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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

September 18, 2015

Book Club



Reading has always been a big part of my life from a young age when my dad was a fun sucker and would only let me read before bed (no videos, no playtime for me - I know, shocking). In hindsight I thank him for forcing me to read because I really enjoy it and its not an aspect of my hobbies/pass times that I've shared on here, yet. So I thought it was high-time that I changed that and thought I would start sharing, now and again, what I've recently finished reading and give loose reviews on each book/comic/etc. that won't ruin it for anyone that is hoping to read any of the titles mentioned, but will give you guys a little insight or a chance for you to agree or disagree with what I thought! So let's kick things off with Dan Brown.

Inferno
Whether you like his work or not, I've always kind of been a little bit in love with it. Its your classic thriller sort of story, almost James Bond-esque in the whole "boy meets girl" side vibes and each story never really disappoints. I'd been meaning to read Inferno for a while, but finally remembered back in July. Inferno takes place in Venice, with your classic main character, Robert Langdon, trying to work out what Dante's Inferno has to do with some big cataclysmic event which is about to take place. It is very much the same spiel Dan Brown readers are used to, but I particularly enjoyed this one. The thing I like about the series focusing on Robert Langdon is the facts. I love that Dan Brown works a butt-tone of facts into his fiction which always seems to fascinate me I mean, there's been countless times I've read something in a chapter and then had to google it and have a further read-up on the truth of it. Fascinating stuff. This may be why I've particularly enjoyed Inferno as I'm already a Dante fan and love art history, so I may be biased. Buy a copy here

Blacksad
Now let's talk comics (well, graphic novels if we're splitting hairs). Comics/graphic novels are a big favourite of mine and Blacksad has been on my radar for well over a year but again, I only recently took the dive to get it. What drew me in to Blacksad was the artwork. I'd seen a mini-review of it online and the artwork instantly struck me. Half of the fun of a graphic novel is the artwork and I've got to like the artwork to like the novel, so I knew only the story could let me down from this novel - but it didn't.



Blacksad essentially centres around a detective (Blacksad, if you hadn't of guessed) who you see work on several investigations. Nothing new or exciting or different except that he's a cat. His boss that he doesn't like? He's a dog. The slime ball guy in one of the stories? A frog. You see where I'm going with this right? These animal hybrid people might seem silly to some, but they work so well in the stories. You kind of switch off from the fact that they're animal people but at the same time, you'll be wowed by how spot on the choices for each character are. As you can see, the artwork is as good as I had hoped and truly makes the novel as the story is great, but not amazing. I'm used to reading graphic novels which have more *reading* and dialogue involved, but I'm still really interested in reading the rest of the Blacksad series that has been released thus far. Buy it here

Autobiography
Anyone who knows me knows I am a big big Morrissey fan. My lovely good friend Izzy (who's blog you can find here) and the boys from uni got me his Autobiography back in March for my birthday, which I have been reading sporadically since. I always sway more towards fiction when it comes to reading - the only things I like to read which isn't is books about serial killers (I'm full of joy, I know!) - but I mean, its Morrissey, I had to read it. As you could guess, its a must for Morrissey fans. Not just because its his autobiography so therefore about him and his life and history, but because it reads like Morrissey. It has the flowery language fans are used to from his interviews and common throughout his lyrics, so for me it was a nice read because of that. I'd also recommend it to anyone who is a big autobiography/biography reader because due to the style of writing, it is a little different from what you might be used to. Snap a copy up here

- A.
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September 11, 2015

Feelgood Flapjacks



You might have seen me mention in my latest 365 Days post that Matt spontaneously decided to make flapjacks as some of our bananas were going bad and he didn't want them to go to waste. As it was spontaneous, I haven't got a lot of *going through the process* photos for you, but I do have the recipe and some photos which will undoubtedly make you hungry (just a trigger warning for you there).

The original recipe can be found on BBC Good Food and I will list it below too! Although this is the recipe, feel free to add and subtract ingredients as you see fit - Matt isn't one for sticking to a recipe in the kitchen and as we have the smallest kitchen on the planet (that's right, we have one solitary cupboard for everything) we try to add a lot into meals to free up storage space. He substituted the raisins for dried cranberries as let's face it, cranberries are so much better.



Ingredients:
50g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
3 tbsp honey or maple syrup
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 apple, peeled and grated
250g rolled oats
85g apricots, chopped
100g raisins or cranberries
85g mixed seeds

Prep and Baking:
First, heat your oven to 160C (140C for fan assisted, gas mark 3 for gas) and whilst its warming up, pop all your dry ingredients into a large bowl and heat the butter, peanut butter, and honey/maple syrup in pan on the hob until they've melted. Add your mashed narnas, grated apple, and 100ml of hot water to the pan and mix until all the ingredients have combined.

Next simply pour the contents of the pan into your bowl of dry ingredients and mix until everything is coated. Then tip the mix into your greased baking tin/cake tin and pop them in the oven for 55 minutes. If like us you don't have a 20cm cake tin, just use a regular shallow baking tray but keep an eye on the baking time - as the flapjacks will be much thinner using a tray, they will take a lot less time to cook. We took ours out 20 minutes early of the recommended time before they began to brown too much!



The recipe should make 12 flapjacks, each one coming in at around 220 calories so they're a pretty good little treat that won't leave you feeling guilty. But of course if you're the chef and have made a slightly more messy, rustic version like Matt did, you're kind of entitled to the off-cuts you have to remove from the edges to make the flapjacks look more uniform... Chef's rights and all that...

Comment below if you give these easy flapjacks a go!


- A.
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September 10, 2015

Makeup Brush Cleaning Regime



Every one of us who loves beauty and makeup talk a great deal about our favourite products and review what makeup we've been testing and wearing, but we don't talk about the other side - the cleaning side. I prefer to use brushes/sponges for makeup application and as I wear makeup almost everyday, it has been important for me to develop a quick, easy and effective makeup brush cleaning regime so I thought I'd share my holy grail products that do the job in no time.

This won't be a long post, because there's just two things I swear by: Dr Bronner's Castile Soap and the Soap & Glory Face Massage Mini Mitt. I've already sang the Mini Mitt's praises in a previous post as its a great tool for regular gentle exfoliation, but my true love for it lies in how great it is for cleaning makeup brushes. As someone who uses dense buffing brushes for applying foundation, I've found it can be an absolute nightmare cleaning those brushes until I started to use the mitt. I simply pour a couple of drops of the Soap onto the mini mitt and swirl wet brushes over it and within a matter of seconds they're as clean as the day I bought them. It has made the laborious task of cleaning my makeup utensils so quick and easy, perfect for the days when I really need to clean my brushes but need to be able to use them ASAP again the next day. It's also great for cleaning beauty blenders and sponges - its just all-round a fab product.

Going back to my cleaning product of choice, the Dr Bronner Castile Soap, its a favourite as it cleans brushes in next to no time at all. The Dr Bronnen soap range is great and I don't have a particular favourite scent, but I'm currently using the Green Tea soap and its okay. I only picked up the Green Tea as it was supposed to be helpful for those who suffer from acne so I thought it would be best for my makeup brushes but honestly, unless you're using the soap as an actual soap, it won't make a difference. My favourite scent is the Peppermint and I'd recommend just using whichever scent you think you prefer as it will linger on your brushes. For an almost 500ml bottle, you're looking around an £9 price tag which is great value for money when you will only use a couple of drops per brush.

Using the soap with the mitt is a match-made in heaven and will draw out all dirt and makeup residue, just make sure to thoroughly wash each brush with warmish water to prevent the soap from layering up on your brushes as it contains various oils! And also remember the golden rules:
- wash your brushes with the bristles pointing downwards. Washing them with them pointing up towards the running water will loosen the glue inside the brush handle and cause bristle fall-out!
- Make sure the the water isn't too hot - think of your brush bristles like hair or hair extensions, the hotter the water, the more you're going to dry those bristles out and make them quite rough-to-the-skin. Keep that water luke warm.
- Let them dry naturally. I used to be guilty of unleashing the hairdryer on every brush I owned, but all it will do is shorten the lifespan of your brushes and again, make the bristles dry and no longer soft to use. Leave them to dry on a towel maybe on a radiator or in an airing cupboard, and leave them overnight so they're fully dry to use the next morning.

- A.
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