Playlist #26

I'm the last to jump on the bandwagon but I have finally made the move from iTunes to Spotify. Below are some of my favourite songs that I've found myself listening to a lot recently and am pleased to see some new releases from long-term favourites such as Alex Winston and Walk The Moon. I'm sure there's an easier way to share playlists via Spotify but until I've got to grips with things, let's stick to old school embedded YouTube videos. 

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats ~ S.O.B

Everything Everything ~ Regret

Jamie T ~ Zombie 

The Kooks ~ See Me Now

Alex Winston ~ Careless

Seafret ~ Oceans

Walk The Moon ~ Shut Up and Dance With Me

Family of the Year ~ Hero

The Mowgli's ~ Bad Dream


Giving Up Meat

F I R S T  S T E P S

Becoming a vegetarian is something that I thought about for a long time but it was always 'too much of a commitment'. I still live at home and have very basic cooking skills so rely on my mum to feed me - none of my family are vegetarian and my parent's weren't overly fond of the thought of me becoming one. In late January, they went on holiday and I subconsciously stopped eating meat - it just wasn't a food I reached for.
The major ethical debate I have with myself is that I still eat fish. When I made the decision, I didn't have much confidence in my will power so just illuminated meat. I have researched the topic and some could say I'm completely hypocritical but I believe as long as you know where your food is sourced and exactly what you're putting in your body (meat or otherwise) then you don't have to justify your choices to anybody.

W H Y  I  S T O P P E D  E A T I N G  M E A T

I appreciate that as a species, we are meat eaters and would never snub someone for being carnivorous. However, I don't agree with the production of processed meat and would encourage everyone to eat organic, sustainable produce. If one day the laws on how animals are harvested and farmed were changed, I would maybe reconsider my decision.
Secondly, as someone who already suffers from a hormonal condition, I don't think it is wise to continually eat meat that is pumped full of artificial hormones. This is also why an excess of soy products should be avoided as they can affect your hormones.
So if I liked the taste of meat, why did I give it up? I don't think the 2 minutes of satisfaction I get whilst eating a McChicken Sandwich is worth the life of an animal. I haven't eaten meat in almost half a year and I no longer miss it or even really crave it.

W H A T  I  E A T

Scrapping meat wasn't the exclusive contributor to my weight loss, but the mentality of your whole lifestyle and diet changes as you are more considerate of what you're eating and that ultimately improves your health.
I'm eating alternative sources of protein such as fish, grains, nuts, beans and Quorn. Quorn is a controversial food and some vegetarians say to avoid it completely and stick to 'clean' protein alternatives. Quorn is processed to resemble the taste and texture of meat - an avid meat eater could definitely detect the 'fake meat' but for someone who is weening themselves off of it, it's a good place to start. Some replicas are better than others and I would recommend the Quorn breaded 'chicken' fillets if you ever need a chicken nugget fix.
A lot of family favourites can be made vegetarian-friendly. Meals such as stir frys and curries can be made in two portions and a meat substitute thrown in. I also eat a lot of eggs as I now enjoy eating breakfast a lot more. My go-to is poached eggs on toast with something like tomatoes, spinach or avocado. I really love pesto too but you must be careful that you buy a vegetarian recipe (which is a pain in the arse to find) because a lot of artisan cheeses, like parmesan, contain rennet. Research foods that are meat-free because you'd be surprised what foods have hidden ingredients. Despite the fact I'm not a vegetarian, I do avoid gelatine and other meat by-products.

F O O D  I S  S U B J E C T I V E

There are definite pros and cons to giving up meat but 5 months in and I'm feeling great. It has given me a much more positive outlook on my diet and has made a significant contribution to the relationship I have with food and the choices I make.
What we fuel our body with is an incredibly subjective thing and if you're considering becoming a vegetarian, do not get het up on the idea that you can never eat meat again - that's not the case and it's not the end of the world if you do. I am the type of person who is motivated by numbers and checking off the days, but your food should not be a chore. There's no rule book (actually, there probably is) so adapt your way of eating to suit your lifestyle and what makes you happy.


Not-so-monthly Favourites

I don't think I've ever spent so much time preparing, drafting and editing a post before but I am chuffed with how it has turned out. I hope you enjoy reading about a few products that I have been using lately and highly recommend. There's a right mixture - from bras to music so have a read and gorge yourselves on the things that get me out of bed in the morning.

Until recently, bra shopping was my idea of hell. I have always had big knockers but as you may know if you read this post, a few months ago I got my arse into action and started living a healthier lifestyle and subsequently (to my absolute joy) lost a bit of extra baggage around my chest. Going down a cup size definitely did not push me into that -DD bracket but I finally found some bras that were easy on the eye and fitted well. This Rosie for Autograph bra is one of my favourite brassiere purchases and would highly recommend it for fuller-busted ladies. 

I wouldn't call myself a green thumb but I'd take a pot plant over a bunch of flowers any day. These pre-potted cacti from Ikea prove popular amongst bloggers and for a snip at £4.50, they're a perfect way to bring a bit of life to your living space. If you don't live near an Ikea, try your local Wilko as they sell similar sets also. I went bit bat-shit crazy and purchased more cacti than I had space for but the biggest hidden gem that I found is a large, hollow ceramic head that I spotted whilst passing a junk shop one day. It homes a little succulent perfectly.

CKIN2U holds a lot of nostalgic memories for me and although I like to try new perfumes, is a fragrance that I always return to. I recently had an awful allergic reaction to another perfume that I used after finishing CKIN2U and immediately repurchased this holy grail product. I go through perfume quite quickly so try to hang off buying any until they are on offer. If like me you like to pretend you're still 15, CKIN2U is currently half price in Superdrug

I received The Body Shop Vitamin E Cream Cleanser in a goodie bag when I spent over £30 not too long ago and have been enjoying using it. I'm usually rubbish when it comes to skincare and will try to do the bare minimum in regards to makeup removal but I love the satisfaction of having a completely clean face when using this product. I usually take the majority of my makeup off using a Simple cleansing wipe and follow with a double cleanse, applying the product with a double-sided cotton pad from Boots, and finish with the Garnier Micellar Water. If The Body Shop is a little out your drugstore budget, they are infamous advocates for cruelty free products and I think that's something that money cannot put a price on. They also often have brilliant offers on their products and that's when I love to snap up the All-In-One BB Cream which I swear by!

I've been an MP3 downloader ever since I can remember but after inheriting my little Ford Fiesta that dates back to god knows when, an AUX cord was off the cards. After only finding a lot of S Club 7 whilst digging through old CD's, I bought myself a little selection of perfect driving soundtracks. I think The Wombats are majorly underrated and am pleased they've made a come-back with Glitterbug. My favourite songs include Pink Lemonade & Sex and Question Marks.

I've been an avid wearer of Maybelline The Rocket Volum Express Mascara for a long time and is the best dupe for Max Factor False Lash Effect that I've found. I'm very reluctant to try new mascaras but picked up Maybelline Lash Sensational when it was on an introductory promotional offer and it has revolutionised my mascara application. Coincidentally, Benefit released their Roller Lash mascara around the same time which has an almost identical wand and has also received raving reviews. Having tried both, Sensational Lash is by far the better of the two in terms of application, longevity and removal. I've recently been more weary about purchasing cosmetics that may have been tested on animals and after further research, was really disappointed to find out Maybelline condones this. Despite the mega results I get from the product, I won't be purchasing it again so if anyone has any cruelty-free mascara recommendations they'd be much appreciated.

I'm probably the last person to jump on the Spotify bandwagon but until now it just didn't make sense to me. It seemed too good to be true - and it kind of is when you're hit with adverts and limited skips, but lately I've been using it to stream music more than iTunes and it's such a gem for finding unknown artists. I'm not very clued up on the ins and outs of it yet and I feel a bit in the unknown like how my mum must feel about Facebook and Twitter.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water is the trendy little skincare product that is Bioderma's cheaper cousin. It claims to be exceptionally gentle and is perfect for those with dry and sensitive skin. I use it in replace of a toner and am not left with that dry, tight feeling that some toners leave my skin feeling. Micellar water is an all-round handy multipurpose product and is something that I keep repurchasing.

A year ago I did not think that I would be the trainer-wearing rapscallion that I am today but have fallen in love with the comfy, casual footwear trend. My latest edition is a pair of Adidas Superstar trainers and I have never tried so hard to find anything before in my life. When I thought all hope was lost, I finally found these in a size 3 and bopping about in them makes me feel every bit the 90's chick that I hoped.


Has Blogging Lost Its Niche?

I have been blogging (admittedly, quite sporadically) for 5 years and I feel completely out the loop. Like all first-time bloggers, I had a very small audience but reached my peak in 2011/2012 when I was mentioned by some 'high profile' bloggers/YouTubers. Around this time I was fully dedicated to my blog and everything else (including school work) took a back seat. I was posting every day and received a healthy incline of views, comments and followers. It wasn't until I started a new sixth form in September 2012 that I found something else that I was really passionate about (design) and I began focussing my time on that. I have always said that the key to a successful blog is perseverance and you have to keep generating content in order to keep your audience engaged, but that got me thinking, maybe it isn't just me that has changed, maybe it's the whole notion of blogging?

I fully stand by the claim that producing online content can become a career and fund your lifestyle - monetising your blog is essentially evolving a hobby into a brand and business. In this individualistic era, the prospect of earning a living and working on your own terms is very tempting. But is there too many of us in the online industry to all be successful? Yes. There's only so much 'niche' out there and that's evident with the many momentarily-trendy bandwagons that bloggers and vloggers jump on.

The ever-increasing growth of YouTube has played an absolutely fundamental part in why I think the notion of blogging has changed. I applaud bloggers who have recognised the change and produce video content to accompany their blog. It provides a stimulating visual aid for the audience and ultimately delivers the information faster.
Somewhere between the cat videos and crazy dancing, things got technical and YouTube lost its organic feel and instead became scripted, high quality pieces of work. I love watching in 1080p but I can't help but feel it's all too 'TV production'. Money has become a massive intensive in today's society and online content creation has become a very competitive industry. It is no secret that successful YouTubers can make up to six figure salaries from vlogging alone and that's a very tempting prospect for newbie bloggers. Although it is nice to see familiar faces succeeding and being able to live off something they love doing, this should not be the reason someone should start a blog or channel. Online fame and success is something that younger audiences idolise and many content creators have proven that hard work prevails. 

I admire bloggers who now occupy a strong YouTube presence and have become video makers. They cater for their original readers, as well as reaching an audience that is predominantly on YouTube. I am, however,  reluctant to accept the money-driven nature of creating online content and the obsession with the ideal that bigger is aways better.
As for the growth of my own blog; I would like to persevere with my interest in design and also make use of this platform to share my voice. I don't think I'm quite ready to make the leap to YouTube just yet but have realised that in order to enjoy blogging again, I need to do it for myself.