It's that time of the month again when my favourite little brown box from Lucky Dip Club made its way through my letter box and this month's 'Biscuits' theme was definitely one to love for fellow sweet tooth addicts like myself!
Wednesday, 28 October 2015
Tuesday, 27 October 2015
I was recently fortunate enough to be contacted by the lovely people at Simply Grains and asked to try out a couple of their vegan friendly handmade salads to review on the blog. I am always open to trying and testing out new vegan friendly food so of course I agreed!
Simply Grains sent me over two of their healthy and delicious looking salads to try, a Seasonal Barley salad (above photo) and a Tabbouleh salad (below photo).
I have to say that although i'm vegan I do go against the 'grain' with my lack of enthusiasm for salads. I think the general conception is that vegan's only live off salads but in my case that couldn't be further from the truth! There are parts of salads that I enjoy like avocado (who doesn't!?), beetroot, cucumber and sweetcorn but i'm not hugely into big leafy salads and am often told off by family for never finishing the salad on my plate. So I did breathe a sigh of relief when the salads from Simply Grains arrived as there were minimal leaves and they actually looked pretty hearty.
I decided to share these salads with my husband for lunch one day and we couldn't wait to tuck into them.
The Seasonal Barley salad (above) contained barley, black eyed peas, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and onions with a pomegranate vinaigrette. I really enjoyed this salad and out of both it would have to be my favourite. It was surprisingly both tasty and filling and made a great accompanying side dish with some falafel and pitta bread. The combination of both barley and the black eyed peas worked really well together and I did genuinely feel as though I was eating some real goodness with this salad.
The Tabbouleh salad contained quinoa, fresh mint, parsley, tomatoes and onions with a lemon juice vinaigrette. I really love quinoa but for some reason I rarely use it at home because I am never sure what to do with it! This salad has given me some food for thought on how I could use it going forward and it's definitely an ingredient I want to experiment with more. I think the quinoa worked really well in this salad and again made it a satisfying and filling meal. I did find the mint and lemon flavours slightly overpowering but that's just my personal opinion and, although it wasn't my favourite out of the two, my husband really enjoyed the taste of both.
Using only the freshest and locally sourced ingredients, Simply Grains aim to promote healthy eating that can also be enjoyable and delicious. I'm pleased to say that I really think that they have succeeded with these salads whilst also helping to change perceptions around the idea that salads are boring. I also love that their entire range of salads are vegetarian with vegan and gluten free options too.
If you would like to try out one of Simply Grains salads for yourself then be sure to check out their Twitter and events page for more information.
Thursday, 22 October 2015
After my disappointment with last months Vegan Kind #TVK23 box I was really hopeful for a better experience this month and I am pleased to report that #TVK24 has been ticking all the right boxes for me! As soon as I opened my box I was excited to try all of the products which just so happened to all be new to me. I was also really happy to see some chocolatey treats this month!
Included in this months box:
On first inspection I wasn't really sure if these were going to be any good as aside from being Vegan friendly they are also gluten, wheat and hydrogenated fats free too. My experiences with completely free from chocolatey treats in the past hasn't been a great one so my expectations weren't very high with this product but on tasting they were actually quite nice. They were chocolatey, chewy, crispy and just the right size to enjoy as a little afternoon pick me up!
These savoury snacks were my favourite item in this months box and definitely a product I would buy again. They're a really light and healthier alternative to regular crisps and a major plus point for me was that they really reminded me of 'Chipsticks' which I haven't had for years! It's also good to know that these sticks are baked and not friend and are packed with pea protein and fibre.
I tried Fitbites for the first time about a year ago and I must have picked the wrong flavour because back then I really wasn't keen on them. Thankfully the pineapple and coconut combo flavouring in these balls works really well and they were much more enjoyable to nibble on! I love that they contain so many important vitamins and minerals whilst also being high in antioxidants. You really do feel as though you are eating some pure goodness with these bite sized snacks.
This is a brand that I have never come across before and one thing I love about these subscription boxes is being introduced to new Vegan friendly products. The ORGANii range is purely natural and organic so they are kind to both your skin and the environment which always gets a thumbs up from me! I have really enjoyed using this shower gel over the past week and, although I wouldn't normally select anything strawberry flavoured, i've really liked the fresh and fruity fragrance.
I am always on the lookout for new Vegan chocolate as so far on my journey into Veganism there have only been a couple of brands that I really truly like. Therefore I am always keen to try new Vegan chocolate and I was super happy to see this new brand included in this months box. This cashew, coconut and vanilla milk chocolate bar was so incredibly creamy on tasting it was almost hard to believe that it is dairy free. It was also pretty moreish which makes a nice change for Vegan chocolate!
Also included in this months box was a lemon & thyme baba ghanoush recipe by The Whole Ingredient. I've completely slacked off with cooking and trying new recipes lately so I really need to go through my Vegan Kind folder and start trying out some of the amazing looks foods which are featured every month.
Thanks to the TVK team for a great box this month and i'm already getting excited for #TVK25!
Wednesday, 21 October 2015
On my Wednesday Wish List today is this super cute Happiness Planner which i've been lusting over on Instagram for a number of weeks now. I also keep dropping lots of hints to my husband that I really hope Santa brings me one of these for Christmas too!
If you haven't already heard about the Happiness Planner then you need to know that this is the ultimate girly planner to help you get organised for some real contentment in your life. It helps you to reflect on your personal goals and all of the things that you may want to change or improve about yourself or your life. It positively enables you to focus on all aspects of your life and everything from time management, to do lists, money, relationships, healthy eating and exercise.
If you're anything like me then these are all things that we worry about and I love the idea of having a dedicated planner to organise all of those thoughts whilst feeling inspired to make some changes!
You have the choice of a 100 page un-dated planner for $39 USD or a 2016 dated planner which is now available to pre-order for $59 USD. Personally I think I prefer the style of the undated planner and the fact that I could use this at any time I wanted too, but both are gorgeous! I think this really is a 2016 must have item for any stationery and planner loving girl just like me.
One lucky lady that I know who has already used one of these planners is the lovely Claire from Claireabellamakes and she has blogged about her own experience of using the 100 page undated planner. Claire has also recently posted another new blog all about the newly released 2016 planner and it's well worth checking out her overview of both planners if you're considering buying one.
I've been a very good girl this year so fingers crossed i'll be opening one of these up on Christmas morning and planning a 2016 full of positivity and happiness :-)
What's on your wish list this week?
Tuesday, 20 October 2015
Sunday evening saw my first ever 'Vegan Essex Social' take place at the wonderful Oak Tree in Leigh on Sea. I started planning this event way back in May and it felt crazy waking up on Sunday morning and it being the big day! To say I was feeling nervous is a complete understatement but I was also really looking forward to seeing some old and new faces and being able to socialise with other likeminded people who live in Essex.
Since going Vegan a year ago I have met so many lovely people online who all share a passion for compassionate living and leading a cruelty free lifestyle. Often people would comment about how much they'd love to go for dinner with other vegans and it was this which gave me the idea to start up a social event for vegans who live in Essex. Essex is not the most vegan friendly place and I think it can feel quite isolating at times for people who don't know any other vegans. So Sunday was the perfect opportunity for everyone to mingle, chat and form new friendships!
The evening kicked off with a gorgeous two course vegan meal and if you have never been to the Oak Tree before it really is fabulous food! It's always just so great to be able to eat somewhere and know that everything you're eating is vegan friendly without having to worry. I opted for spring rolls as my starter and a stir fry for my main, both of which were so delicious!
It was really nice to look around the room over dinner and see so many happy vegan faces chatting away and enjoying their food! I felt a big sense of accomplishment in putting the event together and enabling an evening like this to take place. It was also so rewarding to hear just so many positive comments and people thanking me for making this happen. I think when you're trying to organise any event of this nature there's always going to be worries and concerns, especially when not many people have met before, but when everyone is there for the same reason it just works!
Once dinner had finished it was time for me to deliver the vegan pop quiz which i'd put together for a bit of fun for everyone to test their vegan knowledge. Again it was quite nerve wrecking standing up in front of a room full of people and hosting a quiz but once we got going the nerves died down and it was really lovely to see everyone enjoying themselves and laughing. And with this special vegan hamper which I put together for the first prize the competition was tough!
A big well done to Lauren Hollas for taking the first prize and being crowned the most knowledgeable vegan in Essex! The runner up prize of a kindly donated Vegan Kind box went to the lovely Jack Hailes. Well done to both of you!
Everyone who attended the evening also got to take home a goody bag full of vegan treats! I really loved putting together these bags which included some Tyrell's Poshcorn, IQ Superfood Chocolate,
an Oreo snack pack, Jason shampoo & toothpaste, Dr Bronners soap and stickers, badges & coasters from Herbivore Clothing.
All in all it was a great night and a event that I loved putting together. I am hoping it's the first of many more Vegan Essex Social's to come and once i've recovered from this one I shall be starting some plans for the next event! If you're interested in attending future events then just drop me a line at: email@example.com and I will add you to my mailing list.
Thanks to everyone who came along and who has shown me such great support in putting the event together. It was a pleasure to meet you all and spend an evening together!
Monday, 19 October 2015
I'm sure many of you like me were over the moon to see the return of the fabulous make up brand e.l.f to the UK recently. I've said it before but i'll say it again - e.l.f are by far my most favourite Vegan and cruelty free cosmetics brand! I was absolutely gutted when they closed their UK site and all Summer I was awaiting news of their return. I was fortunate enough to be in Miami in May so I made sure I stocked up on everything I needed then but it soon started to run out after a few months which left me feeling worried about where to turn next.
Having been a MAC customer for a number of years prior to leading a cruelty free lifestyle, I have in the past found it increasingly more challenging to find a make up that I really LOVE. I have tried a number of different high street brands which haven't always lived up to expectations. But I have to say that e.l.f were the first brand that I tried which I felt were as good a match in quality as MAC.
So as soon as their new UK website re-opened I was ready and waiting to snap myself up a little haul of my favourite e.l.f items. And here they are!
I absolutely love this bronzer! I don't know about you but I get really fed up of bronzers always having a glittery effect to them as they can be way over the top and this Summer I struggled to find one that wasn't like this. I'm so happy to have my hands on this bronzer again because it's just perfect. It really does give your face just that extra bit of colour and glow that you need and at only £4.50 it's a total bargain.
This foundation for me is now pretty much irreplaceable and I would feel lost without it. It's by far the best foundation I have tried since using MAC, and I have tried quite a few! It gives me a really lovely flawless coverage whilst making my face look brighter. I love that it's so light to wear and it randomly also happens to smell amazing too! It also happens to cost a fraction of what my previous MAC foundation cost at only £7.50 which makes me love it even more.
This face powder is now another item I just can't do without and it works really well over the flawless finish foundation. It's silky smooth texture really helps to perfect my overall coverage. My only gripe with this product is that I seem to get through it quite quickly so i'd maybe like to see a bigger version of it available. But again at only £4.50 I really feel like there's no room for complaints.
This lip gloss is super glossy but also quite subtle and smooth. It also manages to stay put for quite a while which is great as some other glosses can seem to wear off pretty quickly. I also really like that it's in an easy pen style container with a twist mechanism which means you're never left with a half empty lipgloss where you can't bend the applicator to reach the rest! And best of all - it's only £2!
I really love this lipstick which I have to say is more gloss like opposed to an actual lipstick, but it's not as glossy as the above hyper shine gloss. It's just full of moisture which means it's super soft on your lips and easy to apply. The nude pink is my favourite colour from the selection as I definitely prefer to wear nudes on my lips opposed to any bold colours. Again at only £2 these lipsticks are a total bargain and when it comes to ordering in I normally add about 4 to my basket so I never run out.
In complete honesty there hasn't been an e.l.f product yet that i've been disappointed with and that's quite something! Other favourite items of mine include their All Over Colour Stick which I use as a blusher and their Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara.
I'm so happy to have found such a quality brand which doesn't cause any harm to animals. If you haven't tried e.l.f yet it's time to get shopping!
Friday, 9 October 2015
In a bid to be more reflective on the positive side of life I have decided to start up this 'Thankful Friday' blog post which I am hoping will keep me on track with reflecting on the positives from my week. It will also serve as a gentle reminder of everything I have to be grateful for in life!
I, like anyone else, can often find myself dwelling on the negatives, the things that might have gone wrong or the things I feel most unhappy about. I used to try and write my daily positives down in my notebook every evening before going to bed but I found it really difficult to keep up the habit and remember to do it every night.
Hopefully featuring my list as part of my blog will enable me to remember, reflect and be thankful for the little things that matter the most in life.
So what's been good this week!?....Well....
- I got myself back to the gym after a 2 week break - which is always a difficult task! I was lacking in motivation and fearful about how unfit I would feel after my holiday. But in reality it wasn't that bad at all and I felt great for exercising again.
- I managed to secure myself a ticket to the Lucky Dip Club subscriber event in November. Tickets were really limited so I was very lucky to get one!
- Walking my doggies! It really is one of my favourite parts of my day. It's time away from any stresses and a time to chat to Mr K and play with our fur babies. A walk and fresh air really can do wonders for your wellbeing.
- One of my best friends who moved away to Mexico for a few years is currently back home and we spent a lovely day together this week catching up.
- I've started up a new crochet project this week and I am planning to make a big contemporary granny square throw for my living room. I've worked out that I need to make at least 100 granny squares and I have no idea how long this will take me but I really love to have an ongoing project which I can pick up and put down when I feel like it. And how gorgeous are these colours!
- As planned I've started some new lifestyle posts on the blog including 'Pinch Punch October', 'Wednesday Wish List' and this 'Thankful Friday' post. I hope my regular readers enjoy more of an insight into my life along with the usual Vegan and cruelty free posts.
- All week i've been excited about VegFest tomorrow and so looking forward to going along and picking up lots of treats. I'm also going haul prepared this year with my trolley shopping bag!
It's actually quite amazing how different you can feel about your week once you have written down all the positives from it. Prior to writing this post I would have said to you that i've had a pretty average, if not bad in places, week at best! I haven't been feeling too well in myself and a lot of plans have had to go on hold. However, I now feel different about my week and, even though I may not feel it at the time, I am achieving things and having some fun along the way.
Wednesday, 7 October 2015
Monday, 5 October 2015
September's Lucky Dip Club 'Slumber Party' theme has had me feeling all nostalgic about the 90's and when I was growing up - a good twenty odd years ago! Back then nothing quite compared to the excitement of having my friends over to stay or visiting their house for a sleep over. It has in fact had me questioning why when you reach your thirties slumber parties seem such a thing of the past. This, along with watching 'This Is England 90' lately, has me really reminiscing about what a great era the 90's were for me - becoming a teenager, discovering boy bands and living each day for pure fun! (Ahhhh remember those days where you didn't have a worry in the world apart from what time your dinner would be served up for you!?)
Lucky Dip Club's motto this month is to 'Stay Weird' and I was definitely a complete weirdo growing up in the 90's. I think I went through every phase from tom boy, teeny bopper, indie kid and then of course goth. We all went there right!? I'm going to sound really old now but I think it's fair to say that I didn't look a fraction as glamorous as some teens do today. But looking back I am also actually really relieved that there didn't seem to be a pressure in those days to look like a celebrity. There was also no fear of having your photo taken and pasted all over social media. Hallelujah for growing up in the decade before technology took over the world!
I am however a little bit sad to have lost some of that fearless teenage weirdness so I am happy that LDC has reminded us all to embrace the quirkier side of life again. I guess being a Vegan with four pets for children is in some people's mind a bit weird so maybe I don't have to try too hard....
This month's Lucky Dip Club box contents included:
A personalised brass heart necklace by Lucky Kemp Jewellery
Slumber party nail decals by Sara M Lyons
A unicorn piñata brooch
A pizza party charm
A lucky charms snack lovers kit bag
And of course the monthly zine (which I LOVE)
Everything in this months box is just so pretty and I really love all of the colours. This is happy mail at its finest! My favourite item from this box has to be the super cute Lucky Charms bag which I shall definitely be putting to good use on my overnight stays away. I'm also looking forward to trying out nail decals for the first time (so i'd better stop biting my nails in preparation for a DIY manicure!). And how can you not just love that unicorn brooch?
There's a real sense of being a part of a unique community with LDC which I love as we're all likeminded people with a passion for colourful living!
After my box has arrived one of the first things that I love to do is search #LuckyDipClub on Instagram and have a nose at how everyone's enjoying their boxes. I also love to get to know some of the other subscribers and most recently I even went as far as gaining a new pen pal purely from chatting to another lovely subscriber online who I just happened to have so much in common with. So YAY for new friends!
My second favourite thing to do is to put my feet up with a nice cuppa and have a little read of the monthly zine. I once tweeted LDC to tell them just how underrated I felt the zine was and how it really is a highlight of every box for me. Part of me was worried that it may one day dissappear as it is a part of the box that doesn't really get talked about as much as everything else. But despite that it really is a great little read and something I look forward to. Judging by the response I received back this is something that will hopefully be expanding in the future which was like music to my ears!
This month I was also REALLY excited to hear about the upcoming subscribers event that will be taking place in November. As soon as I saw Lucky Dip's creator Leona's post about this it was firmly penned into my diary as an unmissable event so I can't wait to join in all the fun and hopefully meet more of you then!
If you're not already a part of the amazing Lucky Dip Club then seriously what are you doing with your life!? As much as i'd love to keep it a secret, word is getting out so be sure to set your alarms and grab yourself a box on the first of every month at 7am.
Thursday, 1 October 2015
I have to say that I am wincing slightly at the moment at any mention of Christmas on social media because I adore October and November so much and, although we are now quickly approaching the end of the year, I hate the idea of people wishing away the next two months in order to be in December already. We still have Halloween and bonfire night in my house before there's any mention of festive activities! And as much as I love to be super organised I am going to refrain from any Christmas shopping until the end of November. I really want to be able to enjoy and feel the Christmas spirit this year which means not ruining it by stressing about it now!
October is set to be an exciting month with lots of plans in my agenda. This weekend I am planning to have a day in London with my Mum as we're off to the theatre and I am hoping to pay a visit to the Vegan hotspot Tibits for a spot of lunch. Next weekend I have tickets to attend London VegFest which is the highlight of any Vegan's year and a must visit if you're Vegan or considering moving over to a plant based diet. Next weekend is also the Crafty Fox Market in London so I am also hoping to stop along there and pick up some quirky homeware and stationery. On the 18th I am hosting my very first Vegan Essex Social which has me all excited and nervous at the same time! I am really looking forward to socialising with other Vegans who are based in Essex and hopefully this event will be the first of many more to come. And I am sure, like all of you, I shall be gearing up for Halloween at the end of the month which is a favourite time of the year for me. No doubt we'll be getting some pumpkins in and lining up some horror movies to snuggle up to!
My hopes for October are to get myself back to my exercise classes and continue to keep fit and feeling good which has been put on the back burner the last couple of weeks of September due to going away. It's always so hard to get back into it after any kind of break but I am determined to keep going with it! And that also goes for diet too. I have been using the 'My Fitness Pal' app for the first time over the last couple of months and have found it to be really effective, although a little bit tedious having to track everything on my phone. But needs must! I would really love to start 2016 in a great position physically and mentally opposed to having a long list of resolutions which is always pretty depressing.
I would like to continue to practice and improve on my new crochet skills which I'd like to apply to making myself a contemporary granny square blanket for my living room. I don't know about you but whenever I get crafty I always end up making things for other people, which don't get me wrong is a lovely thing to do, but I think it's time to fill my own home with some of my pretty creations.
Whilst I was away it made me realise all the people I want to spend more time with and I'd really like to be more pro-active this month in making plans with friends and family. My best friend has also just given birth to a beautiful baby girl so I am looking forward to plenty of meet ups with them and who knows maybe some maternal feelings may start to kick in!?
I also have some plans for my blog and I hope to post more often with more regular weekly slots which aim to be more personal and lifestyle focused. That doesn't mean less Vegan and cruelty free posts, but I have realised over the past few weeks that the blogs I enjoy the most tend to really let me into a persons life and personality so I aim to inject some of that into my own writing. I already started with this on yesterday's post where I talked about my struggles with anxiety which received such an amazing and heart warming response. This has now confirmed in my mind my decision to make my blog more personal going forward so I hope you all enjoy whats to come.
The main item on my wish list this month, and I mentioned them earlier, is a wood burning fire. We have a functioning fire place in our front living room which has been sat empty waiting for a wood burner for over a year now and where other things have got in the way, it has continually been put on the back burner (no pun intended!). So Mr K and I are on a mission to get our fire place fully installed this month as we keep dreaming about us and the pets all huddled around it on a cold evening together. It's an expense but one I know we won't regret.
I really hope you all have a great October and enjoy lots of quality time with those closest to you, and of course your fur babies! This is a great time of year to slow down and spend some time on yourself, your hobbies and the simple things in life that make you happy.
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