Saturday, 30 July 2016

THROUGH THE LENSE: Rock Park, Devon


Remember that really, really ridiculously hot day the other week, so hot that #hottestdayoftheyear took over twitter? When every British person united to complain about our long awaited glimpse of summer. (Lesson learned, be careful what you wish for!) Well, on that particular day I had nothing to do. It was too hot to work on clearing my room, organising my life or doing any productive, and unfortunately that heat happened to rise up in the middle of the week so I had no one to bother with my company. Damn people, having to work for a living. Within 10 minutes of trying to read in the garden I was pretty much stewing in my own sweat and struggling to breathe through the humidity, there was no breeze and God, I needed air. So after lolling around the house for a little while, unable to get comfortable or settle anywhere, I had a magical idea. Why not go for a walk in the park? Okay, okay, actually exercise was the furthest thing from my mind, what I was really thinking about was cold, refreshing, delicious ice cream. But from that came the revelation that I could satisfy this craving quite quickly by popping over to my local park’s little tea room.

So book in hand and a last minute thought for my camera and the opportunity to work on my very amateur photography skills I headed out. It was lovely to stroll around the park and observe families enjoying the weather together. I took a fair few photos before settling down under a tree with my novel and long awaited mint choc chip ice cream, and here's a few I thought I'd share.

Note: These are unedited original images. 










 



If you enjoyed this post why not have a browse of my other posts, such as:

Through the Lense: Cardiff Bay      |       Feelings of Gratitude

Monday, 18 July 2016

JULY 16: Top 5 Cruelty-Free Beauty Buys


This is me trying to branch out in to the world of beauty blogging by sharing my current favourite beauty buys which just happen to all be cruelty-free! Hope you enjoy this post, which is the first of its kind to feature on my blog but is hopefully just the start of something new. Please note that the below are not in any particular order.

Number 1: Tesco's PRO Formula Eye Make-up Remover Pads for Sensitive Skin, £1 from Tescos


These have been my go to for removing eye makeup for, well it must have been atleast 2 years! They're an absolute bargain at £1 for 30 and manage to take off even waterproof makeup without any hardship. No more rubbing your eyes raw trying to get that stubborn waterproof mascara, or giving up on budging that last bit of false lash glue.
They are fairly heavily saturated and remain so throughout use and don't dry out at all in the packet even after a month and a half, or that's as long as I can offer testament to.




Number 2: Soap and Glory's Thick and Fast Mascara, £10.50 from Boots

This is another of my long time favourites, mostly because I am yet to find a mascara that can compete in both quality and price. Soap and Glory's collagen formula works to strengthen and lengthen your lashes whilst providing a intense and voluminous look. Having deep set eyes I often find that other mascaras, especially if they're not waterproof, can flake and smudge throughout the day, but Thick and Fast is the rare exception.




Number 3: Argan Secret Perfect End, £13.99 from SallyExpress.com

Not only is Argan Secret Perfect End cruelty free, but this particular product is also suitable for vegans. (However is not endorsed by any recognisable logo so beware!) Personally, I worship this product and dread to think what state my hair would be in after all the bleaching it's endured over the last 3 years if not for this life/hair-saver! Perfect End is a lightweight cream, no more greasy or heavy hair, that is packed with nutrients such as Hydrolyzed Wheat proteins and Pathenol which work to dramatically decrease the appearance of split end while giving the impression of thicker hair. I would say it's a must have for anyone with dry or damaged hair!


Number 4: E.L.F's Essential Lip Kiss Balm in Smoochy Spice, £3 from EyesLipsFace.co.uk

This particular lip balm never leaves my side, although I chop and change between a statement eye and lip this will be forever be my go to lip balm. For one I love it's subtle colour that goes with any look, plus it works wonders for dry lips. E.L.F have really created magic here with their 'baby soft' formula blended with Vitamins A and E, Grape Seed oil and Jojoba oil. My only little niggle is that the minty scent just doesn't really work for me, but it doesn't sting which I have found similar products to do!



Number 5: The Body Shop's Vitamin E Cool BB Cream, £12 from TheBodyShop
Please be aware that The Body Shop has recently redesigned this product's packaging, but I have been assured the product remains the same.

And last but not least is a product that I have been bulk buying for years. Body Shop's Vitamin E BB Cream offers medium coverage that works to provide 12 hour skin nourishment, protection and moisture. It's cooling sensation and lightweight formula make it the perfect alternative for the summer days, that is if unlike England your country actually provides you with a summer!



What are your favourite Cruetly-Free products at the moment? Let me know what you think of this post and the products featured in the comments below! 

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Sunday, 3 July 2016

App of the Month: 30 Day Smoothie Challenge




The summer months are upon us but unfortunately that bikini body of mine isn’t looking so trim, so in an attempt to undo all the harm done by my study snacks and junk food binges I decided to try and kick start a bit of weight loss and my journey to a healthier and happier lifestyle with the Green Smoothie 30 Day Challenge. (Note: This is not the only 30 Day Green Smoothie Day Challenge available on most App Stores)







Name: Daily Green Smoothie Challenge
Category: Lifestyle
Price: Free
Available On: iPhone, iPad and iTouch




The aim of this app is pretty simple: to help to add extra nutrients to your diet through drinking one smoothie a day for a month in hopes to kick start a smoothie habit that will last a lifetime. Sounds like some pretty good intentions, right? So after having received my first ever smoothie maker for my birthday I was excited to try out a variety of new recipes. Problem was I neither had the money to buy a lovely new recipe book (#StudentProblems) nor the patience to spend hours online looking up good recipes, so a free app seemed like the best option. This one seemed to offer me just what I was after. 



App Features
Obviously this app contains all the recipes you’ll need for your 30 smoothies! But of course just that wouldn’t really be that much to shout about as you can find free smoothie recipes practically anywhere or even just make up your own if you’re feeling adventurous.
I found this a wonderfully inclusive app. There is a shopping planner which allows you to quickly calculate your shopping list 5 days at a time, yet while useful this was not my favourite feature. Although you got a list of everything you needed, things weren’t bundled together. For instance, your shopping planner may say 16 Strawberries and then a little further down the list read 3oz Strawberries, which was a little irritating to say the least. In fact, for me, it rendered the feature pretty pointless as I’d end up writing out my own shopping lists so I wouldn’t have to be running back and forth around Supermarkets or doing quick conversions and calculations to try and work out exactly how much of everything I needed.

What I did like was knowing what little health kick my smoothie would be giving me each day. Listed under each smoothie’s ingredients was the Nutrition Facts for each drink, this helped me keep an eye of the amount of extra sugars and calories I was consuming so that I could anticipate how I might want to adjust my diet each day. One thing that did worry me when deciding whether to take up this challenge was the foreboding articles I’d found online warning us all of the risk of a huge sugar spikes caused by smoothies. However, I think I managed to avoid this pretty well by preparing my daily diet in advance and is something I’d recommend to receive maximum benefits.
The app also advertises the benefits of each smoothie, whether that be a particular ingredient or combination (If the former I’d always add a generous amount of whatever that might be!).

Also a favourite feature was the ability to  customise your 30 Day challenge in advance. Due to suffering from Crohns Disease I can’t handle anything too citrusy, so it was great that I could purposely customise my challenge to avoid the more ‘acidic’ of smoothies and make up any leftover days by repeating my favourites.  The app also features a guide of substitute ingredients so you can opt in and out of ingredients if you do have allergies, intolerances or just don’t like something.

So that’s all well and good but are the smoothies worth making?  



A Glimpse into my 30 Days of Green Smoothies:

Day 1: Banana Ginger Smoothie
This was really easy and quick to make! Due to my current diet I supplemented two non-vegan ingredients, honey and low-fat yogurt with agave nectar and soya yogurt.
For me, I thought there was a bit too much ginger but I’m not much of a ginger fan! There was a mighty ‘zing’ to it from said ginger but otherwise it was lovely!  The set quantities didn’t amount to much of a portion, coming out at 300ml, so I was able to finish it easily enough.  
Despite my low tolerance of it, the ginger is the essential ingredient in this particular smoothie. According to the app ginger is supposed to help soothe digestion, heartburn, nausea and other stomach trouble.

Day 2: Green Tea, Blueberry and Banana
There was one thing about the recipe that confused me, the green tea bag… Maybe it’s just because I’m new to the smoothie making world but it seemed like an odd ingredient and was bewildered as to how to add it. Like do you brew the tea bag first? In the end I just opted for ripping out the contents and banging it all in which seemed to work okay. On this occasion I only had to switch one ingredient, again saying goodbye to honey and opting for agave nectar instead. I didn’t add any ice as unfortunately I don’t have an ice tray, yet still the frozen berries made it cold enough on what was a rare warm day.  
Fair warning the bitty quality of this smoothie means your teeth and tongue might go a little purple and are likely to be sporting random bits of seed or pulp so it’s probably not a good choice if you’re planning to drink it on the go!
Despite my lack of knowledge on the tea bag protocol the result was delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed this fairly thick and sweet. Yummy yummy! For the first two days I opted as having my smoothie alongside a light meal in the evening, but am finding they could easily supplement a meal. This is not something I would recommend without research and a thorough understanding of the effects so from this point on I switched to enjoying each smoothie as a late afternoon snack instead!

Day 3: Very Berry
When a chance of choice came up on the ingredients list, ‘40g pitted cherries or raspberries’, I opted to go with adding the extra portion of raspberries. My reasoning for this was the noted Smoothie Benefits for this recipe informed me that the raspberries were the source of the health kick. Apparently they contain a great diversity of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients!
I made this smoothie with the intention of taking it along to a hard day of studying at the library, and if I had been wise enough to taste it before leaving I would had added in a little extra agave nectar. Although I was presented with another enjoyable drink, I did find it initially a little tart for my tastes.

Day 4: Banana-Strawberry Smoothie
Yum yum yum! I think Strawberry and Banana smoothies are the classic guarantee for a delicious smoothie, and this one was no exception. I actually couldn’t help but making an extra large portion because it was so delicious. Of course taste isn’t everything but luckily that’s not all this smoothie offers, it’s also packed with fibre and antioxidants.

Day 5: Pineapple Passion
I kinda messed up with this smoothie and having miscalculated how much plain soy yogurt I would need for my first week of smoothies. I was left to improvise with vanilla flavoured soy yogurt. Vanilla and Pineapple…. Yeah I didn’t think it would be a good mix but surprise, surprise I somehow created a delicious smoothie that tasted like some form of pineapple sorbet ice cream hybrid. On such a rainy day as it was, this smoothie was all I needed to fuel my daydreams of escape to Mediterranean sands. 



Day 6: Strawberry-Kiwi Smoothie
This strawberry-kiwi smoothie turned into a raspberry-kiwi smoothie due to another miscalculation when I did my last grocery shop, yet it tasted like a raspberry-banana smoothie… Quite removed from what I thought today’s drink would be. I’ve started to wonder why it’s called a smoothie challenge though, where’s the challenge? Easy to make, not exactly a drain on the bank balance, and a health kick for a month… Challenge is totally the wrong word for the breeze that this has been so far.

Day 7: Banana-Blueberry-Soy Smoothie
Another blueberry smoothie, I’m pretty sure they’re my favourite but then again it can be hard to tell with so many delicious recipes being available everywhere. But for now at least, I’m categorising myself as a berry lover. Although, maybe it’s something I should keep a check on as having blueberries in my porridge every morning and loading up with them in my smoothie’s might cause an overdose. Is that a thing? If so what are the symptoms? Because, personally, if it’s turning purple and uber flexible like Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I am totally okay with that… Good thing purple’s my favourite colour!
Anyhoo, the weather was in a good mood on this particular day so I opted for using frozen blueberries instead of the usual fresh and was pleasantly surprised with the cooler I ended up with. It simply made the sun more enjoyable, that is until the brain freeze hit – but that was my own fault for downing the delicious nectar that was this week’s smoothie in under 10 seconds… Maybe I am an addict.

Day 8: Tropical Papaya Perfection
By day 8 I’d started to experiment a bit more with my smoothie making, which means not always following the recipes to the tee, but rather substituting ingredients and playing around with the quantities used. In this case I threw in a bit more papaya than listed and upped the yogurt content, however for the first time the results weren’t as good as I’d hoped! Unfortunately, this was the first smoothie which I struggled to drink.  
One criticism I have had for these drinks is there isn’t usually enough of them! In fact, most of the app’s recipes don’t ever provide you with 500 ml of a smoothie, and 350ml just isn’t enough to meet my smoothie cravings. I’d never tried papaya before, and was pleasantly surprised with the results if not completely blown away. If you’ve ever had sweet potato juice, it was kind of like a more tropical thicker version of that… An acquired but very moreish taste.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my 30 days of smoothies and hope to keep the habit going. I feel I know have the confidence to experiment a bit more with flavours and now know my way around a blender. If you’re new to smoothies then I think this is a great app to introduce you to them, and if not then the delicious smoothies on offer should be enough for you to be hitting download.


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Is it Vegan?      |      Pacer