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Life Lately | Life Dump

May 26, 2014

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

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

Nothing much has changed there then…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pudology puds

May 21, 2014

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

Left to right: Banoffee, Chocolate Orange, Chocolate

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

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

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

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

Photos of the Week #20

May 19, 2014

WEEK 20 OF 52

 

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

 

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

  

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

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

 

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Friendships and Photobooths

May 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

Photos of the Week #19

May 13, 2014

WEEK 19 OF 52

 
 

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

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

 
 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

More breakfast ideas with Alpro Tops

May 9, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos of the Week #18

May 5, 2014

WEEK 18 OF 52

  

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

  

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

SportsShoes.com and my efforts to get fit

May 4, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trying out different breakfast ideas with Alpro Tops

May 2, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos of the Week #17

April 29, 2014

WEEK 17 OF 52

 
 

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

 
 

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

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

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

Cooking dinner and trying a green smoothie

April 24, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photos of the Week #16

April 22, 2014

WEEK 16 OF 52

  

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

 
 

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

 
 

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

  

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

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

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

A day spent mostly in the kitchen

April 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

British Street Food Awards 2014

April 17, 2014

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

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

Photos of the Week #15

April 15, 2014

WEEK 15 OF 52

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

 

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

  

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

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

 

 

Music Love: Manchester Orchestra

April 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

^Tamarind Spicy Aubergine^

^Thai Monks’ Vegan Delight^

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

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

 

 

Pizza Date

April 11, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Wednesday Wishes

April 9, 2014

Oh HI Wednesday Wishes! It’s been quite a few Wednesday’s since I put one of you together.
This week is fairly specific. I wish to be in America or Canada, and I wish to buy the entire Oh Joy for Target range. It’s just all so beautiful!

If you’re in the US or Canada, please buy everything on my behalf! You can find a list of products here (check out those prices!) and more details of Joy’s collaborative work here.

Any particular products you love the most?
It’s making me super excited for summer picnics and afternoon lunch parties with friends!

All photos taken from OhJoy.com

Photos of the Week #14

April 7, 2014

WEEK 14 OF 52

 

Last week began with Press Day at Sussex County Cricket Club. I was mainly taking photographs for a few social media accounts, and a few behind the scenes shots.//A doughnut the size of my HEAD! One of the treats I snapped up at VegFest the weekend before.

 
 

Breakfast; vanilla soya yogurt topped with fresh blackberries, a sprinkling of granola and a blob of peanut butter. Best way to start the day!//We went up to London to see Tokyo Police Club play at Scala last week. They were pretty good – not really my kind of thing but Trout loved them, and it was a great way to begin his birthday celebrations.

 

I took my man out for a birthday lunch at VBites. It was so nice to have a lunchtime date – we are lucky enough to work on the same street so can quite often walk to Pret together or the local wrap cafe and get a takeaway before heading back to the office, so it was nice to sit down and eat together. Trout had the fish finger stack and I had the RLT. We also picked up a cupcake each to enjoy back at our desks.//Saturday morning began with my first ever trip to the gym. I summoned as much pink as I could to inspire me, but it was pretty hard work!! I’ll be writing more about this later on.

 

Sunday was a lovely, relaxing day. I met a friend for coffee, and then we headed to Iydea for lunch. I haven’t been here for so long, I’d almost forgotten how good their food is.//In the afternoon I made some BBQ pulled ‘pork’ (jackfruit) and coleslaw to rest ahead of dinner, and got on with some white chocolate chip cookies. I used a recipe from Ms Cupcake, and it’s the best cookie recipe I’ve ever used. They are chewy and crunchy and gooey all at the same time.

So that’s what I got up to last week! How was your week? Do you go to the gym? Please tell me it gets easier!

Vegan Easter Eggs

April 5, 2014
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image source

Easter is so soon! I can’t believe it. Only a couple of weeks to go before we can all stuff our faces with chocolate. I’ve been vegan for almost nine years now, and thankfully the range of vegan easter eggs has grown hugely since those early days. I remember the first couple of years were egg-free, and then I thankfully found a range of children’s eggs that were vegan – but now the possibilities are plentiful, whether you’re a fan of ‘milk’, dark or white chocolate. Here’s a round up of my favourite vegan Easter eggs and treats.

 

My favourite range of Easter eggs, and free from chocolate, in past years has been Choices (6). They’re available in the Free From section of most supermarkets, the chocolate is amazing and the caramels that come with one of them (not featured) are incredible. Lately though, my love affair with Moo Free (1) has reached a whole new level, and it’s true love. This year you can pick up three different Easter eggs, plus a few bunnies in different flavours. The chocolate itself is creamy, and I love the different flavours, like hazelnut.//I don’t think it’s ever been vegan before, but this year the Lindt bunny (2) in dark chocolate is! Yum.//Divine make some great vegan chocolate bars, and this year they’ve got a few eggs (3) that are suitable for vegans, including this pouch of mini eggs (4) which is super cute.//Montezuma’s (5) are great for vegans all year round, and Easter is no exception. They have a few vegan options, including this Eco Egg, but this egg filled with buttons has really caught my eye.

Have you bought your Easter eggs yet? Do you prefer to make home-made treats?

 

Photos of the Week #13

April 2, 2014

WEEK 13 OF 52

 
 

The past week has involved plenty of food (no surprises there then…) and family (woohoo!) I started the week with a return to DanceFit, after a two month absence. It felt so good to be getting sweaty again. At the weekend Trout was moving offices so we took a pitstop for a pub lunch. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I just can’t resist a burger when it’s on the menu! Bottom right is an outtake from a shoot earlier in the week, at my favourite client’s restaurant. Even though I can’t eat any of the food, it’s nice to work with beautiful dishes and talk to the head chef about his new menu.

 
 

This weekend I got to spend time with my baby (ahem…almost 25…) sister. We had cocktails on Saturday night and spent Sunday morning at VegFest, aka vegan heaven. So many amazing companies, new products to try, and giant chelsea buns to stock up on. I was quite restrained and only spent £12 at this stall – everything they make is amazing! Chocolate twists (perfect for breakfast with coffee), raspberry danish’s, chocolate cream doughnut puff things and a CRONUT! A flippin’ CRONUT! Incredible. My tote bag is literally stuffed with goodies. And for someone that doesn’t drink, I really do look drunk in the photo on the left.

 

For Mother’s Day I invited my parents down to Brighton and we went out for a meal at one of my favourite restaurants, Archipelagos. My family have had a long love affair with Greece, and this restaurant never disappoints. The food is incredible, and the guy that owns it is brilliant. A must-visit in Brighton. And finally, a cute photo of Rasputin. It wouldn’t be a weekly round-up without his cheeky chops ;)

In other news, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TROUTY! I love you  <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A weekend in London & Brighton

March 26, 2014

Last weekend was filled with friends and food. Can there be any better kind of weekend? Here’s a few pics from what I got up to. I’ll start with Saturday, because it was pretty darn good. What day isn’t good when you wake up next to your two favourite boys, and then pick up your favourite coffee on the way to the station? I spent the day in London with two more of my favourite people, catching up and eating a lot of food. Isn’t that the best way to catch up? It was a day full of favourites, and we were so lucky with the weather! Lovely sunshine for pretty much the whole day.

Oh, Small Batch. Swoon.

Oh, hi ladies!

We started off the day by visiting Borough Market. It’s such a fun place to go, with loads of vegan-friendly stalls. I wanted to buy so many things, but it was too early in the day to be carrying around cupcakes and popping candy brownies and what-not. We visited a chilli stand and tried their hottest sauce, and the guy was so impressed he allowed us to become part of the Asian Brotherhood, which we quickly changed to Sisterhood, fist pumped and walked away.

There was the most amazing cabinet of vinegars and oils – it was so beautiful, and I’m sure everything tasted so good.

So much colour! Lovely fresh juice – and only £2 a cup! The stall also sold hot apple juice, which I’m still regretting not buying. I used to love mulled cider, and I’m sure this would have been wonderful.

Hanging out with celebs on the tube. (Adam Handling from Masterchef the Professionals. A celebrity to us – but not as much as to this woman, who flapped more than I’ve ever seen anyone flap before, and asked to have her picture taken with him. Aww.)

 

And then the food began! Pizza at Franco Manca, and something sweet at Cakes ‘n’ Treats.

It was so nice catching up with these two girls, in one of my favourite cities. I haven’t been to Brixton Market in about four years, and I couldn’t believe how much it’s changed. There are so many beautiful cafes and shops, I wanted to pop in and buy something in every one! I wander what the locals think about all of this change. I remember when I first started visiting Brixton, and Rosie’s Cafe was the spot of sunshine inside the market. Now it’s one of so many! Anyway, the pizza was incredible. You should definitely visit. And get the lemonade.

We wandered through the market and popped into the odd shop or two, before making our way to Camden. We were in search of cake so went straight to Cookies and Scream, but they had hardly anything left, and a queue of people waiting to buy. Giving up, we headed to Inspiral, but it’s just so expensive for a slice of mediocre cheesecake, and not what we were in the mood for. Plus the coffee is pretty bad. But it does have canal-side seating! Giving up again we made our way to Cakes ‘n’ Treats. I hadn’t heard very good reviews of this place, but we fancied some cake and somewhere to sit down and relax, and for those reasons it fit the bill. It was pretty good – better than I was expecting. We had a snickers bar, a pina colada cupcake and a whoopie pie, and they all tasted good. The snickers was pretty incredible, and I’m so sad they had sold out and I couldn’t take any home with me! The whoopie pie and cupcake weren’t filled/topped with frosting, but with whipped cream, which was quite strange. It made them lighter and less sweet, but I am a huge fan of frosting and the wobbly white swirl just didn’t cut it for me. I’d go back, though – the burgers looked really good, and I would definitely turn up earlier and snag a few of those snickers bars! I brought a slice of chocolate and pear pie home for Trout, which was alright. It was basically chocolate flavoured tofu. I’ve made better at home – which is why I was mostly disappointed by what was on offer.

While we were debating whether or not to go to Inspiral, we hung out with this guy and his parrot.

After we had filled up on cake, and taken so many selfies it was getting ridiculous – but really, you try to take a picture of three women and not argue about which photo you look the worst in. Or which one you’re flashing half your bewbs in. Or your eyes aren’t open enough. Or which one isn’t looking at the camera – it was time to think of the next plan of action. The Shard! Off we trotted to grab a drink, but it seems that we were not the only ones who thought that this would also be a good plan – in fact, many, many other people had also had the same idea, and they had come prepared with fancy dresses and heels. Which we did not. So we settled with this cute cafe round the corner, run by the sweetest old (Italian?) couple who almost refused to serve us non-alcoholic beverages, and instead I got a soya latte in a builders mug. It was charming. Sadly that was the end of our date. I hate goodbyes, especially when you’re at the station and there are people buzzing backwards and forwards and getting annoyed at you for daring to stop for a moment to move out of the way and they are whacking you with their oyster card and gosh can’t we all just stop for a second and realise that none of these things really matter in the end? Oh well. Goodbyes are rough, even if they are with people who only live an hour away. How sad is that?

On Sunday morning we woke up bright and early and headed downstairs for juice and coffee, before popping back into bed to watch another episode of Luther. That series is SO. GOOD. While we were on our way to the kitchen we noticed this amazing light pouring through the window. Perfect snogging opportunity. Plus hi Ras’ beady eye at the bottom! What a family portrait.

^ Cheeky Ras

I spent the rest of the morning cleaning. Cleaning cleaning cleaning. And then I got washed up and we met a friend for a roast. Perfect Sunday meal! This was so good. I’ve never been to the Sussex Yeoman before, but heard such great things about their food, and it totally lived up to my expectations. Their vegan option changes regularly, and today we had a sweet potato and almond roast, with all of the trimmings. Parsnip crisps! Swoon.

Then it was onto some food shopping before heading home and getting on with more cleaning. Oh what a glamorous life I lead…

So that was my weekend! The perfect combination of relaxing, getting stuff done, catching up with friends and spending time with Trout. The evening was mostly spent watching some of our favourite programmes; another episode of Luther, and Louis Theroux’s new series. It was on stray dogs and I was welling up for most of the programme :(

How was your weekend? Have you been to any of these places before?

 

Photos of the Week #12

March 24, 2014

WEEK 12 OF FIFTY TWO

   

Breakfast//Breakfast//Dinner//Cat.
Earlier in the week I was kindly sent a parcel of running goodies from SportsShoes.com. I’m really looking forward to trying them out. So much pink!

Not many photographs for last week, I’m afraid! I do have more but I’m saving them for another post. It’s been a while since I’ve done a Life Lately post, so keep your eyes peeled for that soon. Happy Monday!

Off to the Big Smoke

March 22, 2014

When a weekend begins with a new, and pretty incredible, brekka, you have a feeling it might be a good one. Today I used up some bread that we bought yesterday for dinner, and an avocado that was getting mushier by the minute, and had my own little guacamole on toast. A squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of rock salt and chilli flakes. Perfect. I’m leaving in half an hour or so to hop on a train up to London to hang out with two of my favourite people. The plan is mainly to visit galleries, eat pizza and catch up. I can’t really think of a better way to spend the day. I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Photos of the Week #11

March 18, 2014

WEEK 11 OF 52

This week started off pretty darn well. It doesn’t help that I have a job that I really love, but that first Monday morning when you return to work after coming back from holiday can sometimes be a struggle. This week was filled with lots of exciting projects and client work, so it wasn’t so bad. The day always begins well if you’ve got a certain whiskerface keeping you company, and trying to eat your 7am breakfast. It gets even better when you have a bar of dark chocolate with sea salt. Holy moley this was good! I could eat five bars.

 
 

I received this amazing box of goodies from Scrummybox - more on that later in the week – and we shot a video with one of my favourite clients, which I always love doing.

  

Because I’ve been unwell for the past week, I’ve missed loads of the things that I had planned, including going to see the new Wes Anderson film on Friday. I consoled myself with a bowl of pasta and a slice of garlic bread. Weekends with these two are so much fun. Look at Ras’ chunky little podge feet! He’s so funny.

We did some more filming on Sunday afternoon, and afterwards I strolled down to the beach. It was so beautiful; the sun, the warm air. Lovely. And on Saturday evening we made this fun dinner; vegan ‘chicken’ satay and ‘duck’ pancakes.

So that’s what I got up to last week – not many photos I’m afraid, most of the time I’ve been on the sofa. Boring! We’re moving offices (again!) today and I’m really looking forward to settling into our new studio. The building looks amazing, really homely with cute features, and only two doors down from our old office so it’s still really central. I hope everyone’s having a great week so far!

Sweet for my sweet, banoffee for honey

March 15, 2014
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A couple of weekends ago I picked up the latest copy of Waitrose Kitchen, and flicked through the recipes until I stopped at this one. Banoffee peanut butter cake. I nudged Trout and pushed the page into his face, knowing full well this was almost certainly his dream cake. He immediately decided that I would make it that evening, once we had returned home from my parents, and picked up all of the ingredients from the supermarket.

It wasn’t too tricky to put together – lots of different components and then some assembling. Definitely a Sunday afternoon kind of cake – and don’t expect to have a roast dinner afterwards, because you’ll be too full from all the cake-batter-licking, peanut-brittle-munching, banana-chunk-pinching, salted-caramel-spooning-into-your-mouthing. If you’re anything like me. 

Do go out and buy your copy of Waitrose Kitchen and try this recipe, if you haven’t already done so. It’s really easy to veganise, and even if you don’t have a lot of the vegan alternatives to hand (like whipping cream), just take the general gist of the recipe and make it your own. A banana cake with peanut butter frosting, topped with bananas and peanut brittle. Instead of a toffee sauce we made a salted caramel sauce, which I drizzled all over the cake. I based the cake bit on a recipe from Ms Cupcake’s amazing book, and used a vegan whipping cream that I bought in Berlin – but I’m sure you can find it online here. Maybe on the VeganStore? I’d also add a layer of peanut butter frosting in the middle if (when) I make it again, but that might be because I’m obsessed by it ;)

I’ve been unwell all week, getting gradually worse to the point that I had to miss going to see the new Wes Anderson film last night, and I can’t make a friend’s birthday show tonight, which means I’m missing The Social Club, an awesome band that I haven’t seen in a long time. BUT. That’s the end of that negative nonsense. I’m really excited as I’m now officially paperbagblog.com! Thanks to Trout, who bought me the domain and talked me through how to switch it all over. Next up – an actual web design! Baby steps.

Istanbul

March 14, 2014

Istanbul was so much fun. It’s such a wonderful city to visit; the perfect combination of east meets west, with markets and culture and bonkers goings-on and local food and spices and cats. Even though it rained from morning until night all weekend, we still trooped on and refused to let it stop us. It’s a shame, because you do tend to keep your head down to avoid getting too wet or from stepping in another huge puddle, but you miss so much when you’re not peering round at your surroundings, taking it all in.

These photos are a mix of iPhone shots and photos taken with my DSLR. I wouldn’t normally mix them up, but because of the rain and the busy crowds I was reluctant to take my camera out a lot of the time – plus we went to a lot of places that didn’t allow photography. So hopefully these still tell the story of our trip to Istanbul. You can find a few more in my last post here.

The first main ‘touristy’ place that we visited was The Basilica Cistern. As I said in my last post, this was an absolutely stunning place. Do not miss it if you’re visiting Istanbul!

I really wish we could have gone in the evening to watch a concert, it must just be amazing. I couldn’t stop taking photographs as we walked around. There were fish of all different sizes swimming in the waters, and the light was incredible.

Moody lighting is so much fun to play with! This is Trout’s sexy moody model look.

One area of The Basilica Cistern was held up Medusa’s heads. It’s amazing to think of how much detail and thought went into buildings – the design and meaning is so different to how it is today.

Nearby was The Blue Mosque. We did pop into the grounds, but at the time prayer was about to start so we couldn’t go in, and we ran out of time so didn’t end up actually seeing inside the mosque.

All over the city (including outside our hotel room…) are speakers so that you can hear prayer wherever you are. Prayer is sung throughout the day and night (hello 3.40am wake up call!).

After we had played tourist for a while we wandered around the streets, met loads of cats and saw the bonkers side of Istanbul. There were a lot of abandoned buildings in this area – well, they weren’t entirely abandoned, as plenty of cats had moved in. You see stray cats and dogs everywhere. Some cats are so funny – they want to stroll into shops, walk around the sites and strut around the city. We saw lots of dogs chilling out and resting on the grassy patches of the city, which was quite strange. In England we see cats wandering around all the time, but not stray dogs.

As we crossed one road we saw two things – a man making a small fire for no apparent reason, and a man offering us his gun to shoot balloons and bottles. It’s so funny when you think about these things ever happening in the UK.

We went to a few markets, and they were buzzing. I absolutely loved them! Grand Bazaar was a little samey, with the same kind of stalls over and over again, but I couldn’t get enough of all the colour and beautiful food. I even haggled!

On Sunday we visited Hagia Sophia, which was quite beautiful – some parts date back centuries and centuries, and there are the most beautiful chandeliers throughout.

Standard selfie-in-a-lift photo. Look at Trout’s tiny head in between us!!

This is one of my favourite photos – not because it’s particularly amazing but because it captured such an authentic sight. Dozens and dozens of fishermen, casting their rods over the end of the bridge to catch fish while it rained down on us. Pretty stunning, even as a vegan I can appreciate this humble sight.

The tiles! Oh, the tiles. My phone is filled with photographs of them, they were all so beautifully coloured and detailed. This was from Topkapı Palace, which had so many different patterns and prints.

Now, onto the food ;) We didn’t have any problem finding vegan food. There are so many dishes that are vegan anyway, that it meant we could eat local food, rather than western vegan options. I was really disappointed that we only found one place, in the last 30mins of our trip, that sold vegan-friendly baklava. And here’s hoping it actually was vegan. There are loads of places that serve baklava without honey, but they all had butter in, which was a shame. We found some other sweet treats, though – like Turkish delight. As long as you avoid pink  or red they were pretty much all vegan. We had some lovely pistachio Turkish delight, and some crazy ones that had a thick sugar coating around them. If you eat meat you should totally try a strange street food we kept seeing – a pan with different sections, each with fluorescent coloured thick marshmallow. It looked amazing! I spotted another seller that served an incredible drink of warm milk with cinnamon and other spices – it smelt so good.

One of the things I was looking forward to trying was a simil – a Turkish bagel. They were a fun snack to share while we walked around.

Our Anniversary meal…! After we had come back to the hotel after a long day, we headed to the pool for a swim, followed by time spent in the sauna and the steam room, and another room called the hamam. It was so relaxing – I’ve never really spent time in any of these rooms before, not when they are built into a spa, and it was lovely. By the time we had finished and were ready to go out again it was 10pm, so we settled on visiting a local kebab shop for dinner. It was so funny, sitting down for a meal like this, but it’s normal there. When our falafel wraps arrived I tucked in before checking it was definitely vegan, while Trout erred on the side of caution and pointed out the yogurt. Hmm. You can’t win every time, eh?

We had a great meal was at Hünkar. We met the chef and she talked us through all of the dishes that were vegan, which was really kind of her. We picked a few dishes to share, and everything was pretty good. These battered courgette strips were particularly delicious, I could have eaten a few platefuls of those! Randomly the rice with chickpeas and the cauliflower were both really good, too.

Black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love.
The Turkish coffee was so good. Syrupy, rich, dark, strong. Amazing. Perfect with a chocolate brownie ;)

Not the greatest photos but this was our meal at Parsifal, a veggie cafe in the Taksim Square area. I had a spinach filo pie and Trout had this kind of mezze. The food was really good, I would definitely recommend a visit, as long as you can ignore the gentle ping of the microwave in the background ;)

I had a chocolate brownie for dessert, and it was really good. Trout squeezed the orange over the top and turned it into a chocolate orange brownie, yum. It came served warm, and I had it with a Turkish coffee. Perfect.

I loved having some time away with Trout to celebrate our anniversary. It was fun to explore a new city, although we probably could have done with another day – we got to the hotel on the Friday at around 4pm, and left on the Sunday about the same time. Then we missed our flight, but that’s a whole other story. The main thing is our friends and family got baklava as souvenirs. And FYI don’t miss your flight it’s really expensive to get onto another one.

Photos of the Week #10

March 11, 2014

WEEK TEN OF 52

In my preparations for Istanbul I met Oz, from the wonderful Sultans Delights, for coffee and she told me all of the places we should visit and which foods were vegan-friendly. It got me so excited! Here are a few snaps from our trip, but I’ll be putting together a proper blog post this week.//I love this shot of Rasputin waiting patiently (ahem…) for his brekka in the morning.

  

Last week one of the clients we’ve been working with quite closely held an event at BT Tower. It was my first time up the Tower and the view was pretty spectacular! Although I did almost fall over when it started moving, much to the amusement of those around me.//This is our classic airport breakfast; two portions of beans, two portions of toast, coffee and orange juice. The perfect start to our holiday!

  

As soon as we arrived in Istanbul we dumped our bags at the hotel and got going. One of the first places we visited was The Basilica Cistern. It was absolutely stunning. The perfect start to the weekend. There are concerts there on some evenings, which I can only imagine are nothing short of spectacular. Afterwards we walked around for a few hours before sitting down to dinner, and at one point we almost walked into some kind of military base, which was fun. The guard dogs didn’t think much of us. In front of it was an outdoor gym, it was quite bizarre. Anyway, it was super fun to mess around on – especially as some of the equipment only worked when you were both on it.//The next day we visited Topkapı Palace, and in front of it we found a simil cart and had our first taste of this Turkish bagel. It was really good! They offer them with nutella or cream cheese but our plain one was just right.

  

While we were in the Taksim Square area we bumped into a protest, but it was very peaceful – even if the streets were filled with riot police and vans with water cannons built into the roofs. This retro tram was stuck behind them, unable to get any further down the line. Earlier in the day, when we visited Tophapi Palace, I found this mosaic – it looked like it was made of kidney beans, it was kind of cute and kind of strange. We visited Hagia Sophia on Sunday and found a beautiful chandelier  inside.

That’s a brief round-up of our trip – I’ll be posting more photographs and details of where we went and what we ate later in the week. I’ll also be announcing the winner of my little giveaway – thanks so much to everyone that entered!

Happy Anniversary Mr T!

March 8, 2014

12 years! I can’t believe it. I love you!

Pancake Day. Yuck

March 6, 2014

Did you have a good Pancake Day? It’s such a random day. Pretty much the worst day of the year for me. Well, it used to be. The smell of eggy pancakes makes me want to be sick on my shoes, and when I lived at home I would leave the table immediately after finishing my dinner and hide in my room, the smell was just awful.

Now I’m vegan, I’m pretty sure it was the smell of egg that made me nauseous, but I still don’t like them. Trout loves them though, so I tried again. Hmm. We had a double pancake evening, with dosas for dinner (my favourite meal in the world!) and pancakes for pudding. I absolutely love dosas, they are just so good! And thankfully a local independent supermarket sells ready-made packets to make them, rather than me having to leave rice to ferment for three days, or however you are meant to make them. They also sell the mix to make samba, which is perfect.

For dessert we had a plain pancake with salted caramel, chocolate sauce, strawberries and vanilla ice-cream. I pretty much ate everything but the pancake. Yuck.

Trout made himself a traditional pancake (even worse) which he absolutely loved.

Do you like pancakes? I think I’m definitely in the minority, if my Instagram and Facebook feed are anything to go by. Oh well. Today my last day of work this week and then we’re leaving on a jet plane for Istanbul! I’m really excited to finish work on this evening, hop on a train, get to our Premier Inn and know that I’ve got three whole days of holiday! I’m going to eat all of the falafel and hummus, and try not to buy all of the spices and trinkets. Especially the little traditional bits and bobs for the kitchen. I’ve spotted a few things on Sultans Delights stall and I really want them! We met yesterday for coffee and she filled pages of my notebook with dishes that are vegan and places to go, which just sparked so much excitement. I can’t wait!

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a copy of Home-Cooked Vegan Comfort Food! You have until Monday to be in with a chance of winning. Good luck!

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