Beauty, Lifestyle

Creating your own ‘me’ space

This may seem trivial, but I absolutely love having a space, a personal sanctuary, which is just for me. Simply just a corner in a room and a space for me to sit at, whether that’s in the mornings/evenings to conduct my beauty routine, read my latest book, find inspiration for the next blog post, or simply just to reflect. A place filled with my personal belongings, hair and beauty products, books, notebooks; you name it. I think it’s really important to create this personal space, to allow yourself that invaluable time to reflect, relax and recharge.

When I first moved in with my fiancé, our house was quite small (but cosy!!), so I used to have random boxes stuffed in the wardrobe, under the bed, under the bedside table, (wherever I could fit them, essentially) filled with my things, nothing having its own individual place. I used to be squished on the floor between the bed and the mirror, trying to do my makeup as Marcus had to quickly learn advanced acrobatics to get past me without disruption, and also trying to get himself some airtime in the mirror to do his hair.

So when we finally moved into our lovely new home, I was really excited to be able to create this ‘me’ space. Straight away, I headed to my Pinterest board (which I’ve been adding inspirational ideas to for a while now!!) and picked out the key things I knew would fit the bill. First on the agenda – storage. For all of my products, whether that’s hair, makeup, skincare, notebooks, reading books, jewellery, keepsakes, I needed storage to house all of these items, and organise them exactly how I wanted to. So we stopped by IKEA, where I had seen a gorgeous desk/dressing table combo, with a set of drawers, which fit the profile perfectly! Once I’d got these home, the next item on the agenda was to build it and set it in the corner of our second bedroom, ready for me to fill with my things.

Then comes the exciting part (for me, anyway) – organisation! Now you may have got this from previous posts already, but I’m a very organised person. I like to know exactly where everything is at all times, follow a routine and this is where I am most comfortable. I picked up these great drawer organisers from IKEA and TK Maxx, which meant I could separate out my different products and various other items, so everything had its own little home.

Once I had filled the drawers, the final touches were to decorate the exterior to make it nice and cosy… so candles were an absolute essential! I love how the scent of candles can fill a room, the warmth making it feel so cosy, and how calm and relaxed they can make you feel. I received this beautiful set of Lily Flame candles for my birthday, so this was a perfect addition to my space. I’m also slowly but surely building up a lovely collection of perfumes, so I wanted a nice ‘home’ for these, and found this gorgeous copper tray at TK Maxx (you get the theme here!) which complements the colour palette perfectly.

So there you have it – the lovely space I have created just for me, and constantly adding to. I would love to see and hear about the spaces you have created for yourselves, and how you find these moments and spaces to be calm and have time solely for you.

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Lifestyle

Home Update.. we are in!!

So after six months of dawdling about with a half-written blog post in my drafts, I’ve now finally gotten around to adding the final edits to this post. I was meant to post a Home Update all the way back in September, however I was waiting for the finishing touches to specific rooms to be complete. There were certain things I wanted to show you in this post, and rooms I was extremely excited about. So this, coupled with a hectic December, consisting of getting engaged (eek!!), going away for a mini break and getting a beautiful new little puppy – it’s been a bit of a whirlwind to say the least!!! So I thought I would post this now, to give you a bit of an update!

After what felt like forever, we FINALLY moved into our home in August. Never again do I want to see another paintbrush, or hear the words “can you gloss the skirting, oh and don’t forget the two layers of undercoat” or spend several hours wrestling with the frogtape (which, by the way, is a completely overrated item, and caused us more problems than solutions!). It has been a lot of long evenings, where instead of going home and relaxing with a glass of red, we were trudging over to the house, paintbrush in hand. But, I must say, through all the tears, tantrums and fights with the frogtape, it has all been worth it. We have been spending the last 6 months making the finishing touches to our home, so I thought I would give you a sneak peek into what we have achieved so far.

Kitchen

As you may remember, the kitchen was looking (and felt) quite tired, dark and cramped, so the first item on the agenda was to completely brighten this up. I really enjoy cooking and rustling up new dishes, so I wanted to make sure the kitchen was a place I loved to spend time in. In terms of my taste in interiors, I prefer a classic and understated look, with splashes of colour in the accessories – which is why we opted for a grey and white colour palette for the kitchen. It instantly brought so much light into the room, and made it feel so much bigger and brighter. We haven’t yet had the chance to inject much colour into it, so I’m looking forward to browsing the garden centres for some colourful arrangements to add some life and colour into the room!

Living Room

This room was split into two completely separate rooms when we bought the house; a living room and a dining room, both with bright pink and purple chip wallpaper – which we had a bit of trouble removing!! We’ve always wanted a big and open space for a lounge/dining area, which we can use for socialising and entertaining, so we decided to knock the wall down completely in between the two rooms, which allowed for this lovely open space. I’m also a massive fan of winter, so at the same time we wanted to make this room really cosy – I love the feeling of snuggling under a blanket on the sofa, in front of a roaring fire watching a movie. So another must-have for this room, was to install a log-burner.

At the back of the room, we wanted a lovely rustic farmhouse style table, accompanied by some contemporary style low hanging pendant lights – we were lucky enough to find a fantastic company online which did wonderful bespoke tables made to order so we jumped on this instantly, and also found these wonderful pendant lights from a store in Somerset, which go perfectly with our colour scheme.

We’ve managed to create a lovely big and open space, again coloured and styled quite neutrally (for the time being!) which I thoroughly enjoy spending time in.

And for the final addition – I couldn’t resists adding this gorgeous one in – our beautiful and sweet new puppy, who joined the family on 1st January. He’s settling in incredibly well as you can see from this scrumptious snap!!!

So there you have it – a sneak peek into what we have done so far. If you have any great home renovation stories, or tips and ideas, I’d love to hear them!

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Lifestyle

Dry January… A Review!

It feels like an absolute lifetime ago that I posted about ‘Beating those January blues’ – doesn’t January feel like it goes on forever?! Another reason it may have dragged so much and the reason why I have created this blog post, are those dreaded two words… Dry January.

Dry January isn’t something I have ever successfully done before – over the past two years I’ve declared to friends and family that ‘this is the year I will complete Dry January’ and each time I have failed by Day 2. However, this year was different – I was absolutely determined that I was going to successfully go an entire month without a drop of alcohol, for several reasons. First of all – I wanted to prove that I could actually go a month without alcohol. This may sound slightly concerning, but I honestly think it has been about five years since I went a week without drinking, let alone an entire month – so if anything, I just wanted to prove I wasn’t reliant on it. Second of all – the classic ‘January Detox’. The amount of food I consumed over Christmas was enough to feed a small army, did nothing for my waistline, and I was left feeling slightly puffy, tired, de-energised and de-motivated when New Year rolled round the corner. So I decided that in order to get back onto the healthy eating bandwagon, nourishing my body and going to the gym regularly, the only thing to do was to stop drinking. Having never done it before, and having so many people sneer and say ‘oh it’s soooo easy’ or those people with haunted eyes telling me to NEVER do it, I thought I would document how my Dry January went week-by-week, what I found motivated me, made me crave a sneaky glass, and made me determined to stay strong, etc etc.

Week One

January 1st – 7th

Ok. So first of all, on the 1st January, we had the pleasure of picking up our gorgeous new puppy. Meet Gus:

Sorry, I couldn’t not post a picture of him considering I take about 20 a day, and he now has his own Instagram account (aka_gusthegreat for anyone interested in giving this sweetpea a follow!). This actually helped me through the first week. I was so consumed with worry over whether or not he was sleeping okay downstairs on his own, the fact I needed to be alert in case he cried in the night – the mere thought of drinking sent my mind into overdrive – what if something awful happened to him and I needed to take him to the vets and I’d been drinking so couldn’t?! This really did get me through that first week, so finding something that totally takes your mind of it really helps.

Week Two

Jan 8th – 11th

Gus is settling in nicely and whilst I’m still worried something might happen to him, I’m slightly calmer than I was last week. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was also to get back into a solid gym routine, as I knew that’s when I feel my best, I eat right and generally my mental and physical health is better. Marcus and I also agreed we needed to get Gus into a set routine so whatever we decided in terms of timings, we absolutely had to commit to. So I made the brave decision of a 5:40am wake up to get Gus up and outside for his morning bathroom ritual, then I would have time to head off to the gym and get an early morning workout in before going to work. I’m actually quite looking forward to this – hopefully it’ll help me lose the extra pounds gained over Christmas and make me feel more positive and better generally.

January 12th

Okay. Now I’m starting to struggle slightly. It’s Friday, and after a long week back at work I’ve seriously got that Friday feeling. Damn, I could kill for a nice glass of red wine right now by the fire whilst watching a movie. MUST. STRUGGLE. ON.

January 13th

It’s Saturday – I managed to pull through on Friday night so feeling slightly smug with myself. I’ve also lost 2.5 pounds this week, so I can already see the results. This is actually making me motivated to carry on. I can do this!!

January 14th

OK so it’s 4pm on Sunday and right now I’m wrapped up in a blanket in front of the fire, with my pooch and I am GAGGING for a glass of red. Plus, I’m feeling really bluey about going to work tomorrow – and to make it worse, it’s officially been declared as ‘Blue Monday’ tomorrow. Must focus on something else… HEY let’s write a new blog post about Beating those January blues. That will take my mind off it and motivate me to keep going!!

Week Three

January 15th-18th

Now that I’ve successfully established a solid gym routine during the week and I’m seeing positive results, this is really keeping me on track. I’m getting a better night’s sleep, I’m feeling much more alert, I’m actually looking forward to prepping my meals and being healthy – so this is going quite well!!

January 19th

Out for dinner with the family. Now this will be a real test – we are going to our favourite restaurant in our local town and every time we come here, the wine is flowing and all is very merry. We are the first there, so to avoid temptation when others order, Marcus and I both order a pint of Diet Coke each. Man, this is hard.

January 20th

Feeling rather smug again today. I managed to avoid the wine last night, so up and feeling fresh today. Let’s hit the gym!!

January 21st

We’ve gone to look around a wedding venue this morning. As soon as we walk in, we are offered a glass of champagne. I think this is the closest I have come to having a drink – I manage to resist, as I know I’ll regret it – at least if I’m going to do it, do it properly with a bottle of wine on the sofa at home!!! Now we’re having to make wedding decisions and feeling a tad stressed… man I could use a glass of wine right now!!! Must avoid – how do I deter? New Netflix series, that will get me through.

Week Four

January 22nd – 25th

I’ve established that during the week I am fine – I’m killing it, absolutely smashing it. Feeling like a new woman. Maybe I can become a motivational speaker about the benefits of not drinking?

January 26th

Oh God. Scrap that last post. Again, I’ve got that Friday feeling, plus it’s sunny outside… I’m dreaming of beer gardens and sweet fruity cider, I could so easily kick back with a G&T right now! Must avoid.. continue with the Netflix series.

January 27th 

So today is Gus’ first walk!!! This will be a great distraction. He’s now had all of his vaccinations, so we are taking him on a big walk on the common where we live – look how excited he is!!

We want to get him used to public places so we can take him out socialising – best place – obviously a pub!!! But at the same time… big mistake. There we are, faced with Sunday lunchtime drinkers, having a whale of a time downing their Pinot Grigio whilst tucking into their roast dinner. After what felt like two hours sat there avoiding eye contact with the gin bottle, we exit the pub and head home (in reality, what felt like 2 hours was only 30 minutes).

January 28th

OK so I’ve made it this far – the weekends are really difficult but this is the last weekend I have to endure that yearning for wine. To try to keep that motivation up, I message a friend who’s also been doing Dry January – she’s spurred me on as she’s doing the same thing, so feeling much better and ready to tackle the final few days!!!

Week Five – the final three days

I’m operating on a countdown clock now. It’s Wednesday 31st, I’m chilling on the sofa with Gus and watching informative documentaries (just kidding, it’s Geordie Shore obviously)… I’ve made it!

So… as you can see, there were a lot of trials and tribulations throughout Dry January – I’ve had several ups and downs, and my ‘struggle areas’ have mostly related to the weekend. I absolutely love kicking back on a Friday evening, in a jolly mood as the weekend is here with a glass of wine in hand, so this has been the biggest obstacle for me and my weakest point of the entire month. However, Dry January has taught me two things. A – I’m not reliant on alcohol (that’s a relief!) , and B – I have truly seen the benefits of Dry January. I’ve lost weight, established a weekly gym routine, got myself back on the healthy eating bandwagon and generally feeling more refreshed. Whilst it hasn’t turned me T-Total, it has made me realise that everything in moderation is okay and I feel like I’ve truly taken care of my body this month. It’s also spurred me on to setting myself some kind of challenge for every month throughout 2018… so what next?!

I’d love to hear your experiences of Dry January, what you struggled with and the coping mechanisms you used to help you through!

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Beauty, Fashion, Fitness, Lifestyle

Beating those January blues

2018 is finally upon us, and the gloomy shadow of January is here. New Years Resolutions have been made (some broken already!) and the glorious memories of yummy food and mulled wine are fading away, as we all trudge back to work, and the reality that Christmas is over sets in.

So as the taste of that glorious Christmas food becomes but a distant memory, and the January blues set in, it’s fair to say everyone is feeling a bit down.

So considering today is officially known as ‘Blue Monday’, I thought I’d write a post around how to beat those January blues, and make your January just as exciting as any other month!!

Dry January

For the first time EVER, I have committed myself to Dry January. I’ve tried to do this for the last 3-4 years, and every time, I have failed. However this year, I was absolutely determined to have an alcohol-free month, and having not gone longer than a week without some sort of alcoholic beverage over the last several years, this is quite a challenge for me (don’t judge, I love a glass of red, okay).

So even more so, during the first week of January I was feeling more bluey than normal. But I decided I wasn’t going to let this get me down, and in fact I was going to use this time to really take care of myself, my health and body, and also set myself up for the year ahead. So here are a few tips and ideas for making your January that little bit brighter.

A little pamper can’t hurt…

As the mornings are getting colder and the evenings are getting darker, and whatever was left in our bank accounts has dwindled away (because let’s face it, Christmas wipes us all out and it is a LONG way til payday) all I want to do is snuggle under a blanket and stay indoors. So what better than to create your own at-home spa?! I absolutely adore the spa and pampering myself, so this for me is a great idea to have some real ‘me time’ and indulge in some luxurious products.

So throw in some bath bombs and a purifying face mask, and I’m on my own indulgent journey to relaxation. I love taking the time to unwind in a nice hot bubble bath with my favourite book or relaxing music playing, whilst my Origins purifying face mask soaks in. My lovely fiancé also bought me these gorgeous and fragrant bath bombs for Christmas, so what better excuse to use them?!

Next on the pamper list – hands and nails! This may sound silly but since becoming engaged and spending endless hours staring at my ring, I’ve wanted to make sure my hands are looking their best at all times. So indulging in this glorious Champneys hand and nail spa, followed by a manicure using my new Ted Baker nail varnish (another Christmas quirk) will make sure they are looking their best. Finishing this off with a Clarins hand and nail cream, means they feel as great as they look!!!

Comfortable loungewear

As mentioned earlier, the gloomy darkness of January makes me want to snuggle under a blanket, so again to make me feel my best whilst doing this – some great and comfortable loungewear!!! I received these glorious cotton Victoria’s Secret pyjamas for Christmas, which are perfect for snuggling up in. Paired with my Emu Australia slippers, makes for the perfect evening snuggle on the sofa.

Try something new

Whether that’s a new fitness class at your local gym to sweat out those toxins, or trying out the new art class which has just opened in town, trying something new is always a great way to get something fun and social into the diary. Pair up with a friend, and this makes it even more enjoyable!!

Get organised

Now this, I absolutely love – I love having a big clear out and organising everything, as it makes me feel like I’m detoxing my surroundings as well as my body!!! So whether that’s listing all those unwanted clothes on eBay that you never got round to doing, or making the journey to your local recycling centre to get rid of all the junk and rubbish you’ve been hoarding, along with rifling through new cookbooks to get some meal plan inspiration – all of these are great ways to get you feeling refreshed and like you’re winning at life.

These are my top tips for beating those January blues – I’d love to hear how you motivate yourself during this dark and cold month, and any tips you may have!

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Fitness, Health, Lifestyle

‘Let’s start on Monday’.. an excuse to give up, or are we setting unrealistic goals which cause us to fall off track?

We’ve all done it. A sneaky glass of wine mid-week, what I like to call ‘easy oven food’ which does nothing for the waistline, late nights binge-watching Netflix; however joyful these events might seem, over prolonged periods, aren’t necessarily good for our health. I, for one, fully own up to my guilty pleasure of chucking a pizza in the oven, pouring myself a glass of red and settling in for approximately three hours of the Walking Dead on a Tuesday night, with the full knowledge that the spin class I had so much hope for at 6:30am the next morning, was a hopeless feat. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m 100% fully supportive of taking time for myself and relaxing, and now and again you really do need that Netflix binge (after all, what’s more important than witnessing the glorious reunion of Darryl and Carol?) but for prolonged periods, this way of living is not sustainable, nor healthy for us mentally or physically. All good intentions go out of the window, that spin class is abandoned, and the tuna salad with a healthy amount of avocado and spinach is swapped for a burrito at lunchtime as you ease off the foggy head. So what are the biggest downfalls of these good intentions, which cause us to fall off the wagon?

I don’t know about you, but the mantra I seem to live by when planning a healthy kick-start is ‘Let’s start on Monday’. Now I totally get it – Monday is the first day of the week, so it seems like the perfect day to start anything – just like New Year’s Day when we kick-start our resolutions, the 1st December when we open the first door of our advent calendar and the countdown truly begins (unless you’re me, and start straight after Halloween). We’ve all had a relaxing weekend, managed to catch up on stolen sleep and caught up with friends and family, had a chance to do the food shop and prep for the week ahead. All of a sudden, that spin class, which in reality we know makes us want to vom 30 seconds in, seems completely achievable. So it’s safe to say – weekends are pretty great. So however much we try to avoid that daunting feeling as the dark cloud of Monday looms over us, when the 5:30am alarm goes off on Monday morning, the last thing I feel is excitement for the day ahead. The last thing I want to do is chow down on that tuna and avocado salad ,with the fresh memories of Saturday night’s takeaway. So are we setting ourselves up for a fall, by starting on a Monday; or are the goals we are setting ourselves just simply unrealistic?

first amende

In my opinion, we all put far too much pressure on the goals we set ourselves, and sometimes these goals are just simply unrealistic. Now it’s totally normal to have a weak moment, and make a beeline for that KitKat you’ve been thinking about all morning. But for most of us, we seem to see this as failing altogether, thinking ‘what’s the point in carrying on?’ and by Wednesday, all has failed and we go full circle back to ‘let’s start again on Monday’. We use this as an excuse to put off our goals for the rest of week, as the reality is – sometimes, they are simply unachievable.

And how do I know this? Because I am the perfect example of someone who has lived by this mantra, and I have come to the realisation recently that sometimes you need to change up your routine, review and reset your goals. I’ve been through quite a big lifestyle change this year –my boyfriend and I have bought a house, we have both changed jobs quite recently, so our routine was completely overhauled as we adjusted to a new way of living. I used to live five minutes away from work, with the gym next door, so it was completely easy and convenient for me to roll out of bed at 6:45, whizz up a green smoothie , pick up my gym bag and make the five minute car journey in, knowing I’d get an hour workout, be able to get ready for work and then make the 30 second stroll into the office. That would set me up for the day, wake me up and get me feeling motivated. Now I live around 30 minutes away from my place of work, my gym is in my hometown, so this routine just simply doesn’t work for me here. If I wanted to follow the same sort of pattern, I would need to wake up at 5:30am, get to the gym for 6, fit in my hour workout, head home, get ready for work and then make the 30 minute car journey in – not an impossible stretch by any means, but much more of a struggle and not as easy as it previously was – especially on these cold winter mornings!!

So when I do wake up on a Monday morning with good intentions, and look outside and see my windscreen needs de-icing, I have two choices – make the dreaded journey outside and begin scraping, or roll back into bed and get an extra hour and a half of sleep. I think you all know what my preferred option is! This change in lifestyle for me has meant I need to review my goals, set new routines which suit my new lifestyle, and this makes it easier for me to accomplish my goals. In reality, I know that on a cold and frosty morning, I’m never going to be leaving the sanctuary of my bed. So it makes sense for me to hit the gym after work when I’m already up and out the door, and have no excuses to make. It’s all about setting a routine that for you is realistic – yes I would prefer to go to the gym in the mornings, however for me right now, especially in these winter months, I know the most realistic routine for me to stick to is to go straight after work.

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This doesn’t only apply when it comes to the gym – it also follows the same pattern for food prep. I know that at the weekend, I can make the time to cook up a big stir fry dish or something similar, and freeze it for my lunches for the week ahead. This leaves me with minimal effort during the week, and enables me to easily stick to my clean eating plan. I also know that at the weekend, I enjoy spending a couple of hours in the kitchen, rustling up delicious meals from scratch, however there is no point in me attempting to do this on a Tuesday evening, as it simply isn’t going to happen – I’m going to get in from the gym and want to make something that takes me no more than 30 minutes. So utilising cookbooks such as Madeleine Shaw’s ‘Ready Steady Glow’, which promotes quick, easy and healthy weeknight meals, is far more realistic and likely for me to stick to.

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So when you are setting your goals for the week ahead, or even in the medium-long term, make sure they are realistic – everyone’s goals are different, and everyone’s motivations are different. Whether that’s a new food plan, a new workout regime, or simply taking some time for ourselves. Make sure it is sustainable, a routine that you enjoy following, so we don’t have to keep ‘starting again’ on Monday.

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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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