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Meat-Free January

Boston Tea Party, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Our Meat-Free January came to an end with a delicious date-night at Byron 🍔, followed by a screening of the new Trainspotting film. And, just to be corny here, as T2 places itself firmly in 2017 as its prequel dates itself to 1996, I kind of also feel a bit like this marks a point in my life too.

I must admit, being vegetarian for January was never really about being vegetarian for good. It was more about breaking the habit of having meat for every meal, something that I know, having discussed with my friends over the course of this month, is something quite a few people feel like they should do.

Last year, we definitely changed up our diet a lot, as well as generally eating more balanced, healthy meals, we were also having more vegetarian meals. I guess the focus of January 2017 was to put that part of it to the extreme by cutting out meat entirely.


No Veganuary for us, we love eggs!

With the popularity of Veganuary, I feel like it’s been more accessible than before to read about the reasons behind being full-time veganism. We educated ourselves in diet with documentaries about clean eating and the vegan diet.

I do feel as though by not sticking with it, we’re being a bit selfish but from a realistic perspective, I don’t particularly feel like I need this extra guilt in my life. Denying myself meat forever when I enjoy it isn’t going to make a huge dent in the vast environmental impact that the meat industry has – and that definitely is a problem. However, if making a small change to my diet is achievable and enjoyable, then I don’t see why I can’t. I know that it isn’t necessarily the right view to take but I still see it as a step in the right direction.


Meat-Free January - Sweet Potato and rocket cous cous


Meat-Free January, start as I mean to go on…

With all of that said, I guess it could all sound rather negative but I’m certainly not continuing 2017 on the back foot. Up until the anticipation for Byron set in the previous weekend, I didn’t miss meat at all. Pretty much every meal we had was tasty, filling and left us without that unidentifiable sluggish feeling that you can’t quite put your finger on until it’s gone.


Meat-Free January - Broccoli and bean stir fry


Menu choices are smaller when you leave the house

I think the most limiting thing was probably going out to eat, and despite there being a much wider choice than I would have expected, there was far less choice than being able to eat everything.

We didn’t really have too much to worry about when it came to cooking meals for guests. Generally that was probably because we’re pretty good at cooking but also because, as I said before, we aren’t really friends with anyone who would turn their nose up just because the food features some kind of greenery. That said, Moon has sworn off chillis for a little while was they became a bit of a ‘go to’ for ease and flavour.


Meat-Free January - Vegetarian options at The Akeman Inn near Aylesbury


I think January and winter generally is a good time to take on this kind of ‘diet’ as it felt like much less of a shock to the system. We tended to still make the one-pot winter dishes we always have but with added beans or lentils and taking away the meat. Roasted corn soup was a firm favourite.

If it had been summer and we were suddenly eating just salad forever (I know it wouldn’t have been quite that extreme), I don’t think we would have been able to stick it out for the whole month.


Meat-Free January - Our famed bean chilli


I shared quite a few photos throughout January and was met with a lot of encouragement from friends and acquaintances for recipes and suggestions, which I think was another element of helping me stick to it. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it put pressure on me, but posting successes definitely made me feel good about the direction I was going in.


So, what’s next?

I’m entering February with some tasty new recipes in my repertoire, so reckon I’ll be cracking on, sans restriction. I did hear word of ‘Sugar-Free February’ but I think I’ve had enough of restricting myself for a little while – at least to the point where I’m cutting out entire food groups.

I know a month isn’t long but if the aim is to eat a bit less meat, I feel like that is definitely going to happen, and we’ve had a fair few vegetarian meals since the 1st February rolled around.

I was so looking forward to eating chicken again though and I’m so happy to have it back. 🐔


Food Highlights: 😍

Food Lowlights: 😞

  • Nut Roast – Maybe it was the specific recipe (you let me down, Jamie) but if you told me that I wasn’t allowed to have it again, I’d probably be cool with it. For the length of time it took to prepare and cook, it wasn’t worth it.

Home » 1 Year On…

It’s a year this week since Moon and found, put and offer in and were accepted on a mortgage for our new home and I can’t quite believe how quickly that time has gone.

While working on a few things from Google Drive last week, I found the photos I took from when I was showing my Mum the house that I would then go on to show anyone who asked in the lead up to us actually living there and it’s crazy to think that we even went for it. It’s not that we’ve changed all that much about the house, I mean, structurally it’s exactly the same but we’ve had to do so much painting and we’re still not even finished!

I guess we just really loved the potential, but I’ll tell you what, decorating a house is so far removed from the cutesy painting montages from the movies, like, it’s the least fun thing I’ve ever done. I am really happy with the result so far though and even though we won’t have been here a full year until April rolls around, it’s still pretty fun to see the changes our house has gone through in the last 12 months.

[Hallway » January 2015]
NOW: The hallway, the kitchen and the bathrooms are up next on our hit list but the hallway hasn’t changed all that much since we moved in, apart from it now being where the cat eats with a nicer shoe cabinet.

[Kitchen » January 2015]
NOW: The kitchen was actually just about the one room in the house that didn’t need any work. I’d like to paint it just to freshen it up and to make sure it’s on a similar time-frame to the other rooms in the house. There are so many bodge-jobs in this house and the only thing that bothers me about the kitchen is that there isn’t any sealant around the cabinets.

Even though it’s much smaller than I was used to and it can be a bit of an ordeal unpacking the shopping or cooking when we’re both in there, I still sort of love it. I’m hoping to eventually replace that blind as it doesn’t really match – the sellers wanted to charge us £110 for it but left it anyway..

[Living Room » January 2015]
NOW: The living room is where we spend most of our time and it’s probably my favourite room. We’ve bagged quite a few bargains in terms of furniture, including the larger sofa which matches our original sofa but was a steal at just £100 from eBay! I can’t even begin to tell you how pleased I am to finally have a proper dining table that seats a decent amount of people and that doesn’t wobble when you’re cutting your dinner.

We hosted Christmas in the end – our first one in our new home, it had to be done – and with a couple of spare chairs we all squeezed round the table and it made the house feel really cosy. Even though I miss the open-plan of the flat slightly, the living room is still a great room for hosting and we have so much more space than we did before!

That said, I feel like the before pictures trick you slightly into thinking it’s bigger than it is, I can’t believe we saw it with that little stuff in it – knowing it was a 5 family household – and didn’t think anything of it. Also, why have they got a chest of drawers in their lounge?

[Front Room » January 2015]
NOW: This is our most recent update – I have a little post coming up on how poorly we treated it over the last 9 months we’ve lived here. You can see it was pretty much a junk room in its past life and that’s how it was for us for ages too, we had so much stuff that we left there waiting to be unpacked.

Fingers crossed the drum kit goes soon as it takes up so much room and is hardly used but it makes Moon happy so it’s staying for now. I’m really pleased with how the orange has come out, it’s so difficult to photograph though as it’s so bright in that room all day, maybe I’ll try and snap it when I have some time on a dull day. We only went for that one wall in the end, but we’ve also done the inside of the door of the downstairs loo, which is a pretty neat effect.

Pro tip: These are ‘hobby boards’ from Homebase rather than standard shelves, goodness knows what the difference is but we really struggled to find shelves that weren’t just MDF. I like floating shelves but I felt they were a little clunky for what we were going for.

[Garden » January 2015]
NOW: The garden is one area that I feel is worse since we’ve moved in. We’ve managed to grow a few things and we’re getting ready to grow more of our own this year as it’s something we missed out on while moving last year, we even have a few daffodils poking up, but the bad weather has not been kind to our creaky old fence and most of it is falling down. It’s not something we can do much about until late spring but definitely something that will help me love our garden once it’s done.

[Our Bedroom » January 2015]
NOW: I know I said the living room is my favourite but our bedroom is probably the one I’m most proud of. Sometimes when I climb into bed, it still feels as luxurious as staying in a hotel. I know it’s not all that fancy but after three years of sleeping on a wonky mattress with see-through curtains, I’m still getting to grips with how much of a good night’s sleep I’m getting.

I love the blues we chose and I just feel instantly relaxed. I’m hoping to put a few more pictures up but I’m really happy with it for now.

[Front Bedroom » January 2015]
NOW: When I think of the purple, I wonder why we ever picked this house – for the record, purple is a horrible colour to paint over, even with a few coats of one-coat paint, but I just think this is coolest room now. It’s so bright and warm, and even though it’s a glorified laundry room most of the time, I sure hope that our guests enjoy staying in it when they come.

[Back Bedroom » January 2015]
NOW: This room doesn’t have all that much of a personality of its own yet. I really like how it still feels a lot brighter since we got rid of the dark burgundy though – the previous owners apparently had a thing with purple. It comes in useful for when we have a few more people over but unfortunately it’s mainly utilised as Moon’s ironing room most of the time.

[Bathroom » January 2015]
NOW: We really haven’t done all that much to the bathroom, other than getting rid of the sad old mirror and putting in a fancy cabinet. Eventually I’d like to put in a proper shower but I’m happy with it the way it is for the moment 🙂

Maybe it’s just because it’s our stuff in it and it was a family of five with a dog that lived here before and we’re just two and a cat so we have a lot less clutter and more time to keep it tidy. Since Christmas, I finally feel like our home is exactly what it is, it’s somewhere family come to visit and where we host guests, and where we relax when we have a free weekend.

I loved that flat in Newbury, it was freezing year-round, had gross carpets and really expensive bills (our gas & electric bills have more than halved since we moved, thank goodness for double glazing) and it was a big adjustment period for me, but now it feels more like it fits and I’m feeling really positive and actually pretty proud of this place. Now I just need to get out and explore the area a little more so we have things to do when the house is taking up less of our time.

It would be easy to blame January entirely for my lack of posting but I think that’s a bit of a hard sell given that my last post was way back in November. I guess I’ve just been feeling a bit busy and a bit uninspired, which aren’t a great combination if you’re trying to keep something like this going. That said, the start of a new month has brought about the feeling wanting to start a fresh and I’m feeling a lot more creative than I was so.. here we go…

Living Room: Before + After

When the lovely people at Ocean Finance got in touch with the challenge of making over a room for £50 or less, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Working on making our house a home has very much been a marathon rather than a sprint and a few weeks ago we finally got around to painting our living room. Our friends Richard and Fran were on hand to help and it was pretty amazing how quickly we managed to get things done, they were even sneakily up early to finish up the trim, we definitely owe them more than one.

So, obviously it didn’t look like this all the time but it should give you an idea of what a blank canvas this room was.

We are planning on putting a fireplace at some point but for now a makeshift radiator cover – what was left to us by the previous owners – will have to do.

Repainting things white never fails to make me feel a bit uneasy. Funny how your eyes can trick you.

So, the deal was that once we got this room painted we would be able to get curtains, put pictures up, finally pick up a dining table and basically just make the room feels like it was more ‘us’.

Ocean sent over a voucher for Dunhelm to see what I could find to makeover my chosen room. Dunhelm has been one of my savior shops since we moved, all our curtains have been from there and I just think it’s really good for everyday bits and pieces at a great price, it’s definitely up there with Wilko as somewhere I’d recommend for general house things.

Pro tip: radiator paint is awful.

In need of so many more house plants!

After we’d tried to put things back to normal post-putting the curtains up.
Now I’ve had practice with a lot of other rooms in the house, I feel making a room over can be as simple as a lick of paint and a few personal touches, so I wasn’t going to go too far out of my comfort range with my £50.

Every meal I’ve eaten has been here since we put this up on Saturday afternoon. ♥

This little ladder shelf was a TKMaxx find, just what I was looking for and much nicer than the MDF versions I’d been watching on eBay. Now we just need to work out what to put on it…

Most of the voucher went towards the map blind, I chose them because they’re a little different but neutral at the same time. I didn’t want another set of curtains as we got long curtains for the patio doors and because they’re pretty close together I figured it would look weird to have different lengths next to each other. The rest went on curtain rings and picture frames (which we’re yet to put up).

This 65daysofstatic poster has had a little re-frame and is looking much healthier now it’s out of a bendy clip frame.

We used to have this poster in our bedroom in our flat but it’s been promoted to living room since the space above our bed is a little too small for it. I’m pretty happy to have it more out on display now anyway though.

This mirror was one of our first Dunhelm finds, I love the wood.

My mum treated me to this Atlas Moth a few weeks ago when I was in Covent Garden with her. I’m actually a little obsessed with insect taxidermy recently.

I picked up this table on Saturday to match the other one we got when we first moved in. I’m so pleased that IKEA still had them as they’re one of my favourite IKEA purchases – they’re actually meant to be plant stands but they’re the perfect shape for what we need as they don’t take up much room.

I guess I’d have to admit that because of all the other things we picked up at IKEA at the weekend, as well as our new dining set (with IKEA bench), making over the room for £50 was a bit of a failure but I think you’ll agree that I’ve certainly managed to put our stamp on it, even if it’s from a few different places.

After 7 months of a combination of hard work – and being a bit lazy – we’re actually pretty much there with this whole ‘nestmaking’ (not in a baby way) things and I feel much better about the prospect of hosting our first Christmas, our next milestone.

Would you be able to makeover a room for £50? Which room would you choose?

Sage + Mint.

*and how to easily spend £40 on candles and disappoint your boyfriend.

You might remember back in June when I visited the Wealden Times Midsummer Fair that I was head over heels with Produce Candles and their beautiful packaging. Well, knowing that winter is on its way and that once it gets to this time of year as soon as it’s time to turn the heating on and the living room gets darker, it’s time to light some candles and start hibernating.

After my sweet friends Kirstin and Dan picked me up a rhubarb Produce Candle to warm our house, I felt confident that Produce Candles really are as good as they look.

A beautiful trio – and I’m sure I can do something fun with the jars once the candles are used up.
So far, despite burning for over 8 hours (and other things candle bloggers say), they’re less than 1/3 way through and by the standard of the kind of scented candles I usually buy, I’d say that for their size, that’s pretty good.

It’s very simple, but I love that they sort of keep with the gardening theme and package the candles with straw-like padding.

Another nice touch, for the record, tomato is delicious!

I Love Produce Candles stocks the whole range of candles, and they’re actually also the company from the stall I saw at Wealden Times all those months ago.

The main touch that I love is the tips for growing the plant that your candle smells like. I already have mint and sage growing from plants in the garden but this is good stuff to know for next year’s plants.

There are so many to try, but I went for sage and mint as they’re my two favourite herbs. I’d be really interested to give radish and carrot a go and I’d love fig if this winter lasts as long as it’s supposed to – still, I’m slightly on reserves given that they are pretty luxury. That said, I’d definitely say they’re worth it, not only do they smell great but they’re made from natural soy wax, which burns much more evenly and slowly than beeswax, so you get to enjoy them for longer. ♥


[Oola Blue Fish Dish* c/o JOY]
As time goes on, I’m becoming really aware of lack of room tours and homeware hauls. I just bought a house, it’s exciting and it’s something to write about, right? Well, yeah, but also, it takes ages to get ready. It still feels like there’s always something to do and over half our stuff is still packed up in boxes in our front room – which I guess explains why we have SO MUCH storage space.

I’ve been watching llymlrs’ moving vlogs and even though she’s still sitting on the floor, I’m pretty astounded that her new place has come together more so in a few weeks than mine has in months. Comparison is a killer, but I’m working on it.

When we moved, we cleared out a lot, I think it’s a good thing but it meant that we spent a lot of time asking ourselves whether the thing destined for home, charity shops or the dump was useful to us. Now we feel very much clutter-free but as as before, I’m still on the lookout for cute homewares to make my new house a home – we’ve still yet to put all our pictures on the wall!

When I was contacted to do a little chat about Joy the Store, I jumped at the chance. It’s one of those quirky ‘bit of everything’ shops that I really like and would buy everything from if my pockets were deep enough. Full of useful but pretty (and less useful but still pretty) items, it holds the same place in my heart as the wonderful Oliver Bonas.

From pug vases to sweet trinket boxes and a washing up sponge after my own heart, as well as a range of books, mugs and photo frames, there are all sorts of things to choose from. I opted for this beautiful fish dish, knowing that it would match another fish dish I bought a few years ago and that Moon is always pleased to see nautical things.

I like to have various bowls and trays round the house as receptacles for things like keys and money, we have a couple with potpourri in (because my mum gave us the biggest bag of potpourri as a moving-in gift and I actually don’t know what to do with it). So bowls are just useful things to have. I’m still undecided about this one because it could work for a fancy serving dish or, as we’re using it now, a fruit bowl, or another clutter collector. Whatever form it takes, there’s no doubt that it’s as useful as it is pretty and I’m pleased to have another sea-themed item in my home.

Joy is a shop I’ll always pop into if I see it and I get a feeling that now I know about it, their website will be one I’ll visit regularly too – especially because I need to make that Buddha butter dish mine.

*This is a sponsored post: I was sent products by Joy to promote for this post, all opinions are my own.