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Photos of the Week #34

August 25, 2014

WEEK 34 OF 52

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

  

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

  

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

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

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

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

Vegan Life Magazine | Issue One

August 21, 2014

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Photos of the Week #33

August 19, 2014

WEEK 33 OF 52

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

The Basics: A Vegan Kitchen

August 14, 2014

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

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

 

FRIDGE STAPLES

Milk

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

Butter

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

Cream

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

Mayonnaise

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

Meat

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

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

Tofu

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

Pesto

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

Jus-Rol Croissants

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

Trex

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

 

 

FREEZER STAPLES

Soya Mince and Sausage Rolls

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

Ice-cream

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

 

CUPBOARD STAPLES

Worcester Sauce

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

Tuong Gia Vi

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

Sweet Treats

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

 

BAKING STAPLES

Egg Replacement

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

Apple Cider Vinegar

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

Agave Nectar

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

 

RANDOM EXTRAS

Nutritional Yeast

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

Chia and Flax Seeds

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

 

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

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

Photos of the Week #32

August 12, 2014

WEEK 32 OF 52

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

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

 

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

 
 

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

 
 

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

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

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

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

Vegan Life magazine

August 7, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photos of the Week #31

August 5, 2014

WEEK 31 OF 52

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

  

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

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

  

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Life lately, in a list

August 1, 2014

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

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

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

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

Photos of the Week #30

July 29, 2014

WEEK 30 OF 52

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

 

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

 

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

 
 

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

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

 

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

 
 

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

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

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

What to bring to a vegan BBQ

July 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

An evening to myself

July 25, 2014

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

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

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

Relaxing on the sofa. The whooole sofa.

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

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

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

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

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

Photos of the Week #29

July 22, 2014

WEEK 29 OF 52

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

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

 
 

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

 
 

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

 
 

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

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

 
 

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

 

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

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

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

Waffles and Scones

July 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos of the Week #28

July 15, 2014

WEEK 28 OF 52

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

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

  

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

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

 

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

 
 

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

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

  

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

 

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

 

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

All photos taken on my iPhone.
If you’re not following me already, pop over to Instagram!

 

Weekend Weddings

July 10, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photos of the Week #27

July 8, 2014

WEEK 27 OF 52

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

  

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Photo Every Hour. Sort of.

July 5, 2014

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

8am

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

9am

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

10am

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

11am

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

1pm

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

3pm

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

6pm

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

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

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

 

Photos of the Week #26

June 30, 2014

WEEK 26 OF 52

So much food this week!

A morning smoothie of banana, frozen berries, lettuce and water, topped with granola, trail mix and a teaspoon each of flaxseed and chia seed. Perfect start to the day.//A cherry crumble that I ‘made’, topped with a few scoops of Booja Booja vanilla ice-cream on top. When I say ‘made’, what I actually mean is I opened a can of cherries in syrup, popped it into an ovenproof bowl, melted some butter in a pan and dumped a packet of crumble mix from M&S in with it, gave it a good stir and popped the mix on top of the cherries. Into the oven it goes, and half an hour later you’ve got warm, gooey crumble. The top is almost like a flapjack, the cherries are warm and sticky and the ice cream is perfect. OK, I’ll stop now.//One of the meals I cooked this week – both recipes from one of my absolute favourite food bloggers, Maple Spice. If you haven’t read her blog before, GO! NOW! Without exception, everything I’ve ever made from her website has turned out wonderfully. If you like faux cheese and meat you’re definitely in for a treat. This time around I made Asian-style soya mince and avocado wraps and a side of golden potato salad. It’s a super summery meal, and really filling, too. Now go and make them!//An amazing meal Trout made mid-week was this take on a Caesar salad. We had a couple of schnitzels to use up in the freezer, so popped them in the oven and cooked up some croutons, chopped up a few gem lettuces and whizzed up this creamy dressing. It was incredible! He spoiled my plan of doing all the cooking this week, but it’s OK when meals taste this good.

 
 

Didn’t get up to much at the weekend – I did put together a Photo Ever Hour post on Saturday, so watch this space for that one. On Sunday we went to Trout’s Mum’s house for a BBQ, and were joined by his sister, her fiancée and their kids. More BBQs please! This was so good, such a lovely day. An afternoon of football for them and soggy knees for me. I had two of the kids on my lap while they ate their fruit salads and most of the juice landed on my knees. Worth it, though ;)

  

BBQ! We had a burger and a Vegusto sausage, plus a brilliant potato salad, coleslaw and grilled veggies. We ate out in the sunshine, and it was the best way to spend a Sunday.//Oh, and on Saturday morning we woke up to Ras making the most of that patch of sunshine – it’s so cute how he always finds the warmth of the sun!

 

So that was last week! Mostly food and family time. What could be better? Now it’s Monday and time for another week. Not too many plans again, just the usual, but we do have a wedding reception on Saturday so I’m off to do some dress shopping at some point, and hoping for plenty of beach time in the evenings. What are your plans? Did you enjoy the sunshine at the weekend?

All photos taken on my iPhone.
For more photos you can find me over on Instagram.

Looking back over some sweet memories

June 26, 2014

Every so often I’ll look back at what I was up to this time last year, this time the year before that, this time the year before that etc. I decided to do it again the other day, and realised that there was something of a theme going on in June…

June 2011

June 2012

June 2013

What can I say – I guess I really like cookies in June! Do you ever have re-occuring foods in certain months? I had my first bowl of gazpacho soup earlier in the week, and I can see that being a regular occurrence in this beautiful warm weather.

The first photo is of me and my niece (well, fake niece – it’s Trout’s niece, technically) on the Eurostar to Disneyland. It was a really fun trip, a gift for her 5th birthday. The second photo is a batch of cookies I baked for a friend’s birthday. That last cookie? I’m still dreaming about it. Warm, gooey, chocolatey heaven from Cookies & Scream in Camden. Swoon.

 

 

Photos of the Week #25

June 24, 2014

WEEK 25 OF 52

A few things that I ate; leftover curry, shredded sweetness from Sultan’s Delights, and a lovely meal with Trout at Thai Pad Thai. The food is so good there. We started the meal with vegetable spring rolls (stuffed with sweetcorn, YUCK) and deep fried tofu, then I had a papaya salad, and Trout had the Massaman curry with vegetables and coconut rice. Perfect. This meal was partly an excuse to step away from our computers, and partly to celebrate the fact that we booked our summer holiday! I’m so thankful for Trout and our friends for organising this (I’m quite terrible at booking holidays…) and so ridiculously excited. A week of sunbathing, exploring, swimming and – most importantly – HUMMUSING in Greece in September.

 
 

Earlier in the week I met Lucie for dinner at Iydea. It was so lovely to enjoy a vegan meal in a relaxed environment in the evening – we’ll definitely be popping along again for dinner. We ate plates piled with salad (and a satay sweet potato roti for me) and shared blueberry cake and coffee while the sun was setting, it was the perfect end to a lovely meal and after a stressful couple of days it was the remedy I needed to relax. Afterwards we wondered around Taj and Lucie was embarrassingly crude with a banana ;)

 

On Friday evening we went to a friend’s 30th birthday. He had organised a gig just down the road, and re-united his band from back in the day, which was amazing. I can’t believe that ten years ago we would have been standing in our local venue (pub) watching them. It seems surreal. They even pulled the same tricks as they did all those years ago; getting everyone in the venue to crouch down on the floor. Albeit we’re slightly older, with weird clicky knees, it was so much fun. On Saturday I slept until 10am (!!!) and woke up to a plate of croissants and a mug of coffee. Is there any better way to wake up? I doubt it.

 

Saturday evening was spent at a lovely friend’s engagement party. It was so sweet, with a room filled with photographs of them and tubs of popcorn dotted around. I’m so happy for them.

 

On Sunday I made the most of the sunshine, packed a bag full of girly books and headed to the beach. I spent most of the time praying that I wouldn’t get pooped on by a seagull, but aside from that it was a beautiful way to spend the afternoon. Unfortunately I was so stupid and didn’t bother with suntan lotion, and I’m paying for it now…

 
 

And a couple of random snaps; hanging out with Rasputin in the evening, and spending more time on the beach with my hunky man and an ice-cream.

 

The photo of Ras is actually from a private conversation between him and his girlfriend, Luna.

 

How’s your week going? Any fun plans? So far I haven’t really gotten any further than a couple of gym dates and the souprun. I’m determined to make Laura’s Mexican salad bowl at some point – in fact I’m quite determined to do most of the cooking this week. I don’t really know why, I just feel like giving Trout the week off and getting in the kitchen. We’re off to Trout’s Mum’s for a BBQ on Sunday which I’m really looking forward to. Please let the weather be on my side! Talking of weather, did anyone else get too excited and have sunburn already?

 All photos taken on my iPhone.
If you’re not following me on Instagram, you can find me here.

Photos of the Week #24

June 17, 2014

WEEK 24 OF 52

A typical evening lately; eating and working together. But really, who can complain when the food is this good and the company is this handsome? I’ve been trying to watch the football but so far have only managed a couple of games. I’m hoping to be able to head down to the beach at some point to watch it on the big screens they’ve put up. I’m sure there’s a fantastic atmosphere!

lifestyle food blog lifestyle brighton blog

While I was at home for Father’s Day we decided to make Jasper the princess of the day. Which he totally didn’t deserve, as he kept me awake until 2am retching next to my bed and refusing to leave. He wasn’t even sick, he just kept making disgusting noises all night, making sure I didn’t get to sleep. Lovely. On the plus side I found three books that made my childhood; two books that came free with Just 17 and my favourite Nancy Drew book, A Greek Odyssey. Geez Louise these books taught me everything I know about romance and adventure.

 

Dinner at home on a Sunday night; pulled ‘pork’, dukka spiced potato wedges and ruby coleslaw. One of our favourite meals, I could eat this every week.  p.s. I cooked!

 

In other news this week, I bought a new sports bra from Bravissimo and it’s true love! When I first started going to DanceFit I bought a sports bra from M&S, which has served me well but as I’ve started running it’s just not doing the job probably. I’m a 32E (sometimes an F), and this new bra is a dream! Although it doesn’t quite strap them down, I don’t feel any pain so it’s perfect for high impact sport. So if, like me, you don’t have the smallest rack, I would definitely recommend this sports bra.

This evening I’m off for dinner at Iydea with Lucie, which I’m really looking forward to. I haven’t been to the ‘new’ branch on Western Road (it’s no longer new, it’s been there for probably a year or more now…!) so it’ll be nice to see how different it is. It’s great that there is a vegan cafe open in the even – something that’s certainly lacking in Brighton. We have restaurants and pubs, but no cafes open past 6pm.

I hope everyone’s having a great week so far! Did anyone stay up on Saturday for the England game?!

All photos taken on my iPhone.
If you’re not following me already, you can find me over on Instagram.

#LightsCameraCurrys|Photography Workshop

June 14, 2014

As I mentioned last week, I was kindly invited to a photography workshop organised by Currys. It was a super useful day, if not quite daunting! I left feeling like I barely knew how to switch my camera on, let alone take a half-decent photograph, but at the same time really motivated and determined to get to know my camera better. One day it will come naturally! Sigh.

I definitely stick to my comfort zone a lot of the time, for a few reasons. Mainly because I don’t want to risk not capturing the moment, but also because I don’t want to faff around with different settings, numbers, calculations – sometimes it’s just easier to point and click and deal with the results later. I do experiment with manual a fair amount though – especially more recently. It feels almost cheating to have a decent camera and not use it to its full potential, so the workshop gave me the kick up the bum that I needed.

We started from the very beginning; what each of the settings meant, what you needed to increase and decrease depending on the light, how fast something was moving, how much of the photograph you want to be in focus. I scribbled down notes as fast as I could and tried to take it all in. Even though I knew most of it already, I felt as though half of my brain had fallen out and this particular envelope of information has dropped out with it.

There were quite a few of us in the workshop – more bloggers than I even realised lived in Brighton! – so it was really nice to meet new people and get to know them. I wish I’d have had more time to get to know everyone, but hopefully we’ll meet again at other events. It’s one of the things that I love about being invited to blogger events – not only are they all so unique, you have so many opportunities to try new things, learn new information and skills, and meet some great and diverse people.

See, I told you there were a lot of bloggers!

A row of bloggers and cameras.

After a spot of lunch we were given 30 minutes to get out and about with a brief of six different ‘types’ of photograph to take. The seafront probably wouldn’t have been my first choice, but as it turned out it had a lot to offer. Like Disco Grandad, for example.

For the ‘symmetry’ shot I found this couple relaxing on the beach. Sometimes I forget that this city is a tourist attraction, but at the same time it’s kind of cute. I quite like the romantic connotations that it has.

It was nice to spend time with the seafront in a different way. Usually I like to tuck myself away somewhere quiet and enjoy the sunshine, or spend time with good friends and a BBQ. As I walked around looking for inspiration, the air was filled with the smell of suntan lotion, chips and watered down beer. People smiled, they’d come down for a break from the city, or from the countryside, they were spending time with family, with friends, with the rest of a hen or stag party. Sometimes living in a city is strange – and even stranger when it’s a real tourist magnet. I know that when I lived in London it never felt my own – I felt like I part of this huge…machine? Not really. More like I was sharing with space with too many people, that it could never be my own, I could never take anything and make it my own. But Brighton? It was my home years before I ever had a postcode to my name. I remember so very clearly the first time I ever came to visit Brighton – nearing 13 years ago – and it was love at first sight. It was love at first sight, but it didn’t become my home for another nine years. It took a while, but finally I came home.

You can read Currys blog about the day here – and at the bottom there’s a link to a great guide on buying your first DSLR which you might find useful. Thanks for having me Currys!

Do you have a DSLR? 
Do you stick to the auto setting, or do you know your way around manual?

Three years old! Happy Birthday little blog

June 11, 2014

I couldn’t quite believe it when LinkedIn reminded me that this month is the three year anniversary of paperbagblog. Another year has flown by, with loads of fantastic memories and changes on the blog. Originally I wanted to do something similar to last year and list all of the wonderful things I’ve been up to in the past year, the brilliant brands that I’ve worked with, the magazines and websites that I’ve contributed writing to, the places that I’ve been and the wonderful people that I’ve met. But given my recent musings and ramblings, I decided that it was far more fitting to look back at the changes I’ve seen in myself and right here on the blog.

So, what’s changed? Well, since last June I’ve been promoted at work, an achievement I’m really proud of, and have increased the amount of freelance work that I’ve taken on, including writing website copy. I’ve travelled to some amazing places in the past year, which I’m really grateful for. I also had a naked man walk into my hotel room in the middle of the night – that I’m not so grateful for. I’ve started going to the gym, and am really enjoying it. I still can’t quite believe it. I never thought that a) I would ever enjoy going and b) would be able to run for 20 minutes straight, at a decent pace. But there you go. Sometimes you can really surprise yourself. 

In terms of changes in my blog, I’ve worked with some amazing brands and am slowly getting round to posting more frequently, which I’m really enjoying. I introduced the Photos of the Week series, which I’ve found has been a great way of documenting my week (year) and looking back at all of those little memories along the way.

Here are the things that I want to achieve in the next year:

  • Grow paperbagblog in so many ways. New features, advertising, brand collaborations, giveaways, frequent posting and more
  • Achieve that balance that I’m always jabbering on about
  • Use my camera more, and rely on my iPhone less
  • Throw in a few more Photo Every Hour blog posts, because they’re always fun to work on
  • Save money and spend money. Kind of a strange balance, but I want to save a lot of money over the next year, whilst spending the rest wisely and thoughtfully
  • Following on from this, I want to buy fairtrade, locally made, sustainable, ethical clothing. I know how difficult that will (most likely) be, but I’m quite sick of the destruction that the highstreet shops inflict across the world, and would like to not be a part of that. So, for now, I’m simply not buying anything (which is helping me save money!) and am researching my options when I need to replace something.

Happy Birthday little blog, thanks for being a place that I can always let my keyboard run wild and keep some of the good (and not so good) photographs of mine. Thank you Trout, for encouraging me to start this blog in the first place, thank you readers for sticking with me even when I don’t post anything for a week, thank you for your tweets, emails, comments, Facebook messages, and all the follows on social media. I don’t know if I really thought this far ahead when I started this blog. With around eight years of blogging behind me I’ve seen so many changes in how bloggers are perceived and their role in marketing and PR. It’s an exciting time to be out there writing. Here’s to another year!

I’m curious, how long have you been reading paperbagblog for?
I’d love to know, if you don’t mind sharing. 

Photos of the Week #23

June 9, 2014

WEEK 23 OF 52

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

 
 

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

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

 
 

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

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

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

A little morning ramble

June 8, 2014

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

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

Vegan Cosmetics

June 7, 2014

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

Anyway – here’s my daily routine:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, onto the make-up:

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

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

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

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

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

 

A few more words about how I use coconut oil…

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

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

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

 

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

British Street Food Awards | Brighton’s Best

June 6, 2014

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

Sultan’s Delights

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

You can find Oz on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Ahimsa

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

You can find Ahimsa on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Honeycomb Cakes

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

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

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

You can find Honeycomb Cakes on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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

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

Photos of the Week #22

June 2, 2014

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

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

 
 

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

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

 

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

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

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

The Primal Kitchen | Paleo Bars

May 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos of the Week #21

May 27, 2014

WEEK 21 OF 52

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

 
 

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

  

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

 

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

 

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