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June Linkables



I think we can all say that 2020 has been a failure of a year. There was Brexit (remember that?), a pandemic, a civil rights movement, Australian bush fires, and just last night there was a tornado going around my home of Aberdeenshire! I'm past the point of being surprised by anything anymore. As a distraction, here are some of my favourite internet links!

First off: I released a new episode of my podcast, The B Agenda. This one is on Online Dating! 

American friends: 5 popular companies funding Trump's campaign.

Bookmarked for when we can travel around Scotland again: vegan-friendly places in Argyll.

The police forced have regularly oppressed the LGBTQ+ community. 30 Infamous Police Raids of Gay Bars and Bathhouses

I visited Berlin a few years ago and the city doesn't hide its dark past. The UK (and Scotland) does ignore its dark past and it's about time we stopped it. 

Related: Glasgow Celebrates a Slaver Once a Year (yep, it's the Orange March).

What it's like to exercise while black. 

How Glaswegians can support the Black Lives Movement.

A large part of being an ally is knowing when to be quiet. This article sums it up nicely.

I've just finished Season 3 of 13 Reasons Why and Ani was SO ANNOYING! (spoilers). 13 Reasons Why Needed To Invest In Its Black Girls — But It Didn't Need Ani

If you spotted the vegan German Chocolate Cake I baked at the weekend and fancy trying it yourself, here is the recipe. 

I had a Twitter rant recently about Nessie being the only Loch Monster anyone ever knows about (including Scottish people!). Here's a wee guide from the BBC if you don't know anything about Nessie's cousins!  One of them is a fellow Mòrag!

Related: Have scientists finally killed off the Loch Ness Monster?

Melissa A. Fabello is my favourite online writer and she just hit it out of the park again with this article on the friendzone. 

My sex drive has dropped during the lockdown - and I'm not alone! 

Social skills were something I had to work hard at over the years and I am worried that while in lockdown I might have lost them, so it's worth a re-cap on how to improve social skills.

A few weeks ago I found myself researching how the Brexit campaign used social media to win the referendum. It's very interesting!

I hope you're all keeping safe, and I'll see when we're allowed to mingle again.

Love Morag x
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Mini-reviews from my latest Lush haul




Like a lot of people, I've been finding myself in need of extra self-care during the lockdown. For me personally, this has partially shown up as ordering in some extra Lush goodies to help me feel a little bit more glamorous while stuck inside and bring some extra aromatherapy into my life.

I've been seeing a lot of people on Twitter saying that they've been struggling with their body image while inside - and I get you! Being stuck inside has led my brain to nitpick at everything I don't like about my flat, my life, and my body! My Lush order did help a little bit with this as I've been maintaining a stricter skincare regime while in lockdown than I did before - and my skin is thanking me for it.

I did however like some products more than others and have rounded up my thoughts below.

Caca Rouge Henna Hair Dye


If you've been following me for a while, you'll know that this is my all-time favourite hair dye. I started using it in 2011 and even though I've occasionally strayed, I always come back to it. The auburn tones it adds to my hair are very realistic and you aren't left with harsh root lines.

I have a story over on my Instagram of how I use it.

Cup O'Coffee Face Mask


My favourite Lush facemask of all time is Cupcake, but it was out of stock so I decided to give this one a shot instead. As a warning, it really smells like coffee but my skin was incredibly soft when I washed it off. If you can stomach the smell of strong coffee, then this facemask comes recommended by me.

Jade Roller Cleansing Balm


Not going to lie, I was sceptical about using a solid cleansing bar as opposed to my usual favourite Herbalism (which was out of stock). While this was weirder to apply (I was rubbing a solid cleanser across my face after all) my skin has been looking a lot better since. Was it because of the facemask, or the cleanser, or a mixture of both? I don't know, but I do have clearer skin now.

Sea Vegetable Soap


I love this soap! Generally speaking, soap isn't the easiest thing to review because, you know, it's soap. But I love its beach-side smell and how well it lathered. I definitely see myself repurchasing this.

Magic Crystals Shower Scrub


If you're looking for a shower scrub with a smell so strong that it will definitely wake you up, then look no further than this. It is minty and tingles on the skin. I'm not usually a fan of minty scents but I'd love to buy this again simply because I become so alert after I've used it.

Argan Dragon Shower Oil


This is the only product that I don't really rate. In fact, I've used very little of it since I bought it. It smells a little artificial, it doesn't leave my skin softer than it was before, and you have to rub to get the purple off of your skin. Meh. I don't see myself ever repurchasing this.

--

All in all, I really loved my latest Lush haul. The shower oil was a bit of a dud, but the Sea Vegetable Soap and Magic Crystals shower scrubs are likely to be repurchased. And the Caca Rouge Hair Dye is as lovely as ever.

Hope you're all okay xx
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April Linkables



Well, the last few weeks have been a ride. I've been on furlough and in between managing existential fear and struggling to sleep, I've been throwing myself behind creative projects, baking, learning French on Duolingo, and making my way through everything on Netflix. I've also apparently been reading a lot of articles online! Here's a round-up of the best things I've read recently.

First off, did you know that I've started a podcast? It's called The B Agenda and it's just a bunch of bisexuals talking about any topic beginning with B. You can listen to our first episode, Bisexuals on Blink 182, here.

You might have noticed the drama on Twitter over the 'Karen' meme. Here's a great overview of the meme and why it is definitely not a slur. 

Co-signed: If You Don't Want Kids, You Don't Need to Want a Career Instead.

As an LGBTQ+ person, I can assure you that sapiosexual is not an orientation.

Have you noticed that the countries that are successfully fighting coronavirus are lead by women?

5 Virtual Tours That Allow You To Visit The Scariest Places On Earth

Important: Please Don't Be Guilted Into Being More Productive During The Coronavirus

I recently low-key updated my pronouns to she/they, and this is just a reminder that Gender Variations have been around for years. 

I pay attention to Scandanavian politics a bit more than the average person as they've already implemented a lot of the progressive policies that I campaign for. Here's how Helsinki has eradicated homelessness. 

Solidarity to men who have been victim to sexual coercion. Here's a quick look on Psychology Today on how men react to being sexually coerced. 

Tips on isolation from an astronaut who spent a year in space!

If I was to meet a partner, I'd only agree to live with them if we could afford a flat with multiple rooms. Here's an article about couples who don't sleep in the same bed.

I've not watched Love is Blind because I think it would annoy me. If you do watch it, here's a guide to the psychology behind the show.

Personally, I don't do friends with benefits. It really isn't for me. But if you are curious here's a guide to getting it right. 

I've been using a lot of my downtime to research Instagram tips. Here's a Later blog on improving your Instagram Stories game that had a lot of advice I'd never thought of. 

You don't need me to tell you that blogs are not nearly as popular as they once were. If you run a corporate blog, here are the top three reasons why people might still be reading.

Over on Youtube I really rated this video on the Scots language.


And this unaired Buffy Pilot from 1996 which doesn't include Alyson Hannigan?!?!



I hope you're all staying safe and staying inside. Much love to everyone x
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25+ things I've been doing during lockdown to keep myself occupied, healthy and entertained




First off, I hope everyone is coping as best as they can in these trying times. This post is only an overview of what I've been doing and I have zero expectations placed on other people. This is meant as potential inspiration only. 

As an introvert, nerd, only child and hayfever sufferer, being inside all the time didn't sound particularly daunting.

But then I was forced inside for weeks, alongside having to give up my extroverted hobbies (I miss restaurants) and not be able to see my friends. 

Then two weeks ago my flatmate came down with several symptoms and we had to stay inside for two weeks (tomorrow is my release date) and rely on other people for food. This has been challenging and that's when the severity of the pandemic really began to hit me. I'm okay at being inside because I did a lot of that anyway, but not even being able to nip to the shops did rock me and forced me to step up my self-care routine.

There is no correct way to handle this situation. In the grand schemed of things, I've coped fairly well. And a lot of that is tied up in privilege. Everyone needs to do what is right for them, and this list I've compiled is just what has worked for me and could be of use to other people. Leave me a quick note with what you've been up to to see if it can inspire anyone else!

Self-Care & Comfort

I'm starting here because self-care is important - especially during a pandemic. Two weeks in I began to struggle to sleep - but with a few tweaks, I managed to start falling asleep again. Here's what I've been doing to keep myself emotionally healthy.

Open all the windows

As soon as I'm dressed I open my bedroom and living windows and let all that fresh air breeze in! If you're living in a flat, remember to stick your head out occasionally and feel the fresh air and sunshine on your face!

Keeping some structure to my day

I'm not jumping out of bed at 7am ready to start 'work' at 9am. But by midday, I'm usually dressed, showered and working on my laptop. Because I'm furloughed I have zero actual work to do but I'm choosing to concentrate on my creative projects during the same hours that I'd usually be at work. Then leaving my evenings and weekends free for things that are strictly just hobbies. This has also helped me stay quiet while my flatmate works from home.

Only using my bedroom for sleeping

After one week in lockdown I began to have trouble sleeping. I'm thankfully out of that funk now and the one best thing I did to combat it was using my bedroom only for sleeping and changing.

My flatmate is working from home while I'm on furlough, so we did need to come to a few agreements. As we speak right now she's working with headphones on at the kitchen table and I'm typing this on the sofa. We're also repainting the spare room and once that's done I can lounge about in there too.

Not wearing a full outfit, but not wearing pyjamas either

It's perfectly acceptable to put on a full outfit to stay in your own house (my parents are doing it!) and it's also acceptable to lounge around in your pyjamas. I personally have been opting for something in the middle. My day outfits now consist of leggings, baggy t-shirts (those weird t-shirts I accumulated while at university are now coming in very handy!), and socks.

Putting a bit of effort into my beauty routine

I'm not sitting at home with a full face of make-up on (unless I'm filming) but I've not thrown my beauty routine out of the window either. I'm still showering daily, washing my hair every two days, facemask once a week, plucking my eyebrows, and moisturising my body. I also apply a tiny bit of winged eyeliner every day.

Creating an at-home spa

I put in an order on Lush a few days ago and I can't wait for it to arrive. I've ordered some body oils and shower bombs to help create a calming environment in my bathroom. If you're out shopping for food, Holland & Barratt usually have some vegan spa-esque products you can pick up.

Aromatherapy

I know people laugh at me for ironing my bedsheets, but hear me out. Two weeks okay I filled my iron with water mixed with lavender Zoflora, and it was the first night in over a week where I slept smoothly. I also found a lavender sleep balm in my cupboards that you rub into your temples before bedtime. My mum has also had some luck with a lavender pillow spray she found in her cupboard.

Tidying up my space

I don't know about you, but staying inside has made me notice every mark on the wall and narrow in on the ornaments I don't really like. So I've done some work to improve my space. I've painted the skirting boards so they're now sparkling white and I had a mini clear out* of both my bedroom and the spare room. I've also been eyeing up some candles online, but I've not decided on which ones to buy yet.

*the only things that have been chucked are things that were broken, I've filled a bag with stuff to take to a charity shop once this is over.

Snacks!

It didn't take long for me to start getting hungry. Estimating how much food to buy when I'm relying 100% on homecooked meals wasn't easy. To be honest, I'm still not great at this. But one thing that has helped has been buying more snack food! Next time you're shopping treat yourself to some snacks to munch on during the day. Oreos, Doritos Chilli Heatwave, and Bourbon Biscuits are all vegan!

I've stayed sober, sort of

When lockdown started I began drinking wine on the daily, which is not my usual behaviour. I stopped after a week and have been spending the last two weeks stone-cold sober. Everyone's relationship to alcohol is different, and if someone wants a wee bevvy to get them through, that is fine by me. Personally, I've preferred to stick to my usual routine of barely touching the stuff, despite initially falling off the wagon.

Standing on my balcony

I have a balcony, which is on the small side. It's not big enough for lounging on but I do make sure I take some time to stand outside for about ten minutes every day. If you are lucky enough to own a garden, remember to get outside for a few minutes every day.

Accepting my weight gain

There's been a lot of fatphobia online recently, with excessive jokes about gaining weight in lockdown. I've gained weight since lockdown started and I'm planning to do fuck all about it.

I know the feelings that can be triggered by gaining weight might be difficult for some. If you want to do fitness classes in your living room to prevent it, then you do you. But know that there is nothing wrong with gaining weight, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

ASMR

I am a big fan of ASMR and have been watching more than usual during the lockdown. I wrote a blog post a few years ago about my favourite ASMRtists.

Not spending too much time outside

Wooahhhh there! Are you suggesting we don't go for our daily walks? Sort of. Even before I was forced into 14 days of isolation, I was still only really leaving the house to buy some food every few days. My mum (who is a psychiatric nurse) suggested that not witnessing the outside world first hand was probably why I was so calm. Ignorance is sometimes bliss.

Not watching the news

I don't watch the daily updates. I just trust that Twitter will tell me if there's something I definitely need to know.

Hobbies & entertainment

I'm pretty introverted so I already had several inside hobbies prior to lockdown, and I've been taking my extra time to indulge in them. Here they are.

Reading

Everyone knows that I love a book, and I've been using my downtime to get through my reading pile. Unfortunately, finances have permitted that I can't afford more books than usual (boo!).

Films & TV

I already had Netflix and NowTV subscriptions before lockdown, but I've now added a cheeky Disney+ subscription into the mix too! Oft!

Podcasts

Despite starting my own podcast in February, I don't actually listen to that many podcasts. They just don't hold my attention unless they are really good. Two podcasts that I have been listening to during lockdown are Diminishing Returns (a film podcast) and Angry Scotland (politics).

Baking

I used to love baking (I even founded my old university's Cupcake & Baking society back in the day!) and I've spent my Saturday's exploring my old hobby. So far I've made a Red Velvet Cake (which turned out very badly), Focaccia (which turned out okay) and some Tiramisu (which turned out amazingly well!). I'm working my way through Sweet Vegan  and Taste.Baking (I can't find the second one online, aside from eBay)

Growing my own food

Every year I try (usually unsuccessfully) and grow food on my balcony. When lockdown started I got to work on this year's attempt: with rocket, raspberries, lettuce, cress and tomatoes. Top tip: rocket grows really well and is a great place to start!

Mini-home improvements

I've touched on it slightly already, but I've been making some changes to my flat. Mainly repainting my bedroom, spare room, and hallway. These rooms were in need of a freshen up and it has been so satisfying painting over the dark marks.

Duolingo

I first downloaded Duolingo in 2012 (!!) and spent most of my unemployed life between graduating university and moving to Glasgow on that app. Since then, I'd dip into it occasionally but in the large scheme of things, maintaining my high school French wasn't big on my agenda. Since lockdown started I've been really getting into it. I had also previously downloaded Italian, Swahili, German, Greek and Valyrian - but lol fuck learning five languages from scratch during the lockdown.

Creative projects & career-related stuff

I want to make something clear: if you aren't up for being productive right now, that's okay. This is a pandemic, not a productivity contest. If you want to wrap yourself in a burrito blanket and stay there for the next three weeks, you do you.

Personally though, throwing myself into my projects has been keeping my brain occupied and helping alleviate any job security worries (I work in an industry that has been badly impacted and I want to make sure that I'm all set if I need to job hunt). If like me you're a social media-y creative type, then here's a little insight into what I've been working on.

I finished my online writing course

Back in December, I signed up for Melissa A Fabello's Breaking into Freelance Writing course. It's very comprehensive and it takes a bit of time to finish. I highly recommended the course if you want to learn more about building an online writing career.

Developing my podcast

Back in February, I launched my very first podcast, The B Agenda. Admittedly I flung myself into the project with limited research, but this week I took some time to sketch out a longterm plan. I've also planned out my next episode, me and my guest just need to decide when we're recording. P.S. The B Agenda is now on Tumblr.

Planning a few website re-designs

I (because I love a project) have two websites that I would like to re-design and two others that I would like to create from scratch! One of them is mo'adore itself, as I've been unhappy with it for a while and want it to be *more* than just a blog, with more space to advertise my other projects. At this moment in time, I've only begun planning and researching each project, but hopefully, it'll be completed soon!

Gave my Instagram a makeover

Over on my Instagram, I've been doing a bit of work. I've made story templates for people to fill in, bought some new presets to edit my photos with, made new story covers and researched new hashtags. I've also been making my way through the Later.com blog to see if there are any tips I've missed!

Life Admin

How boring! But to be fair, most millennials have a ton of life admin. I've been using the lockdown to check things off my list. And by things, I mean upgrading my phone and clearing out my e-mails.

Most importantly though, look after yourself


Everything I've listed above works for me. It might not work for you. We all have different needs, emotionally, spiritually, sexually and socially. How you get through this pandemic will be personal and never let anyone tell you that you're handling it wrong. You do you boo, and I'll see you on the other side.
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What being grey-romantic looks like in practice (for me)


Buy this pin here (technically it's the aromantic pin)

"Why have you been single so long?"

"They're great, are you sure you don't like them?"

"How can you have casual sex and never fall for someone?"

These are three, potentially well-meaning, questions that I've received throughout my life from my friends, family, and a professional psychologist I had to be vetted by before going on a dating show (it will be aired in March).

The short answer to all of these questions is that I don't experience romantic attraction very often.

Aka grey-romanticism, to give it its exact word.

I've been like this my whole life. I've never been too invested in the idea of a romantic partner, though I will (very) occasionally meet someone who makes me feel otherwise. I've also never been particularly bothered by it, though other people seem to be. People who don't even know me all that well have shown a very bizarre level of interest in why I'm long-term partnerless and very rarely go on dates.

I had a bit of ride accepting that I was bisexual. This has been very well documented. My sexual orientation used to keep me up at night and was something that I tried desperately to pretend wasn't true, until it came spilling out in my mid-20s.

I wasn't actively aware that the way I experience romantic attraction was considered weird until I was in my mid-20s. That's when the comments began to come in about clocks ticking and questions about why it had been so fucking long since I'd had a boyfriend (I wasn't out as bisexual yet).

This time last year was when I began pondering my romantic attraction and orientation. I even wrote a whole blog post about it. I became drawn to the term aromantic but I knew it didn't quite fit me as I have experienced romantic love a few times. Then I found grey-romantic: a term for people who are on the aromantic spectrum but can still experience romantic love, albeit rarely.

And the identity fits, a lot.

I know grey-romanticism isn't something we talk about widely enough as a society. The comments I receive from random people demanding to know why I've been single so long showcase that society isn't quite on board with people who just don't fall in love all that easily (or ever). If you're new to the idea of grey-romanticism or aromanticism, I've pulled together some personal anecdotes and examples below of how it actually works for me in practice.

I've never understood society's obsession with romantic relationships

Like, ever.

Even as a little girl I didn't daydream about weddings and babies. Getting married has never been a goal of mine. When family members teased me about male friendships, it sometimes made me spark up in rage. Partially because I knew inside of me that I didn't exclusively like men, and I also just didn't understand the obsession with romantic relationships. Why couldn't I just be friends with a guy?

I can count all of my romantic crushes on one hand

It's five. Firstly, there was my high school crush, who was the only person I liked while in school. Then in my second year of university, I met my second boyfriend. Not long after that ended, I dated someone else that I had strong feelings for (and we're still friends). After that, I was sans-crush for about three years. Finally, once that crush had passed, I would wait another four years to experience my most recent crush (we're also still friends).

Reminder: I'm 30 this year and five crushes in three decades isn't exactly a high number.

I only crave a formal relationship when I actively fancy someone

I very rarely go on dates (I only went on two last year: one I met on Tinder and one person I met in real life). Largely this is because I don't crave a relationship unless I'm having one of my rare crushes. When I don't have a crush on someone, I just get on with it and don't really bother actively looking for someone. I'll still flip through Tinder just to see what's out there (and maybe arrange a hook-up because your girl definitely has sexual needs). But even the thought of going on a date with someone who I don't already have an active crush on drains me.

When I do get a crush, however, it's intense 

I've been told by multiple people that when I do get a crush on someone it can be a bit, uh, over the top. This might be potentially due to my obsessive, over-thinking personality but it's also just really easy to get carried away when it's your first crush in four years!

The 'plenty more fish in the sea comments' don't make me feel any better

When my most recent crush didn't work out, I was understandably upset about them not feeling the same way. Partially I was also upset because this had been my first crush in four years and I knew it might be a long time before the next one would come along.

I have a very particular type 

When it comes to my physical and sexual attractions, I have a type - but it is flexible. When it comes to my romantic attraction, my type is not really all that flexible. It's not a choice either or just me being fussy; I literally cannot develop feelings for people who don't display certain characteristics.

Every single person I've ever developed a romantic crush on ticked all of the following:
  • outgoing and extroverted
  • have a lot of hobbies or a big passion project
  • the potential to be a creative partner (similar to a power couple)
  • I could imagine them giving me a life that I couldn't build for myself
  • sexual, physical, aesthetic and sexual attraction were also present
Know somebody who could fit the bill?

I find it really difficult to understand why people fall for unsuitable people

I've had a few friends over the years get their knickers in a bit of a twist over people who they really love but who they know are also wildly unsuitable.

I really can't relate to this. While I can be sympathetic on an intellectual level I really can't grasp the situation emotionally. 

Even though none of my five crushes worked out, only the first two (when I was a lot younger and not the person I am now) were daft choices. The other three crushes were not bizarre choices; it just didn't quite work out due to bad timing or them not feeling the same way (the fact that I'm friends with 2 out of 3 of them shows that we were not ridiculously mismatched, we just weren't meant to be romantically).

Casual sex is very easy

I know some people who struggle with casual sex because they fall in love easily. I also know people who won't cuddle someone after sex unless they are also romantic with that person.

Personally, someone I'm having casual sex with could cuddle me closely while playing with my hair and I'd simply just enjoy it as a hug. It took me a while to realise that a lot of people only hug after sex if they are into the person romantically. I also used to be confused by casual sex partners who would leave straight after we were done claiming "I want to keep this light". So do I mate, but that doesn't mean I don't want a hug.

Asexuality and Aromanticism are not the same things

If my casual sex story above didn't give anything away, let me make it clear: I'm not asexual.

Some aromantics are asexual as well, but the two don't always co-exist. It definitely doesn't for me. I'm sexually attracted to people very easily.

I still have sensual needs

Prior to realising that the way I experience romantic love wasn't the way most people did, I accidentally hurt a lot of people. Usually, it was because I didn't realise that for a lot of people sensual behaviour is synonymous with romantic behaviour. For example, a friend playing with my hair was taken as no more than hair playing by me, but they were actually trying to move in romantically.

Despite the fact that I don't fall for people very easily, I still enjoy behaviour associated with romantic relationships. These days I am a lot more careful in engaging in non-romantic sensual behaviours and make my intentions very clear.

I'm lucky that I have several friends who get that my sensual needs aren't in-line with romantic feelings. I have a demi-romantic friend (meaning they can develop romantic feelings, but only if they know the person) who offers me a lot of hugs and we get each other because of this. 

I have dated people out of societal pressure

A comment that aromatic people receive a lot is that we're not actually oppressed and nobody really cares. 

I can assure you that there are a lot of people out there who care far too much about my lack of interest in romantic relationships. Have a look in the mentions of any aromantic Twitter account and you'll find comments from aphobes calling us broken and offering conversion therapy. 

On a personal note though, when I was younger I've dated people out of societal pressure (which I'm sure some alloromantic people have done too!). Sometimes it's been because someone was laying on direct pressure to become romantically involved with a particular person (even though you can't ever force romance?). Other times it was my own desperation to experience a feeling that I know I'm capable of, but just don't get very easily.

That's definitely not fun, and shows that society just can't leave people on the aromantic spectrum alone.

I really value non-romantic relationships

I know alloromantics might still value their familial and platonic relationships in a way that is on par with their romantic relationships. I really value them. Not just because I think it's a bit weird to expect one person to fulfil all your emotional and social needs. I might realistically never have a romantic partner, so I'm going to make sure my platonic relationships are in tip-top shape.

Some of my favourite fictional characters can be read as aromantic

Samantha Jones and Elsa are my favourites. 

I don't have to necessarily get to know someone to have a crush on them

An assumption people make a lot is that I have to get to know someone really well before I can develop a crush. I actually don't, and this behaviour is technically known as demi-romanticism (where a deep bond has to be established first before romantic feelings can emerge). 

Out of my five crushes, two took a while to form while the other three were pretty quick. As long as I have gotten to know someone well enough to know that they are my romantic type, then a romantic crush can form.

I began giving people 'more of a chance' two years ago

Nothing changed. Still rarely had crushes. 

If you do like me romantically, move in slowly and naturally

I get nervous talking about being grey-romantic publicly, in case it puts potential suitors off. If you are reading my blog because you have a crush on me, my advice for grafting me is to move in slowly. As mentioned above I don't enjoy going on dates with someone I don't already fancy, so if you open up with "can I take you out for a drink" I'll probably assume you're being platonic (it's where my aromantic brain automatically goes). If I'm going to fall for someone it will be because they are incredible, so you're better off showcasing your amazing personality without telling me about your crush.

My ideal life would still involve a romantic partnership

Being single doesn't bother me all that much. Saying that though, my ideal life would still include a romantic partner. I've been in love and it's an incredible feeling. Especially when that person feels the same way. I do miss it sometimes, and my ideal life would include someone who makes me feel that way.

I literally can't help it

I've been called fussy, a lot. But fussy, to me, would be someone who does develop crushes easily but keeps their standards high (and there's nothing wrong with that). I literally cannot develop romantic feelings for people on a regular basis. I just lack that feeling. There isn't any choice or fussiness about it.

If it's not a 'big deal' or I'm not 'that different' why do people care so much? 

In the Twitter mentions of aromantics, you'll find people commenting that it's not noteworthy behaviour and we should all quit using these labels. If it's not noteworthy behaviour then why does society always default to the idea of everyone needing romantic love, or experiencing it?

Being grey-romantic doesn't bother me. I've been like this my whole life and I only began to realise I was different somewhere in my 20s. The only thing that ever gets under my skin is when other people demand I go on a date with their friend or comment on how long I've been single for.

Honestly, just let people live.

I'm really glad that we're talking about aromanticism more. 

I didn't even know aromanticism was a thing until a year ago, and I'm glad I now have a label that allows me to orientate dating. As well as helping me understand myself and the way I interact with the world.

Give your aromantic friends some platonic love!

Oh, and don't try and pressurise us into going on dates. We don't really like that.
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Veganuary Weekend at Achray House Hotel, Perthshire


Veganism has grown so much in the past few years and the Veganuary campaign (where people pledge to go vegan for one month) has been one of the major drivers behind the movement. For better or worse, some of the world's biggest food retailers announce new vegan products every January (this year we've had the vegan KFC burger, the steak bake from Greggs, and the meatball sub from Subway) making veganism more accessible than ever before.

But it's not just the big chains in the cities that cater to veganism. For many years veganism has been easier if you live in a city, especially a major one. That, however, is changing as well.

Achray House Hotel on the banks of Loch Earn is one rurally-based establishment looking to make veganism more accessible for people who prefer the mountains and country roads to bustling city streets. The owners, Laura and Panu, kindly invited me to visit free of charge for their Veganuary weekend - and I fell in love with the food, the hotel itself, and the surrounding areas.

If you're not familiar with Perthshire, it's in Central Scotland and covers a massive amount of ground (2528 sq. miles to be exact). It's part of the Highlands geographical area and is home to beautiful mountains, glens, and lochs - it is very much the Scotland you see on postcards.

Achray House Hotel is located in the southern parts of Perthshire and is not far from the tourist-favourite of Stirling. As mentioned already it overlooks Loch Earn, but it also looks out onto Ben Vorlich! The wider village is called St Fillans, which is home to a handful of houses and businesses (but most people go to the nearby Comrie for day-to-day stuff). If you're looking for a calming escape amongst nature then you won't get much better than this. 

The owners operate a pick-up service if you don't own a car. They need three days notice and can meet you anywhere within 7 miles (Panu picked me up at Stirling Railway Station). If you have a car, the hotel is just over an hour from Glasgow or Edinburgh. 

The Hotel


The hotel itself is a charming white building with a restaurant, bar, front lounge and an outdoor patio. One of my favourite moments was eating my breakfast while watching the sunrise behind Ben Vorlich and over Loch Earn! 

I was staying in the Economy Room which has a double bed, en-suite, Sky TV, an ironing board, iron, a small tea and coffee station, and an Alexa! What makes it an Economy Room is that I didn't get a view of Loch Earn (which I was perfectly okay with as I could just wander through to the bar). The room would normally cost £86 per night Sunday to Thursday and then £96 per night for Friday to Saturday (for single occupancy). 

One of my favourite features of the hotel were the two dog-friendly rooms. These two rooms are downstairs and have an extra door that allows you to take your dog straight outside for a walk without having to walk through the hotel!

The owners also have their own dog, whose company I very much enjoyed on the hill walk. 

Food

I'm a massive foodie so for me the main draw of any trip will be the chance to try some new food. One thing that made this Veganuary Weekend special was that their new chef (who will officially join them in mid-February) made his way there on Saturday night to host a special five-course vegan tasting menu. The vegan menu consisted of: 
  • Konbu and miso broth, pickled mushrooms, paysanne vegetables
  • Sweet potato falafel, apricot puree
  • Salt baked butternut squash, toasted pine nut and spinach strudel, kale pesto and crispy kale
  • Raspberry Eaton Mess
  • Pineapple and coconut arancini
The salt-baked butternut squash was one of the best vegan dishes I've ever eaten (and the two girls I met while on this trip agreed). The restaurant definitely leans towards fine-dining and is geared towards people who want high-quality cuisine. The 3-course tasting menu was £29 and the 5-course tasting menu was £35. 

The chef came out to speak to us all after dinner and told us that he'll be taking on the restaurant side of the business (allowing the owners to concentrate on the hotel side). There were two dining rooms and they have plans to turn one of them into a formal restaurant and the other into casual dining. The restaurant is also open to people not staying at the hotel, so if you live nearby or would prefer to stay in one of Perthshire's other hotels, then you can still pop by to sample some of the delicious food. 

On Friday night I chose something off of their regular menu. I went for carrot pancakes, tagine, and chocolate mousse. Two courses were £29 and three courses were £35. They also have a breakfast bar and a hot food menu. I'm a breakfast gal so I helped myself to a bowl of cereal and freshly squeezed orange juice - and then treated myself to a cooked vegan breakfast because I'm worth it! 


Drinks

My favourite wine of the night
My drinks (along with the yoga class, more on that in a second) was the only part of the weekend I paid for, so I decided to treat myself a bit. I had orange juice on Friday night with my dinner (living life on the edge) and the waitress came back with freshly squeezed orange juice!

The owners of Achray House Hotel kindly marked out their vegan-friendly wines. The waitress also allowed me to sample the wines before I purchased. I was also allowed to have a glass from a wine that was officially sold by the bottle because it was already opened. One of the owners, Panu, was very knowledgable on wine, which is very helpful for people like me who are a bit wine-snobby. 

If wine is not your tipple of choice, their bar is well stocked with spirits (many of them made in Scotland). I'm a rum girl at heart, so I tried the rum from Aberdeen-based Brewery, Fierce Spirits. Officially it is coffee and vanilla-infused, but I personally think it had a caramel taste (still lovely though!). 

I can't remember the price of each drink, but my drinks bill was £19 when I left (one rum, one orange juice, and two glasses of wine).  

Activities


As part of their Veganuary weekend, there was the option to take part in a yoga class and an escorted hill walk. The yoga class was hosted by Pamela from Buddha Bodies, a local yoga class that takes place just next door. Pamela specialises in Hatha Yoga, which was absolutely fine for me despite having not touched yoga for seven years (I used to be a dancer so did yoga as part of my training). I'm still a swimmer and that came in handy for the balance poses!  

Now, hillwalking. I know this is very un-Scottish of me but I don't hill walk...ever. I haven't climbed a hill since I was probably 19. I wasn't originally going to sign-up until I happened to be in the foyer at the same time as two girls who were going on it, who talked me into it. 

It was okay in the end, as we did stick to a gentle incline with a well-marked out path. The views of Loch Earn made it worth it. Then we went on an off-path adventure where my trainers became covered in mud (the mud washed off though, but take proper hillwalking shoes). For any keen hillwalkers, there are about 50 Munros (mountains over 1000m) within an hour’s drive of St Fillans.  

Who would you say Loch Earn House Hotel is for? 

Anyone looking for a vegan-friendly, high-end hotel amongst calming Scottish scenery. Especially if they require somewhere dog-friendly. 

You can visit the Achray House Hotel website here. I've also added a Story Highlight to my Instagram so that you can re-visit my stay at the hotel. 

P.S. Full disclosure: the owners paid for my food, transport from Stirling and accommodation in return for promotion. I paid for my drinks and yoga class. This is not a paid promotion. 


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morag | mo adore
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New Year, New Decade, New Intentions (not goals!)



Yesterday, you might have caught my blog post where I rambled on about being more mindful on why we create goals, not feeling pressure to set goals because they sound ~impressive~, and not give into heteronormativity and capitalism when we are trying to work out where we want to go with our lives.

Now, despite that ramble, I am still routine-orientated so like to know what's coming up. Always have been and I don't think my personality will ever be void of that. For the past month now I have been trying to take stock of where I am and where I want to be - and exactly how I'm going to get there. I don't know the answer to that question, but at the start of every year, I take a good stab at them. So here it goes: What I'm hoping to achieve in 2020.

Domestic and Home Life


In 2019, one of my priorities was to become more domesticated. I successfully did that. I now have favourite cleaning products that I swear by, iron my bedsheets, and even kept a plant alive! I would say that's a far cry from who I was just a year ago. I have identified areas for improvement though, and key things I want to start working on in my domesticated life in 2020 and beyond include:

  • buy more plants (and keep them alive)
  • re-start my balcony garden
  • shampoo my white rug on a more regular basis
  • buy a steam mop and carpet cleaner machine
  • create more of a scent in the house (Candles, reed diffusers etc)
As far as cooking went, I made leaps and bounds in 2019. I don't have any particular goals here, I just want to keep trying new recipes and finding new ones to put on my list for special occasions. 

Oh, and keep saving to buy my own place (but only buy it when I'm ready). 

Style and Beauty

Hahaha hahaha. This is the one area of my life I made very little progress with during 2019. I'm generally quite happy with how I present myself to the world, but there were things I wanted to change last year and never got round to. Here's the list again: 

  • industrial piercing
  • another tattoo (I have three ideas in my head)
  • more permanent hair removal (I've had some laser on my bikini line)
  • teeth whitening and potentially cosmetic braces
I received an Iolla gift voucher for Christmas so expect a second pair of glasses at some point this year to mix and match with! 

Social Justice & Activism

In 2019 I made an intention to become more involved in the Scottish Green Party (which I have been a member of since 2014!). I did just that and was elected onto the Glasgow Committee in autumn as an Ordinary Member. Since then I've focused on communications and look after the branch's Facebook page. One of my main intentions for 2020 is to work really hard at this role and do my best work possible, treating it as though it was a job.

The only other area of activism I want to work on is focusing on a zero-waste lifestyle. I have purchased several reusable household items to replace items that were once single-use (cloth sanitary towels, a metal straw that I keep on me, a tote bag that lives in my main handbag, and reusable cloth make-up pads). I think I have everything covered, but I'm planning to ensure that I've left no gaps. 


Geek and Pop Culture


2019 was a good year for books, movies, comics, and tv shows. I have no particular goals for this area of my life other than to just keep going. 

Online life and blogging


This is the one area of my life that I'm always developing - and 2020 looks to be no different.  I've set the bar quite high, so it's probably a good thing I spent a lot of 2019 reevaluating where my energy goes as I'm going to be quite busy. 

Firstly, I made a decision on Christmas Eve that I definitely want to start creating paid content. I've been supporting some of my favourite creators on Patreon for two years (and occasionally on Ko-Fi) because creatives deserve to be paid, and it's better if they're paid by fans rather than brands (who might try and edit their message). But I didn't believe I was ~popular~ enough to justify creating my own Pratreon, even if I do have some loyal people who consistently say they love my content. On Christmas Eve I said fuck that self-depreciated way of thinking, and on Boxing Day I set up my very own Patreon (where you can support me via subscription from only $2 a month - and gain access to more content) and Ko-Fi (where you can throw me the odd bit of money whenever you want). Maybe this will flop, or maybe I'll end up dirty rich. But I won't know unless I try (please pay me).

Any money I earn from Patreon and Ko-Fi, however, won't immediately go into my own pocket. I'll be using some of it to help pay for some of the other projects I'm trying to get off the ground (because, believe it or not, creative projects require funding).

First off, I am bringing the @CfbloggersChat back from the dead - but not as a Twitter chat. For those of you who weren't around in 2014, I and a few other bloggers started a Twitter chat for cruelty-free bloggers. Eventually, I was the last one standing and it was too much by myself. I also couldn't be magically free every Thursday, so the chat fell. I never missed having to be on my phone every single Thursday, but I did miss the community. Halfway through 2019, I realised that I could bring it back as something else (i.e. something that didn't require me to be free every Thursday). It's now a community and collective with an active Twitter account, Facebook Page, and Facebook Group (please follow and join us). I'm hoping to get a website, podcast, and Instagram up and running in the next few months.

My other big, new project is the thing I've been speaking about on Twitter since summer: my podcast about all things bisexual. I was gifted a podcast microphone by my parents for Christmas, so I'm guessing there are no excuses now? It's called The B Agenda (it was almost Bisexuals on Buses, which I'm still toying with) and each episode I'll be inviting a fellow bisexual to chat about a different subject. I already have my logo and microphone, but I still have to work on a few things over the next wee while before I get it 100% up and running.

I think it's also time I paid a photographer to take some nice lifestyle shots of me posing on a street or in a studio.

Social Life and Relationships

I feel like not much has changed in this area of my life since the start of 2019. Romantically, I'm still single and I don't have my eye on anyone. I did pay for Tinder and Bumble pro over the course of last year - because it doesn't actually cost that much - which, if anything, has only made my use of the apps more efficient. And I get to see who has liked me in advance, which is hilarious when you see people you know!

[content warning for sexual assault]

Platonically, I've had a few shifts but nothing too note-worthy. Back in January, an ex-friend was released from prison a year early and I saw how many people still believed his story (it was sexual assault, two women came forward, it was a conviction, and he was always a bit creepy....not much wiggle room for innocence) which was a bit gutting as I realised some people really had to be kicked out of my life for good. That wasn't fun. But aside from that my friendships have remained solid.

[end content warning for sexual assault]

In 2019, I tried to be more mindful of my socialising and not attending events that weren't essential to maintaining my important relationships. The biggest example was skipping my employer's company-wide Christmas party in December. I didn't skip it because I hate the people I work with; I simply didn't fancy it. I instead went to the Scottish Green Party Winter Social, which was much more me (and even if that hadn't been on, I would have skipped the big work party anyway).

In 2020, I want to further explore Relationship Anarchy. Primarily I want to be there for my (close) friends in a way that we usually associate with familial or romantic relationships. Whether it's providing financial support (either in a big way like helping them if they lose their job or paying for a friend's coffee if they earn less) or if they are going through a period of ill health (taking them to appointments, visiting regularly in hospital). When you write this out it does seem so bizarre that we don't already do this? Why don't we pull our weight for our friends as much as we do for romantic partners and family members? Obviously, I will be having chats with my close friends to see if they're happy with this (some romantic couples keep finances separate, my friends might want to remain financially independent from me).

Career & Work


I'll be re-applying for university but for a slightly different course - and I've worked on ways to improve my application. Fingers crossed.

In other exciting (and expensive) news, one of my favourite content creators/wellness writers, Melissa A Fabello, launched a course on Breaking Into Freelance Writing and I've signed up! I've been a fan of Melissa's work for years and she gives me extreme career envy. Clearly, I'm going to want to learn from her. I can't wait to get stuck in during the first half of the year.

--

I think that's enough to keep me busy!

P.S. I'm turning 30 in November. Eek!




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