Beauty, Fashion, Lifestyle

Autumn Essentials…

Autumn; the sun begins to cast a golden glow on the crisp frost creeping over the fields, the vibrant colour of the leaves on the trees begin to turn a fiery red – it’s the beginning of a chilly (and rainy!!) yet magical season, and a real favourite of mine. Shops start stocking up ready for Halloween, fairy lights begin to appear, casting an exciting sparkle as the evenings get darker, spicy wintery drinks start to appear in coffee shops… What’s not to love?! To celebrate the first weekend of Autumn, I thought I would share with you my Autumn favourites, from food, through to beauty products, through to general day-to-day Autumn delights.

Food 

To me, Autumn sparks the end of summery salads and invites the start of warm, hearty lunches and dinners. I thought I would share with you one of my favourite go-to autumnal dishes. As you will have seen from last week’s blog post, I’m trying to minimise the amount of meat and dairy in my diet, and I’ve been making lots of delicious meals from Lucy Watson’s ‘Feed Me Vegan’ cookbook. I’ve also been searching around for some other vegan recipes, which fill that hearty-dish-shaped-hole in my stomach, especially for during the week when I’m at work.

Vegan chilli

This one is super easy to make, and the best thing about it – make it in bulk, and freeze it! That way, you are always prepared for weekday lunches. I stumbled across this  One Hour Vegan Chilli. I absolutely love chilli – for me, this is the perfect autumnal meal, as it warms the soul and makes you feel good inside, whilst staying on the healthy bandwagon. It’s super easy to make, with loads of veggies, low price ingredients, and you essentially just throw everything in the pan and let it simmer for 40 minutes.

Vegan One hour chilli

Herbal teas

The only thing I can critique about this wonderful season, is it’s usually when all the bugs come out, the dreaded flu epidemic takes over the country, and I come down with some sort of terrible cold/sore throat. One of things I find keeps those colds at bay are herbal teas – full of natural sources of goodness, and generally tasty. The season always triggers the delicious autumnal flavours to come out of the woodwork, which make you feel all warm inside and excited for the season ahead. My current favourites are the Pukka and Twinings herbal teas, as they come in such a huge variety of flavours. A current favourite is the Pukka Apple and Cinnamon flavour – Cinnamon always makes me think of Autumn and the lead up to Christmas, so this is one I certainly get excited about!! The sweet tang of the apple also balances the spicy taste of the cinnamon. Another favourite is the Twinings Ginger Bread Green Tea – the sweet scent and taste actually makes you believe you’re eating gingerbread, so allows you to stave off those sugar cravings!! Last, but never least, is the Pukka Green Tea flavoured with Sweet Vanilla – I find that Green Tea on its own can sometimes leave quite a bitter taste, so the addition of the vanilla completely masks this, and makes for a lovely after-dinner cuppa.

Teas and ntebook

Beauty & Fashion

For those who know me, I’m not the most colourful and vibrant when it comes to my wardrobe. The furthest I stretch to in summer are light pastel colours (which are as close to cream and grey as they can be!!), and in the autumnal months, my favourite go-to colours are camel and burgundy (which is actually quite ‘out there’ for me!). They both really reflect the colours of autumn – the leaves turning to a deep red as they fall off the trees, and the golden sun in the mornings reflecting off the sparkling frost.

Jumpers & Slippers

Again, another reason I love Autumn – it’s the beginning of snuggly clothes season!! I picked up this gorgeous knitted jumper from New Look recently – it’s light enough to be able to wear a coat over the top, yet still warm enough to feel snuggled up and autumnal. The wide turtleneck allows you to snuggle deeply into the jumper, whilst allowing room for the fresh air at the same time if it’s a particularly sunny day. The perfect Autumn combination.

And of course, nothing makes you feel more snuggled and warm at home, than a great pair of slippers. These Emu Australia slippers are the perfect autumn/winter slippers – the woolly interior keeps your feet toasty and are hugely comforting for moseying around the house in.

Jumper and slippers

Skincare

As the frosty air and chill hits, it can be really hard on our skin and for me certainly, it can really dry it out. So it’s important to make sure you’re looking after your skin, keeping it fully moisturised to protect against the autumnal chill. I’ve pictured below my current favourite skincare products – for my morning routine, I’ve been using the Ren Evercalm Cleansing Milk which wakes up my skin, followed by the Garnier Micellar Water and The Body Shop Aloe Vera Soothing Day Cream. At night, I use the Lancome Bi-Facil Gentle Eye Make Up Remover, followed by the Lancome Gel Eclat cleanser and Tonique Confort to remove my base makeup. Just before bed, I apply two pumps of the Ren Vita Mineral Omega 3 Optimum Skin Oil, following by the V-Cense Revitalising Nightcream. This really leaves my skin feeling moisturised and healthy, and gives it that ‘glowy’ look throughout the day.

Skincareproducts

Autumn Nails

To complement the colours of Autumn, it has to be a burgundy nail!! My favourite at the moment is Chanel Rouge Noir. I find their nail polishes are extremely light, perfume-free and easy to apply, along with being long-lasting.

Polish

So there you have it – my Autumn favourites, I’d love to hear what you love, and your go-to favourites for this magical yet chilly season!

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Health, Lifestyle

‘Feed Me Vegan’ by Lucy Watson. The Review!

So after the long-awaited delivery, last Thursday, Lucy Watson’s ‘Feed Me Vegan’ cookbook finally arrived through the post. I’ve been really looking forward to receiving this book, for a multitude of reasons. First of all – I love Lucy Watson. Alongside her great sense of style and serious eyebrow game, I admire how strong-minded she is, and how she fights for what she believes in and voices it. Second of all, after recently watching the Netflix documentary ‘What the Health’, it really exposed a lot around the meat and dairy industry, and not only how cruel it is to animals in the processes it follows, but also how bad it can actually be for our health. So I wanted to try to tone down the amount of meat and dairy in my diet. This isn’t something I have found particularly difficult – I love veggie food anyway, and I will often be the one who picks the veggie option when out for dinner. When I saw that Lucy was releasing this cookbook, instantly I knew I had to buy it, as this would instil me with an entirely new armoury of recipes to try, which were meat and dairy free for me to enjoy.

One of the first things I loved about this book, was the introduction. It gives great insight into Lucy’s childhood, her relationship with animals, and why she made the choice to go Vegan. There is nothing ‘preachy’ about her writing; it’s simply an explanation as to why she has made the choices she has, and has some encouraging words for what she hopes to achieve with her book. Again, she’s not telling everyone ‘you must go vegan’ it’s simply there to be an eye-opener into what’s going on in the meat and dairy industry, and if this book can help us make healthier choices, then it’s done the job.

Recipes

One of the biggest factors for me when cooking, is time. I have what you would call a typical working week – a 9-5pm job, I don’t usually get home until around 5:45, and by the time I get in the door, the last thing I want to do is slave over the cooker for hours on end with more ingredients than you can count. I also don’t want to be spending over and above my weekly food budget. Within her book, Lucy has an entire section called ‘Feed Me Quickly’. And this section is perfect, for just that. Minimal ingredients, minimal time, and you’re still sticking to a healthy and clean diet. The majority of ingredients, as you can imagine are fresh vegetables, herbs and spices, and a few dairy/meat replacements. I have placed some of my favourite recipes so far down below, so you can see what I’ve been cooking, the time it has taken me, and of course, how it tasted!!

Miso-Glazed Aubergine

This one is perfect for those of you who get in from work, really can’t be bothered and just want to throw something in the oven (I often have those nights myself!!). The ingredients are very minimal, and the time it took me in total from scouring the cupboards for my ingredients, through to sitting down and eating, was around 35 minutes. That’s pretty good going, if you ask me!!

Aubergine Ingredients

First of all, I cut the aubergine in half, scoured it and popped it in the oven for 25 minutes. Whilst this was cooking, I mixed together the white miso, the mirin and the caster sugar, and left this on side. At this point, I curled up on the sofa for 20 minutes and watched the first half of an episode of Homeland – ideal!!

Aubergine in pan and miso

When the aubergine was ready, which was true to the time in the recipe, I took this out of the oven, brushed over my miso/mirin/sugar mixture, and popped this under the grill on a high heat for 5 minutes. Whilst this was caramelising and crisping up, I chopped my spring onions.

Finishedaubergine

As you can see, the result was pretty great. And to my surprise – extremely tasty!! The glaze gives it a lovely sweet taste, and mixed with the salt, sesame seeds and spring onion, hits your taste buds with rich and natural flavours. A new favourite of mine for the ‘lazy work night’ kind of meal!

Pad Thai

This book is also filled with plenty of other recipes, and one which I made from the ‘Feed Me Feasts’ section, was Pad Thai. I absolutely adore Thai food, so I was really hoping this would live up to expectations. Again – the ingredients weren’t complex in the slightest, I could see the health benefits of everything going into my food and the nutrients they held, which made me very excited to try this one.

Pad Thai ingredients

One ingredient which I was extremely apprehensive over, was tofu. I’ve never tried it before, and it wasn’t something I could ever see myself liking. It doesn’t really have a scent to it, and the texture of it, I discovered was quite rubbery; so I was extremely worried that this was going to turn out to be a complete disaster. When the recipe asked for the tofu to be crumbled, which I found was surprisingly easy (basically just squashing it between your fingers!!) it looks like scrambled egg, which made me feel even more concerned about how this would turn out. However – I was pleasantly surprised. When sautéed with the onions, garlic, ginger and turmeric, it turned golden and crispy, and mixed with all of the ingredients, absorbed all of the flavours and tasted absolutely delicious.

Stir fry veg in pan

Time

In terms of time, as this wasn’t in the ‘Feed Me Quickly’ section, I prepared myself to be spending at least over an hour prepping and cooking this, through to sitting down to eat. However again – a pleasant surprise. Once I’d prepped all my ingredients, which took around 15/20 minutes, then through to cooking time, I managed all of this within 45 minutes! Which is perfectly achievable for a weeknight meal.

Padthaidone

And voila! This was the finished product on my plate. The addition of the peanuts gave that delicious nutty taste to complement the soy and the vegetables, and to my delight, I’d made enough for a second serving for my lunch the following day. The only thing I would probably do differently is not be so over-zealous with the lime – it made the dish slightly too sweet for me, so next time, I will definitely be holding back on that… and maybe adding more peanuts as a treat!

And finally…  Feed Me Sweet Treats!!

I have a real sweet tooth, and I often find myself reaching for the chocolate on an evening, so I want to be able to still treat myself, but in a slightly healthier way. As well as this, my boyfriend has a particular fondness for jam – so I decided to make these delicious jam biscuits, as at least that meant I wouldn’t scoff them all by myself!!

As per all of the other recipes I’ve tried so far, the ingredients were fairly minimal and easy to find at the supermarket.

Jam biscuits ingredients

In terms of time, this one did take longer than the others, however this was mainly due to the fact that once you’ve made the dough, you need to leave it to set in the fridge for two hours. Other than that, it took me all of 10-15 minutes to make the dough. Now I didn’t have a whisk, which the instructions do say you’ll need, however I found I managed to make the dough just as well using a spoon and my hands to mix!!

Dough

Once the dough was ready, I kneaded this and cut my circles out with a cookie cutter, as instructed. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a cookie cutter small enough to cut out the hearts… so as you can see, these are a tad misshapen! I popped these in the oven for around 7-8 minutes, and then left these to cool on the side before adding the jam.

Biscuit halves

And voila!! My delicious jam biscuits!! They tasted absolutely yummy, and they were definitely favoured by my boyfriend as well. I will definitely be making these much more often.

Jambiscuits

As you can see, I’ve had lots of fun this week experimenting with these recipes. And I must say – this book has exceeded my expectations. Whenever I have made Vegan meals in the past, I have always felt that something on my plate was missing, and I wasn’t getting the nutrients or enjoyment out of the food like I should. This book has given me some great and tasty recipes where I feel completely fulfilled with what I’m eating, and again it has given me some great quick and simple recipes to enjoy during the week without sacrificing taste. I haven’t even noticed this week that I have been eating Vegan meals – which is definitely a positive sign!! If you haven’t already done so, I would certainly recommend purchasing this book, and if you already have, I’d love to hear your thoughts and which recipes you would recommend!

 

 

 

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Should you opt for separate social media accounts for blogging, or do you utilise your existing platforms? 

When I started blogging, which was just under two years ago now, one decision which I was deliberating over for a long time was how to promote my platform. Essentially, the big debate was; do I create completely separate Twitter and Instagram accounts in order to promote my blog content, or use my existing accounts where I already have followers? It was something I did a lot of research into – there were pros and cons for both. One of the cons of creating new accounts, was the fact I’d have to build up a completely new network of followers to keep engaged. One of the pros was that I wouldn’t irritate or annoy existing friends or connections with constant posts about my blog, which they necessarily didn’t want to see, as well as the fact I could still keep all my personal accounts private. On the flip side, by using my existing account I could use my existing network to promote content to, or by using a new platform I could create a solid ‘blogging network’.

I finally made the decision to create separate accounts, one of the reasons being that I didn’t want to annoy connections and friends, but also that I was extremely nervous about my blog. What if people saw it and made fun of me? What if people didn’t like it? I’ve always been quite a self-conscious person, and putting my own content out there, something that’s authentically mine, my interests and my views on something, for all to see, is actually pretty terrifying.

Further down the line, and I’m still going back around in circles as to what would be best. I have found it extremely difficult to keep two accounts going – whenever I post a photo, or tweet, I automatically share it on my personal account and have to admit, I’ve neglected my blogging accounts. Which to be fair, may have affected the engagement I have with followers on those accounts (or they’re simply scrolling past because my posts are boring.. which is entirely possible!!).

It’s a debate I’ve seen a lot in the blogosphere and on social media generally, and it’s something I’m still trying to fully make the decision on.

I’d love to hear from other bloggers out there – do you keep your accounts separate and find this works better for you, or alternatively do you find it works best using your existing network?

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