Friday, 21 July 2017

1 WEEK VEGETARIAN



So I’ve been vegetarian for a week now! It’s been…really easy. I’ve found that I’m not missing meat at all? I honestly thought that this would be a really hard thing for me to do, especially since I love the odd steak or chicken nugget meal ygm.

Anyway, I thought I’d write a little post about what I’ve been eating and how it’s been going for anyone who gives a shit.

It started when I watched Okja. I knew I’d cry, I knew I’d probably wanna stop eating meat because of it, but I watched it anyway. It’s such a great film. It’s funny but it has a real story to it that a lot of people aren’t aware of. Okja is a genetically engineered pig who finds a friend in Mija. Mija lives in South Korea with her grandfather. Together, they have a beautiful friendship and grow up side by side, until the day Okja is taken away in order to participate in the meat industry. From there, the film is just one giant social commentary. We all need to be more aware of the meat industry, and this is just one way to look at it from a new perspective.

From there I ended up watching Cowspiracy and What the Health. Both are available on Netflix, and both aim to inform viewers about the truth behind the dairy and meat industry. It scared the shit out of me. For years I’ve felt guilty for eating meat, the torture that these animals go through makes me sick to think about. I know that I’ve been ignorant, and I have been for a long time, but not once did I think that my diet was contributing to the state of the environment.

If you don’t want to see animal torture, the only scene in either documentary to show slaughter is in Cowspiracy, where you see two ducks beheaded. You also see cows with swollen udders and a large amount of dead fish – just to forewarn anyone wanting to watch the documentaries for themselves…

Once I finished both of the films, I just had no interest in eating meat. I immediately stopped eating meat and set about ordering vegan and vegetarian cookbooks. I also found ways to add things to my lunches which could effectively replace the meat I would usually eat, such as feta cheese or half an avocado.

For my dinners, I’ve been eating quorn stir fry, quorn sausage with beans on toast, vegan salads and spinach omelettes so far. I’ve also had a cheesy pizza and a salad from Nandos which was very weird haha.

After one week, I’ve found that I’m feeling less fatigued and that my eczema isn’t as flared as it has been. I’m kind of excited to see where this goes, and how it will help my weight loss journey, something that I plan on writing about in the future. I would love to go fully vegan, but I feel that for me right now, vegetarian is the right thing to do. Although I don't drink milk and like to stick to almond/coconut milk, I still eat cheese - something which I will more than likely address in the future.

Are you vegetarian? If you have any tips I’d love to hear them below!

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Friday, 7 July 2017

CRYSTALS AND THEIR MEANINGS


You may not know this about me, but I collect crystals and stones. Some are used for different reasons in the Wiccan community, and some are great for using in Reiki and other forms of therapy. It's completely up to you whether you believe in the power of crystals, but personally, I feel as though they're a great thing to have as both decoration and for strength when you need it. I have quite a collection right now, so I figured I'd write a post about some crystals and their meanings for anyone who is interested.

If I'm reading tarot, I'll sometimes place crystals near me to provide a decent and accurate reading, or I'll place a crystal on my bedside table in order to gather strength or courage (depending on the stone). If you believe in the power of crystals and would like to start a collection, the following are great to buy due to their price and meaning. The majority of the following stones can be found online with sites such as eBay, or at market stalls such as the Christmas Markets in Manchester, where I've found many of my stones in the past.

AGATE

Agate is usually found in brown and gold tones. However, you can find Agate in pinks and blues. Agate is related to mental health and matters of the mind. This is why it is used in spells relating to mental clarity and truth. It is also thought to aid healing of the mind from ailments such as depression and anxiety. 

AMETHYST 

Noted for its purple tones, Amethyst stones are a form of quartz, and is my favourite crystal! It's also my birthstone and is related to water and water signs such as Pisces and Aquarius. It is also thought that Amethyst is great for healing depression and cleansing the mind of sadness and stress. 

BLOODSTONE

This crystal is also known as Heliotrope and is usually a green but speckled stone with gold and red tones. Relating to fire and blood, the bloodstone is used in issues dealing with infertility and menstrual cycles in women. 

HEMATITE 

Hematite is metallic in colour and freaks me out a little because it looks like it fell off of a T1000 Terminator. In any case, it's used in rituals to do with pre-birth and blood disorders by the Wiccan community. However, it's also thought that carrying this gem will bring strength and courage willpower alongside confidence. 

JADE

Jade is bright and green and can come in a range of deep and light tones. It can also be found in pink and grey tones, though these stones are rare. Despite its links to love and innocence, the Jade stone is more associated with matters inside of our bodies and promotes healthy organs. 

JASPER

Otherwise known as Egyptian marble, the Jasper stone is brown and red and is strongly connected to Earth elements. In treatments such as Reiki, it is used to heal cancer and promote healthy cell growth. For Wiccans, it's usually used in grounding spells. 

MOONSTONE 

Linked to female sexuality and childbirth, the moonstone is linked to goddesses such as Diana and Hecate. They are also used to help lift fogged brains and raise intuition levels in women

ROSE QUARTZ 


In Reiki, the Rose Quartz is used as the heart chakra, and in other mythologies, the stone is associated with love and relationships. It is also thought that carrying a Rose Quarts will mend a broken heart. If you're into charging your crystals, charge Rose Quartz' under a full moon, as they can soon lose their colour if left under direct sunlight. 

TIGERS EYE


This specific stone crops up in Practical Magic, and is used to promote courage, confidence and protection. Heads up btw Practical Magic is amazing and everyone should watch it. The stone also promotes health and strong energy.


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Sunday, 2 July 2017

JUNE FAVOURITES 2017

It's been a while since I've done one of these! This month I've splashed the cash a bit and there are a few things that are part of my favourites. I've also bought a lot of new clothes for my holiday in August which I would love to feature in this post - however - I've decided to make my first ever lookbook of clothes when I'm actually on holiday, so they'll all be featured in that. So...

KVD X TOO FACED BETTER TOGETHER ULTIMATE EYE COLLECTION






I first heard about this palette last year. I was browsing through Instagram and lost my shit. I think it only came out in England after Christmas, and when the price was reduced on the Debenhams website I had to buy it. The palette is half inspired by Too Faced, half by Kat Von D, and has some interesting shades to say the least. I love that this set also comes with a full size Tattoo Liner and Better Than Sex Mascara, two staples in my make up case as it is. "Lovestruck" is my favourite shade in the palette itself, and paired with "Friendspiration" you get this great dewy bronzed eye look. 

BH COSMETICS DOT COLLECTION



This brush set makes the list for a number of reasons. The first being that they're new and amazing, the second that they're great for applying eye make-up. Before I bought this set I was lacking in eyeshadow brushes, which really limited how I could style my eye. With these, I can smudge, cut crease, you name it babe. The case is also great for travelling and the blusher brush feels so soft on my face.

PIECES SUNGLASSES



Buying sunnies online is always a gamble. You can see them on a model and think "yas these are for me" and then when you get them you end up looking like Trinity from the Matrix. I did not have that problem with these. They make my nose look tiny (added bonus) and they're great for matching with any summer outfit. For £12 on ASOS, they're a great bargain. 

FITBIT BLAZE 



Having just sold my old Polar Fit watch, I needed a new one that could help with my training and weightloss journey. My best friend Emily has this watch and it's helped her keep on track of walking and her food logging, so I bit the bullet and bought the Fitbit Blaze on Amazon. I've only had this for a few days, but holy shit is it great. It monitors your sleeping patterns, calories burned, stairs climbed, your food, drinking habits and more. If you download the fitbit and fitstar apps, you can also train with help from a personal trainer as well!

Hope you enjoyed this months favourites, guys. Have an amazing week!


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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

14 OF MY FAVOURITE FEMINIST QUOTES




“I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be on my own side.”

Maya Angelou

“For I conclude that the enemy is not lipstick, but guilt itself; we deserve lipstick, if we want it, AND free speech; we deserve to be sexual AND serious – or whatever we please. We are entitled to wear cowboy boots to our own revolution.”
Naomi Wolf

"Do you have a vagina? And do you want to be in charge of it? If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations – you’re a feminist!”
Caitlin Moran

“The point is not for women simply to take power out of men’s hands since that wouldn’t change anything about the world. It’s a question precisely of destroying that notion of power.”
Simone de Beauvoir

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can." 
Frida Kahlo

"Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing.” 
Frida Kahlo

"You deserve the best, the very best, because you are one of the few people in this lousy world who are honest to themselves, and that is the only thing that really counts.”
Frida Kahlo

"There's just as many different kinds of feminism as there are women in the world."
Kathleen Hanna

"You don't have to have magic unicorn powers. You work at it, and you get better. It's like anything: You sit there and do it every day, and eventually, you get good at it"
Kathleen Hanna

"Never let go of that fiery sadness called desire"
Patti Smith

“I believe that we, that this planet, hasn't seen its Golden Age. Everybody says its finished ... art's finished, rock and roll is dead, God is dead. Fuck that! This is my chance in the world. I didn't live back there in Mesopotamia, I wasn't there in the Garden of Eden, I wasn't there with Emperor Han, I'm right here right now and I want now to be the Golden Age ...if only each generation would realise that the time for greatness is right now when they're alive ... the time to flower is now.” Patti Smith
You don't have to be pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilisation in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked 'female.'"

Erin McKean

"Women will be hidden no more. We will not remain hidden figures. We have names...It was woman that gave you Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was woman that gave you Malcolm X. And according to the Bible, it was a woman that gave you Jesus. Don't you ever forget it."
Janelle MonĂ¡e



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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

COMPETITION ENTRY: THE GRAZIA AND BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION


Here is my entry for The Grazia and Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction First Chapter competition. Before entering, I was given the first paragraph to a chapter. From here, I had to end the chapter in whatever way I wanted. I've been writing more and more recently, and although I fell out of love with writing around 3 years ago, I've taken it up again. Here is my first serious effort. Congrats to the winners, all three entries blew me away! You can read the winning entries here.



ALWAYS THE QUIET ONES


'I was in bed with the viola teacher for what turned out to be the last time, when the doorbell rang. We had moved on to talking about exam pieces, certain pupils of his, whether my daughter would need a new bow soon. He was smoking a cigarette; he would give up soon, he said, inhaling and closing his eyes, his rosin-smelling fingers laced into mine. A languid, hirsute, dishevelled man, he had a habit of leaving the ends of sentences unsaid, of always tripping over the bedroom rug, of walking about the house, barefoot, examining the photos on the walls with forensic zeal.'

I had come to say goodbye. It wasn’t fair, what we were doing. Sylvia would soon find out, and my daughter would become a stranger to me. I had knocked four times, the usual amount, and he opened the door – cigarette drooping from his bottom lip. He was shirtless, wearing his corduroy pants that hung from his hips. His chestnut hair had fallen on his collar bones in such a way that it made me gulp before speaking.

“Mark, we need to stop thi-“ I started, quietly

“Come in, one sec” he grinned. He hadn’t heard me.

I knew that I shouldn’t have. I knew that once I did, I wouldn’t have the strength to end our affair...

But I did. I passed the threshold to Mark’s tiny terraced house, and with a breath, my shoulders relaxed.

“I’ll make us some tea, I wonder where I put that…”

His voice had drifted into the kitchen, and I was left in the living room. I could hear him clatter around, banging his head on some pans that hung above his sink. I smirked until I noticed the music. Joni Mitchell.

I bought him the record player last Christmas. I told him it was a spur of the moment purchase, something I had seen in the window of a charity store. It wasn’t. I had known what I wanted to buy him for Christmas since the October before. He had shown me his dad’s vinyl collection, something else he was left in the will. They were just sat there.

I bought the vinyl player three weeks before Christmas and gave it to him the day before Christmas Eve, Tilda’s last lesson of the year.

The track sounded tinny, and it echoed around the house in a way that made me feel at home. Mark had told me that he had acquired some new vinyl’s from small independent shops around the city. I always imagined him rummaging through an Oxfam bargain bin, it made me smile. It still does.

I decided to take my shoes off, and rest my denim jacket on the arm of Marks’ ripped Chesterfield sofa. I also decided to text Sylvia.

“Another late night with the boys”

No reply.

“Right, we’ve got some biscuits ‘ere as well. Proper chocolate digestives, none of this own brand shit.”

He had placed the tray, containing a quaint teapot and two novelty mugs, onto a little oak stained coffee table in front of us. Mark had then plonked himself next to me, ash dropping from a freshly lit cigarette onto the oxblood leather.

“’Ow was ya day?”

He beamed as he poured me a brew. I shovelled in two sugars and topped it up with milk.

“Not too bad, I feel better for being here, actually.”

“I’m glad to hear. And I’m glad you’re here. It’s been two weeks…” he trailed off.

“I know, I’ve been thinking.”

“Not a great pastime” he laughed

“I, I don’t know what to do. I love Matilda. She’s my little girl. But if she finds out about this..”

“What, that her dad is seeing her Viola teacher? Who is also a male? What’s not to love about that. It's progressive” I could see he was trying to dissolve the situation.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

It really was an impossible situation. I had walked Tilda into her first lesson and saw him there. He was talking to Sylvia, who was already waiting for our arrival. It was all her idea, really. I wanted Tilda to learn Saxophone, something about it seemed really cool. But Sylvia insisted.

“’Am sure she’ll pick it up in no time” he laughed.

“Where have you been, you’re ten minutes late” Sylvia scolded me when she noticed me in the doorway.

I didn’t respond. For the first time in my life, I blushed. And it wasn’t because of my wife, who did look beautiful in her way, it was because of this man. This man who stood in front of me with his tweed jacket and Nike trainers. He looked at me and smiled before introducing himself to Matilda. He couldn't have been older than 30, I thought.

I had always known I wasn’t straight. Something in me thought I wasn’t anything. My attraction to Sylvia was because we shared the same interests. Fantasy Novels. The Countryside, old films. I was never conventionally attracted to her. But for the first time, I was feeling something I could liken to actual attraction. I had to know more about him.

I would pick Tilda up after her lessons every week just to talk with him. About nothing, about everything. We’d stand in the doorway of his office and just talk. Tilda didn’t mind, she would admire the stained windows of the converted church where Mark’s office resided, and sing at herself in the echoes of the corridor.

One night, after I had taken Tilda home, Mark had called and asked if I wanted a drink. My number is down as Tilda’s emergency contact number, he noted. I said yes.

Drinks, of course, turned into more drinks. And by the end of the month, I would make regular stops at his house for a smoke and a beer.

One hazy July afternoon, he kissed me. I was panting at his open kitchen window, hoping for some sniff of a breeze in the humid and stuffy city, when I felt his presence. I could smell Old Spice and his sweat, mixed into some concoction I felt was made for me. And when he leant in I knew I would never want to touch another person in the same way as I touched Mark.

I blinked. Mark was now sipping his tea as he tucked a hair behind my ear.

“Listen” he stuttered. “We can figure this out. I know you feel this thing between us. We can figure this out.”

The hint of desperation was only just breaking the surface, but it was already breaking my heart. I pulled at his shirt and led him to the bedroom...

Mark knocked a small frame from his bedside table as he got up. A rattling at the door had now begun. It was only after Mark had unlocked the bolt that I figured it out.


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© Gina Kay Daniel

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