Monday, 27 October 2014

So, I guess I am kind of back from a blogging sabbatical... It has been a busy year for me, I've just completed my masters and I have been working a lot to try and make ends meet. It is hard to find the energy sometimes to maintain a blog on top of everything else. However, I have missed it and I hope you will welcome me back!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Fashionably FIT Survey

When Sophie at SportsShoes offered a pair of trainers for me to try out as part of  the 'Fashionably FIT' survey, I jumped at the chance. I was in an accident over the summer where I badly broke my leg, so it came at a time where I was learning to walk again and now where I am learning to run. 

Now, all this came about because Jan Moir (of Daily Mail fame) wrote an article slagging Katherine Jenkins for wearing make up during the London Marathon. Katherine Jenkins responded to this saying that she wasn't wearing make up, but for me this is not the point. What right does Jan Moir have to put her down if she was? This should be a personal choice and we should not be judged on this. 

Make up and fashion within sport is no bad thing; it can be used as a form of expression as with the Swedish athletes: Emma Green Tregaro and Mao Hjelmer who wore rainbow nail polish in protest of Russia's laws banning "gay propaganda".

 On to the shoes... they sent me a lovely pair of New Balance WR10V2 running shoes, which are probably the most beautiful pair of trainers I have ever seen. I don't know much about shoe science but these are barefoot/minimalist running shoes, they are ridiculously comfortable and really helped me to correct my walking. They are also, of course, non-leather and animal-free. The first few days I did not want to take them off and they have become a fixture, not just for sport but for everyday wear. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Yu! Healthy Snacks

As some of you who follow me may know, I went back to university very recently to do a masters degree and I have been a very busy lady- it's been quite a big step up from undergraduate level!
When the kind people at Yu! offered me some samples of their healthy fruit snack range to try, I was always on the go. These could not have arrived at a better time!

Running from one class to another, as well as trying to fit in as much library time as possible to crack on with my heavy workload- my Yu! snacks were always easy to throw into my bag and so I could enjoy a healthy energy boost when I needed one.
Yu! Healthy Snacks are made from real fruit and are Vegetarian Society approved. They have four different products in their range: Granola, Fruit Chews, Fruit Bars and Fruit in a Yoghurt Coating. All of which are delicious but my favourites were the fruit pieces in yoghurt as they really felt like a treat and helped satisfy the mid-afternoon sugar craving.

Top new kid at university tip! Carrying snacks with me all the time seemed to be conducive with making friends over the first week, who also really enjoyed them.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Cake Hole, Derby

A friend of mine gave me the heads up on Facebook that a new vegan cafe had opened in  Derby. So as I am home in Derby for the summer, I thought I should go to try it out.
So after one of my weekly swimming sessions with my sister, we decided we'd pay a visit to The Cake Hole which is based on the balcony level of The Market Hall in Derby.

As we entered The Cake Hole we were welcomed by a friendly face and browsed the menu. My sister was a bit cautious, not being vegan and favouring ham sandwiches for her lunch, opted for a brownie. She let me try a bit; it was gooey and satisfying.

We shared a pot of tea off the extensive tea menu, deciding to go for the a regular breakfast tea, which came with an option of soy or rice milk. We both loved the way it was presented, I would take a chintzy tea service any day over a matchy modern characterless one.

I was feeling peckish. There was a falafel wrap on offer and a 'make your own meze platter'. I opted for the latter and chose olives, falafel, tortilla and vegan ham. It worked together very well. The falafel were full of flavour and the olives were so juicy and fresh.

I really liked the decor of The Cake Hole, it has a unique and warm charm to it. There are also books dotted around and I enjoyed looking through the Post Secrets one. Not only is the food good and the atmosphere pleasant, but it is also very reasonable priced. I will definitely be visiting again before the end of the summer and whenever I return to see my family.

The only thing that is disappointing; and this is not to do with The Cake Hole, is The Market Hall. I wish more people would open shops and cafes here as it could be so amazing! It is a very beautiful Victorian Market Hall which could be a real gem of Derby.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Re-HASH-ions #1

I would really love to think that I was able to Refashion things, but my creative skills and my aptitude with the sewing machine are just not up to scratch for that. Instead I have been working on a number of 'Re-hash-ions'- like a Refashion, but more poorly put together.

I have had a lot of time on my hands since I have been back in the UK (a broken leg does that for you!) so I have been working on a number of little projects when I have been bored. One of these projects has been to create more wearable day-time tops, which I do not have many of. However, I do have a large number of T-shirts with slogans and logos that I have inherited, but they are either an unflattering shape or men's which are too big for me so they end up becoming bed-time T-shirts.

My first go at this was to turn a extra large men's Dallas Mavericks T-shirt in to a more feminine and flattering top.

Now a bit of an oversight on my part... no before picture. However, I think we can all imagine what a men's extra large standard T-shirt looks like, right?

What I did...

First I started off by cutting a new neckline and sewing a dodgy new hem.

I then turned the T-shirt inside out, taking it in on both sides to make a closer fit shape, although I didn't want it too fitted. Luckily bad sewing did not matter at this point!

I finished it off my cutting down the original sleeves and turning them up to create a rolled sleeved look, securing it under the armpit where it can't be seen.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

"It's all about hydration" - Bargain Cruelty Free Moisturisers!

I poke at my skin in the mirror, complaining that I have too many blackheads and that I may be getting lines across my forehead. "Zoe, it's all about hydration," my sister tells me after I ask her advice on skin care; her skin is looking exceptional right now. "Jo's grandma used Nivea creme everyday and she didn't get wrinkles til she was in her 70's!"

I have previously written about my skincare routine, which went completely out of the window when I went backpacking. I still really love the Burt Bee's scrub and Liz Earle cleanser, but they're a bit out of my poor person price range now that my lifestyle is more focused on saving for travel and wanting to go back to university to do my Masters degree.

My sister tells me that Jo, who also has beautiful skin, just uses regular soap to wash her face but makes sure she applies moisturiser twice a day. Of course, drinking plenty of water is essential too, which she assures me cures everything including, but not limited to: headaches, spotty skin and period pain.

Her stand on buying expensive cosmetics? "They all do the same thing. These fancy products have not been proved to make you look younger at all." Well, she has good skin and I'm fed up of paying expensive prices when maybe I only need what she uses: a cheaper scrub, cleansing wash and a twice daily slathering of budget moisturiser (and that means less than £5 for 100ml).

Marks & Spencer's Formula Light Moisturiser
At £4 for 100ml this bargain moisturiser contains chamomile extract. It is fragrance free and hypoallergenic, great for those with sensitive skin.

Superdrug Vitamin E SPF15 Moisturising Day Cream
Superdrug have some great reasonably priced facial moisturisers, however this is their cheapest at only £2.99 for 100ml. On the website it has many positive reviews from satisfied customers, proving cheaper products can be the better products. I think this is the moisturiser I will be going for as I am fond of protecting my skin from the sun and Vitamin E is also meant to be good for scarring.
Honesty Geranium & Ylang Ylang Moisturising Lotion
Honesty, based in my home county of Derbyshire, have produced a huge range of animal friendly cosmetics for many years. At £6.15 for 200ml. This lotion is suitable for facial and body use. It also comes in a larger size for more frequent use.
All moisturisers are from companies approved on the Go Cruelty Free website.

Monday, 29 July 2013


I got my Couchsurfing verification postcard today and it made me think- I must do a post about Couchsurfing as it is one of the best things I have gotten in to, despite my initial fear, and has lead to me meeting some great people as well as enhancing my travel experience.

My first taste of Couchsurfing was through a friend who was hosting a few people and I went to an outdoor film festival with them. We got to know each other, swapped travel stories and I spoke to them about my future travel plans. My favourite part of the experience was meeting people who were enthused about travel as I was. I think it's experiences like these which inspire you to pursue your interest in travel and with you ultimately catching the travel bug, which then stays with you forever.
I already had a profile but had not really used it before. So I started to build it up, filling in all the sections, putting up a few photos and asking my friends to write references for me to, show I am a trustworthy sort of person. These steps came in handy when I would then go on to couchsurf myself during my time in the US.
I have to say I was nervous about going to stay with strangers at first but from their profiles they had a lot of positive references and seemed to have host many people before. I took the added procaution of telling my sister the address I'd be staying at and set off, vegan cookies in hand, for my first night of Couchsurfing.
 I stayed in a very lovely shared house, sort of like a housing co-operative really, near Cambridge in Boston. They were very hospitable, chatting to me in the evening, offering suggestions of places to go the next day and even letting me share a meal with them. My next experience of Couchsurfing in Philadelphia was equally as good. My host invited me out for her birthday dinner and took me for a beautiful walk to the art gallery.
Couchsurfing has not only been great for the actual surfing bits, but also for meet ups. I went to a couple of Couchsurfing meetings at the pub during my time living in Melbourne. They were great chilled out evenings, where everyone was friendly and wherever you sat down you became part of a conversation. It something I will use again in the future, as I'll be moving to a new city in September and it is fantastic way to meet like minded people.