Thursday, 16 November 2017

Transitioning to cruelty free

Cruelty Free Cosmetics, vegan, shampoo, argan oil

Some things in life are more obvious than others, for some time I have been living in blissful ignorance about quite how many every day products are tested on animals. For the last couple of months I have been trying to transition all of my products over to cruelty free and vegan but it will take some time.

I don't believe in wasting products so I won't be throwing away bottles of things I already have in order to replace them with cruelty free items, what I have been doing is as things have been running out I have looked for vegan, cruelty free options to replace them with.
This is breaking the task down into bite sized chunks, because finding alternatives for everything I used to love isn't the easiest thing I've ever done. Slowly I am getting there and I wanted to show the items I have changed over to so far.

original source, cruelty free, vegan shower gel

Shower gel or body wash is something we all use on a daily basis, I used to buy whatever was on special offer at the time. This was an easy swap for me because I already loved the Original Source shower gels and they are vegan, so rather than buying whats on special I just wait until the Original Source products are on offer and I stock up with plenty and it sees me through until they are on special again. Their fragrance range is really nice with plenty to suit men and women, I am always drawn to the creamy sweet smelling products and tend to buy the fresh ones for my boyfriend.

cruelty free anti perspirant

Deodorant is one of the most recent changes for myself and my partner, again I used to buy them when they were on a 3 for 2 deal which meant they would last me for ages. My favourite was Dove roll on because I loved the fragrances, but as Dove is owned by Unilever I knew it had to go. A friend mentioned that Superdrug are really good for cruelty free products so that was my first port of call. I checked the own brand roll on deodorants in superdrug and they didn't have the leaping bunny logo sadly but their aerosol versions did luckily. I am still keen on finding a cruelty free roll on as I find they last longer than sprays so if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.

I got the cotton fresh spray for myself, for some reason I can't find the one I got for my boyfriend on their website but they had a few available in store.

Cruelty free shampoo, cruelty free conditioner, superdrug

Shampoo and conditioner was a difficult one for me as I have used Tresemme for years now and loved the huge bottles it came in because I get through it so fast due to having very long hair. I will continue to look for something I love but for the time being I have been using the superdrug Pro Vitamin with argan oil which is often on 2 for £3.

vegan argan oil

My hair gets quite dry so I wanted to find a hair oil to use as it makes a difference to the feel of my hair, luckily I found one that I love. I picked up the hair therapy with argan oil and I noticed the difference in the way my hair felt from the first use. My hair was smoother and silkier and didn't get so matted, this stuff was a god send! I have used quite a few hair oils over the years and I actually think this is my favourite which is great considering it's so affordable as well at £3.99. It smells amazing too which is an added bonus.

I find my hair can be a little difficult to comb when wet, it's super fine and gets tangled easily so I got the Argan hair therapy 10 in 1 mist to spray on damp hair before I attempt to comb it through and it seems to make the task a little easier.

These are my current changes, I still have a lot of my garnier micellar water left for removing make-up but that will probably be one of the next things I will need to purchase, if you know of any good vegan replacements for it please let me know.

In case you have any worries about how ethical Original Source are, check out this post I wrote on them : Are Original Source ethical

Thanks for reading!

* This post contains affiliate links

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Vegan Pizza Hut

With all of the big pizza chains now offering vegan options it was long overdue that Pizza Hut finally stepped into the 21st century and started offering vegan cheese. When I first heard about the launch of Pizza Hut offering Violife cheese I was intrigued, I had tried violife cheese way back when I first went vegan and wasn't that impressed. But I figured for a big chain like Pizza Hut to consider using it, they must have thought the flavour was realistic enough to fit in with their brand.

Sadly Pizza Hut are only doing an initial trial with Violife in 5 of their restaurants, even more annoyingly they are all in the South of England and not very widely spread. The following stores are taking part in the trial until November 26th: Bluewater, Canterbury, Chatham, Crawley and Thanet.

Lucky for me I don't live too far away from Bluewater so I knew that I wanted to try the vegan pizza and show support in the hopes that they will keep it on the menu. A few weeks ago we rocked up to Bluewater on a Monday night to sample the delights, you can swap the dairy cheese on any pizza for violife so it's a good option for people who are dairy free as well as vegans. I decided on the heavenly veg pizza which has black olives, cherry tomatoes, caramelised onions and rocket. Usually this pizza comes with goats cheese, so we swapped that out for the violife, then scuttled on over to the salad buffet to load up whilst waiting for our pizza to arrive.

Vegan Pizza Hut, Heavenly Veg, Violife cheese

When the pizza arrived at our table I was so excited to try it, the cheese looked gooey and melty and slightly browned just like you would expect of dairy cheese. I dove straight in and stuffed a piece of the ooey gooeyness into my mouth and was totally amazed! The taste and texture of the melted violife was so good, I was totally in love. Since going vegan pizza isn't something I bother getting very often because lets be honest, pizza without cheese is like Christmas without presents. It's ok but not as fun. I have tried the offerings of Zizi and Ask who use Mozzarisella in replacement of Mozzarella cheese, and although it's nice it just doesn't have the stretch of firm feel of Mozzarella. I personally prefer the Violife on the Pizza Hut version, so much so we headed all the way back again this past weekend to have another pizza in case it disappears from the menu.

Vegan Pizza Hut, Heavenly Veg, Violife cheese

Enjoying the pizza so much also encouraged me to give Violife another chance at home and I bought some and loved it way more than when I tried it nearly 3 years ago. I believe the recipe has changed since then because I thought it was a soya cheese but it's now made with a coconut oil base which may be the reason I prefer it now.

I really hope Pizza Hut roll out Violife in all stores because I look forward to the day I can order it for home delivery on a saturday night and enjoy it in my pyjamas in front of the telly!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Finding Essex Treasures for Autumn

Autumn, essex, norpar barns, Michelle Louise Love,

Everywhere you look at the moment people are saying how much they love Autumn, this sort of thing is dominating social media right now. I went to visit a pumpkin patch for the first time in 2015 and sadly I didn't get to visit one last year and may not this year either, sob sob. However I did get to visit this little Essex treasure that I think you need to know about.

Norpar Barns is a hidden gem out in the Essex countryside, it may be small but it's perfectly formed. I was drawn in because I wanted to go and see all the ugly little pumpkins, gourds and squashes that you won't find in the supermarket. If you are hosting a Autumnal dinner party and want cute little pumpkins for centre pieces or you want to dress up your home for the season then Norpar is the perfect place to visit to stock up. They currently have a spooky little barn set up with Halloween stock as well which is dimly lit with lots of things that will make you jump so be warned!

Norpar Barns, Essex, Navestock, things to do essex, pumpkins, ugly pumpkin

The other side of the courtyard is their little shop which is choc full of stunning artificial flowers and homeware. You can buy dried lavender by the cup which would be perfect if you're crafty and like making little gifts for people because you could fill little fabric pockets with the lavender and use it to fragrance your wardrobes. I picked up some cute little miniature pumpkins to use in a crafty project, but they have plenty of things you could use from cinnamon sticks to dried lemon slices and pine cones. It's certainly worth checking out if you're wanting lovely Christmas gifts, and on that note their Christmas Barn opens this weekend, I expect it will be full of beautiful items to decorate your home with, and old fashioned foodie items so if it's not too far from you I really would recommend a visit.

Norpar Barns, Essex, Navestock, Autumn trips,
Mini pumpkins, autumn, crafty autumn

Are there any places in Essex you think are worth visiting this Autumn? I would love to hear your recommendations.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Enjoying Autumn with ginger hot chocolate

If only Autumn would last longer, the cooler weather that is perfect for wearing jumpers without coats, the beautiful golds, reds and browns of nature and time to start curling up indoors with hot chocolate! Ok, so you can do that any time of year but it feels better in Autumn somehow.

Michelle Louise Love, ginger hot chocolate

I have been increasing my intake of fresh ginger root for health reasons so experimented with ginger hot chocolate and wow it was good. The ginger gave not just flavour but warmth to the drink which I absolutely loved. I managed to turn something that is usually considered a naughty treat into a somewhat healthy drink by making it with roasted unsweetened almond milk (which is only 13 cals per 100ml might I add), cacao powder and chopped fresh ginger which I steep in the milk as it's heating. I make it in my big mug because ya know..... it's good for you.

How do you like your hot chocolate?

Michelle Louise Love, hot chocolate

Sunday, 24 September 2017

What I've been up to

I've been AWOL from my blog for some months but that doesn't mean I haven't been living. I have still been enjoying life and going out, I have done some amazing things in this past year. So I've decided to do a roundup of some of the things I have been up to.

I got in my yearly trip to an outdoor cinema, this year I returned to Roof East in Statford to see the Lego Batman Movie, it had rained really hard all day so my friends and I had been watching the weather from work with fear that the night would be a washout. Luckily the sun sneaked through the dark stormy looking sky and the rain held off so we were able to enjoy the film and even stuffed our face with some patatas bravas from one of the food vendors.

I went to the Overdough party in the summer, who knew there was a party dedicated to cocktails and pizza? £15 for a ticket and for an hour I got to drink unlimited sex on the beach out of large red cups sitting in the sunshine in the beer garden of Rolling Stock in Hoxton, then another hour stuffing my face with mushroom pizza. I would recommend the events, they change location every month so it's always in a new venue around London. They may have stopped for the summer but no doubt they will be back next year.

overdough party, rolling stock, hoxton, Michelle Louise Love

I climbed the o2! At the start of July when we had that heatwave a crazy friend and I thought it would be the perfect time to climb to the top of the o2. We had been talking about doing it for over a year and at the last minute decided we would just book the tickets and go. It certainly gives your ankles and legs a workout but it's totally worth it when you reach the summit and get to look out over Greenwich. I plan to do it again for the twilight climb because I would love to experience the view in the dark.

up the o2, Michelle Louise Love, greenwich, london, climbing o2

Attended the Chelmsford beer and cider festival. I wasn't entirely sure this one was going to be for me because I don't like beer at all, but my friend asked me to come along and I thought, why not! The summer festival is held in Admirals park annually, the entry price varies depending on time of day but even at peak time is really reasonable and you pay a refundable deposit for your glass. I love that idea because it stops the use of horrible environmentally unfriendly plastic cups. Then we hit the huge cider and perry marquee because neither my friend or I like beer. I was amazed at the amount of local brews on offer and they were all colour coded with info on how strong they were and how sweet. We were hunting for the sweet perry's with the most fun names! I loved the fact you could order a third of a pint, because then I could try more or the varieties on offer. I think my favourite was called Crazy Goat. I would highly recommend looking to see if your local area holds any festivals like this, they are a cheap and fun way to spend an evening whilst supporting a lot of your local breweries.

I hit Miami Beach cinema on London created by backyard cinema for a fantastic evening that I can't recommend enough. Backyard turned an old warehouse into a great space by covering the floor with sand, giving you beanbags to sit on and installing palm trees, surfboards and a lifeguard tower. The atmosphere in the cinema was amazing, we saw Pitch Perfect and everyone was clapping and singing along and the final scene was quite emotional because the cinema lit up with coloured lights and everyone cheered! It may not be cheap, but for a one off treat it is well worth the experience you will get. I will remember going to see Pitch Perfect at the miami beach cinema forever. Here's a post about another great pop up cinema. 

I finally went to to Hawker House food market, I used to live in Surrey Quays and sadly there wasn't anything like this when I lived there. There is a great vibe about the place and it's the perfect spot to hang out with friends, you can all have something different to eat because there is loads to choose from so you don't all have to agree on one thing and can have a taste of each others food ;)
Earlier that day I also went to play crazy golf at Swingers, we all know that playing crazy golf in London is super expensive for what it is. But the drinks there are really over priced sadly, but it's worth a visit just once.

Swingers golf, London, hawker house, martini weekender, Michelle Louise Love

I went to a corn maze for the first time. I have wanted to do this for a few years so was so happy to catch the last day of the corn maze at Blake House in Essex and even happier that the weather was dry. When you pay entry for the maze you can pay an additional £1.50 for a sealed envelope with a map inside that if you return unopened you will be refunded for. Unfortunately after wandering around and seeing the same tree many times over we relented and opened the map! I'm sure this would be even more fun if you gather some friends and have a challenge to see who can make it out first. Next year that is the plan.

I went to Alice Underground at the Waterloo Vaults, this was my first time attending immersive theatre and I really enjoyed it. Being involved in the events that take place in the play is something really different to the way you would normally experience theatre. Sadly Alice Underground has now come to an end but I have a feeling it might come back at some point in the future as my friend went to see it back in 2015, so if you missed out make sure you keep your eyes peeled in case it makes a comeback.

I acted like a kid in an adult only ball pit! Whilst visiting Boxpark in Shoreditch my friend and I spotted one of the containers was filled with bright coloured balls and we couldn't resist going in! I haven't been in a ball pit since I was a child and this was nothing like I remembered, when I fell down it was the hardest thing to get myself back up again.

Ball pit, boxpark shoreditch, Michelle Louise Love

I discovered the magic roundabout in old street. This venue has a hidden entrance in the tube station that leads to the venue concealed in the roundabout of Old Street. There are several food vendors inside as well as 2 bars, music and a dancefloor. It's a great venue with lots of interesting little areas to sit down in, just be aware that because it is an outdoor setting that there are a lot of smokers! It was a shame because I don't know if I would go back on that basis alone, it gets really busy and my idea of a good time is not having loads of people blowing their second hand smoke in my face!! This venue would definitely benefit from a no smoking policy.

The Real Greek, Westfield Stratford, Mezze, Michelle Louise Love
Mezze at The Real Greek

Along with all the stuff above I have had plenty of coffee dates with friends and eaten at lots of good restaurants, as well as some nights out enjoying cocktails. I will hopefully be back in the blogging game as I do like that my blog is my online diary of the wonderful places I go and it will be somewhere I can look back to remember for years to come.

Michelle Louise Love, stratford, london, cocktails

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

I'm back

Michelle Louise Love, urban exploring, graffiti, lifestyle blog, essex, brentwood

It's been nearly a year since my last post, that year has gone so fast but there has been so much change. After my last post I felt a shift emotionally and I just didn't feel in the right space to continue blogging. I personally feel that my creativity, writing ability and motivation are very much tied to how I feel, so if I don't feel quite myself then I find it difficult to create blog posts or even come up with ideas.

May of last year I began a personal journey to help cure myself of my depression with natural therapies. I didn't get around to doing a conclusive post of how I feel a year on, and that wasn't because I was still feeling bad. There have been lots of ups and downs but somehow I do feel I am coping better than I would have previously. The whole project did open my eyes to a huge amount of suppressed information about our health. I spent probably hundreds of hours watching talks and seminars, reading papers and studies as well as reading people's personal experiences on curing illness or chronic disease with natural therapies, and it made me realise just how important it is. In western society we have been taught not to believe in the power of food, plants and exercise. From the time we are little we are told that medicine is the only way forward for most things and we buy into it because it's easy to swallow a pill if we think it will fix the issue.

The problem is that medicine is unnatural and with most drugs there will be a whole host of side effects that will eventually make you more unwell than you were to start with! When you have a cold do you reach for the beechams or lemsip? People around the world would make a hot honey and lemon rather than putting something unnatural in their body. People in Greece or Turkey would apply yogurt and cucumber to soothe sunburn, in England we are more likely to reach for a product marketed as "after sun".

I discovered that garlic is just as powerful as warfarin but you don't see people going to their GP and being told to eat garlic everyday, instead they are put on blood thinning medication!

Just like people suffering from depression are put straight on medication to mask their feelings rather than trying to find the root cause! It makes me angry that there are so many people that will spend the rest of their lives on anti depressants because the medical system is failing them. It's quicker to shove someone out of the surgery door with a prescription for some pills than send them to a dietitian and a counsellor. Some forms of depression are nutritionally caused, if you are lacking in certain vitamins and minerals it can cause you to feel depressed. How many people that turn up at their GP's mercy are told that one? Of course not everyone would choose the more holistic route because it would take effort on their part to make changes to their life. I know there are people that would rather just take medication, but I am also sure that there are plenty of people who would like to be given the choice to not be stuck on medication and just need the tools to help themselves.

There seems to be a fundamental issue with our society and we are moving further and further away from whats important in this country. I read a paper about how London is one of the loneliness capitals of Europe, and do you know what loneliness leads to? You got it, DEPRESSION. There are elderly people all over the country that are literally giving up on life because they are lonely and have no human contact. It makes me so sad that it is so rife and yet people really have no idea it's happening. Other European countries put so much importance on family, friends and food, and that is for very good reason!

From personal experience I felt my worst when I was alone, I have a terrible habit of cutting myself off from people when I feel a bit blue and it's the worst thing you can possibly do for your mental health. If you isolate yourself it will only make you feel more down, because humans aren't solitary creatures. There's truth in the old saying "a problem shared is a problem halved", I'm not saying it will fix everything but it really does help. Don't underestimate the power of a support network.

Now I know I have been rambling and most people probably won't have made it to the end of this post, but this is a subject I am very passionate about. I hope if you have read this, you will be more open to a few natural therapies. Maybe drinking that peppermint tea instead of reaching for a rennie, or try drinking ginger tea if you feel a bit nauseous.

If you are interested in anything I found whilst researching then feel free to ask.

Have a good day everyone!

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