Saturday, 14 January 2017

Hello, 2017.

UnBelievably, I posted a grand total of zero times in 2016. I guess I got sick of the whole thing. I started trying to type out what I mean by that but it was a tirade of bitter ramblings, so let's just leave that there for now. 2016 was, as you know, an unspeakable mess in terms of the political and the public. With regards to the personal, however, it was interesting and exciting. In June, I sailed through the Norwegian Fjords and it was the best, most beautiful time of my life. I visited places and saw things I never thought I would. And then, on the second day-- with mountainous, colourful Bergen as our backdrop-- Jonathan proposed and I said yes.

In April, I found my dad. It's strange having a whole 50% of yourself MIA, absent, unknown, unwanted, and the older I became, the more I seemed to feel it. Would you believe that he enjoys photography like I do? Perhaps it runs through my veins, it's in my nature. Because I certainly didn't learn it through him any other way. What a waste of 26 years. What a waste of what our relationship could have been.

In June, I adopted a trio of beautiful, beautiful rats: Dexter, Dobby and Milo. I love them. I'm not sure why I've done this to myself again. After storm, I vowed never to love a rat again! Rats live to 2 years old, on average and sometimes I sit and cry at the injustice. Alas. In my more stable moments, I sing to them, dance for them, talk to them, tickle their stomachs, worry about them, blow them kisses before bed. They are so tame and lovely and I want them to live forever.

Later in the year, I attended a three-day photography course hosted by a well-known commercial photographer and they were a few of the best days of my life. I was engaged and excited by learning for the first time in years and years and years. I was inspired and I'm desperate to change my life so that I can feel the same way everyday. I cling on to the memories and those feelings at 5:30am when the thought of what lies ahead fills my stomach with nausea and pain. Onwards and upwards. Onwards and upwards. Onwards.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Food | The Trouble with Eating Well

Eating Well Deliciously Ella Get The Glow Gluten Free

Eating bowls of chia pudding for breakfast, sipping green smoothies on the way to work and cooking up vegan-and-gluten-free dinners in a white-washed kitchen is the new IT lifestyle. With the likes of Ella Woodward, Madeline Shaw and many other white, balayaged women spreading the Healthy Eating gospel, there's no escaping it these days. Clearly, I've been somewhat caught up in the whirlwind myself, mostly because of Woodward's claims that this change in diet has proven to a be a miracle treatment for a serious medical condition she developed in her late teens. Having been diagnosed with another very serious, very nasty autoimmune disease myself a couple of months ago (My body hates itself. Give me a fucking break, etc. etc.) I am at a sort of breaking point in my life where I'm willing to try almost anything to feel better. With that in mind, the growing popularity of healthy, gluten and dairy-free eating is truly wonderful but after trying to immerse myself in this lifestyle since my new diagnosis, I have a couple of bones to pick. 

Eating Well? Get Rich or Die Tryin'

First things first: our weekly shopping bill has increased by nearly 30%. That's nuts. No, seriously: some of that is literally down to nuts. Almonds, cashews, wal', pecan, pine. Nuts. I love a good almond as much as the next person but we all know that nuts can be incredibly expensive, so it isn't easy on the purse when you're buying 400g of the things for a single recipe that might last a couple of people just a couple of nights. And don't even get me started on medjool dates. £5 for 330g in M&S-- that's just enough for a single batch of sweet potato brownies, plus a few leftover for snacking. I mean, I can't deny it, they are perfect for sugar, dairy and gluten free baking but the price tag is eye-watering when you consider just how many you have to use in a single recipe.

For me personally, having coeliac disease as well as my new illness, makes shopping for food a bit more difficult. A lot of these recipes call for non-standard flours like brown rice and buckwheat, which are hard enough to find if you don't have coeliac disease. Trying to find flours that have been made on lines that don't handle wheat is awful. I bought 100g of brown rice flour for £1.65 last weekend because it was the only brand that could guarantee no cross-contamination. Welcome to my 'absolutely-no-choice-in-the-matter' gluten free life.

You will need: a food processor, juicer, spiralizer, blender, dehydrator, etc. 

Now, it's not just the food itself that's expensive but also the kitchen gadgets that you need to actually process it into something that looks like the pretty pictures in your books. I went to make a smoothie the other day and after realising that the texture wasn't quite right, I re-read the recipe and realised that I should have juiced the apples and kale before adding them to my blender. There were a few small issues with this, however: I don't have a juicer. I don't have the room for a juicer. And I certainly don't have the funds for a juicer AFTER BUYING THIS BLOODY BLENDER.

In sum, you are going to need quite a few gadgets if you plan on fully immersing yourself in the deliciously-glowing-and-fabulous lifestyle. And don't even think about buying that £15 food processor slash blender combo. Remember those nuts I was banging on about? You're going to have to blend those into a flour and if you want to be able to do that more than once without choking on bits of splintered metal, you better invest in a strong and capable machine that can handle more than a banana. 

Ain't Nobody Got Time For That

Myself and the boyfriend bought Jamie's 15 Minute Meals about a year ago, enticed by the claims that the recipes inside would be healthy, affordable and quick. It was the last one there that really took a hold and peaked our interest. We picked a lamb dish to start with and I wish I could say it took us 15 minutes. Ninety five. Ninety five minutes of peeling and frying and sweating and teetering on the edge of breaking up because it was all a bit too much. Jamie did try to warn us by saying that the 15 minutes begins AFTER all of your ingredients are prepped, but unfortunately for the large majority of the population WE DON'T HAVE A 12-MAN PRODUCTION CREW PREPPING EVERYTHING FOR US. And breathe. 

Finally, just take a moment to image my horror when a well-known healthy eating duo recommend that we boil bones for 6-24 hours to make stock. I can see the logic behind suggestions such as these but I had to ask myself: who has the time for this? I know that, personally, after waking up at 5:30am everyday and coming home more than 12 hours later, the last thing I want to do is spend hours and hours cooking before spending hours and hours washing up food processors and spiralizers. Don't get me wrong, even a microwave meal will leave you with a couple of forks to wash up but I have found that eating healthily can be incredibly laborious. This is probably definitely my lazy speaking but sometimes... you just don't have time for that. And that's probably really, very normal.

Don't get me wrong...

I've started to try and 'eat myself healthy' and the likes of Deliciously Ella and Get the Glow have been a fair starting point, so some of this post is just a little bit tongue-in-cheek. I've made quite a few recipes from each and I'll probably continue to do so. I just had a hankering to express my experience with this kind of lifestyle. It's not easy and it's certainly not cheap. I couldn't afford to eat recipes from these books exclusively and besides, I'm more than a little bit partial for a jar of curry sauce on a Friday night. We can't all be green goddesses all the bloody time. Right? 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Food | Eating Gluten Free in Rome

I was diagnosed with coeliac disease about 7 years ago now, which has given me more than enough time to accept it, learn about it and adapt to it so that I barely have to think about it in my day-to-day life. But sometimes it becomes a problem. When I step outside of the comfort zones that are my own kitchen, pre-packaged 'Free From' foods from the supermarket and the rarer than rare restaurants and cafes that are 100% gluten free, I'm forced to look my coeliac disease straight in the eyes and prepare for a mental and physical battle. Going on holiday and away from what I know to be safe, is a flight into the fray. I'm very new to travelling, having only gone abroad for the first time in 2013 (Hong Kong in April, Paris in August) and each time eating out became the bane of the trip. I struggled to eat in both cities and felt guilty for burdening my travelling partners, too. Sometimes I think the hardest part of my own experience with coeliac disease is the guilt.

With all of that in mind, you can imagine my trepidation when J and I made the decision to visit Rome in April, a place I've wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. Italy is all pasta, bread and pizza and surely that isn't any place for a person who can't eat gluten, right? Wrong. Eating out in Rome was easier and more pleasurable than I could ever have imagined. I would go as far as to say that restaurant dining in Rome was easier for me than it is in England. Granted, online research was difficult because there are only a selection of restaurants with an obvious online presence but with a combination of my research prior to going and then also stumbling upon gluten free food whilst physically there, I had a wonderful time eating gluten free in Rome.

The main body of this post is dedicated to the three restaurants that I visited and enjoyed most during my five days in Rome but there will be brief mention of a couple of other places that I stumbled across, too. The main thing to remember is that you should not be afraid to enter restaurants you pass in the day and ask if they offer gluten free food because I found that many offered at least gluten free pasta. You may also spot GF offerings on chalk boards outside. I cannot speak Italian but "Senza glutine, por favore?" (gluten free, please?) was easy enough for me to say and seemed to be understood by every restaurant that I approached, even if they couldn't cater for me. The loveliest thing, though? The staff at most restaurants understood what I meant. They didn't look perplexed and confused or make me feel like I was an annoyance. They didn't make me feel like I was putting them out of their way to cater for my illness. They made me feel like a normal, valued customer. 

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Beauty | The Pink Lip Edit - Part 2

Pink and Berry Lips - Tanned Skin - Revlon Just Bitten

1st row left   | Revlon Honey - Girls with deeply pigmented lips could probably continue to live their lives without ever bothering with this one. The colour is so light and the pay off so weak that I'd be better off slathering a bit of Vaseline's Touch of Pink on my lips. And that’s £1.99 as opposed to £8! Full review here.

1st row right | Revlon Sultry - Velvet matte. Lovely application for a product of this texture, but beware when using it on your winter lips, because this can accentuate dryness. Staying power is good. Against my skin, I would consider Sultry to be a nude, which is funny because it's a full-on, deep, dusky pink on others. Full review here.

2nd row left   | Revlon Lovesick - Bright, blue-toned pink. Nice, balmy texture that leaves behind an even stain after a couple of hours. Slight scent of mint. Full review here.

2nd row right | Revlon Crush - The dark one. Deep, neutral berry. Looks a bit like you've rubbed raspberry juice all over your mouth but in a good way. Nice. Texture, stain and scent as above. This would be a great transition colour for people used to light lips but looking to venture over to the dark side. Full review here.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Beauty | The Pink Lip Edit - Part 1

Pink and Berry Lips - Tanned Skin - Bourjois Rouge Edition Barry M Lip Stain

So there I am watching Youtube, wondering what a certain vlogger is wearing on her lips: it's a deep, dark, dusky pink and it looks like nothing I've ever tried before. Except a quick scroll through the comments tells me that I have-- it's Revlon's matte balm in Sultry. Sultry that looks subdued and uninteresting as anything against my skin tone. It can be frustratingparticularly in the UK where we can't return make-up products if we don't like themtrying to find out what colours might work for you when they can look so different from person to person. With that in mind, I decided it might be an idea to put together a post showing you what some pink products look like against my skin tone and on my naturally highly pigmented lips. I hope this is helpful for some of you! In Part 1 I look at Revlon's Colourburst Lip Butter in Macaroon, Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet paints in Nudist and Happy Nude Year and Barry M's lip stains in Eternal Coral and Infinite Pink:

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Monthly Favourites | January 2015

January 2015 Favourites-0037

Phew. Always good to get January out of the way. I've been in a perpetual state of shocking apathy this month and I think my simple collection of favourites is testament to that. With the cold, winter weather trying its best to wreak havoc on my skin, I'm constantly finding myself reaching for Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream and I swear by this stuff. I mainly use this on my lips as it's one of the only things I've tried that seems to actually fix the problem of dryness rather than mask it; if I apply this in the morning before I put my make up on, I rarely have to reapply any kind of balm during the day. And that is a miracle. It also works wonders on dry, post-winter-cold noses and the white, crinkly bits of skin that develop between your fingers when it gets too cold (please tell me it's not just me this happens to?).

Next up, is one of the best beauty buys I've found in a long, long time. Wilkinson's new £3 make up brushes. I know. Wilko is not the place you first ever think of when you're out in the market for some affordable and good-quality make up brushes, but taking the plunge and trying these out has definitely opened my eyes. The stippling brush is now one of my favourite brushes for blush as it picks up the perfect amount of product and has a density that's just right for applying it. I'm also a big fan of the smokey eye duo brush, which has a short blending head on one side and an angled liner head on the other. The blending brush is super soft and perfect for applying and blending colour in the crease. Both brushes have also washed well for me so far. Bargainous! 

Anyone that's been reading this blog for long enough (thankyou/you'rethebest/iloveyou, etc.) will know that I'm a huge fan girl of Rimmel's Clear Complexion transparent powder, but I haven't used that in a couple of months now. Why? Because Bourjois' Silk Edition powder has changed things for the better. When I first tried this, I was so put off by that strong, flowery fragrance that a lot of Bourjois products have-- my skin is way too sensitive to trust things that smell like they're full of chemicals. But after persevering for a couple of weeks, I came to the conclusion that it wasn't breaking me out, the colour match (I'm 55 Golden Honey/Miel Dore) is bloody perfect for once and the texture is beautifully silky and wears well whilst keeping the shine at bay. What more could I want? 

Finally, after nearly 5 months of not wearing any nail varnish at all I finally decided it was time to jump back on the bandwagon with a metallic silver, because why the hell not? Barry M's Foil Effects in 319 applied nicely, leaves you with good opacity after one layer and just... looks pretty cool. Saying this, though, I'm probably going to continue giving my nails a break from polish because the general health of them increased tenfold and they weren't peeling away at the drop of a hat and flaking away like a well-known Cadbury's chocolate bar. I'm thinking I may  have to start donating a lot of my huge collection to my mom at this rate. Womp. 

What have y'all been enjoying in the last month? Drop me a comment!

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