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Photos of the Week #16

April 21, 2015

WEEK 16 OF 52

^^I think this photo summarises how last week went. The weather has been beautiful here! I feel so lucky to work three minutes from the beach, and there are few better ways to spend the evening than lying on the pebbles with beer and good friends, watching the sun set. This photo didn’t even need editing. Brighton, you’re a natural beauty.^^

^^A post-work coffee from Small Batch and a flapjack from H&B. This was such a lovely way to unwind after a long day, and filled an hour or so before I met Trout and we went to the pub for a Parks and Rec quiz. We won the Jerry Prize! We came last by a long, long way…^^

^^Homemade chinese food! I cooked up some shredded ‘duck’ pieces, sliced some spring onion and cucumber, steamed pancakes, made an asian cucumber salad and served with a handful of thai rice crackers. Yum!^^

^^I ran out of soup to bring to work so decided to treat myself to a lunchbox from Smorl’s. So many different salads! It’s nowhere near as good as Sultan’s but it was a pretty darn tasty way to spend a lunchtime. Especially as I found out I had won Tortilla’s #TortillaTuesday competition!! Free burritos and chips!! Oh my. We’re planning on a lunch date there tomorrow.^^

^^Sigh. This is how I spent many evenings last week. But, success! He has properly learnt how to get back into the house through his cat flap, and doesn’t need any encouragement or treats. It’s just getting him to go out that’s not going quite so well…^^

^^Tacos! I’m more of a fan of soft tacos but crunchy ones are fun, too.^^

^^Saturday was awesome. It was my ‘getting-shit-done’ day, and my ticklist was looking pretty darn good. I finally tidied most of our clothes away, I paid a couple of bills, set up a direct debit, completed some freelance work and sorted my finances out. It was so satisfying!! I also got around to trying this brilliant tip – pop an Alpro pudding into the microwave, heat it for 30 seconds, stir it, and then heat for about 15 seconds more. Sheer brilliance!^^

^^Sunday was another ‘getting-shit-done’ day, starting with a 3k run at 8am with Trout, a visit to his sister’s to wish his niece a happy birthday, a weekly food shop, a few hours of gardening and one half of our desk legs finished. I love days like this! I got rid of all the dead snails and dug up weeds and pulled out a dead lavender bush and generally tidied up pretty much a whole section of the garden. So satisfying. There’s so much left to do, but it felt good to at least get this done.^^

^^Ras was absolutely loving being outside all day! He’s getting a lot more confident, and in the afternoon he started jumping on things. He hung out on the water butt, and took his first walk along the fence! It wasn’t the most graceful of walks, but he managed it, and jumped onto our roof, then walked across the neighbours roof. I don’t think it will be too long before he really starts exploring! He’s started sitting on the water butt and peering into the house, watching us make dinner. It’s pretty much the cutest thing ever.^^

EAT. Many different cuisines!//Cinnamon + raison bagels.//Pickle and shredded lettuce toast sandwiches. I’m telling you, they’re good.//
MOVE. I ran! I ran! Well, to be honest, it was more of a jog, but it’s more exercise than I’ve done in months and that made me happy.//Three hours of gardening is more tiring than you might think! I definitely felt like I had a bit of a workout.//
WEAR. Not wearing these ethical ‘converse’ trainers in white because they’re NEVER IN STOCK. Sigh.//
LOVE. Getting. Shit.Done.//Seeing our house coming together, slowly but surely. Our dining room table finally came, and I’m so happy with it. I’ll hopefully share some photos over the coming weeks (months) (years), but right now I can’t stop running my fingertips over the wood’s natural imperfections and thinking about the person that built this table for us. It’s furniture love!//
LINKS. Catching up with a new blog find, Laura Tosney. It’s so beautiful and as a few of us have been saying, what blogging should be (and always was) about.//Man Repeller’s Instagram. She always makes me laugh but lately she has been KILLING it.//These strawberry banana oat bars from Running With Spoons. Holy yum they look good!//
LAST WEEK. Hanging out on the beach.//Wishing it was just a little bit warmer, but trying not to complain.//
THIS WEEK. Saying, ‘Is it pay day yet?’ a thousand times.//Preparing for a Mexican brunch on Sunday at our house!//So looking forward to dinner at Morelli Zorelli tonight.//Reading Vegan Life magazine. I think it’s their best issue yet.//Hanging out with our new table.//

Photos of the Week #15

April 16, 2015

WEEK 15 OF 52

^^Spring has sprung! This isn’t my flowerbed but my garden is blossoming and for that I am so thankful to our home’s previous owners, who were more green fingered than I’ll ever be. I spy roses and Trout has spotted bluebells and I’m so excited for the rest of the garden to bloom! These flowers have been planted by the council near our house, and they are so beautiful. It’s such a lovely sight to and from work.^^

^^Friday night, and our first dinner outside in the garden. It was the perfect end to a short-but-long week. You know those weeks when it doesn’t matter if it’s three-or-one-or-five days, it’s still long and stressful and tiring? It was one of those for me. I was just happy to have made the train home with seconds to spare, only to find that Trout was on the same train with curry in hand and spring plans in mind. It was so nice to eat at our new table and chairs, with Ras playing the garden behind us.^^

^^Whiskerface’s bunny legs. Such a cutey.^^

^^Our first BBQ of the year! We invited a few friends round to enjoy the April sunshine and some good food. We were a little too excited and may have expected it to be warmer, but with the right jumpers on it was fine, and so nice to eat outside together.^^

^^Yum! We had burgers, sausages, mushrooms, sweetcorn (YUCK), ‘chicken’ kebabs, potato salad, coleslaw, salad, crisps and hummus.^^

^^On Sunday we went to watch some racing at Brands Hatch. We bought tickets for a friend’s birthday and I went along because I love going to watch banger racing so thought I might like this, too. And I did! It was so much fun.^^

^^I mainly went for the truck racing…^^

^^The legends cars were awesome, too! In every race we picked out our favourite drivers at the beginning and followed them throughout the day. #65 was mine (Orange is the New Black fan right here!) and when we did the pit walk I had to have my photo taken with him.^^

^^Getting to see them all waiting to go out was pretty cool^^

^^This car was being worked on until the very last second. They shouted for everyone to move out the way, bump started it and somehow it made it to the grid in time, and the engine started for the race.^^

^^They also had a monster truck ride! This was amazing. I could have done this ten times over.^^

^^With sunburnt faces we sat and ate ice-cream cones when we got home.^^

^^Salted caramel Almond Dream ice-cream in a chocolate topped cone. Perfect.^^

EAT. BBQ food! One of the best kinds of food.//More salads – it’s finally the weather for it!//
MOVE. Considering going for a run now that it’s light when I come home from work. Still considering this.//
WEAR. Spring jackets!//Blush Pink lipstick from M&S.//Purple pumps.//
LOVE. Getting back into my personal Twitter account. I spend all day running six client’s accounts, so I have very little time or energy or enthusiasm to even look at my own – but I’m really enjoying spending time on it lately.//Discovering new blogs, like Reading my Tea Leaves.//Hanging out with Ras in the garden after work.//
LINKS. What to do when people don’t believe in you. I think everyone can relate to this on some level – for me, it was when I made the decision to move from London to Brighton. There were a few people who thought I was crazy and tried to make me question whether it was a good idea or just downright stupid. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do though, and you should always listen to your heart over anything else – if it doesn’t work out, at least you know you made the right decision for you, not for anyone else. And that’s all that matters.//An article on résumé virtues vs eulogy virtues, shared on Meg Fee’s blog.//
LAST WEEK. Our first BBQ of the year!//Getting on top of my to-do list (probably going to regret saying that…)//
THIS WEEK. Looking forward to a Saturday to myself. Trout’s having a day with friends and I’ve got big plans to do absolutely nothing aside from relax, catch up on Made in Chelsea, clean the house and indulge in some ‘me-time‘.//I might splash out on a cafetiere and a few bags of ground coffee. We have it all day every day at work, and now instant coffee really isn’t cutting it anymore.//

A birthday in Bristol

April 13, 2015

I’m not the best at organising much – I get a bit stressed out and panic and book entirely the wrong things on the wrong dates on entirely the wrong planet. Well, that’s what it feels like, anyway! So I knew that when it came to organising Trout’s 30th birthday, I needed to put my sensible hat on and start planning in February.

The only thing I really knew that I wanted to book was flyboarding. I did some research and sent a few emails and found that the only place in the country that was open on Trout’s birthday was in Chepstow – so that’s where I booked. Then I stared at a map for about two weeks trying to figure out what to do next. Stay nearby? Stay in Bath? Stay in Bristol? Let’s stay in Bristol. What can we do in Bristol? I don’t think Trout likes Bristol. What can we do that’s not in Bristol? Sigh.

^^In the end I asked friends for their suggestions. A sweet friend told me about Cheddar Gorge (never heard of it before…) so that’s where we stopped first. The views were amazing, and the caves were stunning.^^

^^Goats! And a black sheep!^^

^^The caves at Cheddar Gorge. So beautiful!^^

^^There’s nothing quite like getting back to a hotel, having a hot shower and slipping into a big, fluffy dressing gown. Bliss. We stayed at Future Inns because it was the only place in the centre that had free parking, and it’s in a pretty perfect location.^^

^^Birthday boy’s dinner. We went low-key and picked Ganesha, a south indian restaurant, to celebrate at. The food was pretty good, and the host was lovely.^^

^^I can never resist a dosa when it’s on the menu!^^

The next morning we woke up early and threw on some clothes before jumping in the car and driving to Chepstow. The flyboarding was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. I want to go back! It took me quite a while to get the hang of, unlike Trout who managed to get it almost straight away, but I still really enjoyed it and managed to get a fair distance out of the water. I don’t have any photos from the morning, which is a shame – but I can’t recommend this place enough. It was held at the National Diving and Activity Centre, who offer a whole host of other activities. I really want to go back to have a go on the massive zip slide! The venue is an old quarry, so it’s a great setting.

We headed back to the hotel to shower and change before walking two miles to find a pub that promised good vegan food and beer, only to be told that they had stopped serving food… Isn’t it fun when that happens? So we walked two miles back and settled on The Cosy Club, and I’m so glad we did!

^^The building was so beautiful.^^

^^Not the best place for two vegans to sit…^^

^^They’ve got a separate vegan menu, which is amazing.^^

^^Burgers! You know I can’t resist a good burger ;)^^

After our meal we walked around Bristol and did a bit of shopping – there are so many beautiful independent shops, as well as every high street shop you could ever ask for. Between the flyboarding and the trek for lunch and the shopping we were pretty exhausted, so headed back to our hotel to chill out for a bit.

^^Pizza in bed. The best way to eat pizza – especially when you don’t have to wash the bedding after you’ve dropped pizza all over it… We ordered from PepeNerorganic, which just happened to be around the corner. They have meat, veggie and vegan options, and everything tasted so good! We went a bit wild and ordered two pizzas, lasagne and chocolate cake, because we wanted to try everything, and it meant Trout had breakfast and I had a slice for lunch the next day.^^

^^Cake!^^

The next morning we slept in, Trout made a playlist for his birthday party and then we drove all the way home. When we stepped through the door I couldn’t quite believe I had managed to pull off the past few days, and I’m so thankful that I did! Maybe it’s because I’m soon approaching ‘proper-adulthood’?

Have you been to Bristol? Would you recommend anything else to do? 
Have you been flyboarding? Any other vegan places you love in Bristol?

Easter weekend

April 10, 2015

The days leading up to the Easter weekend were super busy, so I was more than happy to spend most of Easter Sunday and Monday relaxing at my parents house. There’s nothing like spending time eating good food with the people that you love. Here are a few photos from the bank holiday weekend.

^^We began Easter morning by opening our Easter eggs together, before our friends woke up. This was Ras’ Easter egg – he seemed interested at first, but only had a couple of bites before giving up. Oh well!^^

^^Trout bought me a Hotel Chocolat milk-free milk chocolate egg. It’s pretty good – but I think it could be creamier. Maybe Ras would have been more interested in mine? We spent the rest of the morning enjoying brunch with friends, and playing on the F1 scalextric that Trout received for his birthday from friends.^^

 

^^I think Ras loved it more than anyone!^^

^^Later in the afternoon we drove over to my family’s home for an early meal together. We had a cranberry nut roast with roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spring greens and asparagus, followed by Christmas pudding. It was so good! I’ll never pass up the offer of Christmas pudding, even if it was four months later. As my Mum wisely pointed out – it’s a celebration pudding.^^

^^I don’t know how I managed to get it in a perfect circle, especially as it was a joint dishing-up effort between me and my sister!^^

^^On Monday morning we took a trip on a steam train together as a family. For Christmas/Easter Trout and I bought my family tickets, and it was so much fun! The train left from Tunbridge Wells and ended at Eridge, before going back again.^^

^^Choo! Choo!^^

^^My Mum and my sister enjoying the train journey.^^

^^I wasn’t going to include this photo, but then I looked a little closer and realised that there is a kid photobombing us! Amazing. We were enjoying the trip more than we look ;)^^

^^I love the old station signs.^^

^^My sister sitting in the super cute waiting room at Eridge station.^^

^^After we got back to Tunbridge Wells we headed to The Pantiles for lunch at my sister’s favourite cafe, Juliette’s. It’s a very sweet cafe and they have a good understanding of what’s vegan and what isn’t, so there’s usually something we can eat. These salads were pretty good, and the soup was lovely.^^

^^Hey Jasper! After lunch Trout and I did a bit of shopping then headed back to my parents for a few more cuddles with the dogs, before heading home for an evening outside with Ras.^^

I hope you all had a lovely Easter, enjoyed some time with family and ate plenty of chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all the snacks in between.

 

Photos of the Week #13 and #14

April 8, 2015

WEEKS 13 + 14 OF 52

It’s been a bit quiet over here, hasn’t it! I’ve been so busy I’ve barely even switched on my laptop. Between tying up loose ends at work, organising Trout’s 30th birthday and enjoying the long Easter break, it’s been a bit mad. I’ve rolled the last couple of weeks into one, and here’s what I’ve been up to.

^^Tasting our way around vegan ‘prawn’ crackers. All so good! I think the thai spiced crackers from Tesco might be my favourite, though.^^

^^Hanging out with Ras in the morning, before I get ready for work.^^

^^VEGFEST!! It was so much fun. I discovered so many new brands, like this vegan cheese company – Tyne Chease.^^

^^Cocoafeliz at VegFest. I was actually quite disappointed, though – we bought a box of 12 chocolates and they didn’t have that much flavour or enough sweetness.^^

^^We were so inspired by the cheese, we had a wine + cheese evening with my sister and friends when we got back.^^

 

^^The next morning we went to a friend’s house for brunch, and I got to hang out with this cutey. She loves playing ‘fetch’, and rubbing her face against her ball!^^

^^Brunch! Including chocolate twists bought from VegFest, and Jus-Rol croissants.^^

^^Vegan egg mayo and coleslaw, also bought from VegFest.^^

^^Napping with these guys. No better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.^^

^^Ferrero Rocher cupcake from Ms Cupcake. Yes, another goodie bought at VegFest. And yes, that dent would be from where I dropped my phone.^^

^^A Spanish feast! Trout made paella, and we had bread dipped in oil and balsamic, or rubbed with ripe tomatoes and drizzled with oil and a sprinkling of salt, olives and those amazing peppers that are like playing pepper roulette – you don’t know which one will be spicy!^^

^^Trout’s birthday cake! Chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, topped with caramel and popcorn. I’ll be sharing more photos from his birthday in another blog post.^^

^^A morning spent on a steam train, on Easter Monday.^^

^^An afternoon spent in the garden, watching Ras explore his new territory.^^

EAT. Cake! Easter eggs, the best pizza ever in Bristol, roast dinner.//
MOVE. A heck of a lot of walking around Bristol, and flyboarding!//
WEAR. Nothing super special – am hoping to be digging out more summery clothes very soon. I’ll be happy just wearing spring jackets, to be honest.//
LOVE. Having time in the evening to write. Trout’s been getting back late from work, which isn’t nice as I don’t get to spend as much time with him, but it does mean I can spend time on my blog, which is nice.//Having time to read. I’m on my third book in three months thanks to commuting, and I’m loving this time to read on my way to and from work.//Celebrating Trout’s 30th.//
LINK. This blog post on how to recover from an unproductive day. I am terrible at feeling like poop when I haven’t done enough (although more often than not I’ve still filled my day with so many things – just not ‘enough’ things for my brain to feel satisfied).//This recipe for dark chocolate orange tart from Maple Spice.//This blog from Dainty Squid on blogging being a real job. It’s not the case for me personally, but I still found it interesting.//This guest blog post that I wrote on the Tech4Good Awards for Go ON UK.//
LAST WEEK(S). Hanging out in Bristol.//Stressing that the plans I’d made wouldn’t work out!//Enjoying the beautiful sunshine at the weekend.//Reading Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, which I’m ashamed to say was gifted to me by a sweet friend in the summer of 2012 for a road trip me and Trout took… Better late than never, right?!//
THIS WEEK. Eagerly awaiting the promised 20c weather, and hoping to spend as much time as possible outside.//BBQ, please!//Truck racing at Brands Hatch.//

Instagram favourites

March 24, 2015
tags:

Ever since I got my iPhone last year I’ve been pretty much obsessed by Instagram. I love how you can find so many inspiring, creative and exciting people on there, stare at beautiful food, find out about new projects, share photos with friends and discover new bloggers, photographers, writers and more. I thought I would put together a round-up of some of my favourite Instagram accounts.

Lifestyle

 

Taza//Hey Natalie Jean

Lifestyle/Fashion

 

Mariannan//Online Stylist

 

No Fashion Victims//Rosie Londoner

Fashion

 

42nd George Street//Keikolynn

 

Style Memos//Always Judging

 

Man Repeller//Liv Purvis

 

Something Navy//Sincerely Jules

Food

 

Molly Yeh//Accidentally Vegan

Creative/Brands

 

Sandra Juto//Hack With Design

 

Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather//Nicky Bergin

 

ViaJiaJia//Top Knot Natalie

 

 

Loly in the Sky//Oh Joy!

 

Oh My Clumsy Heart//Matt and Nat

And finally…

Texts From Your Ex. One of the best things on the internet.

 

I hope you find some new and inspiring Instagram accounts! Please share your account and who is inspiring you, I’m always looking for new people to follow.

Photos of the Week #12

March 23, 2015

WEEK 12 OF 52

^^WEDNESDAY. Ras, implementing the three second rule as per usual.^^

^^THURSDAY. I used my home-grown coriander for the first time. I can’t believe I’ve actually managed to grow something from seed to herb! It tasted really good.^^

^^THURSDAY. I cooked! Well, I cooked half a meal. We used up the rest of a takeaway for dinner, and I made some spiced butternut squash and lime and coriander rice to go with it.^^

^^FRIDAY. Party tea! Is there any better kind of dinner? Trout and I went to my Mum & Dad’s for the evening and my sister put together this little dinner. Yum.^^

^^SUNDAY. I organised a bloggers event for one of my clients, which is one of my favourite parts of my job. Because I understand both sides of working with brands I always try to make sure the people I invite have a great time, and get all the information that they need for the campaign. I was really happy with how it went, even though it was a stress and a half getting there. It was rail replacement buses to Brighton, and the first bus I was on had a tyre burst en route. The next bus was late, and the traffic getting into Brighton was just awful. Nothing quite like running through town to wake you up! Luckily I know short cuts and quiet roads.^^

^^SUNDAY. I spent the evening trying to do a bit more around the house, including cleaning these drawers in our bedroom so that I could fill them with jumpers and trousers and tops and everything that was previously all over the house. Ras was being super helpful ;)^^

So, that was last week! The weekend seemed to last for ages, which was exactly what I needed. Between seeing my family, spending Saturday night at home with Trout (an evening that felt like the first in such a long time), and spending Sunday in Brighton working and then baking white chocolate chip cookies, tidying the flat and Skyping with Laia, it was a pretty darn good weekend. What did you get up to?

EAT. Plenty of takeaways ;)//White chocolate chip cookies. Heaven in a cookie.//
MOVE. Running through Brighton…!//
WEAR. Shoes that are falling apart. I reaalllyy need some new trainers.//
LOVE. Spending time with family.//Listening to Ras purrr so loudly next to me. I think it’s just because he wants me to feed him, but I’ll take it.//
LINK. I haven’t even had a chance to read any blogs this week! Send me links in the comments?//
LAST WEEK. Getting my haircut on stage for £10! On Saturday my sister, Mum and I went to a wellbeing fayre where my parents live, and it was amazing. I was a bit skeptical before we arrived (I had images of hippies and hemp and crystals) but there was only one table with crystals and the rest of it felt like a giant spa. There were so many creams and oils to try, different types of massage available, and organic lovely products to buy. One of the ladies was a hairdresser selling her range of products and offering haircuts – I was desperate for a trim, so it was perfect timing for me! I also had a hot rock massage, which was amazing. It was such a fun, girly morning.//
THIS WEEK. Looking forward to VegFest on Saturday! Highlight of my year. Followed by a girly sleepover with my sister, and probably more sweets than you can count.//The clocks going forward! Light evenings! The countdown to summer! I can’t wait.//

 

Photos of the Week #11

March 16, 2015

WEEK 11 OF 52

Last week began slowly. A dentist appointment. A couple of photoshoots for work. Drinks with friends. I was waiting for the weekend with eager patience – the kind of week when you know how long your to-do list is so you don’t want the days to go too quickly, but at the same time you know what you have to look forward to and that kind of takes precedence over the lists. Here are a few photos from last week.

^^WEDNESDAY. Trout took me out for a Tortilla date at lunch time, so we had a fairly light dinner in the evening.^^

^^THURSDAY. Curled up on the sofa with Ras. It kind of looks like I’m breastfeeding, but it’s just so cute! I love when Ras picks me to snuggle up with.^^

^^SATURDAY. I tried this orange choc chip protein bar for the first time, and it’s so good! I haven’t had any of Pulsin’s bars for so long, definitely need to stock up. Shortly after I ate this I had to go to the dentist to have a filling replaced. It was just as bad as I remember :(^^

^^SATURDAY. In the evening we had friends round for dinner, and thankfully my mouth had ‘defrosted‘ from the injection and I could eat a bit of dinner. We made a few bits and pieces from a recipe book that Trout bought me called Veggiestan. Everything tasted so good, and it was a lovely evening.^^

Sunday morning began with a brunch date with friends at our house, but I didn’t snap a picture which is a shame. We had cinnamon buns, croissants, crumpets, good juice and coffee. It was such a lovely start to the day!

^^SUNDAY. This is fast becoming one of my favourite photos in the world. It is just too cute for words. We had Trout’s family round for dinner on Mother’s Day and recruited his two nieces as sous chefs. Jasmine helped me grate the tomatoes for the pa amb tomaquet and Sophia helped pour the oil in. They both helped ice the cake and were so attentive as Trout made the pesto. I loved seeing them learn how to make each dish and have a go themselves. Even Ras was learning some new tricks!^^

It was one of those weekends when you need a weekend to recover from the weekend! I wouldn’t change it for anything though. Finally, here’s a round-up of things I’ve been thinking, eating, doing and planning.

EAT. Good food with friends and family.//Baked cheesecake.//
MOVE. Oops, forgot to plank. Must remember to plank this week. Must must must.//
WEAR. Pink lipstick.//Nail polish.//
LOVE. Mary Portas.//Betty Crocker cake mix + can of coke = cake.//
LINK. These beautiful photographs and words about the fragility of flowers.//I veganised this recipe for baked blueberry cheesecake, and it’s one of my favourite sweet treats.//Catching up with Say Yes. I’ve had it bookmarked in my Lifestyle Blogs folder for a long time, and completely forgotten about it. It’s such a treat.//
LAST WEEK. Thinking about how lucky I am (*vom*).//Appreciating brilliant vegan cosmetics.//
THIS WEEK. Trying to keep my kitchen tidy. Two dinner parties and a brunch party left my kitchen looking like a bomb had hit it, and fingers wrinkly from washing up.//I’ve started listening to Invisibilia, recommended to me by a reader. The first episode is really interesting – focused on internal thoughts, and how seriously you should take them. I would say that my weirdest internal thought is, What would it feel like to…. Like I think, What would it feel like to be hit by a car? Like, hit pretty bad. Not fatal, just pretty bad. Weird, huh? Well, as it turns out, some people have far weirder thoughts. We all have them. And most of them are nonsense. Give it a listen.//

Bergen

March 15, 2015

As I mentioned in last week’s round-up, Trout whisked us away for a weekend in Bergen for our 13th anniversary. Here are a few photos and a bit about our trip to Norway.

We didn’t get to the hotel until around 1am on the Friday evening, so we slept in until around 9am and headed down to breakfast. We stayed at a Radisson Blu and the breakfast selection was great, so I absolutely stuffed my face in preparation for a not-so-vegan-friendly day. They had soya milk and gluten free bran flakes, mushrooms cooked in oil, baked beans, every kind of bread and cracker you can imagine, fresh and dried fruit and plenty of coffee. What more could you want!

After breakfast we headed out into town to walk around the nearby streets and pop into a couple of shops (I wanted to buy everything in their homeware shops), before taking the Fløibanen funicular up the mountain to the top. When we stepped out at the top of the mountain the view was absolutely amazing.

Everyone laughed as we got out of the cable car. You had to, really! We should have seen stunning views across the town, but never mind. We decided to walk down the mountain, rather than getting the funicular back to the town, and I’m so glad we did. The weather wasn’t great but the view as we walked down was lovely and the route was dotted with little waterfalls, snow and fallen trees.

I took so many photos of the waterfalls that trickled and streamed down as we walked.

I guess we could have drunk the water? Trout was quite sure we could. I wasn’t that thirsty ;)

Getting back to nature!

The colours were stunning – I didn’t even have to edit these photos of the trees.

Hanging out with this hunk ;)

We went to one coffee shop a couple of times – I think it was essentially called Good Bread, but I can’t really remember. The coffee was good, and when you order tea you get a mug of hot water and directed to a table with a dozen or so teas on, so you can just take your pick. I thought it was quite fun. One thing that I did find strange about Bergen (and maybe Norway in general?) was that it’s so normal to pay by card that this coffee shop didn’t even take cash.

Our hotel was next to the harbour, filled with some pretty amazing boats.

We went to Little Taste of India for our anniversary dinner, and the food was really good. That green chutney up there was so.spicy. It was made from ground green chillies, and wowza it was hot!

Our curries were lovely. We ordered veg curries and you pick the level of heat you want – Trout went for a 5 and I went for a 3 (out of 6) but both were around a medium heat. Really tasty. The house red wine was pretty good, too (I would hope so, at £10 a glass!).

After dinner we went round the corner to a games bar. We’d walked past earlier in the day and Trout was so excited to see that they had shuffleboard tables there. I’d never played it before, but Trout had played a lot while he was in America so we stopped by for a few games. It was so much fun! Plus, I won. Perfect end to our anniversary date.

The architecture is amazing – the town is filled with buildings like this and you can often walk in between them through passageways.

Sunday morning was a bit of a write-off. We found out that our flight on Sunday had been cancelled (we should have been flying at 7pm), so we rescheduled it to 9am on Sunday morning, rather than spending hours waiting around at Oslo airport for a connecting flight. We got up at 6am, had breakfast, got the bus to the airport, printed our boarding cards, went through security and waited for our flight to appear on the departures board. And waited. Eventually I joined the end of the queue for a flight boarding for Amsterdam, and finally got to the front of the queue to find out that our flight had been delayed. To 7pm.

I won’t go into the shouting, anger, phonecalls to insurance companies, queuing to check ticket prices, return bus journeys, dropping luggage back to the hotel. It doesn’t matter. We were back walking the streets, with an extra few hours left of our trip.

So many cameras!

There are a lot of good people around.

We went to Iron Rock Cafe for lunch. It’s a metal bar with a great burger menu, with veggie options on all the burgers. We both ordered the Metal Heart burger, very fitting for an anniversary meal.

We walked around town for a while trying to find vegan cake, before popping into the Bergen Museum.

The museum was really interesting, but I couldn’t help but think that we weren’t quite being given the whole picture, translation-wise.

So that was our trip to Bergen! I would definitely recommend visiting, although maybe when it’s clear and sunny! If you’ve been, let me know what you thought in the comments below.

Vegan cosmetics: Updated

March 12, 2015

Last year I put together a round-up of my favourite vegan beauty products, and since then I’ve tried a few new products so thought I would show you what I’ve been using, all of which I recommend trying.

Good Things Total Wipe Out Cleaning Wipes.

I have to say – I hate the packaging. Every time I use it I think, “Ugh, this packaging is awful!” but you know what, the product inside is fantastic. And super affordable, which I think is really important – making good quality, animal-friendly products available to everyone. These cleansing wipes smell so good, and they’re biodegradable which is flippin’ amazing! They don’t remove eye make-up unfortunately, but I use a cotton wool pad and coconut oil which is much softer when removing mascara and moisturises at the same time.

Good Things Stay Clear Purifying Cleanser and Simply Pure Refreshing Toner.

Another great product from Good Things – this cleanser also smells really good, and I’ve noticed a difference in just the few weeks I’ve been using it.//This toner is, well, just toner really…! I don’t know, I kind of use toner because I feel like I ‘should’ use it, but I don’t really know what it does?

Skin Blossom Organic Nourishing Face Moisturiser and B. Renewed Night Cream.

I’d been looking for a new affordable day cream for a while. As much as I love the REN Day Cream (and I really do), at around £16 a bottle I just couldn’t justify it right now. I think this face cream is just as good, and I love that it’s organic.//I hadn’t really been moisturising my face at night, and if I did I would use Lush’s dream cream which I don’t think is meant for your face. I decided to try this night cream and it’s brilliant – my skin is super soft in the morning. I love that Superdrug have brought out so many new lines, all labelled vegan and cruelty free.

Soap and Glory Heel Genius.

I am so in love with this product! I use it every night before I go to bed, and straight away I noticed a difference. My feet are much softer, and I swear it makes me warmer at night…!

So that’s my little round-up. If you’ve tried any of them let me know what you thought –  and if you have any new vegan products that you would recommend, please let me know in the comments. I love trying new ones!

Photos of the Week #10

March 10, 2015

WEEK 10 OF 52

^^MONDAY. Just a whiskerface, hanging out in our bedroom. Such a cutey! And check out our headboard!! Totally worth all that hardwork.^^

^^TUESDAY. I’m working on the Tech4Good Awards for another year, and last week we launched the entry period with an event at the top of BT Tower. I enjoy all of the events pinpointed throughout the year, but the launch is always quite exciting – it really kicks off the project for me, and as I’ve been working on it since January it’s great to see this first stage come to a close and the next stage begin. It’s great seeing all the preparation coming together, and knowing that the next stage is even better – getting to hear about all these amazing organisations and individuals working to address issues that I’ve never even thought about before. I love catching up with the finalists and winners from previous years and finding out what they’ve been up to, and the impact winning had on them. Plus the view is amazing! I really want to go up at night.^^

^^After the event we went to Leon for lunch. I was starving – we’d all been so busy with interviews and photos that none of us had even had a bite to eat, and by 2.30pm my stomach was angry. I’d never been to Leon before – it’s so good! I had a roasted sweet potato + falafel wrap, and it was very tasty.^^

^^I love all the packaging!^^

^^Afterwards I headed home and was sat on the sofa by 5.30pm. It felt like 3pm, a luxury, an early evening, I couldn’t believe it! I snuggled up with Ras on my lap and caught up on emails and listened to a bit more of the Criminal podcast.^^

^^FRIDAY. It was our 13th anniversary on Sunday, and Trout planned a surprise weekend away. I knew he had something planned, but every time I asked he just said we were going to Dartford. He told everyone we were going to Dartford, and even made me look up vegan options in Dartford. (By the way, if you’re wondering, there are no vegan, vegetarian or veg-friendly cafes or restaurants, but there is a health food shop somewhere). So on Friday morning we set off on this secret roadtrip and drove to… DARTFORD! He wasn’t actually joking. Except that he was, and he drove back down the M25 before arriving at Richmond Park. This man is utterly bonkers. I really love Richmond Park though, and we were so lucky with the weather – it was absolutely stunning outside, warm with bright blue skies. Perfect.^^

^^After an hour or so spent in the park we drove into Kingston and had the best sandwich in the world, sat by the river with the swans. We did a bit of window shopping at John Lewis, then went to see The Theory of Everything, which is absolutely amazing. If you’re not sure about going – just go. It’s brilliant.^^

^^So at this point I still had no idea where we were even going that evening. We had organised friends to come and feed Ras so I knew we were away for the whole weekend, but I couldn’t figure out what his next move was. We ended up driving towards our home, which was a little confusing, until he swung the car into the car park at Gatwick, took us to the check-in desk for Norwegian Air and handed me a ticket to Bergen. He’s a good vegan egg ;) It turned out that Norwegian Air were on strike so our planned flight had been cancelled and replaced with an evening flight (not that I had any idea about this! I just thought we were spending the day in Kingston, which is one of my favourite places). It was an amazing long weekend, and I feel so incredibly lucky to have this sweet man plan this trip for us. I’ll share photos from the weekend in a separate blog.^^

EAT. Dark chocolate and peanut butter. Total obsession right now!//’Fish’ + chip-shop-chips with tartare sauce.//
MOVE. Plenty of walking around Bergen! The mountains were so beautiful, and the architecture so sweet.//
WEAR. Bare ankles!//Nail polish. I’m on a roll, people.//
LOVE. Trout <3//My new bed. White bedding from John Lewis, dove grey throw from Laura Ashley. Bliss. I can’t reach the floor when I’m in bed and it’s heaven.//Celebrating anniversaries with a homemade card, made up of collage of people in prison who have murdered their spouses. This guy. Swoon.//
LINK. These food styling tips.//These paintings by Justyna Kopania.//This salad from Cider with Rosie.//
LAST WEEK. I finished listening to Criminal (although I have to say, it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, and it certainly wasn’t any Serial).//I finished reading In Cold Blood (so good!)//Listened to The Truth.//
THIS WEEK. Looking forward to seeing friends and family this weekend.//Catch up with laundry.//Currently reading Hunting Evil: Inside the Ipswich Serial Murders.//

Photos of the Week #9

March 3, 2015

WEEK NINE OF 52

This weekend was crazy. We managed to pack in so many things, and saw so many faces. It often feels like during the week I don’t have a lot to share – the odd photo here and there, maybe a meal or an evening spent with Rasputin and Trout. But it’s the weekend that really brings everything to life. I guess I’m just holding out for the weekend!

The light in the house is quite dark for the most part, so the mornings and evenings aren’t ideal for taking photos. We have white french blinds on some of the windows (the spare bedroom, which was our bedroom up until Sunday), and the lounge, which don’t let a lot of light in. But now, we’ve finally moved into our proper bedroom, in the attic. It has a huge skylight window that lets in light. Last night as I was falling asleep I watched planes move across the night sky. I could see a helicopter hovering (who knows why…!). I’m sure I could see stars. It’s amazing. I get to wake up to natural light, and it makes such a huge difference to the morning. I’m so happy we’re in our bedroom at last – six weeks after moving in.

On Saturday a friend came over to help us take out the Velux window in our attic room so that we could winch our headboard up the side of the house and through the window. It was one of the longest, scariest days! Our friend Tug was amazing, and we seriously couldn’t have done it without him. I hadn’t realised just how much work it would be – Tug and Trout were troopers, whilst I assisted and concentrated on whipping up a peanut butter curry for us. After we had finished, hours and hours later, I went straight to a work event and tried to keep my eyes open.

Here are a few photos from the week.

^^MONDAY. Sometimes I like to just relax in bed, alone, listening to a podcast, eating chocolate and peanut butter. It feels luxurious and so satisfying.^^

^^FRIDAY. Trout and I went on a little date night to see Stewart Lee. We went for dinner beforehand, at this pizza place in Hove called Morelli Zorelli. It has vegan cheese on the menu, and I think they might also have vegan ‘meats’ available sometimes. It was so good!^^

^^Pizza!^^

^^SATURDAY. I went to Cin Cin’s pop-up restaurant at The Velo Cafe by the level. I took some photos for them and enjoyed their amazing food at the same time. It was so lovely of them to put together such a good vegan menu – that’s smoked tofu right there! I had five courses of deliciousness. Keep an eye out for their next pop-up – it has a lovely, relaxed atmosphere, everyone looked like they were having such a good time.^^

^^SUNDAY. Hot chocolate and cupcakes from Ms Cupcake. A friend came round for the weekend and brought beer and cupcakes with him. Best housewarming gifts ever! Hot chocolate is a funny one for me. Every couple of years I have a craving for it, and then I make myself a mug and remember that I don’t like hot chocolate. But this was really good, and thank you Caffe Nero for making a vegan hot chocolate.^^

^^SUNDAY. Rasputin enjoying the sunshine in his ‘room’.^^

EAT. Cupcakes ;)//Salad – it’s finally getting (slightly) warm enough to even consider eating salad.//Peanut butter curry.//
MOVE. Still no running or planking…//
WEAR. Jackets that it’s been too cold to wear until this weekend.//
LOVE. Our bed!! So darn comfortable.//
LINK. This beautiful collaborative piece of writing on Dash and Bella.//This wall of polaroids on Chalk White Arrow (see also: beautiful baby!).//The return of Taza’s happy lists! Right now my happy list consists of feeling grateful for good friends, vegan cupcakes, opportunities that I would never have imagined a few years ago, planning Trout’s 30th, our anniversary this week.//
THIS WEEK. Carry on listening to Criminal, the podcast.//Get planking.//Finish reading In Cold Blood.//Popping up BT Tower again for the launch of the Tech4Good Awards.//

The Living Food Kitchen

February 25, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I was kindly sent a few desserts by The Living Food Kitchen. I picked out a few that I’d had my eye on for a while – namely the banoffee pie and the blueberry cheesecake, as well as the raspberry cheesecake and lemon cheesecake. Who can resist cheesecake!? Growing up, my favourite dessert was those individual blackcurrant cheesecakes, so the blueberry flavour kind of reminded me of them. And banoffee is one of Trout’s favourite sweet treats, so I got a couple of them for him.

^^All of the desserts are raw, gluten free, soya free and vegan.^^

^^Sweet packaging!^^

 

^^Ras photobombing the dessert!^^

I these are great if you’re trying to eat a bit healthier but still want something sweet at the end of a meal. I’m really getting into raw food at the moment – I’ve always had a soft spot for raw brownies, kale chips and crackers, and occasionally raw chocolate, too. Now I’m adding these to the list!

Have you tried these desserts? What did you think?

Photos of the Week #8

February 23, 2015

WEEK EIGHT OF 52

What a week last week was. It started in a really good way. We went to a gig on Monday evening. We ate fish finger sandwiches for dinner on Tuesday. And then on Wednesday morning I got to work and found that we’d been broken into in the early hours, and most of the computers in our shared office had been taken. It kind of threw the rest of the week off, not just in terms of trying to catch up with work (thankfully my computer wasn’t taken. It’s been just awful for the web + design team), but also in having to try and forget what had happened. The smashed doorframe. The blood in the kitchen. The can of cider on the side. (Yep, these really weren’t the smartest of thieves…) The police were great, the forensics were quick (I really wanted to shadow her but decided it probably wasn’t appropriate) and the follow up investigation seems to be going well. I came into work this morning and the ground floor stank of cigarette smoke, which kind of sparked this, ‘They’re back!’ fear inside me. Ugh! Anyway, onto the good things that happened last week.

^^Monday evening: Mariachi El Bronx at the Komedia. They were amazing! I’d never seen them before, or really listened to them very much, but really enjoyed it. The crowd was so mixed; parents and grandparents, and hardcore kids who listen to The Bronx. Definitely recommend seeing them if they’re playing near you! This show sold out, so move fast if you do get the chance.^^

^^Wednesday evening: Tea party and clothing at the White Stuff event. You can read all about it here.^^

^^Shrove Thursday. I hate pancake day, but settled on a chocolate chip American-style pancake with peanut butter sauce. Trout had the traditional kind (*vom*)^^

^^Friday evening: Trout bought me tickets for The Nutcracker for Christmas, and I really loved it. I’ve never been to the ballet before (is it completely ridiculous that I didn’t realise there would be no singing at all? Just an orchestra? Yeaaah). I’m definitely going to go again – I’ve got my eye on Swan Lake, which I think is on at the moment. Afterwards we crossed the road to watch the rest of a band’s set (I don’t know what they were called…) and it kind of made me laugh, how we combined two completely different musical preferences. FYI – if you’re ever in Brighton on a Friday night, pop into Fitzherberts and watch some bands. It’s always free, and they’re pretty much always really good punk bands.^^

^^Saturday evening: Terre a Terre! My favourite restaurant in the world. We always said that when we finally bought a house we would celebrate here – and at the weekend we finally did! Although we’ve been there since January, this was the first weekend we were both free to go. The food is just amazing, and as we had collected so many gift cards that friends and family had given us over the years, it was basically free. Bonus! We always have the Terre a Tapas to start, and I always get the churros for dessert – but this time I mixed up my main course and didn’t get the rosti. Oh, I want to go back nooow!^^

^^Sunday morning: ‘Bacon’ sarnies for brekka. One of the best kinds of brekka. Sunday started off leisurely enough, but ended up being kind of jam-packed for the rest of the day. We didn’t get out of bed until 11am, then had these bad boys, before realising that the rain wasn’t supposed to arrive until 2pm-ish so we raced outside to do some more sanding and work on our desk. We got quite a lot done before the rain did arrive at around 2.30pm, including managing to sand my hand with the electric sander.^^

^^Sunday evening: Dessert from Living Food Kitchen, and Rasputin. He’s so funny! While we were outside we decided to let Ras begin to explore the garden for a bit. On Saturday morning we took him to get chipped, and as we turned into the carpark of the vets he decided to poop in his carry box. Excellent timing, Ras. So I stunk out the waiting room (seriously, it lingered way after we had gone in for the appointment) and Ras sat in his poop. Lovely. The vet was really impressed with how chilled out he was, and as I stroked him she popped the injection in and he didn’t even flinch or meow! She was so surprised and impressed! I was one proud cat-mum. Anyway, as he was now chipped and we’ve been there six weeks and we were spending time outside anyway, we decided to see how he got on. He explored a few steps before running back into the house, which he repeated about 30 times. He was super cute and cuddly as he was a bit nervous, and I was so scared he would bolt!^^

 

EAT. Thai Tuk-Tuks & Turmeric soup. I’m obsessed! I have this every week, pretty much without fail, and it’s so delicious.//Alpro plain with coconut. Not quite as good as proper coyo, but much cheaper which suits me right now.//
MOVE. I really want to get back into my little routine that I had when I was going to the gym; 50 sit-ups, 50 leg-lifts, 1 min plank, 2 min weird fanny-in-the-air thing that I described much better in this blog post. I did that routine three times, it’s really simple to do at home and I really felt like it made a difference.//
WEAR. Nail polish! Sounds weird, but what with all the packing and moving and unpacking and general house stuff I haven’t painted my nails for weeks, and I’ve missed it.//
LOVE. Finding new things that I like.//Reading on the train, even when I’m standing.//Catching up with reading blogs – I feel so behind, but it’s something I need to start making time for.//
LINK. This round-up of podcasts on The Private Life of a Girl. I’m so close to finishing Serial, which was actually the first podcast I’ve ever listened to, so I’m really excited to work my way through this list.//This recipe for cauliflower sung choi bao on Maple Spice. They look so good!//Jen’s 30 Before 30 list. I’m turning 30 at the end of August, and keep seeing lists like this and wondering – should I make one?! I went through Jen’s and was surprised at how many I kind of nodded my head to, or thought – yes, I want another piercing! (I’ve been debating getting my smiley pierced (or, to use the correct term, upper lip frenulum oral piercing) for years, more seriously since around October. I really just want to make sure it won’t be swollen for too long as I’m client facing.) Write a short story. Heck, write a story! Go to the cinema more. Visit Liverpool. Manchester. OK maybe I should just go ahead and write my own list…//

And a new addition:

Things I want to do this week. Do ‘move’ routine outlined above ^^^//Listen to Criminal.//Write more.//

White Stuff Tea Party

February 20, 2015

On Wednesday I was kindly invited to a tea party at White Stuff to take a look at their new collection and fall in love with the little details and try on some of my favourite pieces. I had seen quite a few bits and bobs from them over the past few years – a friend’s dress, a beautiful window display, Trout’s new blazer – but never actually gotten around to popping in myself. I don’t know why really, but I’m glad I’ve gone in now because there are so many treasures to be found! Let’s start with the tea party though, shall we? They made me my very own vegan plate, including an amazing chocolate cake, scones, and a selection of canapés including caramelised onion topped bread, and falafel and hummus. The prosecco wasn’t too shabby, either ;) ^^I really do.^^ Anyway, onto the clothes. As I’ve mentioned before, one of my resolutions for 2015 is to get ethical with my clothing. When I was invited to the event I mentioned this and they were happy to send through some information for me. I got chatting one of the girls at the event and realised just how lovely White Stuff are; their material sourcing and manufacturing practice is super ethical, and they support children in India by putting them through school. How amazing is that! Every store also supports their own local charities, too. Flippin’ brilliant I say, and it meant that I could browse away knowing it was all good. You can find out more about their ethical practices on their Caring White Stuff page. The Tea Ceremony collection is inspired by 1920’s Japan, and you can definitely see the beautiful attention to detail that the designers have. I love the stitching and colour palette. You can find a sneak peek at the collection here. ^^Can’t stop thinking about this top. They only had a size 10 so it was a little big, but I think I’ll pop back and see if they have an 8 in stock soon.^^ ^^Birds and pockets! Double whammy.^^ ^^Buttons at the back! I absolutely love this detail. Thank you to Sophie for the excellent demonstrating skills ;)^^ ^^Pants!^^ ^^Socks!^^ ^^And the menswear was just as good. I love the labels and the colour palette in the current collection is brilliant – lots of mustard.^^ Definitely go and check out White Stuff if you haven’t already – loads of us at the event hadn’t been in before, and some hadn’t even heard about the brand, so I think it’s time to spread the word. It’s an ethical-practice-and dangerously-beautiful two thumbs up from me.

Photos of the Week #7

February 19, 2015

WEEK SEVEN OF 52

Here are a few photos from last week. Even though I was ill for most of it, I had a lot to think about and feel really good about a lot of things. In particular, blogging. I wrote this blog last year on becoming disillusioned with blogging, and I think it really affected the way that I write in more ways than I thought it would or could. Time is often short and energy is almost gone by the time I get home, but in the last couple of weeks  I’ve kind of found a new spark in writing and getting back into the blogging community. I’ve got a few things to share over the next couple of weeks, and I’m really excited about mixing things up over here a bit. Anyway, here’s the usual round-up. Apologies – Ras only features once!

^^I took Tuesday off work as we were getting our bed delivered. Obviously my body took that as a cue to start feeling ill and I didn’t get out of my pyjamas until Trout came home at 7pm, and that was only because we had to go to the supermarket. I’m going to go ahead and blame DIY for the sickness; my boss said that all the dust probably got into my throat and made me ill. Stupid dust. I coughed like a mad person in a client meeting on Wednesday, how embarrassing. Oh well. At least I had gingerbread porridge to keep me company.^^

^^Another thing that’s been making me feel better is this wonderful delivery of Raw Living Food Kitchen desserts. So far I’ve tried the blueberry cheesecake and the banoffee pie, both of which have been a m a z i n g. I’ll write up a full review soon.^^

^^P E Z  P A R T Y^^

^^Passionfruit, cointreau, prosecco. Hello! This lovely cocktail was part of a shoot I did on Friday. I only sipped about a thimble of this as it was early afternoon and I still had 101 things on my to-do list, but it was very tasty nonetheless.^^

^^This year Ron Swanson got me flowers for Valentine’s. What a guy!*^^

*if you don’t get this reference, please go and watch Parks & Rec immediately.

^^Sunday lunch with my sister and Lucie. I love Iydea! One of the best places to eat in Brighton, I reckon.^^

^^Cake! We bought a few slices from VBites before heading home, picked up some coffee and had a lounge floor cake picnic party. Their cake is the bomb.^^

^^Late-afternoon on Sunday, after we had checked what time the sun was setting, we sat outside and sprayed the legs for our desk. My fingers are still blue.^^

^^A rare moment of Ras being anywhere near my lap. He is obsessed with Trout at the moment! Even in this picture he’s looking at him *sob*. I’m finally catching up with episodes of Serial – it’s so good. Well, maybe that’s not quite the best word to use… but either way, I’m really enjoying it. And yep, still haven’t finished unpacking…^^

^^Our dinner Sunday night; a red onion and chive bagel, VioLife cream cheese, sausage, fried ham (basically bacon), rocket and pickled red onion from Terre a Terre. It was so good! Definitely making this again.^^

So, that was last week! I’m so happy that it’s starting to warm up a little. Even if it doesn’t last, for these past few days I’ve loved wearing something other than jeans and boots, and actually felt like doing things in the evening other than hide under a blanket unable to move. Please, spring – hurry up and arrive! Plus, it’s three weeks until our anniversary, which I always look forward to.

Here’s my eats, moves, wears, loves and links:

Eat. Kale chips. Total obsession. Coyo. Soup (every day). //
Move. We’re still planning on going running in the park near our house. Maybe this weekend we’ll actually make it?//
Wear. Shoes! Not boots! So happy.//
Love. Kale chips… And also Serial, Better Call Saul, 24 Hours in Police Custody. Writing.//
Link. This blog on Hey Rita, on giving up complaining. This inspiring blog from Hey Natalie Jean on life, comparisons and contemplating the past/present. This blog on A Rosie Outlook on making time for the things that you love. All very important things that I am thinking about right now.//

p.s. I have randomly picked a winner for my VegFest UK giveaway – congratulations greentrailsandteapottales!

Vegan Life magazine | Issue Four

February 16, 2015

It’s that time again! Vegan Life magazine issue #4 is now available to buy or download, and it might be my favourite issue yet. It’s got burgers, beer, make-up and a guide to being vegan in Hawaii. And now I really want to go to Hawaii.

This issue also has a feature on rescued moon bears in China. They’ve been rescued from ‘bile farms’, where they are kept in small cages to extract bile from their gall bladder through a dripping hole and a metal shunt punched into the abdomen. I’d never heard of this practice before, and it’s amazing that an organisation like Animals Asia exists to bring awareness to it and rescue the bears.

On a lighter note, this recipe for almond butter fudge sounds amazing!

This four-page write-up on vegan beer is really useful if you’re not sure why beer/ale etc. isn’t vegan, and which brands are vegan-friendly. It’s very much craft beer and small batch focused, which is great – although it would have been good to see a mini round-up of bigger brands that you find in most pubs, like Grolsch. Also – girls drink beer too, you know Vegan Life! “Drink Up, Lads”. Pfft.

So, those are my highlights from this month’s issue! Have you read Vegan Life magazine? Do you prefer online or print? 

Photos of the Week #6

February 10, 2015

WEEK SIX OF 52

Hello February! And hello Valentine’s Day, you’re just around the corner and I can’t wait. One of my favourite days of the year. Have I mentioned how much I love love? Do you have any plans?

Last year was a bit of a blur. Work, things being fixed around the house, sleeping in an actual bed – what a dream. Here are a few photos, mainly from the weekend.

^^Last Sunday I cooked my first roast in the new house, and forgot to share the photos on last week’s round-up. I’m so happy that our oven is pretty good!^^

^^Roast dinners are one of the best meals ever, right? And also, eating dinner at lunch time. I love it.^^

^^This is how we spend most evenings. Ras is enjoying snuggle time a lot, but loves it even more when there’s a laptop to climb on.^^

^^Once Friday hit, it set a precedent for the rest of the weekend, and we begun our tour of various eating establishments. We started at lunchtime, with hotdogs from Beelzebab at Street Diner. They were so good!^^

^^Friday night, trying out a new (to us) Indian restaurant in our new hometown. Yum! Rogan and a Madras, with coconut rice and chapattis. I LOVE chapattis. And veg curries that have potato in – a rarity, can you believe?^^

^^Saturday we had a massive to-do list, including registering Ras with a new vets, picking up parcels, buying things for the house and picking up some wood from the reclaimed wood store in Brighton. We’re building a desk for our study, but more on that later. After all that rushing around we stopped at VBites for a doner kebab and hickory chick burger. I love this place!^^

^^Saturday night we went 30th-birthday-party-hopping, which ended up with us staying out until 3.30am (!!!). This is approximately five hours past my bedtime. Not only did I stay up super late, I was also the co-founder of a conga line that recruited actual.strangers. What a night!^^

^^Hungover breakfast the morning after. Well, for them. Non-drinker here tried not to be too smug ;)^^

^^This is how we spent Sunday afternoon. The wood that we bought was a bit of a state (weathered and full of nails) so we spent three hours pulling out nails and sanding it down – and only managed four out of the eight pieces! It was so much fun, even if I do ache all over and keep finding bruises all over my legs. I can’t wait to finish them off and start varnishing them, and then we’ll hammer them together and they’ll make the top of the desk. I’ll share photos once it’s finished! Hopefully it will look as good as we hope…^^

^^You can kind of see the state of the wood was, but these pictures don’t really do it justice. And yes it was a family gathering! All hands (and paws) on deck. And yes that is the hideous scratching post carpet that came with the house. Honestly. Have I mentioned how awful it was? It was quite literally the texture of a scratching post. It’s gone now, thankfully – replaced with a fluffy, homely cream carpet.^^

Today I took the day off as our bed was being delivered, however they just left and it wouldn’t fit up the stairs. I’m gutted – that bed was so beautiful, and now I’m worried that we’ll never have the bed of our dreams. At least we have our spare room bed to sleep in for the time being. Rubbish :( Anyway, here are last week’s eats, moves, wears, loves and links.

Eat. Ahem, as you can see I’ve been eating lots of good food!

Move. I’m really missing going to the gym, but am looking forward to running in the park near our house. It also has an outdoor gym which looks fun! My commute to work has been really good – I’m loving spending time to myself in the morning before the day really kicks in, and getting in that little bit more exercise. It takes around 15 minutes to walk to the station, which I either spend chatting to Trout or listening to music by myself, and then the train takes around 20 minutes, which gives me time to read some of my book. My office is around 10 minutes from the station, so even more time for chatting or listening to music!//I’ve also been working out a lot at home in the form of DIY. Ripping up incredibly tough, disgusting carpet, sanding, cleaning. I ache all over!//

Wear. Many, many layers! And boots! It’s so cold here. From my cold house to my cold-in-the-morning office to the commute to and from work, I’m freezing most of the time. Which is rubbish.//

Love. Getting stuff fixed around the house. Bless Trout, he’s been amazing – calling everyone, getting everything done, sorting shit out.//Baths! I’ve been kind of obsessed with them lately. Almost every night. And so hot that I have to lie down on the bed afterwards.//Using my tumbledryer! Oh my.//

Link. My VegFest Brighton giveaway is open for another week – there are loads of ways to enter and you could win two free tickets!//Everything Anna at Door Sixteen posts – total interior inspiration.//Style Memos’ new YouTube channel. I’m not really into YouTube, apart from all the cat vidoes, but I really like Alexis’ channel.//

Finally, here’s a little round-up of my resolutions for this year.

Ethical clothing. Going pretty well! Mostly because I haven’t bought any clothes. But I can see a shift in my thinking – I have never liked shopping centres, but now when I go in it’s a bit like going round the supermarket. I can see the packs and packs of meat, different cheeses, creamy desserts – but I don’t need or want any of them. Even walking past the Zara sale. Now that’s strength!

Be patient, mindful and thoughtful. Erm. This may take a bit longer. Darn my short temper! And in my defence, my period made me super ragey this week.//

Healthy living. Kiiiind of. I’ve been enjoying soup and kale chips a lot at lunchtime, and haven’t been snacking, but salad is just out the window right now. Seriously, how can anyone eat salad in winter?//

Cook more. Kiiiind of. We have been having a lot of takeaways lately, but I’ve also done a bit of cooking myself. Like sausage casserole, creamy garlicy mash, cabbage and carrots. Yum!//

Save more. Pfft. Did you know that owning your house means that you are very very poor?//

I’d like to add a couple more for the next few weeks; a London day (totally craving one right now), and going to more galleries. Time to do some research about what’s coming up. How was last week for you? Hope it was super fun! If anyone feels like linking any exhibitions in London that I should go to, please leave a comment below!

 

VegFestUK Brighton 2015 – Win Tickets!

February 3, 2015

I absolutely LOVE VegFest. I’ve been going to both the Brighton and London events for years, and they’re such a great place to discover new companies and organisations, as well as to try new products by brands I already love. Plus, hello free samples!

All the details for this year’s Brighton event can be found in this flyer, including date, address, tickets etc:

To celebrate this brilliant event, I’m giving away two tickets to one of my lovely readers. To enter the competition, you can do one, two, three, four or all FIVE of the things below. Every ‘thing’ you do is a separate entry, so if you do all five, you’ll have five chances of winning. Make sense? OK, let’s go.

  1. Leave a comment below letting me know why you want to go to VegFest
  2. Sign up to receive email notifications from paperbagblog, and leave a comment below letting me know you have (or already do!)
  3. Like paperbagblog on Facebook and leave a comment below letting me know you have (or already do!)
  4. Follow me on Instagram and leave a comment below letting me know you have (or already do!)
  5. Follow me on Twitter, and tweet about it using the following: “I’ve entered @paperbagblog‘s competition for the chance to win TWO tickets to @VegFestUK! You can enter here: http://wp.me/p1CPIX-2I3” – and leave a comment below letting me know you have.

Bonus round: You can enter the competition by doing option #5 as many times as you like, so the more you tweet about it (and comment below every time) the better your chances are of winning these two golden tickets. (I don’t think they’re actually golden). Please remember to leave your name and a contact email address in at least one of your comments.

This competition is open to UK residents only and will end at 6pm on Tuesday 17th February. I’ll contact the winner by email shortly afterwards.

So go, share the excitement of VegFest UK and I’ll pick one of you at random to win two tickets in a couple of weeks. Good luck!

p.s. If I contact you and you don’t respond within five days, I will unfortunately have to pick another winner. 

 

Photos of the Week #2, #3, #4 and #5

February 1, 2015

WEEKS TWO, THREE, FOUR AND FIVE OF 52

The one word I can think of that summarises the past few weeks is…change.

So.much.change.

My company moved offices (again. I sincerely hope this is the last move for a long time! Four offices in two years is a lot of moving around). Although the actual move was pretty painless (we had a moving company and sold our desks, so just had to pack up our computers and bits and bots from the office) all I could think of while we were moving was – I’ll be doing this for myself next week.

^^The view from our new office. Our new location is still central and I get to look at this beautiful building every day.^^

^^We enjoyed a little mid-week gig in town; Ducking Punches, a guy with an awesome voice playing acoustic, and River Jumpers, who you should definitely check out because they are so.good. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anyone make a human pyramid at a show – I don’t even remember the last time we did one! I think it might have been at a friend’s wedding. Anyway, bring back the human pyramid, I say.^^

^^Ras says, HI!^^

^^In week #2 I headed off for my final evening of volunteering with the souprun. After four years, it was so sad to say goodbye to everyone, both the guy I’ve been working with for the past year or so and the regulars that I’ve got to know over the years. I’m hoping I can pick up some volunteering work closer to home.^^

^^A new book, given to me by Trout for Christmas. It’s really different to the books I usually read – it’s about a murder, but written as though it’s fiction so it goes into a lot of depth when describing the characters and town they live in etc. I’m so enjoying reading at the moment, in fact I bought Yes Please by Amy Poehler a couple of weeks ago (she’s my idol). What’s even better is that I’ve been ok reading on the train to and from work! I’ve felt a bit sick in the past, but thankfully I seem to be fine. It’s really nice to have some time to think before work, rather than walking straight there.^^

^^A break from the packing to celebrate a friend’s birthday with Mexican food. We went to La Choza, and the food was really good.^^

^^Packing.^^

^^Saying goodbye to our old flat.^^

^^Our first meal in the new house, eaten on boxes with no plates.^^

^^This one isn’t allowed upstairs – new house rule. Except that he’s figured out how to open doors, and enjoys coming upstairs in the early hours to let us know how smart he is. Last week I woke up to find him sitting in the middle of the room, just staring. Such a creepy cat.^^

^^Indecisive bagel preparation. With no fridge for the first two weeks, breakfast choices were somewhat limited. It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, though! Thank goodness vegan butter survives out of the fridge.^^

^^We had a fire, and it was so beautiful. We had one until earlier in the week, when the gas man came and told us we shouldn’t use it as it wasn’t safe. Which is sad :(^^

^^A beautiful friend’s 30th birthday. It was so much fun!^^

^^Rasputin trying to keep warm in the new house. It’s pretty cold, and we’re slowly trying to get things fixed so that it’s warmer, but it does mean that for the first time ever he is being a proper lap cat!! Which we’re both enjoying a lot. He’s so cute.^^

^^We went to see my sister in pantomime. I’m so proud of her! She played the princess, and was absolutely amazing.^^

^^Mexican food!^^

^^Soft tacos!^^

^^First time baking in the new house, ready for my family coming to visit to see it for the first time. I used Ms Cupcake’s recipes, which are amazing – these are banana and choc chip loaf and white chocolate chip cooking. Yum!^^

Eat. Anything that doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge! We now have a fridge, for a couple of weeks we didn’t.

Move. Moving a lot! Moving all the junk on my desk, moving my clothes into boxes, moving into a new house…

Wear. Anything I can find. I have bags and bags of clothes exploding all over place, and it’s no longer a case of, ‘What do I feel like wearing?’ but more, ‘What the hell can I find that isn’t summer shorts or a cringled dress that needs ironing.

Love. Finding places for everything in our new place.

Link. I haven’t had a chance to read anything of note lately!

So that’s what I’ve been up to since the start of the year! Hopefully next week I’ll have caught up a bit, but for now I’m enjoying spending my evenings with Trout and Rasputin, doing the odd bit of unpacking and for the most part trying to keep warm. Thanks for being patient, while I ignore this little blog of mine!

What I’ve been up to lately

January 19, 2015

It’s been a bit quiet around here, hasn’t it? The three of us have been busy packing, cleaning, moving, eating cross-legged on the floor, freezing our nips off and cuddling up together under blankets in our new home. We don’t have the internet just yet, but when we do I’ll be sharing a few photos from the past couple of weeks. See you soon!

Vegan Life magazine | Issue Three

January 6, 2015

Issue three of Vegan Life magazine is out now! As per usual, this issue has loads of great articles in. They’re always my favourite part of the magazine – that, and the recipes. Those photos always make me so hungry!

I think a lot of the magazine is really informative for non-vegans and those considering going vegan. You find out about so many great companies and products, you can see how easy it is to be vegan and it makes you think about your own choices when it comes to food, clothing and lifestyle.

 

I don’t wear anything from an animal – no leather, suede, wool or silk (or any other animal by-product I might have missed!). Yes it can make certain shopping trips difficult (don’t get me started on how hard it is to find a winter coat, or to walk away from beautiful underwear!) but for me, it’s these tiny sacrifices that make the difference. They all make a statement, they all change an animal’s life, they all mean that as far as I can personally go, I don’t rely on animals for anything. This issue has a great feature on wool and why it is a cruel industry. A lot of people ask me why I don’t wear wool – it gets shorn off anyway, so why not wear it? Well, it’s just not as simple as that. The animal industry is a cruel one, and no area of it is left untouched. Do some research and you’ll see that – or read this article, which has everything you’ll need to know. I don’t often talk about my personal beliefs on my blog, but I think it’s something that I think everyone should research before making a decision. When I was vegetarian I did some research into why people were vegan and realised that these reasons were the same as why I went veggie in the first place. I know it’s a lifestyle that’s not for everyone, but just make sure you understand the choices that you’re making and how they are affecting others and the world around you. Rant over ;)

Steamed buns are something that I keep meaning to get around to trying – ever since I first tried them at Terre a Terre. They were so delicious, and this recipe will definitely help me on my way to completing one of my new years resolutions! (That is, to cook more often and to use my cookery books more.)

Have you got a digital or print subscription? What do you think of the magazine?
Any favourite articles, past or present?

You can find my write-up of issue one here, and issue two here. Visit the Vegan Life magazine website for details on how to sign-up for a subscription, and which shops and supermarkets are stocking the magazine. Thanks, as always, to Vegan Life for the digital subscription!

 

Photos of the Week #1

January 5, 2015

WEEK ONE OF 52

Happy New Year, everyone! Well, here we are – back to square one, quite literally. I’m really excited to start from the beginning again, and this time I’m throwing a few more bits and bobs into the mix. You might want to grab a coffee, this one turned out to be a long one ;) Let’s begin with a few photos from the end of 2014 and the start of 2015.

^^Last Monday we drove to Mercendes-Benz World to enjoy a Hot Lap (you get driven around the track insanely fast, and the driver does a few tricks like driving on ice and wet laps, emergency stops and swerving cones at the last minute). It was AMAZING, and only costs £15.^^

^^I absolutely loved this installation!^^

^^After we had booked a time slot for the Hot Lap we drove to Kingston to look at fridge-freezers and washing machines and dishwashers and all those kinds of boring things ;) We also picked up an Amazing Sandwich while we were there. Seriously, this is the best sandwich in the world. Hummus. Peppers. Basil. Olive. Perfect.^^

^^While we were in Kingston we also stopped off at this amazing Korean supermarket that I used to go to a lot when I lived there. I love walking around and seeing what vegan goodies they sell (a lot of mock meats, if you’re wondering – and super cheap tofu!). We bought a jar of Korean BBQ sauce, some mock-pork and a few other cold bits and bobs like cucumber kimchi. We whipped up a little feast when we got home, including a cold noodle salad, broccoli tossed in sesame oil and chilli and these amazing thai crackers from Tesco. Yum! I bought a few Japanese desserts, including black rice mochi which are really good.^^

^^Did you have a great New Year’s Eve? I actually didn’t take any photos, but had a really good night. We went to a friend’s for a hillbilly-themed fancy dress party and it was so much fun. Everyone made such an effort! I was actually running around charity shops at 2pm trying to find my costume, but thankfully found some kind of blue dungaree/playsuit/thing to wear, and a pair of bad teeth thankfully! Charity shops are always my go-to place for dressing up costumes, and (touchwood!) they’ve never let me down.

After going to bed at 2am I slept in and enjoyed breakfast in bed. I had a bowl of chopped apple with a raspberry soya yogurt and a mini flapjack. We stayed in bed watching Parks & Recreation for a while before I raced round the flat giving it a clean and a tidy-up, then we went for a long walk in Ashdown Forest with friends. It felt so good to walk in the fresh air for an hour and a half, blowing the cobwebs away. Such a good start to 2015! Even if I did come home SO wet and muddy…^^

^^Rasputin wanted to go camping. He was bitterly disappointed when I had to decline. I meant to wash this sleeping bag, but the label says it’s hand-wash only and shouldn’t go in the washing machine, and really – aint nobody got time for that.^^

^^Another one of Ras.^^

^^REUBEN!! My favourite lunch, they are just so.darn.good. I had a cold coming on, so Trout whipped one up for me and it made me smile.^^

^^Hubba, hubba.^^

^^Ras and his love for boxes. He’s seriously having a field day right now – between all the boxes to sit on and plastic to chew, it’s his idea of heaven.^^

^^PIZZAAA! We tried Pizza Me for the first time, with a mixed response. I thought the bases were awesome, but the cheese was like glue. I did not like it at all. The menu is really good though, and Trout loved the cheese, so I think it’s probably just me. I don’t really like vegan cheese, especially when there’s a lot of it. Apart from Daiya. I love Daiya.^^

^^On Sunday I met up with one of my best friend’s for lunch and a wander round town. I hadn’t been to Iydea for ages, and we were both in need of something healthy, so it was perfect. I had the thai satay sweet potato pie with potato salad and red cabbage. I love this place!^^

 ^^Hanging out with this guy is the best.^^

^^I think my polaroid film has well and truly lost it :( I knew it had expired, but was secretly hoping that it would just make a cool effect – which I suppose it has, really. I’ve still got a few more photos left on the film, so I’ll see what else comes out.^^

So, that’s what I got up to last week! As an extra addition I thought I’d pinch an idea off Laura, and make my own variation of her Eat, Move, Wear, Love, Link series. I think it’s quite fitting that she shared her very first Eat, Move, Wear, Love, Link post exactly a year ago today!

Eat. So for me, this week I’ve been eating a lot, as per usual. Most of what I’ve been eating is pictured, but something that I loved making that isn’t featured, was a potato gratin. I used this recipe as the basis for the dish, and mixed it up with sliced carrots, mushrooms, caramelised onions and Daiya cheese. It was so good! I served it with a Fry’s schnitzel and some boiled cabbage and broccoli.

Move. Not much! With the gym being closed on and off and this cold that decided to strike on Friday, I haven’t made it to the gym or even had the energy to do much at home. I can’t wait to get back into regular workouts.

Wear. My pyjamas! Fake hillbilly teeth. Slippers. My duvet. You get the picture ;)

Love. Having so much time off to spend with the people that I love. A refreshed perspective. Priorities aligned. I’ve looked at my life as a whole and had a good old think.

Link. I’ve been trying to get back into reading more of my favourite blogs, and this bit of the round-up has been great. Jojo’s Top Ten Eat’s of 2014 was awesome, and made me want to a) travel more b) be in America NOW. Second up, I’m just going to go ahead and say everything that Jo from The Only Place has been posting lately. I love her photography. And she’s a super person, too. Finally, Emmi’s round-up of her favourite outfits from 2014. I love her style!

By the way, have you seen Laura’s plank challenge? If you’ve never tried a plank before, definitely give it a go. Your body will scream, NOOO! from the beginning, but it’s totally worth it – no other similar exercise has been as simple or effective as plank, and I can really feel the difference in my arms, chest, back of my legs and stomach.

The idea behind the plank challenge is that you gradually push yourself – if you start at ten seconds, it’s still a start. Push yourself a little more every day, until the end of January, and see how much you’ve improved. The most I’ve ever done is 2.5mins, but right now I’m doing a rotation of 50 sit-ups, 50 leg lifts, 1min plank and 2mins of this other exercise that I have no idea how to describe. It’s basically this…

…but I put a 5kg weight on my tummy and hold for two minutes. I do this series four times.

Happy 2015 to you all! Tell me how the end of 2014 was for you, and what you’re hoping for in 2015. Also, what kind of exercise do you do? Have you ever tried a plank?

2014: A few of my favourite moments

January 2, 2015

2014. What a year. I started putting together this blog post as a way to look back over the past 52 weeks. I added photo after photo after photo, until my computer complained and strained under the weight, and it became just too hard to narrow it down. Which ones would make the cut? Which memories are ‘better’ than others? How can you even compare?

So instead, I tried to categorise the finest memories. The memories of evenings with friends, days with Trout, countries explored, celebrities met, all the food eaten, mornings spent in bed cuddling with Rasputin, the music listened to, kitchens repainted (well, that was just one really), all the photobooths and cups of coffee, and the beaches. Both in summer and in winter. But again, it was too hard to narrow them all down.

So instead, here are a very few that I think summarise 2014 for me. I originally uploaded 43 photos. Here are nine.

Family. January 15th, my Grandma passed away. One of the most important people in my life, and through her passing I finally let myself grieve the loss that had dragged on for years. A cruel illness, yes, but a huge reminder for me to appreciate and learn from the people that are around me and inspire me. My Grandma taught me so much, and I know she would have continued teaching me a lot as I grew older.

Trout & Rasputin. Obviously they are my family, too. This is probably my favourite photo of the two of them. I’m so thankful for them both, for the happiness they both bring every single time I come home and they’re there, for the mornings waking up to them both snuggled up to me, for the evenings spent together, for the way that Rasputin moans and cries if Trout and I are in separate parts of the flat.

Music. I’ve been to so many amazing shows this year, mostly thanks to Trout and his brilliant taste in music and speedy ticket purchasing skills. The Flatliners, Manchester Orchestra (above) and Augustine’s, to name but a few, plus seeing Dave House perform in a friend’s home. I’ll post a few more photos from the Augustine’s show because it really does deserve it’s own blog post. This year I really want to go to Groezrock (the line-up this year looks so good), and Fest (I say this every year. However if someone wants to buy my flight to Florida that would be great ;)).

Friends. Spending time with friends is always so special, especially when it ends in a massive snuggle and Trout’s wearing a chilli costume and Vicky has a moustache and a monobrow drawn on her face. There are too many days to mention, but it’s been a really fun year. Ups and downs, but I guess that’s life. No-one’s perfect, and we can only do the best that we can.

Coffee. Some of the best days have revolved around coffee. Secrets exchanged, friendships strengthened, time spent alone.

Travel. I’ve been lucky enough to have visited some amazing places this year; Barcelona, Istanbul, Cambridge, Greece. Seeing so many little pockets of the world with Trout is always my favourite way to travel.

Fun days. Too many to list! Secret Cinema was fantastic – then there was meeting Oliver Jeffers, catching up with friends in London and Barcelona, all the roast dinners with friends, days spent gallery-hopping, sifting through family photos, weddings, blogger events, trips to animal sanctuaries and so many more.

Life. Flowers, repainting the kitchen after a certain smoothie explosion, photobooths, all the good food and the huge changes that have happened at the end of 2014, which I am so excited about sharing in 2015 (no, I’m not pregnant). I also joined the gym (!!!), swam in the sea in Brighton for the first time in over ten years, discovered a love for espresso, celebrated our 12th anniversary and finally got around to reading books. I think I must have read around seven – which might not sound like a lot, but for someone that never ‘found the time’, I’m pretty chuffed with that!

Resolutions for 2014

How did I do? My resolutions for 2014 were mainly about taking control of my life. Money, thoughts, diet, planning ahead. I also wanted to make time for friends, old and new, use up everything in my fridge, write more, spend less time online and to travel more.

In terms of travelling in the UK, I managed to visit Cambridge which was so lovely. You can find photos from our trip here. I also managed to spend less time online. Aside from work, I have definitely cut back in terms of how long I spend on the internet. If I am online, it’s because I’m watching something – which isn’t really the same (for me, anyway). I’m definitely more in control of my money and am better at planning ahead (something which I’ve always struggled with in the past), and am getting quite good at using everything up in the fridge before buying new ingredients. I would like to make more time for friends, but this year has definitely involved all of my favourite people, so that’s the main thing.

Resolutions for 2015

Ethical clothing. As far as I possibly can, I want to buy ethically made clothing, that’s been made according to fairtrade standards, and in the UK if possible. It’s been really interesting to discover so many beautiful brands while I’ve been researching this, and I’ve got a list of things that I want to buy ASAP. It’s certainly not coming naturally at this point – my brain keeps thinking things like, ‘Ooh, the ZARA sale!!’ and, ‘That coat in M&S was so nice… and it was vegan… and I don’t have a coat like that at all…’ If you have any companies you love, please do let me know! Next on my list is workout gear and jeans. I have been buying Topshop’s Leigh jeans for years, so would love to find something similar – they keep their shape, I’ve got them in three different colours, they cost less than £40 and they last a really long time. So yeah, something as good as them, please!

Be patient, mindful and thoughtful. I tend to have a short temper with the people that I love the most, and I really, really want to change this. I want to pause and think about what I’m saying before the words leave my mouth (I tend to put my foot in it a lot…), be more patient with those around me and be kinder with my words. I also need to remember that no-one can read my mind, and that I probably shouldn’t just blurt out random sentences that only make sense to me.

Healthy living. I’m not going on any of those ridiculous fad diets – or anything dangerous like the 5:2 diet – but I do eat an awful lot of sweets and chocolate. Seriously. I need to get back into eating healthy food and going to the gym, as that kind of slipped after I got back from our holiday in the summer…! I say all this while eating faux skittles. I had an apple before that, though!

Cook more. I think I say this every year, but I would like to use all my cookbooks more frequently and make more food from scratch. Trout’s very good at this, so I would like to do more as well. A couple of days ago I made parsnip soup from a bag of parsnips that I bought in Waitrose for 19p, and everything else I had in. I love meals like this!

Save more. I have actually been really good with money over the past few months, and it’s been so satisfying. I don’t have a huge disposable income, but saving has been a priority as over the next few weeks it will deplete for a number of reasons. I still want to travel, and it’s Trout’s big 3-0 in April so I’ve got a fair few pennies needed for all the ideas that I have!

I’m sure there are a hundred and one other things that I want to do, but those are the main ones. What resolutions do you have? How did you do in 2014? On top of my personal resolutions, I also want to continue with my Photos of the Week series – although I might steal Laura’s idea of Eat, Move, Wear, Love, Links…! What are your resolutions for 2015?

Photos of the Week #52

December 31, 2014

WEEK 52 OF 52 (!!!)

Well, here we are folks! The end of 2014. I shared most of last week’s photos in my Christmas 2014 blog, which you can find here, and here are a couple from the rest of the week.

^^On Sunday we went round to a friend’s house for lunch, board games, drinking, dinner and a big snuggle. It was such a fun day! We played Cards Against Humanity, which is already one of my favourite games ever.^^

^^Snuggle party!^^

Only a couple of photos I’m afraid, but it wouldn’t be super interesting if I shared pics of me rushing through town for those last minute things, wrapping presents, Ras chewing on cellotape and all three of us sleeping in far later than usual. What are your plans for New Years Eve? I can’t believe it’s today! It’s totally snuck up on me. Tomorrow is 2015, a year that I’m so looking forward to. I’ve put together a round-up of 2014 which I’ll be sharing over the next couple of days. Enjoy the last day of the year, and I hope you bring in the new year with a smile on your face.

Christmas 2014

December 29, 2014

Happy Christmas, everyone! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. Mine was filled with family, good food, wonderful gifts and has so far been very relaxing. Here are a few photos:

^^We spent Christmas Eve at home, enjoying our first party tea of Christmas. We cracked open a bottle of Cava, however Trout got too excited when we toasted and cracked his champagne flute, and then I spilt most of mine down myself and the sofa. This why we shouldn’t have nice things!!^^

^^Breakfast on Christmas morning. I love spending this time at home with Trout and Rasputin, it’s such a great start to the festive celebrations. We had croissants (the same as almost every vegan it seems!), which Trout enjoyed with VBites ham and a few slices of Vegusto cheese. I prefer just butter on mine.^^

^^Christmas lunch! Once we got to my Mum & Dad’s we had a coffee and a catch-up before my sister and her husband arrived, then it was straight into present opening. I was completely spoilt this year! Everyone seemed to love their gifts too, which was good. I’m a big believer in thinking. I spend a lot of time thinking about what to buy everyone, and then try to get them all in one painless swoop. That’s always the plan, anyway! This year it actually seemed to work, though?!//For lunch we had so much good food; my sister made an amazing nut roast wellington, mashed swede and sprouts with ‘bacon’ and chestnuts, and we had cauliflower, roasted carrots and roast potatoes, with onion gravy. I’m so thankful that my family are so happy to eat vegan food – the only non-vegan things were turkey and sausage meat.^^

^^So good!^^

^^The best Christmas pudding I have EVER. HAD. Seriously, this was amazing. Thank you, Morrisons!^^

^^Part of the gifts I gave to my sister were the ingredients for Pat. This is something we used to make all the time when we were younger – it’s so good! It’s basically a bowl of melted chocolate with cornflakes and a packet of skittles stirred through. It’s so good! Trout brought back a few packets of skittles from America (they’re vegan over there. So unfair!) so in the evening we made a little bowl to enjoy. Here’s the ‘recipe’…^^

^^Melt chocolate over a pan of boiling water, and pour in some cornflakes. Not too many! It should be mostly chocolate. We used Moo Free vegan chocolate.^^

^^Pour in your skittles.^^

^^Et voila – Pat!^^

^^We enjoyed this while watching a few episodes of Footballer’s Wives, which is exactly how we used to eat it 13 or so years ago…! Perfect. If you make it, let me know. It can be tricky at first, but this recipe is totally worth the hardwork ;) ^^

^^On Boxing Day we went over to Trout’s Mum’s house. It’s so lovely to spend time with his family, especially when his nieces are round. Trout is an amazing uncle, so much fun to be around. And so boring he sent one of them to sleep ;) Not really!^^

^^I can’t believe how different these two are!^^

^^She was SO excited to put on the dress and hairband we gave her! Seriously, she was hopping around with the biggest smile on her face.^^

That was our Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I’ve got a few photos from the last few days, which have been a lovely mix of spending time with Trout in some of our favourite places, and with friends, playing boardgames and eating good food. How was your Christmas? Are you enjoying some well-earned time off?

Photos of the Week #51

December 23, 2014

WEEK 51 OF 52

With so much going on lately, I have to admit – even if I did post about Christmas just the other day, I’m not really feeling festive at all. Not even after having so many Christmas parties. Not even after opening my advent calendar every day (or every other day, it seems). Not even after going to the pub for a roast dinner and sitting right by the Christmas tree. Sigh.

Festive feelings aside, last week was really fun. I enjoyed two Christmas parties and a lovely evening with friends – which I think is really what Christmas is all about; spending time with the people that you love. Here’s what else I got up to last week.

^^On Wednesday we had our office Christmas party. We started off with cocktails at Valentino’s (my favourite cocktail bar in Brighton) before heading to the Komedia for a three-course meal and an evening of comedy. The acts were really funny, and the food was pretty good.^^

^^My vegan meal was actually pretty good! Soup with croutons to start, an amazing cheezy fig tart with salad and optional potatoes, cabbage and carrots on the side, and then a trio of (artificial tasting) sorbet to finish.^^

^^On Friday I went to a friend’s house for dinner and an evening of watching Clarissa and Sabrina. It was so much fun! And I definitely needed some help from Clarissa as she explained it all. We watched two of the Christmas episodes of Sabrina – I’d forgotten just how funny it is!^^

^^Rasputin and my breakfast on Saturday morning. Trout made us ‘sausage’ ‘egg’ ‘McMuffin’s’.

^^On Sunday Trout and I tried a new pub for a Sunday roast; The Constant Service. We’ve been meaning to try it for the last…three years? Sometimes it takes us a while to get around to things like this ;) We’d heard it was one of the best roasts in Brighton, and it was definitely very good. The roast potatoes were probably the best I’d ever eaten, and they had two vegan options on the menu. Plus, look at those portions!^^

^^Arancini balls. Swoon. One of my favourites. Trout is such a talented cook.^^

So that was last week. And this week is Christmas! I’m still not feeling very Christmassy, even with the big day only a handful of hours away. Don’t get me wrong – I’m really excited! I’m even excited to wrap all of my presents this evening, and to finish work tomorrow and head home with a tingly feeling in my tummy as I pack a bag for the next couple of days. Everything is just a little hectic at the moment, and we haven’t even decorated the flat. Which I do feel really sad about, but what can you do. Are you feeling super festive? Can you lend some of the Christmas spirit to me?

The next couple of days will probably fly away from me, what with our office closing tomorrow and trying to get everything done today before we go. I can’t wait to see my family on Thursday! What are your plans? We’re spending Christmas Day with my family and Boxing Day with Trout’s family, before spending the rest of the holiday period at home together. Two days to go! Have you done all of your present shopping?

Building up to Christmas Day

December 20, 2014

It’s the last weekend before Christmas, are you prepared? For possibly the first Christmas in years, I think I’ve actually bought all of my presents ahead of time! Now there’s just the task of wrapping them all… I’m sure I’ll have a Christmas Eve panic where I think I haven’t bought enough for everyone and that I should go out and buy 100 more gifts, just in case. Do you ever get that?

Brighton was not actually as insane as I thought it would be today. In fact it seemed like a pretty ordinary Saturday for the city. I popped in to get a few more bits + pieces, and a slice of pizza from Infinity, and avoided the mall completely, instead opting for the independent shops. A much nicer experience, let me tell you. Also, if you’re feeling stressed go for a wander – it might seem like a waste of time when your brain is going crazy, but it will clear your head. Especially when you have soya flat white in your hand from the best coffee shop in the world ;)

I’m so excited to spend Christmas Day with my family this year! I was looking back over previous Christmases and getting that excited feeling in my belly. Here are 2012 and 2013 – for some reason I never documented 2011?! Oh well.

I’ve just popped home to drop off the gifts that I bought and to hide them away, before heading out for an afternoon of DJs playing records from the 30s and then a Merry Metal Christmas party at a friends house. This has become a brilliant annual tradition, where we listen to Christmas songs covered by metal bands. Could there be a better theme for a Christmas party?! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Photos of the Week #50

December 15, 2014

WEEK 50 OF 52

Shit’s getting real, people. The end is near. Christmas is next week. New Years is the week after that. Are you ready?

^^I’ve been enjoying the first few Christmas parties of December, which have been so much fun. I’ll take any excuse to see people that I love, and when it involves eating a lot of food over a long period of time? Even better.^^

^^Every year we organise a friend’s Christmas party. Usually we go to Terre a Terre or Food for Friends, but this year we decided to do it a bit differently, and went to Indian Summer. Their menu is really good, and they label everything vegan which makes it even easier. I resisted ordering the dosa and went for the thali, instead. It was pretty good, but not as good as the dosa (obv). I had the aubergine pakoda to start, which was lovely. Also, their Indian red wine is amazing. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but I think it’s really good – and perfect for this time of year.^^

^^Is this not the best present you’ve ever seen in your entire life? So much fun. Unfortunately it wasn’t for me, though :(^^

^^Our friend Tim (the gifter of the giant magnifying glass. Seriously, best gift chooser ever award should go to him) handed round crackers for everyone, and cardboard hats to construct. They were amazing! Some of the crackers had these moustaches, which were fun to play around with.^^

^^Yep.^^

^^The second of the weekend’s Christmas parties was a Christmas Cookie Party at my friend Ashley’s. It was such a good idea! We baked cookies and decorated them whilst watching Christmas movies. Perfect.^^

^^So many cookies!^^

^^Polkadot cookie!^^

^^Check out their dog, Bruce, in his festive costume! What I really loved most about the party though, was the fact that Ashley has the nicest friends. Seriously. Trout and I ended up leaving with two other couples, none of us knowing each other, and grabbing food and beers back in Brighton. It was such a fun end to the evening – and for someone that has a bit of trouble making new friends, I was really chuffed. Here’s to a new year and new friendships.^^

^^Trout woke up early on Sunday morning and went out to get the ingredients for a full English breakfast – we had sausages, hash browns, toast, beans, bacon and mushrooms. I didn’t quite manage to get through it all but it was pretty great way to wake up, especially as we had only eaten cookies and a pile of some of the best sweet potato fries the night before.^^

 
 

^^Other things that I’ve been eating; dark chocolate covered digestives from Aldi and Fox’s dark chocolate chip cookies. Two new accidentally vegan treats, and both so good. I’m so happy! It’s been a pretty cookie-filled weekend ;) It’s becoming a habit to pick up dinner from Iydea on my way home from souprun whenever Trout’s away for the evening. This was delicious; coconut roti, cumin carrots and garlicy broccoli. Yum! Finally, PIZZA! And garlic dough balls. These are Pizza Express dough balls, and I made my own garlic butter.^^

So, that was last week. This week will no doubt be a bit manic; trying to get the bulk of my work done before the end of the working year next week, plus it’s our Christmas party on Wednesday, drinks with an old friend this evening and another Christmas party on Saturday evening. I really am a lucky girl. Have a great week, everyone!

Photos of the Week #49

December 10, 2014

WEEK 49 OF 52

Can you believe how close we are to the end of 2014!? And can you believe that I’ve actually kept this up for a whole year (well, almost)!? It’s been great to look back over each week and think about what I’ve been up to, and what I want to be doing more of in 2015. I think I’ll continue the theme next year, as I really have enjoyed putting them together. Here’s what I got up to last week.

^^Eating PIE! It’s been so cold lately, and Trout text me on his way home to say he was freezing and needed pie. So I came home to the comforting smell of a baking pie, which we had with garlicy mash and tenderstem broccoli. That’s heaven on a plate, right there.^^

^^Salad, after a visit to the gym and eaten while Masterchef was on. We’re behind (again!) but hoping to catch up this week.^^

^^Toast in bed on Saturday morning. Sometimes you just can’t beat a slice of buttery toast.^^

^^Enjoying my toast with this whiskerface.^^

^^Festive lights in Brighton. I can’t wait for Christmas!!^^

^^Bed shopping on Sunday afternoon at Warren Evans. It’s such a beautiful showroom, and every time we walk past we would always say, ‘one day we’ll buy a bed from there!’ And now I think that time might have actually come. This bed was so ridiculously comfortable! I really didn’t want to leave.^^

So that was last week. It was fairly relaxed (I’m making the most of some quiet time alone as my calendar is looking pretty full over the next few weekends! I’m thankful for good friends and Christmas celebrations of all different kinds to look forward to), and included the start of a massive clearout. I’ve got three boxes of DVDs scanned in to send to Music Magpie – have you used them before? I’m happy with it so far, but ask me again when it’s all been sent off and I’m waiting to see how much money I actually get for them all! It felt very satisfying to turn 4 piles of DVDs into 1.5, but I just couldn’t do it to our CDs. I did sort them from eight piles into ‘keep’, ‘possible doubles’, ‘get rid of’ and ‘definitely doubles’, but ended up just keeping them all, apart from a guide to speaking French, Themes of Horror I and II, and dozens of home-made CDs that included my own playlists as well as copied albums (including photocopied covers!!). I couldn’t help scanning a whole bunch of CDs out of curiosity, to find out how much I’d get for some pretty obscure and unheard of underground bands that pretty much no-one would want unless they happened to go to punk shows in the early 2000s. Some of them went for a comparatively decent amount (bearing in mind Alanis Morissette was 5p). (I’m looking at you, Rentokill – £1.56!). (And yes I did just link to MySpace).

I had Monday and Tuesday off work this week so am just getting into the swing of things and already looking forward to the weekend. On Friday we have our Christmas party with friends; we organise it every year, and it’s such a fun way to catch up, celebrate Christmas together and exchange gifts. I’m really happy that I’ve got most of my Christmas shopping done – I find it’s such a relief when I’ve ticked everything off my list, and then it’s just the fun task of wrapping everything up. The best part! How are you doing with your present shopping? What are your plans for Christmas?

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