Trying free from/vegan easter eggs

Trying free from/vegan easter eggs

You may or may not be aware that as of January I have been avoiding dairy and gluten. I was suffering from a lot of heartburn and stomach cramps and I realised that eating gluten and dairy wasn’t necessarily the cause, but was definitely contributing. Since cutting the two out of my diet (with the exception of an occasional mcdonald’s), I have been almost completely heartburn free and I barely get any stomach cramps.

However, if you’re a fellow difficult person with intolerances or allergies, or a vegan, you’ll know that it can be a pain in the ass to find alternatives. Fortunately, gluten and dairy free products are becoming more popular and it isn’t that difficult (although it can be expensive.) Yet, with easter coming up, I just kind of assumed that I wouldn’t be getting any easter eggs this year as I though Free From eggs probably just weren’t a thing. Bu thank God, I was wrong.

Turns out, your very own Tesco and Asda both sell amazing Free From eggs! I’ve done you guys a favour, and tested both eggs (it was really difficult for me, but I managed it) and I’m going to give you the low down on them. In case you’re wondering what the point of this post is… 1. it was a good excuse for me to eat some chocolate and 2. if there is anyone else out there that is absolutely devastated to be missing out on the egg action this easter, like I thought I was, I want you to know that you don’t have to!

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First up, we’ve got the Asda egg and chocolate orange discs! I really really enjoyed the egg, to be honest there’s not a lot to say because it just tasted like a normal egg. The egg is free from gluten, wheat and dairy and comes with a bunch of chocolate orange discs in the bottom (which are probably the best part). With it, I also bought some of Asda’s little packets of chocolate orange discs (which are basically chocolate buttons) and again, they were lovely. The egg is just £4 and was voted joint winner of the Good Housekeeping Free From Easter egg test 2017! The chocolate orange discs were just 37p per bag, which is really a very decent price. If you want to check out the full ingredients list, here is a link to the egg on Asda’s site. As far as I can see there aren’t any signs that the egg includes actual chicken type eggs (not easter ones), so if you have an egg allergy, you might be cool with these.

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Then there’s the Tesco egg. Again, it tasted good, not really any different to the Asda egg! However, the Tesco egg came with gold coins, so they were a bit boring in comparison to the Asda chocolate orange discs – but maybe you prefer boring? Another difference was, the Asda egg is 200g, whereas the Tesco egg is 115g, so you get more chocolate in the Asda egg. However, the Tesco egg is cheaper at £2.50, and is also part of Tesco’s 2 for £3 egg deal – which is a bargain. Overall though, it’s a really nice egg. Again, it is gluten, wheat and dairy free and as far as I can see there isn’t any real chicken eggs involved. You can check out the full ingredients list on the Tesco site here. Along with the egg, I also got these cool easter bunny shaped marshmallows, which were also gluten and dairy free – however, they’re not vegetarian or vegan friendly, so.

Overall, I did prefer the Asda egg, but the Tesco egg was definitely still a pleasure to eat. In all honesty, I’m just thankful that either of them exist or else I’d be having a pretty boring easter!

So, if you know anyone that is vegan or gluten, dairy or wheat intolerant, link them to this post so they know that easter this year doesn’t have to be egg-less! Make sure to give this post a like if you’re a fellow intolerant or if you’re a vegan and this has helped you out! Thanks for reading!

emmachxrlotte

 

Natural skincare favourites

Natural skincare favourites

After suffering from acne for two years from 2013-2015 I have a hell of a lot of experience with skincare products and what works and what doesn’t. I was forever being advised to try different scrubs/creams/masks and after years of trialling what was probably hundreds of products, I have finally found my favourite products.

The one big breakthrough I had that really helped me to clear up my acne was that I realised that less is definitely more. I know when you’re covered in blemishes and you’re desperate to change that, you want to do something about it – so you scrub at your face and plaster it in numerous different chemical-packed substances but actually, you’d be so much better off leaving it all alone.

My go-to skincare routine currently involves a bar of Dove soap, Aloe Vera gel, St Ives Apricot Scrub and Freeman face masks. Yes, that’s right. No special zit-zapping soap or creams. Just these guys and some water.

When I finally cut out the zit-zapping cleansers and creams and switched to a standard, good old Dove bar of soap and Aloe Vera gel (twice a day, morning and night) my skin rapidly improved. Now I won’t lie, I was also on antibiotics to help clear up my acne, but the antibiotics take a couple of months to kick in and my face started clearing up way too early for it to have been the antibiotics – I believe it was down to the lack of harsh chemical-filled products.

The dove soap is super natural, as is the aloe vera gel. Equally, the St Ives scrub that I use very sparingly once a week is super gentle on your skin and super natural. The facemarks that I use once every other week are also full of natural goodness – using ingredients like sugar, seaweed and yet again, aloe vera, they’re really gentle on your skin but still do their job in keeping it clean and baby smooth.

The key to keeping clear, happy and gorgeous skin, I believe from my experience, is being gentle and keeping a consistent routine with the same natural products. It probably sounds crazy to some of you, probably like it’s going to create more spots than it will get rid of. I’m not saying it will work for everyone, but for me, being gentle and therefore keeping irritation to an absolute minimum made a world of difference.

You can buy aloe vera gel from most chemists/pharmacies and I get my Freeman facemarks and Dove soap bars from Tesco. The St Ives Apricot face scrub is available on Amazon, here. The apricot scrub is a little on the pricier side, but it’s 100& worth it, the other products though, are really reasonably priced and work wonders.

If you decide to give any of these products a go, let me know what you think, or if you have any suggestions for other natural, gentle skincare products then please feel free to let me know in the comments as I’m always on the look out for new little gems!

Thank you for reading, if you haven’t already, check out my last post, ‘gooey vegan brownie goodness’ and stick around for a huge clothes haul coming on Tuesday!

emmachxrlotte

Gooey vegan brownie goodness

Gooey vegan brownie goodness

First in a long line of posts I have prepared for you this week is a recipe I tried yesterday evening – chocolate brownies. Brownies are one of my absolute favourite foods ever, but with my gluten and dairy intolerances it has been difficult to find brownie free of the two. So, I decided to make my own.

However, the last two recipes I’ve used they’ve just not really been brownies. The first one I tried was basically just chocolate sponge cake, it didn’t have that lovely gooey brownie texture at all. The second recipe I tried was nowhere near chocolate-y enough to be a brownie. But I decided to give it another go, third time lucky and all, using Jamie Oliver’s Vegan Brownie Recipe, and oh my god. Oh my god. They are good. You can’t tell that they’re vegan at all, they taste like thousands of calories of carby sugary badness and it’s beautiful.

These are perfect with Valentine’s day coming up; whether you make them as a delicious treat for your other half or you make them as a present for yourself. You can go check out Jamie’s recipe if you want the full recipe, but I’m going to post below exactly what I used, as I tweaked a couple of things.

5 tablespoons sunflower oil
200g dairy-free dark chocolate
170g self-raising flour
3 heaped teaspoons cocoa powder
180g sugar
230ml soya milk

Of course all of the ingredients used are gluten and dairy free versions and you should also include some vegan butter to grease the tin. Jamie’s recipe also includes a vanilla pod and some pecan nuts but I chose to leave these out – it’s up to you though!

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Grease a baking tin, then line with greaseproof paper.
  2. Break 150g of chocolate into a bowl over boiling water and allow it to melt, then set aside to cool a little.
  3. While you’re waiting, sieve the flour and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl, then stir in the sugar. Stir in the oil, soya milk and melted chocolate until combined.
  4. Roughly chop and stir in the remaining chocolate and pour the mixture into the prepared tin, spreading it out evenly. Then place into the hot oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked on the outside, but still gooey in the middle.
  5. Leave to cool for ten minutes, if you can bare to wait any longer, and then I dusted them with icing sugar but you could drizzle melted chocolate over them if you’re feeling super naughty.

This recipe was absolutely fantastic and I feel like I owe Jamie my life. If you decide to give the recipe a go then please let me know! (pls send pictures too!) If you’re a fellow gluten or dairy-free special kid or a vegan then stick around for more recipes – I have a lot in the pipeline as I’m discovering lots of new and yummy recipes at the moment!

P.S. Hey, long time no see! I’m so sorry for the lack of posts in the last two weeks – I started my new job last Monday and the very early mornings and long days have taken some getting used to. I’ve basically been getting up, going to work, coming home and eating food then straight to bed. However, I’ve decided that I’m going to write a bunch of blog posts at the weekend and schedule them to post throughout the week, so don’t worry you’ve got lots of posts coming this week as I’ve spent all day writing!
emmachxrlotte

How I Get Motivated

How I Get Motivated

With exam season fast approaching (I’m so sorry if that just made you cry a little) and the most depressing part of the year in full swing, I figured it might be helpful to share my tips on how I get motivated. Don’t get me wrong I’m not some kind of freak that’s positive and motivated 24/7 but from past experience I’ve found that some of these things can really help me to turn my mood around – so why not give them a go.

  1. Setting the right atmosphere. I personally find that for getting work done (be it uni work, school work, work-work or even blogging) I am ten times more productive if I have the right kind of atmosphere – too picky? Sure, maybe. But I find that if I have some music playing and my favourite candle burning and I’m sat to my desk and not slumped in bed, then I’m a heck of a lot more likely to get stuff done. When I did my AS level exams I used to work in bed all of the time and I was so convinced that it was working out for me, but in reality it seriously wasn’t. So, one of the first things I did this year was order myself a cute little Micke Ikea desk and Tobias chair so that I could get all productive. So far, it’s proving to be a winner – I’m sat to the desk right now with my cherry vanilla Yankee candle lit and I’ve got Ed Sheeran playing and I’m actually looking for things to do, I want to work. Another tip, especially for this time of the year when it’s so depressing outside, get a continuous fire place video up. I have an Amazon Fire TV stick and you can get apps with fireplaces and fish tanks that just play continuously with sound effects. I also know they’re available on Youtube, so if you’re someone that can’t work with music playing then try a fire place. I find it so relaxing and cozy, and that makes me super productive.
  2. Diaries, journals and weekly planners. For just general life motivation I find it really helpful to use a weekly planner. When I was doing my A levels and for the few months that I was at uni, I found it so unbelievably helpful to have my little A4 planner up on the wall with everything plain and simple, day by day, for me to follow. It kept me super organised and meant that I was always totally on top of assignments. Not only that but it’s great for if you workout so you can keep to a regular schedule, or for if you have appointments or are meeting friends. I would totally recommend them. I’m also really trying to keep a journal this year. I started one last year but never really kept it up, but this year I’m going in. One of my best friends bought me a beautiful motivational journal (it was from TK Maxx if you wanna grab yourself one) and it’s such a lovely journal that I find I’m always desperate to just write something in it and use it. Keeping the journal so far has definitely helped with stress, as I use it to vent, and has also helped me to be more positive and motivated and I try to write down at least one positive thing that i’ve done every day. Consequently, every day I’m thinking “lets do something amazing today so I can record it in my journal”, it’s really keeping me motivated.
  3. Keep your room and work space tidy and organised. Over christmas I was completely avoiding my bedroom because it was such a tip. I’d literally got piles of books in the corner of my room as I’d ran out of shelves for them and it was just generally a cluttered mess. So I’ve made it my mission to have a serious clear out in my bedroom and treated myself to some gorgeous new shelves to showcase my books and my room is looking fantastic. With everything tidy and organised and nice, my room feels like a really positive space and I honestly feel like it’s the reason I’ve been sleeping so much better this past week. Equally I’ve got myself some nice little desk tidies to keep my work space clear and clutter-free and consequently my mind feels clutter-free.
  4. Be kind to yourself. Yeah okay so life is busy and there’s always things to be done but you’re not a robot and you deserve a break every now and then – don’t be so hard on yourself. Every evening at 8pm I leave my phone in my room and clear my mind of anything that’s stressing me out and I go downstairs and spend time with my family. We usually sit in the living room and watch our favourite TV shows like Midsomer Murders and Endeavour (we all love a good murder), but it’s just a couple of hours where I’m in this nice little bubble that’s totally stress free and all that’s running through my mind is who’s the murderer. Taking time for yourself to just chill and let give your blood pressure a break is so damn important and it really just helps me to go to bed feeling clear-minded and ready for some actual sleep, not just 8 hours of tossing and turning while stressing about everything I can possibly think of.
  5. Eat lots and drink lots. I cannot express how important it is to fuel your body to keep it running. Before Christmas when things were pretty crap and I was feeling low and ill, I was barely eating and drinking. It’s just basic common sense that if you don’t fuel your body then it just isn’t going to run properly. So because I wasn’t eating and drinking properly I was feeling even lower and tireder and crapper (are those words?). I got myself into the mindset that I was just totally broken and there was no hope (drama queen, I know), but luckily my Mom was there to give me a good talking to and a good kick up the arse. After a few weeks of eating lots and drinking loads of water, I’ve got my energy back, I’m thinking straight again and feeling all motivated and productive. It really does go to show that if you live off two packets of crisps and two slices of toast a day then you will just lie in bed in the dark and get nowhere. However, with cereal and crumpets and stir fries and fruit and yoghurts and pasta and lots and lots of water, you can do anything – even become president, as good old Donald has proven that anything is possible. So if you want to work to your maximum ability, get yourself some cheeky brain food.

Let me know if you have any tips for getting motivated because you can never have too much help when it comes to getting motivated. Also let me know if you try any of these and they make a difference for you. I hope this post can be of some use, it definitely would’ve been to me a couple of years ago – if I’d have known these things all along then GCSEs and A levels could have been a lot less stressful for me. So, thanks for reading and I’ll see you again on Thursday when I’ll be posting a stationery haul!

emmachxrlotte

 

 

TV Shows to Watch in 2017

TV Shows to Watch in 2017

In all honesty, I’m not a big fan of watching TV – I don’t like all the typical shows like Big Brother, Pretty Little Liars or Love Island. Instead, I’m more of a crime/drama lover. Reality TV just isn’t my thing at all (with the exception of I’m a Celebrity obviously), not that there’s anything wrong with reality, but I just prefer watching something that really gets your brain going and blows your mind. I’m a huge fan of good old ‘who done it’ shows, like Midsomer Murders, because the whole time you’re watching everything so closely and scrutinising everything, constantly trying to play the detective and figure it out. However, that being said, I absolutely love a good comedy and a relatable family drama.

There are so many new and returning series that I’m so looking forward to watching this year and I thought I’d write a post about it both to organise my life a little, so that I know what I want to watch and when, but also as it might be useful to any fellow murder mystery lovers or drama obsessed people out there. So I’m going to stop rambling and get right to the point with my list of shows!

  1. Number one has to be Sherlock, of course! Which if you didn’t know, has already started! Sunday evening on BBC One is the place to be, guys.
  2. Broadchurch! I absolutely loved series one and two of Broadchurch and can’t wait to see how they wrap up the programme in the final series. Series three is due to start on ITV in February – and I can’t bloody wait!
  3. The Durrells is coming back! I can’t find an actual date, but the Durrells family will be back on our screens this spring and I’m so excited! This was a new series that started last Spring and I honestly loved it. It was such a light hearted, entertaining programme – very different to everything else around at the moment, and I can’t wait to watch it again this spring!
  4. Orange is the New Black. Need I say anymore? Oh my I still have sleepless nights where I wonder about that God damn cliff hanger. I need to know what the hell happened okay, and I need to know now. I can barely wait until the new season is on Netflix this June!
  5. Doctor Foster. You remember Doctor Foster right? That mind blowing series from 2015 that left us all on the edge of our seats after Suranne Jones slayed the scorned woman role. Well apparently series two is coming in 2017. I can’t find any dates anywhere – and trust me I’ve tried. But, it is coming back to BBC and I will be there waiting.

That is all I’ve got for now but I am positive that my list will grow as the year goes on and news emerges of more great TV, so no doubt I’ll be back in the summer with more shows – so look out for that! Until then, why not let me know what shows you’re looking forward to seeing back on our screens this year! Who doesn’t love fingerling over a good show ay? So drop me a comment if you fancy it! Until next time, thanks for reading!

emmachxrlotte