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My first spin a pool

Simplyhealth aqua spin class

I've never voluntarily been to a fitness class in my life.

I've mentioned before that when it comes to working out and staying active I am very much a sport person and scoff at exercise classes. The only exercise class I've ever taken part in was the fitness classes when I was part of the Abertay Dance Team, and they were mandatory for anyone wanting to be on the team.

So when I got the e-mail from SimplyHealth asking if I wanted to attend an Aqua Spin class* I was a bit apprehensive. I've heard of spin and my knowledge of it was that you sit in a stationary bike and peddle. It's one of these exercises that make me wonder if people genuinely enjoy it. However because it was taking part in a pool and swimming is a form of fitness I've enjoyed since childhood I decided to give over an RSVP of yes. 

It took place in the Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh (definitely a step up from the Gorbals pool I usually swim in) and as you might have guessed the bikes were submerged in water. The pool was this fancy pants pool which has a floor which can be adjusted and it's the smallest person in the class who gets to choose how deep the water will be (it was a good day to be 5ft7 - I didn't fancy water up to my chin). Clothing wise I wore was swim wear but also wore shorts to prevent chaffing (I'm selling this well) and we were also given rather sexy aqua shoes to wear (there were no cameras allowed near the pool otherwise I would have taken a very flattering ootd). All the bikes could be adjusted to different levels of difficulty so I went with easy because I've known people who feel zonked after a spin class...

However, I enjoyed myself. The cycling was broken up with different positions (such as hands on different part of the bars or standing up) and we also did a core section where we lifted ourselves up past the saddle and balanced above with the water as support. Afterwords I felt worked but not aching - just that healthy balance between a good work out but not feeling that you need a wheelchair. The instructor, Fiona, was lovely and she didn't encourage anyone to go harder than they could (and no good fitness instructor would...if a fitness instructor won't let you judge your own tolerance level, they're a dick unprofessional and don't give them your money). 

As I said, I'm not a fitness class person. However this was enjoyable and was a good workout. I'd probably not make a big habit of doing this regularly but would consider it again if I found a class in Glasgow (however I'm going to be signing up to trapeze classes after this payday...and I already do netball...busy and you see what I'm saying about sports) but honestly if this has piqued your interest I'd give it a bash!

Have you ever been to an Aqua Spin Class? You can read the blog post from Simply Health here

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The Linkables

How to disagree without being a jerk

My cruelty-free blogging pal and science student talks us through some of the alternatives to animal testing (the comments also go into more discussion).

My cruelty-free pal Lizzie shares her thoughts on an ethical sanitary towels and pantyliner brand.  

If you're a marketer and looking for some marketing Twitter chats here's a list (it's slightly American).

Discovery of the week: Glasgow has an eco-friendly hair salon

A Twitter account that tweets words unique to certain regions of America.

One of the best intersectional feminist articles I've read (specifically about black women): The road to structural erasure is paved with well-intentioned white ladies

50 shades of Gray has been getting a bucketload of attention but Laci Green does a good round up in her braless video on the MTV channel (she also filmed a fabulous BDSM 101 video on her own channel). 

One of my favourite Scottish political blogs also commented on the film, naming their piece 50 Shade of Pish.

Something from the Scottish comic crowd: a Scottish comic hero called Saltire

60 of the best Android apps launched in 2014.

If you work in PR and are tired of explaining what it is you actually do here's a quick guide

You're all probably reading Gala Darling anyway but her recent post on making your bedroom magical is to die for.

You're probably all reading A Rosie Outlook as well but I really loved her home improvement on a budget post

Hotel Chocolate has released a dairy-free chocolate egg.

A happy diary can help improve employees accuracy levels

There's an event in Dundee in two weeks time where women get together to sort out the gender balance on Wikipedia

Abundance is a service which allows people like you and me to invest in clean energy projects. 

Female sport is one of my primary feminist issues and this article talks about the possibility of integrating teams (i.e. teams made up of female and male athletes)

Tories vow to extend badger cull if elected (You probably knew this, but just making sure).

One of the utility news sites I read for work wrote something about TTIP and they aren't all that convinced by it. Funny that.

Who said it...Kanye or a creative director?   

I haven't owned a lego set since I was 10....but these gold ones would do me just fine

If you're visiting New York City organise your transport with this map identifying the amount of unique bacteria on each subway

My parents did a good job teaching me about money but never told me how much they earned until I had to apply for student loans. These parents tell their kids how much they earn

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Kalpna Indian, Edinburgh

kalpna edinburgh vegan platter

Despite the fact that I'm not in Edinburgh all that often I have my second review within a month of a place to eat in the capital. Whilst I was through for an aqua spin class (more on that later!) I met up with own of my university friends afterwards for a catch-up at Kalpna Vegetarian Indian on St Patrick Square. 

When I stepped into Kalpna everything felt quite authentically Indian, and it was exceptional service as the staff took one look at me (didn't take a name) and knew exactly which lone diner in the restaurant was my friend. 

I wasn't massively hungry and I was catching a train back to Glasgow later that night so didn't want to fuss about with two courses (if you've followed for a while you'll know I nearly always get two courses). But I do like a selection so went with the vegan platter. I can't remember exactly what was in it but I do remember really taking to the starters selection which was a selection of nanns and samosas. The other small curry bowls were nice however I remember there being one I really didn't want to eat (it looked like stovies, I gave to my friend). 

I realise this review has been horribly non-descriptive. However, the menu online and the menu in the restaurant itself are bother non-descriptive. But I'll round up with a few general comments. I'll say that this felt like one of the most authentic Indian places I've been to, and I've been to loads but I'm also speaking as someone who's never been to India. Overall I'd say it was decent but I wouldn't sing praises so maybe if you're in that area of Edinburgh anyway (or if you've ran out of places to go!). 

Morag x
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Updates to my cruelty-free brands list

There's been a lot going on in my life recently so it's been some time since I've manage to sit down and fire off e-mails to companies enquiring about their animal testing policy. However I managed to grab a couple of minutes on Wednesday evening last week to put some companies on the spot.

Given that I only sent the e-mails on Wednesday I am going to give the brands who haven't responded a little bit of extra time. Therefore I'm only including the brands who have replied and I'm glad to say they are all making my cruelty-free list

Acure Organics

Acure is an American brand who got back to me quickly with a very detailed response. They are certified by PETA and the USA Leaping Bunny scheme, their spokesperson confirmed they don't sell in China and gave me links to the websites they use to ship internationally (you can't order internationally from their own website). 

B Skincare

B Skincare were another brand who got back to me with a very detailed response. They confirmed to me that they don't have any physical stockists outside the EU (and they even told me it's a German company they sell to in order to sell to mainland Europe) and confirmed that all their products are suitable for vegetarians. 

Cyril's Soap Shed

I got a response from this small Hampshire based soap company within 10 minutes! Whilst their soaps are based on goats milk and that does mean their products aren't suitable for vegans they aren't tested!

Deep Steep

I was half considering putting this brand under ambiguous as the response was very brief and truthfully the tone felt a bit half-assed. However they did confirm that they don't have vendors in China and that all their ingredients are from suppliers in America and Europe who don't carry out animal testing.

Moo Goo Skincare

Moo Goo are a natural Australian brand who got back to me asap. It's also great to see an internationally based company responding as many brands who aren't based in the UK automatically ignore my e-mails. 

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Favourite Pinterest accounts

pinterest and blogging

Pinterest is a platform I fall in and out of love with. I originally signed up to Pinterest before it was open to the public and immediately started filling my boards. This was back in 2011 I believe and I am now a different person and my blog has changed to reflect that, but my Pinterest account still reflects the recently went vegetarian pre-cf person I was at the time.  

I've recently given my Pinterest boards a big spruce up to closer reflect the topics I now blog about and who I am now as a person. I turned to some of my favourite pinners (some long term, some newer) to check out some trends and best best practices as well as getting some inspiration for my own boards. 

I know it may seem like I plug my friend's Charlotte's blog all the time however I assure you that even if we didn't know each other I'd still be sharing her stuff. Her blog is fantastic and her Pinterest contains boards such as Clueless themed clothes and penguins.

Whilst I am a lover of bright colours and my Pinterest boards are mismatched - I'm still jealous of people who are disciplined enough to follow one colour scheme and have a very on-point brand. Enter Shauna Haider of Nubby Twiglet who's well-defined brand continues into her Pinterest account. 

Next up we have my long-term internet friend Mandy (who previously blogged as Bunny Beautiful). I have a truckload of interests, many of which don't seem to 'go together'....such as beauty and geeky pop culture. Mandy's Pinterest account is one that successfully crosses over these two interest which traditionally aren't taken up the same people. 

The next Amanda on my list runs one of my read-all-the-time marketing blogs. And her Pinterest account has some of the best marketing themed boards around whilst still also throwing in non-marketing boards that reflect other interests in her life. 

Another long term internet friend. Barbs has always made me jealous with her creativity and her Pinterest contains great arty and colourful finds. 

Finally we have Kristin we combines pretty much all my interests together from fashion (she has a board aimed at teachers who want to be fashionable) to cosplay to food.

Who are your favourite pinners? 
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The Linkables

Proof that it's not just the big six energy suppliers that can be dicks. (An energy supplier can't stop you from switching, even if you're in a fixed term agreement you can pay to get out).

Turning break-up texts...into works of art.

I have a Sunday evening ritual where I get ready for the week looks a bit like this.

This man's open letter to his HIV made me drop a tear and smile at the same time.

A NSFW sexy link...why do some straight women prefer lesbian porn?

The number of households switching their energy supplier was at a three-year high in 2014

Let's stop taxing tampons (an essential products for almost every woman).

I've been moaning about not being able to afford the netball world cup in Sydney, but it's been confirmed the 2019 cup will be in Liverpool!

What to do in your garden in February.

4 tips to banish garden weeds permanently.

Apprently Sk8r Boi was almost made into a film.

I've said before I'm against school uniforms and one of those reasons is that they cost so damn much

The campaign for the Scottish Green Candidate in Paisley Renfrewshire North is now on.

5 reasons why Labour should seriously fear wipeout in Scotland.

LOL: a food blog that features sad bachelor food.

I don't eat eggs, but this tutorial on cooking them inside out caught my eye.

Biologists argue that the idea of there just being two sexes is too simplistic.

Grucho's in Dundee is getting a documentary but first it requires some crowd funding.

Facebook's real name policy can be annoying but many Native Americans has to use a fake name as their real name was flagged at unauthentic.

A Buzzfeed list I'm loling at: how much of a 00's beauty hoarder were you?

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Superdrug Salon Radiance hair dye

superdrug salon radiance

Today I have another product which was used months ago and I'm finally getting around to reviewing (I'm looking for a flatmate right now so all my money is being spent on adverts and buying homewares...yeah). I've reviewed a few Superdrug hair dyes before but this time it's a shade from their 'salon' range. 

If you need a re-cap, this is the (mandatory) Instagram I took right after I had competed the hair dye. By the next day I had completely removed it with hair colour remover. 

Yeah...I hated it that much. 

The red that it went was a purple-red which just didn't suit me and didn't look natural in any way (and wasn't a colour I felt like trying out in a corporate office). That was probably more a matter of personal taste...but like all Superdrug hair dyes I do have to say that it came out quite patchy. However because this dye was different from the colour of hair it was being used on even if I had liked the colour I would have either needed to remove the dye or re-do it, as the patches were obvious. I say this everytime I review a Superdrug hair dye but be very careful with the application and even buy two bottles to be safe that you can cover your full head (my hair does come down onto my chest). 

Have you ever tried any Superdrug hair dyes?
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The Linkables

I found another Aberdeen blog to add to my blogroll this week in the form of Granite City Girl

My pal Lis reminds us that it's important to give blood (even if you're tattooed). 

My other pal Louise is getting back into blogging

Some geeky but beautiful jewellery I've found recently is Academia Boutique

If you've never been to Comic-Con or similar because there's not one near you, your luck is about to change if you live in Aberdeen or Blackpool. (I'm planning to be at the Granite City one). 

On the topic of Comic-Con here are some WTF Pokemon cosplays

You know, I'm big into the Harry Potter fandom and I'm going to get hate about this but Snape was a douche

I am a big believer in not changing yourself for a love interest however there are some things that are okay to change when in a relationship

Knitting and crochet is something I really did once try to get into (but didn't). Though if I had discovered a new lifelong passion I would totally be buying this slug pattern

Me and my parents briefly entertained the idea of visiting Madagascar, this blog post is making those feels come to the surface again. 

A Pinterest board displaying the Batman graphic novels in chronological order (here's another list on a comic website).

In case it wasn't obvious from various Instagrams and the link above I've decided to make my way through the comics of films/tv shows I've always loved - which is mainly Batman and X-Men so this guide to Marvel and DC was useful (and also made me cackle)

There's something for everyone on the internet, including a social network for guys with beards

More lolz: hip-hop food trucks.

If you want to lend some support to female sport and prove that football isn't just a boy thing then watching the Women's World Cup in the summer and the Women's Scottish Premier League is a good shout! 

And a reminder that my favourite sport netball is having its netball world cup this summer too

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Noodle and Ice, Edinburgh

noodle and ice menu

It's not that often I have a restaurant in Edinburgh to review but I currently have two to of them to get off my to-blog list. The first one is Noodle and Ice of which I visited just at the end of 2014 for a friend's birthday. It's taken a while for me to get this review up but it's a goodie as this was a delicious meal (my mouth is watering re-visiting the pictures). 

noodle and ice dumplings

I have got to firstly apologies for the side-ways photo. I was due to head to Opium afterwards so didn't want to truck my DLSR into town and the pre-champagne drinks had clearly already gotten to my head when I forgot to turn my phone in order to take landscape photos (and I was possibly a bit hungry).

The starter I had was veg goyoza which was probably of average standard but the dip that can with it was lovely! 

noodle and ice story-fry

Then for mains I had a delicious Garlic & Pepper Noodles with veg, which was beyond gorgeous! The menu was handily laid out that you could have any of the options with veg or different kinds of meats (which makes it a perfect place for meat eaters and veggies to visit together). My only compliant about Noodle and Ice would be that the portion sizes aren't all that big. 

It's not very often I head in Edinburgh for food (even though it has plenty of offerings!) so I don't have that much to compare it to, but I'd definitely recommend giving this place a shout!

P.S. Remember to check out my Scotland map with my favourite places to eat, drink and shop. 
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Scottish Fine Soaps Company Sea Kelp Shampoo

scottish fine soaps sea kelp shampoo

Today I've got a product I've been meaning to review for ages (hence the backdrop which is different from usual...old photo) but is actually one of my favourites shampoos of all time. The Scottish Fine Soaps Sea Kelp Shampoo. 

I had mentioned before that I tried the Au Lait shampoo and fell in love. However when I transitioned into veganism I didn't want to use a shampoo which was based on milk to moved on to the Sea Kelp shampoo. I wouldn't say it's as good as the Au Lait version but it's certainly still one of my favourite shampoos out there!

This is a very refreshing and gentle shampoo which hits the right balance between being moisturising but still cleansing. It's the shampoo I pick up up when hair is having a fairly 'normal' day and isn't in need of any particular treatment. Good standard shampoo.

Have you tried the Sea Kelp shampoo or anything else from the Scottish Fine Soaps Company?

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A only slightly cheesy Valentine's gift guide

It's that time of year again when instead of having a man to buy a Valentine's Day gift for, I write up a guide on the internet of what I would buy instead. So spoken for ladies (or people who just fancy buying themselves something nice) here's the kind of gift my ideal man would like to receive...

I recommend this time after time, but this is my favourite cruelty-free male brand. I have bought this regularly over the years for males in my life (romantic or otherwise) and always get good feedback. The brand comes up quite often in the #cfbloggers chat too. 

2. The Spicery (or something similar) 
I actually bought this for a male friend at Christmas who loves spicy foods and he seemed to really enjoy his monthly box. I actually wanted to keep it for myself when it arrived...

True story: I once bought penis shaped pasta for an ex. He was a bit confused but his friends laughed and made spaghetti bolognese with it. Have a look at this obviously NSFW link

4. Ingress pants (or other geeky and fun pants)
I love underwear and a man with a proper underwear collection gets an up-vote from me. Plus points his collection includes funky pants (cause they make me laugh and that's always good). If your guy doesn't play Ingress or you don't have time to order from Etsy then Primark is always a good shout for geeky pants. 

I don't like giving or receiving cards (waste of paper) but they are the done thing so if you're going to then buy something like this I love you to be pieces card, this super cheesy card or this one if you're with a ginger

What are you planning to buy your sweet this 14th of February? 

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The Linkables

First off, election news:

Dundee was once known as a Labour heartland, but after becoming Yes-City it looks as though Labour's days are over (even the Guardian picked up on it).

And a look at why Labour were wrong to assume people would always vote for them.

The New Statesman has launched May2015 - it has a tiny amount of content so far but it's so far good content.

How support for different energy sources differs between age groups

This General Election will be the first one where all Glasgow constituencies will see a Scottish Green option on the ballot.

From a utilities magazine at work, why a close-to-call election makes utility prices go up

Not technically election stuff, but Business for Scotland argue why a living wage makes business sense.

And other stuff:

Some life advice on not putting up with shit because you think it makes you a better person.

If GamerGate has been confusing you - not hard to believe - then Reddit now has a timeline.

"If you're calling someone out as a fake fan, what's your victory condition? Preventing someone else from liking things you like? When your plan is "prevent people from enjoying Superman," you're a Hostess snack cake villain, and even more irrelevant to the modern world." - From The 7 Most Ridiculous Things About Calling Out Fake Geek Girls.

I'm big on owning your sexual choices, even if you've never had sex and you're in your twenties.

When I re-watched/fully watched Buffy last year there was something that bothered me about Willow and Tara's relationship: surely Willow was actually bisexual?

If you diet, do it for health and not for looks as an appearance-driven diet can be dangerous.

50 shades of grey comes out on Valentine's Day, here's some more realistic movie posters for a film that dresses up abuse up as romance.

9 tips for wearing - and getting the most out of - perfume.

Culturally appropriate female basketball uniforms.

"The main draw of a low-carb diet generally isn’t health anyway, it’s weight loss. These are not one and the same; no matter what the gurus may say. A healthy weight very much depends on the individual and health is not just physical. There is no shame in deriving pleasure from food." - From 5 things low-carb gurus don't want you to know.

Also, if you are looking to loose weight the healthy way here's a directory of nutrition blogs where only registered dieticians are included.

A Girl Called Jack is now doing vegan recipes.

America might be clean eating it's way into a new eating disorder.

As a former waitress I agree with 15 restaurant etiquettes your server wishes you knew.

As much as I wish I didn't related to this I do: do you get weird when one of your friends is complimented all the time?

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Mint Chocolate Vegan Brownies

mint chocolate vegan brownies

When it comes to chocolate I'm going to admit what, to some people, might be a bit of a blaspheme: I don't really like to eat a bar of it (crisps are my downfall). All the vegan chocolate I own in my cupboard is specifically regulated for baking and out of all the baked goods it's a brownie I love to bake the most. 

So when new vegan chocolate brand Ethicoco* got in contact asking if I wanted to try some of their bars, I knew what I wanted to do with them.  I combined the Ecuadorian with Oat Milk and the Peruvian Dark Chocolate with a bar of mint chocolate from Plamil Foods I already had in my cupboard to create a mint chocolate vegan brownie. 

The recipe I use as the base for all my brownies is from From Pasta to Pancakes, each time just changing a few things. 

225g vegan butter (I use Pure Soya Spread)
one bar Ecuadorian Old Milk chocolate
one bar Peruvian Dark Chocolate 
one bar Pamil mint chocolate
egg replacer for four eggs
275g muscovado sugar
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4
2. Crease a 30cm/12 inch x 20cm/8 inch baking tin with butter. Line it with greaseproof paper.
3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan until they make a smooth mixture. Set aside to cool for a few minutes. 
4. Beat the eggs in a bowl and mix in the muscovado sugar. 
5. Add the chocolate mixture and stir well. 
6. Gently add the flour and baking powder, stirring until evenly mixed.
7. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and cook in the hot oven for 25 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven. It should have a wonderful crisp top yet the muscovado sugar will have made it sensationally gooey in the middle.
9. Cut into squares and serve. 

Remember to stop by the Ethicoco website and check out what other chocolate bars are on offer. 

What your favourite brand of vegan chocolate? Have you heard about Ethicoco? 

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Arran Arromatics Seaweed & Oatmeal Bath Soap

arran apothecary bath brick

I've mentioned before that I own a (bizzarly) large shower gel collection. Occasionally I add a soap to the mix but for the most part I prefer a gel to a bar of something (quicker, less likely to drop it). So when I received the Arran Aromatics Seaweed and Oatmeal bath brick in my Santa stocking it was definitely something different to try. (The link isn't this exact product but something similar). 

Because I prefer shower gels for my 7am morning showers - and the name of the product suggests I should - I tried this out in a bath. And it was lovely. It has a very generic 'soapy' smell which is very fresh and clean. If you prefer 'clean' smells like me that this would be up your street. It foamed up beautifully and was very soft on my skin. It was also gently exfoliating - the bar itself is smooth when initially unwrapped but after some water bumps of oatmeal appear on the surface. Also when the company branded this as a bath brick they were onto something - my picture really doesn't show how big a bar this is (it's 300g). 

This is going to be a short review as there is only so much I can say about a bar of soap, but I'll round-up saying I liked it - a lot. All Arran products are suitable for vegetarians with only honey or beeswax to look out for on the labels - but annoyingly I can't find ingredient lists online. I have owned a few Arran Aromatics candles over the years but this was my first beauty product I'm definitely impressed and would consider buying more from the range. 

Have you ever tried any Arran Aromatics products, soap or otherwise? 
  Morag x
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