Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Alphabet Project // B is for Bunny


There is a new member of the Johnson family, Mabel the Lionhead Bunny! She is my 'B' for the second week of the Alphabet Photography Project.

Mabel the Lionhead Bunny

Look who has come to live with us! 


This is Mabel, our Lionhead bunny! She's ten weeks old and looks rather like a guinea pig at certain angles. She joined us on Monday after I popped in to our local pet superstore to see how much a run was. 

Hmm, where could she be?
I made my way through the store, eyeing the hay and toys when at the very back and all alone, Mabel was waiting to be adopted. I was told she was the last of her set to go so they pretty much moved her to the bargain bin. I couldn't leave her! I asked to have a hold and that was it. She was coming with me. After checking if she'd be ok as a singleton, we trundled off home so Mabel could get acquainted with her new abode.



We had intended on adopting a pair from our local rescue charity, but after trying to get hold of someone for a few weeks, and finally going there and knocking on the door only to be ignored I gave up. 

I have since felt a bit regretful for supporting a big pet business instead of rescuing from a charity. I know deep down they don't really care about the animals and I am sorry for giving them my money. But I guess Mabel needs a good home too? 

I was told by the adviser that whilst they're in that tank at the back they're not let out to run. He said bunnies like her wait for an average of a week before they find a family but it could be up to a month. Perhaps I am just trying to make myself feel better, but she's here now so there's not much use in worrying about it anymore - I'm hardly going to take her back!


She seems to be settling in well and I've just seen her use the ladder slope in her hutch for the first time :-) Go Mabel! I hope over the next few weeks she'll get used to the place and will learn to trust us. I can't wait to see her grow! 



Monday, 28 September 2015

Sundaze in Herne Bay



I could feel photography fever taking hold as I packed my camera into my work bag this morning. I knew the weather would be good and there was a chance the people I support would want to go for a walk in the sunshine, and I didn't want to miss any opportunities. I've always made sure my phone was nearby so I could capture moments wherever I am, but since taking my very first photographs on the manual control of my 'proper camera' yesterday, I was eager to put myself to practise.


Our stroll along Herne Bay gave plenty of opportunities; the rolling waves, the colourful amusements on the pier and a surprise, too, just for me... a clue to my true identity! :-)












Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Alphabet Photography Project // A is for Amusements


I went for a stroll along the Pier at Herne Bay for the first time today. It was gloriously sunny and the Helter Skelter perched at the end was glittering in the bright sunshine. I couldn't resist a few snaps as a child clambered to the top and whizzed her way down on her small straw matt.


Thanks to Charly for this fab linky! 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Playing with my Camera

I bought a Canon DSLR from my friend a couple of months ago but I'm struggling to learn to use the manual controls. I don't understand aperture or ISO and I am muddling through on the Auto settings at the mo. Inspired by my mini scout around the garden yesterday, I decided to have another go with the camera, using the Macro setting this time in the hope that I can take a few fluke photos and check on the settings when I view them on here. Here's what I managed to do...

I couldn't have planned this!

Wild flower

Do you know the name of this flowering plant? 
Floating in mid air

Spider's belly

Orchid

Japanese crackers, or dinosaur eggs? 

Friday, 25 September 2015

How Does Your Garden Grow? // Dew Drops and Bees Wings

I haven't been in the garden for weeks but I have checked on it every day through the patio doors or kitchen window. It's not the same of course, but I have seen the gladioli that I planted in the summer bloom despite me thinking I'd put the bulbs in the ground far too late. They look lovely and have got me thinking about all-white window boxes for next year. Gardening really is the gift that keeps on giving, I can see why so many people are so passionate about it.

Anyway, this morning I saw dew on the grass for the first time and I decided to get out there and take a closer look.



It was lovely taking in the fresh morning air as I tried to capture these tiny diamond drops on the grass. My photography isn't very good, I can barely get good pictures on auto but I am not letting that put me off - one day I will understand all those controls! I snooped around the flower bed, too. And look who I found...


As the head of this flower droops and faces the floor, I knelt down and stuck my face underneath so I could see the colours - only to be greeted by her! So sweet.


I was also keen to get a photograph of a plant I bought as a sad-looking cutting for 79p in the summer. I thought it would probably die, but it quickly started to flourish and I was delighted to see little purple flowers appearing a few weeks ago. I crouched down and focused my camera and in flew another welcome guest...


I love his wings!


I felt my venture to the garden was well and truly rewarded this morning, and I have made a promise to myself to spend more time out there, it really cheers me up.

How does your garden grow?

Mammasaurus

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Apple Crumble



Apples are a-fallin' so crumble shall be made. Along with a good strudel, delicious, comforting and seasonal crumbles are the quintessential autumnal puddings of dreams. A scoop of vanilla ice-cream or a blob of cold custard is perfect for cooling down each mouthful, because we all know waiting for an apple crumble to cool down of its own accord is pretty much impossible - it's too tasty to wait!

This one is so quick and easy to prepare that your six year old could make it. In fact, mine did! We made ours whilst our roast was cooking, and popped it in to cook just before we sat down to eat our dinner.

For the apple filling:
3 or 4 cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/3 cup of sugar
A sprinkling of cinnamon (optional)

For the crumble topping:
225g plain flour
125g sugar
125g non-dairy spread (I used Vitalite)

Step one: Preheat the oven to 160C / Gas mark 4. Place the diced apples into a baking dish and sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon. Toss together so the apple is evenly coated.

Step two: Sieve the flour and sugar in to a large bowl and rub the spread into it, until a crumble texture is achieved. Pour over the apple in the baking dish and even out. Bake for approx. 30 mins, or until the crumble is golden and the apple is tender.

Step three: Serve immediately with non-dairy ice-cream or custard.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Butternut Squash Risotto


This meal is three of my favourite things - delicious, healthy and cheap! Seriously, the ingredients for this dish come to about £1.60, so you'd be feeding your family for less than two quid!

You will need:

A splash of oil, unless you have a non-stick pot
1 red onion, peeled and diced (18p)
1 tsp of Lazy Garlic OR 1 clove of garlic, crushed (4p)
1 medium butternut squash peeled, deseeded and diced (69p)
8oz / 230g Arborio risotto rice (46p)
1 Kallo vegetable stock cube, dissolved into 2ltrs of boiling water (20p)

Step one: Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium/high heat. Place the onion in the pot and soften for a few minutes, until beginning to go translucent. Add the garlic and butternut squash and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the risotto rice and allow to cook for approx. 2 minutes, stirring all the time.

Step two: Gradually add the stock, stirring all the time, and allow the stock to be almost absorbed by the rice before adding the next amount of stock. Keep going until all the stock is added. Reduce to a low heat and stir for a few minutes more. At this point it will look like risotto but if you try the rice it will still be slightly crunchy. Add another 500ml or so of boiling water, stir and cover the pot with a lid. Allow to simmer on a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice is cooked and the water is absorbed. This part should take about 10 minutes or so, but test the rice and butternut squash to make sure they're tender.

Step three: Season, serve and enjoy!


Free From 

Farmhouse

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Perfect Pancakes


Pancakes aren't just for Shrove Tuesday y'know. A firm believer of this is my son, who would eat them every morning if he could. I have tried a couple of vegan pancake recipes but they've ended up like the result of throwing a load of flour and water into a hot pan (because, well...that's pretty much what I did...) But times have changed. I had a light bulb moment and asked in one of the vegan Facebook groups* I'm in if anyone had any better ideas and quick as you like I was provided with a recipe to end all recipes. I tweaked it slightly, so here's my version...

You will need:
1 cup / 120g of self-raising flour
1.5 cups / 375ml of non-dairy milk
3 tbsp oil and a dash to oil the pan if yours isn't super duper non-stick
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Step one: Sieve the flour into a large bowl and gradually whisk in the milk until nice and smooth. Make sure all the lumps are out. Whisk in the oil and vanilla extract.

Step two: Lightly grease the pan (if you need to) and place on a high heat until very hot. Ladle in the pancake mix and gently tilt the pan until the mix covers the pan. When bubbles appear, use a non-stick spatula to gently lift the pancake off the base of the pan, check that it's nice and golden underneath and then flip it over. Once it's golden brown on both sides, slide the pancake out on to a plate and cover with a clean tea towel whilst you make the rest. Pile them up under the tea towel and they should stay hot.

Step three: Roll them up and serve with lots of lemon juice and sugar, or Golden Syrup if you're as big a fan as my son!

Enjoy!


*If you're considering going vegan or a newby like me, I highly recommend joining a couple of vegan Facebook groups for friendly advice, ideas and supermarket finds. My favourites are 'Vegan Friends UK' and 'What Fat Vegans Eat' which is international but excellent for food inspo.

Free From Farmhouse

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Apple Strudel


Alright the photo doesn't look much, but this quick Apple Strudel was DELICIOUS. Here's how it was done:

One sheet of Jus Roll ready rolled puff pastry, taken out of the fridge 10 mins before use so it's pliable.

3 large cooking apples peeled, cored and diced (ours were from my friend's garden which is always nice!)

A handful of mixed dried fruit

A generous sprinkling of dark brown muscovado sugar (or any sugar if you don't have this)

Non-dairy milk, for brushing

Step one: Preheat the oven to gas mark 7 / 220C. In a large bowl toss together the diced apple, sugar and mixed fruit.

Step two: Lay the pastry on a baking tray so if it was folded in half length ways it would be in the middle of the tray. Tip the fruit mix onto the pastry and level along the length of the pastry. The fruit should look like a sausagey mound. Brush around the edges of the pastry with milk and fold the pastry over on itself to create a roll. Use a fork to press down the edges so they stay together and then brush the whole strudel with milk and sprinkle with a bit more sugar. Score all along the top of the strudel, about five slits.

Step three: Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until risen and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for a few minutes and then EAT IT ALL IN ONE GO!!!

We had ours with Alpro soya custard :-)


Monday, 14 September 2015

Cruelty-Free Hair, Bath and Beauty

Here you'll find a list of the vegan beauty products I am currently using or have tried and a little about my experience of them. I do tend to use a lot of Superdrug stuff because they're own brand is mostly vegan and labelled really clearly, but this is not a sponsored post, just intended to help other vegans or vegan-curious to see the 'normal' stuff that's out there! I am always on a budget, too, so nothing here should break the bank.

Hair

Superdrug Dry Shampoo Killer Volume - this stuff is so good for plumping up your hair on a night out! You'll definitely need to wash it after use though, it's quite heavy and makes your hair rough. My hair is quite flat at the roots and this gives me that bit of extra volume it needs - so it's going to stay on my product shelf.

Superdrug Dry Shampoo - Cherry Blossom I LOVE the smell of cherry and this one is far more an everyday-rescue-me-quick dry shampoo than it's Killer Volume counterpart. Keeping!

Superdrug Extracts Shampoos and Conditioners - I am putting these all together as I imagine they're all quite similar? I have tried the coconut shampoo and the raspberry conditioner so far. They're ok - I am a bit fussy about conditioner as my hair is naturally wavy and has a tendency to be frizzy. I used Aussie stuff pre-vegan so I will continue my quest but the price makes this is great for every day hair washing and smells great.

Bath 

Superdrug Naturally Radiant Micro Polish Scrub When I was a teenager I used St Ives Apricot Scrub. I LOVED how coarse it was and, although my skin was a bit too sensitive for it, I just couldn't get enough of that super clean feeling after a good old exfoliate. After I had AJ my skin just couldn't take it any more, it would feel really dry and sore afterwards, so I had to stop but I still long for that scrubbed-up and fresh feeling it used to leave. I bought this polish hoping it might scratch that itch but firstly - it's a gel - and secondly - the blueberry seeds don't scrub enough for me. I managed to bag it at half price so it was worth a shot, but not sure I'd buy it again. It's not a bad product though, just not for me.

Superdrug Orange and Satsuma Fruity Shower Gel The scent of satsumas always reminds me of Christmas! Good value, smells great and lasts well. I would buy any of the Superdrug shower gels based on this one. Keep!

Beauty

It's no secret I love Barry M nail polishes, my collection currently stands at about 20 bottles! I love the colours, especially the glittery ones, the fact you can usually get them in the supermarket and of course the price. It's also great to know they're a compassionate brand who don't test on animals or use animal products in any of their nail polishes. There is an ingredients list for each of the colours on their website so it's always best to check but my last check in September showed them to be all vegan. Keep, keep, keep!


Sunday, 13 September 2015

Cruelty-Free House and Home

Our house has been slowly transitioning to the cruelty-free lifestyle for about 18 months or so. Yep, no meat, dairy or eggs and I've been replacing other household and personal essentials with vegan alternatives, too. This means that they don't contain any animal products as well as not being tested on animals.

For ages I put off switching household products because I was afraid that buying 'eco stuff' was going to cost us a small fortune and that I would have to read and understand the ingredients on things (I don't know about you but I am not about to educate myself on the chemical make-up of washing powder).

But, as I've discovered, that needn't be the case - you can buy good quality, affordable vegan household products on the high street which means there's no reason not to make the switch today!

Below is a list of the products I am currently using or have tried before and would recommend.

*Please note* that this is not a sponsored post, just my own findings. As you can see I tend to use a lot of Astonish products but this is because they work really well and are labelled clearly, they're cheap and they last and they're easily available in shops like 99p Stores, The Range and B&M.

Kitchen

Astonish Kitchen Cleaner
Astonish Wash Up Aloe and Water Lily

Bathroom

Astonish Citrus Cream Cleaner
Astonish Mould and Mildew Remover
Astonish Bathroom Cleaner

General Cleaning

*Coming soon*