Thursday, 29 September 2016

September Life


HOW I'VE BEEN FEELING

I can't quite believe how quickly this post has come around again! September has absolutely flown by don't you think!? All in all it's been a pretty good month for me but I have been a tad disappointed by the persistent warm weather. There I was with all my new Autumn jumpers at the ready and sadly they've all had to stay on hold in the wardrobe. Fingers crossed for colder temperatures in October! 

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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Kind Cuisine


Last weekend we decided to drive to Sudbury in Suffolk to try out their brand new, and only, vegan cafe Kind Cuisine. Sudbury is only a 10 minute drive from where we live in Essex and for a long time now I have felt that this area is severely lacking in options for vegans. When I saw via Facebook that Kind Cuisine had opened up it really was surprising because I had started to lose all hope for anywhere like this opening up near to me! It was definitely a moment for celebrating and planning an immediate visit. 

Before visiting Kind Cuisine I had the pleasure of seeing some images of their dishes pop up on my Facebook feed and I really liked the look of what I saw. The image presented was of somewhere homely, inviting and a chef who knew what they were doing with vegetables. My favourite kind of vegan food is that which is completely vegetable based and healthy so I knew that this cafe was already hitting a lot of the right notes for me.


On arrival at Kind Cuisine and after glancing through their menu I was pleased to find that my initial preconceptions were indeed correct. We were met with warm and welcoming smiles and a cosy interior akin to other local tea rooms and cafes, but with the informality of visiting old friends.

Along with the above menu there was also a blackboard detailing the specials of the day which were French onion soup and a chickpea curry bowl, both of which we loved the sound of and so ordered for our lunch. I really like the fact that Kind Cuisine have these changing specials as I think it helps to keep things varied and there's also the element of surprise as to what will be cooking on the day you visit.    


As a small appetiser we ordered a bowl of freshly toasted nuts and seeds. I think this was the first time I had ever enjoyed nuts and seeds warm and it was a really enjoyable experience. It also helped to keep hunger at bay whilst we waited for our mains. 


My French onion soup was so delicious and something I haven't had for a very long time so it made a really welcomed change. It was so delicious and I loved the touch of adding a large bready crouton in the middle with some vegan cheese on top. 


My husband's curry bowl looked divine and if my soup hadn't had been so nice I think I would have really regretted not ordering this for myself! The curry tasted very fresh and homemade which he really loved. The mini popodoms and vegetable pakora were also a pleasant addition to the bowl and made it a very hearty lunch. 


After having spotted this beautiful looking victoria sponge cake on our arrival there was no way we were going to leave without trying some so we ordered a slice along with a pot of tea for our dessert. It was the perfect end to a delightful first visit!  


Whilst we sat and enjoyed our cake it was really great to see this little cafe so busy and not a free table in sight. Part of me may have questioned if a vegan cafe could do good business in such a rural and traditional area of Suffolk, but it was clear to see that, despite its newness, this is already a popular spot with the locals. 


We're already looking forward to our next visit to Kind Cuisine and it's so amazing to have a purely plant based eatery so close to where we live. Kindness and compassion towards animals is thankfully growing and seeing cafe's like this pop up in some of the unlikeliest places confirms that Veganism is on the rise.  
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Thursday, 22 September 2016

Gappy Gobs Pet Portraits


A little while ago I came across Gappy Gobs, aka Helen, on Instagram and her work was an instant hit with me, particularly as her motto is 'For Those That Prefer Pets To People'. A woman clearly after my own heart! 

As I scrolled through her cute and colourful Insta feed I quickly fell in love with all of her designs and knew that I would soon be commissioning her to illustrate my very own pet portrait. Also how cute is Helen's pug Wilma!?? She really has me lusting after a pug of my own! 

Along with her pet portraits, Helen also makes the most adorable custom pet cushions and she has a collection of seriously cute iron on patches too.


I recently finally contacted Helen about illustrating my little doggies. Since the arrival of our puppy Suki I was really keen to get a piece of artwork which featured all three of our dogs together. I was so excited to get in touch with her and get the ball rolling on this!

This week my pet portrait arrived along with some extra little goodies - thank you so much Helen! Mr Kirby and I are absolutely over the moon with our portrait and I am truly amazed by just how well she was able to capture their little characters and looks. It really is the perfect new addition to our home and my ever growing picture ledge wall. I couldn't be happier!





Also how cute are these easy iron on patches!?

The perfect accessory for any pet owner like me! 



I spend a lot of my life covered in dog hair so this patch really made me giggle! And yes - Chihuahuas shed their coat a lot! I get through so many of those lint rollers from H&M it's crazy but in a way I like looking at myself and seeing their hairs as it's a little reminder of them :-)






I really wanted to share all of this on my blog because most of my followers are animals lovers and pet owners and so I thought you would all be interested in Helen's work and love it as much as I do. I also think that her products make perfect gifts and with the big 'C' word just around the corner what better time than now to start thinking about what to buy your loved ones!?  

Happy shopping! 
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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Devon & Exmoor


If you follow me on social media you will have no doubt seen that I enjoyed a lovely little week away to Devon and Exmoor a couple of weeks ago and so I thought it would be nice to share with you all some of the highlights. 
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Thursday, 15 September 2016

Weleda Nourishing Hair Oil


Up until now I had never tried any products by Weleda but they have been on my radar for a long time as I frequently spot their products within health shops. I was recently asked if I would like to try something from their vegan friendly range and I of course jumped at the chance to get to know this brand a little better. 
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Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Reasons To Love Autumn


Ok, so I know we are technically still in Summer and as I write this the weather this week is set to peak at 30 degrees again (give me strength!), but I am pretty positive that once this week is out of the way we will start to see the real beginnings of Autumn. I've been reflecting on some of the things I love about Autumn and I thought I would share them all with you in a bid to get us all a little bit excited for the months ahead. 


Brown Crunchy Leaves

There's just something about how picturesque and Instagramable everything looks during Autumn and when all the leaves are dropping off the trees. It's a photographers dream! I love all of the fiery colours of the leaves mixed together which begin to line the previously glum looking pavements. I also love the crunching sound of the leaves under your feet as you walk about which always reminds me of my childhood and returning to school after the Summer holidays.  


Layering

I find dressing for Summer a real chore so i'm really looking forward to being able to start layering my clothes again. I think my favourite item of clothing has to be the cardigan as I like to be able to cover up both my arms and my bum! I have also really missed wearing jackets and coats as their pockets are always so useful for storing various items such as my phone and dog poop bags. I'm especially excited to start wearing my new yellow rain mac.

Hats

I don't know about you but I love having the option of wearing a hat, primarily due to bad hair days. I just love the fact that you can so easily cover up your hair and still feel cute in a hat. If you have a bad hair day in the Summer there really is no getting away from it and it can potentially ruin your whole day. I am pretty big on all accessories anyway so my wooly hat collection is quite epic and I genuinely look forward to being able to wear them again.    


Halloween

I have always loved Halloween and to be honest I have no idea why because I'm not massively into horror films or being scared in any way. Despite that I always embrace Halloween as it's a great excuse to add some decorations to our home and dress the pets up for silly photographs! It's also the one time of the year when I will allow my husband to put a scary movie on. We always make a night of it by walking around the neighbourhood to look at everyone else's decorations and all the children trick or treating. We then get some snacks in and enjoy a spooky night in together.

Pumpkin Picking & Carving

Continuing along the Halloween theme, Autumn is a great time of year to go pumpkin picking. Every year until now I have always picked a pumpkin up from a shop but after our fruit picking escapades this Summer I am excited to actually go and pick our own pumpkins fresh from the farmers field this October. Ever since my husband and I moved in together it has been our tradition to carve pumpkins together for Halloween and it always gets pretty competitive!


Cosy Nights In

One of the main things I look forward to with the arrival of Autumn and Winter are cosy nights in. I love putting on my favourite cosy indoor clothes and snuggling down under a nice fleecy blanket with my husband and the pets. And a cosy night in just isn't the same unless its cold outside! It's also much more enjoyable when you don't feel guilty about not being outside enjoying the light and warm evenings. Last year we had a log burning stove installed into our fireplace and the thought of having that alight again just fills me with happiness! 

Hot Drinks

With the arrival of colder weather comes back my thirst for hot drinks again. I know people say that hot drinks cool you down in hot weather but I can never face a hot drink during the Summer months. The only downfall for me during this time of year is that I don't like coffee and I really wish I did because all the flavours and varieties look incredible! I am however going to give it a go one more time and order myself one of the infamous pumpkin spiced lattes. It just has to be done right!? Although i'm pretty much certain i'm gonna hate it. 


Cold Weather

I've said it before, and I know I am in the minority, but I love the cold weather! I think I have the opposite to SAD (seasonal affective disorder) but I genuinely always feel my best during the colder months. My energy levels go up as well as my levels of motivation - weird I know but it's just what happens! I find myself exercising more, squeezing more into a day and feeling more creatively inspired. If you gave me the choice between being too hot or too cold I would always choose cold. 

Fireworks Night 

After all the excitement of Halloween is over next comes up my other favourite evening of the year, fireworks night. There's something about the smell in the air around fireworks night which is just so familiar and comforting. I never miss a fireworks night display, even when I have been feeling unwell I have still forced myself out to see a display. Bonfire night was always a big event in my family growing up and that tradition has just stuck with me. The only downside for me is having pets and how people choose to let off fireworks over a two week period instead of just sticking to one night. 


   Long Walks

You would think Summer would be perfect for enjoying a long walk but for us, with lots of small dogs who can easily overheat, we tend to enjoy the nicest and longest walks when the weather is colder. During Autumn we pretty much make an event of going for a walk on a Sunday. We load the dogs up in the car and drive somewhere out of town and walk for miles. My favourite part of this is getting all chilly, feeling like i've been exposed to the elements and then coming back to a lovely, cosy and warm home and enjoying a nice vegan roast dinner.  


What do you love about Autumn? 
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Thursday, 8 September 2016

Hempz Body Scrub


I have to confess that I don't exfoliate and scrub my body as much as I should do. It's something I tend to go through phases of and I only really start to pay some special attention to it if I am due to go on holiday. I can't deny that my skin always feels amazing for a good body scrub but I guess it's just one of those things that can feel like a bit of a chore for me, even if it is only once a week.

I was recently sent this Vanilla Plum Body Scrub by Hempz to try out and it arrived at the perfect time in the middle of Summer and just before I went to Ibiza. Receiving a new product like this was the kick up the bum I needed to actually work on my body skin care routine. 

The scrub itself smells so incredibly nice, it's been one of those products that I just kept taking the lid off purely to dip my nose inside and inhale the lovely aroma. The plum extract included within the scrub has natural conditioning properties which help to nourish your skin and leave it feeling super soft and smooth after using. It's enriched with 100% pure natural hemp seed oil which is extracted from the seeds of the Cannabis plant. 

I had no idea before using this product that hemp seed oil is considered one of the best sources of essential fatty acids as it provides your skin with the perfect ration of protein, carbohydrates, nutrients, key minerals and fibre. It's also incredibly moisturising meaning its a perfect ingredient for beauty products of this kind.


You will all be pleased to hear that this scrub is made from sugar crystals and there's no nasty synthetic micro beads inside, it's all natural and environmentally friendly. Hooray! It's also paragon free, gluten free, cruelty free, vegan friendly and THC free. In fact, Hempz are a completely vegan & cruelty free brand which means i'm about to go on a little shopping spree! I particularly like the look of their body moisturisers and body washes which would make perfect accompanying products to use alongside this scrub.  

After using the body scrub my skin felt so incredibly soft and smooth, I couldn't help but keep running my hands up and down my legs as they felt so different to what they had done beforehand. In the past I have found some body scrubs to be quite drying but that wasn't the case with this product which is probably due to the hydrating shea butter contained within it's ingredients. 

Looking in the mirror afterwards there was no denying that my skin looked and felt more radiant and glowing which has really had me thinking that I need to be scrubbing more often. It also helped to maintain my holiday tan for longer and I avoided my skin peeling which I was so pleased about as that's a post holiday look i'm really not keen on.   

Have you tried anything from the Hempz range yet?  
* This product was sent to me for review purposes.
All views expressed within the blog post are completely my own. 
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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Yes To Cucumbers


I first became aware of the 'Yes To' brand when I was in Miami last year and I couldn't help but notice their vibrant and eye catching packaging in all of the drug stores and local Walgreens. Back then it wasn't a brand that I had ever come across before in the UK but my initial impressions were so good I couldn't wait to try some of their products for myself. 

Wind the clock forward to now and either I have been living under a rock or 'Yes To' products have suddenly become quite popular in the UK and I have only recently became aware that they are available to purchase on the ASOS website and at Boots. I'm sure this hasn't always been the case!?

Anyway, lets cut a long story short! Whilst picking up some new Autumn clothing on ASOS I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to throw some Yes To products into my trolley and finally try them out for myself. You will probably have gathered by now that I absolutely love trying out new haircare and body washes so I chose these three staple items to begin with.   


Even before putting the products to the test I came to the conclusion in my mind that I just love this brand for so many reasons... 

On the face of things their packaging is exactly the kind to draw me in - it's fresh, bold and contains images of fruits and veg which is basically what I live for! I love the fact that each collection is focused around the plant power of a particular fruit or vegetable. It's all just very organised and the colour co-ordination is completely on point. 

Next, the fact that Yes To products are so centred around them being natural is another tick in the box for me. I've said it before but the more natural a product the more it appeals to me these days. I like to be able to read an ingredients list and know what's in a product. All of Yes To's products have at least 95% natural ingredients and they actually state the exact percentage on the front of all of their packaging. 

And last but not least, they are a cruelty free brand who are certified by the leaping bunny programme. This is obviously a big factor for me and if they did test on animals I wouldn't even go near them, no matter how fancy their branding and packaging is. 


With regards to being vegan friendly, I initially wasn't sure if their products were vegan but I had a feeling they probably would be as they are so focused around plant based ingredients. After carrying out a little search on their website's FAQ section I emailed the company for more information and I soon received back a reply confirming that the cucumber products I had purchased are completely vegan friendly which I was really pleased to hear. 

They also confirmed that there are only a few products within their entire range which aren't vegan:

Yes to Carrots Scalp Relief Shampoo: Silk Amino Acids
Yes to Carrots Scalp Relief Conditioner: Silk Amino Acids
Yes to Blueberries Eye Firming Treatment:  Beeswax
Yes to Grapefruit Dark Circle Correcting Eye Cream:  Beeswax
Yes to Cucumber Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 Stick:  Beeswax
Yes to Coconut Head to Toe Hydrating Balm: Beeswax

I was really impressed to get such a swift and informative response back from this company which can so often not be the case when trying to obtain information of this kind. The information on their website is also really clear and upfront which any conscious shopper like me will really appreciate. 

I guess if I had any constructive criticism it would be for them to perhaps consider clear vegan labelling on all of their products just to make life that little bit easier for us. And if they wanted to go even better I think we would all probably agree that it would amazing if a brand like this just went completely vegan friendly. 



Moving onto the products themselves, I have found them to be really nice quality and effective at their jobs. I've really enjoyed using all three of these products and I would most certainly buy them all again. 

The cucumber range has a really lovely light and refreshing fragrance which does at a great job at giving you that all over super clean and fresh feeling. My hair completely falls within the 'normal to fine' category so this shampoo and conditioner were perfect for me and my hair definitely felt more healthy and volumised after using them. I also really enjoyed using the accompanying soothing body wash on a daily basis which lathers up really nicely on your skin and leaves you feeling all soft and smooth after using.    


I feel genuinely excited about the vast amount of products within the different Yes To ranges and I am already eyeing up a few more items to try out. I particularly like the look of the coconut collection which I am sure must smell incredible!

Have you said 'Yes To' any of these products yet? 
What did you think?
Comment below and let me know! 
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Thursday, 1 September 2016

August Life


HOW I'VE BEEN FEELING

I think out of the whole year August always feels like my least favourite month. You probably already know by now that I tend to struggle a bit with Summer, especially intense heat in the UK. I'm also not keen on the prolonged school Summer holiday break which usually means that all my favourite places are packed during the week when I like to avoid the crowds. Anyway, this month has as predicted been HOT! I've spent a lot of time feeling flustered and sweaty and I really think the heat impacts on my overall motivation and energy levels. I've been feeling pretty sluggish and grumpy a lot of the time! 

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