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So You're a Beginner To Baking?




It's probably not a very well kept secret that I'm a bit of a baked goods fanatic. Almost all my Instagram photos are cupcakes or brownies, and those photos tend to be my most commented or liked photos. I was encouraged to cook as a kid, I took Standard Grade Home Economics and also Introduction to Cake Decorating, which does help explain my confidence in a kitchen. However it wasn't until the past year that I began to take baking (and other forms of cookery) extra seriously having founded my university's Cupcake & Baking Society and also becoming vegetarian which meant most ready meals were a no-go area for me and to put an end to the myth that all veggie dishes are boring. 

So, I really haven't been baking for all that long. And not having been that long I can vouch that it easier than it sounds to get into it and that I can remember some of the best baking tips to get started on if you are not all that familiar with the world of cupcakes, brownies and macaroons. 

1. Kit Out Your Kitchen

There are obviously some baking equipment that only belongs in a professional kitchen. Put the blowtorches aside - it'll be a while before you perfect that soufflé! But even for the basic cupcake or truffle their are certain items you will definitely need.

For the easier recipes you will no doubt need:
  • sieve
  • as many bowls as you can store (you might need two going at the same time)
  • muffin tin
  • baking tray
  • cake cases
  • as many wooden/plastic spoons as you can store (I recommend plastic!)
  • measuring scales (get one that does American and British measures)
  • measuring jug
  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups
  • electric whisk (you can a traditional one if you want - but it'll be harder)
  • cooling rack
There are plenty more types of baking equipment out there. But from my experience to get started on the basic baking recipes, above is what you'll need. Even something such as the simple rolling pin is only required if you're making a dough based recipe (which I don't recommend for beginners). 

2. Find Some Recipes

Being able to tell the difference between a good recipe and a bad one is something that takes some experience. Also I would tell you to be weary of recipes you find on the internet as anyone can put them up; to get a book deal you have to prove that you know a thing or two about a sieve and spatula. Most of the recipes I have managed to mess up have been from the internet. Let that do the talking. Two online resources I do recommend however are BBC Good Food and the other BBC food site. And as for those of you who don't own a printer (or prefer a cute book for display purposes) two books I recommend are The Cupcake and the baking section of Vegetarian Nosh for Students (a book long-term followers will know I've raved about before). 

When it comes to recommendations for what type of delicacies to create I'd recommend that if you're an absolute beginner to go with the oven-free recipes such as truffles or crispy bites (you'll find recipes out there a lot more exciting than just the rice crispy puffs from your childhood). Or if you're comfortable with an oven and a timer then try your hand at brownies, muffins or cupcakes. Brownies are easiest, though if you do burn the outside of a cupcake a good layer of icing shall cover it. Things to avoid for now: bread, macaroons, cake pops, pizza and any kind of pie. 

3. Finding Ingredients

Now that you've had a look at some recipes - and hopefully selected some - you'll have a good idea of what to go looking for when out shopping. Most baking ingredients can be found at most major supermarkets (unfortunetly little Tesco Metro's might not having everything you're looking for). Depending on what recipes you're looking at you'll know what to look for when it comes to flavouring however there are some ingredients that are basic for most recipes, and I recommend having two boxes at a time. 

My basic baking cupboard consists of:
  • Plain flour (N.B. flour should always be high quality - cheap flour is obviously cheap)
  • Self-raising flour
  • Baking Powder
  • Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda
  • Caster Sugar
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Golden Caster Sugar/Muscovado sugar (more appropriate for brownies)
  • Icing sugar (and plenty of it! One batch of cupcakes can use half a box)
  • Cocoa powder
  • A range of spices and herbs (make sure you have cinnamon)
  • Flavourings (make sure you have vanilla essence)  
  • Every liquid food colouring available from the supermarket
  • My decorating drawer
  • Egg replacer (as I'm currently experimenting with vegan baking)
And within the fridge you'll find my milk, butter (both soya), eggs, single and double cream. What you'll need could differ but this should cover many different basic recipes. 

4. Get On With It!

Now that you've kitted out your kitchen, chosen some recipes and bought your ingredients it's time to get on with the baking part. 

Here are some general guidelines
  • Measure exactly - even experienced bakers cannot afford to guestimate
  • Sieve your flour, coca powder and other other powders even if the recipe doesn't say so
  • Crack open and beat the eggs in a separate bowl - unless you want eggshells in your cakes?
  • Feel free to trade dark chocolate for milk chocolate (or visa versa) for your personal taste buds
  • Aside from that follow the recipe word for word - it is a chemical reaction
  • Always use a timer for the oven part
  • Clean up everything whilst they're in the oven
  • Keep the oven door shut aside from halfway through for turning them - unless you wish to wait longer?
  • Only begin to prepare the icing once the cakes are cool, otherwise it might set whilst you wait
  • Push a skewer or cocktail stick through the cake to work out if it's cooked (i.e. it comes out clean)
  • For more experimental baking at home I use re-usable silicon cases and keep the paper ones for cakes I share with others

5. Practise and Develop

As with most life skills the secret is to practice, practice, practice. Once you feel accomplished with the basic cake or muffin recipe you can start experimenting with different flavours or perfecting the decorating process (which is what I'm currently trying to master) or moving onto another types of recipe such as large cakes or meringues. 

One of the reasons I take so many pictures is so I can document my progress. If you look through my Instagram  you'll see a big change in my cakes and how adventurous I've been. From some messy looking cakes towards some perfectly formed brownies and the 99 cone cupcakes I made last week I've definitely made progress. Plus I actively keep track of what recipes I've made and which I'm yet to try and I'm always having a nosey on Pinterest for some extra ideas. 


Happy baking beginner bakers! 


Morag
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How I Looked: H&M Neon Birds



Top: H&M
Skirt: H&M
Shoes: Converse

Excuse the pissed off look in my face hahaha! And the hunched shoulders. 

This is my last in the "I bought and wore these in Dundee but didn't have my tripod so re-fashioned the outfits in my parent's back garden one night" series. Though I will need to get my interview outfit from last week up! 

Aside from the leopard print converse I found the outfit all in H&M after a day of shopping with little success and almost hating everything that was in the shops. It may already be well known that I love brights and neons (considering I graduated in a neon pink dress) so it was no guess I was drawn to this top. There is a skirt that uses the exact same material which I had spotted a Facebook friend wearing with a black top. However as I am no fan of a long skirt I decided to buy the top, teaming it with one of many designs from H&M's skirt range. 

I didn't mange to get a good picture of it the night I went into the garden to re-create four outfits but this instagram captures the ring I purchased that week from Maggie's Farm - a boutique in Dundee filled with absolute gems of accessories and clothing! 

Also ignore the grubby converse. I was heading to my favourite alternative nightclub in Dundee.

Lots and lots of boutique shop and converse love!

Morag x
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Review: Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter



Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter

Today I am going to review one of my favourite beauty products ever. Anyone who has known me a while, or has looked at me properly, will probably know that I take nail care seriously and that nail varnish is a very important part of my 'look'. I have been painting my nails since I first hit secondary school (before I was even wearing make-up on my face!) and cuticle cream/butter/lotion has been part of my beauty regime for possibly six years now. 

I was in Lush randomly (prior to my Lush obsession beginning) without any products in mind when I came across this. As someone who loves nails I obviously had to pick up the tester and immediately I fell in love. Right there in the shop I was able to see an immediate softness in the skin surrounding my nails. 

Admittedly my cuticles are in no dire need of repair - they are fairly neat and my nails grown quickly with just a bit of help from Sally Hensen nail strengthener. However I'm very prone to hangnails. If I don't use cuticle cream for maybe three days a hangnail will appear and annoy me to no end (last birthday party I was at I had a hangnail and it annoyed me until I had consumed half a bottle of wine). Because of this I tend to take some kind of cuticle cream away with me on holiday. Cuticle cream also helps soften the cuticles so they can be pushed back - leaving a much neater shape for bright nail polish. 

This stuff also lasts for ages with 50g being in the tub. You don't exactly need a lot to do all ten fingers (and all ten toes - as I do) though as with all Lush products, it has a sell-by date which truthfully I ignore because if the product still works and isn't mouldy I'll keep going! And this still works and doesn't have green stuff - a year later. 

As the tub states it can be used on dry skin on heels and elbows too - which I use as an extra layer of moisture on these area on top of my regular body moisturiser. My skin on my body is naturally soft (I'll go as far to say the natural softness of body is one of my favourite features) so if you have really dry patches I can't vouch for how well this will work for you. 

The only negative thing I will say that it does take a while to dry and the formulae is quite oily. Though for the softness it provides my nails and it's ability to keep hangnails at bay (if used daily) makes that a small significant point in my view. 

Overall I cannot speak more highly of this product and thoroughly recommend it and imagine it will eventually land up in my re-purchased products category. 

Morag
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In This Week


1. Washing the car 2. Sunbathing in a car park 3. Ice-cream by the beach. 4. New beauty product. 5. Outfit for job interview. 6. Lunch whilst in Glasgow. 7. Vegan peanut bars. 8. Pasta in pepper sauce. 

This week my job search took a step up in that I was invited for my first interview since April! I won't name the company 'cause that's something I'm private about - but I will say I think it went well and that it was for a company I've known about for ages and would adore working for. I found out on Tuesday that I was selected and then Thursday morning I was heading down to Glasgow on the first train, giving myself some last few hours prep with a copy of my CV, the job description and some notes I took down about the company. 

Aside from the middle of the week being about interview prep, Monday I was being a car fanatic with the car I share with my dad giving it a proper clean - windows, interior, exteriors, down the side of the windows. I never thought I would be a 'car person' but if I ever did have my very own car I believe I would very much  be the sort of person that treats it like my own child! 

Near the end of the week, after interviews were done, I was getting my behind back into the kitchen and crafting my very first batch of vegan baking! As mentioned last week I found a health food store attached to my local Tesco and bought some dairy free chocolate, and with it I created a peanut bars which were easily made vegan by using vegan chocolate instead of 'regular' chocolate and double checking the ingredients on the digestive biscuits packet.

Finally, I am not a huge YouTube fanatic but my personal Youtube channel full of vlogs etc now has my video of diving with Great Whites back from June. You can see how close I was to one of my favourite creatures. 

Lots and lots of vegan chocolate love!

Morag
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How I Looked: Leopard Print H&M



Dress: H&M kids section
Shoes: International - years ago!
Rings: Next and Local vintage shop

This maybe isn't my favourite look from recent weeks but within this post I will share a shopping tip! I am 5ft5 and a size 10 but this dress fits me perfectly - which I found in the kids section of H&M! I certainly can't fit into all kids clothes but H&M has served me quite well in the cheap clothes department. Unless you're really tall or have massive boobs you should be bale to occasionally find some clothing that doesn't get taxed! 

This outfit had been worn for a night out for a birthday/'last time we might ever see some people' night. Being a kids outfit does mean that it is really comfortable to wear, being breathable fabric and all!

Ignore my squinty eyes. haha. 

Loads of leopard love!

Morag x
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Recipe: Vegan Mac & Cheese


Home made vegan mac and cheese

As regular readers will know I've been completely vegetarian for almost a year now and have since the beginning of 2011 been experimenting with vegan food, with one of my mid-year resolutions being to master the art of some vegan dishes.

This dish was crafted within my last few months in Dundee whilst I still had my own almost-vegan kitchen to my entire self. I had purchased some Cheezly soya cheese for a specific dish and needed to use it up so decided to veganise an all-time favourite. For me, my macaroni cheese has always been laced with extras such as onions, peas and in my meat-eating days snippets of bacon. I think the actual term is Macaroni Romano according to my Home Economic recipes but we'll be simple and call it Mac and Cheese+. 

There are many ways to make mac and cheese, this is simply mine but mac and cheese is by no means the hardest dish to turn vegan. Good luck even if you don't take mine. 

Ingredients
50g macaroni pasta
Oil to fry (I use olive)
1 small clove Garlic, chopped
Half an onion, finely chopped (How To Chop an Onion!)
15g flour, you may need more
Unsweetened soya milk, 125ml as a start, but you may have to add more - important that you use unsweetened, as soya is naturally sweet and this dish is savoury.
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard to give the soya taste a kick
Soya cheese, grated (for measurements - how ever cheesy you want it to be! Try 50g as a start)
Canned peas/canned sweetcorn/whatever type of vegetable takes your fancy

N.B. The lack of measurements has a lot do with me not measuring my own food. I use my own eyes as judgement, unless I'm baking 'cause that can be a lesson in science. I know this can be hard for people who aren't as experienced in the kitchen but I've decided to provide a recipe 'cause my food pictures get the most attention!

Method
1. Put the pasta on to boil
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan - this can take a few minutes depending on your stove
3. Gently fry the garlic and onions, don't let them brown
4. Gently add in the flour, let it brown slightly and take off the heat immediately afterwards.
5. If it off the heat yet? Okay. Add the milk bit by bit. And stir consistently.
6. When you feel it's ready then return to the stove and bring it to the boil stirring consistently (milk can burn easily) and it should thicken
7. Once it has thickened take off the heat, and add the mustard
8. Add the drained pasta (which should have cooked by now!)
9. Mix in the grated cheese
10. Mix in the canned (or cooked) vegetables of your own choice.

I take no responsibility for how my experiments turn out in your own kitchen :P


 
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In This Week


In this Week: baking, veganism and cheesecake!
1. Finding a health food shop within a Tesco. 2. Vegan baking. 3. Chocolate and chilli muffins. 4. Cherry Sundae Cupcakes. 5.Cannelloni. 6. Savoury Cheesecake. 

Aside from the on-going job search this week has been more experimenting in the kitchen, going out for drives, discovering new music via Spotify and Last.fm (I still have my account in 2012!) and enjoying Film4's Fright Fest until the early hours of the morning. And then being woken up at 5am because of the sunshine! So a bit grouchy hahaha.  

When I was younger, say mid-teens, I was a complete music and film junkie and right now I'm feeling that all come back. I'm not sure whether it's because in the last few weeks of living in my university town I spent most of my time at an alternative club or because I now have access to a TV again, or because the mainstream music is just a bit too R&B-ish for me right now.  Either way I'm scouring Spotify for new artists,  so if you have anything that might appeal to a indie, pop-punk alternative chick (all time favourite acts include Goo Goo Dolls, Feeder, Blink 182, Green Day...) then HOLLAR! 

Also, last night I watched The Lovely Bones which I highly recommend. If you like when sheer horror and beauty combine in a film (such as American Beauty) - then you'll this film. My heart has never started beating so hard at a film for years. 

If you follow me on Instgram you'll have realised that I managed to accidently find ingredients for vegan baking in a health store attached to my local Tesco. It wasn't as extensive as the giant health store I found in my last few months in Dundee however I was still able to pick up some egg-replacer and vegan chocolate, whilst also finding vegan Worcester sauce for general cookery since Lea & Perrins isn't even vegetarian.

And that Savoury Cheesecake? Delish. Essentially cream cheese, eggs and whatever vegetables you fancy on a bed of potato wedges with grated cheese on top. Also: simple!

Lots and lots of savoury cheesecake love!
Morag x
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Review: Lush I Love Juicy Shampoo


Lush: I Love juicy shampoo for greasy hair Lush: I Love juicy shampoo for greasy hair

I've said before that when it comes to skincare, natural products are what keeps my skin at its best, when it comes to haircare however it can be quite the opposite story. I've never had much luck when it comes to using natural ingredients on my hair with them either making my hair oilier or matting it all up. With oily roots and naturally dry ends (given how long my hair is!) it can be quite hard to find a hair care regime that works, period. However since finding out that the products I've been using for years have been tested on animals it was time to go on a new shampoo and conditioner hunt. 

I Love Juicy has an absolutely gorgeous fruity smell to it, which was part of my reasoning for choosing it over Big Sea Salt shampoo (which I might still try in the future!). After washing my hair it certainly did remove grease however I did need quite a bit of shampoo in my hand to feel really refreshed. And I did find grease built up again easily - not heavily, nothing noticeable to another person but I had to be strict to always wash my hair daily as if I left it more than 36 hours I'd look greasy (do bear in mind my natural hair type is oily - you might be different!). 

All in all I Love Juicy will do for now as a cruelty-free shampoo and will probably enter my re-purchased products category however I anticipate that I will also be trying out other cruelty-free or natural products to see if one of them are better suited for my hair type.

Lots of love
Morag x 
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How I Looked: Kelly Brook at New Look



Shoes: New Look

This is yet another dress that I wore in my last few weeks in Dundee (as seen in week 29) and later wore again in my parents back garden for the sake of blogging! Just like my previous outfit post this is another dress that I found in the sales but is still available online for even cheaper than I had bought it.

At first I thought it was maybe a bit too fussy - even for me. And in the end I teamed it with no accessories aside from stud earrings and kept my nails a baby blue as I didn't want to add yet another colour to the ensemble. The pattern, despite busy, is absolutely beautiful and has a strong exotic or Asian influence. I did originally put my hair up thinking that keeping my hair away from the dress would show the pattern more clearly but I then felt too formal as if I was heading to a wedding (in fact I seen a Facebook photo of someone wearing this dress to a wedding!).

Lots of love

Morag x
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Liebster Blog Award




The Liebster Blog Award is one I've had before but the 'tasks' with this train of the award are slightly different. I'm a little bit strange (over-sharer might be the correct word) in that I like answering little questions and divulging facts about myself. This time I have to write 11 facts about myself, answer 11 questions from the award-giver, ask 11 question to the people I am about to share this with and then award 11 people. 

I received this award from Hayley of Water Painted Dreams who blogs about beauty and life!

11 Facts About Me

  1. I am an only child and even as an adult I still wish I had a sibling, even though I should be grateful for loads of experiences which might not have been possible otherwise.
  2. My favourite Olympic sport is gymnastics and I was super grinning to see my favourite team and favourite sport coming together these past two weeks.
  3. I don't have much of an accent. It's not rare for people to not even be able to tell what country I'm from. I'm a born and bred Scot, people!
  4. The part of my personality that I get told is most surprising because of my appearance is that I smoke. Albeit just when I'm drinking but apparently I strike people as the sport of person that would hate smoking.
  5. When it comes to dating my deal-breakers are: not being adventurous, eating junk food all the time and being unhygienic/not taking care of their appearance.
  6. I have visited four continents in less than 22 years. And I don't see visiting all seven before I'm 30 as unrealistic. Yes, I want to see Antarctica.
  7. I'm not a big TV fanatic but shows I do love are Vampire Diaries, The IT Crowd and Gossip Girl.
  8. I know there's certain foods that are hard to eat quietly (such as crunchy salad) but it really irks me when people chew loudly, or don't even attempt to chew quietly. I know someone who can't even eat a sandwich without me knowing what exactly is happening in their mouth. Boke. 
  9. I abstain from caffeine because I'm addicted to it. One coffee will always turn into more.
  10. I get hay-fever and travel sickness. When I go on holiday I always carry tablets.
  11. My favourite band ever are the Goo Goo Dolls, and I seen them live in 2006

 

11 Questions From Hayley

  1. What are your favourite types of blog posts to read?
  2. I really high street fashion posts or posts that contain realistic life advice, such as Sarah Von or Alle.
  3. Recommend me a good book?
  4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath if you've never read it. Or for something less well known anything by Torey Hayden.
  5. What is the nearest object to you that is yellow?
  6. A UV pen.
  7. What was the last nail polish you used?
  8. A Barry M Purple shade which is on my nails right now.
  9. What is your favourite perfume?
  10. My signature scent is actually Ann Summers. Classy times.
  11. What are your opinions on guest bloggers?
  12. Generally if I subscribe to a blog it's because I like what that blogger has to say. If you're going on hiatus, just go on hiatus. If you're good, readership will pick up again.
  13. Naked palette or Naked 2 palette?
  14. Never tried either.
  15. What is the most money you've ever spent on a beauty item?
  16. Benefit's Confessions of a Concealaholic. It was worth it though.
  17. Cadbury chocolate or galaxy chocolate?
  18. Don't really eat chocolate, but probably Cadbury.
  19. What are you most looking forward to this Autumn?
  20. Hopefully getting a graduate job and moving out of my parents. And wearing my faux fur waistcoat again! 
  21. What type of posts do you enjoy writing the most?
  22. My outfit posts. The easiest to write. 

11 Questions From Me

  1.  Blue or black ink? Don't care?
  2. Are you big home decor kind of person or do you leave your house as a shell?
  3. What do you wear when you're indoors all day and no one will see you?
  4. What blog have you been possibly following the longest?
  5. House party, bar, pub or club?
  6. What do you fan-boy/fan-girl over?
  7. What is an issue you care really strongly and passionately about?
  8. What are the essential elements to your 'look'?
  9. What makes you cringe most looking back at teenage photos of yourself? 
  10.  Feature of your face/body do you always like to accentuate? 
  11. How many pieces of technology do you carry with you regularly?

 

11 Bloggers

Betty Leopard
Bewitchery
Charade
Lost My Heart in Wonderland
The Wallflower
Andrea Marie
Vanilla Crush
Evehut
A Little More
Parisian Orchid
My Life As a Teacup

Enjoy your awards and my questions - I'll try and make sure I get round you all in order to make sure you know you've been nominated!

Morag x
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In This Week


1. Face for the weekend. 2. Explaining my Vampire themed dream to my friend. 3. Pineapple and Cream Cheese cupcakes 4. Raspberry muffins. 5. After a jog in the rain. 6. Lovely bed sheets at my friends house.

I've found that I've gotten myself into more of a routine now since moving back to hotel de parents. Going for jogs every second and doing weights (ready to buy some more as 3kg isn't working me anymore!) whilst doing loads of baking, trying to get through the Vampire Diaries before the new series starts and discovering new music on Spotify (the mainstream chart stuff is doing NOTHING for me at the moment). 

Though at the weekend I took a trip down to Dundee for a friends birthday and Dare To Be Digital Protoplay. One of the less obvious aspects of my personality, as based on my appearance, is that I love computer games and Protoplay is one of my favourite yearly events. The game I voted for, Captain Color by iDeer didn't win but when you're up against a game that uses virtual reality, it's difficult ;)

For those of you that follow me on Twitter/Instagram you'll have seen the release of my new layout. I've been working on it since the beginning of the year and I am so glad to have it up! I'm still playing with it a little bit to make it have spark and really show what I can do but I'm still so happy with it! I know #bbloggers was on html/css this week and for those of you wondering where I "learnt it all" my favourite links are Girls Who Geek, W3Schools and this blog taking you through an example of Blogger code. I've known HTML since 2004 and have some majorly geeky friends who have okayed these links as genuinely teaching good code. Basic rule: just because the code works doesn't mean it's correct ;)

Also I have a new Facebook page for my blog. It's mainly for commenting on other post by companies/bloggers but if Facebook is your referred subscription service feel free to give me a like :)

Lots of Sunday love
Morag x
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Things I Love Thursday: Countryside Living




As has been said I've recently moved back to my parents house post-graduation in the Aberdeenshire countryside. Whilst it's only three miles outside of Aberdeen, as a bonafide city gal it still feels as if I might as well be living up some Swiss mountain.

As with a lot of Thursday's I like to make note of what is keeping me smiling or write down things I'm grateful for in order to keep me smiling. This one is aimed at living back in a village, after having lived in a city for the best part of four years! 

Going for a Run Without Anyone Else Seeing

Where I lived in Dundee there was nowhere near where I lived that would allow for me to go for a jog without having chavs shouting at me. There's an old railway line near me that has been turned into a cycle path, where the only other people you'll meet are dog-walkers, cyclists and other runners. Admittedly running into people does make me resist the urge to take breaks every ten strides but being able to run without people gawking at me does allow me to enjoy the countryside, a bit.

Having a Back Garden

Okay, so it is half dug up at the moment because my parents insist on changing the design every two years. And now has no grass. But there is something tranquil about having a space out the back. Helps for when you just want some fresh air without any intention of going somewhere. Or putting on some make-up. 

Growing my Eyebrows Out

This is more about how I'm away from social interaction and not seeing anyone outside of blood relatives on a daily basis due to my move. I've plucked my right eyebrow in a bit too far to the point where it's sometimes all I see in photos and despite my attempts to grow out them previously in order to re-shape, if I had to be somewhere nice I'd pluck to get rid of any strays. Causing the accused eyebrow to remain that way.

A Decent Oven

I love to bake. And that word love really does need to be emphasised with italics.  I hit a really good deal with my flat in my final year but one of the small complaints I would have had was that the oven wasn't to the standard of a baking enthusiast. My parents' oven is much better and if you follow me on instagram (username: moadore) you'll have seen just how much baking I've been doing!


Do you like countryside living? Or are you generally like me and prefer city life?

Lots and lots of country bumpkin love
Morag x
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How I Looked: Kill My Boyfriend



Dress: Wal G  at Topshop
Shoes: New Look 

I didn't take any outfit photos whilst in my last month of Dundee as I forgot to take my tripod back down and part of my DLSR charger.  So in the next fortnight you will get pictures of me recreating the outfits in my parents' back garden. :) I'm choosing this one first as I bought it early July and back then it was on sale and I could only get it online so wanted the outfit up before anyone wanting it too would have to trace it through eBay.

I originally spied this dress back in May in Bank in Dundee but it was nearing the end of the month so put it aside (forgetting that sale items need to be grabbed) thinking I might get it for a friend's birthday once my pay had come through. But by then it was gone from the shop and I settled on the fish playsuit from New Look for that night out. I then managed to find it on the Topshop website and was made up!

The only thing I'll say about this outfit is that the skirt was much shorter than I anticipated and I felt quite self-conscious that night always watching how I sat and was grateful it wasn't a windy night! Plus, it's a 'no bra' dress so mine just disappeared haha.

Morag x


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In This Week


 1. Me. 2. Train times. 3. Run time. 4. Aberdeenshire countryside 5. Hayfever sufferer! 6. Marmite brownies. 7. Dried fruit and rice 8. Korma rice and spinach

And now we come to week two of living back with my parents and I'm beginning to adjust to it. Still haven't found a graduate job but seeing plenty of jobs on offer for graduates in the field I've been studying/doing part-time work in for a year and a half so it shouldn't be too long (hopefully!).

With all my unemployed time I've been catching up on games I've been neglecting, watching all the Vampire Diaries episodes I missed (started watching season 1, then got back into it when season 3 came on) going out for runs and lifting my measly 3kg weights every second day (weak arms right here!) whilst also getting my groove back in the kitchen - which can be difficult as back at my parents I have to dodge meaty food. 

Last night I made Marmite Brownies - which I know will make so many you of throw up in your mouth. I've said before that I really like Marmite and don't just use it on my toast. Naturally the brownies tasted a little more bitter than your average chocolate-only brownie so it might not be perfect for all of you sweet toothers out there ;) And for anyone interested in the recipe - it was just your average brownie recipe with a teaspoon of Marmite stirred through.

Also on my health kick I have discovered a new favourite snack: avocado toasties. Very simple to make, delicious (I add spring onions to them!) and extremely healthy. Plus that final picture - it came from Vegetarian Nosh for Students which is a recipe book I can't speak more highly of and this recipe comes very recommended. Nom nom!

Lots and lots of weekly love!
Morag x
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Tips for Looking Good Whilst Roughing It


 Two of my looks from Zambia - not my usual self but could a look lot worse for a trip to Africa

Whilst I no expert at making my 'trip to the Victoria Falls' look match anywhere close to my 'living day in day out in a Western country' look with trips through Africa and South America I do know a few things about maintaining some sort of elegance whilst in dusty/damp conditions. This is no guide for a trip up Everest but if you're going camping with your lover or visiting a developing country like I recently did then this guide is for you!

Also note: if I was away to Italy or Florida I'd probably take with me my entire make-up collection. This is for your Africas and Asias of the world.

Shower as much as you can
Seems like a given but when you've just checked into your hostel after a trek or right off a 13 hour flight the bed can be more tempting than the shower. But you'll thank me later if you go get your hair shampoo-ed!

Use the products you're used to
My mum always insists on using those toiletries you get from relatives at Christmas. My advice is: unless you have the kind of hair that has vitality even if you use hand wash use the mini-products of products that you already know work on your hair. My mum gave me some old shampoo she had found in a hotel for me to use in Peru and when I used it my hair looked the same as before I washed it. As if I had been trekking through a South American country.

Wax/Epillate/Sugar before you go (but still take a razor)
Shaving stops are rare throughout a trek in the Andes so it's best to de-fuzz as much as before you go. I hate waxing as much as the next person and always have to get a salon to do it because I'm far too wimpy (Yes, I will dive with sharks, but wax my own legs? No.). However unless you're blond the second a new hair sprouts it's kind of obvious. ;)

Up your Beauty Regime in the Weeks Before you Go
Aside from a professional wax there are some other beauty treatments I do before I go abroad. Give my eyebrows a proper seeing to, exfoliate thoroughly, give myself a pedicure and generally take my beauty regime extra seriously in the run up to a holiday. Especially one that isn't lazing on a beach in Majorca.

A little bit if make-up is not 'high maintnance'
Or my advice is really not to care what others think. If you want to add some extra va-va-voom to your camping look and are prepared to carry the bare essentials then go you! It's your face. A bit of tinted moisturiser isn't going to take up much extra room.

Unless you're hiking up Kilimanjaro you don't need ugly camping gear
'Proper' hiking boots and Gortex are only needed if you're taking on the creme de creme of rough climbs. For trips up Table Mountain or walking around a deserted town in Romania practical clothing brands, such as Billabong, will do just a grand job. For my trip up Table Mountain in South Africa I wore a khaki playsuit from New Look and leggings with some white trainers. Heck, even well traveled Sarah Von agrees with me so it must be true!

And if you really want to emulate me.

Clothes I'd recommend you take:
- good quality underwear and plenty of it
- leggings
- floaty tops (such as the one I'm wearing in the picture)
- sandles/flip flops you can easily walk in
- khaki shorts
- black long sleeved top
- beach surfer type shorts
- hoodie
- vest tops (plural)
- summer dress (be aware of cultural differences though - not uncommon to need below the knee length)
- waterproof jacket (can be as pretty as you want though!)

My travel beauty bag:
- tinted mosturier/sheer foundation
- shampoo and conditioner
- razor (using conditioner as foam)
- a default nail polish (coral or black or brown) and some nail clippers (depending on how long I'm gone
- toothpaste and toothbrush (leaving breath freshener, floss and mouthwash at home)
- tinted eyebrow gel
- body moisturiser
- some wet wipes
- waterproof mascara
- deodorant

Too far, even for a beauty blogger:
- eyeliner to do your tight line
- highlighter
- lip scrub
- cuticle butter
- soap because let's be honest water does a good job anyway, just doesn't smell of much!

Do you have any more travel beauty tips? Any questions?

Lots and lots of dirty travel love
Morag x

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Mini-Travel Guide: Zambia



 As you enter via Livingstone international airport

The second part of my African adventure saw me meet up with my mum in Livingstone, Zambia where she had been volunteering for the past month and a bit. Whilst Cape Town wasn't too far out of my comfort zone culturally, Zambia is the Africa you see on the news. It wasn't as depressing as the television can make it out to be but I was certainly not in Europe anymore! After Livingstone we then took a trip up to Lusaka to get our plane back to the UK. 

Getting there

As with all the flights we made whilst there this was done with British Airways, as my dad got a good deal to get all flights included. Upon arrival there are two queues for passports and visas, and unless you're a native of Zambia or another African country it wasn't clear which queue you have to go to. Absolutely no travelers seemed to know where it was they had to go but the border officials were cool - so if in doubt join the queue where most people hold the same passport as you.

Between Livingstone and Lusaka we traveled by coach using Mazhandu Family Bus Service. My mum had had a good journey from Lusaka to Livingstone so convinced me and my dad to travel with them on the way back. However on the way back up we got a five seat across coach which was hot sweaty and even though we had booked our seats to be right at the front due to my travel sickness I still managed to feel queezy. Though, again, at the price I'll shut my mouth ;)

Where I Stayed

 
Accommodation in Livingstone - very recommended!


Even though were traveling in the 'off-season' I remember getting an e-mail from my dad saying he was struggling to find somewhere to stay when we hit Livingstone.  Because of that my advice is: book ahead. Here is the places I stayed in during Livingstone and Lusaka.

Livingstone

We stayed at the Ngolide Lodge in Livingstone. It's situated on the main road and really easy to find and all taxi drivers we had knew where it was. Reviews had been positive for this place and I can say I cannot speak more highly of it. It was a luxury place (the British Pound goes far in Zambia!) and had an Indian restaurant attached to it. You could get Wifi for an hour (used across the day) for nine kwatcha (literally 50p). Recommended!

Lusaka

For my one night in Lusaka I stayed at the Lusaka Backpackers. It was a basic hostel in comparison to my adventures in the UK, Ireland and Peru but for the price a complaint couldn't be made. I was there with my over half-a-century-old parents and truthfully I would say it is more suitable for groups of young people. This is the only part of my trip I resented being with my parents as I find nothing more attractive in a guy than a sense of adventure but with my parents about I didn't want to gawk too much. Also the huts out the back that you could rent as opposed to a room looked romantic if you wanted to backpack with your lover.


What To Do 


The Victoria Falls - probably one of the best photos as when you get closer you get so much spray!

Victoria Falls

It's like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower or coming to Scotland and not going via one of the castles. Unless they really are not your thing - but being one of the seven natural wonders of the world I imagine that's a small percentage of you that would pass this up. It's touristy and once in the park it's hard to imagine that you're in Africa, but it is absolutely breathtaking! I'm an absolute water baby so this was my favorite part of the Zambian trip. I cannot remember the exact money to get in but I remember calculating it in my head and they whole "British pound goes really far" isn't quite the same and it gets hiked back up to average tourist prices.

Tip: It's wet and outdoorsy. There are raincoats to rent (which I did) that are comfortable and don't cost a bomb if you don't have a waterproof with you. Also, don't be that silly woman who wore heels and a dress to go to the Victoria Falls. Though kudos to her for going down to the boiling point (which is a hard walk back up!) in her bare feet!

Tip: The Boiling Point sign you see will take you down towards the Zambezi. It's a beautiful site and yet another way to see the falls, but it is a proper climb back up. I've done worse, but I've done a lot easier too. 

Chobe Safari Park

For all you keen eyes geographers out there you'll realise that Chobe isn't in Zambia but in Botswana. Claimed to be one of the best safari parks in Africa my mum decided to pay the reentry fee for me at the border. It was free to go across to Botswana on this particular safari, and then $50 to get back into Zambia (my passport has four stamps from this day alone). Being one of the best safari's about I wasn't disappointed and got to witness elephants, giraffes, warthogs, eagles, hippos and crocodiles in their natural habitat.

Market Stalls

On the main street of Livingstone me and my mum visited some of the art and craft stalls. If you're looking for some authentic African jewelery, bags or pottery this is your place. However be aware that sales people in this country are much more pushy than in the UK. My advice is: unless something in the shops/stall catches your eye from the outside don't go in because you might need to really firmly push your way back out. The men are worse than the women for this and the shops owned be females tend to be okay with you only having a look.

Eating as a Vegetarian (and eating in general)


 If you're vegetarian be prepared to eat a lot of these

Vegetarian diets are recognised in Zambia however they still seem to think we only eat salads. If you go here and don't eat meat be prepared to eat many a salad, mainly Greek salads. But also be prepared that the same health and safety standards don't exist as in the UK and fruit is sold on the side of streets with flies everywhere! Felt a bit dodgy after one Greek Salad.

The Golden Leaf

This was the Indian restaurant that was connected to the lodge I was staying in, and it was amazing. From my experience of 'developing countries' the food always takes longer to come than in Europe but once it did come it was amazing. Be warned though the food is Indian and not the fake Indian stuff we get in the UK - it was hot! Unless your taste buds are adapted to Asian cuisine then make sure you don't take something hot or risk downing your body weight in water ofter one mouthful of food. As said Zambia isn't rolling with vegetarian options but this restaurant will be your haven.

Zoran Cafe

This was a restaurant that was situated in a mall upon my stay in Lusaka. Whilst I can't remember the whole menu I don't remember struggling to eat before settling on the avocado salad. Unlike the other salads I had elsewhere this was crisp and clean which didn't suggest it had been bought from the roadside. 

Water

Chucking a bit of information in here. Drink loads of water - I'd recommend drinking plenty whilst travelling there and then drink plenty before you leave your accommodation and always carry a bottle with you wherever you go.

Extra Advice

Clothing

Zambia is dry and hot so be prepared that you will need shorts (I was there in the so called 'cold season' when locals were wearing jeans!) and breathable but comfortable shoes as pavements aren't all the rage in Zambia. A lot of Zambian actually wear 'Western' clothes so don't feel you need to buy a new wardrobe - anything that is light, breathable and practical will do.

Insects and Nasties

I took with me Xpel Misquito & Insect Repellent wipes to use on my skin and also took a 100% deet spray with me to spray on clothes and bed sheets. With this method I came home with only one extra bite, that was so unnoticeable it could easily have not been a bite. Also whilst we're speaking of bugs I'll mention that I suffer a phobia - and it is of the eight legged variety. I have been to Peru and Zambia and not come face-to-face with my phobia. Yes, lifting my bedsheets in the morning was a bit of a scary task but in my experience (also the experience of others) you won't meet snakes/spiders/giant beetles unless you go looking for them. Don't let a fear put you off these countries.

Sunscreen

Being pale and having some ginger in my genetics means that I tend to burn a bit. With me I took Boot's Soltan 50+ sunscreen and only came back with some extra freckles along my arm. Sorted! 

Have you ever been to Zambia? Anything extra to add?

Lots and lots of Zambia love
Morag x

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