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Photos of the Week #26

June 30, 2014

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.

Looking back over some sweet memories

June 26, 2014

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…

June 2011

June 2012

June 2013

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.

 

 

Photos of the Week #25

June 24, 2014

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.

Photos of the Week #24

June 17, 2014

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!

lifestyle food blog lifestyle brighton blog

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.
If you’re not following me already, you can find me over on Instagram.

#LightsCameraCurrys|Photography Workshop

June 14, 2014

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?

Three years old! Happy Birthday little blog

June 11, 2014

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. 

Photos of the Week #23

June 9, 2014

WEEK 23 OF 52

Thanks so much to everyone that commented on my last blog post, it really meant a lot – especially that I’m not the only one that seems to drive themselves crazy! This weekend was really lovely, and pretty relaxing, which was exactly what I needed. I skipped the gym on Saturday as my calves were still crying from previous gym sessions (!!!) so I worked all of Saturday morning, which, by the way, felt amazing, and I managed to clear the month ahead’s freelance work. Afterwards I went into town and tried to enjoy the worst possible type of shopping – yes, even worse than jeans shopping and even bikini shopping – bra shopping. Honestly, I hate it.  As it turned out it was a complete waste of time, so I stropped off to Waitrose and spent too much money on food for the weekend, but at least we had a fun dinner before heading to a friend’s for a birthday party. I’m loving being able to spend so much time outdoors, even into the evening. I do love the warm sun. After the photography workshop on Sunday I headed down to the beach for the rest of the afternoon/early evening and I could have spent all evening there. I’m so looking forward to spending lunch breaks on the beach, and heading down to the shore straight from work. I’m lucky enough to work a few minutes from the beach, but always have to remember not to actually eat my lunch there, because seagulls are arseholes and try to steal your food, no matter who you are or what you’re eating. I’ve seen so many tourists lose their fish and chips this way :( Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to in the last week.

 
 

Things I’ve been eating lately: a pretty random dinner after spending the afternoon on the beach; garlic & coriander naan bread, shredded lettuce, hummus, bean salad, falafel and a chunk of a spicy potato ball. Delish!//A very green dinner; stirfried kale, courgette, cashews, mushrooms and mangetout, which I then added rice to and sweet and sour sauce, and topped with dried bean curd. A pretty good ‘throw-everything-in-the-fridge-into-a-pan’ dinner.//

Brighton in the summer. There are few places better to be in the sunshine. The white houses look so beautiful against blue skies, and the smell of suntan lotion filled the air at the beach. So many people seemed happy to be visiting the city at the weekend.//That carousel. I kind of like it, for it’s kitschness and the smiles it brings to small faces. But only kind of.//

 
 

Around the house: Rasputin, caught in the shower again. He has this strange habit of sitting in the shower sometimes. It’s usually when he’s run out of water, so he tries to lick the floor of the shower, which totally makes me feel like an awful cat Mum.//The return of Orange is the New Black!! And a bowl of sweet & salty popcorn. Perfect.//Doughnut peaches! Doughnut peaches! Yum.//Putting our tips and tricks to use during the photography workshop on Sunday. We learnt so much, but it kind of made me feel like I barely knew how to turn my camera on!//

All photos taken on my iPhone. If you’re not following me on Instagram, you can find me here: http://instagram.com/paperbagblog

I hope you all had a lovely week, and have some fun plans for this week! 
Did you enjoy the sunshine over the weekend?

A little morning ramble

June 8, 2014

How pretty is this photograph? Trout took it last weekend with a lens that his brother gave him for his birthday. It’s so beautiful, I can’t wait to play around with it. In fact, I might bring it to the photography workshop that I’m off to this morning. I’m really excited to learn new techniques and better my photography, and of course I’ll be posting up a few snaps afterwards. The event is using the hashtag #lightscameracurrys, so feel free to follow along! I’m sure we’ll all be tweeting away. There are a whole host of Brighton bloggers going – more than I knew even existed in Brighton! – so it will be nice to meet them all. Afterwards I’ve got plans for an afternoon on the beach – the weather is meant to be beautiful, so fingers crossed I might be lucky and get a bit of a tan.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately – what else is new…! – especially after my little Life Dump a couple of weeks ago. When it comes to striving for a balanced life, that’s filled with all of the things that I want to do, I really need to do just that. Think of myself. I’m kind of terrible at doing that – I’m always feeling guilty that I’m not spending enough time with Trout, feeling guilty that I’m not watching all of the films that I want to watch, feeling guilty for still not finishing that book. I’m really trying to make changes from the inside – and realise that it’s OK to spend a few hours doing what I need to do (freelance work, blogging etc.) and that I don’t need to watch every single amazing movie that has ever been made. I do need to spend some evenings doing nothing, and I do need to go to sleep early when my body is clearly tired. It’s OK to sit and do nothing every so often, it’s OK to not blog every other day, it’s OK to leave work only 30 minutes later than I’m meant to, and it’s OK to occasionally take lunch breaks. I think a part of me associates being successful with being busy – but really, shouldn’t success be measured in completed projects, deadlines met and an amazing outcome? I realised that lately I had been leaving work quite late (7pm, 8pm) and only left ‘on time’ when I had to – the days that I volunteer with a souprun, or the days when I go to the gym. And even on these days I’m busy and moving until around 9pm. This isn’t really good for you, as I found out three weeks ago. So the past week I’ve been making a conscious effort to leave work by 6pm at the latest, to leave the office at lunchtime – even if it’s only for 15 minutes – and to spend my evenings away from the computer and doing something that I enjoy. I leave my freelance work until the weekend, and I treat myself a little gentler and kinder. That old saying still rings true – if you spoke to someone else the way that you speak to yourself, you would have no friends at all. Sigh. When will I learn that?

Vegan Cosmetics

June 7, 2014

Since I’ve been on a bit of a mission to replace all of my household products and beauty products with vegan-friendly ones, I’ve been experimenting and researching quite a bit. I’ve tried a few products, obviously some haven’t been quite right, but that’s almost half the fun. Here’s what I’m currently using, and I’m pretty darn happy with them all. I’m certainly no beauty blogger, but in my research I found so many blogs useful – although it did take quite some time, and meant piecing together different opinions and combining blogs that were strictly listing products that weren’t tested on animals, with blogs that were listing vegan products with no mention of animal testing. Personally, I was looking for both – plus something that actually works, was a joy to use, and didn’t have a ‘hemp-vegan-hippie-mother-earth’ kind of vibe. Sorry, but a lot of vegan products are useless, and only around because they are vegan. This is the case for shoes, too.

Anyway – here’s my daily routine:

Oqibo cleanser & toner//Naked shampoo and conditioner
The Little Bubble Co shower gel//Raw virgin coconut oil

All of Oqibo’s products are vegan, including their candles (which I’ve heard are amazing), and this cleanser & toner is pretty good. Honestly, I’ve never really used cleanser before but this is a great product to use, and makes you feel a bit like an after dinner mint because it smells just like one. It’s currently on offer, with an extra 100ml for nothing. I’m not sure if I’ll be buying it again, as I haven’t been blown away by it, and want to try something else to compare.//You can buy the whole range of Naked products at Boots, and I really like them. They smell great, do the job, and are really affordable – if you find them on offer they are usually two for £6. Not too shabby. I shampoo and condition my hair every other day, and shampoo twice when I do it.//The Little Bubble Co make the best products! I use their shower gel and handsoaps in our house, and they smell incredible. The coconut handsoap is a dream. I buy their products in Waitrose.//Raw virgin coconut oil. A staple in my bathroom right now!

I’d heard so many good things about coconut oil, so I figured it was worth a try. It was pretty much love at first sight! I’ve been using it to remove my make-up in the evenings, as a hair mask and as a foot softener (is that the correct term? Who knows…)

I use one cotton wool ball to remove the make-up on my skin (foundation, powder, blusher) and another to remove my mascara. It smells coconuty (obviously…) but isn’t overpowering – it’s super subtle, and makes the whole experience even better. It leaves my skin really soft – as well as my lips. I then cleanse twice to remove all traces of the oil, before moisturising. I haven’t photographed it, but I use Dream Cream from Lush. I’ve used this product ever since I went vegan – almost nine years ago – and I absolutely love it. Plus it’s great for both men and women – Trout uses it, too.

I only wash my hair every other day in an effort to try and repair some of the damage that blowdrying and straightening every day for years has done – plus I lose so much hair in the shower that it’s best to try and limit that as much as possible! I’m really trying to bring some life back into my hair – it’s so fine that it breaks very easily, and then just decides to stop growing. It’s very frustrating. I go for a trim every 6-8 weeks but it’s being stubborn and not really growing an quicker. I take hair, skin and nails vitamins from Holland and Barrett and leave my hair to dry naturally as much as possible, and pretty much always eat at least my five-a-day, but it’s still frazzled. Anyone have any other tips?!

You can’t really see in this photo, but the label says, “We don’t believe in testing our ingredients on Bambi, Lassie or Skippy. Vegetarian and vegan friendly.” Isn’t that nice!

Now, onto the make-up:

I’ve been gradually replacing products as and when I run out of my regular (no doubt) non-vegan cosmetics. It took a lot of research to find decent replacements, but here’s what I’ve got so far:

All of the make-up above is from B. at Superdrug. So far I am loving all of these products! Plus the packaging is so nice. I’ve bought liquid foundation, eye concealer (which I also use around my nose which can be quite red at times, and on certain red pimples) and a couple of lipsticks. Eventually I plan of testing out other products – powder and blusher for sure, then liquid eyeliner and maybe eyeshadow (which I never wear, but it might be worth a try to see how it looks). Their range of nail polishes is also really good, but I’ve got quite enough of those right now…if that’s even possible? Anyway, bravo Superdrug – you’ve nailed it (no pun intended). Plus your staff were super nice and helped me pick out the right shade and product for me. It was a lovely experience. Enough of that, though. I bought this So Eco powder brush from Sainsbury’s, and was so happy to find. We get an online shop delivered once a month or so, and I was curious to see what they stocked – and, as it turns out, they stock a range of vegan make-up brushes! Chuffed. This was £9 and is so, so soft. It’s like a dream to use. Love.

I bought the Illuminating Foundation in Linen, and I love it. They have five or so different shades, but I prefer to go au naturel, so this is definitely the one for me.

Vegan and not tested on animals. Yay! Now, the whole Made in China thing. Is this something I should worry about? What are your opinions?

I love the design of these lipsticks! Instead of pulling off the lid. You click the end and it pops out. That doesn’t explain it well at all – just go in and see what I mean. I think I’m going to put in an order from ELF next, and give their range a try. Any recommendations?

 

A few more words about how I use coconut oil…

I’ve used it as a hairmask, both overnight and for a few hours during the day, and it’s lovely. You need to use it fairly regularly to really see a difference – although even after just one overnight use my hair felt much softer and was definitely shinier. When I leave it overnight, I smother my whole head in it – from root to tip – and then pin it up so it’s out of the way. I wrap my pillows in an old towel, as the oil will stain your pillows and sheets – and your pyjamas, as I learned the hard way. I’ve heard of people wearing a shower cap or covering their pillow with a carrier bag, but really – who on earth can sleep like that? I can confirm that I slept absolutely fine with my towel-pillow. For a foot-softener, I smother my feet and then pop on some old socks before going to bed – it leaves my feet super soft! So basically, I definitely recommend investing in a jar of coconut oil. It’s a pretty darn cheap addition to your bathroom if you think about the amount you would spend on each product separately. I think this small jar was around £5.

So, there we have it. I hope this little guide was useful! I might put together a post on the vegan cleaning products that I use, as I think that could be quite useful? I think cleaning products are generally much easier to find, though – and most are labelled as vegan.

Do you use vegan cosmetics?
Any products I should try/avoid?

 

Just FYI: I haven’t been sent any of these products, I bought them all myself and all opinions are my own.

British Street Food Awards | Brighton’s Best

June 6, 2014

You might remember a little while ago when I mentioned I was asked to be a judge for the Brighton heats of the British Street Food Awards. I’ve been tasting my way around the (vegan) offerings at Street Diner trying to finalise my favourites – which I can tell you has been tricky! I’ve got there eventually though, and here are my top three picks, in no particular order:

Sultan’s Delights

You might have seen Oz pop up every now and again over here on the blog – her food is just fantastic. Everything tastes so fresh, thanks to plenty of fresh herbs and ingredients, and her menu is always so well thought out. Everything is vegetarian, with plenty of vegan offerings.

You can find Oz on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Ahimsa

Ahimsa make amazing Indian street food, with the choice of a lunchbox or a variety of snacks. They make one of my favourite foods – chaat. I could eat it by the bowlful! There’s nothing better when it’s fresh. I’d never tried dhokla before – it was really good. Made up of chickpeas it has a spongey texture – sounds strange, tasted brilliant. Everything’s vegetarian with loads of vegan options.

You can find Ahimsa on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Honeycomb Cakes

Finally, I had to go for something sweet. Just look at the size of those cakes! That’s a real slice ;) I think that they only have one vegan option on their stall, but you can’t knock the look of their non-vegan offerings.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Look. At. The. SIZE.

They sell out pretty darn quickly, too. The next time I visited them they had completely sold out of vegan goodies – and that was by 1.30pm. So make sure you get down there early, cake fiends!

You can find Honeycomb Cakes on Facebook and Twitter.

 

The final decision is down to the general public, so make sure you let the country know just how wonderful street food is – especially the street food offerings that you can find in Brighton! Download the app here: http://britishstreetfood.co.uk/app/ and vote to your heart’s content. These are just my three favourites – I’m sure you all have yours. Even if you haven’t made it down to Street Diner, vote for who you think would be your favourite!

Have you tried any of the stalls at Street Diner?
Is your city taking part in the British Street Food Awards?

Photos of the Week #22

June 2, 2014

The past week seemed to fly by! I don’t know whether it was the Bank Holiday Monday but the rest of the week just slipped through my fingers. Thankfully I managed to do very little over the long weekend – something that was very much needed. I caught up on freelance work, did housework, spent time with friends and went to the gym a couple of times. It was bliss! Apart from that, the rest of the week just consisted of work, gym, souprun, work and then the weekend.

Coffee, good food, friends and some down time with a book that I’m really trying to finish some time this year. Sigh. Another thing that I’m trying to do – get back to reading. Trout and I spend almost every evening together, which I love. We really make the effort to try to have dinner together every night, and we’ve gone back to eating together at the table, rather than on the sofa. Although I love a comfy evening on the sofa, watching TV and eating on my lap, it’s definitely healthier and better for us as a couple. I think it’s important to sit down, eat together and catch up on our busy day – something which can often slip when you’re sidetracked by the TV. We can also listen to new music, which is lovely. It gives me the motivation to not channel-hop, but to pick up a book and read – because the TV hasn’t already been on for an hour or so.

 
 

Trout and I had a little lunchdate at Loving Hut on Saturday. We’d actually never been to the one in Brighton before – we’ve been to ones in Prague and Vienna, but for some reason not this branch!? We had burgers and chips, which were pretty good. Plus I never knew that they sold the amazing doughnuts and chocolate twists that I always stock up on at VegFest – I know where I’ll be going every weekend! It’s their four year birthday this weekend, so if you’re around you should definitely pop in and celebrate with them.

We went for a house-warming dinner at a friend’s house on Sunday and they surprised us with this absolute angel! Oh gosh, there aren’t many things that are cuter than a kitten, and this one was a real sweetheart. More than a touch of the munchkin, but I can’t wait to see her grow up. While we were there, apart from playing with the cat, we were dished up this Mexican feast. So good!

 

As I said – I bought all the doughnuts, haha! There are still some left, though. Well, one left.//I can’t get enough of the coffee at Small Batch, their flat whites are incredible.

I don’t have too many plans for this week – every weekend for the rest of the month seems to be booked up so I’m making the most of my evenings while I still can! To be honest I’m just counting down the minutes until the new season of Orange is the New Black lands on Friday – SO. EXCITED. This weekend is filled with birthdays and a photography workshop that I’m really looking forward to. I can’t wait to learn new techniques and get my head around the different settings on my camera better. I’m off to DanceFit in a bit – the first class I’ve been to in weeks, I dread to think how awful I’ll be! I hope everyone has a great week.

Do you watch Orange is the New Black?
Any fun plans for this week?

The Primal Kitchen | Paleo Bars

May 29, 2014

I was recently contacted by the lovely folks at The Primal Kitchen, asking if I wanted to try a few of their paleo bars. I was a little skeptical at first; I’d seen the word ‘paleo’ floating around for a while, and kind of assumed it was a fad diet that would soon die out – or at least wasn’t a sensible way of eating! I was kind of wrong though – the idea behind paleo eating is to go back to how we originally ate; more naturally, like cavemen. Not great for a vegan – if you take a look at their paleo information page you can see that they recommend meat, seafood, eggs and no soya…! They do have a vegetarian information section though, which notes all the good things your body loves – healthy fats like avocado, coconut, nuts and seeds.

Anyway, enough of this dietary nonsense. I love how simple the bars are – four or five ingredients, smashed into a tasty bar. Really moist, great for breakfast or a snack and they genuinely fill you up for a good few hours.

The coconut & macadamia paleo bar was definitely my favourite. The coconut was so tasty, and the macadamia gave it a creamy nutty flavour. Delish!

I didn’t just scoff them whole though – I’m still absolutely loving my green smoothies at the moment, so decided to top off a smoothie bowl with chunks of the brazil nut & cherry paleo bar. It was so good!

I went through a phase of making berry-based smoothies, but I’m actually preferring these – they taste fresh and super healthy, and are great in my quest to cut down on fruit in general. I’m getting a bit more adventurous with my smoothie bowls, too. This one had one banana, a big chunk of iceberg lettuce, a couple of handfuls of spinach, water, a chunk of ginger and ice. All whizzed up for a few minutes. It’s the perfect start to the day, and really simple to make, which I love. I do have one confession to make though… I may have run out of ice, and am using the ‘organically’ grown ice that’s making it’s way across the front of one of the drawers in the freezer. Is that weird? Or thrifty? I can’t really decide, but I have a feeling it’s time to make a tray of ice soon.

Thanks to everyone for their lovely comments on my Life Lately blog post! It’s funny how so many people read it and thought it was a positive post, when all I could see was me moaning and going on about how I wish things were different. I’m glad it didn’t come across like that though.

I can’t believe it’s Thursday already. This Bank Holiday has thrown me, yet again. I’m quite looking forward to the weekend – catching up with Trout, the gym, friends and then an event with work on Sunday that I’m a little nervous about (it’s the first event I’ve put on by myself!) but hopefully it’ll go according to plan and those involved will enjoy it.

Have you tried The Primal Kitchen’s bars?
Do you follow a paleo diet?

Photos of the Week #21

May 27, 2014

WEEK 21 OF 52

Here’s a few things that I’ve been eating this week; a long day at work followed by a trip to Bombay Aloo, a vegetarian indian buffet, all you can eat – perfect after an 11hr day.//I was so excited to try a friend’s new stall, Beelzebab, at Street Diner. Vegan doner kebab!//Two more lovely green smoothies, one paired with a pedicure and manicure at home. Perfect quiet start to a working day.//

 
 

And here’s what Rasputin’s been up to; enjoying those strips of sunshine, and putting all of his concentration into his scratching post. What a cutey.//I’m far too messy to be wearing anything other than black, but I do love this cream knit jumper that I picked up from Zara a few weeks ago. The running total so far is three spillages, two of which came out, one chocolate stain has remained.//Outfit of the day, including said messy cream jumper.//

  

OK a couple more of Rasputin. Oh he is SUCH a cutey.

 

All photos taken on my iPhone 5s. In case you missed them, last week I post another Photos of the Week, and featured a range of vegan puddings by Pudology.
If you’re not following me already, you can find me over on Instagram.

 

Life Lately | Life Dump

May 26, 2014

I’ve been putting together this post for quite a while now – adding and taking away for weeks, trying to get that ‘perfect’ Life Lately post. So here it is. An entirely random ‘Life Dump’, a mishmash of things that I’ve been thinking about. Lately.

001: I found a website that shows you your first ever tweet. It was pretty funny to look back at my very first Twitter account:

Nothing much has changed there then…

…and the same goes for the first tweet on my current account!

002: My sister sent me this link to a Buzzfeed page. Normally I’m slightly reluctant to look at Buzzfeed, partly because I’m usually in a place that I cannot explode with laughter, and partly because I think it’s an incredible waste of time. But this page was different. She emailed the link to me at 10pm and I was in bed falling asleep (oh hi I’m old) and I immediately wanted to rush downstairs and open my laptop or a notebook or find a scrap of paper and start writing, but I didn’t. I didn’t because I knew that I was oh-so tired and that I needed my sleep and that whatever was glowing inside me could wait until the morning. Or during my lunch break. Or the next evening. I’ve been thinking about inspiration a lot lately. I wrote this piece for our company blog on the pursuit of inspiration, and have been reading a lot about how other artists and writers find the inspiration to keep that spark going. I find it so interesting. That, and studio spaces. Curiouser and curiouser.

003: People that I pass by regularly, daily, and feel some kind of connection to for no real reason. I don’t know them, but every day when I see them I think about where they are walking. Where do they work, is it in retail or a dull office job or do they do something they truly love? Are they picking up coffee on the way? Do they live with friends or a partner, are they happy? Stupid questions that most likely stem from my ridiculous curiosity and obsession with people watching.

004: I think I might be at my most productive when I’m sat in my office alone, at 7pm, with some music playing quietly in the background. This is getting to be a problem.

005: I tried a brother puckin’ CRONUT! I’ve wanted to try one ever since all the hype began, but alas finding a vegan croissant is hard enough, let alone this beauty. It was pretty good, but I’m not sure how similar it was to an actual cronut. It kind of just tasted like a layered donut. Still, sweet goodness.

006: I’m really, really trying to blog more. It’s a frustrating kind of cycle – not enough time, want to make time, where does all the time go. Computer screens rule my life at the moment, and we have a love-love-hate relationship. I’m aiming for at least three times per week (gone are the days when I could blog daily!). We’ll see how it goes. Weekends that are mostly empty bring time for me to sit down and catch up, which I love.

007: I’m finally finding (making) time to catch up on blog reading. It’s been a long time since I’ve actually sat down and caught up on blog posts – I’m not quite at the stage of leaving comments, but hopefully that will come in time. I’m constantly reminding myself that I do have time. That I have all the time in the world – I just choose to spend that time in certain ways, when I could be looking at the bigger picture. What I would like to achieve in a day, and addressing how I can juggle everything at once. It’s not as simple as I would like it to be, but I’m getting there. More on that next.

008: I’m trying to find real balance in my life. Between working full-time, juggling a number of freelance projects on the side, blogging and health problems that do like to throw many spanners in my works, I feel like I need to address the wants and balance them with the needs and the nothings. The things that I want to do (all of the above, plus enjoy a very clean home, cook many meals for my hardworking other-half, read the pile of books and magazines by my feet), the things that I need to do (job, freelance work, blogging – yes, that’s going on the ‘need’ list) and the time that I (also) need to spend just stopping, relaxing, breathing and listening to my body (easier said than done. I left work early on Friday because I was exhausted and my body needed time to catch up on everything that had happened in the last week. Instead I came home and did three loads of laundry, cleaned the bathrooms and the kitchen, and tidied the bedroom and lounge. Sigh). One day I’ll get there. Hopefully. Do you have any tips on how to balance a busy life?

009: I’ve been going to the gym quite regularly and actually enjoying it! I think it’s time to ramp up my workout though. Can anyone link/recommend any good routines that they like? Generally I mix up the treadmill with the cross-trainer and rowing machine, plus sit-ups/plank etc. How long do you spend on each machine and what settings do you use?

010: I’ve managed to make sure that my morning and evening routine involves entirely vegan products – which I’m super happy about! I might put together a blog post on the products I’ve been using – some good, some alright – and keep updating as I try new things. I’ve also managed to make sure that one-by-one our cleaning products are all vegan, too. So far all of our hand soaps are, plus washing up liquid and cleaning spray. My showergel, shampoo, make-up remover, cleanser and toner and moisturiser are all vegan – next stop, make-up land. So far I have one powder brush that I know is vegan, and I’m putting together an ELF order to try out some of their products. I’m not throwing anything out – just replacing things as and when they run out. Are there any products that you would recommend? I’m looking to replace liquid foundation, powder, blusher, mascara, liquid eyeliner and lipstick(s).

So there we have it, completely random things that have been going on in my life. I hope you’re all enjoying this extra day off today! I’ve got a big freelance project I’ve got to get finished today, then I think a trip to the gym and the supermarket are in order. I’ve promised my evening to Mr T tonight and I think we’re either going to try a new restaurant or order a takeaway from our favourite chinese. A good old relaxing evening with good food and great company.

What have you got planned for this Bank Holiday Monday?
Can you help me answer some of life’s mysteries?!

Pudology puds

May 21, 2014

I was recently contacted by the lovely folks at Pudology to see if I would like to try their range of puddings. I was so pleased to hear from them – I had wanted to try them for so long, but didn’t know of anywhere in Brighton that sold them. I did manage to try a little spoonful at their stall at VegFest a couple of months ago, but having a whole pudding to myself was obviously much nicer!

Left to right: Banoffee, Chocolate Orange, Chocolate

One of Trout’s favourite pre-vegan desserts was banoffee pie (in fact he’s been nagging me for years to make one. He’s even asked friends to make him one, and they actually did!). Personally it wouldn’t be my first choice, but I’ll never say no to something sweet, and this banoffee pud was delicious. It was definitely the most ‘fun’ out of all three, because it had different layers and textures.

My favourite was the chocolate orange pud – I’m a sucker for this flavour when it comes to chocolate (who’s going to make a vegan version of Terry’s chocolate orange? Please?) – and the texture of both this flavour and the original chocolate flavour was so smooth and glossy. Yum.

All of Pudology’s puds are vegan and gluten free – check their website if you want to find your nearest stockist. You can find Pudology on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Have you tried any of the Pudology range?
What did you think?

Photos of the Week #20

May 19, 2014

WEEK 20 OF 52

 

I really didn’t take any photos this week! I was quite shocked when I looked through my phone to upload photos. I’m not really sure why – I suppose this week has been quite busy, so it was left until the weekend for me to have any photo opportunities. Above is the makings of a peanut butter curry in process. It’s one of me and Trout’s favourite meals.//Another lovely meal – from Abycina at Street Diner. I’ve voting for these guys to be one of my top three picks for the British Street Food Awards in the Brighton heats – everything is vegan, and tastes so good. If you are close enough to pop to Street Diner for lunch, definitely pay these guys a visit! This tub of food costs just £5 – for three curries, salad and bread.

 

On Saturday evening we went round to a friend’s house for dinner and to have a nosey around their beautiful new flat. I had some serious envy going on while we had the tour! Dinner was a Mexican feat, and was so good.//On Sunday we went to another friend’s house for a BBQ, and Trout managed to find a non-alcoholic Radler for me. Amazing! The perfect drink for the sunshine.

  

The afternoon was absolutely perfect. Eating great BBQ food – homemade burgers, ‘chicken’ kebabs, potato wedges, salad. Oh my, it was so delicious. Followed by a bowl of vegan ice-cream and Hershey’s chocolate sauce with sprinkles. Lying out on the grass all afternoon until the shade crept in, hours and hours soaking up the sunshine. It was the perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday. I also took one of Vicky’s ferrets for a little walk on his harness!

Did you enjoy the sunshine over the weekend?
Anyone else have a BBQ?

 

If you don’t already, click here to follow me on Instagram.

Friendships and Photobooths

May 17, 2014

As I said, when Laia came to visit we spent a lot of time in photobooths…!

This past week or so has been rough. I’m not going to go into any details, but sometimes days just don’t work out how you expect them to, and life likes to throw a few surprises at you – and not the good kind. I’m so ready for this weekend. Thankfully it’s filled with friends and good food – and hopefully a bit of DIY. I don’t know what’s happening lately but we seem to be destructing our flat one room at a time. First the kitchen – which I’m kind of happy about, because now it’s so lovely and bright – next the floorboards in our lounge, which have decided to raise up against each other, and will no doubt not be cheap to fix. Finally last week, when I hung up a shirt in our wardrobe, the entire rail collapsed. Our wardrobe has (had…) a built in rail that’s drilled into the wall and is currently a gigantic pile of clothes, with a few shoes trapped underneath. I rescued some of the most fragile, but who knows what’s happening to the poor shoes I’ve left buried under the weight of all our winter coats. A word of warning people: Empty your wardrobe at the first sign of sunshine, and do not leave every single heavy coat you own hanging up for longer than it needs to. Sigh.

So let’s hope we can get that rail up today, before heading over to a friends for dinner. I’ve heard rumours of Mexican food. Yay! And then tomorrow, a BBQ. The first BBQ of the year! I absolutely love going round to our friends Vicky and Tugs – they have a homemade BBQ (!!!) and fields of green grass. It’s the best place to be in the summer. Bliss.

What are your plans for the weekend?
Is your house falling apart, too?

Photos of the Week #19

May 13, 2014

WEEK 19 OF 52

 
 

Laia was here for a few days last week, which was so lovely. We didn’t get up to too much – just ate, drank plenty of coffee, had lots of chats, hung out on the beach and spent way too much time in photobooths. I love this photo of Laia using her medium format camera on the pebbles. She’s such an amazing photographer, especially when it comes to the sea.

We rustled up a tapas fiesta mezze dinner one evening, including homemade babaghanoush, falafel, hummus and salad. We had lunch at Wai Kika Moo Kau, dinner at Chaulas and lunch at VBites. So yeah, plenty of food. We also visited the Museum – as you can see, Laia nailed her Punch’n’Judy skills ;)

 
 

For my sister’s birthday we all drove up to the British Wildlife Centre to spend the day together. It was so much fun! Quite an awful photo, but I baked this rhubarb and custard cake for her, which we all tucked into at the cafe.

 

There were so many red squirrels at the Centre, it was amazing! My family have all been there a few times, and my Mum was so excited about seeing the red squirrels again. She was telling us all the night before and the morning before we left – ‘Quick, quick, we have to get there for 10am so that we can hang out with the squirrels before they get fed at 10.30am!’

But you know what? She was totally right. They crawled all over us – up our legs, across our shoulders, from one person to the other. It was kind of odd at first, but they were so cute.

 

Other things I’ve been eating this week; a post-gym smoothie bowl, while watching Made in Chelsea. The perfect indulgent evening after I’d left Laia at the station, gone to workout, and had the rest of the afternoon to myself at home. Bliss. I’ve also been trying lots of new bars (to me, anyway) including a Meridian peanut bar, and two different Trek protein flapjacks. I highly recommend them all!

 

So that’s what I got up to last week! It was so lovely to catch up with Laia, and enjoy a five-day holiday, including an afternoon entirely to myself. I’ve been loving all of the new bars I’ve been trying lately, too. I go through phases when it comes to protein bars, and I’m definitely knee-deep in an obsession right now! They can be quite expensive (OK, they’re pretty much all expensive…) so I think I’ll be getting back into making my own raw balls, which I used to really enjoy. Do you have any favourite recipes you could share with me?

If you’re not following me already, you can find me over on Instagram here.

More breakfast ideas with Alpro Tops

May 9, 2014

I’ve been continuing with my breakfast experimenting with Alpro Tops – if you missed my first round-up you can find it here. First up I gave another new flavour of soya yogurt a go – Strawberry & Rhubarb. For some reason I must have been a bit stuck in my ways when it came to Alpro’s range of soya yogurt, and only tried the vanilla flavour! Still a staple, but I’m definitely going to be picking up the other flavours on a regular basis.

The Strawberry & Rhubarb flavour mostly tasted of strawberry, and had a super cute pink hue to it. I went with a Strawberries & Cream kind of theme with this one – dried banana slices, cranberries, dried strawberries (swoon!), hazelnuts, and chia seeds.

This turned out to be a really good combination. I’m a huge fan of dried strawberries, and all of the different textures made this a fun way to start the day.

Next up we have a smoothie bowl – clearly another obsession of mine at the moment! I whipped up a smoothie using frozen berries, banana, Alpro soya yogurt and soya milk. I topped it off with sliced fresh banana, a handful of maple & pecan granola and a few blobs of peanut butter. Yum!

So, there we have it! I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with my breakfasts, and will definitely be mixing things up in the morning. Right now the smoothie bowls are turning into a bit of an addiction – complete with a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach – so I can see a few more of those appearing in my life in the near future. You can enter your own Alpro Tops combination over on their website, for a chance to win a personalised topping pack.

Have you tried any of my Alpro Tops experiments?
Do you ever mix things up in the mornings? 

Photos of the Week #18

May 5, 2014

WEEK 18 OF 52

  

Trying to decide what to wear on what we all thought was going to be the last of the sunny days for a while. I really wanted to wear sandals, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet.//The last of my 9bar Breakfast bars *sob*. They were all delicious, I’ll definitely be buying them again.//Story of my life right now.//Sandals! Sandals! It was finally warm enough for sandals!

  

Some of this week’s food; a post-gym salad. I was particularly impressed with myself after this gym session, burning 570 calories. Woop!//One of the best meals this week; half a salad box from Infinity Foods, which included potato salad, with kale and quinoa and bean chilli topped with sliced avocado. Yum!//Dawgs, breaded mushrooms and a pot of garlic dip from Papa Johns. I’m completely addicted to this stuff. Also – I dropped my phone in my dinner right after taking this photo.//A little date night to Tortilla for a naked burrito and tortilla chips with guacamole.

 

A sad piano that had been abandoned, and the pia-pia-piano-piano-piano, pia-pia-pianooo-pia-piano music man.//Rasputin enjoying the sunshine.//

Laia’s here! Laia’s here! I’m so happy. She’s staying until Wednesday and I’m really hoping that the sunshine continues to join us.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately! For more photos of what I’ve been up to lately, follow me on Instagram.

 

 

SportsShoes.com and my efforts to get fit

May 4, 2014

Lately I’ve been on a bit of a health and fitness kick. I’ve been going to DanceFit for around 18 months now, and it’s a great way to keep fit. I’ve really noticed a difference thanks to the section of the class where we do sit-ups, plank and various other exercises that tone your stomach and legs, but I wanted to do a bit more than just a one hour class per week. I took up a free 14-day trial at LA Fitness to see how I got on, and I’m actually shocked at how much I enjoyed it! The first trip was horrendous, but I stuck with it and am now a fully paying gym member. I honestly never thought I would ever say that! I do get a brilliant satisfaction in sweating away and working out.

When I first started going to DanceFit I bought a pair of Primark workout leggings, but didn’t bother investing in any other kind of sports clothing as I wasn’t sure how often I would end up going. As it turned out, I loved it, but I never invested in anything new to wear. These are the shoes I was wearing – don’t laugh…

Yep, a beat up pair of old Vans. I do love these shoes, and to be fair they were fine for DanceFit, but not great when it comes to support. Around the time that I took up the 14-day free trial I was gifted these Asics trainers, which was pretty perfect timing! They are fantastic – bouncy, breathable and comfortable. Much better. Plus they have plenty of pink in them ;)

I was also sent this Asics running top, which I LOVE, and a water bottle. Also pink. In the photos above I’m wearing my Primark running leggings, which have lasted me well, and I’m really happy with them.

So, did my new workout gear make a difference to how I felt? I have to say, yes. Which sounds utterly bonkers, but it’s true. I trusted my body more, thanks to shoes that are actually designed for sport, I could workout harder, thanks to breathable clothing, and I felt like I ‘blended-in’ at the gym. It’s all psychological, I suppose – apart from the breathable-clothing part – but who cares when I’m actually enjoying sport and fitness for maybe the first time in my life?!

Wearing trainers that are comfortable and cushioned means that I can throw myself into dancing more, and my feet aren’t sore the next day, and having new workout clothing means that I have no excuses – I’ve got all the right gear, it’s down to me to put it to good use and work out to the best of my ability.

I’ve also been chatting to Claire, who runs Great Expectations Fitness, and is a fellow vegan. She’s been wonderful, giving me loads of advice in terms of what I should be eating before a workout (I’m kind of paranoid about not eating enough/eating too much before going to the gym, and then either feeling light-headed or sick!) and generally being really positive and supportive about my venture into fitness. Definitely get in touch if you live in London and are looking for a personal trainer!

Do you go to the gym? What do you wear?
Does having new workout gear change how you feel?

Trying out different breakfast ideas with Alpro Tops

May 2, 2014

If you follow me on Instagram, or Like my Facebook page, you’ve probably seen plenty of breakfasts popping up all over the place. I’ve been really enjoying mixing up my breakfasts (like green smoothies) and trying out ideas to make the mornings just that little bit more interesting.

I was recently asked by the lovely people at Alpro to take part in a new campaign they are running called Alpro Tops, which was perfect timing. The idea behind the campaign is to try out different toppings upon your bowl of Alpro soya yogurt. I absolutely love having soya yogurt in the morning, and I usually stick to a sprinkling of granola and some fresh fruit, so it was great to try out ingredients that I would never have picked up before – like chia seeds and pistachios.

My first ‘creation’ was pretty good – vanilla soya yogurt with chia and flax seeds, blueberries, raspberries and a few pecans on top. Delish! I think I should have used more seeds, but never mind. And yes, I got a little obsessed with the detail and pattern when it came to putting together the bowl ;)

This bowl seems so dull now, though! I got a bit more adventurous and stepped outside my comfort zone as I experimented more.

I received a delivery from Scrummybox a few weeks ago, and included in the box was a bottle of organic cinnamon agave syrup. This was the perfect time to try it out, so I drizzled it onto a bowl of plain soya yogurt and topped it off with pistachios and cranberries.

Footnote: I don’t have three fingers, I have four. I’m just not quite sure where my index finger is hiding in this photograph…

My third breakfast was probably my favourite. I started with a bowl of lemon and lime yogurt, which is incredible. Seriously! I can’t believe I’ve never tried it before, it’s insanely good. Anyway, I topped it off with chunks of dried pineapple, orange-infused raisins, flaked almonds and sunflower seeds. I wish that I’d had coconut in, because then it would have truly been a tropical fiesta – next time, eh.

So there are my three #AlproTops creations so far. What do you think? I’ll be posting more next week, and will definitely be carrying on with this experimental phase that I seem to be having in the mornings.

Are you a fan of yogurt in the morning?
Any of these take your fancy?

Photos of the Week #17

April 29, 2014

WEEK 17 OF 52

 
 

On Wednesday evening Trout and I had a little date night; burgers at The Prince George, a vegetarian pub in The Laines, followed by a gig at The Komedia. It was one of the best, and strangest, gigs that I’d been to in a long time. The music was amazing. I’m always stunned when people have so much courage – like standing up and singing without their backing band, without any other music – just their voice. The first band -Buriers – were almost like spoken poetry over a cello, guitar and drums. Really good. Micah P Hinson, the main act, was amazing. He’s a strange chap, and during his set someone got thrown out of the venue. He sang a few songs with his wife. It was wonderful.

 
 

A new breakfast, as part of a campaign I’m working on with Alpro, called Alpro Tops. More details coming shortly!//I’m working my way through the 9bar Breakfast bars I was sent – this one was peanut & raisin, and was particularly delicious.//An awesome post-gym salad. I love chucking random salad bits and pieces together. I’m a little too addicted to fruity couscous at the moment – and a jar of red onion chutney. So good.//Pasta bake! Trout’s totally converted me.

Finally, my alternative office for the day. I had a big freelance project to work on over the weekend, and Trout had loads to catch up on too, so we worked at his office so that we could at least spend some of the day together. This used to be my office, but what with their new desk arrangement and the awesome mural they’ve painted onto the wall, it’s completely different.

So, that’s what I got up to last week. It was a fairly quiet week for us, and an especially quiet weekend, which was nice. We mostly just spent time relaxing together, watching a ton of Louis Theroux The Office US episodes. Perfect.

Cooking dinner and trying a green smoothie

April 24, 2014

If you follow me on Instagram you will have probably noticed that I’ve been on a bit of a smoothie kick recently. Thanks to my beautiful blender, and a randomly stocked freezer full of frozen fruit from my Alpro challenge earlier in the year, I’ve been smoothie-ing almost every morning. I’ve been making loads of fruity smoothies, but while I was picking up ingredients for dinner last week I bought two bunches of spinach and had no idea why. It was definitely on my shopping list, but when it came to cooking I couldn’t see it in the recipes anywhere?! I was probably just not reading them properly, but never mind.

It actually meant that I had an excuse to take part in Laura’s Green Smoothie Challenge, and venture into the unknown (for me!) world of green smoothies. I’d seen them all over the Blogosphere, but always been slightly apprehensive, whilst intrigued at the same time. I browsed Twitter, Instagram and Laura’s blog for some recipe ideas, before settling on something simple and sweet; spinach, frozen berries and a few slices of banana, soya milk and water.

Getting ready to blend everything up! I bought these bunches of spinach, rather than buying bags which never seem to last very long. I’m hoping that buying it this way will mean it lasts a bit longer. Plus, no plastic bags.

Before it all gets whipped up. Love those little berries poking through the soya milk.

The finished product. Trout was less than impressed, but I knew what I was getting myself in for. There’s no way to make this look appealing, I don’t think! Usually I would have sprinkled over some granola, but we were sharing some croissants as well so decided to stick with just a smoothie bowl. It was really good – sweet with just a hint of spinach. I’ll definitely be looking into more recipes that include veggies, as I’m really trying to eat less fruit and more vegetables. I’m intrigued by using lettuce in a smoothie. Have you guys tried it before?

Here’s another one that I made at the weekend – the same ingredients as before, with granola and peanut butter on top. So good!

As I mentioned earlier, I made dinner on Friday evening for Trout and I. We agreed that over this long weekend I would cook something special on Friday evening, and Trout would cook something special on Monday evening. We have quite different tastes when it comes to cooking, and even though of course his meals are so delicious, I really love my salads.

While I was cooking I was joined by this guy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the seagulls are so obnoxious in Brighton! He banged his beak on the glass over and over again, wanting to get in on the dinner act. It was kind of funny, kind of scary. I was a little worried he would crash through the window and carry my dinner away with him! Please excuse the big old poop stain down my window…

Here’s what I whipped up; wild rice and broccoli salad with an avocado and basil dressing, and a chickpea salad with a mango dressing. I also cooked some sweet potato fries and warmed up a rosemary and sea salt focaccia that I found in Waitrose. Yum!

Do you and your partner share the cooking?
What’s your favourite meal?
Ever tried a green smoothie, or did you take part in Laura’s challenge?

 

Photos of the Week #16

April 22, 2014

WEEK 16 OF 52

  

I’ve been absolutely obsessed by smoothies lately. It just feels like a perfect start to the day! These are both fruity smoothies, but I’ve also been experimenting with green smoothies, which I’ll be blogging about later in the week.//I was kindly sent a few 9bar’s to try – I’ve never had them before, and they were so good! Although they are meant to be enjoyed for breakfast, the cocoa bar was perfect with a mug of fresh coffee in the afternoon. I’m working my way through the flavours, and will let you know how I get on with them.

 
 

Bunny shaped crumpets! SO CUTE! And obviously even tastier than regular crumpets. I made them for everyone at work, spread with the last pot of jam from my sister’s wedding; blackcurrant turkish delight. Yum. //One beige dinner! Sometimes it’s fun to have a dinner like this; faux fish fillets, chips from the local chippie, a roll to make a chip buttie with, and baked beans.//Something a little healthier; making dinner on Friday evening. More on that later this week.//On Saturday we headed down to the seafront for the Brighton & Hove Food Festival on Hove Lawns. We were really lucky with the weather, and there was a great atmosphere – and so much good food to choose from! We had a vegetable stirfry from a vegan stall, which was really tasty. Even though I don’t look super happy, I was! Who wouldn’t be with such a huge portion to tuck into.

 
 

I hung out with the Harvey’s horses on my lunch break – they’ve been dotted around town making their deliveries lately. Can you spot the tiny dog on top of the barrels?//The Level at night. So beautiful, so alive. Someone was performing with fire! I’m so proud of our city for building this amazing skate park. They’ve turned it from an area I rushed through at night to somewhere so full of life, and what now feels so safe and almost calm at night.//Walking home from a bit of food shopping – no popsocks, summer shoes and blossom. It might just be spring!//Rasputin with his cheeky eyes (and nose!) on my baklava. What a munchkin.

  

I spent Easter weekend at home, eating Easter eggs, having my breakfast delivered to me in bed (heaven! I could get used to this…)(and yes, that is another bunny crumpet. I’m addicted!), having a Wii Dance Off with my family, and finally, before I left to go home, hanging out with Ras while he was letting it all hang out. Cat life. Sigh.

Easter Sunday lunch! So yummy. I love having so many veggies on my plate; roast potatoes, parsnips, roasted carrots, broccoli and spring greens, plus schnitzel and gravy, and stuffing. Yum!
(Oh and just to clarify, the meat on those plates is real meat! Not some awesome vegan alternative, I’m afraid).

For more photos of what I’ve been up to, what Rasputin has been up to, and what I’ve been eating, follow me on Instagram.

A day spent mostly in the kitchen

April 18, 2014

Last weekend we spent most of our time at home together, which is probably the best way to spend a weekend. Sunday was especially homely, what with a morning of housework followed by Trout getting into the kitchen to cook us lunch. We had cheese and onion pasties, in memory of the days when we would pick one up on our way to college from Forfars, or maybe get one at the weekend. Simple food, packed with silly memories from over a decade ago. (Scary!!)

Trout cooked up some mashed potato and added grated Cheezly and diced raw onion, then stuffed it into circles of Jus-Rol light puff pastry, and turned them into little pasties. Brushed with soya milk, they were then popped into the oven for 30 minutes or so, and served with a salad. Delish!

After lunch I headed into town to get a few bits and pieces, and came back with these beautiful tomatoes from Waitrose, plus some afternoon reading material.

When I got home the house smelt of garlic and Trout was hoovering. Is there a better sight to return home to?! He’d put together a batch of Cheezly straws, one of my favourite snacks. Oh ma gawd these are so good! So good, in fact, that a friend made them when he appeared on Come Dine With Me ;)

We snacked on a couple and then hung out with this face. I could just SMOOSH him, he is so cute.

It was fun to get the big camera out on Sunday. Since getting an iPhone I do use it a lot more for photography, which I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not quite the same.

How was your weekend?
Do you love to spend time at home, or prefer to get out and about?

British Street Food Awards 2014

April 17, 2014

I have some super exciting news to share with you today. The wonderful people that bring you Street Diner every Friday have organised the Brighton heats of the British Street Food Awards 2014, and kindly asked me to be one of the judges for the Awards! I am so excited to find out more about all the fantastic, talented people that bring you delicious food from the heart across the city. I’ll post up more details as and when I can, but for now I’m just so thrilled to have been asked. If you’re a trader that delivers street food to the masses of Brighton, make sure you enter by the 30th April! You can find details over on Street Diner’s Twitter.

In other news, the Bank Holiday weekend has begun! Who’s excited? What do you have planned? I’m so looking forward to waking up tomorrow, alarm switched off, cat alarm switched on, no doubt. I plan on spending some time in my pyjamas, maybe a trip to the gym, a bit of Easter shopping. A proper day off. And then there will be three more after that! Amazing. Thank you, baby Jesus.

Photos of the Week #15

April 15, 2014

WEEK 15 OF 52

  
An outfit one morning, and that smoothie.//Rasputin enjoying his patch of sunshine on a Saturday morning, and fresh flowers on a Sunday morning.

 

The weekend was meant to include housework – I just didn’t know the extent of this housework. I meant hoovering and cleaning the bathrooms, not getting my paintbrush out! Saturday morning I decided I would make an energising and healthy pre-gym smoothie. Berries and frozen banana, with a glug of soya milk. It tasted great! Except that halfway through blending I had a small smoothie explosion, and I had berry-coloured blended fruit absolutely everywhere. Up the walls, on my face, on the bottles of oil, up the window. I think I’ll be finding blobs of smoothie for months. I scrubbed as best I could, but knew this was going to be a paint job. Which turned out to be a good thing – I’d been meaning to re-paint the kitchen for months – we had grease and food stains up the wall next to the cooker, and it just generally needed a refresh. I started on Saturday afternoon, blobbing paint directly onto the stains, and then on Sunday morning I was in the kitchen at 9am with my roller, painting all the walls. I was so pleased with it at the end! Such a simple thing, but it feels almost like a fresh start. I kind of felt like a real adult at the end of it all. I also cleaned the kitchen from top to bottom, washed the floor and scrubbed the tiles. Even though we have such a teeny kitchen, it can get ridiculously grubby. Hopefully we can keep it this nice for at least a few more months!

  

Here are some of the best things I’ve been eating this week – mushroom risotto, a lunchtime trip to Sultan’s Delights, toasted tea cakes and arancini balls, using the leftover risotto. So much good food!

For more photos of what I’ve been eating, wearing and doing, follow me on Instagram!

 

 

Music Love: Manchester Orchestra

April 13, 2014

On Thursday evening Trout and I were up in London again for another visit to Scala to see some bands. I’ve been waiting for for a long, long time to see Manchester Orchestra. Years. I tried not to get my hopes up, but when one of your favourite bands doesn’t tour the UK for years, and then they sell out the show within 30 minutes of the tickets going on sale, you just can’t help but feel a little electricity pulsing through your veins in the days (weeks) before the show.

I don’t like big venues, but Scala is quite a sweet place to watch bands, with a good layout.
(Yes, I know it’s not a big venue. It’s about a 500 capacity. But it’s big for me! I grew up watching bands at the back of pubs, with crowd numbers of around 200 if it was busy. Usually we were talking about 75 people).

I didn’t have to worry; they were absolutely amazing. We thought that it was going to be a show purely to promote their new album, with very few old songs, but it was quite the opposite – so many amazing songs from the past few years, with a handful of new tracks. Either way the show was incredible; they seemed so humbled by the speed of ticket sales, and genuinely loved playing music for people. There was no ulterior motive, no facade or act – just a few honest, hairy guys playing excellent music.

Anyway, I’ll stop going on and on about Manchester Orchestra and go on and on about food. For a change. Before we headed to Scala we stopped in Angel for dinner at BananaTree. You might remember us going last year during a whirlwind day in London, and the food didn’t disappoint this time around either.

^Street Style Crispy Dough and Aubergine Half with Aromatic Caramel Sauce, herbs, and crispy shallots^

^Tamarind Spicy Aubergine^

^Thai Monks’ Vegan Delight^

We ‘pimped’ both of our main meals and added Jasmine rice, salad, sweetcorn fritters and rice crackers. Absolutely stuffed, we rolled our way down the road to the venue. What a great evening.

Do you like Manchester Orchestra?
Have you been to BananaTree?
If the answer to either of these questions is ‘no’, please listen to them again en route to eating there! 

 

 

Pizza Date

April 11, 2014

Going through some old drafted blog posts I found this photograph, taken last summer.

I love that you can see Trout in the reflection of my sunglasses! 

Me and Trout had a mini-date at lunchtime, and popped into town to grab a slice of pizza from Infinity Foods, and relax on the grass nearby. Oh summer, I can’t wait to see you! Working so close to the sea means lunchtimes spent on the beach, as well as heading down to the shore straight from work, ice-cream at Boho Gelato and BBQs (!!!) and time spent with friends in beer gardens and maybe this year I’ll go in the sea.

Talking of pizza, I just ordered us a couple of pizzas from Pizzaface. Now the 30 minute countdown begins. Pizza is totally good rocket fuel for the gym, right? Oh geez. Why am I doing this to myself again?! Please tell me it gets easier.

This week has been long and hard. It’s so strange how just a handful of days can differ from week to week. Either way, it’s the weekend now so it’s time to look forward and make some plans. As I mentioned, tomorrow will involve the gym and spending time with Trout and Rasputin, catching up with housework and maybe a film in the evening. I still haven’t watched the Alan Partridge movie that I got for…Christmas? My birthday? Geez I can’t even remember how long I’ve been meaning to watch that film :\ Sunday will involve meeting up with friends in Lewes, which I’m really looking forward to. A walk across the Downs (please sunshine, come and join us) followed by a pub lunch. Perfect.

What are your plans for the weekend? 
I’m hoping the sunshine comes to join us!

 

 

 

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