Saturday, 31 May 2014

Things I Loved this Month, May 2014.

This month I've loved,

* lie ins * mending my clothes * new hair cut * BRAZIL! Catching up with my friend, Botanical Gardens, seeing 3 toucans, monkeys, hummingbirds, yummy food, markets and seeing lots of beautiful, jungle-y views * being home again and sleeping in my own little bed * sausage sandwich * my 1 year anniversary with my lovely boyfriend * lego * Doctor Who Series 7 * lush baths * takeaway curry * reading The Shadow of the Wind and The Hen Who Dreamed she could Fly * nice new posh pub in town * pay day * wool and trainers and DVDs in the post * my lovely little niece, who is growing 4 teeth at once, says diddy when she wants her dummy, is sooo tall, and soo clever! * tidy bedroom * 

Hope you've had a lovely month too?!

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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Rio de Janeiro 2014, Botanical Gardens.

The Botanical Gardens, or Jardim Botanico, was one of my favourite places in Rio.  It's full of jungle-y trees and foliage and amazing animals, I saw monkeys, turtles and toucans here.  Toucans are pretty hard to spot, and saw 3 of them, flying from tree to tree for ages.  It was the best part of my holiday.  I even bought myself some toucan earrings to commemorate the day!  

I don't know anything useful, like the names of the plants, but I took lots of pretty pictures so here are some of them.

 I will be back with more holiday photos soon! 

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Rio de Janeiro 2014.

If you don't like posts full of holiday photos, look away now!

If you've left me a comment over the last couple of weeks that I haven't replied to, it's because I have been on holiday!  I spent two and a half weeks visiting friends in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil!

I went up Sugar Loaf Mountain

and to see Jesus

and to Copacabana

and to Ipenema

 and to the Teatro Municipal 

and to the Escadaria Selaron

and to the Portuguese Library

I went to lots of other places too, Santa Teresa, Petropolis and the Botanical Gardens were my favourites, but they deserve posts of their own.

I had a lovely time visiting my friends and saw lots of lovely things.  There were bus strikes and a culture strike while I was there, which meant I missed out on the main museums and historic buildings.  We found lots of alternative things to do though, we saw an amazing circus at the theatre (this one, which had a man in a wheelchair in it), saw some of a harp festival and ate in lots of nice vegan friendly places.

I hope you won't mind me sharing some of my adventure here over the next few weeks!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Library Love. Eleanor and Park, The Rosie Project, Midwinterblood and Rio De Janeiro.

This month I've been reading,

Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell
I'm sad now I've read everything written by Rainbow Rowell!  Oh this book, I read it in 2 nights and stayed up till 4am each time.  I couldn't put it down.  I loved this book, set in the 1980s, with lots of musical references, interesting outfits and a heartbreaking plot.  You should read this!  Then wait for her next book to be out in July!

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion
This is really popular in the library, so I thought I should read it.  It took a while for me to get into this book, about a scientist who creates a questionnaire for perspective wives to fill out but meets a chaotic woman called Rosie instead.  I read the whole book in the voice of Moss from the IT Crowd because in my head that's who Don (the scientist guy) is!

Midwinterblood - Marcus Sedgwick
Ooooh this is good!  Merle and Eric live through 7 lives, meeting each other in each one.  It's fun to spot the same characters, themes and events that seem to follow them in each story.

Top 10 Rio De Janerio - DK Eyewitness Travel
This has been useful in planning my holiday to Rio to visit my friend.  It has the top ten sights, restaurants, museums and all sorts of other things to see and do.  Very useful indeed!

What have you been reading?

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Simple Pleasures #8.

My friend bought me this little hand of fatima back from Israel where she had been visiting her family.  I've hung it by my door to keep away the evil eye!

(also, my camera has a 'sparkle' setting!)

Friday, 16 May 2014

My Frugal, Penny Jar Savings Challenge.

I have this amazing vintage toffee jar.  It was given to me buy my old next door neighbour.  It is made from really thick glass and has a real bakelite lid.  

I've been throwing my loose change in it for a while now.  Then I had a thought.  I wondered if I can save enough loose change to pay for all my food shopping in December and January.  These are the months that are toughest for me financially, spending on fun and frolics in December and the 6 week wait 'till January pay day, after being paid early in December due to payroll being closed over Christmas.

There is a magical machine in the supermarket that you tip your pennies into.  It counts them and gives you a voucher in exchange that you can use for your shopping in store.

I usually do one big supermarket shop a month, and spend about £30 - £35.  So I need to save about £70 in my lovely penny jar.  Otherwise I'll be back on the plain rice and left over candy cane diet in January!

Do you think I can do it?  I have £19.99 (and 1 American dime and 2 googly eyes) in it at the moment!  

Are you saving up for anything?

Monday, 12 May 2014

What Do Vegans Eat?

I get asked this question a lot, so here's a photo-record, quick snaps of the every-day vegan meals and treats I've eaten in the past month or so...

1. Jus' Rol Croissant - Yummy! Can you imagine not eating any kind of breakfast, french-y pastry for 7 years (7 years is the length of time that I've been vegan for).  And the discovering these cook at home croissants.  You would be very happy.  And so am I.
2. Morrisons Free From Orange Choccy Bar.  This is amazing!  It tastes just like dairy chocolate.
3. Jus' Rol Pain Au Chocolat.  Same story as the Croissants.  Nom nom nom nom.
4.  Vegetable fajitas, home made flat breads, Yum.
5. Curry Chickpeas.  I eat this for my lunch quite often, it's really easy to make and full of protein and nutrients.  Fry some chickpeas in a pan with a little curry powder for a couple of minutes, add some sunflower and pumpkin seeds until they're toasted.  Mix in some sesame seeds and a sprinkle of salt at the end.  Serve with couscous.  Also good for taking in your lunchbox.
6.  Vegan millionaires shortbread, from Morrisons.  This one tastes weirdly coconutty, not quite like the real thing, but still eatable.
7.  I have an ice-cream maker, this is my first attempt, mint choc-chip, made with coconut milk.  It's not quite right yet!
8. Vegan pancakes with lemon and sugar.

What are your favourite vegan treats and eats?

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Going Low 'Poo, an update.

After about 2 months of doing Low 'poo hair care, I have got the hang of it.

This is what works for me - 

Washing my hair once a week (ish) with solid shampoo and an apple cider vinegar conditioning rinse.

Washing my hair with plain water once or twice a week(ish).

Dampening my hair a little in the shower then combing it through, or dipping my brush in water while brushing my hair.  This makes it go curly and nice.

Using a little, tiny bit of almond oil smoothed through my hair after washing, as a leave in conditioner.

I have discovered the importance of a good hairbrush.  I found I need a really good one to distribute the oils in my hair effectively and make my hair less greasy.  Surprisingly, the best brush I've found for this is my £1 Primark, bright pink paddle brush.  It makes brushing my hair really easy and feels really nice and massage-y on my scalp.  I have broken 2 Kent Coolhog hairbrushes during this hair experiment (previously my favourite type of hairbrush).  

I have had to experiment with a few different hair styles, to deal with greasy days or just 'meh' hair days.  You can see in the photos above, I've been doing a lot of twisty things and a 3 bun hairstyle I learned from here.  I've been doing a lot of pigtails, plaits, and half up half downs too.  It's been good to learn some new hairstyles that don't give me a headache (anything too tight or with too many bobby pins gives me a migraine!  And I have monstrously thick hair, so putting it into an up-do is hard!).

I haven't had to use an intensive conditioner on my hair at all, in over 2 months.  I just haven't felt the need for it.  My hair used to be so dry I would have to do a hair mask with coconut oil every week.  I'm a bit scared if I put coconut oil on my hair now it would never wash out, or it would somehow disturb the balance my head has developed now.

You can see the first and second parts of my low 'poo adventures here and here.

Are you shampoo free or low 'poo?  Any tips?

Monday, 5 May 2014

Charity Shopping, a Retro Tray, a Deer Vase and a Floral Plaque.

Floral retro tray, £1, charity shop.

Retro deer vase, £1, charity shop. (This was so dirty when I bought it.  So, so dirty)

Pottery plaque thingy, 50p, charity shop.  (It has Pitali and Capri written on the back of it, but sadly Google doesn't know what that means and neither do I!  I will use some brown felt tip pen to colour in the little chip at the top.)

Have you bought any nice bargains (or splurges!) lately?

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Granny Stripe Crochet Blanket, Attic 24 Style.

I've been working away on a granny stripe crochet blanket for friends I'm visiting in Brazil.

The pattern is a lovely, easy and free one, written by Lucy from Attic 24.  You can find the pattern by clicking here.

I made my version with a chain of 180 stitches using a 4mm hook and dk yarn.

I crocheted in trebles (UK) and I finished both ends off in red, with a row of double crochet (also UK).

This is the blanket on my (double) bed (I have used a clever camera angle, to disguise all the messy parts of my room!).  I'm pretty pleased with the size of it, considering I was planning it as more of a snuggling on the sofa blanket than a bed blanket.  Maybe it can work as both!  

I really loved making this blanket and will definitely be making one for myself at some point too! It was soo lovely zooming along each row and watching it grow.  

I am still working on decreasing my wool stash, and this blanket has helped to get rid of 7 balls of yarn!

Have you got anything on your hook (or needles!) at the moment?

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Granny Stripe Crochet Blanket, Inspiration.

I've been busy making a granny stripe blanket for my best friend and her husband, who I am visiting in Rio de Janeiro.  I will be staying with them for a few weeks, so this is a thank you for having me present as well as a house warming present.    

I used the lovely free granny stripe crochet blanket pattern from Attic 24.

Before I started, I went online and found some photos of finished granny stripe blankets and photos of the area she lives in, Santa Teresa, to inspire my colour choices.  

Photos from here, here, here and here.

Photos from here, here, here and here.

You can find lots more colourful crochet inspiration on my Pinterest boards.

I wanted lots of pastels and neutrals mixed in with bright colours.  I usually do really bright or rainbow-y colour schemes for myself, but I wanted something more relaxed for this blanket.  It was nice to have a look at how other people use colour, and try something different.  

Here's a sneak preview of the finished blanket.  I'll show you it properly next time!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Easy Green Actions, May 2014.

Here's this month's list of easy, green actions.

This 'zoo' in Indonesia is absolutely, totally disgraceful, there's a petition here to ask for it to be closed and contact details here to write to officials in Indonesia to ask for it's closure.  (Please note, there are distressing photos on these sites of extremely emaciated animals, be careful if this is going to upset you.  There are lots of pictures and articles about this place if you google it, these are also very upsetting.)

Sign Friends of the Earths petition to ask the government for a strong action plan to help save bees.

Register to take part in Meat Free May.

Sign this petition to ask for labelling to show if clothing has been ethically made.

Sign this petition to stop fracking.

If you have any causes or actions to add then let me know in the comments and if I like it I'll add it in.  And feel free to share any of this info (or the whole post) wherever and with whoever you like - if you sign any of the petitions and use social media then please consider using the share on facebook or twitter options that pop up, it increases the reach of these actions and awareness of these issues even further.