How I’ve found three months of no meat Mondays

I’m going to start this off by saying, I love meat. A lot. Bacon, chicken, lamb, literally anything. But as a New Year’s Resolution I thought it would be interesting to see how we’d cope as a family with one meat free meal a week. Here’s how we’ve got on, how I’m finding it three months down the line and a few of my favourite meatless meals.

I have to say it’s been pretty successful! For me at least. We got into a massive rut with what we were having for tea, especially on a Monday. It was a rotation of chilli and sausage and bean casserole because we had the ingredients and it was easy to shove it all in the slow cooker. By forcing ourselves to ‘go veggie’ for one day a week we’ve had loads of different meals that we probably wouldn’t have made otherwise. At first everything looked a bit same-y, curry after curry, but as the weeks have gone on we’ve found a load of different recipes which have made me excited to get home on a Monday night. So I think we might be getting into a bit of a groove now. It can be easy to just pick curries and variations of spicy butternut squash. But we’ve started to incorporate different meals each week which changes it up a bit. Here are a few of my favourite recipes we’ve cooked over the last three months.

My favourite meat free recipes

Curried vegetable patties – These were fab! From Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start book they may have been a bit of a faff to make they were really delicious. They were packed with lots of different veg and we had one patty with other veg and a really tasty mango chutney yogurt mixture. This recipe also made enough patties to have for lunches which was great and tasted just as nice cold.

Black bean enchiladas – Amazing! Another one that was a bit faffy but equally delicious this is one where I 100% don’t miss the meat. We used a recipe from a random magazine but I’ve linked one that looks similar. A tasty black bean mixture inside the tortilla topped with cheese and then a yummy tomato sauce. We also served it with a bit of guac and it was great. Writing about it is making my mouth water and I may recommend we have it next week.

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake – Another one from Tom Kerridge, I think I could eat this every week. The recipe isn’t perfect and the next time we make it we will probably change a few things up, e.g put crushed chillis into it, but it was really tasty. It’s pretty much macaroni cheese but with pureed roasted butternut squash in the sauce and breadcrumbs and roasted squash sprinkled on top. Seriously delicious, really filling, probably not fab for you health wise but in my top teas to eat at the minute.

Do you have any favourite veggie recipes. I’m always open to new ones to add to my list for Mondays!

My favourite cookery books and recipes

I’m all about food. Eating out, cooking at home, 100% my vibe. over the last few years, I’ve gathered a nice little collection of recipe books to sit in and amongst the Jamie Oliver, Marcus Wareing and 1980s books that my parents have. I thought I’d share my three favourite books which we use quite a lot at home and a few of the most delicious recipes. So buckle up for a foodie post.

A Year of Beautiful Eating | Madeleine Shaw

This was the first of Madeleine’s books I bought. I searched high and low for it after I heard her on Lily and Anna’s podcast At Home With because some of the recipes sounded amazing and I wanted to give them a try. There are so many recipes that I love and the fact that it’s split up into seasons means that every year you remember recipes that you loved from the year before. My favourites are the Baked Sea Bream and Lentil Parcels, although we use salmon instead of sea bream and it works just the same (the pesto is fab). Also the Prawn Korma is delicious and the Chicken and Chickpea Curry is great because it has peanut butter in it. I could literally list every recipe in this book as my favourite but I’ll leave it there. If you want pretty easy meals with a lot of variety then I really recommend you pick this one up.

Fresh Start | Tom Kerridge

For my birthday I got the book which went alongside Tom Kerridge’s latest food show (really good btw). I went through when I first got it and bookmarked everything I wanted to try and safe to say there were A LOT of bookmarks. Not everything is that quick to make and some of it can be a bit time consuming but it’s worth it in the end. A prime example of this are the Nutty Wholemeal Pancakes. Delicious and amazing but I literally used every bowl in the house making this one. Some of my other favourites are the Beef Biryani, Peanut Butter Brownie and Butternut Squash Pasta Bake. There are a few weird ingredients but it’s nothing that a quick google can’t fix as most have a replacement you’ll already have in your cupboard.

Ready, Steady, Glow | Madeleine Shaw

I love Madeleine’s recipes (if you haven’t already noticed) and this one has some real crackers in it. The Cookies in this book are my favourites to make – even if my dad isn’t that keen – because the buckwheat flour makes them taste nutty and they’re the perfect balance of crunchy and chewy, yes! This is split into quick recipes and ones that take a bit more time and does some fab ones that take no time at all. The Red Thai Salmon Curry and the Chickpea Curry are fab and so is the Chicken Stir Fry (the sauce is amazing and is literally four ingredients). This book also has yoga moves in it if you fancy a bit of a stretch when you’re cookies are baking (try the cookies, you won’t regret it).

What recipes are you loving at the minute? I’d appreciate any veggie ones because we’re doing meat free Mondays and I’m running low on ideas.

A whistle stop tour of Brighton’s food offerings

Recently I went on a weekend trip to Brighton and had such a good time! I saw the sights, was forced into watching Stranger Things (great decision) and ate some tasty food! I thought it might be quite nice to share some of the delicious things Brighton had to offer – and there was plenty to choose from. Disclaimer: This is just a quick run down of where we went over one afternoon (and the next morning), other than that I’m probably the worst person to give Brighton food suggestions but I just thought it might be nice to share where we went.

Arriving in Brighton after just a sausage sandwich and a latte on the train I was ready for something tasty, preferably with a sea view. And that’s just what I got! Now because I’m an idiot I have no idea what the place is called where we ended up but you could see the pier from it. Anyway we sat by the beach with a latte and some of the best chips and garlic aioli that have ever passed my lips. Think of the most garlic-y thing there very was, times it by ten and that’s how much garlic was in the dip – it was amazing! Crispy hot chips and creamy sauce sat looking out to the sea in the sunshine, what more could you ask for!

We then fancied some ice cream and after a bit of a Google we made our way to Boho Gelato. It was the end of the day so flavours were a bit limited but still delish. I went for Nutella and vegan vanilla brownie and it was super tasty, especially the Nutella. I mean what’s better than hitting a giant lump of chocolate-y goodness! Perfect way to round off a seaside afternoon.

Day two on the Brighton food adventure started with a bang. Two words; Red Roaster. It’s literally the thing of Instagram dreams and not only does it look super pretty but the food is also seriously delicious! We went for breakfast after a prosecco fuelled late night in a jacuzzi (long story) so heads and stomachs were a little tender but we were ready for a tasty brunch. I went for a latte and a herb waffle with bacon jam, a fried egg and bits of apple. Oh my god it was amazing. You know when you eat something and it just sings – this was one of those moments. What’s not to love about bacon, apple and a whole load of waffle?! I’d love to go back as well for lunch to test out some of the other things on the menu. I was 100% recommend this, it was sensash.

As I said, just a quick little run down of where I went on my tiny travels!

Is Maybelline Tattoo Brow a miracle product?

In a recent blog post where I went through some of my unloved products (read that here) I can across this – the Maybelline Tattoo Brow Long Lasting Tint. I bought this around when it first came out when I was wanting to spend a little less money on my brows. It seemed like a total miracle product. Costing around £10 it would save a decent chunk in the brow tinting department and there are three shades, light, medium and dark brown. I went for medium brown as although I have blonde hair I’m all about a dark eyebrow. The whole idea of this product is that you paint it on, wait for 20 minutes to two hours depending on how long you want it to last and then peel it off.

Now, I’ll start with the positives. The applicator is a small brush making it easy to draw on the shape you want, it isn’t at all messy and takes next to no time to apply. When it’s on I can’t feel it and, although it makes me look like I have sharpie brows, having it on for two hours isn’t an issue. Peeling it off may seem like it’s going to take all of the brow hairs with it but other than a few casualties it’s totally fine. Overall it’s an easy to use product for something that usually requires getting a professional in.

There is one main problem with this and it’s quite a big one – it’s orange. Like, the colour is orange. And I have no idea why. It’s a perfectly normal colour when you go to bed the day of application but I’ve woken up to find two cheesy wotsits above my eyes. Not good. And that’s the only thing stopping this product from being amazing because it has everything else going for it. The way I’ve been using it is as a guide for filling in my brows. Because I have such fair hair when I have no tint on my brows it can take quite a while to fill them in so by using this I already have a bit of a head start which is good. But I wouldn’t go out with just this on my brows because, as I said, it turns them orange!

I will keep using this because I want to use it all up and I can just about get away with making it work – but there won’t be a repurchase on the horizon.

Have you used this product? Did you get on with it?

Taking a trip down makeup memory lane

I was sat looking at my makeup the other day (you know, like normal people do) and I suddenly thought that a lot of it relates to a special time or has a significant moment attached to it. Even the most random and ‘boring’ of products reminds me of something that has happened. So, I thought it would be nice to look back at the makeup that give me my favourite memories and it might encourage me to get the products out of the drawer and use them a bit more!

Back in my early days of blog reading and Youtube watching the Tarte Amazonian Clay Blushes were big news. But being in the UK and no plans of visiting America on the horizon I just had to sit back and watch everyone rave about how amazing they were. So when we hopped on a plane to Florida in 2015, this was top of my Sephora shopping list. Obviously I bought the shade Tipsy (it was either that or Exposed – the go-to shades) and I still crack this out every Summer. Whenever I wear it I think of wandering around the Sephora in Florida (my first time in an American Sephora), filling my basket with vlogger recommendations. This product will always hold a special place in my heart.

The first non-stationary highlighter I bought was a great day. It was around this time two years ago after I’d been for an interview at the job I currently have, hooray! It was in Leeds and my mum went with me so afterwards we went out for lunch and popped along to Debenhams for a cheeky purchase to celebrate a job well done. The Urban Decay Afterglow Highlighter had just come out and it had received good reviews all round so I thought it would be a good one to give a go (up until this point I’d been using glittery champagne eyeshadows as highlight – it was very questionable behaviour!) The were three shades and I went for Aura, a pink/purple shade which I’d heard was good for people with pale skin. It’s a good product but this colour is just not me. It’s preety much purple and isn’t the vibe I usually go for but this product gives me such fond memories of that day that I don’t think I’ll be able to part with it anytime soon.

Kinda Sexy – to this day one of my favourite birthday presents. It was the first Mac (and only) Mac lipstick I’d been gifted and I was given it in La Tasca in Nottingham on my 20th birthday from my friends. Up until then I’d spent so long searching for the perfect nude and then this magically turned up in my lap. It’s a warm toned nude with a matte finish that looks cracking over the top of any nude-y lip liner. This was my go-to for ages and  reminds me so much of my second year at uni. It’s still probably my most worn lipstick.

The Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector. If ever there was maybe too much hype around a product this was it. I’d waited for so long before I took the plunge and bought one. It was with money I’d got from my 21st birthday and I had some time to kill before I was meeting my friends for a birthday surprise (afternoon tea at Browns, yes, yes, yes!) and I bobbed into town to splash the cash. I’d heard so many good things about this product; it’s the perfect gloss, the most moisturising thing you’ll ever have on your lips, etc. But I have to say I was pretty disappointed – I just found it too thick and sticky. Even though I wasn’t a fan of this product, I had the best time that day so I like to keep it as a littl reminder.

A couple of years ago for my 21st birthday, my mum, dad and me went to London. We had the best time there seeing the sights and having a wander round. One disaster that happened when we were there was that we only just made our slot to go up the Shard by minutes (you’re allowed 30 minutes over your booked time, we were 25). The reason we were running late and had to run from St Paul’s Cathedral to the Shard (it feels like miles) was that I was desperate to get my hands on the Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation. I’d been to every department store and shop possible to get my hands on this but they were sold out of my shade everywhere, it was a joke, But finally a very helpful House of Fraser answered all of my prayers! That was such a memorable day and there was so much hunting for a foundation which, I’m sad to say, I can’t get on with. I just find it too thick and hard to blend but it gave us a great story to tell!

When Fleur de Force released her makeup collection on Feel Unique I was there with the items in my basket and checked out before you could even say’good god get a grip girl’. I went for her Cosmic Bronze palette and one of her glosses. I ended up getting so much wear out of the palette and it reminds me of my third year at uni because it’s pretty much all I wore with some winged liner and a questionably strong brow. The thing that I remember most about this product is that I ordered it on a Thursday, it didn’t come until the Thursday after at which point I’d gone back to uni (on that day – how annoying!) and had to wait for it to be posted from home to Nottingham which took nearly another week so by the time it reached me I was desperate for it. No wonder I ended up loving it so much!

What’s your favourite makeup memory?

Is this the best matte lipstick ever?

This time last month if you’s have told me I would fall in love with a matte lipstick to a point of obsession then I’d have probably laughed in your face. I was all about the glossy lip, slathering on the lip gloss, cracking out my sheeny lipsticks and generally having a great time moisturising in general. That was until this landed on my doorstep – The Powerlips Fluid. Big shout out to my mate Amy for hooking me up with this cracking beauty!

This is the shade Maven which I’d say is a nude which is slightly darker than what I usually go for. I have to say when I first saw the shade I was a bit concerned at how dark it was. I expected it to be more of a easy to wear nude but leans more to the vampy side. I have to say though now I’ve had a chance to wear it I’m completely in love. The shade also is bang in the middle of warm and cool which for me is bang on! The picture above is pretty true to life and it really pops and stands out against my little pale face.

With matte lipsticks I always feel like you need to compromise – something won’t be quite right but you put up with it because that’s just the way it goes. Like they’re not matte enough so end up all over your face or they’re so dry your mouth feels like the desert or it gathers on the inside of your mouth. You get it, nothing is ever quite right. But I’ve had zero problems with this one. It dries down totally matte in quick time but never gets to the point where it sucks the life out of your lips. One thing which is a big plus for me as well is that you don’t need to be careful when applying to not go over the same spot – you can over the same space loads of times and it doesn’t get clumpy and thick. This also gives it big plus points when reapplying as it just glides on top of what was there with no issues.

Overall I would love to get more of these because the other shades look incredible! If you’re starting to lose your faith in matte lip products and think you’ll never find the perfect one, think again!

What’s your favourite matte lip product? 

Products that smell out of this world

I love good smelling products and scent can have a big impact on whether I like a product or love it. Something may be the best thing since sliced bread and do a great job but if it has a smell I’m not that into it’s not going to be one of my go-tos. I just want to pre-warn that I am hopeless at describing smells, seriously bad at it, but my favourite scents are fruity or quite sickly sweet so that’s what I tend to steer towards.

As far as dry shampoos go, Colab is my ultimate favourite. Not only are the names and bottles the cutest thing you may have ever seen, the product inside is actually pretty good too! At the minute I’m using the Unicorn one (obviously, unicorns are literally my life) and it has such a nostalgic smell to me! I don’t know what it is but it leans more florally but with a bit more of something that isn’t too perfume-y. I was also a fan of the Tropical one and I can’t wait to try out more of the other scents!

Soap and Glory have some amazing scents across their different products. The Smoothie Star range gives me life, especially in the winter, but one that will always have a special place in my heart is the Sugar Crush scent. Like fruit and sugar, this is a great ‘pick me up’ scent. If you’re ever feeling down, give this a whiff and it will transport you off to a summer’s day on a beach with a good book in one hand and a glass of prosecco in the other. At the minute I’m loving the Soap and Glory Sugar Crush Hand Cream. I find myself sniffing my hands all the time and looking like someone to avoid in the streets, I don’t care, it smells too good not to.

Please can someone tell me – why do new Mac lipsticks smell the best? There’s just something about them that makes them irresistible to sniff! It’s a strict procedure whenever anyone shows you a new Mac lipstick, take the lid off, look at the colour, smell it. I don’t know why! It’s sort of a vanilla situation that also reminds me a bit of a tic tac but it’s definitely the best thing about a new lipstick. (Sad news is the one in this picture – Kinda Sexy which is my all time favourite – now smells like a crayon. Breaks my little heart).

Pretty much any scent The Body Shop do I’m into. Everyone is just spot on but recently there’s one that I’ve been slightly obsessed with, the argan oil scent. I’ve never been that interested in it and to be honest when I’ve smelt it in the shop I’ve just thought it was like their shea range but not as nutty. I was totally wrong. I got the argan oil body butter for my birthday and on my little dry legs this smells amazing. Kind of a cross between summer and winter it makes you want the sun to shine but isn’t like a fruity scent because it makes you kind of feel cosy and warm as well. If you haven’t tried anything from the range I would definitely recommend it!

I’d like to give a final mention to the Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer. Obviously the whole point of it is to smell like chocolate and the long and short of it is that it doesn’t. BUT it does still smell great! Think The Body Shop Cocoa Butter in powder form I can’t help but give it a little sniff before putting it on my face.

What’s your favourite scented product?

What’s on my product wishlist

I could easily spend so much money on all things beauty it’s actually now beyond a joke. So in an attempt to stop my spending I thought I’d list all of the products that are on my wishlist which is mainly made up of things which are a little on the pricy side which I’d buy for/on a special occasion.

One thing that I’ve always wanted to try (and I should really get myself down to a counter) is the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation. It’s one of those products that everyone and their dog raves about but it’s so darn expensive that I don’t want to get my purse out and take the plunge in case it’s not quite right for me. One day I’ll go to a counter and get myself a tester but until then I’ll admire from afar!

Over the last couple of years there have been a few Nars eyeshadow palettes that I eyed up and very nearly bought but for one reason or another it wasn’t meant to be. The Nars Unwanted Palette literally looks like a thing of dreams, mattes, shimmers and glitters in warm shades, I mean can we not. That’s my idea of heaven. But it came out after I bought the Urban Decay Naked Heat Palette and I couldn’t justify the purchase of another warm toned palette. But everyone raves about Nars eyeshadows and I feel like one day I will take the plunge and add one of their palettes to my collection. (Side note: They all look like quite a petite size which would be good to travel around with – I might be wrong but that’s the vibe I’m getting).

Last year I achieved one of my goals (small goals) and bought a Dior lipstick (which I cannot get enough of) and another thing I’d love is a Chanel Lipstick. Not only do the bullets look amazing but the product inside is pretty good too. I think one day when something exciting happens I’ll buy one for myself as a little treat but for now I’ll just look at swatches and dream.

Glossier You. Oh what a dream it would be to have this perfume in my stash. I got a mini sample with a Glossier order I made months ago and to be honest I haven’t stopped thinking about how nice it smells. It’s what I’d call a natural smell, kind of florally but it could be mistaken for your usual smell (side note: the bottle is really pretty). I usually wait until I’ve finished one perfume before buying another and only have two on the go at once so when I’m in the market for another perfume to fill the gap I think that this would be the one!

What’s on your product wishlist?

Just going to give a mini shoutout to my instagram @abzisfabz – why not give it a follow! 

The best brush and on the gin craze | March Favourites

Get ready for a bit of a bumper favourites this month as this is a loves of February and top picks of March rolled into one post. We have a mixture of everything – makeup, an instagram account and the best drink you’ll probably ever taste!

I’ve mentioned my sudden love for gloss a fair few times recently but there’s one that has been head and shoulders above all the rest – NYX Butter Gloss in Angel Food Cake. Not only is the shade totally up my street, a pinky nude that is a bit darker than my usual lip colour, but the formula is legit magic. Not sticky but so high shine it’s blinding. I think I’m going to have to pick up a few more shades of these because I’m obsessed.

I think I may have mentioned a couple of months back but when I went to Edinburgh last year we went on a gin tasting and it totally opened my eyes to this gin-mania that’s going on at the minute. Although I’m still a prosecco girl at heart I am partial to a bit of rhubarb and over the last couple of months I’ve found myself thinking about having a rhubarb gin with lemonade at least twice a day. My favourite (and to be honest one of the only ones I’ve tried) is the Edinburgh Gin Rhurbarb and Ginger Gin Liquor. It’s less gin and more a sweet sort of syrup but that means that it really hits you in the face with rhubarb and I’m all about that! 

My dad would say I have too many brushes, I say you can never have too many. So you can imagine my excitement when for my birthday my friends bought me a set of eyeshadow brushes that were multicoloured and sparkly. DREAM. For the past month I’ve been giving each of them a little go but there’s one that I love so much, I honestly don’t know how I’ve ever lived without it. It’s got long-ish hairs (hairs?) and they’re flexible with a flat top and it makes the perfect highlight brush. It may be a tenth of the size of previous highlight brush but I prefer it ten times more. It means I can just brush it onto my cheekbones in a sort of swirling motion, take it up to my brow bone and onto my cupids bow with no problems and no worries that it’s going to end up spreading onto the middle of my cheek, which has been known to happen.

I’d like to give a quick shout out to Kate La Vie’s instagram. It is so stunning and looking at it makes me instantly happy. Also I have an instagram album full of home inspo and 99 per cent of it are posts of hers.

How I relax and unwind

I’m a total lover of pamper sessions and any chance I get I’ll hop in that bath with a cup of tea or a glass of prosecco, depending on what day it is, and just chill out. So after a day at work or on a lazy weekend what does a horizontal (ha!) person like me do to relax? Here are my favourite things to do when I just need to chill out:

Run. That. Bath. I put all of the bubbles in, if I have a bath bomb even better! Is there anything better than a bubbly bath, glass of prosecco and an episode of Endeavour? If I’m wanting to go all out with the relaxation I’ll have what I like to call ‘a hair wash bath’ which is basically a bath where I wash my hair. It’s like a full on treatment – head to toe pampering!

Putting a face mask on is like the ultimate pamper time for me. There’s two I’m switching between at the minute and I feel like they’re a match made in heaven. When my face is feeling a bit sad and dehydrated I use the Oskia Renaissance Mask. This costs a literal arm and a leg (luckily I got it in an advent calendar) so I’ve been using it sparingly but it does a great job of giving my skin a boost of hydration without making it feel oily or greasy. When my face is more on the spotty side of just feels gunked up I’m all about the epoch Glacial Mud Mask (thanks Amy for hooking me up!) . It draws all the nastiness from my skin without shrivelling it up like a prune. I have to say I’m really impressed with how non-drying it is for this kind of mask and although I’ve only been using it for a few weeks my skin seems to be enjoying it!

I’m addicted to tea, it’s potentially my biggest obsession and I’m totally okay with that. There’s nothing better than getting the biggest mug we have, popping in two sweeteners, bashing that teabag and going ham with the milk. Drinking a cup of tea is one of my ultimate happy places and I usually have about six cups a day so you know, treat yo’ self.

Last week I was spending my mornings and evenings on a 40 minute train journey and although the teatime train was a bit like hell on earth, my morning trips were a total delight! I decided to take the time to get in some reading and I sped through The F Word by Lily Pebbles. I love Lily’s videos and was really looking forward to reading her book but I was really surprised at how much I loved it. If you don’t know, it’s a book about female friendships with stories, advice and anecdotes. When I was reading it I saw all of my friends in the book, they all slotted into the different situations and I loved that. This little morning reading slot made me look forward to my daily commute and definitely chilled me out before a day at work.

An honourable mention goes to TV. I’m obsessed with it and have mentioned my love for it many times (see here) so I’ll keep it brief. Cup of tea in hand, Ru Paul’s Drag Race on the box, switch the brain off – is there anything better?

What’s your favourite thing to do to relax?