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. 


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! 


Monday, 18 April 2016

Reading recently

I do usually review three books in these posts, but the two I have read recently were just so wonderful that I wanted to keep to just them. I think these books are definitely two of my favourites from this year so far and I'd absolutely recommend them both!

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark (4/5 stars)

Elizabeth Pringle lived on the Isle of Arron for over 90 years. It was where she grew up, fell in love, went through heartbreak, made friends, lost loved ones and eventually died. It was her home. When she passed away she left her beautiful house to a woman who she once saw walking along the road with a pram over 30 years before. Anna, the woman with the pram, is losing her way, dementia pulling her deeper into its grasp, and so it is left to Martha, the baby once in that pram, to find out why Elizabeth left her home to her mother, a stranger. 

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle is a beautiful book. The story is a captivating mix of relationships, friendships and heartbreak. Told in alternating chapters between Martha's journey to discover who Elizabeth Pringle really was and Elizabeth's story as told through her own account. It's engrossing and charming, dealing with the war, getting older and the heartache of watching someone you love slip away. Elizabeth was a wonderful woman, trapped by a secret too awful to ever voice until her friends learn after her death about the hurt she carried around for too many years.

The Girl with No Name by Diney Costeloe (4.5/5 stars)

I loved this book. A lot.

The story follows Lisa, a young girl who was evacuated to London from Germany at the beginning of the war. She can't speak a word of English and her only belongings fit into a tiny suitcase. Adopted by a childless couple, Lisa begins to settle into her new life while missing her family who stayed behind deeply. As the bombing of London worsens, Lisa one day awakens in hospital with no memory at all of who she is after being caught in a blitz, one which destroyed the home of her foster parents. The next chapter of Lisa's life begins as she is given a new name, Charlotte, and once again evacuated, this time to the English countryside.

The Girl with No Name is a beautiful book which tells a heartbreaking story of life during the second world war. Whenever I read a book set during this time I find myself comparing it to The Book Theif and so far no other book has been quite as good, until this one. I became completely absorbed by the characters and gripped by the story. Although it is quite a long book, I really didn't want it to end. Although common at the time, Lisa's story is devastating and really made me realise just how lucky we are now. War is an awful thing and this story really brings to life the terrible reality of life during that time. I couldn't recommend it more. 

Have you read any wonderful books recently? 


Thursday, 31 March 2016

Life snippets: March

I think I could mention how fast time is going in every single one of these posts, but I have been trying to avoid it. Now that's it's the last day of March though, I can't help but feel this year has almost been non-existent. We're almost into the fourth month and I feel like I haven't really achieved anything. You really do wish your life away sometimes, like on a Monday morning when the weekend seems like a distant memory and you're already willing the next one to come along. It's hard to embrace every single moment when life can become so mundane and routine, when it doesn't feel exciting anymore and you're just going through the motions. 

March has been a lovely month though, which was mainly because I had a whole 10 days off work in the middle! I just spent the days going on little adventures, seeing the people I love and spending as much time outdoors as possible, embracing the freedom of not being stuck behind a desk - I actually did a whole post about it because it was just so wonderful. 

It's been the month when, finally, Spring feels as though it's on the way. Daffodils are popping up everywhere, blue sky has made a reappearance and the chill in the air has lessened. I love Spring, the prospect of new life and the end of 'oh my god, it's too cold to even consider leaving the house' season. The days finally are getting longer and your head is buzzing with a million ideas for the months ahead. It would just be lovely if time would slow down, even just a little. 

What did you get up to in March?


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