12 years! I can’t believe it. I love you!
Did you have a good Pancake Day? It’s such a random day. Pretty much the worst day of the year for me. Well, it used to be. The smell of eggy pancakes makes me want to be sick on my shoes, and when I lived at home I would leave the table immediately after finishing my dinner and hide in my room, the smell was just awful.
Now I’m vegan, I’m pretty sure it was the smell of egg that made me nauseous, but I still don’t like them. Trout loves them though, so I tried again. Hmm. We had a double pancake evening, with dosas for dinner (my favourite meal in the world!) and pancakes for pudding. I absolutely love dosas, they are just so good! And thankfully a local independent supermarket sells ready-made packets to make them, rather than me having to leave rice to ferment for three days, or however you are meant to make them. They also sell the mix to make samba, which is perfect.
For dessert we had a plain pancake with salted caramel, chocolate sauce, strawberries and vanilla ice-cream. I pretty much ate everything but the pancake. Yuck.
Trout made himself a traditional pancake (even worse) which he absolutely loved.
Do you like pancakes? I think I’m definitely in the minority, if my Instagram and Facebook feed are anything to go by. Oh well. Today my last day of work this week and then we’re leaving on a jet plane for Istanbul! I’m really excited to finish work on this evening, hop on a train, get to our Premier Inn and know that I’ve got three whole days of holiday! I’m going to eat all of the falafel and hummus, and try not to buy all of the spices and trinkets. Especially the little traditional bits and bobs for the kitchen. I’ve spotted a few things on Sultans Delights stall and I really want them! We met yesterday for coffee and she filled pages of my notebook with dishes that are vegan and places to go, which just sparked so much excitement. I can’t wait!
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a copy of Home-Cooked Vegan Comfort Food! You have until Monday to be in with a chance of winning. Good luck!
WEEK NINE OF 52
This week I’ve managed to do quite a bit of reading, which I’m really happy about. I’ve got a couple of books on the go, plus two more on Istanbul which I’m trying to get through as quickly as possible before we leave on Friday. I’m so excited! I’m going to eat all the hummus and falafel! Apart from reading and eat breakfast and hanging out with Ras in the mornings, I’ve been eating some pretty darn good meals in the evenings, like this chilli with tortilla chips and home-made guacamole.
Saturday was mostly spent drinking coffee and catching up with friends.
(is there a better way to spend your morning?)
I began the day with Lucie, on our weekly coffee date at Small Batch. It’s honestly the best coffee in the world, and made even better with good company and conversations that are probably a little too intense for an early Saturday morning, but oh what a wonderful start to the weekend. We peeled ourselves away from the coffee shop, and the temptation to order another coffee, and popped into Makers Boutique. There were so many nice things, I wanted to buy everything! And we found these cute telephone boxes outside, too. It’s fun being a tourist in your own city.
We parted ways and I ran a couple of errands in town before visiting Peter Andre’s coffee shop, NYCC. I can’t believe I’ve never been before, I’m so ashamed! Another flat white, in the sunshine, with my book, while I waited for Trout to join me.
Trout treated me to lunch at Moshimo, a lovely Japanese restaurant in town. I’m a sucker for inari tofu pockets, they are so sweet, so delicious. We had a glass of freshly squeezed apple, pear and ginger juice each, which was so refreshing. After we’d eaten we met some friends for (another…) coffee before rushing home to pack and catch the bus to my parents house, to begin the evenings celebrations. It was my parents 30th wedding anniversary, my brother-in-law’s parents 25th wedding anniversary and his Mum’s 60s birthday, my sister’s graduation, me and Trout’s 12th anniversary, and plenty of birthdays dotted around at the same time, so my sister sweetly organised a big family meal for us all. We had our own little room, and she’d decorated it with our own balloons and left cards for us all. It was amazing.
While I was at home reading Waitrose Kitchen and spotted a recipe for banoffee peanut butter cake. The minute I showed Trout he had decided that was what I was cooking that evening, and I couldn’t resist. The tray of caramel-coated roasted peanuts was so hard to resist! I may have eaten a few too many pieces of that…
I might blog about the recipe this week because it’s pretty darn good, and a really pretty cake. So that’s what I’ve been up to lately! This week is going to be a bit of a whirlwind at work, but it’s a four-day week and one of those days I’ll be in London for a client’s event at BT Tower, so really it’s only a 3-day week. My Dad worked for BT for around 40 years so I’m really excited to go up the tower. I hope everyone has a lovely week! In case you missed my blog this morning, I’m running a little giveaway to win a lovely cookbook. The giveaway ends next Monday, and don’t forget to leave a comment for every option you choose for entering!
For more photos of what I’ve been eating, what Rasputin’s been up to and what’s happening in Brighton, follow me on Instagram.
As I hit publish on my previous post, a little message popped up telling me it was 499th post. Four-hundred-and-ninety-nine. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but it has and I sit here now writing #500 with a smile on my face.
And cake in front of me. Because nothing is really a celebration without cake, right? Cake, and a little giveaway.
To celebrate my big 5-0-0 I’m giving away a copy of the fantastic book, Home-Cooked Vegan Comfort Food, by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman. It’s one of my favourite cookbooks, with so many great recipes that you can whip up during the week or spend more time over at the weekend. Their seitan recipes are incredible, and I love putting together all the different rolls stuffed with coleslaw, and different salsas on the side. And garlic truffle fries. And some peanut butter fudge for pudding.
This giveaway is open to readers from the UK, and will close on midnight, Monday 10th March. To enter, pick as many of these options as you like – every option counts as a separate entry – and let me know in the comments section. I’ll only be counting the comments below, so be sure to let me you know once you’ve tweeted/followed!
♥ Leave a comment below
♥ Follow me on Facebook
♥ Follow me on Twitter
♥ Follow me on Instagram
♥ Follow me on Pinterest
♥ Tweet about the giveaway: Do you love home-cooked vegan comfort food? Then take a look at @paperbagblog’s blog and enter her giveaway! http://wp.me/p1CPIX-2nn
Please note: this book includes the same lovely recipes as Hearty Meals for Monster Appetites, it just has a different name.
Oh HI! Remember me? I’m the girl that used to find the time to blog and tweet away. Now? Not so much. Work has been kicking my arse lately, and I seem to barely find the time for anything else at the moment. Between full-time work, freelance writing and contributing to different bits and pieces – including Fresh Vegan, which is out today! – I find that I can’t bring myself to sit down in front of (another) computer and type away or edit photographs or spend time on social media, because that’s what I do all day. By the time I finish working (6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm…) I tend to seek out the most relaxing activity I can find. Eating dinner with Trout, watching an episode of Luther (so good!) or Inside No.9, reading two of my new books, snuggling with two of my favourite boys, or maybe even going for a couple of drinks with a friend.
Not that I want to sound like I’m complaining. I’m not. Really. I couldn’t be happier. But my poor blog is feeling a little neglected, and I barely make a couple of tweets a day, let alone read anyone else’s. In the morning I hang out with Rasputin and catch up with emails and Instagram (I believe that starting the day with something that inspires you is so very important). I eat breakfast, drink coffee and leave for work probably earlier than I need to. I work all day, and when I get home, well, as I said, I just want to relax. And it frustrates me because I want to write and I want to put together blog posts and do all of the other things that I love, but the sofa is just too inviting sometimes. The weekend allows me time to switch off and catch up with writing, baking, cleaning, and spending time with Trout.
Last week Trout and I went to see Her at the Dukes at Komedia cinema.
Images and words and silence that inspire you and make you want to rush from the room to write, to create, and yet pins you to the cushion of your seat until the credits roll and you’re released. It was definitely the poke that I needed to get back into writing and spending time on my blog. I absolutely loved every second of the film.
And not just because I want his apartment.
And not just because I’m a little bit in love with Joaquin Phoenix.
So I suppose the point of this random blog post is to make a promise to myself to finish all of those ideas that I have floating around, and make myself happier by posting more. I can’t promise I’ll deliver this, but I can try. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for reading still, even though there’s hardly ever anything new to read. It really means a lot. Here’s a hilarious photo of Rasputin, because he says thank you too.
The photograph above makes me laugh so much. I caught him at the end of a yawn, and he looks like a vampire. Too cute. I’ll be back tomorrow with a new week of photos, and hopefully a fresh start when it comes to blogging. Here’s hoping.
WEEK EIGHT OF 52
One of my favourite soups, sitting at my desk at work. Malaysian butternut laksa. So good! This mushroom had a baby, and it was kind of the cutest thing ever. I didn’t want to eat them, but in the end I did.
Quasadillas! Made with Daiya. Yum. We ordered five bags a few weeks ago and are enjoying plenty of pizza, cheesy arancini balls, and anything else you can think of that includes cheese. When they finally bring it to the UK it’s going to be so dangerous for my belly and my bank balance!
My outfit one morning. I can’t believe I’m still wearing my autumn jacket! I’ve probably jinxed it now, but still. I’m just happy to be wearing Vans and an open jacket. I threw away a huge stack of fashion magazines at the beginning of the week. It was kind of heartbreaking, but some of them dated back to 2010 so I knew it was time to move on.
Rasputin in the morning, having a little nap. Oh gosh it is the cutest thing EVER! An awesome dinner with Mr T. Mushroom risotto and this lovely bread from Marks & Spencer.
I spent the afternoon photographing a cricket bat workshop for a client, and it was absolutely amazing. To be chatting to true, highly sought after, craftsman – one of three companies that still make bats in the UK. Surrounded by sawdust and bats, it was incredible. I don’t know if I’ll be able to share the photographs on my blog, but we’ll see. At the weekend I bought a few new books; two for me, and two for us to read as fast as possible before we leave for Istanbul in less than two weeks. If anyone has any tips or recommendations I’d love to hear them!
My sister and her husband came to stay with us for a couple of days, and we spent Friday drinking coffee, walking round town, shopping and eating. We sat down for a much-needed rest and a slice of cake at VBites – this carrot & orange cake was incredible.
Saturday was so beautiful. Blue skies, and barely a cloud in the sky. We went out for lunch at VBites (back again!) and I had this delish hoisin ‘duck’ wrap. Yum! I wanted to spend the whole day outdoors, it was so lovely and warm.
So that’s what I got up to last week. I didn’t mean for the long silence over here, I don’t know where the time has gone! Here’s hoping that this week will offer more time for blogging.
For more photographs, follow me on Instagram.
WEEK SEVEN OUT OF 52
The best houmous in the world, and a new handcream which is dreamy. I’m putting together a post on my mission to replace everything in my make-up bag with beautiful, vegan products. Slowly but surely I’m getting there, without throwing anything away until it’s finished. This handcream is definitely making the list.
Some calm and quiet in the morning with Rasputin, and a less than calm and quiet (very) early morning with him. The little munchkin woke me up at 5am by attacking my arm with his fangs, and then spent the next two hours making sure we woke up every half an hour or so. Love you, Rasputin.
Our Valentine’s Day. My favourite ridiculous holiday of the year – yes, I love it even more than Hallowe’en! I had a special delivery of flowers at work, with a brilliant card inside, and in the evening we made pizza and watched a documentary on prisons. It was pretty much perfect.
Saturday was spent mostly walking around town for hours. Between my search for a birthday present for Trout’s Grandma, which took far too long (three hours…) and an hour spent with Trout buying ingredients for his poker night, I was pretty knackered. This coffee was very much needed, even if the coffee shop was insanely busy and I only really stopped for twenty minutes. In the evening Trout and I had a few friends over for dinner so we whipped up a Japanese feast, including two types of sushi, tempura veg, a cucumber and cabbage salad, grilled tofu and oyster mushrooms, wasabi mayo, a tahini sauce and a rice bowl with avocado and spring onions. Afterwards I was sent to my bedroom so that they could have a boy’s poker night.
For more photos of Rasputin, coffee and what I’ve been eating, follow me on Instagram.
Last Saturday I was browsing through my ‘Things to Make’ folder – which, by the way, is becoming increasingly more ridiculous in length – for some inspiration. We were meeting a friend for birthday cocktails, he has a super sweet tooth, and I know how much he loves chocolatey-peanuty-buttery things. Chocolate-peanut-butter-pretzel-brownies it was, then!
They were super simple to make, too. I used this chocolate brownie recipe, without the chocolate chips or hazelnuts, and once the brownies had completely cooled I finished them with plenty of peanut butter icing, and decorated with broken pretzels. And then I ‘tested’ far too many pieces for someone that was meeting their parents for Mexican food in a couple of hours.
I hope your week’s going well! I’m a busy bee, as per usual, I can’t believe it’s Wednesday already. Not that I’m complaining though – it means it’s almost Valentine’s Day, YAY! If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you might have gathered that I lurve this day. Everything is heart-shaped, there is romance in the air, there are flowers everywhere. And Trout hasn’t let me down, yet – there was 2012, US Office themed, then there was 2013, Breaking Bad themed, so what will it be this year…. *pressure* ;)
WEEKS FIVE AND SIX OUT OF 52
We walked up to Chanctonbury Ring with a couple of friends at the weekend, and it was so nice to get out of the city and breath some fresh air. Apparently if you run around the ring in an anti-clockwise direction seven times, the Devil appears and offers you soup in return for your soul.
Before we left I caught Ras rubbing his face on my wellies. This cat is literally bonkers! After the walk we stopped off at a pub and ate bruschetta and chips in front of the fire.
I’ve eaten some really good food, with some really good friends. Here is an absolutely gigantic portion of red thai curry, whipped up by my personal chef Trout, with a cucumber salad on the side. I made dessert; chocolate torte. We were so stuffed afterwards! Bottom left is a peanut butter curry I whipped up one evening, and then we have a beautiful pomegranate.
On Friday Trout and I were both working late, and couldn’t face the thought of getting home and cooking a meal, so we stopped at one of our favourite restaurants for dinner. I can’t resist a dosa when it’s on the menu! So good. The next day I met Lucie for coffee, a catch-up and a trip to a local florist. I absolutely love flower shops, they are so beautiful.
For Christmas I bought my parents tickets to see Thriller, which was at the weekend. Before the show we met for dinner at a Mexican/Spanish restaurant and had a pretty good meal together. It’s really nice going to different restaurants in Brighton and introducing them to different foods. It was quite a revelation for them!
Afterwards Trout and I met a couple of friends for cocktails at my favourite place in Brighton. They made me four different off-the-menu cocktails, all non-alcoholic, and they were absolutely amazing. So thoughtful. It meant I didn’t feel I stuck out like a sore thumb – in fact they tasted better than some of their cocktails! And no dreadful headache the next morning *smug face*. It did call for a gingerbread sugar skull cookie and coffee, though. And a sushi date in the afternoon.
So that’s what I’ve been up to in the last couple of weeks. In other news, have you checked out Wills Vegan Shoes‘ 60% sale? So many lovely designs to choose from! I’ve got my eye on these beauties, and these knee-length caramel boots. There are loads of sizes left, so go and take a peek!
Here we are with part two of my collaboration with Alpro, on their AlproAM campaign, and a few fun smoothie recipes. I didn’t mean to leave it quite so long before writing up part two, I’m sure you guys were waiting anxiously to find out what exactly goes into an apple pie smoothie!
Here’s a pic of the brilliant blender that I was sent to whip up my smoothies with; it’s a Heston Blumenthal juicer, and it was incredible to use. The insert looks like a golden grater – the details made it really special.
Have you seen Alpro’s super cute video? Here it is if you haven’t. Squirrels! Drinking almond milk! Swoon.
Anyway, on to the recipes. These were all inspired by a few of my favourite things; cake, pie and biscuits. They use a few more ingredients, so might be worth saving for the weekend – or giving yourself a little more time in the morning. Every recipe makes roughly one serving, and you just have to get whizzing with the ingredients! I used Alpro unsweetened almond milk for these recipes, but I think hazelnut milk would be super tasty, too!
My favourite cake is carrot cake, so I just had to put together a recipe inspired by it. How can a bowl of orange cake-inspired breakfast not put a smile on your face?
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup water
1/8 cup walnuts
1/8 cup dates
pinch of cinnamon
1/4 cup lemon juice
Another fun smoothie, inspired by one of my favourite desserts; apple pie! I accidentally added a tad more than a pinch of cinnamon, but it was still super tasty.
1 cup almond milk
1/2 banana, frozen
1 apple, diced
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup dates
pinch of cinnamon
And last but not least, gingerbread. YUM! I’m obsessed by gingerbread – you might remember the gingerbread waffles I whipped up for the last DeskFest campaign; there’s something so great about ginger, whether you’re making a savoury stirfry or thai curry, or making a batch of biscuits, it tastes so fresh and zesty!
1/2 cup of almond milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 cup dates
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
So there are my seven smoothie recipes! I loved starting the day with so much fruit – it feels like you’re setting yourself up for the day. I try to sneak in at least one serving with my breakfast anyway, whether it’s fresh fruit on top of granola, a banana whipped into porridge, or a punnet of dried fruit from my Graze box – but this is a really simple way of getting at least two servings of fresh fruit into your day.
If you missed part one you can find it here. Any favourites that have caught your eye? Have you tried any of these recipes? Thanks to Alpro for asking me to be a part of this campaign, I’ve loved it!
Being vegan, I obviously get through my fair share of soya milk. If I run out I’ll throw a mini-tantrum as I’m pretty selective about the brand that I like (Alpro, original, blue carton) so I know I really should think outside the box and try a few new varieties of ‘milk’! I’ve drunk Alpro ever since I became vegan, eight years ago, and it’s a firm favourite.
When they got in touch to ask if I would take part in their AlproAM campaign I couldn’t be happier. After working with them on their DeskFest challenge, I really loved coming up with new recipes and ideas to start the day with. At the moment I’m loving vanilla soya yogurt, and coming up with different ways of eating it is fun, which is why I’ve included a couple of recipes that use it as an ingredient.
Over the next couple of blog posts I’ll be sharing my recipes with you – you might have already seen them pop up on my social media accounts, so you’ll be finding out exactly what’s gone into these little bowls and glasses of goodness. I’ve got a few simple, healthy recipes that are fruity and easy to put together with only a few ingredients, and a few recipes that use more ingredients and have a slightly more fun approach. Let me know which ones take your fancy. With every recipe, just blend all of the ingredients – no funny business, just whizz them up. I bought fresh fruit in almost all cases, and diced and froze it myself, other than the berries which I bought already frozen, and used Alpro’s unsweetened almond milk. Every recipe makes roughly one serving.
The first smoothie I made was strawberries & cream. This is really simple, and I love how sweet it is – it was one of my favourite recipes to put together.
1/2 cup almond milk
1 peach, diced and frozen
3/4 cup frozen strawberries
Next was an Elvis-inspired banana and peanut butter. So creamy, with a hint of PB. Yum! This would be great paired with other ingredients – maybe some granola and fresh fruit. This was pretty much my favourite recipe.
3/4 cup of almond milk
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 banana, chopped and frozen
1/4 cup vanilla soya yogurt
pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
This one was a little bit different, and a little bit indulgent; chocolate and raspberry.
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup soya yogurt
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
agave and vanilla to sweeten*
*keep tasting as you add – and don’t be afraid to be quite generous, otherwise the smoothie can taste quite bitter due to the cocoa powder.
Finally for today, pomegranate and blueberry. Really quick, really clean and really delicious.
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup pomegranate
1/2 ripe banana
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
Funnily enough, the peanut butter smoothie was my favourite. Or maybe the simple pomegranate and blueberry smoothie? The peaches and cream smoothie was delicious, too. And you can’t beat a bit of chocolate in the morning! So, basically I’m completely indecisive and you’ve just got to try them to figure out which is your favourite! Let me know if you make any of the recipes, I’d love to hear what you think of them. Next up I’ll be blogging about the final three smoothie recipes, including Apple Pie. Oh my!
WEEK ONE, TWO, THREE AND FOUR
I absolutely love seeing bloggers taking part in different series’ which run throughout the year, especially those that are photographing their children every week, like Bleubird’s series. It’s amazing to see them grow up, and their personalities change, even in such a short amount of time! I decided that this year I would do a round-up of my week – similar, I suppose, to the monthly round-up that I do, but mainly through the eye of my phone and my Instagram account – which I am loving, by the way! I think one of my favourite things about this platform is that you can see who inspires the people who inspire you. It seems strange, for me, anyway, to look at people that I think are so talented, so creative, so inspiring – and to see that they are just as inspired by people who are talented and creative. It’s just wonderful.
Because of everything that happened in January I’m (more than) a little late to the game, but here’s is week one, two, three and four for my 2014 so far.
Another amazing lunch from Sultan’s Delights! Totally addicted.//A lovely soya flat white at Cafe Coho, while I waited for Trout to join me.//I had a walk around Brighton at the weekend, and stumbled upon this amazing graffiti. I love that there is so much street art in this city.//A few pretzels while I was working.
A favourite new mug, made even more special because the quote is so me!//A breakfast addiction at the moment.//Editing photos and watching the documentary, Psychopath Night. It was OK, the themes were a little bit too jumbled up and quite random, but on the whole I quite enjoyed it.//Yoga on Sunday morning. The straw that broke the camel’s back. Literally.
Getting home from an appointment with the chiropractor, and trying to do the exercises he taught me. Ouch! As it turns out, an accident I had over 15 years ago may have caused some unknown damage over the years, which was a bit of a surprise. Trout was very sweet, and left work to take me to my appointment, and bought me my favourite lunch as a surprise. That boy’s a good one!//A quick lunch date together at Tortilla.//Spending the afternoon with Trout’s nieces is pretty much the best way to spend an afternoon!
We went on a date night to the cinema to see American Hustle. It’s so good! We had dawgs there before the film.//Another amazing dinner from Trout; chilli with tortilla chips and homemade guacamole.
Breakfast. Fast becoming my favourite meal, and my favourite time of the day. Peace and quiet with two of my favourite people, catching up with the news and relaxing before the day really begins.//Beautiful sight of my walk to work.//A quick snap of Trout and I at a Murder Mystery evening. It was so much fun! And as it turned out, TROUT DUNNIT!//Dinner at the murder mystery evening. So good.
Next week I’ll be posting up a few photos from a collaboration I’ve been working on with Alpro, for their latest AlproAM campaign. It’s been so much fun coming up with different smoothie recipes, and I can’t wait to share them with you. The campaign is focused on making our mornings a little brighter, even if most of us are leaving the house in the dark and coming home in the dark. Bright berries, zesty lemon, salty peanut butter and creamy almond milk have all been brightening up my mornings! What I’ve loved most about making these smoothies, is enjoying more fruit. I tend to stick to dried fruit, so it was nice to know I was sipping on some ‘fresh’ (frozen…!) fruit.
Check back next week for a few recipes, or keep an eye out on social media where I’ll be sharing a few of my smoothie photographs! What are your favourite smoothie recipes? Do you like starting the day with one?
Tonight I’m cooking parsnip soup for dinner, and spending time with Trout. While the parsnips are roasting I thought I’d put together a little update for you all.
Thank you so much for your tweets and comments, they really do mean a lot to me. So many people reached out say how moved they were, or that they had been through the same loss. If you have a relative that’s in the early stages of alzheimers, all I can really say is to cherish these moments, even if it is incredibly hard. I remember the frustration, sadness and even at times anger towards my Grandma. I know how terrible that sounds, but if you’ve been through the same thing I’m sure you can understand what I mean. You know that you have to agree with whatever they are saying – up until the point that they are in danger of harming themselves, or believing something that just isn’t true – but that’s sometimes easier said than done. Cherish the moments where they are themselves, take all of the knowledge and wisdom that you can, and don’t look forward to the fast-approaching future. It’s impossible to swallow the awful realisation that this is a one-way street, the tunnel behind you is closed, so with that in mind capture every single memory together that you can.
Thinking about my Grandad makes me incredibly sad, and brings tears to my eyes whenever I think about it. Although he has lived alone now for a few years, I cannot grasp the reality of it all. My Grandma and Grandad became a couple around the same age that Trout and I became a couple. They lived in their home in Ealing together for over half a century, and I cannot comprehend the reality of his loss. It’s so hard to imagine my grandparents being my age, in the same way that I can’t imagine myself at my grandparents age!
Moving on, I have a number of drafted blog posts ready to go, and I’m working on a really exciting project with Alpro which I’ll be sharing with you all here on the blog, and on social media, so keep an eye out for those.
Thanks again to everyone that got in touch x
I’ve had a bit of silence over here on the blog, and I’ve pretty much dropped off social media for the most part in the last week. I didn’t mean to be quite so quiet, but on Wednesday 15th January I sadly lost my Grandma.
She was only 78, it feels so young, but had suffered with alzheimers for the best part of a decade.
While I was at home at the weekend I wanted to find some photographs of us together, before she became too ill. While I sifted through photograph albums I found this brilliant picture of all the ladies in the family. It’s so special. It must have been taken in 1989, and includes Bonnie (the dog), my Mum, my sister, my Nan (Great Grandma), me, and my Grandma. All such wonderful women. I’ve always felt so close to both my Grandma and my Nan.
When someone’s spirit is taken years before their body leaves us, mourning feels like it hasn’t happened and yet has happened over and over again. The long, drawn out process of coming to terms and accepting the present situation and the future is almost impossible – even when my Grandma was so very unwell, my Mum still had that thought in the back of her mind, even though she knew it couldn’t come true, that she might, one day, come back home.
I have so many special memories of her. She made us dresses when we were young, made the six of us share a regular sized Mars bar when we were on holiday (surely this counts as some kind of child cruelty?) and took me to art galleries – we went to see Tracey Emin’s My Bed when I was around 15, and it was absolutely breathtaking. She introduced me to hummus, bought me my first sewing machine, and talked to me about her favourite artists. It feels utterly surreal that a decade ago I watched as she graduated with a Masters through the Open University. With all of the preparations for the funeral, we talked about how much she loved to learn. She loved to learn, and she loved her family. So much. It’s so inspiring to think about, when I look back over memories from childhood, to my teenage years, to becoming an adult. Sitting in the car as we drove to my interview for University (the first time around) and noticing that she had begun repeating herself. I doubt I’ll ever forget that moment. But there are other moments which bring a smile to my face. Sitting at a restaurant, perhaps for the last time as a family before she went into care, and watching her drink straight from the wine bottle. Brilliant.
Every Christmas I bought her a tin of posh biscuits from M&S – her favourite shop – and this year I gave them to my Mum to bring with her when she visited, every fortnight. I couldn’t make it. Mum gave them to her and said that they were from Trout and I, and that they were a Christmas present. She looked up at my Mum, beaming, and said, ‘Oh thank you, that’s lovely’. She tucked in. The last time I went to visit her she took my hand and squeezed it, looking into my eyes like she knew me. Moments like that are so special. We held hands the whole time I was there.
I tried to find some more recent photographs of her, but I really do love these. My Grandma and Grandad, on her graduation day for her BA degree. I’m so proud of her. Someone told us that the quicker you decline, the more intelligent you were before you became ill. That sure is true for her.
“I do think that families are the most beautiful things in all the world!”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
A couple of weeks ago I decided to pick a recipe out of one of my new cookbooks; Veggie Burgers Every Which Way, by Lukas Volger. While I was making them I realised I had made way too many for just the two of us, and they wouldn’t really keep, so we decided to invite a couple of friends over to join us at the last minute. It turned out to be a really fun, unexpected evening, and the perfect opportunity to try some cheese that I had been sent. Veganic had kindly gifted me a huge selection of Violife vegan cheeses, and I didn’t quite know where to start!
The cheese was a big hit, even with our non-vegan friends! It’s perfect added to burgers, lasagne and any kind of toasted sandwich, it melts really nicely. Pop over to the To Happy Vegans website and you’ll find loads of great ideas for what to cook with the cheese. I’ve got my eye on that mushroom toastie ;) You can see the full range of Violife cheese flavours here, and details on where you can buy them here. Be sure to Like Veganic Foods on Facebook, too!
After we had stuffed our faces with burger and chips, we settled down with some leftover Christmas cake and watched Monsters Inc University. It’s such a good film! There’s something so brilliant about both of the Monsters Inc films. I think I might add another resolution to my list for this year; to watch more films. Especially at the cinema. We still haven’t gotten around to going to see American Hustle, and The Wolf of Wall Street has caught my eye, too. I haven’t read any reviews yet, but the clips and trailer all look fantastic. So far this week I’ve mostly been in incredible pain because of my back, but I’m really hoping it’s on the mend now and I can get back to work and start planning these cinema outings. These chiropractor appointments aren’t cheap, are they?!
Have you tried Violife Cheese? Have you watched Monsters Inc. University?!
Life lately has involved plenty of food (obviously), both of the healthy variety and the not so healthy variety. I’ve been enjoying one of my favourite breakfasts everyday; vanilla soya yogurt, maple and pecan granola, fresh fruit and a blob of salty peanut butter on top. Delish.
Then there are those breakfasts that aren’t quite so healthy. Like a whole stack of pancakes on a Sunday morning. Geez Louise these were good. Thanks Wai Kika Moo Kau!
I popped to Street Diner on Friday and had another amazing lunch thanks to Sultan’s Delights. Everything just tastes so good! Or maybe that was because I am bringing my own lunch to work every day, in a bid to save money and eat more healthy meals, which inevitably can’t compare to lunches like this!!
Trout and I have taken on the 30-day plank challenge, which is good because we’ve also been enjoying plates like this…
Millionaire’s Shortbread and a slice of chocolate and vanilla cheesecake.
Both vegan, from Infinity Foods.
Just after Christmas we met up with friends for a good old roast dinner, it was so nice getting everyone round the table together.
I’ve also been doing plenty of photography for clients, which I love. It’s funny to sit back after I’ve finished and watch colleagues devour the plates of food – it must look quite strange to the other diners!
I also wore my pyjamas to work. Not really! This is the beautiful shirt I blogged about a few months ago, and my Motherbear kindly bought for me for Christmas. I love it!
And these are the wonderful sales shoes that I had been hunting for, and finally they are mine. It’s true love.
And finally, I was featured in Healthy Magazine! All be it as a simple tweet, but still…!
So that’s mostly what’s been happening lately. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably already seen a few of these pictures – if you’re on there let me know and I’ll give you a follow, I definitely need more inspiring photos to enjoy every day.
It’s the weekend! What do you have planned? We don’t have too many plans; drinks for a friend’s birthday this evening and that’s about it I think. We really want to go to the cinema to see American Hustle, so that might be tomorrow, and might include vegan hotdogs at Dukes at Komedia! I can’t resist a good dawg. I hope you all have a lovely weekend!
It’s been quite a while since I took part in What I Ate Wednesday, so last weekend I decided it was as good a time as any to jump back in. Here are my meals and snacks from Saturday, which was a pretty relaxing day, mostly spent trying to avoid getting caught in the rain, and catching up with housework. That’s how super cool my weekends are at the moment!
I slept in until around 9.30am, which was lovely – the longest lie in I’ve had in months (years?) and it kind of set the tone for the rest of the weekend. I lounged around for a while before finally getting out of bed and heading downstairs for coffee and a chocolate croissant. These are so good – I bought a bag of them in Barcelona and they are really delicious.
Oh HI sexy chocolately vegan croissant. Hello there. And my mug has cats on!
Trout and I sat together in the lounge listening to music while we had breakfast. It was a really lovely start to the day, spending time together and listening to different bands. After breakfast Trout went to the gym and I darted around the flat, changing the bed, cleaning Ras’ poo parlour, working my way through two loads of laundry, the washing up, taking the Christmas decorations down and recycling our Christmas cards. After that it was time for a shower and some writing on the blog.
Trout decided to rustle up some French onion soup for lunch, which we had with some warm ciabatta. It was perfect for a rainy day spent indoors together.
The afternoon mainly involved another load of laundry, some reading, a catch up with my motherbear, and a trip into town for dinner supplies. For dinner we had daal with chaat and chapattis. It was so good! I could eat Indian food every day for the rest of my life and not get bored.
So those were my meals from Saturday! Anything catch your eye?
This week is creeping along quite nicely. It’s been pretty busy at work, I had DanceFit on Monday, and last night I caught up with a few things that I’ve been meaning to do for a while on the blog, so it was nice to finally get around to doing that. I’ve added social media buttons to the right hand bar – there’s nothing quite like a bit of late night HTML to frazzle my brain! I’ve kind of missed it though, so it was fun to mess around with it again. I finally got an iPhone! Which means I’m finally on Instagram! Do give me a follow – at the moment I pretty much only have pictures of Rasputin, but give me some time and there will be photos of cake and Rasputin.
On Sunday morning Trout and I had seen a few photographs taken on the seafront, and we were too curious not to walk down and investigate. The strength of the storms had pushed thousands of stones up from the shore, and it was quite a sight. The trip turned us into real tourists, complete with a tray of chips!
The ground was a slippery mess of seaweed, shells and rocks.
Would you like to take a seat?
How was your weekend? Mine was pretty relaxed; some housework, some blogging, some drinks, some breakfast with friends. It’s my one year anniversary at DanceFit this evening, and I think it’s probably the best (and most successful!) New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever made. I’m so happy that I went to that first class in the new year. I hope that everyone has had a great start to the week!
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you’ve all had a great start to 2014. This year we spent a few days in Barcelona with friends to celebrate the new year. It was so lovely catching up with Laia and our friends from uni, and of course spending another new year with Trout. I decided not to take my DSLR to Barcelona with me this time. It was a hard decision as I hate leaving it behind, but I wanted to give my poor shoulders a break, and as I took a whole load of photos last time I came, I saved room in my suitcase and grabbed Trout’s iPhone whenever I wanted to take some photographs.
Trout and I arrived on the 30th, checked in and got straight onto walking around. We were given an upgrade on our room which was a great start to the weekend! Hello giant bathroom and wonderful view. After grabbing some lunch we met Laia from work and headed for coffee and cake. We have our priorities straight! We walked around in search for the places Trout had researched but found that most of them were shut, so we went to Gopal. I love this cafe, the food is really good and it has a relaxed atmosphere. It might be a little too preachy and AR for some, which kind of cuts out the customers who just want to eat a good animal-free burger and maybe aren’t vegan or vegetarian. The cafe has a lot of pro-vegan prints and posters dotted around.
I had a cinnamon bun which was so good! Super cinnamony. The carrot cake and chocolate cake were really good, too. The rest of the evening was filled with drinks, walking around the streets of Barcelona, meeting a friend and having a pretty awful, but quite hilarious, dinner.
Before dinner we walked through the food market, which is one of my favourite places to visit. It’s so colourful and alive with energy and passion.
The next day two more friends flew into Barcelona and we headed for lunch and drinks pretty much as soon as they had dropped off their bags at the hotel! We went to a bar called Obama, which had a statue of Mr Obama in the doorway. Quite bizarre.
We had lunch at The Dog is Hot, an amazing cafe that sold meat and vegan hotdogs, with a ton of vegan topping options. I had the Mushdog, with a tofu hotdog, mushrooms, fried onions, olives, jalapenos and ketchup. Trout and I shared a box of nachos, and it all came in a brown paper bag. So cute! We found some steps nearby and watched skateboarders and guys ride their BMX’s off the steps. It was so nice to catch up.
After some more walking around, we headed back to the old faithful, Gopal, for something sweet. On the way I decided to have a quick haircut.
This time it was doughnut time! Here we have a cinnamon bun, chocolate covered ring doughnut, and two chocolate doughnuts covered with fruity icing.
Later on in the afternoon another friend flew in to join us, and we had a few more drinks before getting ready for the evening. We met up at Laia’s Dad’s apartment for dinner and drinks and then headed out for fireworks. Laia made a tortilla, we had grilled vegetables, salad, hummus and plenty of pa amb tomàquet and olives. Trout and I picked up a couple of slices of vegan tortilla from Gopal, and it was so good! You can see a little slice of it in the bottom left hand corner of the picture.
Grating tomato for the pa amb tomàquet.
Frying potato for the tortilla.
After dinner we headed out to watch the fireworks. It was the first year that Spain had put on a fireworks display, and it was pretty amazing. The crowds were huge, and we huddled together, gripping our bags of grapes and waiting for the countdown before the countdown. In Spain it’s traditional to stuff a grape into your mouth in the countdown to midnight – twelve grapes in twelve seconds. I think I managed eight at the most, but Trout had 16 stuffed into one section of his mouth like a hamster, it was hilarious.
After the fireworks it was a bit of a struggle getting back to the main roads – the crowd was huge and heaving, but finally we managed to make some progress, and began the long walk back to the hotel. I headed to bed while the others went up to the rooftop bar in the hotel, where they had cava and churros. The perfect end to the evening!
The next day we met up at midday and headed to Starbucks for some much-needed coffee. I will never understand the obsession with this brand – the coffee is just awful! Weak, bizarrely sweet. Bonkers. It seems to be just an accessory, or a statement. Whatever. It’s so expensive, too!
After we had fueled up on coffee we walked around the corner to a lovely tapas bar for lunch, called Cervecería Catalana. The restaurant looked so nice, and the food was really good. So many options, us vegans were spoilt! Grilled artichoke (SO. GOOD!), patatas bravas, mushrooms and asparagus, pa amb tomàquet, pimientos de Padrón.
Blue skies! We enjoyed some beautiful weather while we were there. 14c, sunshine, blue skies. Perfect.
I already miss these girls! It’s always so nice to catch up, especially when it happens to be in such a nice place ;)
So, that was our New Years Eve!
What did you get up to? Have you been to Barcelona before?
Happy New Year! It’s 2014!
I loved looking back over the last year and seeing what I got up to. Not only does it remind me of things that I may have forgotten, it also reminds me of things that I wish I had done, or would like to do more of. Here were my resolutions for 2013 – I think I did alright! Exercise: I took up that DanceFit class I had in mind, and I’m so glad that I did. I never got back into yoga, maybe this year I will? It would be nice to be more bendy. Blogging: I took part in the ‘Photo Every Hour‘ series a couple of times (you can find them here and here). I don’t really think I’ve developed paperbagblog, but I’ve worked with some great brands, and have the sweetest readers you could ask for, so that’s what counts. Reading & Writing: I have read more books since last year – but still not as many as I would like. I’ve written a lot more; I’m now a freelance writer, and recently become a regular contributor to Fresh Vegan, an online magazine. Eating & Drinking: Hmm, this old chestnut. I have stopped drinking! But I have also been eating a lot of sweet treats, which my skin is really not thanking me for. That one is definitely going on next year’s resolutions list! Explore & Inspire: Sort of. We’ve been roadtripping and ticking places off my Bucket List – but we haven’t been to the cinema more, and I’ve only been to a couple of galleries. Fail! Save & Spend: Hmm.
While we were in Barcelona, we sat around the table in an amazing tapas restaurant on new years day and took it in turns to say what we had planned for the new year, and what we wanted to achieve. It was so interesting to discover what each of us wanted to get out of 2014, what we weren’t happy with about our current lives, and what we wanted to do more of over the next twelve months. Hearing everyone’s different ideas made me even more inspired when it came to my own.
Here are my New Years Resolutions for 2014
1/To be more present, and to relax and enjoy the moment. I have a tendency to rush things, rather than sit down and really enjoy them. And that’s so important.
2/To be more thankful for the people around me, what I have, and how very lucky I am.
3/To be better with money. This is always, always on my resolutions list. One day I’ll get it right, *sigh*. I want to pay Trout back the money I owe him for holidays, save more each month for future holidays and generally stop spending money unless it’s really necessary…!
4/To get my diet back in check. I eat way too many sugary, sweet, chocolatey treats and my skin is not happy. I have also developed Bingo Wings after Christmas, and they can go away thank you very much. More fruit, more vegetables, more exercise and less sweets. Yup. Which is why I started the day with a chocolate croissant…
5/To plan things more in advance. I started my Christmas shopping at the end of October, and it really helped to spread the cost and make sure that I had everything bought and wrapped before the big day. I think I’ll start doing this with things like birthdays and Easter – any way of making life run a little smoother is fine by me!
6/To make time for friends, old and new. Getting back in touch with an old friend a few months ago made me realise how important my friendships are, and how easy it is to never get around to spending time together. I met up with a sweet friend in 2012, just by chance, and at the time we both said we would meet up properly in the next month. We never have, and I’m annoyed with myself that it’s now been well over a year and no date has been set. I want to always make time for my friends, they are so important to me.
7/To use up everything that’s in the fridge before going out and buying more food. Plan meals, use up leftovers and don’t buy take-aways if we have a fridge full of food!
8/To write more. I think I might be dishing up far too much on my plate here, what with the amount of freelance work that I do, but I would like to push myself more and contribute to other magazines, blogs, websites – any one that will have me! And again, read more, and blog more frequently. I was given a couple of books for Christmas so I’m hoping to get through those fairly quickly.
9/To spend less time online. This is a strange one, as I absolutely love catching up with blogs, emails, comments, Twitter etc. But if I’m ever going to start reading and writing more, I really need to spend my time more wisely. So really, maybe this is more about planning my time more effectively, which includes less time online – or perhaps more constructive time online?
10/To travel to more places in the UK. It’s strange to think of how many cities in Europe that I’ve been to, and yet I’ve never been to Manchester, Cambridge, Oxford… these are all on my to-visit list for 2014! I also want to stay in one of the hotels in the Hotel du Vin chain. They look so beautiful! Just a shame that they are mega pricey…
Do you have any resolutions for 2014? How did you do for 2013?
Looking through my round-up of 2012, I can’t help but pinch myself. Honestly.
I can’t believe how much has changed in only one year, the whole thing just seems surreal. It makes me even more excited for 2014, I just hope that I can keep doing more exciting things, and keep documenting them here on my blog.
Here’s a round-up of what I got up to in 2013. I’ve picked out some of my favourite highlights and achievements, the brands that I particularly loved working with, the places that I’ve travelled to and some of my favourite days.
2013 started in Hamburg, which was a pretty awesome way of starting a brand new year! Surrounded by insane people setting off fireworks, with good friends. January marked my first project working with Alpro, which I absolutely loved. The campaign was called DeskFest, and involved coming up with recipes and innovative ways of having a healthy breakfast at your desk.
February is one of my favourite months, because it includes Valentine’s Day. This year I received a bunch of flowers with a Breaking Bad reference! It was also the month I found a new job and won the Dorset Cereals Little Blog Award.
March is a special month for us; it’s our anniversary on the 8th, and we celebrated 11 years in 2013. It was also the month that I started my current job, and was Pick of the Day on Bloggers.com.
April was a fun month – it’s Trout’s birthday, which I always love celebrating. I spent the day with a sweet friend in Kingston, and finally met up with my friend Mel, who I’ve ‘known’ online for years.
May was also filled with good friends! I met up with Laura for lunch at VBites, and enjoyed plenty of Alproccinos! I took part in another project with Alpro, covering the Brighton Fringe Festival. Brighton was beautiful that month, with blue skies and blossom just around the corner.
June was filled with street food and new opportunities. I visited Street Diner plenty of times, and Trout and I stopped for some chaat one evening. I took part in the first Blogger Brunch at the Wellcome Collection, which was amazing. We were given a guided tour of the exhibition, which was really interesting, and great to meet so many other bloggers and writers. I’m really looking forward to working with the Wellcome Collection again in 2014.
Hello blue skies! I spent most of July on the beach with friends. I also got to hang out with this sweet dog!
More fresh flowers for the flat! Plenty of roasted chickpeas (can you say addiction?) and plenty of new recipes. I also celebrated my birthday, which began with food poising (not cool) so I postponed it to the weekend, which was spent in London (very cool!).
September we roadtripped! We flew to Berlin, where we spent a few days, then drove to Dresden, Prague, Bratislava and then Vienna. It was so much fun, I love roadtripping with Trout.
My sister got married! It was a beautiful day. I also photographed my favourite restaurant, which I’m really excited about finishing up and revealing more details over the coming months.
November was an absolutely packed month! We had our photo taken in a photobooth – I absolutely love these booths. I met up with Laura and Lucie, and we had a fun coffee date. We celebrated Rasputin’s 5th birthday, I bought some great new music, went to see one of my favourite bands play, hung out with the coolest friends, and picked sloe berries to make sloe gin! I was interviewed by Amazine, made cheesecake and painted pottery with my family. Phew!
More photobooth fun! Trout and I went to Cornwall to visit the Eden Project, and met some ponies on the way back. I also had an article and a few photographs published in Fresh Vegan magazine. Oh, and it was Christmas, too!
What a year it’s been! So much to be thankful for. New job, becoming a freelance writer, getting the opportunity to photograph more and more, and plenty of travelling. I just don’t know how 2014 can top that! We’re starting the year in Barcelona, which I’m so excited about. I’m not really sure what else we have planned – perhaps a trip to India? I’ve put together some New Years Resolutions which I’ll post in the next few days.
I hope everyone has had a great 2013, and will have an even better 2014. Thanks for helping make 2013 my favourite year yet!
Happy Christmas one and all! I hope everyone has had a great few days. It’s been a whirlwind of driving, lovely dinners, so many amazing presents, and most importantly, spending time with loved ones. The photo above is of one of the cookies a couple of friends made for us, as part of a Christmas hamper of home made treats. Everything tasted so good!
This year we spent Christmas Day at Trout’s family’s home, and Boxing Day at mine. It was strange not spending it with my family, but so lovely to spend it with his, especially as his niece was there, too. It was so sweet watching her open her presents and play with them all. It reminded me of how obsessed I was with my set of plastic cans of beans and spaghetti hoops. When we lived in Yorkshire we had a table football and I put the lid on and made my own natural history museum, but all of the dinosaurs were made up of baked bean cans.
Waiting for Dad to bring the car round. She was pointing and shouting, ‘Daaaaaaadddddyyyy!’
This is the first year that I’ve made a Christmas Cake, and I have a feeling I’ll be making one every year. It was so much fun! Though I will remember to buy decorations earlier than Christmas Eve next year… Somehow I managed to forget, and let me tell you, it’s flippin’ impossible to find anything decent (or anything at all…) on Christmas Eve. I did the best that I could with what was available, and we ended up with twerking Santas.
These weren’t actually Christmas cake decorations, I think they are meant to be hung on a Christmas tree, but I went with it and pushed them into the blanket of icing and let them do their thing. The legs aren’t stiff, I think they are meant to sway with the branches of your Christmas tree, hence why each Santa is pulling a different disco move.
Trout’s Mum and I had a Battle of the Christmas Cakes – all the non-vegans sampled both cakes, but were too polite to make a decisive judgement, so no-one will ever know who won the battle.
I loved her icing shapes – definitely stealing this idea next year, especially as I had quite a lot of icing left over.
On Boxing Day we headed over to my parents house and my Mum and sister prepared an amazing brunch. We had vine roasted tomatoes, ciabatta, great coffee, garlic mushrooms, croissants and fruit.
After brunch we opened our presents. I was so spoilt this year! So many lovely gifts, and I hope everyone liked the presents that I bought them.
Jake and Jasper making sure that they are never more than a few inches away from my Grandad…!
After we had opened our presents we all sat in the lounge and Dad brought in a ‘bar’ with drinks for everyone, and bowls of snacks. I ate so many Pringles, they are just too good! And non-alcoholic Kopparberg, which tastes amazing.
Jake was so pleased to see us…
So, that was my Christmas! How was yours? What are your plans for New Years Eve? We’re off to Barcelona on Monday with a few friends, and I can’t wait. I can’t believe I’ll be seeing Laia in just a few days, wahoo! I don’t think we have any plans as yet – we may ditch the boys and do a spot of coffee, catching up and shopping. Speaking of shopping, has anyone braved the sales yet? I started with the sale most people wait for every six months; the Zara sale. I was quite restrained and only bought a couple of pieces, but I always pop back every now and again to see which lines have been added and what’s been reduced. I picked up a bag from Bershka that I’d been eyeing up a few weeks ago, and was super happy to see it reduced to £10. I also popped into New Look and spotted a pair of loafers that I’d seen months ago at the Oxford Street store and instantly fell in love with – but because we were rushed in time I didn’t even try them on. As sad as it sounds, I’ve regretted that decision ever since, and have been constantly checking their website to see if they had appeared again, or gone on sale. I couldn’t believe it when I found the very last pair, in my size, and for just £8. It was meant to be!
Today is a day for catching up with work. I’m still in my jimjams and don’t really plan on getting dressed until I’ve ticked everything off my to-do list. Trout’s off to watch the football so I’ve got the flat to myself, just me and Ras hanging out. Trout bought me a vegan burger cookery book for Christmas, so I think I’ll make something from that for dinner this evening. It’s such a good book! Trout knows I cannot resist a burger when it’s on the menu.
What were your favourite Christmas presents this year? Any plans for New Years Eve?
A little while ago I was asked by the lovely people at Superbreak if I would like to choose one of their weekend breaks to review. There were so many tempting options to choose from, but as the Eden Project has been on my ‘Bucket List’ for such a long time, I jumped at the chance of taking a trip there. Trout and I decided to turn it into a long weekend, and drove down to Exeter straight from work on Friday. We spent Saturday morning at the Eden Project, explored more of Cornwall in the afternoon, and on Sunday we stopped in Bournemouth for lunchies.
By the way, baking something sweet for breakfast while we were roadtripping was one of my finest ideas yet. It was so nice to wake up to a little treat to enjoy with a cup (or two) of hot coffee, and gave me time to relax in bed before heading out. Much better than being starving and unable to find anything vegan-friendly for miles!
The grounds weren’t as big as I had imagined them to be, and each had their own theme, from the rainforest to the Mediterranean. I was really disappointed that the Sky Wire wasn’t open, look how long it is! It looks so much fun.
I loved all of the mechanical sculptures dotted around the grounds – this giant bee was brilliant! We were so lucky with the weather – apart from the odd grey cloud here and there, we were warm and dry for almost the whole weekend.
Giant crocheted snowflakes! These were so beautiful. You could even have a go at making one!
Waterfalls were dotted around the Mediterranean Biome, they were stunning.
Trout was back to his old photo-bombing ways – except this time he was trying out a new motive. The Bored Photo-Bomber. What a ninny. I’ve got so many photographs of him pretending to be bored, but I assure you he wasn’t. He’s just a fool.
We climbed this huge staircase to stand on the top platform, where you could see the whole of the Mediterranean Biome. It was an incredible view!
We saw reindeer! They were so sweet! I loved listening to the children with their families, asking their parents why they weren’t flying, and why were they sleeping. Obviously it was because they are resting before next week! One little girl was so happy that she had met Rudolph.
Thanks again to Superbreak for giving me the opportunity to cross off one of my ‘Bucket List’ dreams!
After we had checked into our room we drove down to Tintagel Castle, stopping at a restaurant nearby for a traditional Cornish pasty. It was called Pengenna Pasties, and it was amazing that they had vegan pasties on the menu! They were pretty darn good, and the restaurant was so sweet.
After lunch we walked down to the castle, but unfortunately we had just missed the last entry time. Instead we went for a little walk, exploring the nearby paths and steps. It was so incredible windy, I thought we would get knocked right off! Wind, rain, and the sun was setting – it was an incredible atmosphere. Trout went exploring up a steep set of steps, but I was too chicken and stayed near the bottom and carried on taking photographs, and taking in the view. The combination of slippery ‘steps’ (they were really just a mash-up of wood and stone!), the wind, and a pair of not entirely practical boots meant that I was too scared to attempt these steep steps.
The next day we drove back to Brighton via Bournemouth, and had to take the country roads for a lot of the journey due to a couple of accidents on our intended route. It’s so sad to think of people being in these awful crashes so close to Christmas, I just hope that everyone was alright.
While we were driving through one particular road we came across these guys! Trout stopped so that I could take a photograph, and the guy at the front made a beeline for his window! We had to drive off, but I would have loved to have seen how close he would have come! I’m sure he would have stuck his head right into the car in search of sugar lumps.
I hope that everyone had a lovely Christmas Day and Boxing Day! I’ve got a few photos to come from ours, plus a roundup of my 2013 to finish putting together. What are your plans for New Years Eve?
image from My Little Fabric
It’s Christmas Eve! I hope you’re all relaxing and looking forward to the next few days, whatever you have planned. All of my presents are wrapped and packed ready to go, and I’ve just got our Christmas Cake to ice and decorate this evening. For some reason I completely forgot to buy any decorations, and let me tell you it’s pretty darn hard to find them on Christmas Eve. Oh well, there was always going to be something that I forgot to get, and better to be a plastic miniature santa than someone’s gift! I’m so looking forward to waking up tomorrow with my two favourite boys, exchange Santa presents with Trout, crack open a tin of croissants and then head over to his Mum’s to celebrate with family.
I want to say a big Happy Christmas to all of my lovely readers, and thank you for all of your support, comments, Likes, tweets and mentions in the past year. It’s been a real whirlwind, and I can’t wait to post a round-up of everything that I got up to in 2013. Thank you all, your support means more than I can say x
We’re really lucky to have such a great view from our flat. We can see the sea and the wheel from our bedroom window, and I can watch the sunrise from our lounge, while I’m relaxing in the morning before work. Occasionally you get really lucky and can see the most amazing displays of colour, spreading across the sky in different shades.
This photo of Rasputin makes me laugh. It’s not the best, but it totally sums up his start to the day – relaxing on his favourite spot, the windowsill, with his paws on the radiator to make them toasty and warm, and with a slightly miffed expression as he is being disturbed by me and my camera and the breakfast news and the kettle.
I’ve had a couple of days off this week to use up my annual leave before the end of the year, so this morning I woke up early and made Trout and I a special breakfast. Not only did it use up ingredients lurking in the fridge, and an avocado that was dangerously on the verge of being thrown away due to its mushyness (in fact, it was perfect when I sliced into it. Thank you avocado! You were the icing on our breakfast), it was really nice to spend some time together before the day started. We spend most of that time passing each other by, him coming downstairs for breakfast just as I’m going upstairs to finish getting ready, and then the other way around as he finishes getting ready and I’m heading out the door.
This weekend we’re off to visit the Eden Project, I’m so excited! We decided to plan a long weekend away together before Christmas, and even though I’m in work on Monday, it feels like a great way to start the Christmas break. I’ve baked a loaf of banana and walnut cake to bring with us, so that we have something to eat for breakfast on Saturday morning. It’s one of the recipes from Ms. Cupcake’s amazing cookery book, with the chocolate chips removed. Don’t tell her, I’m sure she wouldn’t approve! I didn’t want the loaf to be too sweet as neither of us like a particularly sweet start to the day (especially Trout!). I had a couple of bananas getting browner and browner, which is why I wanted to make this recipe – I love using up fruit and veg that might otherwise end up in the bin.
I didn’t whip the bananas up into a total mush, I wanted some chunks of banana to melt through the loaf. Look at the gooeyness! That end slice may have already disappeared somewhere.
Tonight is Christmas party #3, this time with a company that I do freelance work for. It’ll be nice to meet other freelancers that work for them, as well as people that work internally for the company. Then tomorrow is Christmas party #4 with my company. So many parties, and plenty of great food. I feel so spoilt this Christmas!
Each day I am so thankful for the place that I’m in right now. I can’t quite believe how different everything was just one single year ago. So much has changed, and it kind of makes my head spin all the time at the moment. I know that for so many people the life that I have now probably seems nothing special, or that there are people doing way more awesome things than I am, earning way more than I am (and probably will ever earn) but you know what? I can’t remember a time when I’ve ever been happier. And that feels like a pretty darn strange thing to write down.
How is your run-up to Christmas going, do you have any plans? Any presents left to buy?
Thursday evening marked the next stage of the festive period – the staff Christmas party! Trout kindly invited me to his company’s Christmas party, and it was such a fun evening. After ridiculous party games in their office, with a few glasses of champagne and mince pies, we popped down to Chilli Pickle for dinner. It’s such a great restaurant, and the food is really good. Bonus points for a menu with vegan labels!
I can never not order a dosa when it’s on the menu – it’s pretty much my favourite meal in the WORLD. I love them so much.
I couldn’t even fit the whole dosa into the picture!
After dinner we popped next door to a cocktail bar for a drink – they made me an amazing non-alcoholic mojito, YUM. We spotted a photobooth in the corner so of course we had to all cram in.
It was absolutely hilarious! We all forgot that you get four pictures taken, and after each photo we thought that was it and started relaxing, only to have to cram back in for the next one. Over and over again! So funny.
Tonight is Christmas Party #2, with old friends from Kingston, at one of my favourite restaurants – the Riverside Vegeteria. I’m so excited to see everyone, in a really special restaurant. It was where we had our ‘final meal’ before Laia and I left Kingston, and a place where I would often go to celebrate something, like our second year degree show, or a weekend when Trout was visiting. The food is so good! Tomorrow is Christmas Party #3 (kind of) as we have two of our favourite people coming round for dinner, and Trout and I are cooking a special Christmas dinner for us all. I can already see us napping on the sofa after that!
I’m off into town now to pick up a couple of presents and then I should be all finished. The rest are all wrapped, it’s such a relief to think it’s all out of the way. Hopefully, anyway! Rasputin’s gift is wrapped up under the tree ready for him – I’ve told him not to peek. The house is stuffed with presents, which I kind of love. It’s so nice to see all the presents grouped together, with bags of presents for family and friends.
How is your Christmas shopping going? Do you have a Christmas party to look forward to?
On Sunday afternoon we tidied the flat and put up all of our Christmas decorations – nothing too exciting, just a really cute tree and a few other bits and pieces here and there. I decided to make it a festive evening, with Christmas music playing, some non-alcoholic mulled wine bubbling in the background, an IPA chilling in the fridge, pieces of iced fruit cake to snack on, and a party tea to finish it all off in the evening. It’s so nice to have all of our decorations up, I love switching on the fairy lights in the evening and lighting wintry candles around the lounge.
I was so excited to find non-alcoholic mulled wine! I didn’t even know it existed. Thank you Infinity Foods! I know that Marks and Spencer make one, too. They also make amazing vegan party food! It’s a tradition every year for Trout and I to pop in and stock up so that we can have little party teas together over Christmas, but I couldn’t resist popping in on my own to grab a couple of packs for the Decorating Day. We had a few bits and pieces from their Indian selection and Chinese selection packs. I absolutely love the spring rolls with stars on! So yummy. Not the sweetcorn ones, though. Yuck.
I love that Rasputin knows when it’s advent calendar time! When I pick it up he runs straight over to the sofa, and we perch on the edge while I find the window and empty the treats into my hand. Sometimes he eats them out of my palm, but most of the time he’ll pick up one or two at a time, leap down and eat them, then jump back onto the sofa to repeat the process. It’s pretty cute.
In other Christmas news, I couldn’t help myself – I had to make a little family elf video. They’re ridiculous, but also ridiculously funny! Click here to watch it. It’s got me, two of Trout (don’t ask), Rasputin and Trout’s niece Jasmine. I hope the link works – if it doesn’t, let me know and I’ll take it down.
Have you put your Christmas decorations up yet? We decorated our office yesterday, and our tree is kind of ridiculous. It’s even covered in fake snow – this stuff is incredible! It comes in a powder, you mix it with water, and it turns into snow. Brilliant! I also sprayed it with fake snow, and it’s covered in classy decorations, with a colour scheme and everything. We did our office proud!
Last weekend I went home to spend a couple of days with my family, as my sister and brother-in-law had kindly bought us an early Christmas present to enjoy together. He had booked us into Glazy Daisy, a pottery painting shop, on Saturday morning, followed by lunch at Juliets, a super sweet café nearby. It was so nice to spend time with the ladies in my family! And such a thoughtful present. As part of my sister’s hen party we had organised for everyone to go to the same pottery shop for a few hours, but I was unwell that morning so couldn’t make it. It was really nice to be able to make something for her, still.
My Mum and I accidentally wore matching outfits. I tried to make her change and she refused, but it was kind of nice wearing matching mama and daughter outfits. We arrived at the pottery shop a little early so headed over the road for a much-needed coffee. The cakes looked incredible! Sadly none were vegan, though.
Tea for my motherbear.
Coffee for me and my sister. I told you I was hooked on flat whites!
Getting started at the pottery shop.
A little girl was sat on the table behind us with her Grandmother, and out of the blue she said, ‘Last week I found a dog hair in my sandwich!’. It made us laugh so much, and we all thought, welcome to our world. Cat/dog/hamster hair absolutely everywhere.
My Mum and sister working hard on their ornaments. We chose baubles of different shapes and designs to give to each other for Christmas.
My sister made matching mittens, one for me and one for her tree. You’ve got to love family nicknames!
My Mum forgot her glasses but I think hers came out pretty darn well.
After we had finished painting (well, after Mum and Nat had finished waiting a good half an hour extra for me to finish – this wise guy decided that four baubles was a really good idea, and the perfectionist in me just had to make them perfect…) we drove down to another part of Tunbridge Wells, near The Pantiles, for lunch.
Such a sweet cafe! The staff were lovely.
Lunch! The salads all looked amazing, and almost all of them were vegan. I picked a kind of bruschetta that was topped with hummus and roasted peppers and basil, with a beetroot salad and a roasted carrot and sweet potato salad. Delish!
The bruschetta was super tasty, but for some reason the bread was stale and tough as anything, so halfway through sawing it apart it shot across the table and, obviously, landed upside down. Hummus literally everywhere.
After lunch we did a spot of shopping near the Pantiles before heading home. I had to get back to Brighton that evening as Trout and I were going to see one of our favourite bands, but it was lovely spending time with my Mum and my sister, with no boys around!
The next day Trout and I had a relaxing Sunday at home, catching up and pottering around the flat. We headed into town as I had a craving for cupcakes, and we picked up a few bits for dinner. I dragged Trout around three cake shops before we finally found one that had vegan cupcakes left, but it was totally worth the wait. Vegan and gluten free carrot cake, packed with cinnamon. It felt really seasonal! We scoffed our cupcakes and read our newspapers and magazines with my salted caramel candle burning away in the background. Welcome, December! You started off pretty well.
A simple dinner of falafel, hummus, couscous, chaat and naan bread.
Yesterday I had a day off, apart from taking some photographs for one of our clients. I spent most of the day cleaning, making lists and Christmas shopping, met Trout for a little lunch date in the middle, and in the evening I went to a friends’ house to meet their brand new baby boy, Luca. He was just the sweetest! What a great end to the week. I hope everyone has a great weekend!
image found via Pinterest
I don’t think I’ve been more thankful for a single month is a long, long time. November, you treated us so well. There were plenty of highlights shared on the blog, and others which I’ve kept to myself which shall be revealed in the coming months. Let’s see what I got up to over the past 30 days.
I finally made a Christmas cake! And a white chocolate torte. And ate toast.
The toast wasn’t exactly super exciting, but it was part of a Photo Every Hour series. I loved putting this together!
We celebrated Rasputin’s 5th birthday!
I bought some lovely new music.
We picked sloe berries and made sloe gin!
I photographed the fabulous Sultan’s Delights for Fresh Vegan magazine. That involved food, too.
I met up with Lucie (twice!) and Laura, and we had a sweet coffee date. More of those, please!
I had so many flat whites, I’m a total convert.
We had fun in a photobooth! I absolutely love them, and these photos are so special.
And last but not least, I was interviewed by the fantastic Amazine! This was pretty exciting for me, and I’m still so chuffed that they got in touch.
Other things that I got up to, but didn’t photograph; I saw one of my favourite bands, and caught up with old friends at a really fun show. I spent the weekend with my family, went to a pottery painting shop with my Mum and sister, and had lunch together at the sweetest cafe – photos will follow of that this week. I’ve been settling into our new office and slowly meeting all of the other people who work in the building. It’s been really nice having Trout working next door, and he’s been great at introducing me to everyone.
image found via Pinterest
Oh, December, what do you have in store for me? Of course there is Christmas. I’m so excited! I have so many Christmas parties to look forward to this year – between my full-time work, freelance work, Trout’s company and a few dinners with friends, it’s going to be a month of spending time with loved ones by the looks of things. Just the way it should be. Trout and I also have a long weekend planned in Cornwall, and tickets to visit the Eden Project. We’re so excited! It’s been on our must-visit list for such a long time, and everyone that I’ve spoken to has raved about it. Then there is a trip to Barcelona for New Years Eve! I feel spoilt with so much positivity lately.
How was your November? Do you have any exciting plans for December?
A little while ago you might remember I mentioned that I was contributing to a new online vegan magazine called Fresh Vegan. Well, the magazine is now live, and you can view it here! As a regular contributor I’ll be writing about some of my favourite places to eat in Brighton, and in this issue I went to Wai Kika Moo Kau to chat to the owner, Faruk, and take a few photographs. The online magazine is packed with great recipes, interviews and articles, so make sure you sit down with a large mug of coffee and enjoy. Let me know what you think!
Thanks to Jacqui and Ron for asking me to contribute.