Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Travelling Beanie: The Den at Twenty Three, Colchester Review

A humble sized room with a big blackboard, some stalls, tables and a counter is what you see as you enter the modern yet cute cafe of 'The Den at Twenty Three'. As the first and only vegan cafe in Colchester which only opened around 3 months ago, you may think "hmm they're probably quite quiet" but oh no; It was buzzing with people to get their soya latte fix or a burger and a sit down.

On the outside window of the cafe, there are the words "100% plant based" and I LOVE that.
Seriously, I love that simple sentence. Why? Well because it's a much kinder and softer way of saying vegan. It calmly introduces everyone and anyone to plant based food - I mean, it really backs up the idea that you don't have to be labelled a 'vegan' to go into the cafe. Everyone could do with some more plants in their bodies, couldn't they? So by enforcing this title it really just grabs everyone, veg head or not.

I ordered the barbecued chickpea salad and oh my giddy aunts' cotton pyjamas. It was so good, and big! I am so done with cafes that give you, like, half a cereal bowls' amount of salad. Voluptuous, the bowl was filled to the brim of salad leaves, buttery avocado, sweet tomatoes and a zingy, smokey and warm load of chickpeas with this fab barbecue sauce.

The Den offers a plethora of vegan substitutes, like violife cheese, Vbites burgers, soya whip, veggie marshmallows, etc. Personally I'm not a fan of many vegan subs, I'd rather just eat the wholefood stuff only because a) the stuff I've tried before like vegan cheese has tasted gross, b) it's often quite pricey and c) I don't tend to miss those things I gave up when turning vegan, BUT saying that, I tried a bit of my mums' "cheese" and chutney sandwich and is was actually so good - SO good that we bought violife cheese as soon as we got home! And I sometimes crave a proper hazelnut latte with whipped cream or a hot choc with marshmallows so I completely respect these guys for giving the opportunity to not miss out to all.

It was really busy on the day we came, understandably, so we did have to wait a little amount of time but if anything it just made me even more excited for the food which was to arrive! They also gave us free cupcakes at the end which was so thoughtful of them, and they were delicious too. I had half of a chocolate one and half of a bakewell flavoured one - of course the chocolate was my favourite, but they were both gorgeous.


We went back, oh yeeeaaaaah. This was quite a lot later in time, and the reason I hadn't posted this blog post was because I thought mum wanted to write something but she got a tad busy with work (sorry The Den!).
The second experience was even better, probably because I was hungrier, or maybe just because I had got even MORE excited about going back. This time, I ordered a Messy Mexican Burger with avocado and it was so good! Literally, delicious - it was the perfect balance of a healthy meal and a  bit of a treat. Afterwards, I got some chocolate icecream and a big slab of watermelon (which Jen really kindly gave for free because it had been sitting in the fridge for a bit, nevertheless it was still super tasty) - the perfect Summer's day meal.

Please check out The Den at Twenty Three, whether you're plant based or not - you're guaranteed to have a lovely time and a very, VERY happy belly.

Natural Beauty

Let's start off with establishing that you're already beautiful. Okay? Okay, let's crack on.

No one 'needs' makeup, but it can make you feel better, boost your self-esteem, make you feel more creative, it's fun, it's comforting, etc etc, but that makeup you put on everyday (or, whenever) contains a whole lotta crap that your face is just sucking up. And frustratingly, much of what we put on our skin is absorbed and goes into our bloodstream. Now the reason that this is annoying is because it sometimes seems SO HARD to find natural makeup brands, and trust me, I know it is hard.

I remember when I was nine I loved to put makeup on my friends - I didn't just chase them around with lipstick in my hand screaming at them, but I would always try and persuade these poor 8 and 9 year old girls to be my models, and I got creative. Blue and green eyeshadow, I must admit, was a poor choice of mine, but as I matured I wanted to branch out a little, and buy my own eyeliner (I never wore it out, but just pretended I was in the 1950's at home). 10 years old, and standing in Superdrug, I felt lost. "Should I get the pen one or the brush one?" I asked my mum. "Either," she replied, "but you know that they test on animals." Horrified I put it down and ran out - I've been watching Legally Blonde for as long as I remember and I remember that bit when she tries to get cosmetic companies to abolish animal testing, so obviously I completely disagreed with it.

6 years on, and I'm still finding it tough.
Sure, there's more known non-animal testing brands (like Barry M) but it doesn't mean they contain good stuff. I won't further bore you with stuff about parabens (but click on this link to read more about the horrible things) but basically, they're not great. So now my filter section on makeup websites is even more pinickity - vegan, non animal testing, no harsh chemicals.
But I'm here today to share with you a few of my favourite finds, natural beauty style (i know, I know, it took me a while to get here).

I'll put a video just underneath this showing you HOW I do my makeup, although not complex, but here we go!

  • Origins Fill in the Blanks Eyebrow Pencil - £15 
Let's just get this straight, when you're as picky as I am sometimes you've got to prepare to splash out. It's so cool if you don't wear makeup, and most of the time I don't but I prefer wearing a little especially as I have tiny eyes underneath my huge glasses, so I know some of the products are a little pricy but in my (short sighted) eyes, they are worth it.
I've never been a fan of eyebrow pencils, they always make me look like I've taken a brown sharpie and drawn two upside down ticks above my eyes, but this I love. It's smooth and easily blendable, and has a great colour. I like to apply with tiny little strokes, hardly putting any pressure at all on the actual pen, mostly just filling out the bit closest to my nose, and then slightly tapering as I get to the end,

  • The Body Shop Flawless Tea Tree BB Cream - £8
I am actually still hunting for my perfect concealer (so far they've left me a little orange-y), so I'm carrying on using this. It's perfect for overall coverage, but as you can see inn the video I prefer to use it just on  the ickier parts, like under my eyes on my spotty areas. It works nicely to cover up lightly, but don't expect a heavy one block colour coverage, it definitely gives more of a natural finish, so if you're looking for something more heavy duty this may not be for you. I love it because it's light, breathable, quick and easy to blend, smells nice, isn't too pricy, lasts for ages, doesn't contain much crap (though I'd prefer to get a concealer from a more all natural company), doesn't test on animals (though once again, I'd prefer to find something from somewhere else as L'oreal Paris own The Body Shop which upsets me just a lil'), and has tea tree so I know it's doing my pores some good.

  • Origins Automagically Eye Liner - £15
I looooooooove this. It's so incredibly smooth and soft; very blendable and buildable but can also create a sharp line. You could go for a smoulder-y smudgey look where you rim all around the eye and blend like crazy, a simple thicken the lash line look like I go for, a cat eye, anything!

  • Neals Yard Lengthening Mascara - £16
This one isn't being used in the video because, stupidly, I can't find it. But it's fab. It's not very volumising, but gives you long fluttery eyelashes. The smell reminds me of herbs and marshmallows at the same time but in a kind of nice, comforting way. It's also full of goodness and I swear my eyelashes hardly ever fall out since using this. IT'S FAB! :)

Check out Neals Yard Remedies, Origins, Benecos, and Pacifica for fab, natural, nasties free makeup that will make you feel great!

If you have any recommendations, please do comment below and also comment if you'd like a follow up on this - my favourite natural body products or hair products.

Thank you!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Feeling Frisky and Fierce

I’ve left the evil enclosure of school, HOORAY AND REJOICE!
Fear not, it wasn’t that bad, but GCSE’s were pretty horrible and all my calm vibes completely left me, but now they’re back and I’m back in town ready to rock and Namaste.
Come September, I will be attending college – how weird is that? I know, I know, I look like I’m 10 but guys I’m actually 16, believe it or not. So now I’m a big grown up and all that, I now have to go to sixth form but, I’m not afraid to admit, I’m actually a little bit excited about it. I’ll tell you why:

  • -      I have had to buy two new notebooks (you can tell I’ll be good at making friends, can’t you?), which is super exciting because I am just a tad obsessed with patterned notebooks. There’s something about the crisp pages and lovely embroidered covers of Paperchase notebooks that make me feel a little giddy. Oh dear…
  • -    I only have to study TWO subjects. And they’re subjects I love; performing arts and creative writing. I know that there will still be a lot of work involved, but I don’t mind rolling up the sleeves on my Kale jumper and getting my head in the books as long as I find the subject interesting, which luckily I do.
  • -       It’s gonna be SEPTEMBER when I join. Anyone know why that’s so exciting? Well ‘cause it’s the beginning of AUTUMN that’s why. And in Autumn it’s chilly, and crisp, and golden and plum, and smells like rain on freshly cut wood. And I love it.
  • -       I GET TO WEAR MY OWN CLOTHES! No more uniform nonsense, I just get to live in my yoga leggings and a comfy t-shirt or jumper every single day. Hells yeah.
  • -       The college I’ve chosen who will (fingers crossed!) hopefully accept me when I get my results have a gym and outside activities so I’m hoping for a yoga club, and if there isn’t one, I’ll start one myself!
  • -       I’ll be doing my yoga teacher training very soon after starting, which further excites me for my future.

So right now, I’m just feeling happy and excited – which is how life should be! I know that if you don’t like something, change it, but unfortunately that was impossible with school and GCSE’s so now that’s all over, I’ll be making the most of my life.

Get excited guys, about today, tomorrow, next year, your next meal, whatever! Find what makes YOU happy and enjoy it. 
Dare to dream big.