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Sunday, 29 November 2015

Review / The Vegan Kind Box TVK25


The latest The Vegan Kind box was a pretty special one - it was their 2nd birthday!  Naturally, the anniversary box was filled with extra special goodies and I think it's been the best one I've received so far (not that I've received that many yet).

The recipe card is for really tasty sounding 'Cheesy' Leek & Broccoli Tartlets by Coconut & Berries which I'm looking forward to trying when I finally get a hold of some nutritional yeast.  The charity of the month is the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, which is a particularly important one to donate money to at this time of year because so many hedgehogs and small animals can end up hurt or killed because of bonfires and fireworks.

As for the treats in the box, there were eight different items this month!

Three of the products are from the same company - Quinola Mothergrain (150g each for £1.99).  These are little quinoa-based ready meals that only need 30 seconds in the microwave and come in a variety of different flavours.  The ones included in this box was Tex Mex, Mediterranean and Thai flavoured and I took all of mine to work with me for lunches.  The convenience of them is amazing - considering I'm super lazy and hate having to prepare meals for the next day at work, being able to just chuck one in my bag and go is great.  I tried the Thai one first and it was nice but nothing special, and didn't really taste particularly Thai-inspired to me.  The Tex Mex and Mediterranean ones were lovely though, and all of them filled me up until dinner time.  Being a cheapskate and these costing £1.99 each RRP I probably won't be buying any myself, but I'm glad I got to try them out.




The first thing I saw when I opened the box was this big bag of Ten Acre Hand 'The Story of When the Cheese met the Onion' Crisps (135g, £1.99) and damn I was excited!  Since going vegan, cheese and onion, sour cream and chive etc. crisps and pretzels and so on have been one of my most missed things, so these arrived at just the right time.  The crisps are very similar to Kettle Chips; they're a bit hard and very crispy, and very delicious, and although the flavouring wasn't quite as strong as some non-vegan brands you wouldn't have a clue that these didn't have any real dairy products in.  I will definitely be buying these again!



TVK25 included not one but two big bars of chocolate!  The first one I tried was the iChoc Choco Cookie Chocolate Bar (80g, £2.00) which is made of rice milk and crispy chocolate biscuits.  I was looking forward to trying it but I was a bit worried it was going to be too rich and too sweet, but luckily for me that wasn't the case at all.  It was sweet, obviously, but let's just say I managed to eat almost the whole bar without feeling sick afterwards...

The other bar was the Cocoa Libre Honeycomb Chocolate Slab (100g, £3.95) and I think this was probably my favourite out of the two.  This was again made with rich milk but had a darker chocolate flavour to it and had a bit of a honey kick to it (although it doesn't contain real honey or anything non-vegan).  All in all, both of these bars were absolutely delicious and probably the nicest vegan chocolate I've tried so far.



The last products in this month's box were a Hurraw! Black Cherry Tinted Lip Balm (£4.49) and one of The Vegan Kind's own 'Be Kind, Go Vegan' rubber wristbands (£1.99).  I was thrilled to find the Hurraw! balm - they're my favourite vegan lip brand so far and all of the flavours I've tried are incredible!  The tinted one isn't one I would've chosen myself as I don't tend to wear tinted lip balms, but it was at least one I haven't bought before and the smell is incredible.   The tint is also very subtle and just adds a bit of extra rosiness, so I've actually quite taken to it.  All of their balms are organic, vegan, cruelty free and made from raw, cold-pressed ingredients and they're very nourishing and great for the lips.

The bracelet is a lovely little bonus too, although I'm not much of a wristband person so I probably won't be wearing it very often.  For now though, I've found a nice little spot on my dressing table to show off my ethics instead.

I'm really happy with this month's box and by the sounds of it, so is pretty much everyone else.  Here's hoping TVK includes more tasty cheese and onion products in the future!


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Once, twice, three months a vegan.

It's been just over three months or so since I first started eating vegan (I began to switch over properly a while before I posted about it online and started actually calling myself a vegan), so I just thought I'd write a quick update and let everyone know how I'm getting on.

One of the things that omnivores always bring up whenever anyone mentions vegetarianism or veganism is 'but won't you miss bacon/cheese/dairy/etc.?!' and honestly, I haven't really noticed much of a difference.  Once you get used to eating a particular diet, it becomes normal and you don't find yourself gravitating towards your old favourites as much as you used to, in the same way that just switching over to a healthier diet means that you don't crave fatty or sugary foods as often.  I used to always want cheese and crackers, but now I always want chutneys or hummus, olives etc. for example.  When I cook bacon for my partner now, it seems I'm at the stage where even the smell and look of even bacon just doesn't even remotely appeal to me any more, and I used to love bacon.  I'm sure I'd still be okay with the taste, but I bet it won't be as nice as I remembered it and I don't really find it worth putting it into my body any more when it doesn't even feel all that great after I've eaten it.

One weird craving I have noticed though, is that I've been really lusting after fried chicken?!  I never even ate it that much when I was eating meat and never particularly wanted it when I was pescatarian and vegetarian either, so I don't know what that's all about.  I haven't really found a substitute for it either so that's probably part of why I find myself thinking about it quite often.  One thing I will say though, is that when I do think about or want meat or dairy or eggs, it's always in a junk food or comfort food or convenience scenario.  It's not that I really need it or that my body even wants it, it's that I just want to sit and shove something - anything - greasy and unhealthy down my throat.

I've been feeling pretty good health-wise; I certainly haven't noticed any ill-effects other than eating way too many baked goods because I've been experimenting in the kitchen so much!  I don't know for sure because I don't weigh myself, but I have a feeling that despite not going to the gym very much this past few months due to injury, I have still been losing a tiny bit of weight as well.  I'm less likely to bloat or feel sick from food, and I've been genuinely enjoying all of the healthy, nutritious meals I've been cooking.  I probably haven't eaten this well in my entire life and I regularly have my five portions of fruit or vegetables per day.  I am pretty tired at the moment but I don't think it's to do with my diet because I experienced the same long term fatigue last winter when I was still eating white meat and fish once every week or so, so I'm guessing it's the early mornings and change of weather and lighting instead.

I'm still making mistakes; at work I had some hot chocolate that was in the office without even thinking about it and then suddenly thought oh crap, I bet this has milk powder in it (it did).  I'm also not being super strict about it in restaurants and pubs and so on.  Having to ask for my meal to be changed or ask what's in things makes me extremely anxious (if everything was a self-checkout and I didn't have to speak to a human ever I would be over the moon) so instead I've just been opting for things that I'm 99% sure are vegan or that at least have no logical reason to not be vegan, without questioning exactly what's in it.  It could well be that the pizza doughs I've been enjoying have whey or egg in or that certain sauces are cooked with butter, but I'll cross that bridge when I feel ready.

In other circumstances, I just pick the vegetarian option or ask for things without cheese even if they may still contain butter or milk for example, because sadly plenty of places still don't even have one appetising vegan option on the menu, and there are just some situations where I can't be as vegan as I'd like.  At the end of last month when we went on a walk, we went back for some drinks and a meal at the pub we started the walk from, and every single item was non-vegan, but it being nearly 3pm and having not eaten anything since 10am and having been walking for two and a half hours, I wasn't really in the right mind or position to say no to food, so just had the next best thing.

I don't really feel guilty about not getting it right when I do screw up, it's more that I feel frustrated that it's even an issue in the first place.  It shouldn't be as difficult as it is to find just one decent item on a menu that doesn't have animal products in and I dread to think how difficult it is to eat out or buy ready made foods as it is for people who are horribly allergic to dairy, for example.  At least if I'm too much of an anxious weenie to ask for something to be made just for me, I can still eat something on the menu and not get sick.

People have been reacting reasonably well, although I do find myself getting annoyed by some comments.  There are those who seem to think that it's just a phase and like to keep reminding me that I don't have to stick to it and, well, I might not still be vegan in 1 or 5 or 10 years' time but you don't need to keep saying it and treating it like some trendy thing I decided to do on a whim.  I think some folks confuse veganism as an informed, ethical and environmental choice with just being on a fad diet or something that people need to be reminded that they don't have to follow.  My mum has been really sweet about it though, we're going to stay with her this weekend and she's already planning a vegan menu that we can all enjoy together and has been updating me on all of the vegan meals she's been cooking.

All in all, so far so good!  If you've gone veggie or vegan, how did you find your first few months of it?  Let me know!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Recipe / Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon buns have been one of my all time favourite sweet things since I was a little kid - I used to be obsessed with the ones you could get in a tube when I lived in the US, and that sticky sweet sauce you drizzle over the top.  I haven't really had proper cinnamon buns for years, since here usually the ones from supermarkets are made from flaky pastry instead of the nice, fluffy dough I'm more accustomed to.  So, with all of my forays into vegan baking, I decided that cinnamon buns were top of the list of things I should make, and what better thing to make at this time of year than pumpkin spiced ones?

This recipe is reasonably time-consuming because of both the dough and the pumpkin purée (if you choose to make it from scratch), so it's not something you can whip up in a hurry, but time it takes to let the dough rise or roast the pumpkin aside, it's otherwise simple enough and I bet most folks would find it pretty easy.  If you're not vegan, then you can obviously substitute the non-dairy ingredients with dairy ones.  So, if you're interested in seeing how I made these little (albeit slightly wonky) beauties, read on!



Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Buns (v)
Makes 10 - 12 buns

Ingredients

For the dough:
1 pack of instant yeast
420g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp light brown sugar
3 tbsp non-dairy butter
225ml unsweetened non-dairy milk

For the filling:
3 tbsp puréed squash or pumpkin
45g dark brown sugar
2 - 3 tbsp melted non-dairy butter
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground or grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Method

1. If you're making the pumpkin purée from scratch, start by skinning, de-seeding and chopping up either a pumpkin or a butternut squash depending on what's available to you.  Place the edible bits in a tray and bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until softened and fully cooked through.  While you're doing this, you can start preparing the dough, or you can do it in advance.  Once it's cooked, leave it to cool, then add it to a food processor and blitz it until smooth.  A whole pumpkin or squash will make way more than you need for this recipe, but you can save it to use in other recipes, like making your own pumpkin spice coffee, or adding to to your morning oatmeal.

2. Heat the 3 tbsp of non-dairy butter (I use Pure Soya) with your non-dairy milk in a saucepan.  The milk can be whatever you prefer - soy, almond, oat - as long as it's unsweeted, although I would recommend not using coconut milk as the flavour may not match quite as well as the others.  Do not boil it - you just want it to be warm enough to melt and combine, then remove it from the heat and let it cool to about the temperature of bath water.  If you test it against your wrist and it still feels too hot, let it cool for a bit longer otherwise it'll kill the yeast.  Once cooled enough, pour it into a mixing bowl, add the yeast and let it sit for about 10 minutes while it activates.

3.  Add your sugar and salt to the mixture and stir.  Next, add the flour a couple of tablespoons at a time, gently stirring as you go.  It'll be pretty loose and sticky to start with, but as you add the flour it will thicken up into a dough that you then want to knead on a lightly floured surface until it forms into a less sticky ball.  Transfer it back to a clean mixing bowl greased with a little bit of oil (I use olive), cover it with clingfilm and a clean tea towel, and leave it somewhere warm to rise for about an hour or until it's doubled in size.

4.  Remove the dough for the mixing bowl, flour your surface again, and roll it out into a thin rectangle.  You want to get the dough maybe just under half a centimetre thick if you can, but any thinner and it might be a bit more fragile and difficult to deal with when you add the pumpkin spice mix in it later.

5.  Mix your 2 - 3 tablespoons of melted butter with your pumpkin purée and stir well until you have a buttery, pumpkin sauce.  Using a pastry brush, or gently spreading it with a spoon or knife, spread it over the dough from end to end, being careful not to layer it on too thick (you probably won't need to use all of your pumpkin mix, but you can save this to use in other recipes).  Mix the sugar and spices, and then dust all of it evenly over the dough.  I recommend dark brown or muscovado sugar for this as it has a more autumnal, treacley flavour but you don't have to if it's not your thing.

6.  Begin rolling your dough - I rolled mine length-ways so I had a longer roll and more buns, but you can roll it from shorter end and have fewer, fatter buns too if big buns are what spices your pumpkin.  You'll want to be careful rolling it, as you want it to be tightly rolled, but not so tight that it pushes the filling out as you're rolling.  (As you can see from the photos, mine are a little bit weirdly shaped because of issues with rolling it from I packing it too full!)  Once done, roll it over so the seam is underneath, and slice carefully with a serrated knife into even sections about 2 - 3cm thick.

7.  Place the rolls in either baking trays or glass, ovenproof dishes lined with baking paper.  It's okay if they're close enough to squidge together as they expand - it's better for keeping them moist and soft rather than going crispy all over.  Brush them with a bit more of your melted butter and pumpkin mixture, sprinkle with some extra cinnamon and cover them with clingfilm to rise for another 10 - 20 minutes while you preheat your oven to 180ºC.

8. Once the oven is hot enough and your rolls have risen a little bit more, whack them in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until a light, golden brown on top.  Leave them to cool, and then bon appetit.

9.  To make a quick frosting, mix 140g icing sugar with between 3 and 6 tablespoons of non-dairy milk until you get your desired consistency (the less milk, the thicker it will be).  For extra flavour, add a bit of vanilla essence, or more cinnamon or more pumpkin purée.



Hope you enjoyed this recipe, let me know if you give it a try!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Review / Sleek Barekissed Illuminator in Monaco


I never used to be a highlighter or a shimmer kind of gal - give me matte as hell skin, blot every ounce of moisture out of my face and let me shrivel up into a glorious matte raisin and be one with the Atacama desert.  A while back though, I became much more open to the idea of dewier skin, and eventually I purchased highlighters and decided that, actually, I want people to be able to see my radiant cheekbones from the ISS.

I'd mostly been using powder highlighters until Sleek Makeup came out with their Barekissed Illuminator, and as soon as I saw that sweet liquid highlighter goodness I knew I had to try it!  Since my forays into dewier skin, I'd been wanting to compliment my liquid BB creams and foundation with a highlight to match, and Sleek's is the first affordable, cruelty free option I've seen around.  At £8.99 from Superdrug, it doesn't exactly break the bank and the bottle is a pretty decent size, too.  Sleek is cruelty free (but not Leaping Bunny certified) but unfortunately I didn't realise until after I purchased it that it's probably not vegan.

The brand website says:
"Achieve an envious glow with our collection of versatile liquid illuminators in four sunkissed shades.
  • Refresh and enhance your complexion with gorgeous light-reflecting pigments, perfect for all skin types and tones."

  • Can be mixed with foundation or applied directly to cheekbones, brow bones and the body."
There are four shades altogether; Cuba is more peach, Casablanca cool pink, Pompeii warm brown and Monaco is a sort of cool, champagne shade.  Monaco was the lightest and most neutral so both appeals to me the most and probably suits my skin tone the best, so that was the one I bought.  I find it a bit misleading that the brand says that these would suit any skin tone, because I honestly can't imagine any of the other three shades looking anything but awful on my vampire pale face, but I think they probably would look beautiful on darker skin tones.

The bottle is a nice quality glass bottle with a pump, and although I really like the pump, one complaint about the Illuminator is that even when I'm trying to barely push down on it, I still end up with way more product than I need.  To use a full pump just to highlight your cheekbones and high points of your face would be far too much in my opinion!  That said, I always prefer pumps or at the very least normal bottles as they're much more hygienic than doe foot applicators or brushes.



The actual highlighter is a sort of thickish liquid/loose gel consistency (for lack of a better word) that melts and blends easily into the skin, and as you can see, it's very pretty!  I'd personally call it a silvery champagne - it's not quite silver, but it isn't really champagne or gold coloured either.  I wouldn't really say this one makes you look sun-kissed as the website says, more... frost kissed?  But in a nice way that doesn't make you look cold and/or dead.  It doesn't have big bits of glitter in it (yay!) and it just settles very nicely onto the skin to give it a beautiful iridescence that's both eye catching and natural looking depending on how you apply it.

I've found that it lasts fairly well throughout the day, although worn on its own it looses a little bit of its lustre by the time I remove it in the evening.  If this is an issue though, I've discovered that it also works as a great liquid base for powder highlighters, as they both work together to give your glow some extra oopmh, and setting the Barekissed Illuminator with the powder gives it more than enough extra staying power.  It can also be mixed with your foundation to turn it into an illuminating foundation, but I haven't tried this yet so can't quite vouch for it personally, though I am planning on giving it a go.

As far as my sensitive skin goes, I haven't had any problems with it so far, but it does contain silicones so if you find your skin doesn't react well to these, you may want to avoid it.  If you're like me and mostly get clogged pores around your nose, chin and forehead though, there's a chance you'll still be able to get away with just using it on your cheeks instead of all over your face.

As I said earlier, I had just assumed it was vegan but on closer inspection I realised that the bottle and website seem to say two slightly different things.  The bottle plain states that it does contain carmine (which I totally missed thanks to my apparently crappy reading skills when I first picked it up) but confusingly, this also then conflicts with what's on the brand's page for it.  The website lists the exact same ingredients for all of the different shades, and says that they may contain carmine.  This isn't quite clear and I would've thought that the red-based shades would be more likely to have carmine in than Monaco so I plan on contacting Sleek for some clarification, but in the mean time I'm not planning on repurchasing it because of this.

If you're not vegan though, this is a really great high street liquid highlighter for the price and probably the closest you'll get to a cruelty free dupe of its high end cousins.  You can buy it from Superdrug and take advantage of the 3 for 2 across all cosmetics offer they have on at the moment, or from the brand website.

What are your thoughts on the highlighting craze?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Review / PHB Ethical Beauty Balancing Face Mask


I've had the PHB Ethical Beauty Balancing Face Mask with Tea Tree & Petitgrain for quite a while now, and it's regularly rotated into my skincare routine.  I believe I bought mine for a bit cheaper as it was last year before they came out with their new packaging and some new reformulated products, but it's currently £18.50 on their website - a little bit more on the high end price side of things!

The website explains that it's designed to draw out impurities from deep within the skin, and boost overall skin circulation for healthier looking skin.  It revitalises skin, balances oil production, hydrates, soothes blemishes, helps to fade scarring and is mild, natural and gentle on the skin.  Like all of PHB Ethical Beauty's products, it's cruelty free, vegan, halal and handmade in the UK.


The texture of this mask is quite unique, as it's not a drying or clay formula at all; instead, it's a sort of gel-like cream consistency that doesn't harden as it dries.  Most masks I've used in the past dry on the skin and begin to feel tight, which is sort of what I came to expect from all masks.  This one is different, and even says in the website description: "say 'no' to dry & tight feeling face masks".  Rather than dry out and start to tug on my skin, this one melts into it and starts to become translucent as it's absorbed and works its magic, and then after at least 15 minutes, you can gently rinse it away and you're left with a face that feels super soft and wonderfully hydrated.

The brand recommends using this twice weekly after cleansing, but I just tend to use it whenever I feel my skin is being a bit temperamental and could use a natural, gentle treat.  During summer when I'm at my oiliest, I also find it does help to regulate my skin's oil production, so I don't look like quite as much of a grease ball when I've been using this on a more regular basis.

It's not a magical miracle mask that immediately banishes all oil and spots and blemishes, but my skin always feels incredibly refreshed after using this and it does help to calm down some blemishes and even tone down my blackheads when they start to flare up particularly badly.  It's a very soothing face mask that makes my skin look that little bit more radiant and way softer to the touch, and while I do still like the odd clay or drying face mask, this one proves you can definitely get a good mask with loads of skin benefits without it making you look like an experiment in a weird sci-fi B movie gone wrong.

Have you tried any of PHB Ethical Beauty's face masks?  What did you think?

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Autumn Walk

The last day of October, the Other Half and I went on a walk in the nearby countryside.  It turned out to be perfect timing, since right up until then the weather had been awful, and then once the day was over it promptly started being gross again.  When we were out it was unseasonably warm, but the sky was clear and the sunshine and autumn leaves were lovely and a great way to end the month and see in November.

We weren't super confident of the route (thankful the OH is better with directions than I am) and altogether it ended up taking us about two and a half hours - and on an empty stomach too as we were too thick to have a bite to eat for lunch before setting out!  We were famished by the end but since the route started and ended at a pub with great food, it was worth it.

I didn't manage to tick many of my October goals off of my list that I made at the start of last month, but I'm happy to have at least got out of the house exploring the country and actually taking advantage of the fall foliage.




















Hope you enjoyed the photos! Have you been on any nice, autumnal walks this year?

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Review / Tg Green Tea



In September's The Vegan Kind box, they included a bottle of iced green tea from Tg Green Tea, and the lovely people of Tg were kind enough to send me some more samples after I mentioned in my review of that box that I'd love to try some of the other flavours they offer.  Although this was very generously gifted to me, rest assured that I received it with no strings attached; all thoughts are my own and nothing nice I say will be because I was asked to say it (about this or anything else ever, hah).

The bottle I originally tried was their Ginseng & Jujube flavour and I thought it was absolutely lovely; it reminded me a lot of some of the iced green tea drinks I enjoyed in Japan, and it was subtly flavoured, slightly sweet and had a real delicate, crisp green tea flavour that really hit the spot.  The other bottles they sent me to try were their Mandarin & Ginseng (which I was really curious about tasting!) and plain Ginseng flavours.



Surprisingly, as excited as I was to get my hands on the Mandarin one, it was actually a little bit too sweet for me.  It was still tasty, but the green tea flavour is only a hint, and the mandarin gives it a sweet kick much like actual mandarins rather than a more acidic, tangy orange or grapefruit citrus flavour, so it was unexpectedly almost more like a Lipton iced tea than an iced green tea to me.  For my palette personally (as someone who drinks mainly completely unsweetened green, fruit and spiced teas and isn't much of a sweet cold drink person), this one doesn't quite tick all the boxes.  Although I wouldn't necessarily prefer a drink as sweet as this, because it's naturally sweetened and contains only 30 calories, I imagine it might make a great alternative for people who love their sugar-filled fizzy drinks or even maybe things like Lucozade.  It's a fraction of the calories of a regular soft drink, and made with all the benefits of real tea and natural ingredients which is always a bonus to me as someone who honestly doesn't understand the appeal of soft drinks in the first place.

The Ginseng one was much more up my alley; it was sweet but it was a much more subtle sweetness, and although it tasted like iced tea, it still had a nice, delicate green tea flavour.  It's plainer than the other two and I much preferred this one to the Mandarin one, but neither held a candle to the bottle with Jujube!  I had all of mine on hand at work chilling in the fridge in our office and they were really refreshing to sip on throughout the day, I can imagine them being even better when it's really hot out.







I hadn't realised until my package arrived that Tg actually do hot tea too!  I was thrilled to get these; I absolutely love green tea and have been hankering for a good quality one for a while.  These didn't disappoint, either.  The samples came in resealable bags, and the teabags themselves are those fancy mesh-like pyramid bags.

The first one I tried was the Jujube & Osmanthus one and oh my, it was beautiful.  The addition of the jujube is heavenly and the actual green tea tastes wonderful; it's in a league of it's own compared to the crappy supermarket brand green tea I've been necking recently.  The flavour is hard to describe, I think the jujube (which if you didn't catch my TVK23 post, is a type of red date) is what gives it a very slight sweetness and then the Osmanthus (which I totally googled) gives it an equally as subtle floral taste and the combination is just amazing.  The regular green tea samples were just as delicious, great quality and they were definitely the best green teas I've tried of brands you can get from supermarkets.

All in all, I'm really impressed with these.  I'm someone who still drinks hot drinks even when it's boiling outside, so the cold teas are really nice but the kind of thing I would reach for less often than the hot teas I tried, and those teabags were a great surprise and really won my heart as a tea lover.  When I went onto their website I also saw that they even do matcha which just makes my heart ache for Kyoto.  I've been trying to bring myself to buy matcha here for a while but the cost of it (it ain't cheap anywhere) has always put me off, but I might finally have to do it... especially since you only have to use a teeny tiny amount so it doesn't exactly get used up quickly.



The hot teas are £4.15 for a pack of 15 teabags, which is pretty expensive compared to your standard brands you can buy in supermarkets, but I've learned through experience that the extra money is definitely worth it when it comes to tea.  As much as it pains me to spend that little bit extra, the enjoyment I get out of certain brands (like this one!) is so much more than than I get out of the cheaper £1-£2 ones.  The iced tea bottles are £1.69 each, which although they're lovely I would be less likely to spend the money on unless I was out and about and fancied treating myself on the go.  At the same time though, they're a heck of a lot nicer and more affordable than some of the cold fruit and tea drinks you can get in a lot of coffee shops and cafés I've seen around, so I guess it depends on whatever churns your butter.  Both their hot and cold teas are available to buy from their website, drinktg.com.

Thanks again so much to Sophia and Hua from Tg for letting me sample some of their tasty teas!

If you're a fan of green tea, what's your favourite you've tried so far?

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Month in Review / October 2015




October has been a very mixed month and, to be honest, it was a bit of a let down.  The first couple of weeks were off to a very shaky start; I had a hellish time at work, failed my driving test for the second time (and so was faced with another winter of being constantly tired and ill from commuting and sitting out in the cold in the early hours every day), and then I found out that there had been a very sad death in my partner's family all in one week.  Later on in the month after many more crappy days at work and the decision to look for a new job, the fixed brace I have on the back of my top front teeth came unstuck.  It's been an immense source of anxiety while I wait until my appointment to get it repaired because we can't afford major dental treatment, and I'm struggling to come to terms with the fact that even after it's repaired, my teeth are probably going to end up screwed up again in the not so distant future anyway.

Because of everything that's been going on, I wasn't able to keep up with all of the posts I'd wanted to get out for October, let alone the daily October Tag, which just made me feel even worse since I'd been really looking forward to getting my serious blogging hat on.  Thankfully, the month ended on a relative high after a nice day out walking in the countryside with the other half and then an evening watching a movie and eating snacks, but I'm really glad it's a new month that will hopefully go a little bit better than the last one.

Post of the month: My Current Favourite Autumn Makeup

Films & TV...
  • Finally got caught up with the newest season of Orphan Black.  I really can't get over how good this show is, when watching it it's so easy to genuinely forget that all of the sisters are played by Tatiana Maslany, she does such an amazing job in her roles.
  • Watched yet more Muppet movies, including the new one before Most Wanted, and Muppets From Space.
  • Started to catch up on The Walking Dead again - the first episode of the new season was extremely stressful.
  • We watched Contact again (the last time being a couple of years ago) and I decided that I liked it a lot more the second time around.  It gives me a lot of serious space feelings about life on other planets.
  • On Halloween we scrapped our plans to watch scary movies, and watched Terminator: Genysis instead.  We were sceptical when we first heard about it but were pleasantly surprised!
Edible things...
  •  I baked some pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls that I was planning on sharing on the blog this month, but due to the aforementioned life circumstances, that sadly didn't happen.  Keep an eye out for the recipe through November, though!
  •  I tried out two different Minimalist Baker recipes - the Easy Vegan Falafel and Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake.  The falafel was delicious and really easy, and the cheesecake went down a treat when I brought it over to my partner's family's place.  I didn't quite follow the cheesecake recipe exactly; I opted for a ginger nut biscuit, date and vegan butter base rather than just the dates and walnuts.
  •  I made a surprisingly delicious vegetable soup by just whacking loads of mushrooms, kale, celery, broccoli and other leftover greens that needed using into a pot with some stock and seasoning, and blitzing it a bit with a hand blender, then adding some mini pasta shells.  Having four of your five a day in one bowl sure isn't doing too bad health-wise!
Worth a read or watch...

I hope your October turned out to be better than mine, at least things will be getting cosy and festive for the holidays now!

What did you get up to this month?