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How I Looked: Eurovision Goddess

Greece fancy dress: Jokers Masquerade*
Sandals: New Look
Nails: Barry M Mushroom

As you are probably aware Saturday was Eurovision and if you read my blog on the regular you'll be more than aware that Eurovision gets me in an excited tussle! I had decided on Greece as my country ages ago simply so I would have an excuse to munch on far too much feta cheese (only second to Halloumi cheese). Mid-April Jokers Masquerade contacted me asking if I would like a free fancy dress costume and obviously I jumped at the chance to get an awesome outfit and save some pennies! 

As I already knew I wanted to go as Greece I ran through their Greek and Roman Costumes immediately (though I still gave their Viking, Roman, Moulin Rouge and general world costumes selections a look). But coming across this fancy Greek dress costume I was sold. Admittedly £31.99 is a bit more than I would usually pay for a fancy dress costume unless it was a last minute one in the shops on Halloween itself. If it had been my own money I would have settled on another dress which retails at just under £20.

This was however by far one of the best quality fancy dress costumes I have ever worn (and anyone who wears fancy dress often knows that quality isn't always synonymous with fancy dress costumes). I got a load of compliments when I arrived and all night with one of my friends constantly stroking the material! I also swished around my flat wearing it for about 20 minutes when it first arrived! But had to take it off to go to the library! Boo! 

And I'm sorry but I like to keep all my fancy dress costumes as mementoes so I won't be putting it on eBay. Bet you're well gutted. This Greece fancy dress is all mine! 

Morag x

* As with all asterixes in blog land it is confirmation that I did not pay for this. I got the costume for free but have received no money to do this review. I am currently in the process of redesigning my blog and a full disclaimer will be added.
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A Vegetarian Lifestyle Beyond Food

Not a vegetarian then? From an art show I was recently.

Vegetarianism to most people mainly mainly means abstaining from meat within a dietary sense. However for many vegetarians this abstinence goes a lot further than what we choose to meet our lips with. When the term "vegetarian lifestyle" gets used it means being a vegetarian in every area of our life from what we wear to what we use in the shower. 

It does depend on your reasons for becoming vegetarian. If you purely just don't like the taste of meat then sitting on a leather couch won't irk you but if like me it's a moral standpoint then better get checking the ingredient list of your favourite shower gel.

Leather. The idea of wearing leather has always irked me. During my meat-eating days I reminded myself that it was a by-product and if I was going to eat bacon I shouldn't throw my hands in the air about being gifted a leather bag. But now I no longer eat the meat leather goods have disapeared from my wardrobe and furniture - if I viewed a flat with a leather couch I'd reconsider. Buy me a leather skirt for my birthday and you'll find it in a charity shop a week later. Serious. 

Animal Testing. I don't know anyone who actually thinks animal testing is right, and thankfully so, however I know very few who will research products before buying and protest with their purse. The people I know who will and do research their mascara choices first are all vegetarian and vegan. I've consciously been buying a lot of my products from Lush since early 2011 because I am comfortable that they fit with my ethical beliefs. Admittedly however it's only now that I am getting round to making sure that foundations and lipsticks were not tested on animals having only avoided brands such as MAC because the information had fallen into my lap. 

Fur. Again, I don't know many people that would actually wear fur. But the fur trade is still active. Just this Thursday I was at the degree show for a local art school and threw up in my mouth at a jewellery student who had used rabbit fur in her final pieces. She wasn't there but I snapshot her business card and have already uploaded it to Facebook and this blog post.

Animals in Sports. You won't catch me at a horse race or bull fighting event any time soon. Also that Jackass show? Fucking disgusting. 

Environment. This isn't a particularly well-researched area of mine and wasn't an initial reason to become vegetarian. However it has been proposed that meat-production adds to carbon emissions and that being veggie is better for the environment. Someone who is veggie might be more likely to recycle and not use a gas-guzzling SUV. But this isn't necessarily true for me, just some. 

Do any of my vegetarian readers do more outside of their diet to promote animal rights or the environment?

Morag x
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Inside the cupboards of a vegetarian

Remember this week is National Vegetarian Week. Which is why I keep posting about being a vegetarian. Every day this week.

Morag x
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My Giving Up Meat Story

In light of today being the first day of National Vegetarian Week I felt now might be a good chance to get some of the vegetarian type blog posts I've been mentally writing for months onto a laptop screen. I have posted about vegetarianism before with the most meaty (hah!) having been explaining why it took me twenty years to put aside the chicken. Whilst that post obviously places me as someone who grew up eating meat it doesn't exactly explain how I went veggie only why it took me so long. 

And thus now I write my story. There will be bullet points at the end if you don't quite want the ins and out or hear me bitching about my mum. I'll understand if you jump to the end.

My first serious attempt at vegetarianism happened when I was fourteen. It was to do with animal rights which has always been one of my big issues. However I didn't know any vegetarians, I was very limited in sandwich choices at school lunches and then there was my mum. Yes, my mum was a big blockage - she respects it now however it wasn't until I properly became vegetarian that she realised I was being serious and stopped her attempts to feed me dead pig.   

Then came my second and successful attempt, which started at age twenty at the beginning of 2011. Originally I was trying out the raw diet which has a few variations to it. When it came to testing out the veggie variation something felt really right. I stopped getting that annoying bloated feeling (something I had always had problems with) and my energy levels went sky high. 

But that wasn't quite it. Like anyone who's ever cut anything from their life it wasn't an overnight feat. 

Firstly I ate everything in my fridge/freezer that could still be classified as meat. That was my first test - I was still allowed to eat meat I just wasn't allowed to purchase any more. After that it was gone. However being vegetarian in the comfort of your own meat-free flat was a lot different from being vegetarian out and about in the meat-eating world. So publicly I was still a meat-eater. At the Sports Ball and Business Ball that year I didn't kick up a fuss and accepted the chicken. The only people who knew about the experimentation were my parents (my dad: respectful from the get go, my mum: as stated above was a barrier).

Crab salad wrap from just over a year ago

Though when I say "meat free" I tell a fib. Like a lot of vegetarians the very final meat to turn my back on was seafood. Seafood had been my very favourite meat in the first two decades of my life: tuna, prawns, lobster, was all there. I certainly wasn't short of Omega 3.  And with a lack of substitutes for the ocean variety of meat it wasn't as easy as replacing chicken with Quorn. 

Come almost a year ago now I returned back to my parents for the summer holidays. Being away from university and my main social group allowed me to assess what I really wanted without any outside sources.  And it was to be vegetarian. However it did mean coming home and asserting that I no longer ate meat. As part of my raw diet I had converted to soya milk and my mum happily obliged to make this part of the weekly shop (she even bought soya yoghurts!) however trying to get through to her that I wanted to completely give up meat was difficult. We had some family friends over from New Zealand and during dinner my parents were talking about travelling down under and my dad on my behalf asked what vegetarian options were like there, to which my mum piped up "..but you're not fully vegetarian" in her mother-always-knows-best voice. (Would like to point out that I do have a good relationship with my mum, this is just an example of mothers not always knowing best.) If we hadn't had guests round I would have voiced my thoughts: "Well, I would be if you'd stop fucking feeding me meat". 

However throughout the summer I began to "come out" as a vegetarian (for lack of better term). This was mainly to people who I had just met who would take it at face value and not ask too many questions. Long-standing friends and relatives were still assuming duck was an appropriate dinner choice for me. 

Roll on to September I moved back to Dundee into my own flat. Alone. Yes, this time I was living alone. All food in the kitchen was mine and I was left to experiment to my hearts content. It was a meat-free environment. But then there was still my mum. In her best interests she brought me some canned goods from home with one being tuna. This time around I firmly held my ground and stated that tuna was a dead animal and dead animals have no place in my diet and she was best to take it home. She did and this was the defining moment, I believe, when she finally realised that I was vegetarian, no ifs and not buts, meat was completely gone from my diet. She hasn't tried to serve me meat since though she still tries to cook it in my oven occasionally.

Genuine processed food choice from last September

Hurrah! I had become successfully vegetarian. Now everyone knew and most people had accepted it with very few questions. But was that it all now? With meat now gone from diet I had to work on learning some new recipes. But instead of doing so I bought processed cheese pizzas for the most part and ate plain pasta. Which was hardly the makes of a great diet now is it? Also sometime around here I began cutting out by-products of slaughter. Like Haribo.And I had cravings like no other as my body adjusted to the full switch-over.

That's why in December I made the final step into becoming a bona fide vegetarian. I bought myself a vegetarian recipe book: Vegetarian Nosh for Students which I highly recommend & have by now exhausted almost half the recipes.

So in bullet pointed form:
I tried it out in private first to see if it was for me
Phased it out meat by meat, seafood second last; Haribo last
Had cravings which lead to questions about the loneliness of my womb
Had to hold my ground against my mum
Told everyone else I could no longer go to McDonalds
Moved into my own flat by myself where the kitchen was MINE
Ate far too many cheese pizzas
Gave my mum into trouble for buying me tuna
Bought myself a good veggie cookbook and started eating food more interesting than a cheese pizza

And that there is the simplistic version. ;)

I know I have a few vegetarians within my followers - was this a similar story for you? Also I know some of you are currently working on becoming completely veggie. Does this help at all? As it is National Vegetarian Week I'll be posting some other veggie related posts this week - is there any questions some people would want covered?

Morag x

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How I Looked: Red & Spotty

Dress: H&M
Belt H&M (as part of this dress)
Necklace: Ortak

I'm beginning to win with the DSLR camera. Need to work on my full body shots though.

This dress was purchased on Tuesday on my 'I'm-now-finished-university' spree. And made it's debut in public yesterday for work. It's not normally I'd go into work with red lips and a thought-out outfit but 1) exam stress was over and 2) I had a new dress that needed showing off. Justified reason to put aside the florescent green Dublin hoodie from 2010 that I usually chuck on.

The mood ring that I managed to get a clear close-up of is my go-to ring which is almost always on me. Rara & the pretty vacant showrooms is an independent shop in Dundee which is lovely. Dundee hasn't got the vintage charm of Edinburgh or Glasgow but if you know where to look you can find some goodies. I've always love mood rings and squealed when I seen I could get them in a variety of shapes instead of the usual plain band. 

Morag x 
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How I Looked: Drive to the Beat

Dress: Primark
Necklace: Gifted from Aunt & Uncle
Nail Polish: Model's Own

I spotted this dress in Primark a week ago and decided to purchase it on my I've-finished-university summer clothes shop for a friend's birthday that night. I was sceptical about it looking okay on me as I tend to avoid tight fitting dresses as the weight I do have always hits my middle. Though in the changing rooms I was more "where have my boobs went?!??!" despite this I loved everything else and decided to take it home and work through the boob issue with the thought that I might have to take it back. I tried on various bras that might end up invisible or look classy enough as part of the outfit.

Then I said feck it and embraced my small boobs. I have a slender frame and I'm usually really proud of it until a piece of clothing sucks my boobs in. This dress did have to use some tit-tape around the breasts and also at the start of the straps as they were inclined to fall off as I found out wondering about the flat  beforehand. Tip: don't fall asleep with tit-tap on, especially if you have long hair!

And for the lulz (and the opportunity to see shoes and jacket) here's some drunk photos:

Morag x
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In My Baking Cupboard: Decorating Drawer

With the all the cupcake pictures and, you know, founding my university's baking society you might guess I'm into baking. But let me tell you, it can be an expensive hobby. I have three cupboards almost completely dedicated to baking supplies: roughly split by decorating drawer, dry ingredients and my might ocassionally require it cupboard. (meaning shredded coconut, zombie cupcake making kit, fondue..). Plus I have other food cupboards that contain food that can be used for baking, like Marmite...

I have always baked for the most part of my life but when I started baking for the public I realised what was suitable for myself in my own home wasn't quite cutting it out there in the competitive world of charity bake sales. Also if one recipe went wrong I'd need to make sure there were enough ingredients in my cupboards so that I had another cake recipe to fall back on. 

And now it is stashed. 

Food colouring
If you want to make cakes with even a hint of aesthetic appeal then food colouring is essential. In my picture you can see two types of food colouring: paste and liquid. Liquid is available in the baking section of any general supermarket (even the Metro ones) but for paste you'll need to get your baking behind to a dedicated baking shop. Both types have their uses: for colouring a cake sponge alá red velvet cupcakes you'll require the liquid type but icing I prefer paste because it does little to harm the consistency of icing (which is a pain to get correct as it is!). My preferred paste is the ones with the colours marked on top - makes it easier whilst you're in a baking rush and your drawer means you view everything from a height.

Cocktail sticks
My tool of use for adding food colouring paste to icing. Just a little bit should go such a long way! And because they're disposable you can't risk using one twice and mixing colours (unless you run out!)

If, like me, your decorating skills aren't going to win you any points then a simple way to dazzle up some simple icing is to sprinkle glitter on top. Several of my cupcakes just have cream icing spread on top with a swish of glitter. Can make some simple cakes so much more eye-catching. Though be careful to actually sprinkle or you could end up with glitter clumps - I recommend using a small sieve. Also anyone want to guess what holiday was around the time I bought these glitters? 

Icing pen 
For intricate details. I only have black as its a standard colour that will go with most shades. I'd only buy more shades if it was needed - which so far it hasn't been. Most of my icing colours are bought on I-need-them basis.

Miniature rolling pin
Not the most exciting part of my decorating drawer - but a must have! If you're wanting to get into cake decorating then this is needed if you intend doing any crafts with rolling icing. 

Cake Cases
Like a lot of glitter and colours I buy the different case designs as I need them. Some can cross over into different themes (Halloween and Marmite cupcakes - both brown! Christmas and Valentine's Day - both metallic red foil!) but I can't say I have 'safe' cases that can be used for all occasions. Also the silicon ones? For practice baking - I only use the paper ones when people will be purchasing them and taking them away. Also there's the teacup and saucer cases that I've yet to use - someone give me an excuse for a tea party?

Also that Rhino? Genuinely lives on my microwave. It's from a Kinder Egg. 

Morag x 

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Morag Loves...Links

Despite the name of this blog being a French play on words for "Morag Loves" I don't seem to showcase what I'm loving very often. Yes, I talk about the new dress that I love, and the meal I made last night that I love but twirling in front a camera as you're trying to get out the door is hardly new to the blogging world. 

So hopefully to add a bit more variation, and take it down the direction it was meant to at the start, I'm going to bring in a series when I showcase something that I love. For now I'll keep it sweet with some links. Finding new links/blogs/magazines/sites is one of my favourite dorky pastimes. And also because I'm feeling shattered from my day at work so can't murmur up a proper article. 

So on with some crazy internet finds!

Even if you don't follow football, if you're Scottish then you can still be proud that the Scotland Women's team slammed Poland in a friendly recently and also aren't doing too shabby at the UEFA qualifiers either. They won't win but this is better than the male team have done in a while. Time to give women's sport the attention it deserves.

I'd like to think you're already reading Gala Darling anyway, but did you see her article on 10 Ways To Make Your Instagram Photos Pop? It's a gem. 

The best Tumblr and the most amazing artwork I've come across for a while: Versus/Hearts.

Louise is quite new to the blogging arena but I'm already a fan. Animal testing is an area where so many people say it's wrong but will rarely protest with their money. Her blog MakeUp.Etc is a great place to start if you want to start living cruelty free whilst not denying yourself the pleasure of mascara. 

I've yet to cook anything I've found on The Vegan Stoner but I still just love looking at the illustrations! 

I spent a large chunk of today editing my Pinterest boards after it came up at a job interview. Want to have a look?

And some Republican satire about vaginas. Just for lolz!

And Ronan Keating presenting the Eurovision....

Have a lovely weekend!

Morag x

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Planning Your Own Eurovision Party

With the onset of May comes one of my favourite annual events: Eurovision! A combination of really bad pop music, wacky costumes and the not-so-party-friendly underlying topic of international relations makes me squeal slightly. 

Despite this last year was my first year attending a Eurovision party. Even though I was not the one hosting I still got myself into a frenzy when my friend decided to instead. We sent recipes back and forth and gave out costume ideas to other guests. 

The thing that struck me however was the dead-end in my Google search for ideas. Aside from the BBC Guide, not much was out there on how to host a house party that would rival the 'real thing'. 

This year, enter my own guide! As a Christmas/Halloween/Easter/Valentine's Day/New Year New Start enficianado I felt it was time to turn my hand to how to get hyped up over Eurovision.

General Idea
Everyone comes as a country. Dress in the style of that country or as a famous Eurovision act from that country. Bring some food from said country and some drink, again from said country. Watch the show and possibly play a drinking game (or two!). Simple!

Choosing Your Costume
Being a fancy dress fiend this is probably my favourite part! Last year I was Russia and that costume went down as one of my favourite fancy dress adventures ever. Originally I was going to go as the Netherlands but that fell through....

Which brings me to my first point on costumes: make sure your country has a hope in hell of getting through to the final. Most countries have a Wikipedia page on how well they tend to do. If like the Dutch they haven't gotten a place in the finals since 2004 you'll be better off putting your favourite clogs back on the mantelpiece. It's a guessing game with the two-semi finals being held the same week but if you want a safeguard option go for one of the countries that fund the competition! The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain will all get a place indefinitely in 2012 no matter how ridiculous the act due to funding. Azerbijan also are guaranteed a place in the grand finale because they were last year's winner. 

Also with all fancy dress ventures - make sure other guests (and people who view the photos later) know what country you're trying to recreate! Generally most people will be more familiar with Germany's national dress more than Bosnia & Herzegovina's, unless of course you're reading this from Eastern Europe, then hi! 

General List:- 
UK - with London 2012 coming up union Jack clothes are common place. Check Primark for Geri Halliwell-esque dresses
France - french maid, beret, Eifell tower necklace
Russia - furry hat
Iceland - Bjork and that swan
Finland - goth, Lordi
Sweden - long blonde wig, ABBA
Germany - Beer girl, giant beer can
Greece - goddess
Italy - Roman, Pope, Gangsta
Spain - Bull fighting person (refuse to Google the real name!), flamenco dancer

Also, if all this fails, there's always football strips...

The hardest part I found last year. There aren't many Russian restaurants floating around Scotland so knowing off the top of my head what constitutes as Russian cuisine wouldn't get me any game show points. Research was easy but the harder part was making it or finding it ready packaged in a local supermarket (made harder by your local supermarket being a city-centre Metro). I had settled on Bliny which did pop up in Tesco (in the seafood section!) but was sold out on my Eurovision-day shopping trip so I resorted to regular pancakes which got me a few weird looks. BE MORE ORGANISED THAN ME!

Something I've already decided on this year (if my dough skills improve) is flag pizzas! So cute! Just need to work out what topings for each colour - any advice for blue?

General List:-
France - garlic, meringues
Spain - paella
Greece - salad, feta cheese, olives
Ita;ly - pizza, pasta, olives, easiest of the bunch
Scandanavia - fish based dishes

Again, same as the country you've chosen. You don't need to share the drink - it just adds to the atmosphere if the drink you have in your hand matches your costume. But some countries still equal easier more so than others. A lot of European countries (especially Western/Southern ones) have a wine that will be available locally. Also Scandinavian countries seem to have special local potatoes that make slightly different vodkas. But again those Eastern European countries? Even Portugal and Greece are a bit awkward when it comes to these things. 

General List:-
France, Italy, Spain - finding a French/Italian/Spanish wine is any supermarket shouldn't be a difficult feat
Germany, Czech Republic - Beer
Russia, Finland, Germany, Swedish - Vodka
Ukraine, Belarus, Netherlands, Poland - all have a few vodka brands but might need to order them online
Denmark - Lagar, namely Carlsberg
UK - beer, bitters, ales
Ireland - Guiness, Irish Whiskey
Greece, Cyprus - Ouzo

Other ditbits
Drinking games exist for this but it fell flat for us. Mainly cause we didn't have exact rules and by the time the result were read no one had much drink left. Also decoration - flags. Pictures of famous Eurovision acts; re-create Azerbijan in the living room.

But most of all have fun! 

Morag x

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How I Looked: Fallen Apples

Three cheers for the nail picture being in focus! 

I picked this dress up yesterday from H&M for my job interview today. H&M have some really nice stuff right now and I think it's where I'll be getting a large chunk of my summer wardrobe! I'm also trying to buy more H&M clothes because by high street standards they're making a bigger effort to be "ethical".

Only the second picture shows it but the dress has a really cute apple print. It's not in-your-face and you have to beside me to see the print but I think it's lovely. Some might argue it's a bit quirky for an interview but I felt the shape of the dress made it suitable as office wear. Also, my interview was at an advertising agency, so creativity in the form of clothing is allowed! 

Also, on a serious note, anyone got any photography tips? I'm using a Nikon D3100.

Morag x
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