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Villa Toscana, Finnieston

vegetable risotto villa toscuna

Don't ever let it be said that I only eat at Indian restaurants. For the second week running I'm here with a review of an Italian restaurant. I was out with the girls at my work on a recently and we headed our usual joint, Villa Toscana on the Finnieston Strip. 

I've been in this restaurant a few times and it's your simple small Italian place. It's nothing spectacular but it's a nice wee place to grab something for not too much money and has a relaxed atmosphere. I remember the first time I was there I had some rice balls, and this time around I went for a vegetable risotto, with the garlic bread we had on the table and a bottle of wine (to share, just to clarify).

As you might have guessed (especially if you follow me on Instagram) I work near the Finnieston Strip, an area which has loads of little cafés and bars which are independently owned. There is Roots & Fruits which is good for a vegan snack and then there is also Piece, a gourmet sandwich maker which sells a lovely falafel filling (which can be made vegan of you ask for it without mayonnaise). Then for drinks I like to to the expensive but have-plenty-of-rum options Kelvingrove Café.

Where do you like to for a small and simple Italian?

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Arbonne Tinted Mousturiser

arbonne tinted moisturiser

For anyone who has only met me within the past year, I'm actually a former Arbonne Consultant. Whilst it has been over a year since I officially moved on, being the hoarder that I am I still had a drawer full of Arbonne products and promotional materials until two weekends ago. Within this drawer I found a full sized product of their Sheer Finish Tinted Moisturiser in the colour Fair, so given it was the correct shade I decided to work it into my make-up routine for a while. 

The thing is,e I'm not huge on tinted moisturiser anyway, hence why I kept this purely for handing out as a sample rather than using for my own face. Since using this the main difference I've seen compared to other tinted moisturisers is that this is just a tiny bit thicker. Whilst it's certainly not a foundation it does add more colour to the face and even the skintone more than any other TM I've tried before.

When I was a consultant I knew the other girls I worked with liked to use this underneath their foundation just to add a bit more coverage. The reason that didn't work for me and the reason I've fallen out with so many tinted moisturisers is because I have oily skin and the product just slides off me. However if you have dry skin and want something a bit thicker I would recommend giving this a go to see how you like this as the finish was very nice! 

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The Linkables

Is this your photo? Let me know.

You know health bloggers who claim eating oranges cure cancer? One of them recently admitted she never even had the cancer she claimed to have cured. Funny that.

On a similar note, a reminder that just because someone has a hot bod doesn't mean you should be taking health advice from them.

A monthly subscription box...for your cat

It's saying something about British press when the best analysis of the election is coming from Vice.  

Find out where you Westminster candidates stand on abortion rights

Even the Telegraph thinks Right to Buy is nonesensical

New Lord Ashcroft polls suggests that Jim Murphy might lose his seat. I'm not laughing at all. Really.

On that note, here's the 13 seats the SNP might struggle to win

Helen of Wardrobe Conversations paid a visit to a new craft store in Dundee.

If you're itching to travel but really need to stay on a budget, checkout Hoval the cheap version of AirBnB

I've seen Wheatus before, and they're coming back to Glasgow.

Google has created a street view...for the Loch Ness

Very long, but interesting piece on TripAdvisor.

A post on whether knowing your partner's Facebook password will prevent cheating.

Given she already has 1 million followers I might be late to the party, but my favourite YouTuber right now is Niomi Smart.

If any of you are from Devon, you might not be happy to know it's one of the worst counties for animal abuse.

Tips for creating your very first business website.

It also looks like Google+ is on its way out (officially).

A geological survey in America suggests that fracking does cause earthquakes.

I'm really nosey (aren't all bloggers?) so really loved Lauren's desk tour.

A crowdfunder for a natural food and drink subscription box.

There's also a crowdfundet to get the Scotland surfing team to the ISA World Surfing Games in May!

Becky shares what she's learned from blogging.

Also, did you know Barbie has an Instagram account

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Alla Piazza, Merchant City

bruschetta alla piazza

It is very rarely that I jog on over to Merchant City, however a recent work night out took me to Alla Piazza on the patios of John Street. However this being an April evening in Scotland meant that we didn't actually sit on the patios but were instead at a big table inside. But what I did find is quite a good little Italian. 

As with all trips to an Italian restaurant I settled on a bruchetta for starters and then arbiatta for mains. So nothing new there (however there was also a minestrone soup which was marked out as veggie). But alas I'm not actually here to talk about food today (I know, what? It's almost all I talk about) but I'm going to chat about the resturant as a whole, because despite the food being the average Italian dinner everything else was perfect. 

arrabitta alla piazza

The staff were extra friendly. All genuinely Italian, and all full of the chat which made it a great place to go with a bunch of girls from your work. We also ordered plentiful bottles of wine for the table and whilst we arrived at 6pm for our dinner we were there until 10:30pm and the staff weren't giving us eyes telling us to move on.

Overall Alla Piazza is a pretty standard Italian resturant food wise however for the service and atmosphere I'd give it very high marks!
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My first ButterLondon nail varnish (in Disco Biscuit)

butter london disco biscuit

When it comes to beauty products if there's a product I like above all others and own a ridiculous amount of, it's probably nail varnish. Even before I began wearing make-up properly I wore nail varnish. We're talking as soon as I progressed to secondary school I liked my nails to have polish on them, but I didn't begin wearing a full-face of make-up until I was at university (unless you count my MySpace phase...which was eyeliner and mouse foundation, I cringe). 

However my collection is made up of high street brands. I'm still yet to collect the entire Barry M range but I own a sizable chunk, and there's some Gosh and Models Own in there too. This ButterLondon varnish in Disco Biscuit is my first foray into the high end market. I had my eye on ButterLondon as their shades are very pretty and aren't just straightforward colours (you know how cheap brands have colours like the default font colours in word and high end brands have colours which require a hex code - does that even make sense?). After some ooh-ing and ahh-ing I went for Disco Biscuit which is a darker pink with silver and blue/silver glitter through it. 

As you can see from the photo the colour is much paler on the nail. This is because the polish is quite transparent and would be better as a top coat to add glitter to a plain pink nail. The colour which you see in the picture was after about four coats! A big plus however is that it dries much quicker than a lot of other varnishes I've tried. In terms of chipping it did last a bit longer than my cheaper polishes and it was only my index and middle finger which I needed to re-do throughout the week before my weekend beauty ritual. 

I do like this colour and will get use out of it. However I'm not yet a convert to high end nail varnish and think I'll just stick with my Barry M as the quality difference wasn't high enough for a polish which is £8 more expensive than what I would usually purchase. 

Have you tried the ButterLondon polishes? What is your opinion on them? 

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Recently Read

books sex and relationships

Two years ago I made a resolution to read the books that had been on my Amazon wishlist for far too long. I didn't get that very far and I made a resolution this year that I was finally going to get back on it. In order to get through this list as fast as possible I knew to start with some books which I I would devour quickly. So I ordered some books on one of my favourite topics: sex and relationships. 

The 5 Love Languages
I first found out about the concept of the five love languages from Gala Darling way back in 2010, and it's been an idea I've supported ever since. Even so much so that when I'm dating someone in a serious capacity I'll bring it up (as there is a love language I identify with and if it's missing I lose interest). The idea is that everyone has a primary way in which they communicate their love: touch, words, quality time, acts of service or gifts. All these things are important but the idea is that individuals have a primary love language, and identifying it and your partners will help your relationship survive past the 'honeymoon' phase. I however didn't like how it suggested that it could save unhealthy marriages and there was one anecdote which presented a husband who was (in my eyes) emotionally abusive but the five love languages sorted that out ("You deserve this treatment you're not speaking his love language you silly cow!" might of well have been said). 

Thanks For Coming
This one certainly got a bit of attention when I added it to my GoodReads account! Essentially the author has never had an orgasm and sets out to have one. But this being a book means that she doesn't exactly just go to a registered sex therapist and get to it. She instead takes part in experiments, attends fetish clubs and pays money for a highly sensual massage. Whilst this book isn't directly feminist, there are undertones and nods to the way society treats female sexuality which means it would still make a good book for a feminist book club. 

I actually give this book 10/10 and if you're also a keen bean on sex and relationships this is a must read.  

I Used to Miss Him...But My Aim is Improving
This book has been hanging around my Amazon whishlist since my last break-up (because it was recommended by one of the best How to Get Over a Break-Up post you'll ever read) but alas I was a skint student at the time so it never got purchased. Even though it's now been years since I've had to mend a broken heart I thought I'd still give it a read. And it's a mixed bag. It felt at times as though it was written by a teenager going through their first break-up, not a well adjusted adult who just needs some advice and encouragement. When you're going through a bad break-up the temptation to egg their car can be high enough without some 'diva' guide encouraging you to make mutual friends pick sides. However some of the later chapters which deal with the later stages of moving on are better and contain a perfect metaphor for a healthy relationship. It's called the 'dating diet' where your relationship is a delicious chocolate cake, and all other areas of your life (career, friends, family, hobbies) are a delicious salad. Keep them in balance! 

Have you read any of these books? Have any of them piqued your interest? 

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The Linkables

If Game of Thrones characters were....sales reps.

It got onto my radar recently that some people really don't like link shortners. Here's an article which explains the for and against if you're unsure (I'm still in the camp that the benefits outweigh the negatives).

The best b2b illustrated marketing video I've seen.

Here's a bit of a rude promotional video from Bebo. Hah!

In the world of women's sport: Dundee United launched their official women's team

Someone created some mathematical formulas to check if the facts on hula hoop packets are correct.

"If Farage and UKIP MEPs had spent less time in the boozer, and more time in the EU parliament, they would have noticed that the Common Fisheries Policy has been completely reformed,"Hahahaha, from this article.

Oh, and here are some of the other policies in the UKIP manifesto which aren't getting as much media attention (but are bonkers).

Whilst male comic characters get the limelight, comics featuring female characters have been dominating online sales.

10 free ways to teach yourself inbound marketing

How to deal with people who think you're barmy for making positive changes in your life.

Someone's working on a cure for colour blindness.

It's always fascinating to see my city from a visitor's eyes.

An interesting read on race, fashion and happiness.

I'm not sure what kind of books your friends recommend to you, but Lis sent me a recommendation on GoodReads which is about the sex industry. But it looks good and very much up my street.

Ever sat through a meeting when an e-mail would have sufficed? Here's your ribbon.

I cannot wait for MTV's TV adaptation of the Scream movies.

One lovely lady's story of learning to love her big breasts.

I went to a high school with no uniform and was allowed bright red hair, so this is just bonkers to me.

Things to file under 'fuck yes': Costa Rica becomes first Latin American country to ban hunting for sport.

The Grand National was held recently. And as per normal, a horse died.

I tried yoga when I was 16 and pretty much hated it, but if you fancy giving it a go I've seen a lot of people mention Yoga With Adriene.

Tory candidate thinks mentally ill people should wear wristbands. Okay then.

11 ways to feel like you're saving money (I actually have a library card...which I should probably use).

I've never considered 'getting a bra fitting' to be one of my ASMR triggers, but this video is all kind of tingles.

Young voters care a lot about vegetarianism.

Illustrations of the types of photos you see on Instagram.

And finally, Yes and Yes is always full of treasures but you must read this post here about taking on too much.  "When we have eight social commitments each week, it’s difficult to really be there for our BFF when she’s blindsided by a breakup."

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Build your own pizza at Project Pie, Dundee

project pie1

It's not that often that Dundee gets the title of having the first of a chain store in Europe, but the creator of Project Pie studied at Abertay and decided it would be a fitting setting (I agree). When I was through for Dee-Con I stopped by for my own pizza before my bus back to Glasgow on the Sunday. 

It does surprise some people, but pizza base is - by and large - a vegan product. However it usually comes dripping in mozzarella and pizza is something that I have missed oh so dearly since going vegan. Project Pie is however a pizza place where you build your own basically I missed out the cheese and meat and headed straight for the vegetables. 

project pie 2

And Project Pie do have a large vegetable selection to choose from. If my memory serves me well I believe I picked a sweetcorn, artichoke, tomatoes and mushroom medley with 'just a little' of the chillies (still ended up burning my mouth up resulting in me giving my final slice to my pal). They also have unlimited drink refills which helped when my mouth started firing up!

There was an angry comment left on the Facebook page by a vegan who, when they turned up at Project Pie with their own vegan cheese weren't allowed to add it on. The page admin left an e-mail asking them to contact them regarding the reasons for this, to which I hijacked and e-mail them too. The reason was to do with food quality and knowing where their food comes from but they let me know that they were looking into getting a vegan cheese added to the selection at some point. So yay! Whilst a lot of their competitors do allow vegans to bring their own cheese it's good to know Project Pie are considering bringing in a vegan option available anyway (and to the rude customers, I'm a vegan but also a former waitress - ask ahead if it's okay to use your own cheese!).

Project Pie are also another restaurant who are big into social media and you can even snap chat from a booth in the store. And they encourage folk like me to come in and take photos of food!

If one opens near you or you live in Dundee, give it a wee visit. It's a lovely place. 

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Faith in Nature Shampoo

Faith in Nature rosemary shampoo coconut conditioner

If there's any type of product out there that I've tried almost every brand of, it's shampoo. And conditioner. Even before my cruelty-free days I was on the hunt for 'the one' (Herbal Essences were my favourite back in the day) - the shampoo which was the right balance between glossy but not greasy, freshly washed but not dried out. It may not be as exciting as finding the perfect work lipstick but finding the best shampoo out there was always high on my own beauty agenda. 

And recently I found it the form of Faith in Nature Rosemary shampoo. I found this recently in a health store in Glasgow and having been previously very impressed with the shower gels I got for Christmas I decided to buy the rosemary one as it said suitable for oily hair. And from the first wash the results have been fantastic. My hair feels clean but not dried out. My hair is what would be known as 'combination' - I have very oily roots which can noticeably build up in less than 24 hours but have dry ends. This shampoo is so good that it has given me the confidence to train my hair to cope with a wash every second day (gives me a bit of a snooze every other day or time for a fancy breakfast). 

The conditioner I've selected for this (meant for dry hair) doesn't quite get the title of 'the one', but it's still a good conditioner. I'll definitely finish the bottle but will probably go back to experimenting with other brands before I decide if this is one worth coming back to. But if you're still looking for the correct conditioner for your hair then Id' still give this a whirl. 

It's very rare that I re-purchase products as I love to experiment with new ones. However I do believe I'll be popping down to health store to pick up a new bottle at some point in future (a little goes a long way so this may be well into the future).

Have you ever tried the Faith in Nature Shampoos or Conditioners?

P.S. Have you read my review of Mop shampoo or the Sea Kelp shampoo from The Scottish Fine Soaps Company?
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The Linkables

Design Sponge writes a great column on modern etiquette and this one on navigating dietary restrictions is perfect.

If your friend has recently moved into a new home here are some unique house warming gifts.

I was clearing out my work bookmarks and found a marketing article on G+, which is pretty redundant but if you use it for geek stuff (like I do) have a look

What we'll be wearing in the future (according to sci-fi films)

I like bright funky clothes but I work a corporate job so I loved this post on working your non-conventional day wardrobe into your work wardrobe

Six things you didn't know about daylight savings.

A reminder that privilege is more about a lack of obstacles rather than unearned achievements.

Drawing or massaging a back is one of my biggest ASMR triggers, so this video is all kinds of magic for me.

And on that note, yesterday was International ASMR Day.

Cosplay attempts at humanised Pokemons tend to end up looking a bit strange, but these charizard costumes work (and might just be added to my to-cosplay list).

Which non-English language is most common at each London Underground stop

I Can Build a Blog has some great tutorials (including ones aimed at the Blogger platform). 

The NUS Women's Conference recently used jazz hands instead of clapping because the latter was triggering anxiety. Before you laugh or roll your eyes, read this.

If you're looking for new ways to promote your blog Stephanie suggests seven tools I hadn't heard/thought of.

It's a while in the future so I may or may not make it but on the 4th of May Glasgow Skeptics are hosting a talk on animal experiments

Birmingham Comic-Con recently passed and Georgina shared her pictures of her cosplaying as Rogue (who is also on my to-cosplay list).

A new blog I found today, Happy Little Geek, has a section on everyday cosplay

My America obsession continues but not for the correct reasons (seriously, Kansas?). 

An ode to Hufflepuffs: Sorted This Way.

Serious guys: Reasons to vote UKIP.  

One year on from starting her blog Nicole speaks about what it means to her

I hadn't heard of The Food Babe until I read this article but I pretty much laughed and nodded my head. 

Ya'll know I think life is better when you have a hobby you're passionate about. If you're still looking for that hobby here's a bunch of hobbies to try out

If you get jealous on Pinterest it's not social media that's the problem, it's you

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Vegan Sushi at Jushi, Dundee

Jushi vegan sushi dundee

When a lot of people think of sushi they automatically think of seafood; when in fact the only essentially ingredient to sushi is the sushi rice. So when people find out I'm a big sushi fan they act shocked or they assume it's because vegetarians eat fish (they don't, that's a pescatarian). I've also met meat eaters who turn their nose up at sushi because they don't like seafood. 

Saying that however, sushi restaurants - and even Japanese restaurants on the whole - can be hit or miss on their vegetarian and vegan offerings. For most of the time I lived in Dundee there was a campaign to bring a sushi restaurant to Dundee and some time after my departure this wish came true. Upon learning that Jushi had two sushi rolls marked out as vegan and a few more that were vegetarian I added it to my list of must eat places on my visits back, and last weekend I gave it a try after Dee-Con which was being held in the nearby Dundee University Union (you can see a bit of my cosplay in the background). 

Jushi is a small place in the Westport area of Dundee and is a sushi meets juice bar (Jushi, get it?). The day I went in the vegan sushi had been popular so the guy had to make up fresh but the tofu had been used up (which I shouldn't be really eating much of anyway given the soya intolerance) so he threw in an extra avocado roll for me. I've only ever eaten supermarket or Yo!Sushi so I can't claim to be a sushi connoisseur, however this was very good sushi. The little tub of soy sauce they gave me was one of the best I've tried and I wish I had the brand (it was salty, so if that's not your thing don't go there, but I have a salty tooth).  

I also purchased myself a Mango Mix juice to wolf it down with. I love smoothies and juices but most juice bars use ice-cream or milk in their offerings. The Mango Mix was made with sorbet however the board did state that you can also have oat or almond milk as a replacement. 

If you're a sushi fan I'd definitely recommend this place. And if you're one of those stubborn people who turn their nose up at sushi I'd also recommend this place as there is a good selection of sushi for you to get started with (a lot of which doesn't involve seafood). 

Have you ever been to Jushi? Any vegan-friendly sushi bars you recommend anywhere else in Scotland?  

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Update to my cruelty-free brands list

In my last update to my cruelty-free brands I mentioned that there were still a few other brands I was waiting to hear back from before I officially place them somewhere on my list. It's now been a few weeks and I am sad to say that some brands are being placed in the grey area category due to now response. These brands are small independent names who are very unlikely to test however without a response to my e-mail which asks a few more questions than most website statements answer, I have no choice but to declare them a grey area. 

The following brands have been added to my grey area list due to no response: 


However there is good news as natural skincare brand Blue Labelle got back to me with a fine response and I am proud to endorse them as cruelty-free. 

REN now on testing list

Something that a lot of cruelty-free bloggers will now know is that REN Skincare have now been bought over by Unilever which means they will be added to my testing list. REN Skincare had previously been on my grey area list as I had never found their statement convincing, this was despite them being regarded as cruelty-free in the eyes of many. It's a reminder that you need to trust your own gut when it comes to deciding who tests and who doesn't, even if some other sources say otherwise. 

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The Linkables

The New Zealand animal testing ban was backed by Kiwi netball superstar Irene Van Dyk.

And here's a good article on the low-down on the new NZ ban.

Back in the UK, with a General Election looming one of the most important types of blogs to be reading right now are political blogs. Here's an up-to-date list of the 10 political blogs of the UK.

Despite everyone and their dog talking about podcasts right now, I'm still yet to find any I like. Maybe I'll like one from Rosie's list.

Emerald City Comic Con (in Washington) has just passed and here's a round-up of some of the best cosplays.

Ever wondered why photographers charge so much? Here's why.

I was a bit peeved when Pottermore put me n Hufflepuff and not Ravenclaw, but this Buzzfeed list made me feel a lot better.

Oscar fashion. Illustrated with Q-Tips.

What do you do when you witness someone say something accidentally offensive online? Call them out? Publicly? Or maybe be an understanding person and recognise they didn't mean it and send them a private message.

Taking notes by hands is the best way to remember that lecture.

I had an ex who used semi-colons in our e-mails cause he knew how much I liked them (ha!). But I reckon punctuation is quite emotive.

Some important notes on being a badass.

Remember, success is only defined by yourself. As illustrated by the guy from Wham! who isn't George Michael.

10 Things I Hate About You is one of my favourite teen films ever, and here's a little catch-up on what Joey Donner is doing these days (he's a spiritual guru).

Every argument about Buffy on the internet. Ha!

A mental health myth that needs to stop: self-harming is not about attention seeking.

Threesomes can help bring couples closer together (or drive them further apart). Do I need to say this NSFW?

Sometimes I wonder what kind of apps aren't out there, since there is one that allows you to text Drake lyrics...

I'm Dating a Scorpio, we're a firey bunch. And there's cheat sheets for dating each star sign at the bottom of the post.

Unwanted groping isn't just something that happens in nightclubs, it can happen in a relationship. Here's how to deal.

All kinds of yes: e-mail guidelines for the world.

Apparently the haunted doll market is thriving on eBay.

A playlist of songs which pass The Bechdel test.

Travel advice you may never need: 10 things to know before you travel in outerspace.

Severed goat heads keep turning up in Brooklyn....

You don't have to be fuckable to be valuable (article is safe for work, but the site it's on isn't).

Decorating tips for the INTJ, and all the other Myers-Briggs Types.

I was five during the time of the Monica Lewinksy affair, so my knowledge is low but I lapped up this article about her life now.

A Tumblr dedicated to the teenage bedrooms of the big screen

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Curry on the Hill, Shawlands

curry on the ill patia curry

As many cafés and restaurants as the city centre and the west end of Glasgow have to offer, one of the perks of my parents coming through for a visit with the car is heading out somewhere a bit more random to eat. As always, I selected an Indian and kept to my beloved southside and headed out to Curry on the Hill in the Shawlands area. 

What really drew me to this place was the massive menu with no shortage of veggie options. There was plenty or curries, naans, rices and a generous continental selection if there's a member of a group not really up for a curry. 

curry on the hill vegetable tempura

And what makes me recommend this place highly is that the food was absolutely gorgeous (the decor was also super stylish). For starters I went for vegetable tempura which was on the average side however the sweet chilli sauce which came with them was one of the best I've tried. For mains I had a patia curry with vegetables (they have a vegetarian section but the main curry section allows you to have veggies, or fish, of prawns etc) which is a sweet and sour curry (which I loved and was my first time trying).

I also ordered a garlic and coriander naan which was perhaps the beautiful thing I've ever eaten. 

curry on the hill naan

The restaurant also gives itself an edge by providing entertainment. The night we were in (Saturday) they had a magician who went round the tables once they had finished up their main course. This maybe isn't my personal choice of entertainment. We were trying our hardest to be polite and laugh along but despite how good the guy was (which he was) we were stuffed from our meals and truthfully wanted our beds! Thankfully the guy only did a few tricks and could sense that we needed our beds (he had been at the table behind us for ages and they were all howlin from laughter). If you're reading this you were really good, but we really needed the bill! 

It's not every day that I get to travel further into the southside for a meal and it can make me nervous getting to pick as I always want it to be somewhere good when my parents are down but this fitted the bill perfectly perfectly. And I'd recommend it 100% times over. 

Lots of love! 
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