One of the things I really want to get better at in 2019 is managing my / our finances. Matt and I turn 35 this year and it’s quite embarrassing to admit that we’ve never budgeted our money. We are both self-employed and our earnings can vary quite a bit, because of that the sensible thing to do would be to save money but nope, we’ve never done that! Instead we just eat out too much and splurge when we get paid then get stressed when we’ve spent it all and have bills that need to be paid.
It’s not something we want to pass down to the kids so we’ve decided that now is the time to change things. It was actually on New Year’s Eve that we decided to write out our budget (rock and roll!!), and the reality was a bit shocking.
We’ve decided we really want to pay off all our debt and then work on our savings so we are going to start budgeting properly and I’ve also decided to give no spend January a go. The general idea being that for the whole month you don’t spend money on anything other than the essentials. Obviously everyone’s idea of essentials will be slightly different, I saw one list this morning saying that you should cancel gym memberships! Obviously if you aren’t using it then that’s a good idea but I get so much use out of mine so there is no way I am getting rid of it, it’s an essential for my health, both physical and mental.
So for us the main challenge will be spending less on food, it’s the one area we spend a lot on, whether eating out or just buying expensive treats to have at home. We are only 4 days in and I’m already struggling a bit. It’s actually affected my mood quite a lot and made me realise how emotionally connected I am to food, especially sweet treats. I usually have little stashes of them around the house and I like to know they are there, even if I don’t eat them that day.
It’s a habit I’ve got into with all food, I found it quite comforting to have stashes of food. It was only after starting to de-clutter my house that I realised food was something I hoarded. I would buy random items like silken tofu and loads of tins of beans just to sit on the shelf, they weren’t things I had any idea what I was going to cook with!
So that is something I’m changing, already I want to use everything up and only buy the things I need to make meals for that week.
I’m hoping that this challenge will break my emotional connection to sweet treats and mean I no longer feel the need to stockpile them. As well as helping us save some money.
Another area I’m working on is buying less plastic. We are actually really lucky to have two zero-waste shops near us, yesterday I went into Waste Not Want Not in Bridport which is great. They have so many different products, all organic.
I got my bread machine flour from there, wholemeal cous cous, pasta, rice and sultanas. Then I went into Morrisons to buy fruit and veggies, nearly all of which was free from plastic; celeriac, peppers, brocolli, tomatoes, bananas, kiwis, potatoes, carrots and parsnips. I did buy some basil which was in packaging but I’m planning to find a good farm shop to source everything from.
I then made a batch of cous cous for a few days lunches, some homemade pesto and some cashew mozzarella. Also some baked potatoes as they keep in the fridge and are such a filling, cheap meal. Today I’m going to make some tomato sauce and pizza dough. I’ve also made a batch of cookies because it’s Friday and I still need treats sometimes!
So 4 days in and no spend January is going pretty well. I’ve been into shops and few times but stuck to the essentials and not sneaked anything else in. There is still a long time to go though!!
Is anyone else doing no spend January or planning to do a no spend month this year?
I’ve been sharing some of my spooky photography images on Instagram (@livingonleaves) but I thought I would share them on here too.
We love the build up to Halloween in our house, we found some awesome props in the charity shops and they really inspired me to get out and take some photos. I have been watching lots of Photoshop tutorials and have been enjoying putting a bit more effort and creativity into my photography.
The first one was when we headed down to the beach early one morning with a toy bat, the dog walkers found it very amusing to watch me shouting at Matt whilst he was running around with a toy bat on a string attached to the pole that we use to open our loft hatch!
The second one was when we made a trip into the woods with the creepy wolf mask we found in a charity shop.
Next up was when we went pumpkin picking to Sopley Farm, it’s quite a drive from us but worth it to find a proper pumpkin patch, there aren’t many around. We took another one of our charity shop outfits along for this shot, we had to take it quickly so we didn’t scare any young children!
This was also where I wanted to put my flying witch idea into practice so I took a stool with me, and a broomstick. It was my first attempt at a photo like this so I still have a lot to learn but it was really fun to make.
It was also where I took the photo of me that I’ve used below, I was going to do a levitating photo but it didn’t work how I wanted so I used it for this instead. I was holding a normal pumpkin but I swapped it for a photo of my actual pumpkin. The purple mushroom was found when we went into the woods for my PG TIPS photos, also the pine cones were taken at the same time.
This one was taken with a lensball, in the same woods where we took the photo above. Cherry was wearing the creepy bear mask for me.
Then finally is this skull neon light, I made it in Photoshop using a the neon light tutorial by Nemanja Sekulic. I’ve shared the gif on here, it was going to go on Instagram but the quality was really bad after it uploaded on there so I made an image instead which is below.
So that was a little run through of all the spooky photography shoots we’ve been on over the last month. I actually love spooky shots so don’t think I will limit them just to Halloween but I will be mixing them in with some other themes.
I’ve become addicted to watching Photoshop tutorials so I’m feeling really inspired at the moment with my photography, so many ideas, so little time!
I’m going to start sharing my favourite vegan products in a vegan product of the week series, this week it’s HIPPEAS, the organic chickpea puff company.
I used to love crisps, then about 2 years ago I found out I was intolerant to potatoes which was pretty devastating news as it meant I had to completely stop eating them for a while. Luckily over the last year there has been a rise in the amount of non-potato based crisps (I’ve written before about Eat Real crisps, another fave of ours), but this post is all about HIPPEAS. I’m absolutely obsessed with them and can could eat a big bag in one sitting.
My favourite flavour is Sweet & Smokin’, closely followed by Salt & Vinegar but all the flavours I’ve tried have been delicious. They seem to be available in lots of places now too, I find them in Tesco a lot, and Waitrose. Also Boots and health food shops. You can also buy them in bulk on Amazon, something which I must do. They are gluten-free too.
It was Cherry’s birthday last week and at the weekend we had a few of her friends over for a birthday tea so I had a bit of fun setting up this photo. I mean who wouldn’t want to jump into a big bowl of HIPPEAS?!
If you want to find out more about them or find stockists then check out their website here.
At the Vegan Camp-Out this year we got to a try a new tea by PG Tips, it’s called Perfect With Dairy-Free and been specially formulated to go with dairy-free milk. I’m not going to lie, my first thoughts were that it was a bit of a con and if I’m perfectly honest I’m not sure I would have been drawn to buying it, HOWEVER I’m really glad that I got to try it because you really do notice a difference. It makes tea smooth and removes the bitterness that you get in standard tea. Matt is a huge fan too, in fact we both sat there drinking it really excited about how amazing it made tea taste, super silky smooth is the only way to describe it and actually I’ve been drinking way more tea since as it’s so good. I usually stick to decaf but now I’ve discovered this it’s hard not to drink it all the time. The only way I can describe it is that sometimes when I smell tea bags I always think they smell amazing but that tea is always a bit disappointing, but with these they smell amazing and the tea tastes equally as good.
They recently contacted me and asked if they could send me a hamper with some of the Perfect With Dairy-Free teabags and a few other goodies. I always love to share with you when I discover great vegan products so I happily accepted and when it arrived we decided to get into the woods with our camping stove and kettle to enjoy a cup outdoors.
I use Oatly milk (the best dairy free milk without a doubt), Matt likes Barista but actually in tea I prefer the blue one as I like a lot of milk in tea and find Barista makes it too creamy. Tea was one of those things that took a long time to get right after going vegan, but thanks to a good dairy-free milk and now a good tea bag, it’s actually better than it was before. Thankfully, because life without tea would be very sad world indeed!
Thanks to PG Tips for sending me the hamper, you can read more about the Perfect With Dairy-Free tea bags here.
A couple of weeks ago we headed back up to Rockaway Park for their Arts Weekender event, we went up last year for it and absolutely loved it so as soon as we saw they were doing it again we were happy to do the drive up there for it. As I mentioned last year it’s just completely our kind of place. There are awesome things everywhere you look, and it’s such a hive of creativity. The fact there is a vegan cafe there too is just the icing on the cake. We had one of their seitan burgers and both agreed it was the best vegan burger we’ve ever eaten.
Rockaway Park is located in Temple Cloud, not far from Bristol and they frequently hold events there so do check out their Facebook page if you would like to visit, we wish it was closer to us, if it was we would be there all the time, despite the looks of pure misery on their faces, they do actually like it too!
A very rare photo of us all! Matt is paying me back for all the times I used to make videos and shove a camera in his face, he’s now making videos for his YouTube channel, he actually made one of our day so if you want to see more of Rockaway Park then you can check it out here.
There was an artist there this year called Doug Francisco and he had made a collection of sculptures out of plastic waste he’d found on a beach in Panama. Apparently the beach had been knee deep in it both ways which is a horrific thought. The sculptures are awesome but sadly the reason for their existence isn’t, you can see a lot of it is plastic toys too, and toothbrushes. This helped me explain the plastic problem to the kids though, I always tell them but I think put it into reality for them.
It’s no secret on here that I am obsessed with Bakewell tarts, and anything Bakewell tart flavoured for that matter so I thought I would do a little round-up of my vegan Bakewell tart recipes for any other fans out there.
If you aren’t sure what a Bakewell tart is then it’s a traditional English dessert consisting of a pastry case layered with jam, frangipane and topped with flaked almonds. I always add extra almond essence as I love the taste of it so much! So all these vegan Bakewell tart recipes are basically different desserts flavoured with raspberry and almond, you can of course use cherries to make them cherry Bakewells.
So first up are these vegan Bakewell tart flavour rice pudding pots. They have crushed raspberries at the bottom, followed by a later of creamy almond flavoured rice pudding and are topped with toasted sliced almonds. They were super delicious! You can find the recipe here.
Next up are these almond and raspberry cupcakes, they have raspberries in the cake batter and the buttercream is flavoured with almond essence. You can find the recipe here.
There raspberry and almond muffins are a healthier alternative to the cupcakes above, mainly due to the lack of buttercream! They are also made with spelt flour. You can find the recipe here.
This trifle is Bakewell tart flavour and it was amazing!!! The jelly had fresh raspberries in it and I put almond essence in the cake layer, this is literally one of my favourite things in the world! I used to love trifle and Bakewell tarts so to combine the two was pure heaven!! The recipe is here.
And then finally is my recipe for actual Bakewell tart, the recipe for these mini ones is my most popular recipe so far, you can find it here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this round-up, you can also find me on Instagram.