Monday, 6 June 2016

Reading recently


The Colour of Water in July by Nora Carroll (3.5/5 stars)

A summer of romance, a childhood broken and secrets buried for a lifetime. Jess grew up visiting her grandmother's lakeside house every summer, a period of stability away from her life on the road with her journalist mother. The summer before Jess left for university was a summer she would never forget, it was the summer she first fell in love and the summer she lost something too precious. Seventeen years passed and Jess did not see her grandmother again so is shocked to discover that she was left the house upon her death. Returning to the house, she slowly begins to unravel a long-buried secret and painful memories that her grandmother tried so hard to bury. 

The Colour of Water in July is a really lovely book. It took me a few chapters to get into it but by the end I had been pulled in and really didn't want it to end. It's filled with rich descriptions and paints such a vivid picture of the characters and the life that surrounds them. There are unexpected turns but it's told in such a gentle way, not like the fast paced and often tense stories I normally gravitate towards. It's a story of lives that wind together, bound by a secret that most didn't know existed. It's about self-discovery and the power of love, family, and hidden pasts. 

The Turning Point by Freya North (4/5 stars)

It was love at first sight when Frankie and Scott met. Despite living thousands of miles apart, they find themselves in the same place at the same time one evening and from there their story begins. After a few wonderful days spent blissfully happy, they return to their homes: Frankie to Norfolk where she lives with her two children and Scott to Canada. While distance parts them, an unlikely love blossoms, a spark turns into a deep connection and they cannot imagine what life would have been like had they never met. For Frankie and Scott, their lives are going to change forever, but just not perhaps in the way you might think.

I'd read the description of this book a few times before deciding to buy it, eventually being persuaded by the huge amount of five star reviews it has on Amazon. The Turning Point is simply a love story, a tale of a connection so deep it can only be fiction. It's about finding love in the most unexpected places and how distance is only a number. It wasn't the story I was expecting when I started reading this book, in fact, in the beginning, I just kept thinking it was too good to be true, that something would happen soon because that's just what always happens. It's beautiful, tragic and emotionally draining. It's not a book I would normally read, the love cynic in me steering away from anything too soppy and romantic, but I really did love this book, just not in the way I thought I might.

While My Eyes Were Closed by Linda Green (3/5 stars) 

When you play hide and seek you expect the other person to disappear out of sight. What you don't expect is that they will disappear completely and become a missing person, which is exactly what happened to Lisa when she played the game with her four year old daughter Ella. A search party is launched and all eyes turn to one man, a convict who lives near the park and also happens to be on the sex offenders list but is that too stereotypical, should they be searching closer to home?

After Ella goes missing quite early on into the book, the rest of the story is told in alternating chapters between the three main characters. It's every parent's worst nightmare to lose a child, but when it happened while your eyes were closed, not watching over their every move, things can become a little complicated. This book captures the terror and heartbreak of not knowing where you child is, but also shows how every move we make is subject the judgement and scrutiny of others, sometimes with disastrous consequences. It's a little slower paced that most psychological thrillers but this gives more time to focus on the characters, their emotions and the things that have happened in their lives that have made them who they are today. I did enjoy it but it didn't stand out among other books I have read recently.

Have you read any good books recently?

xxx

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Life snippets: May


I missed last month's life snippets post so it feels like forever since I've written a little life update on here. It wasn't that I forgot about the April post, it was just that not a lot happened during the month that I thought was worth writing about and sharing. May, on the other hand, has been a much more exciting month.

If you read my last post then you will know that at the beginning of this month I spent the weekend with one of my wonderful blogger friends, Samantha. Samantha and I have been chatting for the past year but our visit this month was the first time we had met in real life. We had the best time and I know I have definitely made a good friend who I hope will be in my life for a long time to come - I won't go into too much detail as I wrote all about it in my last post (and if you're looking for a new blog to follow then Samantha's is worth a wee visit). 


I spent a really nice Sunday in Glasgow during the month as well. I'd got tickets to see Foxes again a while ago and had been looking forward to it for ages. The gig had originally been scheduled for March but due to illness it was moved to May. She was, again, fantastic and I'd definitely recommend going to see her live if you are a fan. I also went for dinner with my friend beforehand to Stereo, which is a fully vegan restaurant in Glasgow. I had a veggie burger and it was so, so yummy.  Everything on the menu looked amazing though so I will definitely be back to try some more of their meals. 

Being in Glasgow for the gig, I also took the opportunity to visit Whole Foods for the first time! I don't visit Glasgow too often as it is quite far from where I live, well compared to Edinburgh, so I thought while I was through there an extra twenty minutes in the car to Whole Foods was really nothing, plus I had been wanting to go for ages. It did not disappoint. Although it did turn out to be pretty expensive for regular things like fruit and veg, there were so many wonderful vegan things that you just don't really get anywhere else so I got lots of things like that to try (some of which is pictured above - yum). It's probably a good thing I don't live closer, to be honest, because this way my bank balance can stay happy.

Another exciting thing that happened this month was my food blog, Ginger Kitchen, getting shortlisted in the Health Blog Awards for 'Best Vegan Blog'! I still can't quite believe it and I am so, so happy to have been shortlisted among so many other wonderful bloggers. I only started my food blog this year so to have come this far already is just incredible. I definitely couldn't get the smile off my face the day I found out.

Other than that, there's been the usual coffee dates, catch ups with friends and lots of yummy food eaten. It really has been a rather lovely month.

A few posts I've loved this month::

Lauren's post on learning to love your body
Samantha's 'Healthy Food, Healthy Mind' post
Hannah's ode to teenage girls

Have you had a nice month?

xxx

Friday, 13 May 2016

A day in Edinburgh + vegan eats!


Blogging is wonderful. Never in a million years did I think that when I set up this little space on the internet that it would bring me such fantastic friends. The type of friends who just get you, who you can be completely yourself around and who inspire you to be a better person. Samantha and I have been chatting for over a year now but it was only last week that we met for the first time 'in real life'. It was a little strange meeting someone who you have been talking to for so long actually in person, but it was also so amazing. Samantha is definitely one of the most wonderful people I have ever met and I feel so lucky to call her my friend (and that she was willing to travel eight hours on a bus to come and visit me!). Luckily, my dad's flat in Edinburgh was between tenants when she came to stay so we spent her visit based there and going out to explore everything that the city had to offer, which although I only live half an hour by train from Edinburgh was so great as we didn't need to stress about taking trains or having to travel after a long day of exploring. And, as I've recently decided to go vegan there were lots of places in Edinburgh I had been eyeing up to try so this gave us the perfect opportunity for a day of vegan dining in one of my favourite cities.

Breakfast: Hula Juice Bar, 103-105 West Bow

We visited the Hula Juice Bar for breakfast. Having been there before for smoothies, I had been eyeing up their breakfast menu for a while so was really excited to try it. We both got the Maca Nana Bowl, which was a vanilla, maca and banana smoothie topped with raspberry granola and peanut butter, and oh-my-god it was heavenly. I have been dreaming about this breakfast ever since, it was that good. Hula isn't a vegan cafe but they have lots of vegan options and lots of healthy choices. I will definitely be back soon. 


After breakfast, we wandered down the Royal Mile towards the parliament and Arthur's Seat. It wasn't part of the plan to go up the hill, but we thought we would go up the Salisbury Crags Cliffs because y'know, that view makes for wonderful blog pics. It was actually the first time I've gone up the cliffs, despite having done Arthur's Seat lots of times before. 

Afterwards, we headed away from the old town and ventured up Carlton Hill for another beautiful view. Although the sun wasn't out, it was quite a clear day so being up there everything looked so wonderful and you could see the whole city stretching out below. Edinburgh never fails to make me smile. It's such a beautiful city and I really do hope that one day I am lucky enough to live there for a while. 

Lunch: Moon and Hare, 167 Bruntsfield Place

For lunch I thought it would be nice to head into Morningside so Samantha could see another part of the city and also because I'd heard of a few healthy food places down that way I was eager to try out (yes, the whole day pretty much centered around food ofc). Having seen Moon and Hare pop up more times than I can count on my Instagram feed I was so excited to finally pop in. It's a tiny little cafe situated just at the end of Bruntsfield/top of Morningside and is exactly the kind of place I love. Everything on the menu was vegan and gluten free, although I don't think the cafe is fully vegan as they did have regular milk for coffees but all the food was vegan (yay). The waffles were soooo tempting but I was really craving some veggies after our sweet breakfast so we decided to get two of the wraps and have half of each. We chose one that I think was called 'zesty', which had lots of veggies and hummus and the other one was a bit spicier with chickpeas and a curry flavour. We also got a roasted veggie and chickpea salad to share and lots of lemon water on the side. Everything was so delicious, the staff were so lovely and the cafe had such a nice atmosphere, although I think if you were to go on a Saturday it could be really busy! I definitely need to go back soon to try those vegan waffles though. 



Once we'd finished lunch we wandered back up through Morningside and Bruntsfield, popping in and out of the shops on the way. Being a fellow health food lover, I couldn't let Samantha leave Edinburgh without a trip to Realfoods so we went there for a browse too where I picked up a huge Grams snickers bar, which was delicious. It's vegan and made with only natural ingredients including dates, peanut butter and oats - so yummy. Gram's have also just opened their own little deli shop near Haymarket, which I haven't visited yet but will do very soon, so definitely check that out too if you live locally. 

For dinner we went to Henderson's, which is a must for vegan food in Edinburgh! We had intended to go to the vegan bistro, rather than the vegetarian restaurant (they are just around the corner from one another) but I ended up preferring the vegan options at the veggie restaurant so we went there instead. I had a nut burger with what was meant to be served with sweet potato wedges but they just tasted like regular potato wedges, but still delicious so I didn't mind, and a peanut sauce. Samantha had the crepe of the day, which I think was butternut squash, caramelised onions and other veggies in a soy cream sauce with salad. Both meals were so yummy and vegan. I can't recommend Henderson's enough for great vegan food in Edinburgh. This was the first time I had been for dinner - they also go breakfast and lunch so you know you can always get something yummy there. I would like to try the vegan bistro but I just wasn't really in the mood for what they had on the menu that night - it's also quite small so at least you know if you can't get a table in there then the veggie restaurant is just around the corner with lots of vegan options on the menu too. I didn't get any photos though because it was quite dark and sometimes it's nice to just eat and not worry about getting the perfect photo.

I had the most lovely time having Samantha to visit. It is so wonderful how blogging can bring you such great friends who can go from being just online blog friends to real life friends. It was a jam-packed day of sightseeing, good conversation, and amazing vegan food and I can't wait to do it all again when we next meet! 

Thank you blogging, for everything. 

xxx


Thursday, 28 April 2016

Switching to a natural deodorant / Salt of the Earth review


I don't think I've ever written anything beauty related on this blog before. To be honest, it's not really my thing. Of course, I do use lots of beauty products as most girls do, but writing about them has just never really interested me. Until this one popped up and that's because it's kind of the final part of my journey to lead a healthier lifestyle, and it fits in with my decision to go vegan too. So, maybe it isn't too unusual. I hope you will like it, it's always nice to have a little change every now and again anyway, isn't it? 

Over the past few months I've been making a more conscious effort to pay more attention to the beauty products I buy. I've spent so long changing my diet and I feel so amazing for it, so now I want to focus more on what I'm putting onto my body, not just what I'm putting into it. Since deciding to go vegan I've been buying products that are not tested on animals as a first step, but after becoming more immersed in the community I've now opened a whole new door to the world of natural beauty products. 

One of the first I was eager to try was a natural deodorant. I have very sensitive underarms so I'm sure all the chemical filled deodorants I normally use are not doing me any good. After a whole lot of googling to research natural alternatives I came across this Salt of the Earth one and decided to give it a try. I think I paid £5 for it on Amazon but I've also seen it in quite a few health food stores since then for the same price.


It's a natural crystal deodorant and contains only one ingredient, potassium alum, which is a natural mineral salt. It's been moulded into a nice deodorant shaped form, rounded at the top like a roll-on deodorant usually is. It's completely odourless, doesn't leave any white marks (like really doesn't, not like ones that say they don't and totally do), and offers 24 hour protection. It's also free from alcohol, isn't tested on animals and doesn't block your pores. 

I was a little skeptical at first about how effective it really would be, especially considering I am a gym bunny. You need to wet the stick a little before applying it, so if you're just out the shower then leave your underarms a little damp and it will roll on easily, otherwise I just run it under the tap for a second before applying. It goes on just as a roll-on would, but you can't actually see anything, which did make me worry that I didn't have it on properly, but you do so it's okay. I've been using this deodorant for a few weeks now and I love it. It really does work, even for protecting you against workout sweats. I would usually have gone through at least one, if not two, of my regular deodorants in the time I have had this one and it doesn't even look like it's gone down at all so I can see it lasting for a long time. So, although it might seem a little expensive, it will last for ages!

I don't think I can fault this deodorant in any way and I'm now just thinking 'why did I not change sooner?!' It's so wonderful and I definitely think you should all try it. 

Be kind to your body, be kind to the animals, be kind to the earth.

Do you use natural beauty products? I'd love to know your favourites! 

xxx

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