Friday, 19 December 2014

Hiatus

Some of you may (or may not) have noticed I disappeared about a month ago. Due to personal things going on in my life I haven't really had time to blog, but I have still been taking photos here and there and come the New Year I'll be getting back to blogging. I have missed it!

Bryony :)

P.S: For anyone wondering if I finished the Vegan Challenge (as I stopped blogging halfway through) yes, I did! I've decided to stay vegan - although a little more relaxed - and I'll be writing about that when I start blogging again.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Week Two of the Great Vegan Challenge

These weeks are just flying by and I'm still amazed at how easy I'm finding this challenge. I'm really started to notice the benefits of being vegan now, too. I'm far less bloated than I used to be, and my skin is looking really lovely and clear. Even my hair seems to be in better condition.

This week I've really discovered just how easy it can be to eat out when you're vegan, if you know where to go. I ate out at four different restaurants this week and I was really happy with all of them.  I also mentioned last week that a local falafel bar (Moorish Falafel) sells lovely vegan millionaire's shortbread made with peanut butter, and this week I actually had some around long enough to photograph so I thought I'd share it with you (prepare to drool).


 First up was Pizza Express. They actually have a vegan pizza on their menu (the Pianta) which has spinach, chestnut mushrooms, pine kernels and artichokes on a spicy Arrabiata base. They also state that they'll hold back the cheese on any of their other pizzas if requested, and if you bring in your own sealed, in-date vegan cheese they'll happily put that on your pizza for you. I wasn't actually in the mood for pizza when we went, so instead I opted for the Leggera Superfood Salad without mozzarella and I really enjoyed it.

Second up was GBK. I did a little online research before going and learned that their falafel burger is vegan as long as you ask for it without the cucumber raita and the garlic mayo. I wanted sweet potato fries with my burger, and asked the staff if I could swap the baconnaise that comes with them for the satay sauce, as that's the only vegan sauce they have and they very kindly agreed. The satay sauce actually went really nicely with the sweet potato fries, and the burger was great even without the raita/mayo. It does state on their website though that the falafel burger and fries etc. are fried in the same oil as products including dairy. Personally I'm not that fussed about things like that, but it's something to be aware of if you are.

Third was Nandos. I wasn't actually very hungry when we ate here, so I only ended up having chips with garlic peri peri sauce. But the Nandos site does state that their veggie burger (when ordered without mayo) is vegan friendly, so I'll definitely be trying that next time I go.

Finally was a lovely restaurant in Lowestoft called Daisy's Urban Farm Kitchen. I've been here before when I was just veggie and I was really impressed by their vegetarian menu. A lot of burger joints simply offer up a standard veggie burger and that's it. But Daisy's have a selection of six different burgers which all sound amazing. A number of them are also vegan if you ask for them without mayo/cheese/yoghurt, and if you ask nicely they'll give you the burger without the bun, on a bed of salad. I never eat the bun so of course I love them for that. I remembered to snap a quick picture of my Chickpea, Red Chilli & Sweet Potato burger on my phone, not the best quality but you get the idea.


In terms of cooking at home, James and I haven't actually done much of that this week. We did make a very tasty stir fry, and I was really happy to find that Blue Dragon makes loads of vegan friendly stir fry sauces (and even labels them as vegan friendly). Tesco also had a 3 for 2 offer in their free from section so I took the opportunity to stock up on Alpro dark chocolate soya desserts and nakd bars, which make great snacks and are a really healthy way to satisfy as sweet craving.

Bryony :)

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Comic Book Day: Wytches #2

I'm not sure I'd say I was excited to get the second issue of Wytches this week, as the last issue absolutely terrified me. I got home late last night and decided to wait until the morning to read it as I feared I might have nightmares if I read it before bed, it's that terrifying. Or maybe I'm just a wuss.


I really do love this comic, though. The artwork is stunning and really draws you into the story, I feel like I'm there with the characters. I'm also really impressed at how well the characters have been set up and how much I care about what happens to them and only in the second issue. It's spectacularly written. I like how in this issue it keeps switching between the father, mother and daughter, which really built up a lot of tension for me and made me feel on edge.



Bryony :)

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Week One of the Great Vegan Challenge

I've completed my first week of the Great Vegan Challenge. I'm actually a little surprised at how easy it's been, I honestly expected to find myself gently weeping in the cheese aisle of Tesco on day two. But so far, so good! I haven't had any cheese cravings as of yet, and I've eaten a lot of delicious food.

I was really pleased when I realised that Tesco sell a vegan friendly red thai curry paste. James and I have been making some delicious sweet potato and chick pea curries. There's also a great local shop just round the corner from James' that sell vegan millionaire's shortbread made with peanut butter. No I'm not even joking, it's heaven. Plus I'm supporting a local business so everyone's winning.

The discovery that M&S have quite a lot of delicious vegan salads pretty much made my week. They're 2 for £3 and I love them. Any time I can't think of what to have but I need something quick, this is where I go. It's definitely made this week easier on me.

Pinterest has also been a great source of inspiration, I've pinned loads of vegan recipes that I'd like to try over the next few weeks. Here are a few of my favourites:







If you'd like to share any of your favourite vegan recipes with me, I'd love to hear them! Hopefully the next week will be as easy as the first.

Bryony :)

Friday, 7 November 2014

Comic Book Day: Gotham Academy #2

This week I picked up the second issue of Gotham Academy. I really enjoyed the first issue, but you can't always tell much from that so I was eager to see if the second issue was as good as the first. There were parts of this issue where all the High School drama got a little tedious for me, but considering it's set in a school that's to be expected.


I loved the cover for this issue, I have to say that I'm really liking Olive Silverlock as a character (and I kind of want her hair) and this cover just makes me want to be her even more.


This little reference to 'sweer potato' made me laugh out loud. James has made me watch this youtube video over and over again because he finds it so hilarious, so I couldn't help but chuckle when I noticed this. I do enjoy a sneaky reference, especially when it's something I actually get!


My absolute favourite part was in the last few pages where Olive really started to come into her own. Just look at this page. How awesome does Olive look? I can't wait to see where this goes because I think Olive is about to get even more brilliant. Can I just be her already?

Bryony :)

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Deck the Halls!

My housemate texted me on Monday saying she felt like getting a Christmas tree for the house. Having lived in a house where my mum would barely remember to decorate until about two days before Christmas, I jumped at the chance to get festive early on. Some may think that early November is too soon but I don't care!

We popped down to Wilko and picked up a cute little 4ft tree, some lights and a few decorations. We also made a trip to QD and the 99p store for a few extra cheap bits and pieces. Then we spent a good two hours decorating the house, it's so beautiful and festive now. We're definitely not done, though. I want to get some bits to put in the windows and I'm keeping an eye out for any other cute pieces we can add.




I had to buy the candy canes, a tree just isn't complete without some. Though I can't say how many will still be left by Christmas Day, I'm already having to fend James off every time he comes round. We also picked up a couple of cute wall decorations. Some gold snowflakes and some heart shaped bunting. The bunting is so adorable and not overly Christmassy, so I think we could get away with leaving it up after Christmas.



While we were in QD we discovered these fantastic tartan blankets, they're ridiculously soft and are fluffy on the back so perfect for snuggling under when it's chilly. The best part is they're only £10! We bought two, one for each sofa and I am officially in love.


Now the nights are drawing in I'm so happy our house is looking all cosy and festive. Tesco have also started selling mulled, so what better way to spend an evening than snuggled up under a toasty blanket, Christmas lights flashing away and a warm glass of mulled wine?


Bryony :)

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Breville Blend Active + Smoothie Recipe

A few friends of mine own Breville Blend Active Blenders and have said how great they are. I've been thinking about investing in one for a while and when I saw it was only £20 on amazon I decided to treat myself. It arrived a couple of days later and I couldn't wait to try it out. It's so simple to use, you just fill the bottle with whatever ingredients you want, screw on the blade and lock it in to the base then away you go.

When I first started this blog I posted about my love of smoothies and said I wanted to start adding some greens to them. Recently I've been doing just that. Of course my first smoothie with my new blender contained some spinach.


For this smoothie I used:

1 banana
Frozen spinach
Frozen blueberries
Frozen raspberries
Almond milk

I popped as much of the above as I could cram into the bottle and then blended it all together. The great thing about these bottles is that once you've blended it you can just unscrew the blade and screw on a lid and off you go. But seeing as I wasn't going anywhere with my smoothie I decided to pour mine into one of my lovely mason jars (any excuse to use them, really).


Doesn't that look delicious? And you'd never know there was any spinach in it. So good!

Bryony :)

Monday, 3 November 2014

My first time Bouldering

Last Thursday I went Bouldering for the first time ever. I've been rope climbing before when I was younger and absolutely hated it, so when my friends (who are regular climbers) kept asking me to try it with them I wasn't at all keen at first. But eventually I decided to give it a go, I had an evening free and I figured what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?


We went to a place called Highball, which is near the airport in Norwich. As soon as we pulled in to the car park I got really excited as I realised it was in the same building as Bedlam used to be. If only we really were going to Bedlam... so many wonderful childhood memories.

It turned out to be almost as good as Bedlam, though. I have a terrible fear of heights and the thought of climbing without a rope seemed terrifying to me. But they have these really cushioned mats that mean even if you fall from the top you're absolutely fine, which definitely helped me feel calmer.

At first I was a little shaky, but once I'd gone up a few times I felt more confident. I found that because I was focussing on where I needed to put my hands and feed to climb up, I didn't really notice the height at all. Plus once I realised I could jump down from the top without hurting myself I stopped worrying about falling.

I did get a bit of scare at the top of one wall, once I grabbed the top hold I wobbled a little and felt like I was going to fall off. It freaked me out a bit and luckily my friends were there to talk to me and help me get down. The next wall I tried I had my first fall, which actually made me realise that falling isn't at all bad so it made me braver.

I started to take more risks and go for holds that were a little out of reach, I generally fell every time but I still enjoyed myself. I've got a couple of tasty looking bruises now. You also don't even realise what a great workout it is. You're too busy thinking about climbing to even realise you're working out. But boy am I sore today! My hands and wrists are so weak! It's a great core workout too, and I love a good core workout.

I'm definitely going to go back, probably not every week as I doubt I can afford it. But I really enjoyed myself and I'd like to get better so hopefully I can make it a monthly thing. I definitely need to do more upper body work at the gym though, my arms got tired ridiculously quickly.

Bryony :)

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Great Vegan Challenge 2014

As you may or may not know, November is World Vegan Month. Since becoming vegetarian I've considered the idea of going vegan. One of my main reasons for going veggie was because I disagree with the way animals are treated before they're killed for meat. I don't think it's wrong to eat meat, I just think that meat deserves to have had a happy and healthy life beforehand. The same goes for dairy cows, for example. I don't really think it's wrong to drink their milk, but I think that us drinking their milk shouldn't impact on their lives, which it clearly does in this day and age with the huge demand for milk, cheese etc.



This is where The Great Vegan Challenge comes in. For the month of November, I have signed up to go vegan. It's meant to be a 30 day challenge, but seeing as James and I are going to stay at his parents this weekend I've decided to postpone my start until we get back, as I don't want to turn up at his mum's and suddenly say 'Oh by the way, I can't eat any dairy or eggs, etc.' so this will be more of a 28 day challenge for me.

I signed up in early October, which meant they sent me a great information pack with plenty of tips and recipes I can use. One of their tips was to buy lots of the things you'll need beforehand. Seeing as I use almond milk instead of cow's milk anyway I'm already stocked up there. I've already got dairy free margarine in my fridge, and today I picked up some soya chocolate yoghurts. Seeing as I'm veggie I've got a plentiful supply of Linda McCartney sausages. I think I'm good to go for now!


Another of their tips, which is to take a trip to my local healthfood shop, is definitely first on my to-do list when I return from James' parents. There's a great shop right in the City centre, so I'm going to pop in and pick up some bits and pieces so I can make myself some nice vegan treats. The one thing I am worried I'll really miss is cheese, so I'm thinking of picking up some nutritional yeast as I've heard it's great to sprinkle on food to give you a cheese-y taste, and apparently you can make a nice 'cheese' sauce from it too.

I'm most worried about what I'm going to eat at work. We get a free lunch/dinner when we're on shift, and I like to take advantage of that seeing as it saves me money. There are some vegan options, we have houmous and roast veg readily available as well as salad leaves so I can have salad. It does get a bit boring and same-y though. We also have veg crisps and a vegan cupcake, so I should be ok. I might bring in rice cakes to have with the homous and veg to change things up occasionally as I don't like to have bread very often.

With any luck by the end of November I'll be loving being vegan and won't be able to imagine eating dairy ever again, just like I can't imagine eating meat again. But obviously my sanity comes first and if I'm miserable I'm not going to carry on with it. I'll definitely always try to keep my dairy, egg, etc. intake to a minimum where I can. I also don't want people to worry about what to cook me if I come round for dinner, so even if I stay vegan I won't refuse a meal from anyone cooking for me if it has cheese or whatever in it.

I'm going to write updates throughout the challenge, and post any good recipes I find. If anyone has any good tips or easy recipes for me, let me know. Or if you're doing the challenge too, drop me a message and we can keep each other motivated when we want to reach for the cheese!

Bryony :)

Friday, 24 October 2014

LUSH Wishlist

Payday is around the corner and I am planning on treating myself to some LUSH goodies. Sadly I doubt my purse strings will stretch far enough to allow me to buy everything I'd like to. But for now I can make do by sharing my LUSH wishlist, which may help me to decide what to buy and what to leave for another time.

I've been wanting to try out a cleanser from LUSH for a while now, but I wanted to make sure I picked the right one. My biggest skin worry is blackheads, and nothing I've ever bought has done anything to shift them so I tweeted the lovely guys at LUSH and asked for a recommendation. They've told me that Herbalism is the way to go for blackhead issues, so I'd really like to try this out and see if it helps.

I've wanted to try Marilyn ever since reading Hallfy's blog post 'Blonde Ambition'. I have my hair bleached every two months and I'm forever looking for anything to keep it in decent condition as it can get quite dry. I don't use heat on it and I swear by Wella Professionals Oil Reflections, but it could still use something extra. Hopefully Marilyn will do the trick.

I was given a sample of this last week when I was buying some gifts for my housemate's birthday and I absolutely fell in love with it. It smells to die for, I wanted to eat it instead of wash with it and after I washed I wanted to lick my skin. I only needed a small amount to create loads of lovely lather. My only reservation so far is that it obviously contains honey, which conflicts with the fact I'm doing a 30 day vegan challenge in November.

I love a good shower scrub, there's no better feeling than getting out of the shower and drying off, feeling like you've scrubbed all of the day's crap off you. I especially love that this is antiseptic and am really eager to try it out.

I could add about a million bath bombs and so forth to this list, but I'll leave it at this for now. If any of you have tried any of these products please let me know what you thought of them as it may help me to decide which to buy come payday! Or if you think any other products are better than these, let me know!

Bryony :)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Comic Book Day: The Wicked + The Divine #5 and Bodies #4

Yesterday was of course, Comic Book Day! It was a good week for me as I got The Wicked + The Divine as well as Bodies, so I'm finally all up-to-date with Bodies now and it's on James' pull list so I'll never be behind again. I love both these comics, although I have to say they're both currently full of a lot of mystery. My poor brain can't take much more, I want answers!



First up was The Wicked + The Divine. I really love this comic, it's beautifully drawn and has a little bit of everything. I particularly loved this part, it really came out of nowhere and I just love any issue that has Ananke in as I love her headdress. I want to look like her when I'm an old lady. She's also pretty intriguing, seeing as she's the only one whose been around for thousands and thousands of years. This issue was also packed with plenty of 'God on God' violence, which looked pretty astounding.


As I mentioned last week, I LOVE SHAHARA. She's my favourite detective out of the four. In this issue she once again kicked some ass and made me love her even more. It feels like this issue was starting to bring some plot points together, but I am still SO CONFUSED and can't wait for this to all start making sense. Especially the section set in the future because I have no idea what's going on there, but I like it.

Bryony :)

Monday, 20 October 2014

Homemade Christmas Present Ideas

I realise it's a little early to be talking about Christmas, but I'm the kind of person that likes to be organised. I like to spread out the cost so I'm not skint come December and seeing as this year I'm planning on making as much as possible myself I need to get a move on or I'm going to spend all of December slaving away over presents.

Naturally the first place I turned to for inspiration was Pinterest, which has provided me with some excellent ideas for a little homemade goodie bag.



This is so easy! I love it. I'm thinking I'll ask everyone what their favourite hot drink is and how they take it, then I'll write their name and all the info on the mugs and maybe a few doodles. So simple yet really personal and lovely.



I love this idea. Again, really simple. Super Christmassy, plus it's always nice to have a scrub on hand with no nasty ingredients. There's also a recipe for a Peppermint Scrub on the same blog, so I may make some gingerbread and some peppermint.



Seeing as my family are all big drinkers (and most of them like whiskey) I really like the idea of making them some apple cinnamon whiskey. I don't even like whiskey but that sounds amazing to me. I'm planning on buying some mini milk bottles to present it in, it's going to be so cute!





I love curds. I plan on re-cycling some miniature jam pots from work to package these up in, and baking some shortbread to dunk in. Sounds like heaven to me, hopefully my family will agree!

Are you hand making any Christmas gifts this year? I'd love to hear about it!

Bryony :)

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Comic Book Day: Bodies, Lumberjanes and Death of Wolverine

Today was a good haul for me comic book wise. Last week James asked the comic shop guys to back order issue #3 of Bodies for me so that arrived today, as well as issue #7 of Lumberjanes (only one more left, noooo) and Part 4 of Death of Wolverine (also nooooo). I was very excited to get stuck in.


First up is Bodies. The more I read this comic the more I love it (and the more confused I get, I hope it all makes sense eventually and that I'm not just stupid). My favourite character at the moment is Shahara, she's absolutely awesome. She's intelligent, she's tough, and she can kick some serious butt. I just love seeing such a positive representation of a Muslim woman in a comic. My favourite part of this issue was seeing Shahara totally destroy an extreme 'patriot'. Beautiful.


Next up was Lumberjanes. I have such a soft spot for this comic, as it was the first one I started collecting and I just bloody love it. It's so funny and quirky, I'm pretty sure I've settled on Ripley as my favourite character (partially because I love that she's named after one of the most badass film characters of all time). This issue came with a twist which has me waiting on tenterhooks for the next and final issue (sob). It also came with some very beautiful artwork.


Finally we have Death of Wolverine: Part 4. I didn't really want to read this, because I don't want Wolverine to die. Wolverine is one of my favourite comic book characters ever. Saying that, parts one to three of this have been AWESOME. The artwork is amazing, there's been plenty of intrigue and more than once I got hit right in the feels. But to be honest I was left pretty underwhelmed by the last issue. It felt rushed, it was all over really quickly and to be honest I thought there'd be a bit more... zing. It's Wolverine, after all.


I will say that I loved these title pages in each issue. It reminded me of the opening credits of old Western films. Every time I turned the page to this I had 'dun-a-dun-a-dun-wah-wah-wah' going off in my head.

Bryony :)

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Homemade Vegetarian Fajita Recipe

This is a recipe I got from my mum, I've always loved the way she makes fajitas and they're so simple and quick to put together that they're a go-to recipe for me when I'm tired. You can pack them with as much veg as you like, too, so they're pretty good for you. The benefit of using your own spices instead of a packet mix is that you can make it taste exactly how you want it to, as mild or as spicy as you desire.


Here's what you'll need to make these tasty fajitas:

Tortilla wraps
1 white onion
Quorn chicken style pieces (or you can use real chicken if you're not a veggie, or skip this altogether and add extra veg, baby corn and mange tout go really well)
2 or 3 bell peppers
Creme fraiche
Wholegrain mustard
Grated cheese (if desired)
Cumin
Paprika
Chilli powder

Pre-heat a wok with a little oil. Chop the onion and start to cook in the wok, followed by quorn chicken (or real chicken) if you're using any. Chop the bell peppers and any other veg you want to add, chuck those in the wok too and give it all a good stir.



Now you want to add the seasoning. You'll want to use plenty of cumin and paprika, then chilli powder to taste. You can make them as spicy or as mild as you like. While that's cooking away you can quickly grate the cheese if you're using any, and make the sauce.

I don't know what made my mum come up with the idea for using this sauce instead of sour cream, but I love the stuff! All you do is mix some wholegrain mustard (as much or as little as you'd like) with some creme fraiche. It goes together so well, it helps to cool the fajitas down while still having plenty of great taste.


Once that's ready you can just chuck everything on the table and start putting your fajitas together. You can add some salad too, if you wish. That's the great thing about this recipe, it's so versatile and simple.


Bryony :)

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Comic Book Day: Wytches #1

Let me start by apologising for my absence recently, I had a nasty cold last week and didn't feel like blogging or writing up my 'Seven Things Sunday'. I've also decided to stop doing STS as it was making me be lazy about blogging. Instead of writing up full posts I kept thinking 'Oh I can just put this in my STS post'. Hopefully better quality blogging shall ensue!

I've mentioned before that I've started reading a few comics here and there, and this has now grown to a total of five comics that are currently on my boyfriend's pull list for me (I should really start my own one). So I've decided to make it a weekly thing to talk about the comics I get every week and what I think of them, and so forth.

This week Wytches was released. I've been really excited about reading this for a while now, I've read a lot of excellent reviews and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I think this may be the darkest comic I've picked up so far, and one of the most interesting. I was completely gripped (and terrified) the whole time I was reading.


Right from the outset I was gasping out loud at this. I think the first time I gasped James turned to me and asked how I could be shocked so early on. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but I found the opening scenes (which are set in the early 1900s) very chilling. It quickly moved on to present day where you meet a nice family who have just moved. You very quickly realise something isn't quite right here, and their story begins to unfold.

I have to say I love the artwork in this, I love that the witches aren't your stereotypical witches on brooms but instead are incredibly terrifying ancient beings. I would not want to read this at night time. In fact, just thinking about it at this time of night is making me want to sleep with the light on. I was left with a bit of a cliffhanger, and I am very eager to find out what's going on, although I don't think I'm going to find any peace of mind here.

I also really enjoyed reading Snyder's explanation of where the inspiration for this story came from, although it only served to make me feel even more uneasy. I can't wait to see where this goes, although I am worried that I'm going to start having nightmares before too long!

Bryony :)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Trip to London + Wicked!

As part of James' birthday present I organised a two day trip to London to see Wicked and be tourists. I was really excited as I've never seen a show in London before and I've always wanted to see Wicked.

 
We arrived at about 1.30 on Monday and headed straight to our hotel in Wembley to check in and drop off some things. Naturally I couldn't resist taking a hotel selfie. 


We then headed out to Forbidden Planet, James' favourite place in London. We spent ages looking at all the cool stuff, I managed to find issue #2 of Bodies, which I've been trying to get for ages but our local comic book shop didn't seem to have it in. I could've spent a fortune in there, there was so much awesome looking stuff. We then headed to Five Guys as I was desperate to try some raspberry coke and spicy peanut fries. They didn't disappoint! 


Then it was time to head over to the Apollo Victoria Theatre for the show. We actually decided to walk from Five Guys instead of getting the tube and we ended up walking right past Buckingham Palace which was pretty cool. We made it just in time for the show and it was absolutely amazing! I loved every second. 


Afterwards we headed back to our hotel and had some drinks before getting an early-ish night. In the morning we headed straight for the Natural History Museum. I loved the dinosaur exhibit but there were so many school parties that it was difficult to really enjoy. My favourite part was the mammal exhibit, seeing just how enormous a blue whale is was breathtaking. I felt so small.


We popped into the Science Museum briefly too, but the one bit I wanted to see is no longer there sadly. We then wandered around Camden Market (and had a gander at the new Amy Winehouse statue) before making our way to Soho so I could visit the Hummingbird Bakery. No trip to London is complete without a cake from there! 


Afterwards we went to Forbidden Planet again. James treated me to a few things because he's lovely. I ended up with quite a nice haul! 


I had a great time and there's still so much I want to see in London, but I don't think I could've handled another day. Trips to London always remind me how much I love Norwich. It's so much quieter.

Bryony :)