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The last Linkables of 2017



Well guys, here we are again. Another year gone and I'm still sharing links. I took a little bit of a backseat from blogging this year, because pushing myself to post three times a week and maintain a cruelty-free brand list was proving too much (especially for someone who has always said they don't want to blog full time). But I've still been online: reading blog posts, watching videos and learning/laughing my way through the internet. This is some of the best things I've found.

Politics and Feminism

50 Healthy Resolutions that Aren't Losing Weight

My favourite thing on the internet this past month has definitely been the #WokeCharlotte meme.

What kinds of New Year fitness resolutions to feminists make? 

Self-Diagnosing Mental Illness Isn't Perfect - But Here's Why It Can Be Necessary

No, Female Trans Athletes Do not Have an Unfair Advantage.

12 Men Reveal The Mental Health Struggles Behind Their 'Manly' Photos To Smash Stereotypes

Why the voting age should be lowered to 16

Sex & Relationships

40 important milestone you can have in your life without getting married.

Sorry Romantics, But Love Is a Choice

What it's like to get an STI in an exclusive relationship

How Disney Princesses would be different if they had mothers

15 people who have felt suicidal on the questions they wish they had been asked.

When I'm dating someone new, I will make judgements about them when I see their living space: turns out I'm not the only woman who does.

Imagine meeting someone, only to discover they weren't on any social media? Here's a funny video from the Independent.

Pop Culture & Geek

The top 10 video games of 2017.

LOL: hilarious Pornhub comments we are glad exist

If you're having a dull day: here's A.J. McLean's daughter jamming to NSYNC.

I still wouldn't consider Eminem woke, but his new direction is something.

Here's a brutally honest twist to the Babysitter Club covers, featuring Claudia.

Keep handy for next Christmas: How to win all the major board games families play at Christmas

Blogging and Marketing

17 things you should do to every blog post before and after publishing

The 5 most important skills a digital marketer needs in 2018

The social media trends that will take over in 2018

Etc

I love this: the world needs more unflattering photos.

The opposite of FOMO: The Joy of Missing Out

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Why you should give the Arrowverse a chance (all 300+ episodes)



You know all those super hot television shows that everyone was watching in 2017?

Stranger Things, Peaky Blinders, Riverdale, Orange is the New Black, Broadchurch, The Crown, GLOW, The Good Place, Dear White People, Silicon Valley, Mindhunter, The Handmaid's Tale, Twin Peaks....

...I've not see any of them*.

Because, since May, I've been knee-deep in the Arrowverse with the goal of completing all 300+ episodes by the time 2017 was out (which I managed). For anyone unfamiliar with the Arrowverse, it's a fictional universe comprised of the DC superhero shoes Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and DC's Legends of Tomorrow. So there's a lot of episodes, characters, and story lines to get your head around. It's the biggest tv-binge I've ever completed and I thankfully enjoyed it when I reached the end of the most recent episode. I regret nothing.

Here's why you should give it a try too, even if it will take you the best part of a year to complete.

Lesser known comic heroes take the stage



I was originally inspired to start watching Arrow when I found out that Black Canary - one of my favourites - would be brought to life. While Black Canary isn't that unknown to comic fans, she's not exactly going to be popping up in the DC Cinematic Universe anytime soon, is she?

Other lesser-known characters that have been brought to life in the Arrowverse include Livewire, Captain Cold, Lena Luthor, Atom/Ray Palmer, Deathstroke, Damien Darhk, Vandal Savage, Vixen, Hawkgirl, Hawkboy, Kid Flash, Heatwave, Killer Frost, Vibe, Nyssa Al Ghul, Constantine, Firestorm, and Martian Manhunter all make an appearance.

You'll spot Easter eggs that reference the big-name superheroes
The Flash’s Welcome to Earth-2

The film studios have been protective about some of DC's big-gun superheroes so we're not going to see Batman or Wonder Woman in the Arroverse. But keep your eyes peeled and you'll catch the references. The most obvious was the back of Harley Quinn's head, but keep your ear's open for a conversation about Oracle and eyes wide for billboards with Ferris Air plastered across them.

A racially diverse cast



While the main characters - Supergirl, Arrow, and Flash - are all white (and that's not a good thing, main characters should be diverse too!), the wider cast is one of the most diverse I've seen. And they don't shy away from commentating on race either.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow is the most prominent example. Several members of the team are non-white, and when they go back in time to periods when racial tensions were far higher than they are now, it's not brushed under the carpet. One African American member of the team was so distraught by the treatment of the slaves that he frees them knowing it will blow up their current mission. And when they travel back to the 1950s, an older white male member of the team was reminiscing at what good a decade it was - only to be shut down by two members of the team who weren't white or straight.

And sorry racists, they changed Iris West's race for the show.

Women in STEM



Women are very rarely portrayed as scientific or tech geniuses in pop culture - not in the Arrowverse though. There's Felicity Smoak aka Overwatch: a hacker extraordinaire who is the eyes and ears at home base when Team Arrow run out on their nightly missions.

And there's Caitlin Snow. She's honestly a bit over-the-top and is some doctor/bio-engineer/chemist/hacker wonder women. But this is fiction and she's brilliant.

And LGBT+ characters



While it is frustrating that the writers haven't made Sara Lance utter the word bisexual, polysexual or pansexual - they don't use the word heterosexual or straight either. She consistently has relationships and casual flings with both men and women as the show progresses and her sexuality isn't treated as confusion or a stepping stone. But the word would still be nice....

Then over on Supergirl, we have a later-in-life coming out story. I won't say what character is it, but just that it is handled well.

A couple break up over wanting children/not wanting children


(I wasn't going to choose a gif that involved the couple due to spoilers, so here's one with Kara Danvers and Supergirl looking sheepish). 

It's still rare in pop culture to see characters actively choosing not to have children. So it's no wonder that so many regular real-life people don't understand that some people make the choice not to have them.

It's refreshing to see a fictional couple realise that it doesn't matter how long you're with someone or how compatible you are otherwise - a partnership where someone wants children and someone doesn't can't have a long-term future. It makes this child-free lady fist pump.

(Monica and Richard Burke from Friends, and then Robyn from How I Met Your Mother are the only two examples I can think of).

The acting



While there are a few bad eggs here and there, the acting is second to none. Whether it's Tom Cavanagh playing multiple versions of Harrison Wells from different earths, or Grant Gustin playing a future version of The Flash, these actors know how to immerse themselves into a role. 

You'll end up with a new fictional crush



It's Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen aka Arrow) everyone seems to be crushing over with his chiselled jawline and six-pack. But I've developed a little (okay, big) crush on Grant Gustin (Barry Allen aka Flash) because cute nerds with choppy hair cuts who wear Converse will always be my type. Plus, a male friend of mine totally has it for Felicity Smoak.

It's gives us DC fans something to watch


That's Thea Queen - ain't she cute? 

I'm a DC girl through and through. However, even I know that the DC Cinematic Universe leaves a lot to be desired. All we have right now are the TV shows (and the animated series, which I've not seen, but heard amazing things about) until the film executives sort themselves out.

#TeamDC

Let me know if you'v watched the Arrowverse. What was your favourite bit?

* I did make an exception for 13 Reasons Why and Game of Thrones most recent season.

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Herbivore Kitchen, Edinburgh


It's Christmas Eve and by now you've probably all had your festive nights out with friends and co-workers.

So I apologise that this review is a week too late...

But I still need to write about the vegetarian Christmas Menu at Herbivore Kitchen in Edinburgh because it was just that good. Even if the ship has sailed on the festive dinner menu, I still highly recommend heading there for food at another time of year (I know I will be).

Honestly, it's been a while since I headed through to Edinburgh for some vegan food. So I'm not as up-to-date as I could be on where to eat in the capital. Thankfully the lovely Charlene was on the ball and went out of her way to organise a meet-up for some of the vegans she regularly speaks to online. 

And she made an excellent choice on venue as the food was delicious. It was a 3-course menu of £25 with three choices for each course. The menu also marks out what is vegetarian, vegan, wheat-free and contains nuts.



For starters I chose the Roast Butternut Round, Sweet Potato Gnocchi, and Sage Cashew Cream. This was by far my favourite part of the night. This was the first time that I have eaten gnocchi made from something that wasn't wheat, and I realise I've been missing out. But I've never made a secret of my love for butternut squash and cashew cream - which was the perfect accompaniment.



For starters, I choose the Sgaia Bacon Nut Roast with Fondant Potato, Baby Carrots, and Red Wine Jus. I'm not entirely sure why I chose this as I'm not a fan of typical Christmas food (including nut roast) and wish I had went for the Crisp Polenta, Stuffed Portobello Mushroom and Black Peppercorn Sauce (we ordered in advance). I did enjoy it, but it was probably my least favourite course, and the portion size did feel small for a main course.


Then for dessert I opted for the Arctic Roll. I'm not normally a dessert person but this was the course where I had to spend a bit of time pondering. The other choices were between a Chocolate Pudding Baked Cheesecake, and Sticky Toffee Ginger & Cinnamon Pudding. Even when the desserts were served, my mouth was watering at the other options. But the Arctic Roll was delightful; with vegan cake circling vegan ice-cream with a chocolate orange flavour.

Herbivore Kitchen is now closed for the Christmas holidays and will re-open on the 29th of December. While the Christmas menu is no more I can definitely see myself returning in the new year to try something from their regular menu (the Lemon Lentil Daal, Roasted Butternut Squash, Coriander Tofu, Spring Onions and Pickled Mooli sounds amazing!).

Herbivore Kitchen

Were you lucky enough to try the Herbivore Kitchen Christmas menu? Let me know what you think. 


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10 reasons why dating apps are not the death of romance (or society)




It's probably not surprising that, as a single woman in the 21st Century who owns a smartphone and enjoys social media, that I have dabbled in the world of dating apps.

And by dabbled, I actually mean that I have sixteen dating apps downloaded onto my phone (some are definitely better than others: Tinder, OkCupid, Badoo and Her are my favourites, but JigTalk, CLiKD, and Double should probably get deleted).

In case it wasn't clear: I like dating apps. Enough that I'm the mug who downloads all the silly quirky ones that only have five people signed up. But most single people I know are also on them - the stigma is shredding and it's now almost weirder to be single and not on Tinder, than it is to be on it.

But dating apps still have their haters.

They're not safe.
You'll receive unsolicited dick pics.
Everyone's profile picture is heavily filtered and posed.
You'll get catfished.
It's shallow.
It's lazy.
They're unromantic.
You might miss Your Person because they were born a year before your chosen age range.

If you're single and don't want to be on a dating app, that's your prerogative. But it's a prerogative that I don't agree with and I think you're wrong.

Here's why.

1. It widens your dating pool
There are so many potential dates or partners on these apps that you wouldn't meet otherwise. If you want to exhaust yourself bar-hopping every weekend and RSVPing yes to every social event ever in order to meet someone in real life, be my guest. You do you. But I'll be tucked up in bed, swiping.

(Tinder is also cheaper than going to a bar).

2. Some of us don't like bars, or public places...
It's extrovert bias to say that we should all head to a bar to meet potential matches. I don't really enjoy bars and I'm sure as hell not going to start hanging out in one every Friday night just in case a potential suitor shows up (and even when I did go to nightclubs, it proved to be the worst way to meet someone serious). I'm introverted and most of my hobbies don't involve leaving the house. Dating apps allow me to get on with a life that fulfils me but still have the opportunity to meet romantic and sexual partners.

3. It's actually less shallow
I can see where people are coming from when they say dating apps are shallow: you're deciding (with very limited information) whether to go on a date with an effective stranger.

But think about it. When a cute stranger catches your eye at the bar and you decide to go over - what exactly are you basing your decision on? What do you actually know about this person? You can see that they're cute, but that's it...

Before you swipe right or send a message on a dating app, you'll likely know the person's name, age, sexuality, job title, star sign, religion and whether they already have children or not. Some apps even show your compatibility rating. This is a lot more information than that cutie at the bar - so which is more shallow?

4. Some of us are chasing unicorns
If you're heterosexual, monogamous, able-bodied, sexually vanilla, want children, want marriage, aren't divorced, aren't vegan, don't already have children, and have mainstream political, or spiritual, beliefs then you probably don't understand how damn hard dating can get for those of who don't fit that description.

Those of us who do fall outside of these dating norms probably all know the pain of meeting someone new, feeling the butterflies, then afterwards discovering that there's a massive deal breaker that means the relationship just can't work. 

For those of us whose taste in partners is slightly niche, dating apps helps us find our unicorn(s). OkCupid (which is incredibly detailed) allows users to search based on sexuality, education, children (or lack of), religion, smoking, drinking, drug use, body type, race, monogamous/non-monogamous, and diet. It might not sound romantic, but I've had to end it early on with so many guys because I don't want children (and they do) that it's nice to go in there knowing from the start that it won't be a problem.

5. Casual sex with a stranger is far less awkward...
I generally prefer not to comment on what other consenting adults get up to, but why do people have casual sex with co-workers/a good friend/their best friend's brother?

I believe casual sex is better with someone who is separate from other areas of your life. Like, really. And honestly sex with a cute stranger from a dating app is better than drunken sex with a random at a bar.

6. You could end up dead in a ditch no matter how you meet someone
Okay here is some truth about dating apps: creepy guys can get even creepier when they can hide behind a keyboard (or phone, whatever). There are fake profiles, and I've swiped right on a hottie only to get suspicious that they weren't real. I even once came off OkCupid for a few months due to harassment.

But if you think creeps only exist on dating apps, you've clearly not been paying attention. Any woman who has ever stepped outside her house has received cat calls, had her ass grabbed, maybe her boobs, or struggled to politely decline a guy at a bar who just cannot take the hint. Creepy behaviour is not unique to dating apps.

Ya'll just gotta kiss lot of virtual frogs, yo.

7. It's easier for shy people
Think about that cute stranger in the bar from earlier. How many of us are genuinely comfortable initiating a conversation with a hot someone who we don't know?

Hiding behind a screen helps ease the nerves. If they don't reply it's much less embarrassing or awkward than a public dismissal. Plus you can read their profile and find some common ground to open up on. On swiping apps like Tinder, you even have the reassurance that the attraction is mutual before sending the first message.

8. Catfishing can happen IRL too
Touch wood, but I've never fallen for a fake profile. They're usually pretty easy to suss out (supermodel photos, a naughty bio, no connected social media accounts etc) and while I've evidently not found love on a dating app, I'm yet to have an awful date.

IRL, however, I haven't been as lucky. Guys who I've met in a more traditional setting have managed to pull the wool over my eyes. I've dated a guy in my final stretch of university who turned out to have a girlfriend back home. I knew a guy for two years and only found out his sexual consent skills were shaky once we started dating. Most recently, I was introduced to a guy on my birthday by a mutual friend who thought we'd be a great match - we spoke for about three weeks (and met up once) then he ghosted me...

Moral of my bad dating stories: meeting IRL is no guarantee that someone is being honest with you.

9. Do you honestly care that much about your "how we met" story? 
Tinder is not exactly a great story to tell the grandchildren; but how many couples have an interesting "how we met" story? My parents met at work (oh the romance).

Let's be real: very few couples are childhood sweethearts who stood the test of time or holiday romances who moved across the country to be together. You've been watching too many romcoms, mate.

10. Dating apps work
I know multiple couples who met each other online and are incredibly happy. Online dating works and is a completely legitimate way to meet someone.

As I said in point 8 I'm yet to have a truly awful experience with dating apps. Last year I was casually dating a guy I met off Tinder. We did eventually end things, but he was one of the nicest guys I've ever dated and I don't look back on our time together with any regret. Even more, we've stayed friends. He even bought me a break-up pizza!

If the knowledge that these apps actually work is not proof that they are worth your time, then I don't know what is.

If you're a fan of dating apps, let me know your favourite thing about them. If you're still not convinced, let me know what's stopping you. 



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Christmas gifts for foodies who like it hot and spicy


Food (and life) is always better with some spice. If someone in your life agrees, treat them to one of these spicy gifts this Christmas.


1. This mug for drinking their morning spicy espresso from



2. A wall print so they can proudly display their hot-sauce love affair


3. Or maybe this print will be more to their taste



4. A subscription to The Spicery (a subscription box for spices)



5. A towel to wipe up all that hot sauce after cooking


6. Because you're never too young to appreciate some sriracha sauce



7. A book to feed their brain with essential chilli knowledge 



8. The perfect Christmas Day party game...



9. A grow your own chilli sauce gift set




10. Then some chocolate and chilli vodka to wash it down



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