mo'adore: cruelty-free beauty ∙ vegan food ∙ glasgow/dundee lifestyle

28 September 2016


Welcome to another episode of "Morag doesn't stay on top of her reviews and has been meaning to write this for years". I'm not exaggerating when I say years. Somewhere in 2015 I attended one of the many Vegan Fetes at The Flying Duck and came across the cleaning brand Humble Stuff. This was back when I began switching up my cleaning cupboard to eco and animal friendly products, so this was a no-brainer purchase for me. 

I'm not going to lie, even now, I'm still not sold on the whole 'natural' cleaning thing (I'm not even sold on it for beauty products either tbh). Like, this is the hygiene of my house we are talking about here - not some lipstick that I'm unlikely to get E.coli off of. I want something that kills bacteria. So I'm a lot more fussy about what I purchase and I'm a bit sceptical of cleaning my work surfaces with something grown in a garden somewhere (or paying money for something I could probably make myself).

Humble Stuff has three products in its range: Soft Cleaning Paste, Toilet Freshener, and a Multi-Surface Spray. All three come in simple packaging and are all made using a small list of ingredients (and I can pronounce every single one). There products are all cruelty-free and vegan, plus the packaging is recyclable. The products are also handmade and made-to-order so you know they're fresh. 

I'll start with my favourite: the soft cleaning paste. At the fete I was told I could use this as an oven cleaner, work-surface cleaner or drop some in my hand basin and use as a soap for my dishes. It's only the third I use it for and it is excellent for cleaning dishes. I still use regular washing up liquid, but this is great to add in with when you're cleaning something stubborn like a burnt pan. I used it for my work surface once, but white marks were left when it dried up. And it's just not strong enough for hobs and ovens. 

The next product is one that I like, but it's not amazing, and that's the Multi-Surface Spray. As I reiterated above, I don't like to put the hygiene of my house in the hands of natural products so this isn't the only cleaning spray I use (once hospitals start using natural cleaning products, I'll become sold). What I use this for is a quick spritz after I've been making my dinner to get rid of the worst of it. But for my weekly deep-clean I prefer something a bit stronger. Saying that major plus is that it smells gorgeous (I have spritzed it around my living room in place of an actual air freshener a couple of times!). 

Finally, we have the product I have no intention of re-purchasing: the Toilet Freshener. This isn't a bleach or one of those gel things you put in the cistern that turns the water blue. The best way to describe this is 'a bath bomb for your loo'. Except this bath bomb doesn't have glitter or leaves a beautiful smell that swirls round your bathroom for days. Nope. It's white in colour and you pop it in your loo and watch it fizz. There's also no strong smell. So your guests aren't going to lift the lid of your toilet and promptly compliment you on your great smelling toilet. I don't like slating brands but this is honestly one of the pointless things I've reviewed. I've fused them up because I hate waste, but that's all else I have to say. 

Toilet bath bombs aside, I would seriously consider re-purchasing the spray and the paste. But only for helping my cleaning routine - none of the products clean thoroughly enough to become a holy grail product. 

Obviously, this is only my own opinion. The lovely Mica wrote a glowing review of the Multi-Use Spray and the fabulous Sarah rates the paste and spray highly

Have you ever tried Humble Stuff cleaning?

27 September 2016

Learning to love, eat and prepare tofu

"Now today class we are going to be trying some meat substitutes. Firstly we have some tofu. I'm going to give each of you a small cube of plain tofu along with a cracker for you to try it with". 

This was actually a scene from my high school Home Economics class. This was possible the first experience of tofu for everyone in the class and no one rated that plain tofu and cracker very highly. No wonder! If this is how tofu is sold to teenagers while they're in education no wonder so many adults turn their nose up at it. 

Tofu, by itself, is bland and tasteless and not even the most militant vegan would sit and much on a plain block of it. What tofu is amazing for is 1) nutrients and 2) soaking up the flavours of what is accompanying it. You don't eat it plain. Ever. You also get doszones of variants making it an incredibly versatile food (do you know of any other foods that can be turned into a cheesecake and used alongside vegetables in a curry?). 

However, even once you get passed the negative reputation of tofu it can still be difficult to understand what you're meant to do with it because, well, when you open the packet it's still a white tasteless block of bean curd. It's what you do with it that counts. 

I'm not even entirely sure what I'm doing with it half the time, and I'm certainly not going to get a job as a tofu chef any time soon. I'm probably not even qualified enough to write this post. But I've learnt a few things over the years - even if it's still only a few things....

Buy the right tofu for the recipe

Firm and silken tofu - great for salads or miso soups

Head to the tofu section of any shop and it can be a bit daunting knowing what tofu to get started with. When you're shopping for tofu it's best to know what you're planning to do with it first. Below I've rounded up some of descriptions you might see on tofu boxes and given a quick example of what you might do with it: 

Silken tofu - This has a much creamier texture and one of the best descriptions I've ever heard has been its like using full-fat milk as opposed to skimmed milk. The extra firm types can be used as cubes in soup (such as miso soup), but the softer varieties are perfect in dips and puddings, for example a vegan chcolate mouse. The medium varieties are perfect for cheesecake.

Regular tofu -  This also comes in various forms of  'firmness' depending on what you want to use it for, but with a less creamy texture. The softer varieties are perfect for using in scrambled tofu - a substitute for scrambled eggs. The firmer kinds can be used in stir-fries and the pan-fried tofu recipes you see on the internet. The medium variety is good for scrambled tofu and for cubes in soups. 

Tofu puffs - this is the tofu you'll typically find in my cupboard. they're fantastic for stir-fries. You can also deep-fry them. See my previous recipe for tofu puffs in action!

Know where to shop for the best tofu

Tofu has raised in popularity and supermarkets are more regularly stocking it than they used to. However, for a much larger variety head to a Chinese or Asian supermarket. You'll find all the different kinds here.

Something to keep in mind with tofu: while it's popular in vegan circles, it has been commonly used in Asian cuisine for years. Health food stores and vegans have been guilty of appropriating it and driving the price up. So not only do ethnic food shops offer more choice, it's also a more socially conscious way to shop.

Start off with some easy recipes

If the idea of making a cheesecake from tofu sounds daunting - I hear you. I'm still yet to attempt one myself so I'm not going to suggest anyone else prepares one. Tofu is however very versatille and recipes do exist for those of us who aren't professional chefs. Below are some really simple recipes to get your started before moving up to tofu-mastery.

Scrambled tofu - take a packet of (drained, high-quality) medium tofu, place in a pan and start stirring. Eventually it will break up and begin to resemble scrambled eggs. Make sure you add plenty of oil. PErsonally, I also like to throw in tomatoes, chilli flakes, and some sliced peppers.

Stir fry - the easiest type of tofu for beginners to use in a stir-fry is tofu puffs. Look out your favourite vegetables and sauces, then  start cooking as you usually would. However along the way add the puffs and wait until they wilt slightly (to check if they're ready cut one open - the liquid should soak through). Here's my friend's recipe for you to try.

Vegetable & tofu skewers - at your next BBQ (or just regular afternoon) try this super-super easy party food. Take a long skewer and load it with your favourite vegetables - but in between add in some firm non-silken tofu. Then grill (or place on the BBQ).

Have it cooked by a professional chef

If  the idea of Googling your nearest Chinese supermarket, hoping you're picking the right kind of tofu, draining it and then having to decide what recipe to start off with sounds look too much effort for a food you're not even sure you'll like, just head to a restaurant. Wagamamas have several tofu dishes, and if you're in Glasgow Nippon Kitchen has some beautiful Japanese curries. Mono also do a lovely vegan cheesecake.

If after trying the professionally made stuff you're still not keen, then it's maybe not worth the effort. If however you discover your love it and want to use it more, get yourself down to your nearest Chinese supermarket and start experimenting,

And let me know if you ever make than cheesecake - I might pop round for cuppa. 

26 September 2016

Brand Focus: DECIEM aka The Abnormal Beauty Company

One of the reason I love working about brands is the opportunity to discover new ones. One of these brands is DECIEM - an umbrella company for some exciting new products hailing from the stunning Canada. 

Marketing itself as 'The Abnormal Beauty Company' this is a not a company who do things by half measures. Already they have launched 10 stand alone brands but also have another three on the way. And not just content with beauty, these brands are also players in the health and fitness markets. Not bad for a company that only started in 2013. 

As quite a lot of the blogosphere will already know, the lovely PR team from DECIEM UK were in Glasgow recently meeting up with bloggers to give them chance to hand try the products before deciding what products in particular they would like to review. 

I've never actually had a brand sit down with me before and run over everything, and this was the perfect opportunity for me to find out more. Their big flagship brand is Hylamide, and it's no surprise that four products from this range were carted out to Glasgow. An extensive skin-care range that splits its products into three categories: Core, Booster and Finisher. The core range focuses on everyday skincare and covers anti-ageing as well as normal skin categories. The Booster is a range of serums designed for when you skin needs an extra, well, boost. Then finally there is the finisher range which includes primers and their Photography Foundation.

One of their other flagship brands is Hand Chemistry. As the name implies this is the hand cream section of their company - but they also produce body creams. More excitingly this brand is also award-winning and available on the UK high street. 

And we can't talk about beauty without mentioning hair. Hair is Fabric is their dedicated hair care range, who's tagline asks the important question: you wouldn't put couture clothing in the washer, so why is your hair any less important?

Their range has a whopping 15 products (this is probably the largest collection) covering all hair concerns. Need something to brighten up blonde locks? Yup. Black, red, silver or brunette hair? Got a top up for that too. Looking for some anti-ageing hair care? Sorted. Need an intensive detox? Yep, yep, yep.

Finally, there was a nutritional product from their Fountain range. There are 11 liquid supplements to choose from, each with their own unique purpose. Deciem call them molecules, and they range from supplements designed to improve your hair, through to supplements designed to give you more energy.

The products I've been trying 

After our first meeting, Laura kindly agreed to send me three of their products to try: Hand Chemistry Anti-Ageing Hand Cream, Hylamide HA Blur and Hylamide Low-Molecular HA. After finding out so much about the brand I was very excited to try the products for mysel.

I'm going to kick off with my favourite product: the Hylamide Low-Molecular HA. Weirdly, this was the product I was most unsure of when I opened it. It's a skincare product that comes with a 'dropper' and is designed to hydrate the skincare. Packaging choices aside, what I love about this product was its ability to add moisture to my skin without overdoing it. Other owners of oily/combination skin will know how fickle face creams can be and the struggle of buying one that is just right. Thankfully this isn't a cream (its almost an oil, but not quite either - I can't explain it) and it hits just the correct balance. I've been using this daily and will consider a re-purchase.

Also in the Hylamide range is the HA Blur, a primer with moisturising properties. As the previous paragraph suggests it's not moisture I look for in a primer. Therefore this primer was probably not the correct choice - and I'm probably not the best person to review it. On one plus note however I can report that it was a velvety soft formula. There is a matte primer aimed at oily skin which I will definitely consider trying at a later date.

Finally, I was lucky enough to try a product from Hand Chemistry. this is an award-winning product that can be found in Boots. I'll be honest, I find hand creams difficult to review as I've never been disappointed by a hand cream to date (how difficult is it to get hand cream right?). I also have naturally soft skin on my body so this may also be a factor.

Vegan Products

Obviously I'm not going to meet up with a brand rep without asking about animal testing and veganism. I've been assured that Deciem is cruelty-free and only one of their products is non-vegan (it's the FOUNTAIN's Phyto-Collagen Molecule). Everything else is bunny friendly!

What I might try next

I have my eye on a few more of the products in the range, which might just make it into my shopping basket in the near future. As mentioned I'm keen on trying the Finisher Matte 12, but I'm also looking at the Booster Pore Control, several products from the Hair is Fabric range, and the Photography Foundation.

Have you tried anything from the DECIEM range? 

25 September 2016

Advice for your first jury duty

If you're sitting there thinking "why is she writing a post about boring old jury duty instead of nail polish?" I do get where you're coming from. When I headed out for my first jury duty a few months ago I didn't plan to write a blog post about it. I planned to just do it, deliver as fair a verdict as I could and then go back to work. That was it. 

However - like almost all things in life - you learn something new or wish you had known some things sooner. While on jury duty there were s few things I wish I had known and will keep in mind if I'm called again. That moment won't come for another five years however I can share my advice with you guys in case you're called up. 

1. Iron out everything with your employer first
On my first day we were let out at 12pm. With 5 and a half hours left to the working day I wasn't sure if I should return to work. The thing is I lacked the foresight to check with my employer if I should return or not, and my manager was off that week. I went back in to be safe but it turns out if I had just taken the whole day off they wouldn't have cared all that much and would have let the courts pay me for my absence. 

2. Take an iPod/book/tablet/kindle/laptop
Unless you're lucky enough to turn up and there's a case going ahead that day and will start at half 10, chances are you'll be waiting around a long time. Use this as time to read your current book, catch up on your blog or work, read some comics, or even watch a film on your iPad (seriously, you might actually be waiting around that long). Or, as most of tweets were showing, you could just catch up on your online dating messages (and stalking hot policemen on Happn). 

3. Take some snacks
Obviously you can't snack in court but you get breaks. You'll be offered - well at least in Glasgow - tea and biscuits and then later a lunch. The lunch was actually not bad (and there was a backed potato and beans option each day - so yay for veganism!) however if you have a large appetite it might not be enough. Pack some fruit or a small sandwich. Also, if you have a big break on one of the days and pop out to buy a sandwich, you can claim this back as expenses (so keep the receipt). 

4. Suggest a secret ballot
I'm not going to reveal the verdict of the case I sat on but I'll share this. When we were discussing the verdict it appeared to be a strong majority. But when we ran a secret ballot, it was scarily close. Some people won't have the confidence to outwardly say what they're thinking so a secret ballot is the best way to deliver a fair verdict. 

5. You don't have to do it again for five years
Unless, you know, you really want to. If you've sat on a jury you don't need to again until five years have passed; you also don't need to do it for two years if you were called but weren't picked. However, a letter may arrive in your letter box calling you again. It's your responsibility to fill out the excusal form stating that it's not been long enough since you last sat on a jury. So don't be one of these people who moan about 'always being picked'.