Thursday, 30 July 2015

Cecil


Yesterday I woke up and as usual one of the first things I do upon awakening is check my phone and have a quick gaze over my Twitter feed. On this morning it was filled with photos of Cecil the lion and the publics outrage over him being hunted down by American Dentist Walter Palmer. 

The more I read the story and the facts behind it the more I became completely disheartened with the world that we live in. I found myself feeling total hatred towards this man who I know so little about and that actions like his have been aided by others to take place. 

I cannot even begin to comprehend how anyone would ever want to cause suffering, pain and ultimately death to a defenceless animal. It baffles me even more so that someone would actually consider it a sport and pay thousands of dollars to take part in it. $50,000 to be precise. 

Ok I am a Vegan so any animal rights story is going to hit home hard to me. It's something that I care passionately about and something that has completely changed my life for the better over the past two years. But what has been interesting is that it would seem that the general public and people in authoritative positions are in total agreement that this was a terrible and horrific event that should have never taken place. I haven't seen one comment that shows support towards Cecil's death.

However, what I have seen is many people arguing that people are not entitled to an opinion on this news story if they happen to be a meat eater. Just as with the Yulin dog meat festival, which took place earlier this year, there has again been public outcry over animal rights and consequent conversations taking place on social media as to who is entitled to have an opinion on this. 

I was interested to read one of my favourite documentary makers Louis Theroux's comments on the death of Cecil yesterday and it's clear from reading his piece that even he is concerned about coming across as a meat eating hypocrite. 

I believe that many people are missing the point here and instead of judging other people we should be uniting as a collective to fight against barbarous acts like this and others taking place, regardless of  lifestyle choices. 

Now please don't get me wrong, many of the tweets I have seen this week I happen to agree with. For me personally a huge part of my decision two years ago to become vegetarian was due to me feeling like an animal loving hypocrite. I was and still am a huge animal lover but it really did take me time to make that connection between pets, wild animals and animals who happen to be part of our food chain all in fact being one. They are all thinking, feeling, living, breathing and sentient beings, so why should for example my pet dog have any more superiority, right to live and be loved over than say a pig? It didn't make sense to me and I knew that it was time to cut meat out of my diet and eventually another year later I began to make the transition to become Vegan. And all for the animals. 

If any meat eater is showing compassion towards high profile animal rights news stories such as Cecil then I think this can only be a good thing. The more people behind this the better. I also believe that if a meat eater is an animal lover and feels emotions for animal cruelty then I have hope that one day they too will make the same connection I did two years ago. But in the meantime I'm not going to bash them for showing support, instead I will encourage and continue to demonstrate and positively promote a Vegan and cruelty free lifestyle that is easily accessible to all. 

We can't ever let there be another incident like Cecil's death and I think it's time that the world pushes together for trophy hunting of these incredible creatures to be made completely illegal. The first step you can take to helping towards this is by signing the Justice For Cecil petition which has already achieved nearly 700,000 signatures.  

I sincerely hope that we never see a story like this in the news again and despite how dismayed I have felt with the world, I am hopeful for changes in the future. 

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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Veggie Red Lion - Suffolk


Last week I finally made it down to The Veggie Red Lion pub in Suffolk for a lunch date with my husband. This pub and restaurant has been on my hit list for some time now and you may remember that it was featured within my 20 Things To Do Before 2016 post a little while back. So I am happy that I can now tick it off my list and that I have been able to sample some of their amazing Vegan food!
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Monday, 27 July 2015

Vegan Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes


Every now and then I get the urge to bake up some Vegan goodies and last week the idea of making some Oreo inspired cupcakes came to mind. I don't think of myself as being an amazing baker and it's definitely something I have to be in the mood for. I especially like baking when I have an event coming up and where I can share my creations with others. This is great because not only can I showcase how amazing Vegan cakes can taste, but it also means I am not left with 20 cakes in my house waiting to be eaten! 

My Vegan chocolate Oreo cupcakes are a combination of a couple of recipes and my own ideas. 
I don't often list recipes on my blog but I have had a lot of requests for this one so here goes!


Ingredients you will need for the chocolate sponge cake:

230ml soya milk
1 tsp vinegar
140g caster sugar
90ml vegetable oil
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
125g plain flour
45g cocoa powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

* Recipe taken from The Vegan Society website.


Preheat your oven to 180C / gas mark 4 and prepare some cupcake cases onto a tray. 

Whisk together soya milk & vinegar in a bowl and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. 
Add sugar, oil & vanilla extract and then beat until foamy. 


In a separate bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt.
Add in two batches of wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few small lumps are ok).


Pour your mixture into your cupcake liners about three quarters of the way deep and bake for 18 - 20 minutes. 

Once you feel your cupcakes may be ready insert a toothpick into the cake and ensure that it comes away clean before removing from the oven. 

Transfer your cakes to a cooling rack and allow to completely cool down before icing. 


Depending on how your cakes come out of the oven you may like to cut the tops of the cakes off so that you have a flat surface to ice on. As you can see some of mine were a bit lop sided but I didn't want to cut any of the cake away as they were quite small already. 

Ingredients you will need for the chocolate 'butter' icing:

75g dairy free margarine
75g vegetable fat / shortening 
650g icing sugar
100g cocoa powder
80-100ml of soya milk
1tbsp vanilla extract



Using a hand held mixer, mix together the margarine, vegetable fat and the vanilla until creamy (about 30 seconds). Add half the icing sugar, all of the cocoa powder and milk and continue mixing, slowly at first and then bringing up to speed until combined. Add the rest of the icing sugar and mix for about a minute until you have a smooth consistency. 
If the icing is too firm then add in more milk. If it's too soft then add in more icing sugar. 


Once your icing mixture is ready and your cakes have cooled down, it's time to get icing! 

I like to use a piping bag when icing cakes but I also find that spreading the icing on with a spatula type utensil is also great and gives your cakes more of a 'frosty' look. 


And don't forget your final touches - the all important Oreo cookies! 
I cut each one in half and gently pressed into the tops of the cakes.

I have to say that I am really pleased with how these turned out, especially as I had never made any before. They tasted divine! I shared them with my friends on Friday night and they went down a storm! Many couldn't believe that they were Vegan and contained absolutely no dairy which I love because it goes to show that you really don't need any animal ingredients to make great tasting cakes.
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Thursday, 23 July 2015

Bloggers Paradise


You may have seen over the past couple of months that I have posted a couple of photos of my new blogging desk space which I also like to refer to as 'Bloggers Paradise'! :-)

I have received so many compliments and requests for a blog post about my desk space which has been so lovely and it has motivated me to take some nice photographs of it and put together this post. 

This post will be pretty photo heavy but consider it a little personal tour of my desk space. 


My blog and blogging have become such a huge part of my life now and it's something that I really enjoy and spend a lot of time on. It kind of started off as a little hobby and something that I would only do every now and then but it has now developed so much and my following is growing every day which I am so proud of. It's starting to feel like a part time job but in a great way! 


I used to just blog from my bed or from  my dining table but I found that the more work I was putting into it, and the more cute stationery I have been acquiring, I really wanted my own space that I could call home for my blog. I started to gain some inspo on other desk spaces from Instagram and began to form in my mind what I wanted my space to look like. I really wanted it to be somewhere pretty, vibrant and inspiring. I wanted to surround myself with things that make me smile! 


All my main furniture items are from Ikea. I love my Alex desk so much and it was the perfect solution for the space that I had to play with. I also bought the extra Alex add on unit because I knew that I would need some extra drawer space for all my bits and pieces. I love that it creates another level to my desk and along with the two extra smaller drawers it also provides a nice little cubby hole for my laptop to be tucked away under which is great for me as I have two cats who love to climb over everything! 

My Skalberg chair is just a really cheap and cheerful number which is surprisingly comfortable considering it only cost £25! I adore the hot pink and white colour scheme of it and it was exactly what I wanted to brighten up the space. I also bought the Tejn faux sheepskin rug to throw over the top just for an added bit of comfort. 



My wall shelves are also from Ikea and I particularly liked these Ribba picture ledge shelves as they're perfect for standing bits and pieces on. As you can see mine hold all sorts from photos, postcards, candles and stationery. They provide me with some needed extra storage and a place to display some of my favourite items. I've also decorated around them a bit just because I can't stand blank walls and find myself getting a bit carried away with my washi tape!


I also have a much larger Ikea wall shelf above everything and this provides a home to some of my larger items and also my cacti collection. 



I think I probably have enough stationery to open up a shop! I'm certainly never short of a notepad or sticker should I need one!


I also have an area of wall which i've dedicated to making up a photo frame collage on. These are all photos of my husband & I's travels over the past few years and theres a lot of fond memories in one place. This wall also motivates me for our future and where else we want to explore! 

* I mentioned a little while back that the dolphin photo is representative of what I feel to be one of my biggest regrets and something I wish I had never done. But it also reminds me of how far I have come and everything that I have learnt in terms of animal rights and Veganism. 


I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of my workspace! I also hope it has inspired some of you to make your dream blogging area and somewhere you can feel both at home and creative. If you have any specific questions then please do comment below and i'll come straight back to you :-)

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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

My Top Stationery Picks


Over the past couple of months I have picked up some really cute stationery and I decided I would put a blog post together to show some of it off! I used to absolutely obsess over stationery when I was a child and I really do feel like I am rediscovering my passion for it again now. I'm not sure if you can relate to this but for me there's something just so appealing about a fresh note pad or diary!
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Monday, 20 July 2015

Miss Walls Back Garden - Eastbourne


A couple of weeks ago we popped down to Eastbourne for the weekend to visit my Mum who last year relocated from Essex to the East Sussex coast. Every time we visit I do like to take the opportunity to visit new Veggie & Vegan establishments for something to eat as I just love trying out new places! 
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Friday, 17 July 2015

The Vegan Kind - #TVK21


It's been that time of the month again when my The Vegan Kind box has arrived and I have been enjoying sampling everything this months box has to offer! 

Inside this months box:

Harpers Bizarre Candle - I am such huge fan of these candles and was gutted that I missed these guys at the Bournemouth Vegan Fair so I was absolutely thrilled to see a candle included in this months box! I have to say that I haven't lit this yet. I feel as though I am waiting for the right occasion! But it smells gorgeous! I love the 'Washing Line' scent. It's so fresh and comforting. 

Ten Acre Crisps - Crisps have always been one of my top addictions in life! They are so naughty but nice! My favourite kind of crisps have to be the chunky hand cooked ones just like Ten Acre. I find myself avoiding buying them though as I am conscious of my waist line so it was a real treat to find this bag in the box this month. I had also never tried "The Day Sweet & Sour Became Friends' flavour before which was so nice. I think these were the first item to get demolished from this box! 

Ananda Foods Chocolate Marshmallow Lolly - I couldn't believe my luck when I saw this in this months box as i'd only just tried one at the Just V Show and loved it! Plus I had to share my first one with my husband so this one definitely had my name on it! I love Ananda Foods and the treats they supply us Vegans with. Totally indulgent, yummy and aways leaving me wanting more. 

Clearspring Roasted Seeds & Soya with Goji Berry - This was a product I have never tried or seen before - exciting times! These were great for snacking on whilst waiting for dinner to cook - one of my bad habits! I really enjoyed the mix of seeds with berries and these make a really good alternative healthy snack.

DRINKmaple Pure Organic Maple Water - Another brand new never seen before product for me. I wasn't really too sure what maple water was or what to expect! This water comes straight from the maple trees in North America and is completely natural with nothing else added to it. It tastes just like water really but with a hint of sweetness! I'm a little uncertain on my grand verdict on this product.....It was nice and refreshing but i'm just not sure if I prefer it to actual water and if I would buy it again. But I certainly enjoyed trying it out! 

This months box also contained a Tofu Scramble recipe by the lovely Vegan Lass which I am so keen to try out as I am still a scrambled tofu virgin! I think i'll save it for a lovely Sunday morning all day breakfast brunch fest :-)

So another amazing month as a TVK customer! Is it just me or these boxes just getting better and better each month!? 

To some people it may seem like too much of a commitment signing up to one of these boxes but when I decided to go Vegan signing up to TVK was one of the first things I done and I have never looked back. It has helped me incredibly throughout my transition into Veganism. These boxes have introduced me to a wealth of new brands and products that I don't think I would have been aware of otherwise. It also always seems to turn up at the right time - just as I am running low on treats!  

Thanks for being awesome TVK!

Sarah x
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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Eden Perfumes


I recently became aware of Eden Perfumes after having seeing so many tweets and Instagram snaps of them from the Bournemouth Vegan Fair and to my absolute delight they were also at the Just V Show a couple of weeks ago. Offering up Vegan and cruelty free perfume, they were on the top of my list of stalls to visit!

Prior to hearing about Eden Perfumes I haven't been aware of any other company offering Vegan and CF perfume, other than Pacifica which i've never tried before. 

I think what initially appealed to me so much about Eden is that they offer like to like matches to the bigger designer brands so I instantly became interested in finding an equivalent to some of my old favourites like Armani and Stella McCartney. It's so easy on their website too, you simply type in the brand name of a perfume you like and up appears all their matches to pick from!

It was great to meet the lovely Vegan Brighton based family behind Eden Perfumes at the Just V Show and I got to spend a little time chatting to them and testing out some of the fragrances. I ended up trying about 3 or 4 different perfumes - all of which I loved! It was a difficult choice for me in the end and I was having trouble choosing between them all but I ultimately went with one of their bestsellers No. 62 which has similar notes to Armani Si. 

I was lucky enough to get my bottle for £12 at the Just V Show which was a total bargain! On the website the perfumes are still only £15 which I think is an amazing price for a 30ml bottle. And most importantly for me these fragrances aren't tested on animals and nor do they contain any animal derived ingredients. They are a completely Vegan and cruelty free brand offering up some amazing guilt free scents at a decent price! Whats not to love!? 

I have already received lots of compliments when I have been wearing the perfume and to me that's always a good sign that it's a decent fragrance! 

Sarah x

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Monday, 13 July 2015

Vegan Essex Social



Ever since transitioning to become a Vegan I have felt a need to interact and mix with other Vegans, whether it be through the powers of social media or in person. The only difficulty I have had is that I haven't really known any Vegans in person so the only opportunities that I have had to meet any face to face has been at various events which I have attended or random people i've met out and about. And every time it has left me wanting more!

Being Vegan can feel a bit isolating at times, especially if you're going it alone, but I do think that the online Vegan community are amazing and act as a great support network. There are so many people and bloggers who I speak to online on a daily basis and regular chats that I take part in that really help me and others to feel less alone on this journey. But if anything this has made me want to put myself out there more and meet these people in person!

Over the past year I have become more and more aware of other Vegans living in my area of Essex and as I have built up relationships with these people it has become clear that we all have something in common. We all want to socialise and meet up with other Vegans! I often see tweets which read along the lines of 'it would be amazing if I could just go out for dinner with a bunch of Vegans' and I feel exactly the same!

There really is nothing quite like socialising with other likeminded people who share the same interests and passions as you do. All of these thoughts led me to come up with the idea creating the 'Vegan Essex Social' meet up. I decided that the time had come to put on an event which could bring all of these people together in one place to enjoy some good Vegan food, drink and chat! 

Essex is slowly but surely becoming more and more Vegan friendly and there are already a few excellent Vegan cafe's and restaurants that I have been to which I have decided will be my venues for the meet ups. 

My first event at 5pm on Sunday 18th October 2015 will be held at The Oak Tree in Leigh on Sea which you may recall I blogged about a little while ago. I absolutely love this place and the food is to die for! It really will be the perfect spot for the first event and I can't wait to get everyone together there to share in the experience. 

I am of course hoping that my first event will be a huge hit and a success and if that is the case then I will be looking to plan one every 3 months. Other venues I have in mind are The Den at 23 in Colchester and The Railway Hotel in Southend. I am also aware that The Waiting Room in Colchester have regular Vegan nights so this may also be an option. I have also seen that Affinity Restaurant in Leigh on Sea offer a Vegan friendly afternoon tea! And I will of course be looking for other suggestions so if you know of somewhere in Essex that offers a Vegan menu then do let me know by commenting below or emailing me. 

I am keen to keep the 'Vegan Essex Social' events relatively small and intimate because I think the whole point is that I genuinely want people to have an opportunity to chat, socialise and hopefully form new friendships so numbers will be limited for every event. I also want people who will be coming along alone to feel comfortable as I know this will be the case for many. Big Vegan events can be overwhelming and I have found that I don't always get a chance to meet up with or speak to people who I had planned to so I want my meet ups to feel more like a smaller gathering. 

Non Vegans, and what I like to call 'Veg Curious' people, are also welcome to attend so if you have a friend who is considering going veggie or Vegan and you want to convince them by showing them some amazing Vegan food then please do bring them along! Also if you are just outside Essex but would still like to come along then you are of course welcome to. 

I am so excited for my first event in October and over half the spaces have already been filled which is amazing considering we are only in July at the moment! 

The evening will include;

  • A free welcome soft drink!
  • A 2 course Vegan meal - £15 to be paid on the night (any desserts & drinks will be extra)
  • A Vegan themed quiz with some lovely cruelty free prizes up for grabs!
  • A chance to socialise with other Vegans from Essex (& surrounding areas), make new friends & meet some of your online buddies face to face!
  • Special Vegan & Cruelty Free goodie bags to take home with you!

I am also hoping to secure a special surprise guest for the evening - fingers crossed! 

It should be a great evening and I am already looking forward to meeting everyone and of course eating some of the Oak Tree's gorgeous food again! 

To register your interest in attending the first event on 18.10.15 please email me at: thevnicelife@hotmail.com . Your attendance will be secured by a small £5 deposit which also goes towards the planning of the event and your goodie bags.

I hope to see you there! 

Sarah x
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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Just V Show



Last Friday I was fortunate enough to visit the Just V Show at London Olympia. This was my first time at this event, which was formally known as 'V Delicious', and I was excited to see what was in store! I was also interested to see that 2 other shows, 'Allergy & Free From' and 'Love Natural Love Organic', had teamed up to create one big show together. This got me really excited for the sheer scale of this event and the prospect of discovering some new brands and products. 

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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

20 Things To Do Before 2016


I can't quite believe it's the 1st of July already! It feels like we are steam rolling towards the end of 2015 and it has me thinking that I only have exactly 6 months left to do the things that I keep saying I am going to do!

As part of sharing more about myself on the blog, I have now decided to write down and share my 'things to do' checklist in the hope that it will motivate me to act on them and ensure that I have the experiences that I want to. That may sound odd as surely if you want to do something you will but I am constantly battling with wanting to stay in but also wanting to go out! I am sure many of you can relate to this. Time flies by and what with work and every day normal activities it can be hard to find the balance between relaxing and going out to enjoy myself.

So here goes......

  • Visit the Rainbow Cafe in Cambridge
  • Go to the Just V Show this weekend
  • Visit Hillside Animal Sanctuary
  • Have a dinner date with a bunch of vegans
  • Visit the Veggie Red Lion pub in Ipswich
  • Enjoy a movie at the Electric Cinema in Notting Hill
  • Take the dogs to Hampstead Heath
  • Go on a food tasting trip to Borough Market
  • Raise money for an animal charity 
  • Make a weekend of going to London VegFest! 
  • Book a holiday to Santorini
  • Go shopping in Portobello Road
  • Spend a day at a beach hut
  • Take part in an on the streets animal rights protest 
  • Spend a weekend in Brighton 
  • Visit a Suffolk beach
  • Meet more online friends face to face
  • Host my 1st vegan social meet up 
  • Visit a new European city
  • Get back into regular exercising 

I really hope that by the end of this year that I can tick everything off my list! I am feeling motivated and determined to make the most of the rest of 2015 and I am excited for what's in store.

I would love to hear your own 'to do lists'! Is there anything you were meaning to do this year but haven't got around to doing yet? Is there something that you really want to do or somewhere that you would love to visit? Share your thoughts below and blog your own 'Things To Do Before 2016'. I'm sure by the time that I have read your own lists my list may have doubled in size!

Sarah x
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