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Health, Lifestyle

Our Weight Loss Journey: Things They Don’t Tell You About Weight Loss

June 9, 2015


Above; Pre Weight Loss. In order; Top: At The Maze venue after a Dakesis show © SD photography. Middle: An outtake from a Dakesis location photoshoot © Stagedive Photography. Bottom: New Years Eve 2012.

You may have seen references to Gem and I’s current fitness routine in more recent months. I figured it was about time I actually put a post together about our journey so far and what’s still yet to come. I’m hoping to make this a regular thing (unless I fall off the wagon and bury myself in a pit of denial) and hopefully it might be a bit of inspiration for others and will show that if you put your mind to something, you really can achieve great things!

So let’s start from the beginning; about a a year and  a half ago, we both decided that it was time to make a drastic change to our lifestyle. Years of living off junk food and being forced into grabbing some crisps and McDonald’s fries on the go whilst on tour and gigging up and down the country due to our Veggie diets had left us … rather bulbous to say the least. It really hit home to us when going through many stage photos – the one’s we don’t get to vet and pick because they -all- live on the internet, just how much weight we had actually put on. It was horrifying and even more so now when I look back a few years to see just how big I’d gotten. So we began making a change to our diet and when I took the plunge into self employment we re-joined the gym. We were somewhat successful for quite a few months, but we finally decided to take our weight loss to the next level by joining Weight Watchers about 10 months ago.

I never thought I’d end up joining a “diet” or “slimming” plan, but it’s been one of the best decisions of my life. It’s not really a diet, more of a gentle and gradual lifestyle change. I always liked to think I ate pretty well before, but one of the things I struggled with was portion control and I feel like I’ve grasped this by the hands and am making much better decisions about my diet. We’re both also keeping up with the gym and our fitness levels are soaring.


Since I joined Weight Watchers, I’d already lost about a stone before hand, but I’ve racked up another 16lbs+ in weight loss and have reached my 10% goal with weight watchers (yes I have lost 10% of my own body weight!). I’m a long way off, but it’s so great to see how far both of us have come.

With that, there are some surprising changes that happen to your body that no one ever warns you about, so to kick off our first Weight Loss Wednesday, here’s some of the things we’ve found out the hard way;

Last week always catches up with you.

Remember that pizza last week? Remember how you worked extra hard this week to try and regain some control? Are you now carrying an extra pound or two despite your amazingly on track week? Well, we’ve found out that the previous 1-2 weeks really do catch up with you, so don’t feel disheartened if you’ve put your heart and soul into turning down every sweet, doughnut and dorito offered to you because you will be rewarded!

They don’t do “in between sizes”

Be prepared to part with your most favorite items of clothing. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll have an awesome best friend who you can give all your old clothes to. Unfortunately it also means you get to linger in that awkward “betwix thy size” stage. Your size 14 jeans are now no longer safe to wear anywhere unless you want to spend the day clutching onto them for dear life to prevent showing the world your equally as large “granny suck me in pants” yet those size 12 “ooo I’ll fit into these one day” are a little on the tight side and as much as you thrive off cake, you aren’t ready to share your extreme muffin top with the world. I’ve found that my best friends at the moment are long tops and leggings.


I write out a meal plan each week to keep me on track and it also keeps things interesting as I’m always trying out new recipes and ideas.

Your weight loss is a psychological journey

You’ll begin to see patterns and realise how you got to where you were. Instead of getting angry over your quite frankly, most ridiculous previous behaviors and then reaching for that pot of Pringles; use this as a learning curve to spot trigger behaviors for when you crave that comfort food. I’ve noticed that if I’ve had a busy day and am feeling a little run down, the last thing I want to do is stand in front of the cupboards and think of a meal, and that generally results in bad decision making and or the ordering of takeaway. Now I plan my meals a week in advance so I don’t have to think creatively after a day of mind frazzling coding.

Your feet shrink

About three years ago I was a size 6/7 depending on the type of shoe and where I bought them from. Fast forward to 2 and a half stone lighter and my entire shoe collection is rendered useless (much to Gemma’s delight) and I’m now a size 5 and bought a pair of size 4 boots some weeks back.


Your fingers shrink

Because no longer fitting into your vast collection of shoes clearly wasn’t enough. I’ll just explain here, that I’ve had a gold signet ring with my initials carved into it since I was about 8 years old. It started out on my middle finger and since the ripe old age of around 14 when I probably stopped growing (upwards anyway), it lives on my ring finger. It was bought by my Nan who is sadly no longer with us and is the only possession I hold that has a connection to her. So having worn this since I was a wee lass, I was profoundly confused when it started to fall off my ring finger. Not only that, it’s now too big for all of my other fingers along with every other ring I own – including my beautiful and fairly newly acquired asatru esque silver rings that I utterly adore.

This is forever

There is no quick fix. It takes hard work, dedication and a yearning to be in it for the long haul. This isn’t some fad diet, it’s changing the way you think and feel about food for the rest of your life. It’s hard and there are times you’ll want to give up, but if you fall off the wagon, you have to will yourself to get back up and carry on. One step forwards and two steps back, or rather in my case it’s often more of a 2 pounds off and 1 pound on. You are the only person that can provide yourself with the determination and motivation to do it, so make sure you are doing it for you and I promise you will succeed.


Just some of the delicious food I’ve been eating; home made falafel and salad, home made chilli and tortilla chips, vegan sausage, onion, mushroom and pepper skewers, butternut squash medley, chickpea and cauliflower curry with homemade naan, tikka marinated Vegan fillets with cauliflower rice, mixed salad and pea and parsley spaghetti.

You don’t have to miss out on anything

As I said above, this isn’t a quick fix or a fad diet. You shouldn’t deny yourself anything, something you should learn on your magical psychological journey is that you can have your cake slice and eat it, just not so much the whole cake. Providing you are filling yourself with lot’s of healthy and nutritious meals, there’s no reason you can’t treat yourself now and then. It’s all about control and knowing when to choose your “treats”. I’ll be keeping a mental note of all the delicious things I eat over the coming month’s and put these into a post too, but before I sign off, here are some “after” photos to show our progress so far;


Above a few shots from the Dakesis set at the Metal All-Dayer in Northampton on the 7th June 2015 thanks to David Sarah photography and at Rock Zombie Dudley courtesy of Stagedive Photography on 29th May 2015.


Again at the Metal All-Dayer in Northampton Rock Zombie Dudley.


Above; zero chins and less thighs! At Quinphonic Festival at the Barge and Barrel and Rock Zombie with some good friends Cath and Bexie

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first of a fair few weight loss journey post’s that we’re planning and we’d love to know whether you’ve been on your own journey recently in the comments below.

Totally hellbent for the new us


Lifestyle, Vegan, Vegetarian

The Vegan Kind TVK18 April 2015 Box Review

April 14, 2015

I’m a little ashamed to admit that I missed reviewing last month’s box, which was utterly amazing, but time was of the essence and I just didn’t get round to it. With myself well and truly scorned here is this month’s treat filled #TVK18!

Each month 10p from every box is donated to a chosen charity and this month’s proceeds goes to CALF Animal Sanctuary. Please take a look at their website and see the amazing work they do and if you’re feeling generous you can donate to help get their newest arrival “Duke” the Bull on his feet. They also have an online Vegan shop too which you can visit here.

Now I’ve spent a suitable amount of time procrastinating with a few tears in my eyes after reading the CALF website, here’s what’s in the box;




Ombar Coco Mylk Buttons – 25g (RRP £1.49)

I’ve had an Ombar chocolate bar before and I’m pretty sure it was delicious, I also love chocolate buttons. Not only will this be amazing to nibble on, I can also put them to good use and make some Vegan cookies (nom nom nom). If memory serves correct, I’m pretty sure they have similar nutritional values to your bog standard milk chocolate buttons, which is always a bonus as I often find that Vegan alternatives tend to have a few extra calories!



Faith in Nature Coconut Hand Wash – 300ml (RRP £4.19)

I love receiving the lifestyle products with this box. I feel it opens up my mind (and unfortunately often empties my purse) to the Vegan posibilities I never even knew existed – Vegan toothpaste as an example! This hand wash smells beautiful and doesn’t have the artificial coconut smell you sometimes get. I’m looking forward to adding this to my handwash collection as I have somewhat of a germ issue and love washing my hands (blame my career as a nurse!). The RRP of £4.19 is a little much though, but I’ll be looking out for alternatives in the future.

Faith In Nature


Coconom Ginger Coconut Sugar – 250g (RRP £3.45)

Those of you who read my recipes will know that I have a slight obsession with Coconom Coconut Sugar and I did a resounding yes, complete with fist pumping motion when I spied these in the box.  It has a lower GI than usual sugar and is such a great replacement with a hint of caramel. It’s been my staple in baking and cooking since I first discovered it many boxes ago, and these 250g packets for a surprisingly long way.



Soffle’s Chilli & Garlic MILD Pitta Chips – 60g (RRP £1.20 – £1.50)

Another delicious alternative to the potato chip. Unfortunately being so delicious means it’s equally as bad for my waist line as the beloved potato chip. Best eaten half a packet at a time to reduce feelings of guilt.



eat chic 73% Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups with Maldon Seat Salt – 35g (RRP £2)

Oh my, this looks spectacular and what a finale! Since there are absolutely zero nutritional values on the packet and as I already know it’s Vegan, surely this can be enjoyed completely guilt free? A modern – British – twist on the American chocolate peanut butter cup with their signature 73% dark chocolate. And we all know that dark chocolate has it’s health benefits right?



This month’s recipe is from the all familiar The Vegan Cookie Fairy and features som scrumptious looking Banana Ginger Butterscotch Muffins with a crunchy topping. Definitely one I’ll be making very shortly due to our fruit bowl over flowing with beautiful fresh bananas at the moment.

You can take a look at more recipes from The Vegan Cookie Fairy here.

I’m really happy with the introduction of some new brands in this month’s #TVK18 and I can’t wait to stuff my face full of all of the lovely treats. Yet another wonderful box although I was secretly hoping for some Vegan Easter eggs, preferably mint chocolate ones but I think that was definitely wishful thinking!

Did you get this month’s box or are you thinking of subscribing? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below. If you’d like to subscribe to your very own The Vegan Kind box, you can do so via their website here. You can also purchase past boxes and subscribe to their beauty box, of which the next one I think is due to be shipped around May. Each lifestyle box will cost you £10 plus postage and packaging.

Totally hellbent for restocking my coconom sugar supplies


Featured Posts, Lifestyle, Make-up

Five Looks to Rock Your World in 2015

March 6, 2015


The following is a featured post courtesy of Perfect Lips.

Well, ladies, 2015 in now in full swing – and with a new year comes fabulous new trends in the world of hair and beauty. But what does this year have in store? And what shades of lippy and liners should we be stocking up on? Let’s take a look at five trends to rock your world:

Beautiful Black Lines
Calling all rock chicks: Black eyeliner is very much IN for 2015; and the best news? However you wear your lines, you’ll be bang-on-trend.
Grab your trusty gel liner and draw on some fine lines or go bold with some strong flicks on your upper lid. Lower lid liner is also popular for this year, so you can really play around with your look to find something that works for you.
And, if you want to give this trend even more impact, team your luscious lines with a smoky shadow. Gorgeous!

Plum Perfection
Whether your best feature is your perfect lips or whether it’s your big, beautiful peepers, you can rock this trend in 2015; it’s important not to do both though – choose your best facial asset and work with that. Plum is a great shade for all skin tones, just choose the right level of plum for you.

bold red lips

Big Bold Lips
We’re forever fans of big bold lips, but this season, they’re dominating the nude lip look. The hottest lips this year will be showcasing bright reds, plums, orange tints, and powerful pinks. Don’t neglect your lip liner either – this can really enhance your look.

brown eyeshadow 2015 trend
Brown-eyed Beauties
Fall in love with brown shadows this season; play with bronze powders and soft walnuts to find your ideal shade. This is the perfect look to take you from daytime casual to hitting the town – try a subtle brown for the office to enhance your eyes, but take it up a notch with bold wings or dazzling metallics for your evening look.
If you’re not a fan of shadows, you can still rock this trend with a sexy brown lip.

blue eyeshadow trend-edit


Pop of Colour
If you like to have fun with your look then you’re going to love this trend: it’s all about flashes of colour on your lids; the only limit to your look is your imagination.
Blues and reds have been key to this trend on the catwalk, but you can enjoy whatever shade suits you. Wear it solid for a more intense finish, or fade it out into a smoky eye effect.
Those are 5 of the hottest looks to rock your world in 2015, but which one is your favourite? Leave us a comment below.


About the author

Dr Rob, of Perfect Lips, is a facial cosmetic and dental surgeon with 30 years’ experience creating beautiful smiles, and now in creating the perfect pout. Get in touch to find out more about his pain free lip injections.

Beauty Boxes, Lifestyle, Vegan, Vegetarian

Birchbox January 2015 – Women’s Health Edit – Review

January 22, 2015
Birchbox January 2015 Review

Birchbox January 2015 Review

I’ve been waiting for this box to come for a while now, ever since I found out this month’s box Birchbox would be in collaboration with women’s health. Gem and I are both gym nuts and I was hoping there would be some exciting products to get me back into the groove after a few weeks of sheer gluttony during the festive season. Because my box was so late this month, I’d already sneaked a peek at what was in the box, something I usually try to avoid, so it wasn’t that much of a surprise when it finally arrived.

In the box:

Birchbox January 2015 Review

This month’s little booklet was filled with lot’s of great bite size challenges and tips which I really enjoyed reading! They certainly motivated me to get off my Christmas behind and back to the gym.

Birchbox January 2015 Review

Birchbox January 2015 Review

stila – lip glaze | £15 | full size product

This is the second lip glaze I’ve had from stila now, and I’ve not even opened the first one. I’m not a gloss person, it annoys me, my hair sticks to it and colours like this really don’t do much for my complexion. As glittery as this is, I don’t think I’ll be taking it for a spin on my lips any time soon. Not to mention there were talks about stila no longer being cruelty free a few year’s ago and it had been heard on the grape vine that they were potentially involved in some 3rd party animal testing. Despite their claims against this, I’m still not 100% sure I want to trust the brand.

Birchbox January 2015 Review

Green People – Intensive Repair Shampoo | £11.95 | 30ml sample

This is actually a fairly decent sized sample as far as Shampoo goes, thankfully this intensive repair shampoo is for coloured hair which is great news. I get so many samples that I can’t use and my other half ends up with (he does have hair longer than mine!) because I almost exclusively use sulfate-free Shampoo on my vibrant locks. This is also Vegan and approved by the Vegan society which makes me one happy bunny. If it’s any good, I’ll definitely be looking at switching brands again.

Birchbox January 2015 Review

Caudalie – Vinoperfect Radiance Serum | £45 | 10ml sample

I’ve literally just finished a massage oil from Caudalie which was truly spectacular and has lasted me month’s! This seem’s a fairly standard serum, to be applied pre moisturising. I’ll be adding it to my collection then! I can confirm that Caudalie state they do not test on, nor use animal products and in scouring their website, as I have to do when checking all products I came across this little snippet from their FAQs;

Also, please be aware that we continue to defend our Cosm’ethics and are always seeking to go one step further in our commitments. Hence, in 2012, Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas, the founders, decided to donate 1% of Caudalie’s turnover to ecological associations for the protection of the planet and the preservation of plant and animal species.

I definitely have no qualms about slathering this serum over my face morning and night now.

Birchbox January 2015 Review

Korres – Citrus Showergel | £8 | 50ml sample

I actually have some Korres body lotion hidden in my enormous stash that I’m yet to use. It was clearly waiting for this showergel to come along so they could be used together. I really like the subtle scent to this though, although labelled as Citrus, it’s not too overpowering and has a fairly subtle sweet scent. This is another product that I believe is cruelty free, I know that there were huge issues with Korres and China some years back and they pulled out of various deals due to concerns about animal testing. Their customer service team also seem relatively happy to answer queries and have confirmed and provided lists of their alleged Vegan products to other people (widely available on the internet after a little searching) which includes their shower gels.

Birchbox January 2015 Review

activbox – Cooling Finish Lotion | £12 | 20ml sample

As a sucker for piling on the weights in my Body Pump class, or trying out classes that involve way too many squats for my liking, this is definitely a welcome gift. I’m a huge fan of the Nip + Fab post workout fix and this is pretty similar by the looks of things. A menthol packed lotion for massaging into clean skin. Just what I need when I’m struggling to walk up and down the stairs the morning after the session before! After checking out some of their other products online, they come with a pretty friendly price tag so I’ll be trying this lotion out and perhaps spending some more time in Boots picking up the others.

Birchbox January 2015 Review

Embrace Matcha – Green Tea | £24.99 | 1 sachet

I’m afraid, as English as I am, this is completely wasted on me. I really don’t like the taste of Green Tea and as much as I’ve tried, I just can’t get into it. The instructions do say that this can be added to a smoothies as well which I might consider – If I’m not feeling brave enough I know a few people who will welcome this though, but at a price tag of £24,99, I don’t think my circle of friends or I will be rushing out to buy any more. Pukka tea bags all the way!

Birchbox January 2015 Review

Birchbox Pilates Band  | £7.99 | Lifestyle Extra

This is pretty cute, and pilates has just been introduced as a new class to our Thursday gym time table, which we’ve been thinking of going to. Great for improving muscle endurance and it can be used at home! There are lot’s of tutorials and youtube videos should you fancy taking a peek and trying out a resistance band in the comfort of your bedroom whilst watching your favourite show.

Writing this review and really looking at all the products, I’m more impressed with this box than I was when first opening. There’s a great selection, albeit the stila lip glaze and I’m looking forward to trying out a few new brands. I think the collaboration with women’s health has been a great idea for January and has given me a little more motivation to pick up my gym back and get my behind back into gear. My subscription for Birchbox run’s out in March and I’m still not sure whether I’ll be renewing it. Not because the past few month’s haven’t been good – because they have been absolutely amazing and remained top of my list for beauty boxes, but I do find it a big effort to check every single product before using it.

If you feel like you want to take the plunge and subscribe to a box this month, I’d definitely recommend Birchbox. It’s just £10 a month plus p&p or you can opt to buy a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription which works out slightly cheaper. You also receive Birchbox points for completing surveys on the products you have been sent, which can be used to purchase lot’s of extra goodies from the Birchbox shop! To subscribe, just visit their site here.

Have you had this month’s Birchbox? What were your thoughts? If not has there been anything that’s kick started a new routine from to help with the transition from Christmas couch potato to spritely and enthused January go getter?

Totally hellbent for products to help with aching post squat thighs

– Pants


Hauls, Lifestyle, Vegan, Vegetarian

West Midlands Vegan Festival

November 3, 2014

West Midlands Vegan Festival


A week on Saturday we pried ourselves away from the internet and our home offices to go to Vegan Fest 2014 in Wolverhampton. We took our trusty carnivorous band mates Adam and Matt along so they could sample some delights. This event had been in our calendar for a few months since we couldn’t get down to London (next year maybe!) but having such an event almost on our door steps really couldn’t be missed. We met many lovely people including the brains and beauty behind The Vegan Kind Box and discovered many delicious treats and shinies to take home as treasured spoils.

Here are some of the delights we brought home:





Round Up Hand Crafted Gourmet Wagon Wheel Cake

I definitely miss marshmallows as a non meat eater. Unfortunately they are in a lot of nice foods – wagon wheels, rocky road cake, luxurious hot chocolates from the German Market. When we saw these, we’d almost convinced ourselves that we didn’t need them. Unfortunately second time round the stalls, we didn’t get away and ended up buying one each. Since I knew I was going for an hour long power walk that evening, I had mine immediately after taking a few snaps and it was absolutely divine! Much better than the “real thing” and something I’ll be on the look out for again.

£2.50 from Ananda Foods


Vege Bears – Slightly Sour

Another thing I miss is sour sweets – Haribo Tangfastic Cherry’s and fizzy cola bottles if I had to pinpoint them specifically. These were found on the way in and were the first purchase of the day. Surprisingly, they’ve lasted me all week and although they aren’t quite Haribo they come a close second.

£12.39 for 8 packs from Amazon


Harper’s Bizarres Soya Candle in Cinnamon Dreams

I’m a huge candle lover, so finding Vegan scented candles that are animal friendly was like a dream come true. If the array of deliciously scented candles wasn’t enough to fuel our need to buy things, the lady behind it all was an absolute pleasure to talk to and made the whole experience of sniffing candles a thousand times more exciting. This candle was an experimental one and I really hope they decide to make more because it is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve already got a list of the other candles I’m going to pick up from her online store next payday as well.

£5.00 from Harper’s Bizarres


Dairy-Free Bellissimo Parmesan

As a child we would always have grated Parmesan in the cupboard reserved strictly for “Spag Bol” nights, after discussing this at the Harper’s Bizarres stand, we were kindly pointed into the direction of Ananda foods where they had an ample supply of Vegan Parmesan. I’ve tried it since on a few pasta dishes and it’s absolutely perfect as well as reunited me with a few childhood memories.

£3.49 from Ananda Foods


Lush Snow Fairy 

I wish they had pop up Lush stands everywhere! I can maybe manage to stand in a store for about 10 seconds before I’m hit in the face with a massive migraine, so being able to browse a few bits without this was amazing. Gem spotted the snow fairy first and after I’d given it a sniff I was hooked. I bought this and ended up with a free sample of beard wax and a badge too.

£3.75 from Lush


Banana Choc Drizzle Marshmallows

As I mentioned above, I miss marshmallows so much and recently thrived off having a taste of “Freedom Mallows” in a recent Vegan Kind box. When I saw these I just had to try them. I’m a bit of a sucker for Banana flavored things, so I was pretty excited about munching my way through these, even if my inner self was frowning at the potential calorie count. Despite my excitement though, they weren’t that nice which was a little disappointing. Having been spoiled with Freedom Mallows I think I ruined the future of Vegan mallows for myself. Still they won’t go to waste as my other half will be sinking his teeth into them.

£3.75 from Ananda Foods



West Midlands Vegan Fest Haul


Vegan Kind #TVK12 Box

Amie has been a subscriber to the amazing Vegan Kind box for nearly a year now, but I’ve never quite talked myself into it on the basis that I’m a really fussy eater (and anytime there is something I would enjoy inside Amie shares hers with me anyway!) but after meeting the lovely masterminds behind the box I just had to pick on up from their stand. You can see the full contents and read Amie’s thoughts on TVK12 here.

£7.00 (full price £10 + P&P) from The Vegan Kind


Harper’s Bizarres Soya Candle in Waffles 

I really had to talk myself out of buying one of everything from the Harper’s Bizarres stand, but finally settled on “Waffles” a one-off experiment fragrance that completely satisfied all my sugary cravings! All the candles are handmade from vegan-friendly soy wax and are completely animal friendly, and with so many gorgeous scents on offer I’m sure to be placing another order online soon!

£5.00 from Harper’s Bizarres


Dairy-Free Bellissimo Parmesan

I am one of those terrible vegetarians who tries to go vegan every other week but ultimately fails because of cheese. This however might just be my savoir! It’s not too heavy on the calories and does have a lovely nutty cheesy flavour.

£3.49 from Ananda Foods


Round Up Hand Crafted Gourmet Wagon Wheel Cake

The thing I miss most from my omnivore days is probably a toss-up between jelly sweets and marshmallows, so seeing a whole stand full of fluffy white nommy-ness, I knew I had to have something. I settled for a vegan wagon wheel and oh my god – it’s the best thing ever! Way nicer than I remember it being even!

£2.50 from Ananda Foods


Lush Snow Fairy 

I’ve always wanted to try Snow Fairy, but much like Amie I find that going into the Lush stores gives me a headache. Seeing it on the Lush stand meant I had to have a quick sniff and it was purchased mere moments later! The lovely Lush ladies also gave me a free beard wax that has been put aside for Roode, and a badge.

£3.75 from Lush


Miso On The Go Soup

I’m not actually a fan of miso soup as I find it far too fishy, but my other half adores all things that taste of the ocean so he will be receiving the many many free samples I picked up along the trip!

£0.90 from Clearspring


We had an amazing time and already can’t wait for our next Vegan adventures. It definitely makes us feel more comfortable knowing that we can still eat all the (naughty) nice things whilst keeping up our cruelty free lifestyle. Have you been to any Vegan/Veggie related events recently? If so, let us know which ones and what spoils you picked up!

Totally hellbent for not having to check labels when we shop

Gem & Pants


Adventures in Rotterdam

October 27, 2014

Rotterdam Adventures51Rotterdam Adventures21Rotterdam Adventures11Rotterdam Adventures111Rotterdam Adventures101Rotterdam Adventures81Rotterdam Adventures61Rotterdam Adventures41Rotterdam Adventures31Rotterdam Adventures131Rotterdam Adventures121


I’m finally back and recovered from my latest trip to the mainland to see my other half, and thought I’d share some of my favourite moments from the trip to cheer me up.

Considering how many times I’ve been to Rotterdam now I realised that I’d not seen quite a few of it’s more famous landmarks, so we took a stroll through the north of the city centre where you can find the famous floating cube houses. Just across the way is the new market with it’s gorgeous foodie mural and delicacies of all kind (including my favourite stroopwaffel ice-cream <3).

On the other side of the city I finally got a good look at the Maas river, including the olde docks and striking Erasmus bridge. The sun was shining with bright blue skies for most of the week, but it was especially enjoyable along the riverside when we stopped to nibble on some frites special – chips with Dutch mayonnaise, shoarma sauce and tiny chopped raw onions – yummy!

Most yummy of all though was our adventure to Bij Resteraunt Spirit. A vegan buffet restaurant that satisfied all the cravings of my deepest dreams! As you can see from my plate I just had to try lots of things including risotto balls, chilli setain, gourmet cabbage and rocket ravioli – what a mix! I’ll definitely be taking another trip there next time I’m in the Netherlands, and in the mean time will be crossing all my fingers that someone in the UK catches on to this awesome idea!

Finally here is an obligatory selfie from our adventures!


Totally hellbent for Rotterdam!

– Gem


Pretty Budget Stationary by Wilkinsons – Balance Collection

October 3, 2014
Wilkinsons Budget Pretty Stationary

Wilkinsons Budget Pretty Stationary

Wilkinsons Budget Pretty Stationary

Wilkinsons Budget Pretty Stationary Notepad

Wilkinsons Budget Pretty Stationary Notepad

Balance Weekly Planner Pad [£1.00]

Balance  A5 Notebook [£1.50]

Balance A5 Ring-bound Notebook [£1.50 – not available online]

Balance Set of Three Shopping List Notebooks [£0.75]

Balance Handbag Pen [£2.00]

Just when I thought I had successfully navigated September’s “Back to School” without a massive and unnecessary stationary haul…

I get a lot of my stationary from Wilkinsons, they always have office necessities and lovely non-necessities at much lower prices than WH Smiths, Paperchase and Staples. I found this whole pretty set for under a tenner, and with lovely birds and a colour scheme that almost matches my hair, -and- a new work project to make a thousand notes about I just had to have them!

The full collection has a whole array of items including a nail file and a compact mirror and starts at only 25p, but I stuck to the bits and pieces I actually-sort-of-needed….this time!

They are all lovely quality for the price, and now I feel ready to get organised and fill them all with millions of ideas! I think the planner pad is going to be perfect for plotting out blog posts and keeping me on track in general, and I just love handwriting when it comes to both brainstorming and lyric writing so I always have to have a notebook on hand.

You can check out the whole collection online  here, or find them in Wilkinsons stores.

Totally hellbent for new stationary meaning more productivity!

– Gem

Lifestyle, Vegetarian

Hello Fresh Review

September 16, 2014

Many beauty boxes ago I received a £25 off voucher for Hello Fresh – a box that delivers you all the ingredients you need to make deliciously tasty meals. It’s been sat in the craft room for a long time until I came across it a week or so ago and decided to try it out. The boxes are usually £36 for three meals for two people. With my voucher, this meant I managed to get this for just £11, a price I felt was worth trying since that’s what I would generally spend if I popped to Tesco’s to “pick something up for tea”.

Intrigued as to what Hello fresh was all about, I ordered my first box on the Thursday that was scheduled to arrive the following Tuesday. There are a variety of boxes to suit everyone (although sadly no exclusive Vegan box as yet) and you can choose whether your box is for 2, 4 or 6 people.

I went for the Veggie Box for 2 people which included three meals. Delivery was prompt, early morning on the Tuesday. So prompt and early in fact that I was still in my dressing gown when I hazily opened the door with my pre-morning-tea grimace to a massive box that only just squeezed through the door.

Inside was all of the ingredients needed to make the three recipes provided – on individual recipe cards with a break down of specific ingredients, how much was needed of each and detailed instructions of how to prepare each meal.



Day One was Sri Lankan Sweet Potato and Green Bean Curry.

The ingredients were fairly standard which is nice because it means I can make this again. My only gripe is that there was one 175g packet of Basmatic Rice – two recipes called for 150g of Rice but did not state whether this was cooked or uncooked so I presumed they had forgotten to send me another packet. None the less for this recipe I used Bulgar Wheat instead – just in case. It worked just as well and used up some of my dried cupboard food.


This probably my favorite out of the three. It was creamy and spicy but packed full of flavours. I think the addition of the lime and the coconut and cashews in this really helped to add some crunch and zing and is something I wouldn’t have thought about putting in a coconut based curry previously. The recipe stated it should take between 30-40 minutes, which is probably right. If you don’t mind spending some time cutting and preparing your ingredients then the rest is mostly stirring and checking. Nutritional values were also provided with each recipe – for this one per serving  they were as follows;

  • 713 calories
  • 22g fat
  • 92g carbohydrates
  • 16g protein

This may seem a lot per serving, but actually is far better than a lot of other meals due to the fresh produce and being packed with delicious vegetables. The other great thing about this meal is that there was enough left over for the day after, so 10 minutes of cooking some more bulgar wheat and heating it through and we’d actually managed to produce 4 meals instead of 2.


Day two greeted us with Sicilian Caponata with Pine Nuts and Garlic Ciabatta.

This one was probably the easiest to cook – manageable in just under 30 minutes. Again a lot relies on you chopping the ingredients first, something which I really don’t mind as I tend to prefer my food fresh rather than from a pan.


This meal was my least favorite. It was nice and I did eat the whole bowl but it just didn’t tickle my fancy all that much. Probably something I will try to re-invent with a few different ingredient. There was enough for two people this time so we didn’t have any left over for the next day. Something I was pretty glad about.

Nutritional Values were;

  • 395 caloreis
  • 1g fat
  • 58g carbohydrates
  • 12g protein

The lowest in calories and fat, but bumped up a little by the Ciabatta. I was a little skeptical at having only received one Ciabatta roll to begin with, but actually cut in half and then in two was plenty for us both.


Day three and our final meal was Escondido Crusted Mexican Rice with Jalapenos and Chipotle.

This meal involved a little more prep – it was advised to cook the rice the night before and leave on a baking tray in the fridge until ready to use which I did. It wasn’t too much hassle really as I simply put the rice on to cook whilst I was cooking the day before.


When I said that the Sri-Lanken curry was my favourite – I may have lied. This was most definitely on par with it and I would probably enjoy eating both of them simultaneously for the rest of my days. What really helped is the freshness of the ingredients and again the addition of things that I wouldn’t usually thing of – the wedge of lime to sprinkle over at the end and a dash of corriander to garnish. I absolutely love corriander and often forget how well it goes with Mexican style dishes so since feasting on this I’ve been adding fresh corriander to all my recipes similar to this since!

Nutritional Values were:

  • 458 calories
  • 2g fat
  • 83g carbohydrates
  • 16g protein

Again another delicious meal, but with a fairly low calorie count and packed with yummy veg. This also did us for two meals, although I did cook the entire packet of rice so this probably has something to do with it.


As well as all of the ingredients for the above meals, I also received a few little extras. An early grey tea bag from teapigs and a £3 off voucher when I spend £25 as well as a pip fruit juice drink which was very yummy.

Overall I’ve had a pretty amazing experience from Hello Fresh. Despite my apprehension at first, I’ve really enjoyed discovering new recipes and have been overwhelmed at how fresh the ingredients were – they all seemed to be organic or sourced locally. It is a little expensive at £36 a box and I could probably have bought most of the ingredients myself for a lot cheaper, but overall I can’t really grumble since everything was already mostly measured out for me and delivered straight to my door and I never seem to visit the supermarket for “tea” without picking up things that I really didn’t need.

Will I try this again? Well actually I did order another box, unfortunately it was lost in delivery, but even this experience was very positive. As soon as Hello Fresh had discovered there was a problem with my box, they e-mailed me immediately to let me know what was going on so I wasn’t left hanging around for a delivery and wondering why the evening’s meal hadn’t arrived. They were also very accommodating and gave me a full refund, kept me up to date with everything that was going on and have arranged for some extra credit to be put on my account for my next box. I’ve really been blown away by the customer service and can’t fault the guys at Hello Fresh one bit! Definitely one step ahead, which made my experience so much more positive.

Each box is delivered weekly, but it’s not like other subscriptions where you have to jump through hoops to cancel or change your box type. Your online account dashboard is super simple to use and you don’t have to have a box delivered every week. Choosing your boxes is very simple and you can pick when you want your deliveries simply by clicking and un-clicking the dates on their handy calendar up to 8 weeks in advance. So if you fancied a box after each pay day, you can do this. You can also see what meals are coming up in the next weeks box, so if it’s something you don’t like, you don’t have to have a box!

It’s not something I can justify doing weekly, but I’ve scheduled in a box every 3-4 weeks and think it’s a great idea to get people excited about cooking healthy meals instead of resorting to overly processed frozen foods.

If you’d like to try Hello Fresh, or simply have a look at what meals they have coming up or what they offer, simply visit their website at Hello Fresh and take a peek. If you’ve already tried Hello Fresh, I’d love to know what box you chose and what your thoughts were!

Totally hellbent for the freshest ingredients and the tastiest new recipes

– Pants

Lifestyle, Vegan, Vegetarian

The Vegan Kind July Box #TVK9

July 5, 2014


I’ve been having a beauty box meltdown the past few months and have really had to get my priorities right with which boxes I want to keep – trying to save money isn’t quite as easy when you realise exactly how much you are spending on boxes!

One box that I had no doubt in my mind I’d continue to subscribe to is The Vegan Kind. I’ve not had one box that has disappointed me and although my completely inconvenient sense of taste has let me down on a number of occasions when trying some of the superficially looking delicious treats they provided, I have in fact had my eyes opened to a whole host of Vegan brands that have lots of things I -will- eat (no raisins at all!!!). (Also, notice my complete lack of full stops and commas in that previous sentence to emphasise my disdain for my taste buds disliking raisins – dangerous or what?)

And now my spiel for those who have not encountered The Vegan Kind yet – it’s a monthly subscription box costing just £10 a month plus p&p. Each month you are sent a variety of tasty treats and a lifestyle/beauty product that are all completely Vegan and cruelty free. You also get a recipe card and a cute ring binder once you’ve subscribed to three boxes to keep them in.

Each month 10p of every box is donated to the featured animal charity chosen and this month is Blind Dog Rescue UK.

So now all the important info is out the way, we can move on to the exciting contents!


Heavenly Organics ‘Just Add Water’ Shampoo 30g (RRP £2.40)

First of all, I’m just going to share with you the ingredients of this mighty pot;

  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Sapindus Mukorossi fruit extract organic (Soapnt) powder

Yup, that’s it. Simply tip a small amount of the powder into your hand, add a little water to form a paste and massage into hair. I’m usually one to avoid using Shampoo when I can – when I do give in to freshen my hair a little, I probably use no more than a pea sized amount because it strips the colour from my hair thanks to all the ingredients. I’m definitely well excited about trying this out though and I can see myself switching to this as an alternative if I enjoy it.

If you are into your Vegan and Cruelty Free products, I’d seriously recommend checking out more from Heavenly Organics, they have a great range of products and I’m already fearful of my bank balance since I’ve picked out a whole host of things I want.


Frank Bar – Strawberry and Chocolate Flavour (RRP £1)

Ah, the dreaded good source of protein bar! They look so tasty, but my brain just can’t handle the whole dried fruit/date situation. I’m pretty sure the Strawberry and Chocolate flavour will help convince me that this is tasty though and if all else fails, these will never go to waste because my partner Brains is more than happy to gobble up the rest of it. Seriously though, for those of you who don’t mind the texture of dates, these are gluten and nut free and is probably a nice little pick me up after a workout session!

More from “The Frank Food Co” here.


Squeeze Juice Café – Wheatgrass Juice 30ml (RRP £2)

I know that this is going to taste either bloody amazing, or absolutely revolting. Alas, I’ve heard so much about Wheatgrass and part of my new healthier lifestyle involves stuffing my face with as many raw and delicious fruit and veg as I can. So whether I love it or hate it, this will be going into my morning smoothie. At £2.30 a shot, it’s a little on the expensive side but I’m looking forward to trying it out and decided whether I’ll be adding Wheatgrass to my diet full time or not.

Squeeze Juice Cafe have a variety of packs available from a 7 day to 168 day supply of Wheatgrass available on their website.


Coconut Organics – CocoBacon (RRP £2.35)

When I pulled this out the box I was very intrigued – I’m a fan of “bacon bits” – the Vegan kind, that just tastes very salty and moreish rather than actual bacon, but the notion of bacon flavoured coconut flakes sounds crazy! In a good way that is. Made with coconut oil and low GI coconut sugar (you’ve all heard me rave about Coconom) it sounds like a slightly less guilty snacking alternative to a very sugary snack!

I’ll probably report back via instagram as to how long it takes me to polish the bag off, but in the mean time check out their website here.


Vita Coco – natural coconut water 500ml (RRP £2.50) 

YES! Honestly, I can not express my joy when I saw this in the box. Coconut water is actually something I’ll be featuring in my “Healthy Vegan Festival Snacks” post and I’ve been meaning to pick up some of this for some time to ass to my smoothies. Boasting such qualities as high in potassium and minerals, but low in fat and carbohydrates, this is a perfect addition to a diet and at only 45 calories per 250ml, a definite alternative to that cheeky can of coke.

Vita Coco also have other flavours of coconut water here.


Vego – Whole Hazelnut Chocolate Bar 150g (RRP £3.50)

Although I was obviously more excited by the coconut water – what a whopper this is! Honestly, I wish I could post this bar through my PC monitor just to show you how massive it is. Vego is a brand I’ve heard good things about, but I’ve never had the pleasure of trying. One of the things I do miss is a cheeky bit of chocolate here and there, so some guilt free snacking is well overdue. I mean guilt free in the animal product free sense and not the calorific sense. It’s a 150g bar, so for one piece (approx. 30g) it’s a lovely 177 calories – but who want’s to eat healthy chocolate anyway? This will be savoured for those days that I’ve worked extra hard at the gym and I’m going to enjoy a sensible 1 chunk at a time.

Unfortunately the Vego website is currently under development, so they have little information about their other products – but for future reference, you can find them at


This month’s recipe card is from Moving Scouse – you can check out their blog here. It’s a tasty sweet treat, just in time for Summer (whatever that means in Britain!) – Agave sweetened raspberry sorbet. I might try the recipe out with some Coconom and see how that turns out! I do love getting the recipe cards each month, since I love trying new things.

I have to say kudo to The Vegan Kind this month, this has been the best box to date. Since their launch, the boxes seem to be getting better and I hope as they expand, more companies will get in on the action to spread the Vegan joy and help those of us leading the cruelty free lifestyle discover lots of different alternatives. You can subscribe to their monthly box via their website here. Until next month aye …

Totally hellbent for absolutely everything in this month’s box – even the dates!



100 Happy Days Part 1

July 5, 2014

Like Gemma, I’ve been sucked into the recent notion of “100 happy days”, despite my tough exterior, I do sometimes have some pretty rubbish days so it’s been nice to remind myself of how lucky I am and of all the nice things I have in my life. Since I missed out on my 1-10 post, here’s my 1-20 of #100happydays: 1-4 1. I absolutely love Lilies – they are my favorite flower, so when I let the pooch out in the morning, the first thing I noticed was that the first of my many Lilies had opened.

2. Thursday’s are mostly reserved for Yoga – the beauty of self-employment is that I can go to the gym and take classes during the day now, which motivates me a lot more than when I dragged my sorry behind to Body Combat on a Monday after an 8 hour shift.

3. Gem and I recently signed up for 3 issues of Cosmopolitan for £3 so we could grab ourselves a bargain and received a free L’Occitane Cherry Blossom shower gel and body lotion set and behold the postman doth deliver!

4. My nail varnish collection has been getting out of hand and instead of being able to actually see which colour I wanted, I just picked from the edge of my precariously placed pile, so that I wouldn’t knock them all over. Anyway, I told my partner Brains that I wanted to make a nail varnish shelf and the same day we ended up in Wicked buying wood. This is the finished version, with space enough for a few more! My tutorial on this will be coming soon.



5. Despite doing a very stupid thing and trying out Body Pump on the Friday, a very achey and sore Gem and I, jogged our way around the Race for Life track on the Sunday. We’d raised a fair chunk of money for a great cause, and although we didn’t do as well as we’d hoped we still beat our previous time!

6. Last year I grew chillies in the conservatory and I’ve been caring for my plant very tenderly over the Winter. All that love has now paid off, because I have a bountiful crop that I used in one of my lovely slow cooked Vegan Chilli – I love being able to pop into the conservatory or garden to procure a few herbs.

7. Working from home means we have time to lavish our pooch CJ with all the love and attention she deserves. On this day, she interrupted some important coding to give me some kisses – and presenting me with the cutest face.

8. CJ was 14 around the 1st July and apart from the two years I spent in my old house away from her, as my house mate had allergies and I had to leave her with my mum, when Brains and I were looking for our own house we planned to take her with us. Our new landlords reluctantly let us have her and it was worth the wait – seeing how much she loves Brains is so amazing, in fact she often clambers over me just to get to him she’s that besotted.


9. I love cooking and so I’d preparing some lovely Vegan Chicken and Stuffing to take on our picnic the following day. It’s been ages since I’ve had such a treat.

10. Gem asked me what I was wearing on the day of our trip to Stonehenge and Glastonbury – I had to send her a picture just to make sure we weren’t wearing the same outfit. Having a best friend like Gem is kind of like having a louder more boisterous version of me – we spend so much time with each other that we often accidentally wear the same outfits, take the same makeup to places and have the ability to read each others minds and finish each others sentences.

11. I effortlessly took my behind up to Glastonbury tor and it was so lovely just sitting up there and admiring the views. The last time Gem and I went up the tor, we were very unfit, so all of those gym sessions have paid off!

12. There’s nothing I love better than a beautiful crisp salad on a hot day. Since Brains was in Northampton, I rustled up a gorgeous Harissa seasoned Vegetarian Butcher Chicken, Shallot, Mushroom, Olive and Romaine Lettuce salad.


13. You may have picked up on the fact that I am obsessed with Giraffes – as Gem is obsessed with Zebras, well Gem picked this up for me as a little present as we often buy random things for each other. It’s the cutest addition to my massive collection.

14. Never underestimate the pure joy of taking a nice cup of tea to bed after a hard days work. Okay, I say hard days work, this was my post “managing to fit all of our clothes, makeup, toiletries, airbed and duvet into one suitcase” victory cup of tea, when I’d finally finished packing for Brains and I to go to Graspop.

15. We left for Graspop at about 12.30am as our ferry from Dover was about 6am. I therefore took advantage of a few hours lying on a proper bed, watching some TV, with Brains and CJ.

16. Crabbies on the ferry in the early hours of the morning. This was the ultimate symbol of holidays. Also, I shared this with Brains to avoid the 300+ calories per bottle.



17. We finally arrived in Belgium for the Graspop Metal Meeting festival. I was pretty dubious about drinking the draft beer though because I didn’t know if Jupiler was Vegetarian. Anyway, I took a risk and drank spent the weekend drinking Hoegaarden Roséé  for the whole weekend. It was a beautifully refreshing raspberry beer, I didn’t wake up with a nasty hangover and I didn’t feel bloated and gassy because I’d been drinking beer. Winning all round.

18. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty rubbish at discovering new bands at festival’s these days. I used to thrive off watching all the bands I hadn’t heard before in my youth, but this kind of stopped over the years and I became lazy, old and more interested in sitting in the beer garden or the tent. Well Brains and I purposely went to see Civil War based on them being described as “If you like Sabaton, you’ll like these guys”. Very glad that we got off our butts to see them so early in the morning because we thoroughly enjoyed them. I mean, they weren’t the best band in the world but I’ll definitely add them to my playlist and go and see them again.

19. The last day of the festival meant we had no food left, which was wonderful news because it meant we didn’t have to carry it back to the car. So I found the Vegan and Vegetarian stand. Brains had a “kebab” made with Veggie kebab meat and I had sweet and sour noodles with some tofu and vegetables. We were absolutely stuffed afterwards!

20. This was the day we came home from Graspop, but I still had a few things to be happy about – finding the Milka version of a kit kat, picking up some Jupiler beer for my brother who kindly house sat to look after CJ whilst we were gone, the ferry having a Starbucks and the lady actually asked me if my name was ‘ie’ or a ‘y’. This never happens – people usually just put “Amy”, and returning to the wonderful English weather! Did I mention that the ferry was packed full of O.P.I, benefit, nails inc, dior and many other delightful brands that I wanted? And did I also mention that I didn’t buy a single thing? I was pretty proud of myself for that!


So those were my first 20 days of #100happydays. Have you been doing this? If so, we’d love to see some of your pics. You can also follow me on instagram via amie_dakesis to keep up with my daily posts and you can follow Gemma via gemma_dakesis. Gem’s #100happydays part 1 and #100happydays part 2 posts are also available.

Totally hellbent for reminding myself how lucky I am