Saturday, 31 December 2016

December Life

HOW I'VE BEEN FEELING

I think like most people, December has been one crazy and, at times, stressful month! I think for 99% of this past month I have felt like I've continually been playing some game of catch up. There just hasn't seemed to be enough hours in the day for everything I have needed to do! But as well as being a busy month, December has also been a happy one. I really enjoyed taking part in Vlogmas this year and although it was a challenge it was also really enjoyable and motivating. I also had the best birthday ever! There's certainly been a lot of highs this month but it has left me feeling tired and like I need to re-charge my batteries. I've also had a horrible cold this last week of December which has left me feeling rough but it's also forced me to sit down and do nothing.

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Thursday, 29 December 2016

2017 Hopes & Goals


It's that time of year again where I am starting to think about what I would like to achieve in 2017. I don't so much like to make new years resolutions, instead I prefer to think about my hopes and achievable goals for the year ahead. I also like to incorporate fun things into the plan too so in many ways it is almost like a bucket list! 

MOVE HOUSE

This is quite a big goal that I hope to achieve in 2017. It's something we have talked about for the majority of this year and plans are in process to get the ball moving, although right now isn't a great time to be looking as there doesn't seem to be much coming on the market. However, we are pretty sure that will change after January and it will be all systems go! I am really excited about this as we have so many ideas about what we'd like from our new home. I love our house at the moment but we definitely need more outside space for the dogs and I am really craving some modern / minimal living style again. I also really want to offer a home to some rescue chickens so as soon as we're settled into the new place this dream will hopefully become a reality! 

TRAVEL SOMEWHERE NEW 

Travelling to somewhere new is pretty much on my new year goals every year because I really do love to travel and visit new places. There are a few destinations that have been on my hit list for quite a while now - LA, Las Vegas, Japan, Santorini, Copenhagen, Finland..... In 2017 I would like to tick as least two of these off my list! Flying used to really play havoc with my anxiety levels but since doing lots of short flights this year I feel fairy confident about it again. I'm not sure i'm ready to go anywhere super far away just yet so maybe Santorini would be more of an achievable goal than Japan. Even just thinking about these trips gets me so excited for the new year. I especially love to take some time out in January to plan our travels for the year ahead and break the year up with small excursions here and there. There are also some regular more local trips we love to do every year like Brighton! 

BLOG MAKEOVER

Every year since I started this blog (2 years ago) I have bought a new website template in order to change things up a little and for it to feel like a fresh start in a new year. I get very bored quite quickly when things stay the same and I also like to mix things up and keep things interesting for my readers. Along with a new template I have also been thinking about a new logo and branding but I am yet to put any proper thought into this. I would however like to possibly get an illustrator to make up something quite unique and special for me and something that really incorporates all what my blog is about. 

STICK TO A REGULAR GYM ROUTINE

As some of you may already know, I re-joined the gym a couple of months ago and really found myself enjoying exercise again. I then had a nasty fall where I hurt myself and wasn't able to walk properly for a week or so which really impacted on my gym attendance. Andy then also had a skateboard accident which put him out of action too! Anyway, the long and short of it is that we fell out of our routine and, with the business of Christmas too, lost our way a bit. Now is the time where we can really devote time and effort to making exercise a priority again and hopefully the 2-3 weeks we have missed won't have impacted on our fitness levels too bad. I would also like to ensure that the gym now becomes a part of our lifestyle, rather than something we dip in and out of when we feel like it. 

EAR PIERCINGS 

I feel slightly nervous to put this out there and onto this list as it's something that really scares me but it's also something I really want to have done! For the whole of 2016 I really wanted to have a couple of extra holes put in one of my ears but I have never managed to pluck up the courage to just do it. I watched both fellow vloggers Tanya Burr and Gabriella Lindley get theirs done this year which reinforced to me how much I want mine done too. Both of them seemed to handle it pretty well so I am sure I will be fine. It's just something I need to do! I already have one hole in each year but I was pretty young when I had them done so I don't really remember too much about it. But you guys know how squeamish I can get so hopefully you understand why this feels like a big deal to me!

SPEND MORE TIME AT THE OFFICE

Just before Christmas Andy and I spent a few afternoons over at his office to get some work done and it really made so much difference to my productivity levels. I really enjoyed going somewhere else to 'work' and found that I was much less distracted than I am at home. I also felt way more creative and inspired sat at a proper desk in a real working environment. I think even if I schedule this in twice a week it would make a huge difference. So I already know that what with this goal and the gym, schedule and routine is going to be so important in 2017!

LEARN PHOTOSHOP

I enrolled myself onto a photography course last year which I really enjoyed and I found that it really helped me to kick the new year off in a motivated and focused way. I would therefore quite like to start 2017 on the same note and, when considering some areas I would like to improve in, Photoshop is definitely something I need some training on. I did use photoshop a lot when I was at uni (* about 13 years ago!) but a lot has changed since then and I also went a long period post uni when I didn't ever use Photoshop. I am therefore going to find a course where I can brush up on these skills and hopefully feel more confident when it comes to editing my photographs.

LEARN FINAL CUT PRO

2016 has been the year I got into YouTube and making videos - something I never thought I would do. With that has come a whole host of hurdles and things to learn which thankfully my husband was able to help and guide me through. The only video editing software I feel confident using at the moment is iMovie which I have to say does a pretty good job for the kind of videos I am making. I am aware though that everyone generally uses Final Cut Pro and that this is a more advanced and professional video editing software. At some point in 2017 I would therefore like to get to grips with this a bit more and perhaps start using Final Cut instead of iMovie. 

VOLUNTEER WITH ANIMALS

This is something that I have wanted to do for so long but for many reasons I haven't been able to. It was on my hopes and goals list for 2016 and I am also carrying it over onto this new list for 2017. As soon as a volunteering event comes up I am booking myself in because I know how rewarding this kind of work can be and I would really love to give something back to the animals who live in sanctuaries.

I feel that all of the goals I have set myself are realistic and achievable and I am actually really looking forward to getting started on them! In fact, there's no time like the present, so I am off to do some research online into local courses to see what is available. 

What do you hope to achieve in 2017?
I'd really love to hear about some of your own goals and targets! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Tuesday, 27 December 2016

My 2017 Planners


2016 has been the year where I branched into using more than one planner or diary. In the past I have tended to buy one new diary for the new year ahead and i've stuck with it until the following Christmas. I always look forward to buying a new diary and now I am questioning how I ever managed to maintain only using one when there is such a wide and beautiful array of planners available!
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Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas!


This is just a very short blog post to wish you all a ...

VERY MERRY CRUELTY FREE CHRISTMAS 
A HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

Andy and I bought a pair of matching vegan themed Christmas jumpers this year and a pack of Christmas photo booth props so we thought it would be fun to take some festive photographs of ourselves to share with you all.











Whatever you are up to over the next few days I hope that you enjoy yourselves and spend some quality time with those who matter to you the most. I also hope you stuff yourselves silly with lots of yummy vegan food as I think this is the best year ever to be opting for a plant based Christmas!

Also a BIG thank you to each and every one of you who reads my blog and watches my videos. The support, comments, likes and shares all mean so much and they spur me on to keep doing what I do. 

Lots of Love  
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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Dogs Dress Up For Christmas!


It's December, there's only3 sleeps until Christmas and the festivities have begun so I thought what better time to share with you all photos of my (and my Mum's) dogs in their Christmas outfits!
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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Why I Love Winter


Today is officially the first day of Winter and I don't know about you but I personally love Winter! I think Autumn is my absolute favourite time of year, but Winter is definitely a very close second. 

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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

My Perfect Christmas Day


Everyone has their own idea of what makes a perfect Christmas Day and I thought it would be fun to share with you all how my own perfect Christmas Day would plan out.

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Thursday, 15 December 2016

2016 Hopes & Goals Review


As we approach the end of 2016 it's time to reflect on all of the hopes and goals I set myself at the start of the year. 

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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

My Winter Makeup Look


I really enjoyed putting together my cruelty free Autumn Makeup Look back in October and so I thought it would be fun to do one for the festive period too. This time cruelty free and vegan friendly brands Arbonne and Tropic both wanted to collaborate on this with me on this to help me achieve a perfect Winter look!
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Thursday, 8 December 2016

Easy Vegan Treats For Christmas


I admit I am not the most advanced in skills when it comes to creating things in the kitchen, I have however mastered the art of creating super easy and yummy vegan treats that require minimal effort and stress!

Last week we had a couple of days where we hosted some friends and family and so I thought it was the perfect time to bake up some festive treats.


I really wanted to try out making some vegan friendly gingerbread this Christmas as it's not something I have ever made before and ginger biscuits are always my husbands my favourite.

Vegan Gingerbread Recipe

Ingredients

100g cane sugar
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons of bicarbonate soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
5 tablespoons of treacle
1 dash of vanilla extract
75ml of soya milk
125g wholemeal flour
125g brown rice flour
4 tablespoons of plain flour for rolling 

Method

Preheat your oven to 140C / gas mark 1 

Mix sugar, ginger, cinnamon, bicarb and salt. 

Add treacle, vanilla and soya milk.

Mix well.

Add half of the wholemeal flour and half of the rice flour and mix well.

Add remaining flour until a stiff dough forms.

Using the plain flour, roll a portion of the dough to a 5mm thickness.

Use a biscuit cutter of your choice and place on a greaseproof lined baking tray.

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes.

Vegan Royal Icing Recipe

Ingredients  

1 1/2 cups of confectioners / icing sugar
1 tbls plant based milk
2 tsps light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract

Method

Add the sugar and milk to a bowl and mix with a handheld mixer until it is mostly lump free.

Add corn syrup and extract and blend until smooth.

If it's too thick add a little water by a drop as a little goes a long way.

If too watery add more sugar.

Pour mixture into a piping bag and decorate your gingerbread.

Easy Vegan Mince Pies Recipe

Ingredients

Jus Rol short crust pastry
A jar of vegan friendly mincemeat (Sainsbury's / Tesco / Waitrose own)
Icing sugar 

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 C.

Allow your Jus Rol to defrost before starting.

Roll out the pastry to a thickness that suits your personal tastes (mine were about half a cm).

Use a round cookie cutter to cut out the base of your pies.

Add the pie bases to a 12 cup baking tray.

Spoon the mincemeat into your pies, about just under one tablespoon per pie.

You can either add pastry shapes to the top of your pies like I have done, or complete round tops so your pies are covered up. The choice is yours!

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes and remove when golden brown.

Allow your mince pies to cool down and then sprinkle icing sugar on top of them. 

You can also use the royal icing recipe above to add some icing if you want too! 

Easy Vegan Cinnamon Buns


Did you know that these Jus Rol cinnamon swirls are accidentally vegan friendly and they taste delicious!? I tried these for the first time last week and I was blown away by them! They also come with a super easy 'mix your own' sachet of icing to pour on them once they are out of the oven. It really doesn't get any easier than this! I also think they're served best straight from the oven and enjoyed whilst still warm.


My friends and family really loved  these festive treats and had no idea that they were vegan friendly too! I always think it's nice to make some homemade food over the festive period - even if it is super easy and out of a packet like most of this. You can still add your own personal touches with decorations, shapes and sizes and aside from that it's a really fun way to spend an afternoon! 


I also wanted to share with you all Nikki McWilliams Oreo Christmas Puddings creation within this blog post as I definitely plan to make some of these in the run up to Christmas. Nikki's recipe isn't vegan friendly but can be easily made so by just by replacing the red sweets with something else - maybe a pomegranate or a red skittles sweet!? How cute do they look!? 


If you'd like to watch me making these treats then just head over to my YouTube channel and watch my Vlogmas Day 1 episode! 

Do you have any super quick and easy festive vegan treats that you like to make?

Comment below and let us all know!

Happy Baking! 
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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Festive Treats From Vegan Town


If you already follow my blog you should know by now that one of my favourite places to shop for treats is the Vegan Town website. They have such an amazing collection of vegan friendly chocolate and sweets, it's a one stop shop for anyone like me with a sweet tooth! 

Vegan Town recently got in touch with me and asked if I would like to try some luxury vegan chocolate from their Christmas range and of course I said yes! After all, when would anyone turn down some free chocolate!? 

Vegan Town sent me over a couple of products by Zotter and when my package arrived I couldn't wait to dive in and see what the chocolate was like! 

Zotter 


I really love that these chocolates come in nicely decorated gift packaging making them an ideal choice as a present for someone. The design is also really different to anything i've seen before and I could sense from the wording that this was a German or Austrian brand (Austrian in fact!).

The entire Zotter range of chocolate is all organic and fair trade and they have been rated one of the most sustainable companies in Austria.    

Luxury Chocolate Mini Bars 


These mini bars would make a perfect little stocking filler and I really loved the designs on them which gave me all the Christmas feels! 

The milk chocolate bar, made from rice milk, is decorated with coconut and chocolate moons and crispy green tea flakes. The white chocolate bar is decorated with cardamon and and chocolate stars along with some cinnamon apple chunks.

I was really surprised by how creamy this chocolate is and the little decorations give them a real taste of Christmas. I don't think i've ever tasted chocolate like it and it made a really nice change to the conventional vegan chocolate i've been used to.

Luxury Vegan Chocolate Star



This big chocolate star, which is almost like a combination of the two smaller bars, has some amazing flavours with added roasted hemp seeds, bright red goji berries and chocolate flakes. The design and taste is just gorgeous! 

If you haven't already checked out Vegan Town's online shop then I really recommend that you do! As well as these amazing Zotter chocolates there's a whole host of other vegan favourites including Vego, iChoc, Vivani and Booja Booja. 

Happy Munching! 
* Products featured in this post were gifted to me by Vegan Town. 
All views and opinions expressed within this post are completely my own. 
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Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Lush Christmas 2016


The Lush Christmas collection for 2016 has already been out in the shops for quite a while now and, if you ask me, I think they release these products far too close to the Halloween range. I hadn't even finished my October products and the Christmas ones were already in the shops! I also didn't want to rush my review so I have taken my time in deciding what to buy and enjoying using them before this post has gone live. 
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Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Little Book Of Hygge


When I first heard the Danish word 'Hygge' a few weeks ago I had no idea what it meant or what this new craze was all about. I then observed a Twitter chat happening between two people who I follow and I saw the words 'cosiness' and 'happiness' used to describe it. I consequently became extremely interested in the subject and I made no hesitation in ordering 'The Little Book Of Hygge' by Meik Wiking. 
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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

November Life


HOW I'VE BEEN FEELING

I've actually been feeling pretty busy and positive this month and although the last few weeks seem to have flown by, it has also felt like quite a long month. We started our new gym routine which I think has really helped to boost my mood and I have found myself feeling more less guilty regarding food and more energetic which is great. Working out has definitely had a positive impact on both my mental and physical health and i've been feeling good that i've managed to go at least 3 times a week every week since we started.  

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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

My Perfect Vegan Christmas Dinner


With Christmas less than a month away it's time to get thinking about your all important Christmas Day dinner. Ever since becoming vegan Christmas dinner has become a much easier task to complete as it doesn't involve roasting a turkey, or any meat for that matter. In fact it's not really too dissimilar from a regular Sunday roast for us, just with a few special extras thrown in. As well as being a cruelty free meal, it's also become a lot cheaper to make. 
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Thursday, 24 November 2016

Winter Dates For Your Diary


I've recently noticed a whole host of wonderful vegan events planned over the festive and Winter period and I thought it would be worthwhile for me to compile a list of all of the upcoming events over the next couple of months. 

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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Farmacy


On Sunday my husband and I organised a little day out to Notting Hill in London as we had tickets to see Louis Theroux's 'My Scientology Movie' at the Electric Cinema. This isn't really an area of London I visit very often so I did a little research online to see where we could get some lunch. 

One place which really stood out to me was the plant based restaurant Farmacy. I soon recalled that this is somewhere i've heard people talking about in the past, along with top vegan vlogger Niomi Smart. I read some mixed reviews with some saying it was home to incredible vegan offerings and others saying it's a bit pretentious, pricey and full of beautiful people. The Guardian even went as far as to call the food "bullshit'! 

I have to say that curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to find out for myself what all the fuss is about! Thankfully on Sunday morning at around 11am we didn't have to wait for a table for two but larger groups were less fortunate. FYI Farmacy do not take bookings and works on a first come first served basis. 


My first impressions were pretty good. I really like the concept of the restaurant and that it actually looks like a pharmacy from the outside. I mean seriously I had to look at the outside a couple of times before confirming to myself that it was indeed the restaurant I was looking for and not an actual pharmacy. 

The ethos behind the restaurant is one of 'clean indulgence'. They believe that certain 'clean eating' and a particular diet can act as a medicine for the body. I have read countless articles which support the idea that natural food and plants in particular can have healing properties for our bodies so I don't really need any convincing on this, as a vegan I am already on board with these ideas. But just to clarify, Farmacy cater for vegetarians, vegans, the dairy free and their food doesn't contain any nasties like refined sugars, additives and chemicals. 

Once inside I found the overall atmosphere and appearance of the restaurant really elegant and classy. There was certainly an air of clean living about the place. The staff were also super friendly and attentive. So far so good. 


Due to the time of our arrival we were presented with the brunch menu which I had already eyed up online and narrowed down my options to either the vegan friendly 'House Pancakes' (which really did sound great with their accompanying coconut yoghurt, fresh fruit and chia berry jam) or the 'English Breakfast' minus the eggs. I generally always have the battle of sweet vs savoury when it comes to breakfast and brunch but on this occasion savoury won the battle and I settled for a 'London Sunset' smoothie to give me my sweet fix.  


When our English breakfasts arrived (yes my husband chose exactly the same as me and we also added on a side of fries!) my first thought was 'oh, is that it?'. I mean it looked very appetising, but there just wasn't enough of it. And I guess for the £14.00 price tag I was expecting a little more.


Once I got stuck into the brunch I found myself continually picking up the salt and pepper as it really seemed to lack any flavour. The homemade baked beans looked like the Heinz ones I am more used to but they tasted really bland in comparison. This does make me wonder what's included in my usual baked beans to make them taste so good but I don't think i'll be swapping them for this kind any time soon. They were quite unappetising. 

The other disappointing factor was that the avocado wasn't ripe and ready to be eaten. It was still quite firm and lacked it's usual appealing flavour and texture. 

Would it make me a bad vegan to say the best thing about this meal were the chips!? Considering how bland and 'clean' everything else was I am surprised that they even serve chips, let alone tasty ones like these.  


When our £44 bill arrived at our table I wasn't surprised by the figure but I knew that what we had just ate wasn't worth even half of that. I've had significantly better breakfasts before for a quarter of the price of this so I couldn't help but feel disappointed. 

Vegan and plant based food can be extremely tasty, delicious and filling so I can't help but feel that Farmacy is giving my diet a bad name. Let's just say I definitely wouldn't consider taking any friends and family there to try to convince them that vegan food is good. If anything I feel that they are feeding into the stereotype that all meat free food is unsatisfying.  

Aside from the ambience and decor, I felt let down by our overall experience, but again, i'm not surprised!

Have you visited Farmacy before? What did you think?  
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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

DIY PomPom Christmas Wreath


I really love to make handmade things, especially at Christmas time. Whether it be for myself or gifts for others, it's a time of year I really enjoy being creative.  
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Friday, 18 November 2016

His & Hers Christmas Gift Guide


As I write this blog post there are only about 6 weeks left until Christmas which means now is the time for getting your shopping done and buying all your gifts! Unless of course you are one of those who enjoys the pressure and stress of a last minute dash around the shops on Christmas Eve!? 

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