Friday, 30 December 2011

2011: The Year That Was

Hello Lovelies,

I hope you've all had a nice festive break and that you're all recovering from the endless stream of mince pies you'll no doubt have had forced upon you. I spent the majority of mine relaxing with my sister and her family, which was lovely.

As it's that time of year for goal setting and reflection, I thought it was worth having a look at the goals I set myself for this year and how I did with them! 2011 has been a funny year for me - it's had some wonderful parts and some really horrendous ones. I've met some wonderful people and had some terrible experiences. I've been happier than I've been for a long time, and also ill (in a whole variety of ways) for almost half of the year. A lot has changed, and I'm a very, very different person to who I was at the start of the year, but you know what? I think it's good. I feel like I've got a lot of my "me-ness" back, if that makes sense?

Anyway, on to the goals of The Year That Was:

1. Continue Shredding and aim for a regular fitness routine (including getting back into running when the weather is a little warmer)
This all went a bit caflooy when I got ill with post viral fatigue. Until then, I was doing moderately well. Maybe not *quite* as well as I'd have liked to, but I was training for a half marathon and getting into a good routine. Then I got ill and have spent the subsequent months being terrified of exercise. However, I've spent the last few weeks making sure that all changes, which can only be a good thing.

2. Eat vegan more (aiming for around 60-75% of the time by the end of the year)
This I have most definitely won at! I eat vegan around 90-95% of the time. Sometimes, it's just not practical or possible, but generally I'm vegan... just willing to be flexible about it too :)
3. Carry on blogging regularly
Big massive fail at this one - it all started incredibly well, but then post viral fatigue and general life shaped ick got in the way and my blogging mojo left me, which I found really difficult.  

4. Attempt the 50 in 52 challenge (50 craft projects in a year - eeeek)
There aren't quite words for how much I failed at this. I made so few craft things I'm embarrassed. My sewing machine most definitely needs more use!

5. Get better at keeping my eyebrows in shape
Yes! I love my eyebrows now more than I ever have in my life. It sounds like a stupid thing, but for years I've hated my eyebrows because they're thick and dark and one of them grows upwards a little like Patrick Moore, but I've definitely tamed them.

6. Post more FOTDs and get a bit more creative with makeup again
Yeah, this didn't really happen, but the makeup I wear on a daily basis makes me incredibly happy.

7.Work as an MUA on at least 1 photoshoot and continue building my portfolio
This didn't happen either, although there was technically a shoot I was meant to work on (but then... you guessed it, I got ill). What I did end up doing though was 15 women's make up for our work Christmas Party, so I feel that kinda counts.

8. Apply for a GTP in Hull and see where that takes me
Well, I most definitely applied. This was an incredibly long and painful process, that lead to a hell of a lot of change and re-evaulation. A lot of what came from my GTP application was good, some of it less so good. I'd say that this is the thing that shaped my year more than anything else, and I'm not entirely certain I had any idea of just how much of an impact it was going to have. Let's put it this way - this time last year, I certainly didn't expect to be housesharing in Greenwich and working as a PA in Camden.

9.Live a more ethical life - try not to use products tested on animals, recycle/upcycle more, make, do and mend wherever possible!
Done, to as much of an extent as this sort of thing can be measured. 

10. Project 365 and Thrify 365
Fail. Big, massive, huge, incredible fail. I challenge myself to Project 365 every year.... and every year I fail to do it. Maybe one day I'll learn.... maybe.

So a bit of a mixed year all in all, but I'm happy to see that I did manage to stick to or work through some of my goals at the very least. It's interesting to reflect on just how much can change in such a short amount of time!

What were your goals for 2011? How did you do?

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Thursday, 22 December 2011

Insane in the membrane, Insane in the brain!

Ok, possibly a slightly tongue in cheek title, but it's been my earworm for the last few days.

Those of you who follow me on a twitter will probably have noted that I've been a bit errr... crazy in the head stakes. Partially, this post is going to be a little explaining, partially it's going to be some pondering on mental health issues and how they're often perceived.

So, first things first. I'm not depressed. It's interesting that when you say something's wrong with your brain, people assume you're depressed or at the very least sad. I'm not. What I do have is severe anxiety, which triggers ocd, panic attacks and just a general grim feeling of everything being overwhelming. For the record, this isn't like feeling anxious before a job interview or just worrying about things. It's intense and its debilitating. It feels like the whole world is caving in on you and you're completely out of control. It's possible that I also had a hypomanic period. But we'll ignore that one for now.

The other thing I've noticed is how weird it feels to talk about having a mental health problem. I mean, I talk about everything with anyone. I'm an incredibly open person. If you follow me on twitter, you'll know that there's not much I won't tweet about. But tweeting about my mental health, that made me... uncomfortable. At least to start with. Right now, I'm deciding to screw that uncomfortableness and just tweet my way through things. I'd tweet if I'd been to the Drs and given antibiotics for a chest infection, why on earth shouldn't I tweet I've been given diazepam to calm my brain down?!

Two good things have come out of this. The first is that so many people seem to have started to engage in conversation with me about mental health. Not just mine, but theirs too. Anything that increases the visibility and dialogue about mental health issues can only be a good thing as far as I'm concerned. The other good thing that's come out of this is that through the power of Twitter and awesome things, I've manned up and got myself some medical help. Boom!

Saying all of that, I think it's also important for us to acknowledge that for a lot of people, Christmas is a difficult time of year, for a whole host of reasons. I know that Christmas politics are one of the many things that triggered my crazy. Christmas is a difficult time, especially if you're alone or there are things you can't cope with. The wonderful Kellie of Big Fashionista has been compiling a list of useful numbers for anyone who's finding the festive period difficult - be it depression, anxiety, bipolar... please, know that you're not alone. Know that you deserve help, that you're entitled to help, that things can get better. Here's the list. Use it if you need it, pass it on to someone else if you think they might.

0300 123 3393
08457 90 90 90
Alcoholics Anonymous
0845 769 7555
Info line 08000 50 20 20
London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard
0207 837 7324
0845 767 8000
Preventing young suicide
For people in Northern Ireland
0808 808 8000
0800 1111
0808 2000 247
Eating Disorders Association
0845 634 1414
0808 800 4444
NHS Direct
0845 4647
No Panic
0808 808 0545

 And one last thing - why not knock on your neighbours door with a Christmas card and the offer of a festive mince pie this year? You never know the difference it could make :)
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Thursday, 8 December 2011

Recipe: Garlicy Mushroom, Courgette and Babycorn Wraps

Hello Lovelies!

So errr... I FOUND GLUTEN FREE TORTILLA WRAPS!!! You have no idea how excited I got about this. Tortillas are one of the things I've really, really missed since going gluten free, as they're a vegan's source to a quick and easy lunch. I've never really been a sandwich girl, but tortillas... yum. Anyway, to celebrate, I made myself some pretty delicious wraps last night.

I'll be honest, this is barely worth calling a recipe, but it was so delicious that I thought I'd share it with you anyway.

You're going to need:
3 Tortilla (I use these gluten free corn tortillas)
2 Big Cloves of Garlic
3 medium mushrooms, sliced
1/4 courgette, cut into half moons or quarters
4 Babycorn, chopped up small
Hummus! (I use Sabra aka crack hummus)
A couple of spoonfuls of pine nuts
Mild Goats Cheese (optional)

In a hot, dry pan, toast your pine nuts - they don't need long and you'll need to keep shaking the pan to stop them from burning, but I promise you, they taste a thousand times better toasted.

Remove the pine nutes and in the same pan, saute your mushrooms, garlic, courgette and babycorn in a little olive oil over a medium heat for around 5-10 minutes until they soft and have started to get a bit juicy. I added oregano, basil, black pepper, salt, a pinch of cayenne, herbs d'prov and a dash of vegan worcester sauce to mine.

Heat up your tortilla wraps.

Spread with a thin(ish) layer of hummus, then a handful of spinach, followed by a couple of spoonfuls of your yummy mushroom, courgette and babycorn concoction, a couple of blobs of goats cheese and a sprinkle of pine nuts. Yum!!

I had a bit left over and didn't fancy another wrap, so I made myself a wee salad instead - perfect :D

Are you a tortilla fan? What's your favourite filling

(Also, please excuse the truly awful pictures... I haven't managed to find my battery charger for my camera since moving hence you got the slightly horrific macbook proud of my food photos I put on twitter last night!)

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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A bit of food based reflection

Hey lovelies,

So after yesterday's food based melt down, I've done a bit of reflection and established the following things:

  • I need to stop apologising for being a wheat free mostly vegan. I apologise for it all the time and tell people it doesn't matter but actually, it does!
  • I'm going to reintroduce goats cheese into my diet because it doesn't seem to screw with my body too much  and it'll be a good extra source of fat and protein and calcium.
  • Eggs are icky. I intend to carry on avoiding them.
  • Microwaveable ice packs are my friend. I discovered some dairy and gluten free risotto packs today, so that's good. Once my stomach has settled, I can go back to my old favourite of Uncle Ben's Spicy Mexican Rice. Adding cashews to them for protein and maybe a few baby sweetcorn or some mushrooms will help balance them out a bit more.
  • I need to start bulk cooking things at the weekend to freeze into portions. This means scheduling time into my diary to do this!
Thank you to those of you who helped out yesterday. Any other suggestions or words of advice would be gratefully received.

What do you eat for lunch?
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Monday, 5 December 2011

Food Woes!


So I try to keep my ranting and such away from the blog, but at the moment, I'm having a bit of a bout of the food woes and I was wondering if any of you can shed some light or give me some inspiration/advice on how best to cope with it.

As most of you know, I'm wheat intolerant (although I've been extremely bad about avoiding it recently), mostly vegan (and that's partially because of my body's reaction to dairy since getting ill with post viral fatigue)... what you might not know is that I'm also kinda intolerant to tomatoes and peppers.

The result of this is that I'm basically feeling immensely frustrated by food... I've been stupidly busy since moving to London and tend to eat out most days. As a result, I'm not eating properly and my lunches are really bad.

I hate lunch at the best of times (finding interesting wheat free, dairy free, veggie options that aren't heavy on tomatoes and peppers = really not easy) but at the moment, I'm just completely bewildered. Breakfast I just don't care about and I've taken to skipping and dinner tends to be eaten on the hoof.

It got to the point today where I stood with a packet of stuffed vine leaves in my hand in Marks and Spencers and just sobbed when I saw they had tomatoes in. Normally, they'd be fine, but after my body's reaction to peppers yesterday, I knew I had to leave them be. Instead, I spent £8 on lunch from Whole Foods. Not cool.

Essentially what I'm saying is, what on earth can I eat?! How can I fall in love with food again when my body is being so anti everything? Also, unlike a lot of food bloggers, a salad doesn't work for me lunch wise. I know my body well enough to know that I need carbs to sustain me. I'm also concerned I'm not getting enough protein at the moment (I've had massive meat cravings).

Sorry for the slightly whiny post but please, can anyone help me get my food shaped mojo back?!
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Thursday, 24 November 2011

Embracing a Healthier Lifestyle: Grudges and Forgiveness

Hello lovelies!

So, here's a little fact about me that you might not know - I'm really, really bad at baring grudges. I just don't get it. Likewise for spiteful revenge and stewing in envy. I'm not really that much of a jealous person either. I'm horrifically insecure, but I'm just not really that good at doing the whole "I hate you, you ruined my life thing"*

I used to be though. I had a messy upbringing and a Mother who looooves to hate. She'll cling on to the rubbish in her life like you wouldn't believe, referring to people by horrible nicknames and generally making herself miserable as a result.

Despite the fact I would no longer call myself a Christian, it was Christianity that brought me to embrace the whole forgiveness thing. And I discovered that as I made an active attempt at forgiving people (and telling them that I forgive them), I became a lot happier and a lot more chilled out. I don't think any of us really like clinging on to the stuff from the past that makes me miserable, and I think that often, the only thing it ever really does is make us more miserable as a result.

The other thing I started to do was to seek people out to say sorry to - the girl that I was mean to at school, the friend that I lost touch with, the ex step-sibling I used to tell tales on. I started looking for people to say sorry to and to ask forgiveness of and it made me happier. 9 times out of 10, people are willing to accept your apologies and you can both move on with your lives. Sometimes, people cling to the stuff that's hurt them. That's ok. Well, I mean it's not, but you tried right? And that counts for something. And maybe, in a few years time when the hurts subsided and they've moved to a better place, they can forgive you too.

I'm writing this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because an old friend of mine, my best friend for my teenage years, got in touch today to say sorry for hurting me towards the end of our friendship. I had two choices - I could send her a message back telling her yeah she had hurt me and things had been shit and I'd needed her or I could message her back and let her know that I forgive her and I love her and I miss her. I'm guessing you know which one I went for. And it's so good to have her back in my life again. Because those things are true - I do still love her, and I did miss her and I truly do forgive her. And I accept that it takes balls to hunt someone down purely to say sorry - she didn't expect forgiveness, but she wanted me to know that she loved me, was sorry and hoped my life was working out. She didn't even try to make excuses for why she'd done the things she'd done. She just acknowledged that she'd done them, and that that hadn't been on.

Secondly, I'm writing it with the vague hope that I can encourage some of you to break free from grudge baring and clinging on to those old hurts. Go on. Or maybe, just maybe, to encourage you to go and apologise for that thing you did. But don't try and shift the blame or make excuses. Just say sorry, and mean it.

How are you with grudge baring and forgiveness? Do you cling to old hurts or can you let them go easily?

*This is true most of the time, but as I wrote this, I realised there's someone who I'm really, really baring a grudge against. I'm sending her a text the minute I publish this blog post. (ETA - I've sent the text. And you know what? I feel better for it. I apologised for the anger and hunt and resentment I've been clinging to towards this person and that situation. I'm still waiting to hear back, but that's ok)
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Saturday, 19 November 2011

FOTD - Much Furore over Mushrooms

Hello Lovelies,

So in keeping with my desire to give my readers shock based heart attacks, I've decided to do a wee FOTD... today was the first time in a while I've had time to play about with make up, and I came up with with natural but very pretty and girly look, so I thought I'd share. My new room has the biggest window ever too and the lighting for photos is just incredible, so I felt it was only right to take advantage of it on this gorgeous autumnal day.

The Body Shop Nature's Minerals in 03
Mac Ripe Peach Blush Ombre
Bobbi Brown blush in Apricot
Barry M Lip Paint in 150 Pink Suede

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk
Illamasqua Pure Pigment in Furore
Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Muchness (Alice BOS)
Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Mushroom
Avon Supershock Gel Eyeliner in Black
Avon Supershock Max Mascara in Black
Rimmel Professional Eyebrow Pencil in Black Brown
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Saturday, 12 November 2011

I'm not dead!

Honest! But I have been crazily busy recently.

I moved down to London last Sunday, on my own, and started my new job on Monday. I'm very, very fortunate to have so many friends already here in old London Town, so I've certainly not been bored for my first week - I've been off galavanting here, there and everywhere! In fact, today is my first day where I have nothing at all planned (I was originally going to the Fem 11 conference but you know what? I just needed the time to myself). I'm living in Greenwich but I haven't seen anything of Greenwich itself other than my daily walk to and from the station, so I plan to go exploring there at some point soon too!

I'm sorry that the blog has been neglected a little over the last few months - there's been some fairly intense personal stuff going on and, if I'm honest, I haven't eaten that healthily and nor have I really done anything you could call exercise. Life has mainly been focused on getting through each day to the next.

Rest assured though that now things are a little more settled, you'll be hearing more from me again. In fact, I have a super easy apple and cinnamon flapjack recipe that I'm planning on whipping up a batch of today, so I might just share that with you later.

Now, enough about me, what I really want to know is How are you?!
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Saturday, 8 October 2011

The Big Smoke

Hello, hello! So if you follow me on Twitter, you'll already know this, but for those of you that don't, I have some big and very exciting news:

I'm moving to London!!!!

I was offered a position as PA to the Managing Directors of Profero in Camden yesterday and I said a great big happy yes. I'll be moving mid-November, so if any of you are looking for a flatmate, or know anyone else who's looking for one, please do get in touch.

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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Recipe: American Style Peanut, Apple and Blueberry Pancakes

Hello lovelies!

I'm carrying on the pancake obsession, so I thought I'd share these beauties that I made this morning with you.

We're using the same basic recipe as my American Style Blueberry Chocolate Chip Pancakes - 1/2 cup (GF) flour, 1/2 cup (soya) milk (plus a bit extra if using GF flour), 1 tsp baking powder, 1 Tbsp + 1 heaped tsp caster sugar. Mix together until smooth using a fork then add 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1/2 a grated apple (I used a sharp cooking apple), 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a sprinkling of blueberries. Mix again until thick and smooth.

Spoon 1/2 a ladle of batter into a hot oiled frying pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes until golden underneath and then flip with a spatula or fish slice.

Is it wrong that I find this picture a bit cute?

Delicious! I really enjoy this flavour combination - perfect for autumn :)

Makes 8-10 delicious pancakes.

Do you ever get obsessed with making the same thing over and over again?
What's your favourite flavour combination at the moment?
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Friday, 16 September 2011

Recipe: American Style Blueberry Peanut Chocolate Chip Pancakes

We all love pancakes right? I'm yet to meet a person who can honestly say they don't love them. Anyway, the other day I had a pancake craving, so I decided to whip up these bad boys. They're super easy, hence why I'm not going to give you step by step photos (I've also lost one of the batteries to my camera... *sigh*)

In a mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup flour (I use Doves Farm Gluten Free but regular flour will work fine), 1/2 cup (soya) milk (plus a few spoonfuls extra if using Gluten Free flour), 1 tsp Baking Powder, 1 Tbsp + 1 Tsp Caster Sugar and 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter with Chocolate chips (or regular peanut butter and a sprinkle of chocolate chips). Use a fork or a whisk to mix until smooth then add a handful of blueberries (frozen or fresh work fine).

I use around half a ladle of batter for each pancake:

Cook over a medium flame in a hot oiled non-stick frying pan (I use a teeny dribble of oil for each pancake and swipe it around with a silicon pastry brush). Turn after a minute or two using a fish slice/spatula.

I serve mine with Provamel Apple and Green Tea yoghurt on the side. Yum Yum!

If you can't have/don't want peanut butter, sub it out. They should still work, although you may wish to add a little oil to the batter.
Play around with flavours - other berries, raisin and cinnamon, almonds.... have fun!

Makes 8-10 yummy pancakes.

PS Sorry for the shockingly bad quality photos from my phone.
PPS Special mention to my twitter friend RicheyRevol who suggested I should make blueberry pancakes in the first place.
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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Topman replied...

... and here's what they said:

"Dear Emily, 

Thank you for your email received 14 September 2011, 
regarding the ‘New Girlfriend’ T-shirt.
I was extremely concerned to note your comments on the design that is on this T-shirt, and would like to offer my sincere apologies on behalf of Topman for the obvious upset this particular garment has caused you.
Topman stock T-shirts with various designs on them, and by featuring this particular design we certainly did not mean to cause offence to our customers or any members of the public. Please accept my assurances that this image was meant to be light hearted without carrying any serious meaning.
I have passed a copy of your email to our Buying Director, so that he is aware of how strongly you feel about this issue. We are proud of our reputation as a retailer, and do not want to risk damaging this by causing any unnecessary upset to anyone. He has confirmed that the decision has been made to remove this T-shirt from online and in store.

I am grateful you have taken the time to bring your concerns to our attention, and once again apologise for the upset this T-shirt caused you.


Topman Customer Service"

Anyone else get a response from them?

UPDATE: Having spoken to another friend who emailed them, this is their copy and paste response (as I expected)
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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Err, What the Hell Topman?

I saw this t shirt posted on twitter earlier, currently available in Topman, and I feel a little sick. Below is the email I've sent to customer services. Remember how us bloggers got on to Mac for the Rodarte collection? Maybe you might want to send them a little email yourself (and feel free to post it in the comments/link me to your blog post if you do)

Dear Topman,

Hello! I'm not a man, in fact I'm a fairly plucky young woman, but I just thought I'd drop you a line to tell you how utterly offensive and degrading I find this t-shirt. No doubt you'll think I'm humourless and uncool (I'm not) but I'd really like to know what on earth made you think this was an acceptable, appropriate or even vaguely amusing slogan to allow.
Many of your customers are young, impressionable men - t-shirts like this add to the idea that a woman is an object. In fact, you're barely even bothering to consider a girlfriend an object here - more like a piece of cattle that's been acquired from the market or a dog that you'd keep under the table and feed the scraps to. We could take it broader maybe - have you thought about the fact that this is, in part, condoning the sex trafficking industry? That there are women who are very much bought and sold like cattle, who are viewed almost as something to be bred, not as individuals with their own rights, thoughts and opinions?

My hope is that you will a)respond to my email and explain yourselves, b)pull this stock from your shelves asap and c)donate any revenue from sales of this t-shirt to an appropriate charity such as Refuge or Women's Aid.

I (and my readers) hope to hear back from you soon,

Emily Birkinshaw,

You can get in touch with them here 

After I sent this, I also saw this one:

UPDATE: Topman have pulled both t shirts. However, still get in touch, let them know how you feel and badger them for a charitable donation.
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Monday, 5 September 2011

Mediterranean Vegetable and Lentil Crumble.

Hello Lovelies!

I thought it was high time I brought you another recipe, and this is a rather delicious one as we move into autumn (my favourite of all the seasons - I hate summer because I never quite know what to eat or cook)

First, chop your veg into fairly small pieces - I used a small onion, 2 cloves garlic, 4 mushrooms, a medium leek (I'd added them to the pan before I took this picture), 1/2 yellow pepper, 1/2 medium courgette, 1/2 medium aubergine.

Next, heat a good glug of olive oil in a big pan and gradually add your veg, stirring. I tend to add them in the order I listed them above :) Once your veg are nice and soft (feel free to add a little more oil if they're sticking but not too much), you can add your seasoning.

As always, I encourage you to play around with the seasoning, and I didn't measure but I roughly used 1tsp each of  herbs d'prov, paprika, basil and oregano, 1/2 tsp cayenne (it was quite spicy, so you may wish to use less), pinch Za'tar, 1.5tsp Marigold bouillon, lots of pepper, a few grinds of salt, splash of vegan Worcester sauce and about a tablespoon of organic ketchup.

Next, add a tin of chopped tomatoes, around 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of lentils. Turn the heat down so that it's gently simmering and leave to cook for around 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly.

I used 1.5 tbsp dairy free marg, 3/4 cup of oats, 1/4 cup Doves Farm Gluten Free flour, 2 garlic and herb gluten free crackers (totally optional), 2 tbsp Parmazano (see picture below), 1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes, 1/4 tsp rosemary and lots of salt and pepper. For a simple version, just use marg, oats, flour and herbs/S&P. For non-vegans, add in 1/3 cup of strong grated chedder. To make this truly gluten free, sub GF flour for the oats. You might need to play around with the amount of marg that you use as well.

Magical Parmazano - you can find this in the free from asile of most supermarkets. Vegetarians, take note - parmesan is not veggie.. it always, always, always contains rennet aka baby cows stomach lining. Ewww.

Blend for around 2 or 3 minutes until you have a lovely crumbly, breadcrumb type consistency.

Transfer your vegetable mixture to a large baking dish

Top with an even layer of crumble and an extra grind of black pepper.

Bake on 180C for around 35-40 minutes. Remove when your crumble is slightly browned (I know you can't see much difference, but I promise it was).

Yum yum yum!

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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

For Sale: Inglot Palette

Hello hello!

Just a quickie - I'm selling this Inglot Palette. I literally never use it so I figure someone else might want it. I'm thinking £28 inc. p&p but I'm open to offers.

One of the shadows has a couple of slight nicks where I've failed at trying to get it out of the palette but basically its been used maybe 3 times at most?

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Monday, 15 August 2011

Feminism is not a dirty word.

Hello, hello!

I'm finally back from all of my travelling and galavanting about... I'm shattered but its been amazing. First off, let me recommend that you try and find a time when you do a few days of travelling solo. There's something incredible about travelling on your own, especially via public transport. You get to meet so many more interesting people than you do when travelling in a group or even in a pair - you instantly become more approachable... obviously it's important to stay safe when travelling solo (maybe I'll turn this into a longer blog post at some point) but seriously, go do it. I ended up chatting a a Brazilian guy who'd just been travelling in Sweden, a Slaughterhouse worker who does photography in his spare time and read The Sun purely for Fabulous magazine, a nice man who was intrigued by the unique colour of my dress, some wonderfully tattoo'd PHD students, a whole group of amazingly crazy silly people that looked after me for a whole weekend, two fantastic London based feminists who I bonded with over burger choices and an extremely interesting socialist-anarchist-feminist whilst waiting for our far too late trains. I possibly missed some people out there, but you get the idea. You travel solo, you meet amazing, random people.

I'm probably going to bring you a few blog posts about the stuff that went on at the Uk Feminista Summer School I've just been to - there was so much to take in and I'm still trying to process half of it. I filled an entire notebook and that doesn't include some of the random conversations and action planning things that happened.

I doubt anyone from Uk Feminista is reading this, but if they are, I really want to thank them for making this a free event. I mean, what can you get for free these days? Really not that much... but a whole weekend of listening to amazingly inspiring speakers?! Incredible.

Over the course of the weekend, I had the chance to attend 9 sessions on various aspects of feminism... some I found incredibly inspiring and useful, others less so. I know a list isn't the most interesting thing to read, but to give you some idea of the variety on offer, this is what I attended: Feminist Resistance: the past, present and future of activism; Every Movement needs a Front Line: the role of non-violent direct action in feminism; How to do.... Non-violent Direct Action; Women and the Revolution; what the Arab Spring holds for women; Under Attack: defending women's reproductive rights; How to... run an effective campaign; Activism in Theory and Practice: from research to the "real world";  All in It Together? How the cuts are hitting women hardest; The Global Struggle: International Feminist Resistance. See why my brain is exploding now?

For me, one of the most empowering things about this weekend was being able to see first hand that feminists really don't have a specific mould that they fit into. I mean I knew that, but I figured I'd be rejected because I'm not "feminist enough". Stupid right? But also totally understandable - I think any philosophy  that you're choosing to adopt can induce such fear. What if someone asks you a question that you can't answer? What if you need to defend yourself and can't? What if the Feminism police decide you're not good enough to be representing their ranks? Screw it I say. If someone has an issue with what you're choosing to believe in, that's their problem, not yours. It's SO incredibly important that we take a pro-active stance in not just our futures, but in the futures of the future generations. The rioting last week has only highlighted the need for change in our society.

I think it's crucial that we stop thinking of Feminism as a dirty word - we need to stop thinking of it as something negative and separatist and as something that's important to people of all genders, all backgrounds, all people everywhere. Don't be afraid to call yourself a feminist. Don't worry about what people will think - it doesn't mean you're crazy. It doesn't (necessarily) mean you're a troublemaker. It doesn't mean you have to fit yourself into a certain box or proforma of what a Feminist looks like or how a Feminist acts. It doesn't mean you have to start going on protests or reading lengthy academic texts. It does mean that you care about the need for equality for all, about fairness, about basic human rights. I can see no reason for a logical, rational person to not claim the word Feminist for themselves.

I'm going to leave you with two quotes from the weekend that have really struck me:

"When someone asks "Why are you a Feminist?", your reply should be "Why aren't you?" - Rosalind Miles (Men, this applies to you too)

"If you aren't on the table, you're on the menu" - Really, really important for us to think about. Where are we as women when the decisions are being made about our futures? If we don't speak up and speak out, we'll just get devoured in the process.

Would you call yourself a Feminist? If not, why not?

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Saturday, 6 August 2011

Free Frank Fernie

Hello lovelies

Today I went on a march/rally/protest (in the pouring rain!) for to support the Free Frank Fernie campaign. Frank is one of the ever increasing victims of political sentencing that are being used as martyrs to scare people out of their right to protest. He has no previous criminal record but has been sent to prison for 12 months for throwing 2 sticks during a very violent protest (violence mainly being administered by the police who’d been hitting and beating him for a significant amount of time before). The sticks the threw were a) extremely light and b) didn’t hurt anyone. One clipped a police officer in full riot gear. That was it. People who beat their wives, knock people over in their cars, get into bar fights and break peoples noses get less time in prison than Frank has. The judge himself said he was using Frank as an example.
For more information about how you can get involved in the Free Frank Fernie campaign, visit and spread the word via retweeting or mentioning this if you read it.
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Friday, 5 August 2011

New hair and a couple of pretty dresses!

Hello lovelies!

I'm absolutely loving reading all your wishes over on this post - if you haven't made one yet, why not head over now and do it? I know a couple of people have already had their wishes granted :D Such a wonderful thing to see happening (even if it is really a sneaky bit of SEO work!)

I thought I'd share my new hair and a couple of pretty dresses I got in the sale with you! I desperately needed something light and uncreasable for my little jaunt to London/Birmingham next week (I want to travel as lightly as possible!) and I stumbled across these two beauties for £12 in the sale... but, even more excitingly, they were on buy one get on free so I paid a teeny tiny £6 each!

Dorothy Perkins (I totally forgot to pop a belt on... it looks far nicer with a belt!)

I also got my hair cut this week... it was SO good to feel well enough to have a wander around town and to feel strong enough to sit up for a hair cut. It's about 3 months since I first had it cut short and I had a bit of a panic because I couldn't go to the hairdresser who originally did it but the woman who ended up cutting it did an even better job and I think I love this even more than I loved my original short do!

Have you done anything exciting this week?
Have you managed to pick up anything in the sale?
Are you impulsive or do you like to plan in advance?
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Thursday, 4 August 2011

Have your wish granted by a real life Fairy Hobmother!

Hello Lovelies!

Today I received the most unexpected, lovely surprise in my inbox - a visit from the Fairy Hobmother. The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that the Fairy Hobmother from Appliances UK has been wandering around the blogging world, granting wishes here, there and everywhere to bring us bloggers a bit of unexpected joy and happiness in the form of lovely treats. I first saw her on Lily's blog and decided to leave a little wish in the comments - my wish was for a lovely bundle of fabric to make pretty skirts and dresses with.

I thought nothing of it and had actually forgotten about it until that email popped up in my inbox granting my wish with a very, very generous gift voucher indeed!

And, being the lovely Fairy Hobmother that she is, I've got a feeling that if you leave a comment in this post, some of you might just get a visit from the Fairy Hobmother too.

So go on, make a wish - I can't guarantee it'll get granted but if you never wish, you'll never know :)
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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A summer of conquering fears

Hello Lovelies!

Sorry it's been a bit quiet - I was on holiday last week! I won't bore you with a full recount, but there's some snaps here if you fancy a nosey!

You might remember this post about taking the bull by the horns I did a while ago - well, it seems like that's becoming the theme of my summer. That and conquering my fears. One of silver linings of being ill has been that I've had time to take stock of my life and get a grip. I realised, after some long chats with lovely friends, that I'm often held back by silly fears! So I've decided I'm gonna kick them to the curb this summer.

I started on holiday by.....

Going in the Sea! I've been terrified of the sea for as long as I can remember. I think it all started when we went on a holiday where the beach was littered with washed up jellyfish and got worse when we went to France and I saw the biggest jellyfish I've ever seen washed up on the beach. They were HUGE - at least 30cm across. It sort of put me off the whole shebang. However, it's kinda silly really so I decided that the beautiful beaches of Saunderfoot and Tenby were the perfect places to get over my fear AND I DID!! I went in the sea nearly every day (although I forgot my bikini so I didn't actually swim in it).

Emily 1 Fears 0

I'll be carrying on the fear conquering by...

Going to the Free Frankie Fernie protest this Saturday. I've chatted before about my desire to protest but my fear of crowds/getting into trouble, but again, I need to stop faffing and start doing. (If you're wondering who Frankie Fernie is, he's a student from York who was given a 12 month sentence for throwing 2 sticks during a protest. He's one of many victims of a wave of political sentencing being used to make an example of protestors to scare people out of their right to protest.). So fingers crossed...

Emily 2 Fears 0

My next bit of fear conquering is a big one... I'm actually a bit terrified about it...

I'm going to That London on my own for the first time next Thursday and Friday. I've been to London a couple of times before - my ex-boyfriend was from Surrey originally so we'd go down a fair bit to see his family and stuff but it still generally terrified me. However, there's something pretty awesome about London that I love (in theory) so I figured I'd use some of my free time to go have an explore. I'll be staying with my best friend from Uni (who I lived with for 4 years) so I know I'll have a bit of refuge but still... this is a pretty big one for me. Feel free to suggest awesome (free/cheap) things for me to do/see/eat whilst I'm there (and if you fancy meeting up for a drink let me know and I'll see if I can squeeze you in!) And seeing as the tickets are already booked I guess that means it's....

Emily 3 Fears 0

I'll be back home on Friday but dashing out again on Saturday for the one that started all this fear conquering...

The Uk Feminista Summer School - a weekend of learning and hanging out with over 600 feminist activists. I'm pretty excited about this really. The reason this is fear conquering is because I'm kinda shy and have a bit of an inferiority complex - I'd normally avoid things like this in case I didn't know enough or wasn't good enough to get involved. Pah! That's what I say to that Pah!! So of course we know it's

Emily 4 Fears 0

It's seeming that I'm doing pretty well at beating out those fears. I'm sure there's some other's that'll crop up but I'm feeling fairly confident that I'll at the very least try to kick their butts!

What are you afraid of?
Have you ever conquered a big fear?
What are your plans for the summer?

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Friday, 22 July 2011

My new love aka Peanut Butter Puffins

Hello Lovelies!

Finding interesting, quick, relatively healthy, vegan, wheat free breakfast cereals in the UK can be a pretty depressing activity. In fact, if it wasn't for Doves Farm's Chocolate Stars and Low Fat Flakes, I think I'd be a very depressed bunny indeed. Hence, I decided it was time to get a bit creative and after hearing Nicky and Laura declaring their love of Peanut Butter Puffins all the time, I decided to take the plunge and order myself a couple of boxes.

These little crispy, puffy pillows are utterly divine. They hit that perfect spot between salty and sweet with a good peanutty kick to satisfy any health bloggers nut butter cravings! They're also really rather healthy, for a processed cereal and the ingredients list is gorgeously natural! I'm sold... I can see the start of a rather expensive addiction.

You can grab them from iherb and provided you only order one or two boxes, the airmail shipping really isn't too bad (and only took around a week and a half to arrive)!

Have you tried Peanut Butter Puffins?
What's your current favourite breakfast treat?

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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Lush Volcano Foot Mask Review

Hello Lovelies.

Today I'm going to be bringing you a review of this bad boy - Volcano Foot Mask from Lush.

Lush Volcano foot mask

Volcano is one of those phoenix-esq Lush products. It used to be around a looong time ago as part of the Fresh range, then it went, then it came back, then (I think) it went again and now it's back, it a smaller tub. A product's gotta be good to have made its reappearance that many times - no matter how often we try to kill it, it just won't die.

Volcano is part foot mask, part foot scrub and oh my goodness, do I love it. It's packed with yummy things like papaya and lemon (packed full of antiseptic cleansing power), tomatoes (they're deodorizsng apparently...), a multitude of other anti-fungal and astringent herbal bits and errr, potatoes. Yeah, I'm not sure either. All of this is mixed into a based of kaolin and pumic to give your feet a good deep clean and exfoliate.

To use it, you simply need to slather it on - not too thickly though:

Next, wrap your feet in cling film or two plastic bags and leave for 10 minutes. Spend the majority of those 10 minute admiring your new, cheap-as-free shoes and attempting not to break your neck when you need a wee.

I can definitely see this look going down well for A/W 2011 fashion, no?

After your 10 minutes are up, unwrap your feet and give them a good massage. This will help the exfoliation process and (if you're anything like me) warm your feet up a bit too! Then, plunge them into a bowl of warm water and rinse thoroughly. No, seriously, if you think you've finished rinsing, keep going. A white mask of kaolin does not an attractive foot make.

To finish, slather your feet in a luxuriously rich moisturiser, Ta-daa super soft feet!

One thing I will say is this isn't a massively moisturising foot mask, and it does have a lot of active ingredients. If your feet are really dry or cracked, you might want to opt for something else. I find this leaves my feet feeling really fresh and tingly afterwards but equally, that could be less of a nice feeling if your feet are already a bit sore.

Available from: Lush (online and instore) for £5.50
Would I buy this product again? Yes!

*Disclaimer* This product was sent to me for review purposes
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Friday, 15 July 2011

Small moments of joy

Hello lovelies,

It's Friday (apparently!) which means it's nearly the weekend - do you have anything lovely planned? For me, the weekend and weekdays are barely distinguishable from one another at the moment! I thought I'd share some of the small moments of joy from the past week that have made my 5th week of house arrest a little more bearable...

 Leaving the house on Monday night
I went to a pub, an actual pub with people and everything. It's a long time since I've been to a pub (because of anxiety issues) so this was really quite special - I spent an evening with awesome people I didn't really know, chatting about protesting and the best thing? The pub had a cat that I got to fuss!

 A visit from my best friend on Tuesday
Admittedly, I was a little silly as I made us walk into town and wore myself out but I love spending time with Katie and her gorgeous son. It was so lovely and I very much appreciated my Iced Tea!

 Even more visits on Thursday
My friend Graham came to see me on Thursday afternoon - I love spending time with Graham, we always have such interesting chats. On Thursday we chatted about activism, anarchist philosophy, theology, feminism and gender. Graham and I kept each other sane when we were working for the same church so it's always nice to get time to catch up with him. I then had a lovely visit from my mother-in-law and one of my other best friends, Mary who took me off to the Farmer's Cart for afternoon tea, which was a bit of a disaster as they served no gluten free options and no vegan options either. I had to beg them to do me a bowl of crisps. I did however have this gorgeous smoothie:
I felt like I should have been sipping it by a pool somewhere hot!

 Random surprise gifts
Sorry that I look an absolute state, however the flowers themselves are beautiful! I was just given them by a lady I barely know from a church I no longer go to who'd heard I was ill. It was such a wonderful surprise and the flowers are gorgeous (some of my favourite flowers actually!)

What have been the small joys in your life this week?
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