New Kitchen and Homeware! ~ from Chefs Collection

I was recently sent some goodies in the post from Chefs Collection to try out some of their most popular kitchenware and bathroom products. I was delighted to receive these cute gifts in the post and I’d like to share my thoughts on these items after trialing them in my own everyday life over the last week.

Chefs Collection specialises in cookware, bakeware, homeware, and all manner of kitchenware you could wish for from top quality and unusual brands that you won’t find in your everyday high street store. They were founded in 2016 in Norwich, (my home town, incidentally) and they stock an impresive range of kitchen and home brands at really good prices. Well worth a browse if you’re looking for some attractive designs for homeware or even if you’re after a wedding or birthday gift.


Champagne flute: La Rochere ‘Bee’

This champagne flute is a beautiful and yet practical piece of glassware; it’s very sturdy, unlike a lot of champagne flutes that I find tend to topple over, but it’s also very delicate. It feels like an antique, classic French design at the same time as looking quite modern. You will also notice the little bees at the top of the flute – the only detail on the flutes and this cute feature adds a little bit of country charm. La Rochere are inspired by 18th century designs and the bee flute takes me back to summers in the south of france, walking around lavender fields and vineyards. The brand dates back to 1475 and La Rochere is the oldest working art glassworks in France.

As I’m currently 7 months pregnant, I can’t put these champagne flutes to their optimal use so I’ve opted for apple juice instead. I have to say, it makes a soft drink feel very elegant and classy. I’ve enjoyed drinking from these flutes in the garden, enjoying the last of the late summer evening rays after work, and they will be a regular feature on date night home-cooked dinners.

La Rochere Bee champagne flute

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Spreading knife – Opinel

The website declares that Picasso owned one of these knives! Quite a claim to fame for Opinel. I wonder if he used it for spreading jam on his toast or for painting his Cubist masterpieces?

This is another established brand, dating back to 1890, and the spreading knife is a new addition to Opinel’s range of simple and elegant kitchenware.

This knife is definitely a quality item; it feels very robust, which you don’t normally get in a spreading knife as they can be quite flimsy. The blade is spatula-shaped and lends itself well to spreading butter and jam. I used it to spread my favourite Lotus biscoff spread on a homemade banana bread I made recently (by the way, that’s a great combination.)

Opinel spreading knife

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Nail brush – Andree Jardin

Here we have another company with a history in France making iconic designs known for their quality. This beechwood nail brush has proved very helpful after an afternoon in the garden; getting the soil out from under those fingernails is a tough job! The nail brush is quite a simple design with soft bristles and delicate lettering on the underside. It’s comfortable to hold and it doesn’t take long to get the dirt off; it rinses well after use and is an attractive feature on a bathroom shelf.

I was a bit concerned to see the bristles are made from horse hair unfortunately and the wood is polished with beeswax; I recognise that for most people this would be a mark of quality but using animal by-products is a bit of a let down for me, and I hope the brand can move away from this in future as there are modern alternatives available. (Horse hair, by the way, is usually ethically and humanely ‘harvested’ from grooming but is nevertheless a by-product I’m not comfortable with.)

Andree Jardin nail brush

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* I received these products for free to write an honest review of them. Thanks to Chefs Collection for sending me these items to try out. *

 

 

 

 

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Tangible Stationery: a review

Hi guys!

Today I’ll be reviewing a couple of notebooks from a lovely stationery company called Tangible Stationery. They create beautiful stationery for everyday use, with all sorts of different personalisation possibilities.

You may be wondering what stationery has to do with a nature/green lifestyle blog – well, I miss pen & paper. Everything I’ve written so far for this blog has been using a keyboard; I’ve never hand written any of it. Given that I spend all day at work staring at a computer screen, it is a little upsetting to find myself using my evenings and weekends to write my blog digitally.

I realised I don’t have to do that – I can go old school! So I’m using a couple of fancy new notebooks to review* for this blog and to re-inspire me to use pen and paper again. I miss the physical experience of writing; holding a pen between my hands, opening a notebook and thumbing through to where I last got to, pausing over ivory pages, pen in lips, thinking, planning, writing.

I’ve chosen two notebooks from Tangible Stationery, one from each of their main brands.

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Forbes Classic Notebook Lines F20-02

The essentials:

– 240 ivory pages
– Lined paper
– Loop for pen
– Elastic closure
– Ribbon marker
– Storage pocket
– A5 size

This notebook has a classic, traditional feel, with a hard cover and beautiful paper with subtle lines. It has a section in the top right hand corner to put the date on each page, which is a really cute detail and makes it ideal as a journal. A really awesome feature of this notebook is that it can be embossed – I requested the name of my blog, This Veggie Life, embossed on the cover, and I’m so pleased with how it came out! There are other options as well to have your chosen word or name or phrase on the cover in red, silver or gold foil.

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The Forbes notebook passes all the necessary stationery nerd tests: quality paper that doesn’t allow ghosting (nerd term for how the pen shows through on the next page); classy cover, all essential features; and, finally, a cute ‘how to find my owner if I’m lost’ section at the front.

I’m a sucker for a hard leather-effect cover and ribbon to keep my place – it even comes with a pen loop, so it’s easy to transport and use as an everyday notebook to scribble down your thoughts and observations.

It’s reminiscent of travel writing – I can just imagine sitting in a hotel lobby in the 1930’s in Constantinople, sipping coffee, smoking a cigarette, and writing my adventures in my travel journal. This is a notebook that has an enduring appeal.

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Matilda Myers Notebook MY20-05

The essentials:

– Rose gold foiling
– Original design by Matilda Myres
– 192 ivory pages
– Round elastic closure
– Lined paper

Again, this notebook has quality paper with subtle lines and no ghosting when writing; it has an elastic ribbon to hold it closed, a section on each page to write the page number, and a page for contact details at the front. This notebook has a very artistic feel and I think it would be great for writing stories or planning a creative project. Alternatively, it’s a great gift.

This notebook is all about the snazzy cover – I love the geometric shapes and the pastel blue colours, and I love how satisfying it is to touch the indented rose gold foiling. Honestly, it’s quite soothing.

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Now that I have two new beautiful notebooks for my collection, I feel I can write with a pen in my hands again, so I’m planning many more visits to coffee shops to brainstorm ideas for my blog and to use the free WiFi.

So enough of the screen headaches. Here’s to the authentic tangible experience of physical writing.

* I received the products to review as gifts from the company; my views are always my own.

Nutribuddy Breakfast Shake: a review

The New Year brings new challenges and having already undertaken the Veganuary challenge I decided to try a weight loss challenge as well. I used Nutribuddy’s breakfast shakes for 14 days to see what effect they would have on me and my body and this review is all about that experience.

I chose a 14 day supply of Nutribuddy’s Vanilla Breakfast Shake and with it came a glass jar to store the shake powder, a bottle to drink from, and the shake itself. Nutribuddy kindly sent me this package to review their breakfast shake and I was already expecting to enjoy it because there’s so much I like about the brand and their standards, but I was surprised to find that the shake is also really tasty and filling and it’s so convenient for me to just make this for breakfast before rushing off in the mornings.

So what do I love about the brand? Let me list the ways.

  1. Vegan friendly and gluten free
  2. Soy free & sugar free
  3. 121 calories per shake
  4. Source of fibre
  5. Organic, natural ingredients
  6. 31 day happiness guarantee
  7. Recyclable glass packaging

This breakfast shake contains oats, seeds and coconut and is completely organic and vegan friendly. It’s free from preservatives, emulsifiers and stabilisers, so no nasties to be found here.

When I received this product in the post, I found the glass jar was wrapped in the most impressively sturdy bubble wrap I have ever seen – I’m going to save it for future house moves for sure. Also, can I just take a moment to congratulate Nutribuddy on using glass as a storage jar – in this plastic-frenzied dystopian world, it’s so reassuring to see a company taking the effort to send fragile glass jars in the post because they recognise that we need to move away from plastic storage and embrace recyclable packaging. Plus, it’s a great storage jar, so if you don’t replenish your stock of Nutribuddy shake (why wouldn’t you?) then you can reuse it to store pasta, rice, grains, etc.

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What about the taste?

I’ve used a well-known weight loss shake before and using their powder forms I had a lot of trouble shaking it enough to make it all mix in – I would always get unpleasant lumps of powder, no matter how vigorously I shook the damn thing. Not so with Nutribuddy – it blends in instantly, and because it’s made with oats, you do get flakes of oaks as you drink so it feels like real food but it’s part of the drink and not a horrible lump. The vanilla flavour I used is really nice, very subtle and not too sweet (I don’t always like sweet things in the early mornings.)

What I loved most about Nutribuddy is the convenience – their breakfast shakes have given me an extra 20 minutes in bed every morning. I cannot understate how valuable this is to me. To be able to prepare and drink my breakfast 5 minutes before I need to leave the house for work is an absolute godsend.

So thanks, Nutribuddy, for sending me your delicious vegan breakfast shakes, helping me to lose a little bit of weight after my festive indulgences, and thanks so much for giving me a lie in.

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ORGANii: Soap & Shower Gel Review

ORGANii: Soap & Shower Gel Review

I’ve been delving deeper into vegan & organic natural skincare recently and on my hunt for ethical, organic products I have come across a really great brand called ORGANii; their range includes shower gels, body wash, soaps, and sun cream, and they are all about natural, organic ingredients – and everything is suitable for vegans!

Today I have two products to review, which ORGANii have kindly sent to me to try out. They are both suitable for vegans and certified by organisations that guarantee organic ingredients; you can find out more about the Ecocert and Ecogarantie certifications here and here.

ORGANii Everyday Organics Shea Butter Shower Gel

I really like the cute packaging on this product – it looks like a little bottle of milk! It claims to be “delicately fragranced” with shea butter so the scent is mild and slightly nutty. This shower gel is so wonderfully gentle on the skin – perfect for sensitive skin and children – and lathers up nicely. Shea butter is known to be a great nourisher for the skin as it contains natural vitamins and fatty acids and this product really leaves my skin soft and re-hydrated – very impressive for a product designed for everyday use with no claims to spa-standards. It’s particularly impressive that they’ve made such a great everyday shower gel without all the usual stuff & nonsense that non-organic or non-natural brands feel it necessary to put in.

I’ve used it a few times so far and it feels like this 300ml bottle will last a lot longer than I’m used to, which makes it good value for money. Other scents include: aloe vera and bamboo, strawberry, argan, and liquorice, which I am really intrigued to try!

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ORGANii Everyday Organics Lavender Liquid Soap

Lavender is one of my favourite scents; in soap, in creams, in cakes, in my garden. So I was already pretty certain this soap would be a winner and I wasn’t wrong. I love the packaging again – it’s got cute little colourful hands and there is a little sprig of lavender on it as well. Again, this product is completely vegan, natural and organic, so it ticks plenty of boxes for the ethical consumer. It’s also full of organic olive oil so it creates a really nice moisturized effect, which I was very impressed with as I always feel like with other soaps I need to moisturize after washing my hands as many soap brands dry out my skin. My hands have always been quite dry and are the skin is prone to cracking in winter so this soap has come to me at the right time.

The liquid soap also comes in rose, citrus, and a neutral aroma-free – I can’t wait to try the rest!

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Both products:

  • Are tested on humans, not animals
  • Contain no animal ingredients
  • Suitable for vegans
  • No added colourants
  • No synthetic scents
  • No parabens, SLS, Phenoxyethonol, or PEG
  • 100% natural origin perfumes

ORGANii is a small independent British brand with products available in health stores and online at: www.organii.uk. You can read more about their ethos here and you can track down your nearest stockist here.

I cannot recommend this range enough – all cruelty-free, natural, organic, and vegan, with beautiful mild and gentle aromas. Both products come in at around a fiver so they are pretty affordable for a vegan organic brand. The natural/organic certifications are very reassuring because it means that I can be certain when using these products that they are sourced from organic, natural ingredients from sustainable sources; they are therefore cruelty free, better for the environment, and better for your skin.

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For the Love of Quinoa – Indigo Herbs Review

After a week of unhealthy dinners it has been an inspiration to receive three huge packs of quinoa from the kind souls at Indigo Herbs, who asked me to review a few of their products on my blog.

Indigo Herbs are a family-owned business based in the alternative town of Glastonbury in Somerset, selling an vast range of superfoods, herbs, wholefoods, and even gift sets and tea. They have a formidable knowledge of how to create healthy, nutritious, plant-based meals, and are all about empowering consumers to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

Quinoa has enjoyed a vogue in recent years amongst trendy metropolitan hippie types, and you can see why – the health benefits are well-documented and really quite extensive, as any foodie can tell you. Hailed as a superior alternative grain to couscous and bulgar wheat, it actually fulfills a different function in our diet similar to chard or spinach, and is technically a seed.

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This week I jazzed up my diet using the huge bags of quinoa varieties that Indigo Herbs kindly sent me to blog about.

Organica Red Quinoa Grains

Organic Puffed Quinoa

Organic Quinoa Flakes

Firstly, I used the red quinoa to create a lentil and quinoa feta salad. The product came in an air-tight resealable foil pouch that fits comfortably in my kitchen cupboards. I rinsed the quinoa and added to a saucepan of boiling water and left it to cook for 10-15 minutes until the seeds split. I combined it with cooked green lentils, added some chopped veg (red pepper, spring onion, cucumber) and some garlic and oregano to flavour, plus a generous crumbling of feta on top. I never now how to judge how much quinoa to use; it deceptively expands in water in the same way that pasta and rice does so I always end up making enough to feed a passing hungry squadron, but at least that’s lunch sorted for the next day. Helpfully, the packaging offers a serving suggestion of “use as much as you see it” – now that’s my kind of brand!

The puffed quinoa also came in the same attractive and practical packaging. If you’re not sure what puffed quinoa is or how it differs from the more recognizable varieties, basically it is created by a process of gently heating quinoa seeds until they pop, then allowing them to cool. The puffs can then be used in cereals, puddings, muesli or granola, so quite a versatile ingredient. I used the puffed quinoa to create these chocolate-covered, maple-syrupy protein snacks.

Finally, we come to the quinoa flakes, which are often used in baking as a gluten-free alternative, but also in cereals or granola or sprinkled on salads. I used them to make these pancakes and they provided a healthy addition of protein to this otherwise indulgent weekend breakfast treat. The batter held together really well and the quinoa provided a really tasty nutty flavour.

If you want to read a bit more about the history and health benefits of quinoa, have a read of Indigo Herbs’ page on the benefits of this amazing seed. 

I was really impressed with the quality and quantity of Indigo Herb’s quinoa range; the branding and packaging is thoughtful, with plenty of helpful nutritional information. Their products are organic and often vegan and/or gluten-free so this brand is an invaluable resource to those following a gluten-free or plant-based diet.

To summarise the extensive health credentials of quinoa:

  • Double the protein content of rice
  • Contains vitamins B and E
  • Source of calcium, magnesium, manganese, fibre
  • Contains all 9 essential amino acids
  • High level of anti-inflammatories
  • Source of omega 3 fatty acids (promotes heart health)
  • Slowly digested carbohydrate

 

 

 

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