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November playlist




Lost in the Plot - The Deers
The Way You Love Me - Faith Hill
Euphoria - Howling Bells
Those Were The Days - Mary Hopkin
Breathing Underwater - Metric
To France - Mike Oldfield
Hope the Good Things Never Die - Northcote
Let Her Go - Passenger
Lost, Dropped and Cancelled - Rainer Maria
Changes Are No Good - The Stills


Morag x
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The Linkables





This week's LOLs on Buzzfeed: 23 faces everyone who went to a British Secondary School will remember.

I spotted this on Buzzfeed and I've never heard of this before but I relate to all the gifs. So I ask you readers, do I have resting nice face?

A Scottish newspaper backing independence launched this week and here's Lesley Riddoch's thoughts on it.

I have a day off work today and I'm spending it Christmas shopping. Think I'll pop in here too.

In Dundee, it's Book Yer Ane Fest this weekend (I was at the pre-fest in Glasgow last night) and I almost spat out water laughing at this survival guide written by the frontman of a Dundee band.

Absolutely fucking horrible story about the treatment of trans people.

12 do the coolest solar-powered products on the market.

The perfect gift for a gardener who likes a drink.

London's best vegetarian restaurants.

I've almost always exclusively dated men of the geeky persuasion despite not being particularly geeky myself, and people have things to say about that (mainly masculine/conventional men). This post is about a thin man and fat woman, but I do understand that people commenting or second-guessing a relationship because you're perceived as 'mis-matched' for shallow reasons.

How the Green Party says it would run the country.

Hahaha! Twelve habits of happy healthy people who don't give a shit about your inner peace.

Black and white pictures of animals getting baths.

Some pronoun etiquette for when talking to/about someone who doesn't want he or she.

More on Band Aid: "Traditionally, one would say that charity is used to mitigate the symptoms of social distress, while leaving its systemic causes intact. Here, it is not even relevant whether the symptoms are soothed. The important thing is the spectacle."

Ann Summers like a bit of recycling.

Learn the size of planets through illustrations of fruit.

Glasgow got a bike sharing scheme last year, and I just stumbled upon Chicago's version called Divvy (and it has beautiful branding).

Another book on the market about the ethics of eating meat.

Annnnnd, a German Shepard howling at his owner singing in the shower.

 Morag x
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Vegan food in Aberdeen at Foodstory Café


foodstory vegan cake and salad

Something I love about my adopted-home of Glasgow is that it's an easy place for a non-meat eater like me to find some grub. So much that the place was named the UK's most vegan friendly city by a certain animal rights group that I don't like and will go unnamed. However I spend trips back to my actual home town slightly more hungry as Aberdeen hasn't quite caught on to the vegan trend (from what I can see anyway). However, when I was having a nosey at Christy's Aberdeen foodie map I came across Foodstory Café to which has answered some of my Aberdonian vegan prayers.

Foodstory is a small independent café located on Thistle Street (near the orthodontist that so many Aberdonians seem to recall from their teenage years) and they literally do tell the 'story' of the food they sell. They have boards up detailing where their suppliers are located and they mark out gluten-free options, raw options and - what's important to me - vegan options. Food labelling at its finest.

food story aberdeen menu

My mum was with me and even though she's not vegan she is supportive of local businesses and ethical shopping. We went in on a Thursday afternoon but the café was still very bustling for this time of day (and year) with a wide range of customers from business people from nearby offices and school kids out on lunch.

I'm not used to standing in a café struggling to choose but with so many vegan options available (and teas and teas) I held up the queue a bit. And when I say plenty of options I'm primarily referring to the cakes as there were several vegan slices on their counter. However I settled on a raw chocolate cake and an almond slice topped with avocado-based cream. This was first time trying a raw cake and it tasted exactly like actual cocoa powder and is a very acquired taste.

Foodstory green tea

I can't remember the name of salad we picked but they were beautiful, especially the one that I believe might have been satay style. We also kept it simple and went for a green tea to share which came in a super cute filter jug with a timer so we knew when it had brewed.

As regular readers will know I'm not up in Aberdeen all that often, and my knowledge of the local foodie scene is very limited. Maybe there are lots of vegan-friendly places nestled about and I'm just unaware of them. However, I know Foodstory is popular with a range of people - such as Christy of Dinner Stories and quite a few Aberdonian friends from school etc have liked the page on Facebook.

You should all go stuff your face full of food served with its own story.

Morag x
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Online shopping for ethical Christmas presents




I'm aware that my fondness for ethical shopping can make me a slightly frustrating person to buy presents for. Between being cruelty-free, vegan, a feminist and a bit of a lefty I have a lot of businesses on my boycott list. And maybe you have someone like this in your life too (and if so you should introduce us). But I am today going to use my fussiness to help anyone who has a Morag-like person in their life that they need to buy something for.

I can't guess the personality of the person you're buying for and what would be a great gesture, so instead of creating a gift guide including specific products (even though they are fun) I've listed a bunch of websites for you to have a gander on. And from there you can determine if a vegan bubble bath or flower seeds which help increase the bee population would be a better gift.

CutECOsmetics

Those of us involved in the cruelty-free community define cruelty-free our own individual way. I have my own approved list which anyone buying for me can check, however you'll need to find out your present-receivers personal preferences. If you're aware that they trust a particular certification then every brand page on CutECOsmetics has the various logos for the certifications they carry (for example, here's the Badger Balm page with the UDSA Organic and Leaping Bunny logos and the Skin Blossom page with the Vegan Society and Soil Association logos).

Etsy

Yes, Etsy is getting added because everyone should shop on Etsy. Here's the result of an eco-friendly search.

Ethical Superstore

Everything can be bought here - from cereal to kitchenware to Christmas decorations. And for Christmas they have an ethical gift category.

Nigel's Eco Store

This store is very new to me and I've yet to purchase anything. However Nigel's Eco Store appears to covers everything from solar powered fairy lights to recycled pencils. And Nigel also has a gift section.

ECOulet

Another play on the word eco. Anyway, this is in a similar line to Nigel's Eco Store however it has less products but it also still has a gift section to try and find something of note.

Green Tulip

This is a site specifically finding an eco gift, rather than something for yourself. And it has a very handy feature to search for products of a certain ethic.

Eco Artware

I was hesitant to include this website as it's American, which means huge shipping costs for my mainly British readers. But some of the stuff is awesome as it is not just eco-friendly but created by some really talented artists. Have a look.

Not on the High Street

I think anyone who logs onto the internet now and then probably knows of NOTHS's existence. Whilst not specifically an eco-conscious shopping website, it does stock some eco-friendly brands. The search term 'eco-friendly' returns over 800 pages.

Do you have anyone a bit eco-conscious to buy for? Or do you always shop eco-conscious for your close ones?

Morag x

P.S. Image of the bag is from Not on the High Street.
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City girl reflections on a countryside upbringing


Aberdeenshire 24

A week ago I published an outfit post, which had me sitting on a log in some woods. Not that that's very interesting. However this was the first outfit post I had published which used the Aberdeenshire countryside I grew up in as a backdrop instead of urban buildings in Glasgow or Dundee.

Taking those photo was a bit of a faff compared to Glasgow, and not just because I was doing them myself with new equipment. I had to walk quite a bit to find 1) a backdrop I liked and also 2) somewhere shielded from the wind which is a bit harder given the lack of tall buildings in the countryside. To top it off I felt awkward walking about a residential village in full make-up whilst carrying a tripod and rucksack with two DLSR's and three lenses.  In Glasgow it's not bizarre to spot fashion bloggers or art students out photographing each other in Merchant City or the West End, but in a random Aberdeenshire village it's a bit of an oddity to say the least. However this all got me reflecting on my childhood in the countryside compared to my life now in a city.

I'm possibly making it sound like I grew up in a cottage on a hill where you had to drive to the shop. In truth, I actually grew up in a medium-sized village with the city of Aberdeen itself visible from some of the raised ground. And aside from complaining that I had to get to a bus stop at 8am for school whilst the kids who lived in my high school's catchment area could just roll out at quarter to nine and toddle on down, I never considered my upbringing to be rural. If anything, it could be considered the best of both worlds.

But now having lived in Scotland's largest city for two years (!!) and one of Scotland's smaller cities for four years before that (where I at one point lived right on the main street) it does feel like my parents village is the back-end of nowhere. I never wore wellies when I was younger (my shoe of choice was Converse...so not much has changed) but I found myself eewing at the site of some mud when I went for a walk on the country roads, even though it's no more muddy a place than it was when I moved away in 2008.

I always knew it was truth and as an adult I have confirmed to my parents that my hunch was correct: I'm a city girl. Despite this I view my countryside upbringing favourably and consider it a big part of self-identity, even though I lack any desire to ever live there again.

When speaking to someone I've just met I used to switch between saying I'm from the city and the shire. But I lean towards using the shire these days. You see when you come from somewhere that's perceived to be a bit different it's met with curiosity and questions; rather than when you say you're from a city where a couple of thousand other people live and the person you're speaking to has friends from there anyway. I can sense the difference in response when people find out I'm actually from a village outside the city boundaries. Even if they crack a few jokes about fields and sheep.

You even see rurally located businesses using the romantic countryside image as part of their marketing. Artists living in seaside towns citing it as a major part of their inspiration and artistic journey, even if they only grew up there and haven't lived there in a few years. Same as some natural beauty companies who like to point out that all their products are hand-made on a farm. I don't own a business but I still almost always choose to say I'm from Aberdeenshire for similar reasons.

Then, there's the life experience. I'm a bona fide city girl who can't ever see herself returning to the countryside (or even the suburbs...). But I'm not someone who declares themselves either a city or country girl without having ever experienced the other side of the coin. I've done both and lived both and I know for a fact the city is correct for me and don't ignorantly poo-poo the other.

I don't particularly want kids (ever) but if I ever did decide to pop out a few mini-me's (or adopt, more likely) I'd want to do it in the countryside. It might drive me slightly insane not to be within walking distance of a wide range of shops but my own countryside upbringing just evokes the feeling in me that it's better.

I love cities. I adore having something to do 24/7, the endless shops and that I don't look weird with my DLSR. But I do like a break back home (though home can be a strange word for me) even if I do get a bit bored and have to take the car or bus everywhere. Because it does mean I can get some nice backdrops for my photos and I still get surprised every time when I look up at night and smile because it's not very often that I get to see the stars twinkly brightly.

Morag x
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Updates to my cruelty-free brand list




It's now just a few weeks to Christmas and things are getting a bit hectic so I wasn't able to contact as many brands this month. Like a lot of people I'm swept off my feet this time of year and this will probably be my last brand update this side of the new year. However, here is the status of the brands I blasted e-mails out to on the 9th of November.

Beriden Naturals

This is an American company with beautiful branding and some really attractive sounding products. Unfortunately their contact form didn't work and I contacted them via the e-mail address on their Facebook page, to which I had no reply (I'll re-contact this company in the future for sure though in case it was technical difficulties).

Added to: no statement

Figs and Rouge

This is a British lip balm company. I was put off by the mention of China on their stockists page however I have been assured that these sales are web based only and they do not have stockists within the country itself.

Added to: cruelty-free

Hannah & Hugh

This is a baby product company for any parents reading (or adults with sensitive skin) who got back to me with a re-assuring response.

Added to: cruelty-free

Kadria

This is a company who did get back to me however they believe China has banned animal-testing (they have loosened their stance but it will take more to lift mandatory testing completely) and are looking into the market. It's only writing this now that I've been reminded to reply with some links, however for now they will be added to ambiguous.

Added to: ambiguous

Olive & Rose

A small British company who replied with a re-assuring statement. They also do parties in your house around Stockport if you live in the Manchester area and want an alternative to Body Shop parties.

Added to: cruelty-free

Pineapple Road

This is a small company based in Birmingham who make natural products, so the likelihood of them testing is slim. However I received no response so you know where they need to go.

Added to: no statement

Morag x
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Christmas decorating picks from Etsy



Last week I blogged about the absolutely beautiful range of Christmas decorations from Sterling Furniture however we all know I love to support an independent artist and business. With that, I hit up Etsy which is my favourite place to find something which isn't the usual. There are loads of stuff on offer but these are my top picks for this Christmas.

A tree

A tree is the first go-to when decorating but if like me you have a small space how about this small wooden one? If you're going for the more traditional pine tree and are looking for some bobbles but want to forego the ASDA ones Etsy always has some funky ones. My favourites are these eco-friendly paper ones, these fabric trees, these rustic wooden ones, these wooden animal decorations, these Star Wars ones, some other pop culture bubbles and these beautiful satin ones.  If you're a dab hand with a needle and wool then this pine cone pattern, this Christmas pudding pattern and this tree pattern are really cute. And if you want to cover the floor around the tree then I'd recommend this mermaid tree skirt or this more traditional ones with mittens or this ruffled one.

Cards

I make my cards each year but if unlike me you have a big family and would need to dedicate several nights to card making then Etsy have plenty on offer. For something slighty traditional (I use the term slighty here) there is this illustrated reindeer card, another reindeerthis driftwood card and a contemporary take on nativity scenes. For something more quirkier there are animals in winter jumpers, a pack of cards with illustrated pugs, some cards for you in the north of England, these illustrated designs from Scotland, cards for the Breaking Bad fan in your life, as well as this one and this one if you have a hot sauce lover in your life.

Other decorations

This log tea candle holder really caught my eye and would look perfect all autumn and winter, though this one is more specifically ChirstmassyThis tartan pillow cover would work most of the year but especially at Christmas, though this pillow cover that caught my eye would only work at Christmas. I've never been a mistletoe fan but I do like this glass version. If you like a drink at Christmas then there's this print for your wall as well as this one. Then there this tongue in cheek Santa sign. I ended up favouriting loads of wreaths but the ones that made the cut is this seaside one, this book one and this pinecone and robin one.

Wrapping presents

The local art shop always has lovely wrapping paper but if you don't want to risk buying the same as someone else here's a snowflake one and a reindeer scene that caught my eye. As for tags here are some if you like robins, some nice typography, some snowflakes, or something rustic. And if you have a kid in the house this personalised Santa sack would go down well.

Etc 

If like me you can't get a real tree in, then a tree scented candle might be a good alternative. If you're big on Christmas cracker's and recycling this shop has a few recycled crackers to choose from. Then you could buy a reusable advent calender that you fill yourself (good for kids!). If you have a Samsung phone you get cheery with this phone cover. And if there's a baby in your life, help them get in the mood with this festive cloth nappy. Then once the baby is asleep drink some wine out of these frosted wine glasses.

Have you purchased all your Christmas decorations yet? What is your favourite thing in my selection?

Morag x

P.S. Perusing Etsy is a big pastime of mine and this only a selection of what I've bookmarked. If you want to look at it all then you can browse my Christmas favourites list.
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The Linkables




Healthy relationships are a topic that I'm an advocate for and had considered myself quite well-versed in but a new relationship blog find Baggage Reclaim had me going "that's-a-good-point-hadn't-thought-of-that". 

I'm currently working my way through Sex & The City (for the first time...I was young when it first came out) and I'm currently in the episodes of Miranda's early stages of pregnancy and here's some praise for the way they dealt with the abortion topic.

Misogynistic fraternities in Edinburgh, and you can't say we don't still need feminism after reading this. (massive trigger warning for sexual assault and transphobia, because even though my tolerance is high it wasn't quite high enough for that...)

If you you've got a blogger or social media fan on your Christmas to-buy-for list (*cough* me) then Charlotte has a great guide for you.

And on the topic of blogging and Chirstmas....here's a blogger Secret Santa where your gifts have to be from small independent brands. 




I remember not really ever liking BandAid (my dad accused me of just being a moody teenager) and this article explains what my teenage self couldn't

On the issue of charity, this post focuses on food banks and this one on ex-soldier care (okay it's about poppies but Help for Heroes et al is touched upon) but both highlight the normalisation of charities (and why it's dangerous).

If you're an American Horror Story fan (like me) and a Disney fan (not so much like me) then you'll love these fan art pictures.

I love supporting vegan businesses (duh) but not ones with Nazi links. Yep, still talking that cupcake shop in London because apparently there's still a lot of animal rights activists who like to set human rights back a few decades.

Top 10 corporate blogs of 2014.

Out of all the YouTuberers surpassing one million subscribers I can't imagine anyone who deserve it more than Laci Green. Got totes emosh watching her video.

And, non-dairy milk is becoming very popular in the UK.

Morag x
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24th birthday meal in Aberdeenshire at Tiger Lily


tigerlily oldmeldrum vegetarian menu

A week ago I turned 24 and me and my friends went out to Akbar's Glasgow for some curries and a giant naan. However, celebrating my birthday by stuffing my face didn't end there as I headed up to Aberdeenshire to see my family and my parents took me out to a Thai/Chinese restaurant called Tiger Lily in the Aberdeenshire town of Oldmeldrum.


I'm not up-to-date with my Aberdeen/shire restaurants these days as I only get up about three times a year, but apparently Tiger Lily has become quite popular despite it's slightly isolated location (Oldmeldrum is a decent sized-town but it's not the 'main' one in that district). My mum had previously been there with some of her friends in the summer when it was very bustling (we went in cold November so had the place almost to ourselves) and her friend who is a vegetarian was very impressed with the range on offer. I've said before but vegetarianism is still easier in urban areas so it was nice to see a countryside venue offer a good selection, and even better a Chinese restaurant which isn't a 'safe' cuisine for vegetarians.

tigerlily oldmeldrum veggie skewers

For my starters I had vegetable skewers. The vegetables were nice in their own right and they tasted as though they were cooked in soy sauce (my fav), however the sauce that went with it was lovely (they don't have a website so I can't check what kind of sauce). My mum had a chicken and sweetcorn soup whereas my dad had wantons.

tigerlily oldmeldrum red cury

For main, both me and my parents had red curry with fruit, however I had the vegetable version whereas my mum had hers with chicken and my dad with duck. It had quite a lot of sauce compared to solid food however the sauce was lovely albeit very spicy for my tastes.

tigerlily oldmeldrum

The decor of the place was beautiful (and is within an old converted cottage) and I actually think it would be a nice place to take someone on a date, albeit not if your date lives ages away as the roads around the area are very dark (I forgot how terrifying it can be to drive in the countryside at night). They also do a take-away which I noticed was busy that night and the place has a very central location just off the main square of Oldmeldrum. If you're a foodie or vegetarian I'd recommend taking a trip out to Oldmeldrum for this wee place.

If you're one of my Aberdonian readers, have you ever been to Tiger Lily or any other restaurants in the area?

Morag x

P.S. Tigerlily doesn't have a website but you can have a look at their Facebook.

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This year's winter coat (& boots)


NEw look winter coat scottish blogger

Everytime I've been up to visit my parents in the North-East I've been meaning to take some outfit photos with the Aberdeenshire countryside as the backdrop. Unfortunately I've been down a tripod for over a year and I've only been able to take outfit photos when I can badger someone to take them for me (read: not my parents). Thankfully for my birthday my parents generously bought me a new lens for my camera and a new (professional) tripod that I took them out into a nearby bit of woodland for a bit of a photoshoot.

The coat is what I bought with the birthday money I got from my Gran. I had spotted it in New Look as I had been thinking a black (faux!) fur coat would be great for my Medusa Halloween costume but I decided I really didn't need it and couldn't justify the cost for one outfit. However it's one of these pieces I kept thinking about and found myself wishing I had when leaving the house on a few occasions. There's a few variation of it - you can get a black fut coat with a hood and also a longer black fur coat with a zip instead of hooks like my one.


new forever 21 winter boots

The boots I picked up a few weeks ago from Forever 21. Prior to this purchase almost all my shoes were falling apart and these have now been on feet almost all the time as all my other shoes either have heels or are summer shoes (or need fixed). They're a bit on the biker side but they still seem to go with most things and I've worn them to work and haven't been told I'm breaking any dress codes.

As I said these are the first outfits photos in a long time which were taken by myself and I honestly forgot how difficult it can be. Due to a lack of tripod (and to an extent free time) I haven't taken many outfit photos in general and only seem to get them done when in Dundee and someone is willing go outside in a bit of a location scout with me. When someone else takes them they can guide you on where to stand and tell you if your belly is hanging out or if you're facial expression makes you look like you want to punch someone. And it means you don't need to keep running back and forth (which included jumping over that log). It also took me ages to get these done and it was such a windy day that I had to go for a location with some trees as shelter.

Along with my new lens, I now own two lenses: an 18-55 and a 55-200. Aside from the zoom they have similar specifications so I was able to change between the lenses and the photos didn't look hugely different. There's a few lenses I have on my wishlist but since my parents were buying I decided to go for a high zoom which are typically more expensive and save up for some of the cheaper ones myself. The new tripod was a professional one which you can see here. I know many people recommend getting a cheap tripod however the one I found in parents' garage from the 70's annoyed me to no end. Mainly because it was only 5ft3 in height and I'm 5ft7 and had to do weird crouching movements with my back straight so it wouldn't look like I was couching. My new one expands higher than my height and is also very sturdy (even in the wind that day) and is very flexible with a head that rotates 360 degrees and can be flipped over so my camera can be used in portrait position.

Do you have a new winter coat? How do you feel taking your own outfit photos? 

Morag x
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Stressed skin and Merumaya skincare


Merumaya skincare facial wash

As I've gotten older my teenage skin worries have subsided and I'm much less prone to break-outs and I only have very small blackheads on my nose. However nothing brings out the spots in me any more than a bit of stress. Things have been quite hectic in the past few months - some of it good busy, whilst some of it bad busy that I really cannot be bothered with. This blog post however is not to discuss my private life but to get down to some skincare.

A few weeks ago an independent skincare brand new to my radar got in contact to ask if I would be interested in having a facial in John Lewis in the Buchanan Galleries, one of the shops where their range is stocked. Whilst MeruMaya don't do facials their facialist came up to Glasgow to look at my skin and see which of their products would be most suited to my skin.

My skin was looking embarrassingly spotty that week, due to far too many things going on. I was recommended the Luxury Facial Wash* for my daily cleansing and also the Concentrated Spot Treatment* for when any spots did occur as I explained that my skin isn't consistently spotty but only during times of stress.

My stress levels are still very high and might be for some time yet (I need to chill, but some of the issues are outside my control). However these two products have definitely brought my spots down and my skin looks a loss let angry. I currently own quite a few cleansers but the MeruMaya Cleanser is the product I have been keeping in my shower for daily use whilst my other cleansers are rotated for my evening skincare regime. It's foams up nicely and you only need to use a tiny bit (the first time I used it I overestimated and it ended up right down me) and I have also used this to cleanse my chest and shoulders, where I have also seen a noticeable improvement.

The spot treatment is a product I use every now and then when my skin is looking especially angry. Admittedly at half seven in the morning I do sometimes forget to add it to my routine however I only need a tiny little bit (don't be alarmed by how small the tube is - this lasts a long time!) and I usually use it at night.

As the asterix shows I was given these two products as PR, however I have been especially impressed by the cleanser and I am very tempted to purchase it myself when I run out as it has become my daily cleanser with good reason. It is £14.50 itself which brings it in line with many of my favourite cleanser such as Lush Herbalism (which is cheaper but less uses in one tub), and is a great price when you realise I've tried £20 cleansers which have been useless (I'm looking at you Nude Cleanser).

Have you ever tried any of the MeruMaya range? Does you skin get extra spotty with stress?

Morag x
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The Linkables




A reminder on the importance of small gestures.

An old Guardian article on how unrecognised women's sport is (using netball as it's main example).

Also, go Jessica Ennis for standing up to rape culture!

I found this really good article on National Collective that asks 6 questions of a potential Yes Alliance.

And some background on Nicola Sturgeon.

8 ways a notebook can change your life.

I'm a big believer in the difference between giving up and just deciding something isn't for you any more, and this post is perfect on learning the art of letting go of dreams.

My USA obsession continues with a look at this rural Alaskan town.

Also related: rural post offices in America.

Some dispute that Victorians created the first vibrator.

A word on grammar school's being kind of shit.

Unilever have been dicks to an independent brand, and it's backfired.

No, we don't need to re-brand feminism for the men.

Vegan comedian Sara Pascoe wrote about why she's vegan (includes links to further reading).

My new favourite phone app.

Adding the word etymology to any search in Google provides you with that word's origin (see water as an example).

Top 25 solo female travel bloggers to follow in 2015.

How to be a backpacker...without looking like  backpacker.

Women document what they were wearing when they were catcalled.

I'm not into heavy metal so cannot comment, but there's something on homophobia in the metal community.

London is getting a cereal café.

Ever wondered what a Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and Grease mash-up would sound like? Of course you have.

When panorama photography goes wrong. Haha.

Sorry I murdered everyone, I'm an introvert. Also, Ravenclaws are better than Gryffindors.

I hope this is satire, I'm certainly sure it isn't though.

This is satire, though I wish it was real.

Natalie Bennett explains what she thinks is behind the recent #GreenSurge.

Believe it or not, I used to reject femininity because I believed it to be more 'feminist'. This piece by a tom-boy explains why rejecting femininity is quite problematic.

Though I relate to this Glamour piece on what the worst guy I dated taught me  it reminded me why promoting healthy relationships is one of my main feminist issues.

Annnnd, Positions for sex at your parents house (NSFW).

Morag x
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Quirky Xmas interiors with Sterling


sterling candy cane 1

We're etching much further into the Christmas period and it's becoming a lot more acceptable to talk about the 25th of December. I started off a bit of ho ho ho cheer with my first thoughts on some of the Lush Christmas range, and now I'm moving onto getting my abode into the mood.

Last Thursday I was invited along to Sterling Furniture in Glasgow to have a nosey at their newly launched Christmas range and have a wee chat with the buyer for the company, Isabelle. They have three main ranges as well as their regular products, and no matter what you're after - whether it's a traditional throw or a pair of fluffy ice-skates to hang from your ceiling - this range has you covered.

The picture I used above is a quick look at the Candy Cane range. It makes use of the colour red and has a very American feel to it, and out of the ranges it is the most Christmassy. Santa makes several appearances along with his reindeers, along with some tongue-in-cheek slogans. It's very funky and includes off-beat pieces, my favourite being the pair of ski's for your tree.

sterling furniture frosted forrest 1

However my favourite range is the Frosted Forrest. Isabelle explained that this is aimed at buyers with contemporary homes which would be me (only one of the seven properties I've lived in could be considered old). I love me some green and teal shades and this reminds me of a winter wonderland fairy tale.

sterling furniture midas touch

Finally, for anyone who doesn't want something that looks like Santa or Snow White designed it, there is the Midas Touch range. As you can see from the photo it is gold and black throughout and is not your stereotypical Christmas decor. If you fancy some black feathers, a giant gold pineapple or some sparkly black birds for your mantelpiece then this is your calling. Even though this is range I was least personally drawn to what did strike me about this is that almost everything could be used all year round. If you want to have a Santa cushion on your sofa all year round then that's your prerogative, but if you don't want to change your ornaments when the clocks change then this is a great range to look at (especially if you like black).

Sterling furniture Christmas range

Beyond the three main ranges, there is also a generic Christmas range if none of the three showpieces caught your eye. The white tree in the photo above is from the etc range which I bought on the night for only £3. The Santa it's a long story tree decoration* is part of the Candy Cane range but as I don't buy a tree (Christmas day is spent at my parents' in Aberdeenshire) I'm planning to make use of it by hanging it over a door handle. I have a few Christmas bits and pieces I've built up over the years and I'm planning to get round to showing off some of the tiny Christmas touches I give my rented flat.

As always, all pictures from the event are on my blog's Facebook page.

Morag x

P.S. The tree decoration was given to me for free at the press event. 
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Birthday at Akbar's Glasgow


garlic family nann akbars glasgow

On Monday night I celebrated my 24th birthday, which now means I'm embarking on a section of my life known as the 'mid-twenties'. Being a part of this mid-twenties club me and my friends forwent a messy night in a club and instead chose for a civilised sit-down meal (or because this is my first birthday since starting full-time work which fell on a week night). For this meal I chose Akbar's on Sauchiehall Street (just at the start of the west end) which had long been recommended to me by Glaswegians and I had considered for my 23rd birthday meal as I was told it is good for groups and has a big vegetarian selection.


mushroom pakaoras akbars glasgow

Everyone was collectively starving so we all opted for starters. My choice was the mushroom pakoras whilst the paneer and mixed veggie pakoras were also selected by my friends. These were surprisingly quite spicy and were also quite filling for a starter. I loved mine though and I've been craving them since Monday and my mouth is salivating slightly as I write this up!


dansak akbars glasgow

For my main I went for something I had never had before: a dansak curry. According to the menu this is a Persian curry and contains sweet and sour paste, pineapple, lentils and sweetcorn. Shockingly enough, it was spicy but in a very sweet way which is how I like my spicy foods. Also in non-news (if you've read my blog a while) I ordered a naan - and we went for a family sized garlic naan which is pretty bloody big (as shown the first image). I still ate it all cause I love me some naan.


glasgow akbars

The staff were also lovely and the service was second to none. I know from my own waitressing days that tables of six people can be very daunting but they handled all requests and got the order correct which is impressive as it did include starters, mains, a giant naan, pakoras and about three plates of sharing rice.

It did take me ages to get round to trying this place and I now see why so many people were recommending it. Great for groups and there is a small continental menu if you have friends who don't enjoy spicy foods. It was a great place for a birthday and apparently you can get a cake if you say it's your birthday but I ignored that tip as I don't want that kind of attention in public....

Morag x
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Lyonsleaf Beauty Balm & Body Butter


lyonsleaf body butter beauty balm

In my most recent update to my cruelty-free brands lists, I mentioned that I had been having a pow wow over e-mail with Vicky who owns a company called Lyonsleaf about cruelty-free products. This is a company with great ethical credentials - made in the UK, Vicky grows many of the herbs she uses in her products herself as well as not testing on animals and marking out the vegan products. I had also first heard of Lyonsleaf from Sarah's blog who specialises in beauty for sensitive skin and allergy sufferers, and she absolutely raves about them. When Vicky offered me some products to try I certainly got excited.

First off I have the Body Butter*, which made it into my October favourites video as it has now become my go to moisturiser for my legs, arms and torso (it is thin so I still prefer to use something else for my feet). Because if it's thinness I prefer to scoop it up with my thumb nail and melt it in my hands before smothering it onto my body. It's has a texture that melts into the skin and even though it does take a bit longer to absorb than others (maybe a minute) it leaf my skin feeling extremely soft. The smell of the product reminds me of the Lush Henna hair dye which certainly was a bit weird at first (since it contains no henna - the label has both latin and everyday names for its ingredients) but the smell doesn't linger on the skin. It's also extremely gentle and I could use it after shaving my legs.

Secondly I received the award-winning Beauty Balm*, which has made it into my evening skincare routine for nights where my skin is looking parched and needs a pick me up. The Lyonsleaf website has a guide how to use the balm and is designed to cleanse but not be too harsh. I have oily skin and even though it gets banded about to use exfoliant on spot-prone skin I've always found that gentler products have always yielded the best results. I found this product great for removing make-up and doing a bit of a 'double cleanse' because of its gentle nature. I've massaged it though my eyelashes to see if it would remove my mascara (which it did) and it didn't sting or tingle my eyes in the slightest.

These products are great if you have sensitive skin and require gentle products. It's also great for those of us who are cruelty-free and vegan, and love to support independent businesses. I received these products for free but would definitely consider buying something else with my own money.

Vicky was also lovely enough to give me a code to use if you want to purchase anything yourself. Use the code GIFT20 at the checkout to get 20% off orders over £50.

Morag x

P.S. I was gifted these products for free, but opinions are always my own. 
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The Linkables



Halloween has passed but I loved this piece on women's Halloween costume choices.

I'm a firm believer that cheerleading is a sport, and this piece covers it pefectly.

I was introduced to Ali G over the past week (I know, but I was quite young during his prime) and his interview with Tony Benn was probably my favourite, and here's an old Guardian article I found written by Benn a year later.

I can't imagine many of you guys being SeaWorld fans, but here's just something else anyway.

Look, I love that the word feminism is now officially mainstream but that Elle t-shirt thing had me seething. Charlotte of Gin & Ginger explains in a calmer way why it's problematic (and she runs a fantastic blog I'm glad I found).

It's long but this is a very detailed history of Africa prior to Europeans arriving.

For your Christmas wishlist: NYC taxi driver pin-up calendar.

An exhibition that showcases posters which were pivotal in social movements, will be moving away from London and coming to Scotland (specifically Dundee). 

Facebook have now banned 'like this page to see the content' on business pages, but it was never a good thing to do for your brand anyway

Something to eat: vegan pumpkin paneer.

The low down on a new art shop in Glasgow!

It's maybe a bit more expensive than your regular paper and print wedding invite but a tea towel wedding invite is cute and also reusable!

For crafty cocktail-fiends: make your own paper umbrellas.

A brilliant piece on Renée Zellweger and older women win Hollywood.

Fat shaming in the vegan community.

The Google Street View images being taken by a camel. Whhaaaaaat?

Psychology Today agrees with me that couples who maintain individuality have a better chance of going the distance.

On that note, how to avoid become 'we' and losing the 'me'.

I've written a blog of some kind for circa ten years...and I loved this list of 50 lessons from ten years of blogging.

You go Rhode Island! High five for transgender rights!

Morag x
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Vegan Chinese winter hot pot



I might as well hang up my foodie hat and admit that I wasn't entirely sure what a hot pot was when Alan offered to make one when I was through in Dundee last week. Apparently you can get them in authentic Chinese restaurants (we're not talking Jimmy Chung's here...) and I'm really glad I was introduced to the concept as what I found was the perfect comfort winter food for chilly evenings when you want to stay indoors sheltered from the cold. The great thing is that they are very versatile and you can select the ingredients to suit yourself, and if you're sharing (which they're great for - there was three of us sitting round this) people only have to take out the pot what they fancy eating.

We bought our ingredients in a Chinese Supermarket (called Matthew's and there's also one in Glasgow) and a little tip: Chinese supermarkets are actually quite cheap. You could buy quite a few things in Tesco's but one thing you'll need from a specialist store (unless you put something together yourself) is a a pre-made Hot Pot Soup Base which went into our large wok before filling it up with water.

Everyone will need their own bowl - you can use fancy bowls made for Chinese food (with chopsticks) or you can use normal bowls. The bowls also need a 'base' or flavouring of some kind and ours had soy sauce and chopped garlic. You can play about but these are two of my favourite things and you can top the bases up later if they run low.

Once the water is boiling and the soup base mix has dissolved, you can start adding in your selection of vegetables, tofu, other Chinese foods I can't quite categorise to the wok (remember to be careful of boiling water splashing back on you). Choose what you want but general rule of thumb is to put things that take longer to cook in first and leave really flavourful foods until last unless you want everything else to taste of it.

But for a guide here is what we put in and in what order:
- diced ginger
- regular mushrooms
- thickly chopped red pepper
- frozen broccoli
- fried bean curd
(we took a break here and had a nom of what we already had before adding to it)
- udon noodles
- shiitake mushrooms
(we took a break here too)
- rice balls (some were plain and some were filled with red bean)
- vegetable dumplings

When people are selecting what to add to their bowls from the wok remember to give them something which will let the liquid drain through. I'd recommend not chopping the vegetables much so that everything can be easily grabbed with chopsticks (though you'll need to stab the riceballs). However it's still messy so sit at a table.

And if you're feeling a bit merry, you can enjoy this Chinese spirit that I found at the back of Alan's drinks cupboard (mixed with Fanta Fruit twist or something classier).

Chinese spirit for vegan hot pot

You can also have a look at this rough guide on Wikihow and a slightly fancier recipe on the BBC Food website.


Ever tried a hot pot? What would you put in yours?

Morag x

P.S. Remember to check out the other recipe on this blog from Alan (because he's almost the food editor round here). And his personal blog. And the games blog he helps runs. And The Rusty Hip Collection. And the night he DJ's at.
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First purchases from the Lush Christmas range


Lush Chirstmas hot toddy snowman yog nog

I am one of those scrooges who refuse to talk about Christmas until Halloween has passed. However, now that it is November my blog is beginning to get in the mood and you'll see a few Christmas themed posts popping up between now and the 25th of Decemeber. And I'm starting it off with my first three purchases from the Christmas Lush range.

Hot Toddy Shower Gel

When I gave this a sniff in Lush my immediate reaction was that it smelt exactly like Christmas. It's a seaweed, ginger, cinnamon leaf oil and lemon oil mash-up with glitter through it (though the glitter doesn't show up on skin). What I love about this is that it's a great zingy fragrance which is fantastic for waking me up in the morning.

Snowman Shower Jelly

This is a much gentler fragrance from the Christmas range, which contains buchu, bergamot and lemon oils and is shaped like a snowman. I've been curious about the shower jellies for a while and only decided to pick this up as I love the smell however I don't think I'll be going for any of the other shower jellies. This was slippy and isn't what I want to be faffing about with at 7am when I'm trying to get ready for work. I might take it in with me during a bubble bath at some point but I would say the target market for a jelly would be children - maybe could be a good present for your friends with kiddies?

Yog Nog Soap

This smell isn't up every one's street - it reminded me of some kind of food and a member of Lush staff said it always reminder her of coffee cheesecake. The Lush site does say it contains soya yoghurt, nutmeg spice and cocoa powder so its no surprising it reminds people of food. This is a very creamy soap and I find it very luxurious - perfect for a weekend soak in a bath! I absolutely love it but do have enough self-awareness that this won't be everyone.

Have you tried any of the Lush Christmas range yet? What's your favourite product so far? 

Morag x
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Halloween 2014 // Medusa


Medusa Halloween costume

This will just be a quick one to show you the photos of my Medusa Costume from last night. I spent Halloween in Dundee (and went to Kage, shockingly enough) but only got to my friend's at 7pm so was rushed getting ready (ended up taking my chosen nail polish to the party to do there) and we only took a few quick pics as we had people waiting who weren't too used to my need to document my outfits. So we were out the door pretty quickly.

medusa halloween dress

The black maxi dress I chose was found in the Forever 21 sales rack. I know for most people this is a dress that could be used again however 'black' and 'maxi dress' aren't two words that feature heavily in my wardrobe, so the sales rack was the best place to find something. Maybe I'll wear it again, maybe I won't...

I wasn't able to get a close-up picture of the gold bracelet but it's a wrap around necklace/bracelet/arm cuff. I had originally been looking for a snake cuff for my upper arms and found this one off eBay (similar here) but it wouldn't stay up on my arm or wrist so I ended up using it as a necklace as shown in my Instagram. Though I still managed to drunkenly forget it was on my neck and thought it was lost...

medusa halloween snakes make-up

My snake hair clips came from this Etsy shop and were super easy to put in, even if I had been getting nervous they wouldn't arrive in time. My make-up was my normal base and I added some green Barry M eyeshadow to my natural contours using fishnet tights to add a scaley look. The eyelashes are from Illamasqua and, yes, they are meant to point down. I spent ages twiddling with them but they're definitely pointy down ones. The lip colour is Gosh Boheme lip stick with Sleek Phoenix Rising lipgloss on top. I spent ages going round town trying to find a dark gothic purple for my lips but obviously they sell quite well in October (who would you thunk?) so I grabbed a Sleek one trusting other cruelty-free lists (I've never researched them myself as a disclaimer).

I mentioned that I was in a rush which meant my make-up wasn't that tidy but I decided last minute that Medusa required a messy look as she was a bit deranged.

Did you all have a good Halloween? What did you go as? 

Morag x
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Tips for going vegan on World Vegan Day



Today is the first day of November (I promise pointing out the date has a purpose). Which firstly brings upon thoughts of 'holy fuck, when did November happened? Feels like May was last week' as we now enter the month of my birthday and we can now start officially discussing Christmas. Secondly, it also means that it is World Vegan Day.

Which is obviously an important calendar event right up there with Christmas (for vegans anyway).

Whilst I'm snuggled up on a sofa in Dundee with a Halloween-induced hangover nursing myself with a vegan hangover snack, you can read this post pre-written on Thursday on some of the things I've learnt about becoming vegan. 

Which I managed to do last April, after a two year transition (so I've learnt a lot). 

Be patient

As mentioned, it took me two years to transition. Veganism is edging on the side of becoming mainstream however it isn't quite there yet and we seem to be the generation pushing it through. So you'll need to be patient as you explore alternative food shops and not getting set-back by people's comments.

Be realistic on how vegan you can be

It's not entirely mainstream (yet!) so be honest with yourself if you can be 100% vegan or may need to be as vegan as possible. Ignore the vegan police (I do) and admit if your salary, location or a food intolerance might make it difficult. I'll admit that I do falter when I'm out and about and need to eat right that second (to be point where my health may be a risk if I don't) and I'll opt for a sandwich which is almost vegan (it's usually something where there will be milk or eggs somewhere in the ingredients but I won't be able to taste it and don't risk re-developing a liking for the food).

Be organised

I've always been a breakfast person but since becoming vegan I eat a massive breakfast before I leave the house as I know I may not get to eat for a while. And I eat vegan food whenever I can, and have to make going to my favourite health food shop in Glasgow a priority after pay day.

Get the nutrition books out

I said something similar in my going vegetarian post (which feels as if I wrote last month) but I will repeat what was said. You can get everything you need from a plant, however you must read up on nutrition and make sure you know what foods you need to start eating if you're removing certain foods from your diet. 

Which sort of brings me to my next point...

Try foods you wouldn't normally before

There's nothing stopping a meat-eater from buying tofu or bulgar wheat but when you decide to go vegan you kind of need to try new foods. Head down to your local health food store and pick up something you haven't tried before, whether it be vegan chocolate or some kind of dairy substitute. One of the reasons veganism works for me despite its unmainstreaminess is that I have a wide palette but if you think you don't like vegetables ask yourself if you've actually tried all vegetables in existence.

Get yourself a vegan crew

Non of my super close long-term friends are vegan however I do still have vegan people I can brainstorm with and ask for advice. From my vegan blogging pals to the people I know in the vegan meet-up I joined and just random vegans I've met along the way. Join a meet-up, join a message board and whatever other ways you think you can meet other vegans to throw ideas about.

As for meat-eating friends

I've had very few negative reactions from friends when they knew of my decision (probably cause I had been toying with it for so long) however some people didn't believe I was being serious. It could help you realise who your real friends are (hopefully not, but some vegans have had this go down) but open-mindedness is a character trait I've always consider essential for friendship so I had very little drama and all my close friends support my lifestyle choice.

Beauty products are simpler to switch

When you switch your diet it means relatives get annoyed at Christmas because they have to cook a nut roast and ensure the gravy is based on vegetable stock. However when going cruelty-free and then later vegan, I found it was easier because it didn't impact anyone else's life and no one even has to know you're making that lifestyle or consumer choice. Alongside my cruelty-free brands list I also started in the summer a list of brands which are either 100% vegan or mark out their vegan products.

Other lifestyle choices

I've mentioned beauty products as that is something, aside from my diet, I have switched over but there's plenty to think about. Do you want to wear wool? Do you want to only buy plant based candles? What about home furnishings? I've only switched my diet and beauty products so far but I am currenlty working in replacing candles with soy wax versions. Take your time and do it step at a time.

Hold you ground

A lot of people still don't 'get' veganism and this can put people off the switch. Stand your ground and this is a personal lifestyle choice and keep going until it feels natural (which is eventually does).

Morag x
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