this issue I went to Wai Kika Moo Kau to chat to the owner, Faruk, and take a few photographs. The online magazine is packed with great recipes, interviews and articles, so make sure you sit down with a large mug of coffee and enjoy. Let me know what you think!

Thanks to Jacqui and Ron for asking me to contribute. 

Arbonne Cosmetics

November 29, 2013

When Nicola got in touch with me recently to see whether I would be interested in trying some of their products, I literally couldn’t reply any quicker! I’m a terribly ashamed vegan to admit that I don’t try as hard as I should do to buy vegan make-up. I absolutely love Lush’s Dream Cream and honestly believe it’s one of the best moisturisers I’ve tried – but as far as my other cosmetics go, I am fairly lazy. I have a beautiful vanilla scented shower gel which is veggie and not tested on animals, but as my Motherbear works at Boots I frequently get gifted unused testers and cheap giftsets that she’s picked up from work. Some of the products are fantastic, and when I’ve run out I’ll often just pick up a new one because I know that it’s a great product, but what I don’t know is whether it’s vegan or not.

There isn’t a great deal of information out there, either. I remember Mac being helpful in the past, but they’ve seemingly gone quiet on whether their products are vegan or not. I’ve bought a few items from vegan brands in the past, but quite frankly they were shocking. It’s the same with vegan shoes – I honestly don’t know how these companies can charge ridiculous prices for their range, when I can pick up the same quality, made in the same country, and with better design and style, on the highstreet for a fifth of the price.

ANYWAY. Back to Arbonne. Now I am by no means any kind of beauty blogger. At all. You won’t find any shots of me trying these samples out (no-one needs to see my face that close!) but I will say this – their products are fantastic. Their range is entirely vegan, so I couldn’t wait to jump on board.

I  received sachets of foundation, day and night cream, freshener and primer. Both the day and night creams were so lovely to use; they had a subtle citrus flavour, and made my skin really smooth. The foundation was quite thick – and it did take me a few sachets to find the right shade for me. I’m as pale as anything, but according to these sachets I was soft blush! The freshener was lovely, too. I can’t say I’ve ever used a product like this before, or even heard of it, but it was silky smooth to use, and had the same fresh scent that the day and night creams had. I’ve never used primer before either, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it was so smooth to apply and left my skin feeling really soft all day. I really did love the smell of the creams, it made the products seem so fresh and clean.

If you would like to order Arbonne products, get in touch with Nicola. For more information, take a look at her blog, and make sure you mention her ID number when you order:441117872. Enjoy!

Do you strictly buy vegan make-up? Any brands you would like to share?

Wrote a song about a weekend

November 26, 2013

This weekend was mostly spent at home, which was good and bad. I wasn’t very well on Saturday so we ended up spending the entire day in bed or on the sofa. The sky looked so blue from my window, I was so annoyed with my stupid body. Thankfully Trout was brilliant, and made sure that even though we couldn’t go out and enjoy the sunshine, we still had a fun day indoors. On Sunday we did manage to get out of the flat (hooray!) and even though the weather wasn’t quite as nice, we still had a fun day. A walk around the shops, lunch at Iydea, and a trip to the photobooth. When I met up with Laura last week she told me that Snoopers Paradise had installed a photobooth (I love that a visitor to Brighton had to tell me that!) so I dragged Trout there for some photo fun. We also did a bit of Christmas shopping, and bought some goodies for dinner in the evening.

I love the top-right photo – that was the first one that the booth took, and we weren’t quite prepared for it, hence the quite bored/angry looking faces!

We made a recipe from one of our favourite cookbooks, Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day. It’s fun to mix things up and make something new, it’s our favourite way of cooking. Plus anything tastes good with sesame oil, right?

In the middle of making an asian coleslaw. So bright and colourful!

Bánh mì – super yum!

A total munchkin face. He kept us up all weekend by running around the flat all night. He crashed into the clothes horse a thousand times so there were pants absolutely everywhere. Scratching the carpet, running the full length of the flat, from the end of the lounge, all the way up the stairs, jumping onto our bed then repeating. Over and over again. Thanks, Ras. We tried to keep him awake all day on Sunday but it didn’t really help. Ugh. I don’t know why he has suddenly become so naughty, it’s nights like these that remind me why we don’t let him have cat nip. Last night he was surprisingly good – really cute and snuggly, so here’s hoping it was just a weekend phase.

This week looks to be pretty busy with work, and I’m really trying to finish off the majority of my Christmas shopping. There’s something so nice about the thought of just being finished, having them all wrapped up – and then I just have to wait until I can give them out. I can’t believe that Christmas is less than a month away! I can’t wait.

I hope your week is going well!

Friday, Friday

November 22, 2013

It took me a while to get my head around taking time off work if I didn’t have anything to do. That is to say, didn’t have a holiday booked or a family gathering planned or anything at all really. But with so many holiday days left to take this year, I’ve been dotting them around and could get used to four day weeks!

This morning I started the day editing photographs from an event I went to yesterday, before leaving to get to Street Diner before it opened to photograph the lovely Sultan’s Delights for Fresh Vegan. I’ll be featuring Oz’s amazing food in the spring issue of Fresh Vegan, so watch this space. Remember the winter issue will be going live on 1st December – not long left to wait!

After I had taken a thousand photos she kindly let me leave with a tub full of goodies (and a couple of slices of her amazing baklava!) and I headed home to sort through the photographs, before meeting the lovely Lucie and Laura at Cafe Coho. It was so nice to have a little lunchtime coffee date!

After coffee I picked up a fresh tub of Dream Cream from Lush (best moisturiser ever!) before heading home to go on a cleaning spree around the flat, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it at the weekend. How old do I sound! Anyway, a couple of laundry loads, two clean bathrooms, a clean kitchen, an empty bin and a cleaned out litter tray later, I was done.

Now I’m enjoying my salted caramel candle, watching a bit of TV and checking the clock knowing that I really need to get ready to go out but just a few more minutes. Trout and I are meeting my parents for an early dinner at a lovely Japanese restaurant, before they go to a concert at the Dome. This weekend we don’t have too many plans, so it will be fun to see where it takes us. Do you have any plans?

Life Lately: mainly eating and making exciting plans!

November 21, 2013

Life lately has, of course, mostly involved eating and making exciting plans!

I’ve made my Christmas cake! Every year Trout asks me to make our Christmas cake, and every year I either forget, never get round to it, can’t be bothered, don’t see the point for just the two of us… not this year. I had a day off a few weeks ago, so decided that I had no more excuses, it was time to finally make my own cake. I used to absolutely love Christmas cake, so I don’t know why I’ve never made one before.

Gingerbread porridge! Oh gosh, this is just the perfect start to the day.

Enjoying everything squash-related! Butternut squash and roasted apple soup, squash and filo pie, squash tagine, baked squash. So yummy and seasonal.

I was inspired by Sultan’s Delights and tried my hand at making Börek. They were pretty good, but nothing compared to hers!

Salted caramel candle! Geez Louise this smells incredible. It makes the whole flat smell amazing, but also makes me want to bake cookies and caramel and treats and bowls of icing. Which isn’t helping my attempt at a sugar detox.

Indulging in some of Sultan’s Delights vegan baklava. It’s just so syrupy and delicious! If I baked this myself, and it was even half as good as hers, I would eat the whole tray by myself. And that definitely wouldn’t help my sugar detox.

We’ve booked our flights for New Years Eve, and are flying to Barcelona to see my best friend, Laia! I’m SO excited. We have friends joining us while we’re there too, which just puts a big smile on my face.

If you follow me on Twitter you might have seen me chatting about a new online magazine called Fresh Vegan. I was kindly asked to contribute to the magazine, and I’m really excited to see the finished copy. The magazine will be going live on Sunday 1st December, so be sure to pop over to the website and take a look through! There are so many wonderful people contributing – including vegan chefs who are sharing some fantastic vegan recipes, just in time for Christmas. You can follow Fresh Vegan on Twitter, and Like them on Facebook.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately! Do you have any plans for New Years Eve? We’re really enjoying going away every year. Trout hasn’t spent a NYE in the UK for four years, and I don’t think he plans on doing it again for a while!

Good Guys vegan shoes

November 19, 2013

I recently discovered Good Guys vegan shoes – I think I may be a little bit behind the times with this one, which I’m quite ashamed to admit as I like to think I stay on top of vegan affairs! Either way, I thought I would share this brand with you guys as it’s new to me and I’m totally in love. Swoon. Honestly, if I could design my own shoes they would look like this. They are perfection for your feet.

Hello loafers, you are so dreamy.

Hello brogues, you are so bright and fun.

Hello perfect, practical but fun pair of loafers. You might be my favourite.

And they don’t just make shoes – these bags are brilliant, too! Great for summer. They remind me of my favourite Trader Joes bag, which I sadly had to say goodbye to earlier in the year after I wore it too many times and it died a sad death.

Have you heard of Good Guys?
If you have, WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME ABOUT THEM!

Photo Every Hour

November 18, 2013

It’s been so long since I put together a Photo Every Hour post – since March, in fact! So here is my Sunday. Even though we usually plan quite a lot to do at the weekends, this Sunday was a day for relaxing. Cooking, catching up with TV programmes, and enjoying some time at home, making sloe gin.

8am
I woke up at around quarter to eight and rolled over to give Ras a tickle and to see if Trout was awake yet. Nope, still snoozing. I turned back and picked up my phone to check my emails and a few tweets that had come through overnight. As I scrolled through Twitter I clicked on the #m42 hashtag, and couldn’t believe what had been happening while I slept. I’m so glad that the situation was resolved, and even though more than a handful of the tweets were so awful, I once again had my faith in humanity restored. There are really good people in this world. I have so much love for all of the staff involved in the emergency. Their patience and knowledge saved a man’s life, and I hope that he can find the strength to move forward, with ongoing support.

I walked downstairs to make myself a cup of coffee, and decided that it was now or never. Time to clear that mountain of washing up that had somehow appeared overnight.

9am
Trout rolled out of bed, so we started celebrating Rasputin’s 5th birthday! We had bought him a new scratching post, and it was pretty pimped. I think he loved his pressie.

10am
We spent the morning catching up with all of the episodes of Masterchef: The Professionals that we’d missed. Which was a lot. It’s one of my favourite programmes, but we seem to miss it every week and can’t find the time to catch up after that. That’s what weekends are for, right?

10.30am
Coffee and toast break.

11am
Still in bed watching Masterchef…

12pm
OK, OK. I’m up and dressed and ready to go! We headed out to Waitrose to pick up a few ingredients for lunch.

1pm
Prepping veg and herbs for lunch.

2(.30)pm
Lunch is served! Creamy mushroom and tarragon pie with roasted vegetables, kale and broccoli, and a parsley mash. It was so good. I love having dinner at lunchtime every so often – it feels like Christmas, or just a special occasion. Which it was! It was Ras’ birthday!

4pm
We moved to the sofa and decided to catch up with more Masterchef, and a couple of the chocolate chip cookies that I’d baked the day before.

I don’t think Monica is very impressed with my cookies…

5pm
After all that food I needed to change into something more comfortable, before plopping onto the sofa to read some of my book. I’ll be so sad when I finish it.

6pm
I’ve still not finished my book, but it was Observer Food Monthly day and I couldn’t wait any longer before diving in.

7pm
Time for Lifestyle Bloggers chat on Twitter. I could only stick around for about twenty minutes of the chat this time around, though, which was a shame. It’s a great way of meeting new bloggers and sharing tips and tricks – if you’re interested in joining, just pop onto Twitter from 7pm-8pm and use the hashtag #lbloggers. You’ll soon pick up the topic of the evening and then just start contributing!

8pm
Being on the internet while Trout was streaming F1 wasn’t working, so I closed my laptop and got back to reading the newspaper and hanging out with Rasputin.

It may be your birthday Rasputin, but try to have some dignity.

9pm
F1 was pretty much over, so we decided to crack on with making our sloe gin. We sat at the table and worked our way through the big bowl of sloes that we had picked, our fingers were red and purple.

After we had finished adding sugar and gin, and swirling it all around, we cleaned up and headed to bed for an episode or two of The League, currently our favourite comedy TV show.

So, that was our Sunday! Nothing exciting, but it was really nice to spend the day together relaxing and celebrating Rasputin’s birthday. Thanks to everyone on here and on Twitter and Facebook that humoured this crazy cat lady by wishing my little whiskerface a happy birthday!

Happy 5th Birthday Rasputin!

November 17, 2013

I can’t believe it’s your 5th birthday Mr Whiskerface! I remember going to visit you and your brothers and sisters at six weeks old and holding your teeny tiny body as you tried to crawl inside my coat. Oh gosh, you were the sweetest. You’re a bit of a terror now, but you are one handsome chappy, and I love you!* Happy Birthday!

*CRAZY CAT LADY ALERT!

The Head and the Heart

November 16, 2013

I’ve mentioned the Head and the Heart a couple of times on my blog, and today I picked up two of their albums. If you have an hour or two spare, check them out. They make such lovely music. I’m looking forward to an afternoon of listening to them on repeat, and maybe whipping up a batch of Ms Cupcake’s chocolate chip cookies. I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!

These days

November 15, 2013

I thought I would do a little update as I haven’t posted much this week and I’m not sure I’ll be posting for a few more days as I have a lot on at the moment, and quite enjoying some time to myself. I’ve had the week ‘off work’, which has been filled with a big freelance project, so not really a week off at all. That’s not to say that I haven’t been having a lot of fun, because I have. I worked tirelessly on Monday – the kind of length that makes your eyes swell and you come away from the screen blinking, lost in time. I did a bit more work on Tuesday morning before visiting a close friend who was off work. She cooked the most amazing lunch (is there anything better than garlic mushroom on olive bread? With an incredible salad on the side? I think not) and after I left I picked up a few things for dinner and made Burmese curry for Trout and I. It was pretty good.

While I was at Vicky’s house, this happened. I am that girl who has insane friends with outfits for her pets.

On Wednesday I spent the day in London, which obviously had to start with coffee from my favourite local company, before I hopped on a train. I shopped (let’s not say too much about that, and let’s definitely not add up the price tags).

I met a friend for coffee, and we walked around the National Portrait Gallery, which was so much fun. It was the day before the photography prize opened though, so unfair! Especially as we knew it would be all set up, waiting for us. Couldn’t they give us a sneak peek?! We settled for the main collection, commenting on fantastic beards and gigantic heads and beady eyes and portraits of families who clearly haven’t bred outside of their gene pool in a thousand years, before walking up to Tibits for a few (non- alcoholic) cocktails and dinner. I hadn’t been there for such a long time, it was lovely to be back.

Afterwards I left and made my way to the Wellcome Collection for the private view, incidentally bumping into the artists outside as they tried to locate the Premier Inn nearby, and met another friend. It was so lovely to catch up that we hardly even took in the work. We found a quiet spot to chat, but it felt so brief and rushed and not nearly enough time. Dinner in one month’s time together can’t come fast enough.

Apart from working and meeting friends, I’ve been listening to The Flatliners new record:

And new The Head and the Heart tracks:

Catching up with my favourite blogs and eating too much peanut butter (I definitely couldn’t work from home all of the time. Either that or I would have to lock all biscuits, bars of chocolate, jars of peanut butter and other snacks in a cupboard away from my boredom induced hunger). I’ve been addicted to the series, Killers Behind Bars. Each week Professor David Wilson looks at a different serial killer, tries to piece together previously unsolved murders, and matches them together with the traits of that convict, to try and resolve the case.

So that’s what I’ve been up to this week! I have a few half-written posts which I’m sure I’ll be posting over the next week or so. I hope everyone has had a great week, and enjoy the weekend! Apparently it might snow next week, or at the very least it will be very cold, so make the most of any autumn-wear you haven’t cracked out yet!

Big Smoke and Back to Nature

November 12, 2013

This weekend was so much fun! We seemed to pack in so much, which always makes for a good weekend. The two days were completely different, going from the busy Big Smoke (hello rain!) to the Sussex countryside, getting back to nature.

I ended up working until 11pm on the Friday evening so I was more than ready to relax when it came to Saturday morning. We left bright and early (10.30am…) and popped onto a train to London with a friend. The best mornings begin with a flat white from Small Batch, my favourite coffee company.

We met a few friends and headed to Brecknock Road for the Vegan Festival. The weather was terrible, so we didn’t stick around very long which was a shame. The Third Estate was absolutely packed, and I managed to try on one beautiful pair of boots, but due to the rain and our hungry bellies we headed off to somewhere warm for some lunch. Sorry if I missed anyone while I was there.

We walked via Covent Garden with the intention of having lunch at Wahaca, but unfortunately there was a 45 minute wait and our bellies just couldn’t wait that long.

I wish we had waited, though. We ended up going to Benito’s Hat, and having the worst burrito ever.

To make up for the disappointing burrito, we found a Mexican bar where we had cocktails and some tequila.

They made me an amazing non-alcoholic mojito – it was so good!

Oh HI ladies! It’s like we’re in a dream.

The guy behind the bar talked Trout and a friend through their selection of tequila, and let them try the most expensive tequila they served. I love this paparazzi shot!

I had a sip of the tequila that they chose to buy, and it was fiery. I don’t know how they drank it! Not my cup of tea. We wondered around until we got to Soho, where we picked a really nice bar that served Indian snacks. I’m a sucker for chaat!

Afterwards we made our way to a cocktail bar, followed by another bar, followed by dinner at Banana Tree. I’ve never been there before, and the food was fantastic. It’s so great that they label everything vegan – there are loads of dishes to choose from, and they even serve tofu and mock-duck! The restaurant was rammed – 9.30pm on a Saturday evening is clearly dinner time for London – but the staff were so attentive and calm, I don’t quite know how they did it.

On Sunday we went home to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. It was so nice to have our family all together, I love it when it happens. Mum, Dad, Sister, Brother-in-law and Trout. Oh, and the dogs. My sister cooked us all lunch, and Dan (Brother-in-law) made dessert. It was so kind of them, and so delicious. The meat-eaters had salmon en croute, and us vegans had a roasted veg tart, all with new potatoes and chilli greens. Dan made the most amazing fruity, orangey crumble, which I drowned in soya cream. Phew, we were stuffed and very happy!

Happy Birthday Papa!

After lunch Trout was asking Mum if there was anywhere nearby that would have sloe berries growing. She rang a friend who works in conservation in the area, who happened to have gone out that morning and found some, so we drove down and got picking. I love coincidences like that! A couple of years ago we made sloe gin, and it was so much fun. It’s pretty simple to make, and I’m hoping we have some leftover to give as gifts. 

I love this photo of Trout and my Mum picking sloes <3

The peaceful countryside…

… before the dogs attacked!

Our goodies!

Some other berries that we weren’t quite sure of their name.

So that was our weekend! I love that it contained both a busy city day and a relaxing, family day in the countryside. This week I’m off work, but have a big freelance project to complete – so I don’t really have a week off, haha. I have sneaked in the odd day off to spend with friends – today I’m off to visit a good friend while she’s off sick, and tomorrow I’m back to London for the private view at Wellcome Collection, and to spend the day with a friend.

Have you ever made sloe gin? It’s really simple, trust me. I suppose the tricky part is just trying to find those pesky sloe berries! Have a great week everyone!

Amazine Interview

November 8, 2013

I’ve mentioned a couple of times how you can also find me over on Amazine. It’s such a great social media platform – the layout looks really good, and it’s a simple but effective way of sharing your blog content, and any other beautiful things that have caught your eye. Recently I was asked by the lovely people behind Amazine to be featured in their biweekly magazine, which is sent out by email. I was so flattered! The team are all so sweet and friendly, and it was such an honour to be interviewed by them. You can sign up to Amazine here, and you can find me here. Have a play around and tell me what you think!

I think it might be too late to receive the newsletter that I was featured in, so here is the interview in full. Thanks for having me, Amazine!

White chocolate torte

November 5, 2013

To follow the fantastic tagine that Trout made a few weeks ago, I made a white chocolate torte for dessert. It’s one of my favourite sweet recipes - taken from Steven’s blog, Lustrous Musings - and pretty simple to put together. It’s perfect for when you have guests over too, as it needs to be made in advance so that it can set, so it’s one less thing to worry about on the night.

I used an amazing bar of white chocolate with strawberry pieces that I bought while we were in Berlin – usually I make this recipe with white chocolate buttons, but I’m not sure I’ve seen them for a while, and this chocolate is incredible. When Veganz opens next year in London, I flippin’ hope they stock it.

The torte went down pretty well – Sophia was scraping away at her plate until she was sure she had eaten every last crumb. Even as an 18-month old she clearly has a sweet tooth!

How is everyone’s week going? The weekend went by in a bit of a blur, but was a lot of fun, and mainly involved a lot of food! I went for a drink with Trout’s company on Friday evening, followed by a spontaneous visit to Pizza 7, a fairly new pizza place nearby – it was so good! Usually vegan pizzas are a bit hit and miss as they can be quite dry without the cheese, but thanks to the rich tomato sauce and fantastic base, I can’t recommend this place enough. Their beer menu was great too, and they even served non-alcoholic beer which made me super happy! Saturday I spent most of the day in my jim-jams as I wasn’t feeling too well, but thankfully I was well enough to go to Trout’s brother’s 21st birthday meal in the evening with his family. Hello Mexican food! It was a fun evening. On Sunday an old friend spontaneously decided to pop down to Brighton and visit – it was so lovely. We hadn’t seen each other for more than three years, but it was like it had only been a few weeks. I think that’s the sign of a real friendship. We went for a roast dinner, followed by cake, and it was a pretty perfect day.

How was your weekend? Any plans for this week?

For all of November in most of October

November 3, 2013

Blah blah blah October went quickly. I say it every month. Everyone says it every month. But seriously, this month went way faster than any other month ever. What did I even do?!

Well obviously the main thing was my sister getting married!

I ate a lot of cupcakes. Actually October was filled with so many cakes, bowls of icing, cookies and chocolate bars that I think I need a serious detox! I don’t know why I’ve been on such a sugar rush lately, but my skin is definitely not liking it.

We went for brunch at Smokeys. It was alright.

I’ve been getting more and more excited about winter and Christmas!

I photographed pretty much my favourite restaurant in the world, for a project that I’ll be revealing in the next few months.

I’ve been hanging out with Ras in the morning.

Our company also moved offices, which was strange. And now I work in the office next door to Trout. Which is weird – really, really weird. But if I’m being entirely honest, it’s also kind of nice. But don’t tell Trout! The official line is that it’s terrible.

Oh, November. What do you have in store?

  • I’ll be attending the launch of Wills Vegan Shoes on the 9th, which I blogged about here. It’s part of the Brecknock Road Vegan Festival. Will you be going, too?
  • Masterchef: The Professionals!! Ridiculously excited about a new series – it’s one of my favourite TV programmes.
  • Plenty of freelance work to keep me busy.
  • Private view at the Wellcome Collection, aka my favourite museum. Which means another trip to London, wahoo!
  • My Dad’s birthday next weekend, which means that I get to see my family, AND possibly a few of the official wedding photographs.
  • An old friend coming down to visit me in Brighton today. And a roast dinner!
  • Rasputin’s 5th birthday! I can’t believe my chunky monkey is going to be five. Is it time for another birthday party?
  • Meeting up with the most wonderful photographer, Lucie. We’ve ‘known’ each other for a few years online, so it’ll be so nice to meet-up now she’s moved down!

I’m sure there are a few other things that I’ve forgotten about, but it’s looking like it could be a pretty darn good month. How was your October? Any plans for November? I’m still cracking on with my Christmas shopping, which is making me slightly less stressed about the mountain of presents that I have to buy. It feels great to tick people off my gift list. Next stop? Christmas cards!!

Winter Excitement

October 30, 2013

A few weeks ago I put together some of the things that are inspiring me in the change of seasons, in terms of clothing – layers, textures, prints, cosy knits, and a masculine edge. As we sped through October and are about to enter November, I’ve started my Christmas shopping, and as the night is appearing earlier everyday I am looking forward to rushing home from work, being greeted by my two favourite boys, preparing a warming, hearty meal and relaxing in front of the sofa together.

We tend to favour risotto whatever time of year it is, but there’s something so lovely about a wintry bowl of roasted, almost smoked vegetables. This roasted cauliflower, sage and almond risotto sounds absolutely perfect – especially if there is a warm slice of garlic bread next to it. And bread bowls filled with soup have always been on my to-try-and-make list – maybe this year I will actually get around to it!

If Ras was an outdoor cat he would totally rock the snowy head look. And blankets! A pile of blankets! Perfect for those winter movies. There’s something so exciting about the first day of snow. Sliding around trying to get to and from work, smiling at strangers who are negotiating the same path as you and trying not to collide into one another. Finally getting home, changing straight into your jim-jams, and picking out a movie to warm up to. And you can’t feel bad about it, because there’s nothing else that can be done! Bliss.

Christmas Day! Although this year we will be spending it at Trout’s house, and their rule is that you have to be up and dressed and ready to go before any presents are shared out (what kind of family tradition is this?! My family get dressed five minutes before the sprouts are on the table, but each to their own…) so there will be no jim-jams on the sofa this year. Although almost certainly a nap.

Christmas decorations! Every year I say I’m going to make them myself, and every year this (obviously) never happens. But it’s nice to look for inspiration! I might have a go at these adorable Christmas treats, though.

I can’t wait to wake up to snow; an excuse for movies and (sweet & salty) popcorn and pyjamas all day long. I can’t wait to have all of my Christmas presents bought, wrapped and waiting to be opened by a loved one. Buying a special dress for Christmas parties, Christmas dinner with friends (a wonderful tradition we found ourselves in a few years ago, and the perfect excuse to dress up, share gifts and enjoy a meal at a fancy veggie restaurant). Time off work to enjoy the season with friends and family. Caramel lattes, gingerbread lattes, Christmas cake, advent calendars, the trickle of Christmas cards as they steadily arrive – choosing our own Christmas cards and spending the evening writing them in a seasonal production line. Trying to get Ras into his Santa bandana, lighting spiced candles, putting up the Christmas tree. Aah I love this season!

all images found via Pinterest

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