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The Linkables


Source. 

How has everyone's first month of 2016 been? I've been busy, but it has been a very fulfilling and good busy and I'm still buzzing at a lot of the new changes in my life. As mentioned at the start of the year my blog will be becoming a lot more about quality rather than quantity and, as such, Linkables will become a monthly thing. And here it is, the first Linkables of 2016 - I hope you enjoy! 

Geek & Pop Culture

I've always considered myself a DC girl - great storylines, believable characters and awesomely inclusive. Here's a history of LGBT characters from the DC Universe

More graphic novels for my to-read list: 25 graphic novels written by women

Food & Drink

As a bartender I can tell you there's a lot more to serving wine than just pouring. Here's a guide to serving with sophistication

So many recipes are for four people. So I totally bookmarked this Indian meal for one recipe

Equality


A quick article from a sexual health nurse: I've seen enough genitals to know we are all truly unique

Sex & Relationships



Blogging, marketing & social media


For your bookmarks: popular hashtags for each blog type

Even as a small-time blogger I could relate: The sad economics of internet fame

My blog and Instagram gets a bit quieter in the winter, partially because the darker nights mean less natural lighting for blog posts. Here's 5 tips to improve blog photos in winter

Etc. 

Advice I could have done with back in 2007: 5 tips for making the most of university open days

My most recent blog post was defending TV as a legitimate hobby, and in the same vein Olivia has a post on making more time for TV

So...I don't actually believe in Feng Shui, but I've always loved the concept. Here's how to carry out a 10-minute feng shui makeover

Just try and ignore that this is on the MAC website because it's a really good article: America's sweetheart of smut Stoya talks about what beauty means to her. (NSFW)

Late people really wind me up the wrong way. However, this article on what makes some people chronically late has helped me understand why I should be more sympathetic. 

Hahahahahahaha: periods aren't that gross

Sports gear is one of the hardest things to buy ethically, so I always love coming across guides to help me along the way

Have a fabulous February! 

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Is Watching TV a Legitimate Hobby?


is tv a legitimate hobby

As I write this I'm curled up on my bed with a cup of tea, whilst getting slowly sucked into the world of the Kardashians. 

Perhaps Keeping up with the Kardashians is the worst thing I could admit to binge watching as I begin to make the case for couch-potatoes everywhere. I think it comes as a surprise to nobody that I believe TV watching is as legitimate hobby as baking, skiing or travelling.  

For those of us who love pop culture we've probably heard messages our whole life that we should 'go outside', get a 'real hobby' or that if we do want to cuddle up with something it should be a book. Because, you know, that's intellectual (not like silly TV). 

Wellness bloggers are also constantly reminding us that TV is bad for our chi (or something) and that we should be doing yoga on a beach (or something). I certainly don't advocate the idea that yoga on a beach is a bad idea, but I certainly don't believe that binge watching a TV automatically makes someone lazy, uneducated or at risk of obesity. 

I'm also big on wellness and looking after oneself. One of my biggest tips for self-care is to find passions and indulge in them, because life is always more fun when you have a passion and if that passion is being a tv geek then go forth. Then there's the concept of the happy place. Whilst a boudoir filled with candles and a shrine makes for a better Instagram photo, a happy place is unique to each individual. For some individuals that place is curled up with Netflix. 

But, health I hear you cry! TV Geeks are at risk of obesity! Says who? Just because someone counts being up-to-date on British soaps as their hobby doesn't mean they're sitting eating crisps all day and never step outside for a jog. I know plenty a geek who love to socialise, go clubbing, run marathons. I binge watch a new TV show every week but also go swimming and count netball as a massive passion. I even work a physical job in a bar at the weekends. Sitting inside watching TV all day and all night and never doing else would definitely put someone at risk of ill health, but adults know how to do things in moderation (because at the other end of the scale, you can overexercise a body too). 

It also doesn't mean they don't have a high flying career, or never will. Again, I can line quite a few of my geeky friends up for you if you need proof. 

If you know me, or have been reading my blog for a long time you'll know that I'm big on not pissing on other people's life choices. Live and let live, y'all. There's some hobbies and pastimes I've never seen the appeal of but I'm certainly not going to make someone feel shitty about their hobby, or brand it as non-legitimate. And I'm certainly not going to force someone to sit and binge watch the Kardashians (or any TV show, because fair enough the Kardashians really aren't for everyone) because some people simply aren't into watching TV and that's a-okay too. 

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My Vegan Perfume Collection


Vegn Perfume collection

If there's a type of product that I've found difficult to purchase cruelty-free it has been a good bottle of perfume. With many celebrity perfumes being owned and Procter and Gamble or Unilever, it's not easy to find something too spray myself with the morning.

I have, however, over the three years found a few gems. Not many, but enough that I'm building up a small collection of perfumes that I thought I'd share with you today. Some of these were bought prior to going vegan and are simply just cruelty-free. But as perfume is something that lasts the distance I still have them years on (along with some non-cf perfumes purchase prior to 2012, that I've not included...).

Something for the day

First off we have my Pacifica Perfumes collection. While I don't sing praises about all their products, their perfumes are to die for and I've made it my (somewhat financially irresponsible) mission to purchase them all. I still have all the perfumes mentioned in this post, but now have the addition of the Tahitian Gardenia spray. All the Pacifica Perfumes, as the name suggests, very summery and something you'd pack for a holiday in the sun. However, the Tahitian Gardenia has a slightly more heady scent to it, perfect for people who prefer something a bit more musky. 

Also from Pacifica is their Persian Rose reed diffuser. This is the first reed diffuser I've ever bought (can I officially adult now?) so I'm not sure how it measures up against other brands. I really like the scent - it's rich and exotic - but the only part of my room you can smell it is my dressing table. I remember a previous flatmate had a reed diffuser in her room which you could smell the moment you walked in...

On the cheaper end of the scale - and something I bought on a whim - is the Flutter Perfume second in from the left. This is actually a Superdrug perfume I fond in their gift section and it said vegan so I thought why the hell not? The scent is light, clean and fresh - which is just up my street! It, however, was cheap and is cheap for a reason. The scent stayed on my skin only for about an hour!

Something for night time

Regardless of how much I like summery scents, there's times when I'm in the market for something a bit more sophisticated. I had been aware of Eden Perfumes for a while, a company that re-creates famous scents using natural and vegan formulas. For my first ever purchase I decided to purchase their versions of Nina by Nina Ricci and Daisy by Marc Jacobs. The bottles are 30ml and I know they'll do me for a long time, and will be the option for when I want a sophisticated perfume for night-time. 

Just cruelty-free

Also in the picture are a few scents that are cruelty-free but not strictly vegan. Firstly I have two Soap and Glory body sprays that I've received in gift sets over the years. Out of the scents mentioned, I probably reach for these two the least. They're just a bit too...teenagery for my tastes. Sometimes get spritzed on when I'm heading out for some simple errands. But not very often. 

Finally, I have the scent that I would consider my 'signature scent' for the last few years. It's, a bit embarrassingly, Ravishing by Ann Summers and is no longer available. I bought it years ago at an Ann Summers party during my student days, which is a testament to how long it lasts. It was £30 however the light but sexy scent lasts all day. Whether the pheromones work is something we can leave up to debate, I can't say I've ever done any official experiments! (Though I did have an ex who liked the scent, but whether it was the pheromones or just the smell is still debatable). 


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Veganism on the Finnieston Strip


The vegetable selection outside Roots & Fruits. 

Finnieston is a part of Glasgow that holds a special place in my heart. When I first moved here in 2012 it was the location of my first full-time job and the hotel I briefly stayed in before my flat on the Southside was ready. Being one of the first Glasgow areas I was able to explore, I immediately started looking for some vegan friendly establishments. And boy, have I found some. 

Roots and Fruits
Let's just get the obvious choice out the way first. Roots and Fruits is the health store of choice for the West End vegans and is where I spent many a pay day whilst I worked in the area. Acting as both a shop and a deli, you can purchase some of your store cupboard essentials whilst picking up a sandwich or a pot of vegan split pea curry for your lunch. Oh, and their sandwiches are stuffed full to the brim. 

The 78
And the other obvious choice is second up. Located just off the Finnieston Strip on Kelvinhaugh Street this is a 100% vegetarian café which also doubles up as a bar. I'll admit out of all the vegan places in Glasgow - there are a fair few - this is the one I find myself in least. But I know some vegans who think this is the best one out of the lot so take my previous statement whichever way you want. 

Piece Sandwich Monger
Marketed a gourmet sandwich monger, the sandwiches in Piece don't come cheap but you will struggle to find a tastier bread experience in Glasgow (or further afield). Piece is not strictly vegan, but their falafel sandwich is delightful (but remember to clarify that you don't want mayo!). 

The Kitchen
With pink door frames and a lovely typeface, The Kitchen is a small café which pays attention to the details. And these details also include options for their vegan and gluten-intolerant customers. They have a new vegan filling available for their paninis and each time I've been in there's been a vegan soup available. 

The Hidden Lane Tearoom
Shockingly enough, you'll have to keep a beady eye open for this one. Whilst it's not vegan per sé they do sometimes have a vegan cake on. And lots of tea (which is always a good thing). 

Cailin's Sushi
As a life long sushi lover (okay, since I was 18) I'm always on the look out for places that serve good veggie sushi (we are educated about food enough to known sushi has nothing to do with fish?). Cailin's Sushi has plenty of options for the plant eaters of Glasgow and all comes at a really good price. 

Blow
Did we think this post was only going to be about food? Hell no, 'cause ethics go beyond what goes in our mouths! Finnieston's well known hair salon, Blow, recently ordered in the Manic Panic hair dye range allowing the babes of the West End to add some vegan colour to their locks. 

Where's your favourite place to eat vegan on the Finnieston Strip? Have I missed somewhere fantastic?

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5 years



In 2011 I took resolutions very seriously and 2016 will see me mark off a lot of half-decade milestones:
  • going vegetarian
  • landing my first marketing job
  • joining the long-term singletons club
  • forming a personal style I'm happy with
  • starting this blog
  • hosting my first Eurovision party (ha)
Those of you who have been round a while will have heard that late 2010 was a bit of a shitstorm for me, and starting this blog in early 2011 was a major part of my healing process (along with making ALL THE RESOLUTIONS). So given that it's the half-decade mark (as opposed to just any other boring old year) I thought I should give a bit of love to some of the other anniversaries coming up and not make this a run-of-the-mill blogiversary post. 

You see, I've always been a fan of resolutions. Well, not always. Up until the turn of 2011 they had probably been kind of flaky and silly (like, learn Spanish). But in 2011 I decided things really had to change and embarked on an period of self-improvement. And five years on these resolutions still stand and have been fulfilled. This is why I'll always defend resolutions and get irrationally angry when people mock them. 

To five years of not eating meat, five years of knowing what I actually want to do with life, to five years of daily flicked eyeliner, to five years of celebrating Euro-trash every May and to five years of knowing that I was too fabulous for some of the men that almost became boyfriends (that's what I tell myself anyway, ha!). 

And to five years of writing about my life on the internet! 



P.S. I will be doing a giveaway for my five years, but not today because I've had other - probably more important - things going on in my life in the past few months so haven't bought stuff. But soon. 

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RECIPE: Butternut stuffed pasta shells


Vegan butternut squash pasta

My choice of Christmas dinner this year - the fifth one I've cooked without meat - went down pretty well. It was a butternut squash stuffed with a rice mixture. If you fancy trying it yourself you can find the recipe here.

But this blog posts isn't actually about that. It's about what I did with the leftover butternut squash.

Whilst you all know I love cooking, I usually work out of a recipe book and rarely create my own recipes. But in one of the recipe books I received in my Christmas stocking, I began picking up on new possible favour combinations which set a bit of inspiration off inside of me. Helped by the fact that I was in my parents kitchen - which is a tad fancier than my own one!

Ingredients
For the pasta:
two tablespoons oil
one de-seeded and roughly chopped butternut squash
three garlic cloves, chopped
10 sage fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
Chopped fresh parsley
three teaspoons of soy sauce
bag of large pasta shells

For the pepper sauce:
1 onion, chopped
2 squirts low-cal oil spray
2 roasted red peppers (such as the ones you get in jars)
1 clove garlic, crushed
Small dash of date, maple or agave syrup
½ tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp mixed dried herbs
1 tsp soya sauce
100ml/4fl oz vegetable stock
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch of chilli powder (optional)

(The pepper sauce recipe comes from this recipe here).

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the butternut squash. Cook until it softens and gets a bit crispy. It will also shrink in size.
2. Add the garlic and sage to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Splash in the soy sauce as well. Take off the heat and allow the flavours to blend.
3. Cook the pasta shells according to the instructions. This is also when you can make the pepper sauce using this recipe.
4. Once all three parts are ready, grab a baking dish. Pour the pepper sauce into the dish, and then stuff each pasta shell individually before placing in the dish.
5. Sprinkle the parsley around the pasta and do a final seasoning blast of salt and pepper
6. Heat up in the oven for 15-20 minutes, at at temperature of 180 degrees Celsius.
7. Take out the oven and have a bite (dry white wine goes well with this!).

Let me know if you try this recipe out! 

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Blog Posts That Changed My Life


eurovision denmark jokers masquerade sleeves

Maybe changed my life is slightly poetic or over-the-top. But perhaps, made me stop to think or helped shape me as a person. Or a new mantra to live by. That 'ah-ha' moment. 

As cheesy as it sounds, everyone who's involved in this blogging community knows how life changing it can be. The people you meet to the opportunities that come up. But for me personally, some of those life-changing moments happened when I  read a blog post that just spoke to me. Or gave me a proverbial wake up call. 

Or just convinced me to change my diet. 

1. The blog post that told me that everything was going to be okay
Sarah of Yes and Yes has said that her 31 Things I've Learned in 31 Years post is one of her most popular to date. And I can see why. There's several nuggets of wisdom in there (such as buying the second cheapest vodka). But it was advice number 14 that kicked me in my gut at a time when I needed it: 

"There are 300 million people in America. And 6,000,000,000 in the world. I promise you, you’ll love someone else. You’ll meet new friends. You’ll find co-workers and neighbors that are awesome. If it’s too hard (or if someone is making you feel bad) walk away. There are a million other people out there who won’t make you feel bad!"

I'm not the best at walking away from situations I'm not happy with any more - which stems from my inability to stick up for myself. I've let far too many things - such as friendships, relationships or projects - run on past their expiration date. It's still not my strong point but this blog post is the one I turn to when I know what needs to be done. 

2. The blog post which made me go vegetarian
If you think I'm going to share with you an article about slaughter house mistreatment, you're wrong. I'm actually going to share with you a post on how to get over a break-up (not your traditional giving up meat story but bear with me). The blog is no longer maintained but you can find an archived version of the post here. In it Kate advises us to keep looking after our health after a break-up (awesome advice!) and suggests that maybe a new approach to food might help at this point in your life, perhaps vegetarianism? 

So, the secret's out that I didn't go veggie for the animals, but instead to mend a broken heart. (In seriousness though I had toyed with vegetarianism for most of my life, this was just the moment I got pushed over).

3. The blog post that made me go cruelty-free
I've spoken before about how it was Louise who woke me up to the realities of the beauty industry. Way back in 2012 I stumbled upon her Twitter, then had a nosey at her blog and my purchasing habits were changed forever.

4. The one that reminded me that I needed to trust my gut more
You know people sometimes come with red flags? And that sometimes you'll see these red flags but not do anything to keep this person at distance (or worse, fall madly in love with them)? Yeah. Anyway, here's Alle bullet pointed how-to for spotting terrible people. She was basically saying things I already knew, but hearing someone else say them gave me the confidence to put them into practice.

5. The one that just changed my outlook all together
When I started penning this post I knew I had to throw in some Gala Darling. But I've been struggling to pick just one post. While Gala has went a bit more voo-doo and witchy on us in recent years (not my cup of tea) her writing from five years ago did turn my life around. If I have to pick something it would be her Love & Sequins series, which isn't even technically a blog post and isn't even up for purchase anymore. Second to that, I almost chose the post that changed my stationary habits forever (I'm not even exaggerating). And this one on her six year blogiversary stands out too. Everything I know about life I learned from this lady. Stationary and all.

Are there any blog posts out there that moved something inside you and taught you lessons that have stayed with you?

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Goals for 2016


Towards the end of last year, my mind was certainly not thinking about goals for the new year (it was thinking about which company I could send a speculative application to).

Even as things settled down and I was offered a contract at Barrhead Travel (and also a weekend job in a Glasgow bar), my head was still fuzzy and couldn't focus on something flimsy like a new year's resolution. But as the year became closer to wrapping up I began to miss that feeling of setting my bar higher. Because if you've been reading these parts a while you'll know I'm allll about goal-making and self-improvement.

So here's some goals I came up with while writing this post.

1. Work hard at all my new jobs. 
This is my current workload: SEO Copywriter at Barrhead Travel, Comic Reviewer at the Big Glasgow Comic Page, this blog and bartending/waitressing at a Glasgow establishment. No matter what hat I'm wearing I want to put all my gusto behind it; even when I'm cleaning up drunk people's vomit.

2. Read more books/don't read books I won't enjoy
I've always had a weird relationship with reading. Sometimes it takes me four months to read a book, sometimes it takes me four hours. In 2015, I worked out what genres do nothing for me, and which set my heart on fire. And for the record the latter is feminist prose, graphic novels and fiction aimed at teenagers. 2016 is the year I give up reading books that I know I won't enjoy, because who really should do that after high school?

3. Spend the pot of money I'm sitting on wisely
Silver lining to redundancy: you get paid to leave.

Two jobs: truck load of money.

Therefore, it might not come as much surprise that I'm currently sitting on quite a bit of savings. Whilst the temptation to spend it all on high-end beauty products or a new wardrobe is very tempting, I would quite like something to show for the past few months and for the months I worked my ass off at two jobs. I have a few ideas ranging from a holiday (which is the promise I made to myself to get a new job quickly), a Playstation, an expensive but worthwhile qualification, finishing the decor of my flat, something to charity and stashing at least some of it as longer-term savings.

4. Get my eating back on track
A vice I've always had has been losing my appetite during stressful situations (and when I do eat, it's junk food). During my redundancy period my old habit came back to say hello and I lost a lot of weight. I'm employed and eating again, but I still need to get back into the habit of healthy set meals and make up for the nutrients lost.

5. My blog will be about quality and not quantity
My blog is not my job, and I don't want it to be my job. Forcing myself to write four blog posts a week was ridiculous, partially because the quality was suffering. If my typos or half-assed reviews put you off before, they won't be an issue in the new year. Even if it means only writing two blog posts a week, I promise to make those two blogs writing to be proud of.

This also means Linkables is becoming a monthly thing, because it takes longer to put those posts together than you'd think. And it means more time to do the non-writing parts of running a blog, like badgering cosmetic companies.

I'm excited for 2016, and I hope you are too!

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