January: The Month of Fresh Starts

Monday, 30 January 2017

The New Year rang in quietly. I sat in my pyjamas and listened to Big Ben strike twelve, watched the fireworks go off, hugged my mum and then went to bed.

(Two years ago that would have horrified me but I'm not embarrassed about my lack of enthusiasm for parties anymore. I'm an introvert, and I like it.)

At the start of 2016 I had a vague idea of what I might be doing by the end of the year. I wanted to have graduated and be living and working in London. I graduated, I worked in London, I decided I didn't want to move there, and I paused. So this time, at the start of 2017, I had no idea how things were going to go. There's no academic year to base my life around now.

Then the opportunity to go abroad came up. And after messaging and emailing back and forth, and a slight setback involving a cat or six, I finally got the go-ahead. As this post goes out I'll be in the first few days of my time away and I can't wait!

2017 Diary

All-Day Veggie Breakfast at Kitch

Sunday, 29 January 2017

I came across Kitch by pure accident.

Mumma and I needed to find somewhere to go for lunch  somewhere with a decent selection of vegetarian food. Kitch popped up on a Google search, so I clicked on the menu and we were sold by the all-day breakfast (we love a good breakfast). Luckily we weren't disappointed.


Finding a new local foodie spot always excites me, more so when their approach to food is in line with mine. Kitch focus on natural, unprocessed foods that are free from additives like refined sugars and they have tonnes of vegetarian options, most of which can easily be made vegan. Everything is cooked fresh to order, too.

Beauty On a Bad Day

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Beauty definitely plays a role in my bad days.

It goes one of two ways  either I can't be bothered with make-up at all, or I want a full-on face of it. There is no in-between.

Fortunately I have options for both those scenarios, so I thought I'd share them with you today.

Beauty On a Bad Day (Make-Up)

Going Back to Your University Town

Monday, 23 January 2017

I always knew I'd never be able to stay away from Wales for long.

Cardiff is one of my favourite places in the UK and many of my friends are still there, including two of my housemates from third year. When they invited me to go and visit them for a couple of days there was no way I was gonna refuse; they're like brothers to me.

But going back is strange.

Things have changed so much for me since I left university, but everything there was the same. Well, all the freshers looked incredibly young and there was a new Lego wall in my old local where someone had written 'Send nudes', but apart from that...

The Valleys

Recipe: Creamy Green Vegetable Soup

Sunday, 22 January 2017

I love a good bowl of soup at this time of year.

There's just something so cosy about curling up on the sofa to eat soup, especially when you've made it yourself.

This particular recipe is incredibly easy, so it's perfect for lazy days  you just shove everything in the same saucepan, blend it all up, and serve. (I like to have mine with wholemeal toast on the side for dunking.)

The creaminess of the soup comes from the cannellini beans. It feels indulgent but it's actually very healthy, what with all the vegetables, and the beans are a good source of protein.

(In the interests of full disclosure I should add that I took the basic recipe for this soup from the first Deliciously Ella book and then adapted it to suit my tastes and the contents of my fridge. Buying Deliciously Ella was my first proper foray into vegan cooking and I often use the recipes when I'm stuck in a rut.)

Anyway, if you want an easy, healthy, make-ahead lunch that you can microwave in (three) minutes, this is the soup for you.

Creamy Green Vegetable Soup

Testing Spot-Controlling Skincare for Adults

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Acne can be a minefield, especially when you're an adult. (The realisation that acne still happens after puberty is a devastating one.)

A lot of products for spotty skin are aimed at teenagers and are full of horrible things like sulfates and microbeads  ultimately, they do your complexion (and, in the case of microbeads, the environment) more harm than good.

The products in the today's post are different.

They're targeted towards oily/combination skin but don't aim to aggressively strip it of all moisture (thereby making the problem worse). So I put them to the test, to see if they made a difference to my spotty, stressed-out face.  

Spot-Controlling Skincare from LoveLula

Vegan Make-Up Brushes from Spectrum

Monday, 16 January 2017

I'm so late to the party.

I first saw Spectrum on Katie's blog, loved the look of the brushes and the ethics of the brand... and then just never got round to ordering anything. Until the end of last year, that is.

Spectrum make the most gorgeous, mermaid-esque make-up brushes you've ever seen in your life, with brightly coloured handles and bristles.

Ombre is a favourite style of theirs but we're not talking blonde and brunette, oh no  we're talking blue and purple; pale pink and magenta; turquoise and black. Spectrum brushes are fun.

Another feature that makes Spectrum stand out is their ethics. The brand is vegan and cruelty-free, with the bristles on each brush made from synthetic hair.

But are they any good?

Spectrum Vegan Make-Up Brushes

Recent Vegan Eats at Chain Restaurants

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Eating at restaurants when you're a vegetarian can be frustrating.

Eating at restaurants when your diet is vegan? Even more so.

Often there will only be a couple of token veggie options on the menu, and if you want vegan food? Forget it.

Thankfully, times seem to be changing. I've had a couple of really good experiences at chain restaurants recently so in the spirit of Veganuary I thought I'd share them, just in case anyone needs a boost or some ideas.

(I've only just stopped eating fish and I'm concentrating on that, so I'm not doing Veganuary this year, but I do like to order vegan options to show demand for them. And also because I try and consume as little dairy as possible  a lot of veggie options can be on the cheesy side.)

Toby Carvery Vegan Roast
The problem with Toby Carvery is you end up piling everything on your plate.

Grassroots Health Natural Unscented Body Range

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

One of my goals for this year, as you might know, is to try more products from independent cruelty-free brands.

It was inspired, in part, by Grassroots Health, who got in touch towards the end of last year to ask me if I was interested in trying out their Natural Body Range* (v). I said yes, a) because the products sounded lovely and b) because the brand's ethics are right up my street.

The Grassroots Health beauty range is:

  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan
  • Handmade in Scotland
  • Free from SLS, ALS, parabens, and chemicals
  • 100% biodegradable

The collection is currently reduced from £25.50 to £21, or you can buy each product individually.

Grassroots Health Unscented Lotion Bar

When You're Stuck

Monday, 9 January 2017

Right now I'm in bed wrapped up like a burrito and I've temporarily abandoned my Bill Bryson book  The Road to Little Dribbling, in case you were wondering  so I can write. Sorry, Bill. (I'm on the chapter about the Lakes and loving it.)

By right now, I mean right now as I'm writing this on Sunday evening, not right now as in Monday, when the post will go live. I may be unemployed but I have standards; I wrap myself in blanket burrito on the sofa during the day (but only when it's freezing). 

Today's post is the word vomit kind: thoughts and recent worries and the like. Because now the festive season is over and the new year hype has settled down, I'm feeling a bit stuck. Everything is up in the air at the moment  a situation I suspect every recent uni graduate is familiar with  and I don't know what's going to happen next.

Book and Socks

Recipe: Banana Oat Pancakes

Sunday, 8 January 2017

After some thought, a little bit of experimenting, and a lot of shouting at my temperamental phone camera, I can finally bring you my first recipe post.

I am not a food expert or a nutritionist; I'm a vegetarian who really, really loves her food. (Yes, the two things can co-exist.) You won't be getting anything too crazy or revolutionary from me  it's all normal food you can find in your supermarket.

But that's the point. I want to show that vegetarian and vegan meals don't need to be boring or difficult to make. And although I've always loved it, cooking has become a huge part of my life since I left university so I wanted to share that on the blog.

We're starting with breakfast.

Banana oat pancakes have been one of my favourite breakfasts for a while now. I make them at the weekend. I make them when I need a pick-me-up in the morning. (An urgent one, because otherwise it'd be every morning. I don't like starting early.) I made them for my friends when we were in Portugal and I swear they've never said less in their lives.

Because they were too busy eating, I hasten to add, not because the pancakes were terrible.

Bananas and oats go together so well, while the cinnamon adds a little more warmth to contrast with the sweetness of the fruit. Use the ripest bananas you have  this recipe is an excellent way to use up any bananas that are starting to turn black. No food waste and a tasty breakfast? My dad would be so proud.

Banana Oat Pancakes

Lippy Girl Vegocentric Lipstick in Ski Bunny and Surf Betty

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Lipsticks are definitely the beauty product I'm most drawn to.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm terrible at hoarding them. It doesn't matter how many shades I already love; there's always another one that catches my eye and I'll find a way to justify buying it ('The undertone is different, I swear!' Anyone else?)

But on this occasion it wasn't the colour that got my attention first, but the brand.

Lippy Girl Vegocentric Lipstick in Ski Bunny

2017 Goals

Monday, 2 January 2017

I don't believe in New Year, New Me.

But I do believe the new year is a good time to set yourself goals for the year ahead.

Really, you can change things at any time of year, but January offers a fresh start unlike that of any other month and I love getting organised.

I've bought myself a massive 2017 diary from kikki.K and I'll be carrying it everywhere with me. Normally I think of goals and then promptly forget about them by the time February rolls around, but I've written them on a postcard and put them in the back of the diary so I can remind myself if needed.

So what am I planning for 2017?

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