SS: Sunday Saves (#71)

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Hello everyone! Welcome back to another Sunday Saves post; I’ve been a little quiet on the blog and over most of social media lately, but I hope to be back in action in full force very soon. This week I’ll be talking about weekly updates, unethical companies and anxiety.

1) Peta (Wonderful Wednesday #34 |2017)

When I came across Peta’s post, it was something that I wish I could do but I don’t feel like I would be able to find something to write about in my life every single week so I give absolute props to her for doing it every week. It’s a really lovely post talking us through her week, what she has enjoyed and her achievements so far. You could almost read it as what she is grateful for too, it’s like a gratitude journal almost. It’s very sweet.

2) Girl in Awe (Dilemma: Buying Food From Companies With Unethical Parent Companies)

The conversation raised in Rosie’s post is something that I believe we need to be talking about more yet it can get very complicated. Two examples she brings up which I see arguments over time and time again (especially in Facebook groups) are Urban Decay and Ben and Jerry’s. Both companies that cater for a vegan lifestyle, yet their parent companies test on animals. What do you do? Do you praise these primary companies for being kinder to animals or do you boycott them because their parent companies are still in the wrong? In the vegan community, it’s a difficult question and often has many diverse opinions about the topic overall.

3) Katie Lou (When Anxiety Takes Over)

If you’ve never experienced anxiety, I would be really surprised because I believe everyone does at some point but maybe some people don’t realise it’s happening. Katie Lou wrote a post on what happens to her when it happens and how she feels; I felt like I was reading about experiences that I had had. It’s so hard to describe to someone yet in the moment, you feel a thousand emotion and a million thoughts. It’s a short post but it perfectly captures how anxiety can make a person feel.

Well that’s all for this week, thank you so much for reading today’s post. Remember to go and take a read of the blog posts and if you ever want to shoot me any blog posts to read, send them my way over on my Twitter! Have a lovely rest of the day whatever you get up to.

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SS: Sunday Saves (#62)

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Thank you for clicking onto today’s brand new Sunday Saves, I hope you’re having a lovely day so far, whatever you might be doing. If you’re new here, hello! This Sunday Saves has been created by me to come to you on a weekly basis to show you three blog posts that I have found throughout the week (or on the day I write the blog post) that I thought were interesting and I wanted to share them with those who read this blog. Today we’re not working from a theme so I’ll be talking about attitudes towards morning routines, a cruelty free exfoliation method and veganism not being a cure.

1) Kat Horrocks (How My Morning Routine Has Changed My Life)

I just want to gush for one second; Kat is one of my favourite YouTubers and I could honestly sit and watch her all day so if you haven’t came across her YouTube channel, I’ll link it here. Now onto her blog post, Kat is a huge advocate for morning routines and since the beginning of the year, I’ve been trying to experiment with a morning routine myself and I find it really therapeutic. In her post, she talks a little about her actual routine but more so about how it makes her feel, so if you feel like a morning routine won’t make a difference, look at Kat’s post and it might inspire you to look at your morning differently.

2) Pale Girl Rambling (Konjac Sponge)

Since changing my diet to completely plant based back in January, over the last few months I’ve been changing up my skin care, make-up and hair care to be vegan friendly. It’s all a work in progress because let’s face it, if I had the money to completely change everything in one go, I would but skin care, hair care and make-up are all expensive. One thing that has been missing from my skin care routine is an exfoliator; I know LUSH have one or two but I find they can be very harsh for every day use so I want to explore a new avenue. I’ll let PGR tell you about the sponge but she gives it rave reviews which makes me even more intrigued.

3) Spooky Kiah (Veganism Doesn’t Cure Everything)

I remember one of the first things I heard about turning vegan or going plant based was “Oh you’ll have clear skin” or “any digestive problems you have will become a lot better”. Well, as someone who has been eating plant based for almost eight months, I can tell you that neither or those are true and Kiah feels the same way. She talks more about the medication sides of things but it’s definitely an interesting read if you’ve heard this type of vegan myth before.

Thank you so much for reading this week’s Sunday Saves! Remember to have a read of everyone’s posts and give them a follow if you want to see more from them. If you’ve missed any of my other Sunday Saves, click here and you can see my other sixty one editions. Have a great day! 

SS: Sunday Saves (#59)

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Happy Sunday everyone! I hope everyone has a lovely weekend so far; this week is only a four day week for us in Northern Ireland because of the 12th July holiday so because that’s a Wednesday, it’ll be nice to break up the week. This week there’s no particular theme so I’ll be talking about nose piercings, scrapbooking and cooking.

1) Autumn’s Mummy (How Not To Remove A Corkscrew Nose Piercing in 20 Steps)

Now I don’t have a corkscrew nose piercing, I just had a stud nose piercing and I’ve had my nose pierced for ten years in September coming, but it took about seven and a half years for me changing my piercing not be sore. Yes, really, that long and it’s not even a complicated piercing. I feel for Laura because there’s been so many times I’ve sat on the floor and cried that my piercing wouldn’t go in, and threw many fits but I’ve always got there in the end.

2) Ayse Merve Demir (Scrapbooking My Summer Away)

Scrapbooking is something I have always looked at and wished it was something I could do. I have tried it in the past but because I’m so particular about everything being neat, I would be too busy trying to lay everything out rather than actually scrapbooking. Ayse tells us how she’ll be decorating hers and what she’ll be using to do that.

3) Scott H. Gilliland (Veganism: My First Encounter With Cooking A Vegan Meal)

And no, this isn’t biased, I promise! Scott recently started his blog back up again and he talks about fitness, weight loss and food but the post I wanted to concentrate on was his post about making his first vegan meal. He’s a meat eater and I’m eating a plant based diet, two very different ways to eat of course so he documents what it was like trying to research meals we could both eat, alongside my intolerances too. It’s interesting for me to see it from an outside perspective because I’m so used to buying my regular food that maybe wouldn’t be so regular for someone else.

Thank you for taking the time to read today’s post and if you want to catch up on my week, I’m over on Instagram or on Twitter. Have a great Sunday!

Eating In with Super Valu NI | #LetsCookNI

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If you follow me over on my Instagram, you’ll notice that I done something a little different on Instagram stories on Thursday evening. I was kindly asked to take part in a new campaign from Super Valu NI, so along with Sarah Patterson (Their vegetarian ambassador who is pictured above), myself and a number of other bloggers cooked up a vegetable stir fry that night.

We all used the hashtag #LetsCookNI on our social media channels (For me, it was Twitter and Instagram) and the main premise behind the campaign is to get people involved in the kitchen via social media. We all know that social media is such a huge part of our lives so why not incorporate food and social media together?

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(I posted up on my Instagram of some of the ingredients: a few are missing from here!)

If you’re a reader of the blog, you’ll know that I have a number of intolerances and I also eat a plant based diet so as much as I would love to go to food blog events, I feel like I’m at a disadvantage. I’ll be the first to admit that catering to my eating patterns can be difficult so I can’t complain that events surrounding food are few and far between. This campaign is different though and I’m genuinely so happy to be included despite my eating patterns. First of all, it was a vegetarian stir fry and the recipe doesn’t use any animal products so it is suitable for vegans too! I was able to leave out the carrot, I swapped out the soy sauce for some balsamic vinegar and I swapped out the Straight to Wok noodles for some rice noodles. The recipe is totally adaptable and I am a huge fan of recipes that I don’t have to stick to the script for.

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I took part via Twitter and Instagram, and I’ll admit, Twitter didn’t last very long because I got so distracted by making Instagram stories, and well, by cooking first and foremost. We all watched live on Facebook while Sarah cooked and it was definitely a nice change to cook along with someone but after a while, once my wok was fired up I could barely hear the laptop but even visually, it was quite a nice atmosphere (albeit online!). Super Valu NI created a Twitter moment with some of the pictures from the night and you can find them here!

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(One of my many Instagram stories from that night!)

How was the end result? The end result was really lovely! I haven’t made too many stir frys before this but I would consider making more in the future because it was quite quick after you prepped the ingredients. Roasting the cashew nuts and the sesame seeds had such a huge impact on the meal, which genuinely surprised me. It added an extra nutty crunch which I’m all for, so I’d consider doing this for other meals in the future. I didn’t make the sauce they suggested (so the sugar in the photograph wasn’t used) but I simply mixed some vinegar and salt together to give it an extra kick.

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(This photo was taken about a minute after I had tucked in, so it doesn’t have the greatest presentation in the world!)

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(I think that’s slightly better, right?)

You’ll find the ingredients list below and right here, I’ve linked the recipe up! I would love to hear your thoughts on it! What did you add in, what did you chop and change? What do you think of cooking along with social media?

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Thank you so much for reading today’s blog post, I hope you’ve enjoyed!

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Please note: The ingredients were sent to me by Super Valu NI in order to promote the #LetsCookNI event on Thursday night. Thoughts and content posted on my blog and my social media however, are my own views. I want to send you an extended thank you to Super Valu NI and their PR company for offering me this opportunity. 

SS: Sunday Saves (#56)

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Happy Sunday everyone! While I’m writing this, it’s such a gorgeous day outside, always a sure fire way of being in a better mood eh? In today’s post I’ll be talking about cleaning your home and mind, habits of grateful people and being more mindful as a non-vegan.

1) Suzie Speaks (50 Things To Remove From Your Home and Your Life)

Judging by the weather (most of the time), I’d like to think we’re coming into the Summer and one of my favourite things to do during the Summer is do a massive clean. I know a lot of people like to do a Spring clean (in the Spring of course) but for me, it always goes back to when I was in school and you would have a huge clear out before heading back to school in September. Suzie highlights fifty things that you should remove from your home but also from your personal life, so not only are you cleaning your house but you’re also cleaning your mind, to a certain extent.

2) Hack Spirit (The Top 9 Habits Of Grateful People… Even In Tough Times)

If you’ve been reading the blog lately or following me on my social media, you’ll know I have started to get into the practice of gratitude. It’s such an important practice for me especially when my day isn’t going as well as I had hoped it would. Gratefulness brings me back down to earth. That’s what I found so interested about this Hack Spirit blog post about habits of people who are grateful even on the tough days. It’s something we should all take into consideration, both on the good days and the bad.

3) The Zombie Said (5 Simple Ways For Non-Vegans To Help Vegan Causes)

I prefer to call myself plant based rather than vegan because I’m quite open about not having changed all my clothes, make-up, hair care and skincare over to one hundred percent cruelty free. I really liked the way Steph came across in this post, it’s not preachy or forceful, it’s just giving you a few simple tips on how you can be more mindful when it comes to spending your money on products and perhaps promote a positive change if you can’t commit yourself to being vegan.

Well that’s all for today’s Sunday Saves post. If you’d like to catch up on my other Sunday Saves, you’ll find them here and let me know your thoughts on today’s post, either down below or over on my Twitter!

Life Update #2: Spring 2017

I’m back with another life update! My last one was just before Christmas during Blogmas when I was just back from the stunningly beautiful Rome so I thought almost five months later, I was due an update. (If you want to read that update: it’s right here!)

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In December, I spoke about finding out about renting my first house before I went on holiday…

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(This was me the day I moved in, I was very excited!)

I moved in on 4th January and it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made. I’m so unbelievably happy living on my own and it just proves that it really was something I needed to do. Of course I’ve been here a few months and my spare room is still a mess, I haven’t got a rug for the living room and I have a few pictures that I still want to hang up, but apart from that, I think I’ve settled in quite well.

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If you’ve been keeping up with the blog, you’ll know that I went from being a vegetarian to eating a plant based diet permanently…

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(Just one of my obsessions from one of my favourite places in the world, Tony and Jen’s. Yep, gluten free AND vegan. Match made in heaven right?  )

I’ll not talk too much about why I changed to a plant based diet because I have talked about it a lot recently; I wrote a post about completing Veganuary (right here), I documented what I ate during Veganuary (right here) and I spoke about how I became vegetarian last March (right here) so you can check those posts out for more detail.

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Very very recently I also bought my first little kitten…

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I used to be terrified of almost all animals (except goldfish) but over the past year or so, things have changed. For the majority of the year last year, I lived with my ex-boyfriend and he had the cutest cat ever, and that was really my first experience of living with another animal. My Dad had dogs but because we were only ever there one or two nights a fortnight, I never felt like I lived with them. So that experience of living with a cat showed me that there’s nothing to be really scared of and I should embrace the love of a little furry munchkin (Even though when she does jump up on me, I still get a little scared) Plus my three best friends all have cats and they’re both adorable, so even more help to show me that I can do it.

So once I knew I was moving out of my family home, I told myself to wait a few months to get myself settled in before thinking about getting a cat and that’s what I did. I named her Audrey and when I got her, she was about nine weeks old.

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I’m very grateful to be who I am and where I am today…

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(Outstanding photography skills and credit goes to the wonderful photographer that took this during one of our lunch dates.)

I feel very supported by my lovely group of friends, my family have been fantastic since moving out (except for the change to my diet, they’re still coming to terms with that) and I’m very blessed to be in a new, happy and healthy relationship. I now believe everything happens for a reason and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

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I hope you enjoyed this little life update and if you want to keep up to date with me, you can follow me on Twitter or over on Instagram.

So what happened after Veganuary?

At the beginning of January, I lay out my New Year’s Resolutions for the year and the first one was to complete Veganuary, which I’m very happy to say that I did! So today’s post is giving an overview of the month and what happened next. If you want to read about my journey to vegetarianism, you’ll find it here and if you want to see a typical “What I Eat In A Day: Veganuary Style” you’ll find that post right here.

So what were my thoughts on Veganuary? I really enjoyed it but I didn’t expect not to enjoy it. I only accidentally messed up twice and both times were with food I was given at Christmas; jellybeans and fudge to be exact. I was a little annoyed at myself at the time but reflecting back on it, I tried my best, I didn’t do it on purpose and I was able to move on without thinking “I had ruined everything.” That is a massive step for me.

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I didn’t have a lot of challenges throughout the month. If I was going to restaurants, I rang in advance if it was somewhere I haven’t been before but I believe throughout January, I mainly stuck to restaurants and cafes I knew I would be okay in. I did slightly miss my cups of tea with milk, it’s a habit I have had for almost twenty years so to be without it, it was definitely different but I quickly got past it.

A few family members did ask me “When was I going to eat real food again?” Because fruit and vegetables aren’t real food apparently. Having to defend my point almost everytime I seen them for, I would say, a month and a half got very tiring after a while. When you grow up with the concept of meat, potatoes and two vegetables on your plate for so many years (and I believe this is why a lot of the generation above me still haven’t come to terms with a vegan or plant based diet), depending on who you are; it can take a while to get your head around the fact that when you take away the meat (and the potato for me of course!) then what do you do to substitute that. From that point of view, it’s understandable why some people have a hard time with that.

So February 1st came and I thought I was going to go back to eating my regular bread (You’d be shocked to see how difficult it is to find gluten free bread that’s also vegan), back to my regular cup of tea that I’ve grown up with ever since I started watching Coronation Street with my rich tea biscuits at the old age of seven or even treat myself to a lemon cupcake that I love finding in the Sainsburys Free From aisle. I couldn’t have been further from the truth…

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I had zero urge to drink another cup of regular tea, I wanted to stick to my gluten free vegan bread and the cupcakes no longer fell into my basket. I don’t mind not being able to eat most of the cakes in the Free From section and I don’t mind having a green tea instead of a regular tea (I love green tea anyway!).

The one thing I have changed though is I don’t call myself a vegan. I’m not a fan of labels but I think in a diet context, it can get very complicated. Having a plant based diet and being vegan are of course, two very different things. I haven’t changed all my make-up to cruelty free, the same goes for my body, skin and hair care and I haven’t made that transition with my clothes and shoes yet. So right now, I don’t feel comfortable saying I’m a vegan, I prefer to say I’m eating a plant based diet. When I’m talking about my diet to someone who doesn’t know a lot about eating vegan or when I’m perhaps calling a restaurant, I will state I’m vegan, just to make things less complicated. (See, it can be complicated!) Another example is when I’m hash tagging on Twitter or talking about it online in general, then I will use both terms, just because I know people will look for tips for transitioning to becoming vegan and my plant-based experience will help if I use vegan in a diet sense (Again, just a little complicated, right?)

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Overall, I’m really happy eating a plant based diet and I’m so glad I’ve finally made the transition. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time now but leaving at home and not having as much cupboard and fridge space for all my food made it difficult so I knew when I moved into my own place, it was the perfect time to start.

Did you take part in Veganuary? What did you find the most challenging? I’d love to talk to more people who took part in Veganuary so leave me a comment below or tweet me over at @RetroSnowflake on Twitter or @RetroSnowflake on Instagram.