Friday, 26 April 2013

Feet don't fail me now take me to the finish line

I'm back! Well truthfully I've been back a few days but I've been dizzy and was a bit down so just wanted to curl up and hide under my duvet with my books. But I'm feeling much better now, I've had some inspiring news regarding taking a Masters degree later in my life and for the first time in a long time I woke up feeling more excited and invigorated about life again. 

I started the 30 day squat challenge today, I find the up and down movements hard with my dizziness but taking my time helps. Once it's over hopefully they'll be a change in my body and I'll post the before and after shots! I'm also trying out some new yoga movements this week as I really want to start working on my fitness even before I'm well enough to take on proper regular exercises, such as running. I eat pretty healthily (I do have naughty treats but they are added to my daily calorie count!) and try to get a good mix of different foods (being a vegan this is even more important to ensure I'm getting the right vitamins). I find it easier when I'm at home to keep on my diet plan, being around Jonathan menas I treat myself more and get a bit lax on the calories. This is something I'm working on when I'm away, having the strength to say no is hard sometimes! 

I've got a few blog post ideas so keep your eyes peeled! :) 

Outfit details: 
White t-shirt - H&M, Floral patterned culottes - Miss Selfridge, Black Tights - Marks and Spencers, Black Lace Up Ankle Boots - Urban Outfitters, Thick Leather-look Belt - Primark. 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Food Glorious Food: The 'Instafood' Craze

Mixed Tabbouleh Salad.

I seem to talk about food alot on here, it's vital for survival and as I said in a previous post since becoming vegan I've begun to take more pride in my food and I experiment more in the kitchen. I think one of the big influences on my cooking has been the 'instafood' craze on instagram, taking pictures of food. Now, I know alot of people hate this craze but I think it's great for sharing recipes and seeing how beautifully delicious food can look as well as taste. 

Vegetable curry while being cooked.

It has also had this effect that for the first time I've started to look at how I present the food I cook. I never put much thought in before and was happy to slap stuff on a plate and be done. I did obviously follow the specifications when I worked in a pub kitchen for over a year but it was only because it was my job. Now, I want to share my cooking with the world and by joining into the instafood craze I need to make my food look pretty. 

Roasted vegetables with lemon slices and bay leaves fresh out the oven.

I think vegan food is usually pretty on its own, I mean I use several vegetables and try to incorporate lots of colours and textures which contribute so much to the overall look of my dishes. I don't think I'll ever become talented at styling my food as by the time it comes to serve it all I can think about it getting it into my tummy! But I've noticed little things like how I put a dressing onto a salad or garnishes (which add a yummy herb) make a big difference to how your food looks, and since all our senses are linked - if it looks good we obviously want to eat it more. I guess the bottom line is I'm now taking pride in my cooking and not just for it's taste. Spending a few seconds making my food look pretty means that people are more inclined to get eating it. Plus not doing anything too fancy still maintains a home cooked element to the dish. 

Porridge made with water with added blueberries, desiccated coconut, dried cranberries, almonds and pumpkin seeds.

I think it may also be helping getting people eating healthier, I can't deny looking at a picture of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables makes my mouth water more than a chocolate bar does (not that I don't enjoy some vegan chocolate now and then). I think this has more of a positive influence than a negative on people's diets and it may encourage people to try different foods. 

Another part of this is taking pictures of our food when we're at restaurants and cafes. I think this is an excellent way for them to advertise their wares for free! I don't actually know if any companies use this currently but it would be something they could perhaps look into. Plus for normal people like me it means I can often see what the food looks like before I go somewhere and therefore decide if it looks tasty enough for me to visit. Again, another positive to this craze. 

Black Bean Chilli with rice and soya yoghurt.

I can't actually think of anything bad to the 'instafood' craze apart from people being grumpy. I'm all for the craze. :)

For anyone who would like to see more of my food adventures please follow me on instagram

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Why wait to discover your dreams?

Wearing: Black pattern flatforms - Office, Black tights - Marks and Spencers, Denim Mini Skirt - Topshop, Black belt - Primark, Oversized cream blouse - Urban Outfitter's, Necklace - Etsy

I hope all my readers had a lovely Easter! I come from a non-religious family and I'm an atheist myself so it was never a big thing in my family bar chocolate. Now I'm older (and vegan) I didn't get any chocolate, apart from two eggs I had from Jonathan's Mum and Aunt when I was in Northern Ireland last. I did buy Phoebe the Lion King on dvd as an Easter present and I think it'll turn into a tradition now that she gets a new Disney dvd for Easter. She gets alot of chocolate from family already so I'd rather give her a little gift that lasts! I might look for some Easter crafts next year as she'll be two and able to do more. Though she did make an Easter card with my Mum for me! However you celebrate Easter or not at all then I hope you had a good weekend. 

Easter chick card made by Phoebe and my Mum. 

Since I have had three weeks at home before jetting back to Northern Ireland for Jonathan's birthday I've been wanting to work on some projects I keep putting off. I'm not the best person at always finishing something I've started because my mind and imagination are always jumping off to the next thing but I'm trying to remedy this habit. As a result I've been working on some sewing projects that date from Christmas. I've made my sister and my niece each their own cushion, my first ever go at quilting! I finished all the machine sewing yesterday and then tomorrow I'm going to do the fastenings and they'll be finished. Mum's helping me with some other projects that are a tad more complicated for my current skill level. 

 Wearing: Black shoes - charity shop, black tights - Marks and Spencers, Black PU skirt - River Island, Thin belt - Primark, Batwing jumper - Republic

When I get home, probably after my holiday to Devon with the family, I want to start work on a fabric covered noticeboard for my room with some of the pretty bird material I bought. I've also decided to paint my feature wall in my room cream like the rest of my room instead of wallpaper because I want to carry on my collection of pretty paintings and prints of animals and things. I currently have two owl paintings that my Mum created for my birthday, two owl prints I got for 50p each at a market and a vintage style painting of finches by my Gran. Plus I need room for my hockey jersey! I'm not a minimalist person in style as I like lots of trinkets so I'm learning to balance that to make practical spaces without overcrowding - I can't wait to have a whole house to decorate! 

Finches Painting by my Grandmother. 

Another experiment of mine was a baking experiment. It being easter weekend I needed to make something sweet and yummy to celebrate and I was entranced to make the mini pineapple upside down cakes from A Beautiful Mess. Obviously, I would need to adapt the recipe to make it vegan so I used my now trusty cake batter mix (it's for a red velvet cake but I just leave out the chocolate and food colouring and it makes a gorgeous batter that has tricked many into not knowing it was vegan!). I also changed the whiskey in the recipe for amaretto as I'm not a big whiskey fan and we didn't have any in anyways! The results were the best pineapple upside down cakes I've ever made! I've made them before but never thought to put a caramel layer under the pineapple and it makes such a difference. These are now my go-to party cakes and I'll be whipping up a batch for Jonathan's work colleagues next week! 
My vegan mini pineapple upside down cakes.

Currently Reading: Syd Moore's 'Witch Hunt'
Currently Listening: Deftones - Koi No Yokan

I've had three outfits here to show you as I've been a tad behind. I'm trying to brace more spring attire despite the cold temperatures for the UK. Today it was actually sunny and a lovely 8 degrees which was very welcome! It's not quite at the stage where I can not wear tights but my cute summer dresses will be hopefully be making more of an appearance now. The only things I want to buy clothes wise this spring/summer is a new swimming costume for my Devon holiday (probably not ready confidence wise for a bikini yet though with my latest weight gain) and some pretty walking around sightseeing sandals. I want some decent long lasting sandals that are going to last from May until the end of September when I go to Athens so any suggestions of brands are welcome (no leather or suede or flipflops though!).

Tan brogues - Urban Outfitters, Black tights - Marks and Spencers, Green retro bow pattern dress - Primark, Tan belt - New Look, Pink Lace top - Urban Outfitters, Owl necklace - Accessorize. 

Ps. I'm selling some of my old or unworn clothes on eBay. 
Less than a day left to bid but any that don't sell will be auctioned again.