Friday, 19 August 2016

Anxiety Bites: Fear Talking

I originally shared this with my friends on Facebook, but I have edited it slightly for posting here.

PSA: It's really not funny to make fun of ANYONE's phobias, no matter how much of a small deal it may seem to you. We know how irrational our fears may seem to you, but that knowledge doesn't stop them.

Last week, YouTuber and pretty awesome human being, Saffron Kershaw-Mee, posted a video in which they discussed their experiences with anxiety and depression, including about how they've been feeling recently.  The part of this video that stood out to me the most was where they spoke about suffering from emetophobia (fear of vomiting).  They spoke about how this fear could stop them from enjoying themselves, that their whole outlook can change (including not being able to eat or leave their bed) if they believe that they've been near someone who has been sick.  To me, vomiting can be a way of ridding your body of a toxin (like something you have eaten) or a symptom of another illness. Personally, I generally hate vomiting and would do anything to avoid it. I'll be regularly swallowing or sipping at water, and trying to keep as still as possible.   A couple of days ago while going down windy roads down a mountain and a few weeks ago while at the cinema, I was feeling a bit motion sick, and I was just sitting there taking deep breaths and wanting it to stop soon.  I've also been sick in public several times in the past 10 years, including in a shop, in a theatre toilet, in a hotel public toilet, and twice on long-haul flights (which I was then teased about). Feeling really bad stomach pains therefore makes me nervous about being sick during a flight, which then adds to other issues I have with flying (I've learned to deal with taking off, landing and walking around on a plane, but I'm terrified of turbulence or anything else happening). But vomiting is not something that I fear every day.

While I've been on holiday, I've been struggling with a couple of fears that I have been teased a bit for, and I think I should explain those fears and why it is not ok to make fun of me or anyone else for them.  Since sharing this on Facebook, I received some comments from friends who understood what I was feeling from their own personal experiences, so I finally know that I am not alone in the latter of the two fears I am about to discuss: needles and dogs (and other animals).

That sounds really silly, right?

Needles are so important in vaccinations for protecting against infectious diseases, they can be used to apply anaesthetic to reduce the feeling of pain (including for dental use), and they can be used in blood tests to find out if you're A-ok or if there's something wrong with you. Needles can be used to gather blood or other cells for donation, and for giving those to the recipient. But needles are one of the things that I'm terrified of. I'd love to be able to give blood, but every time I think about it, it makes my feet start to tingle. Once when I was 14, I was simply being spoken to about an upcoming vaccination, and I started to feel dizzy and like I was going to faint. When I had injections at school, I'd be so scared beforehand and I was just glad that I had a couple of friends around nearby. Last year, I started considering the possibility of if I needed to have any injections at uni and who I'd ask to come with me in case anything happened (such as if I fainted). When I was 17, I needed an injection and I was so anxious and couldn't stop thinking about it beforehand, and while the nurse was talking to me about the jab, I suddenly fainted and woke up on the floor with no memory of how it happened. Following almost fainting at the dentist after being given local anaesthetic, and then stopping having my mum in the room with me when I'm seeing the dentist, I've stopped having numbing injections for fillings because they're just so painful and I can't deal with that on my own. The most recent occasion that I had an injection, I was teased about if I fainted afterwards (I'm assuming this person thought I had fainted because of the injection), even though I'd actually fainted beforehand that time. No, I'd actually fainted because of the pure anxiety I felt about that injection and every day about the idea of any time I will need an injection.

The second fear of mine which I will discuss here (I have many fears) is dogs. I know that most of you will find dogs really cute. When I'm near a dog, I'll be hyper-conscious, I'll be scared about them coming any closer to me, my eyes will be darting around to see where they are, I'll be really hoping that something catches their attention and makes them walk away from me, if they're under a table I'm sitting at, I'll be really scared. I'm terrified of being bitten or scratched by a dog, even more so when I'm wearing shorts or cropped trousers. That kinda seems ridiculous to most people, because most dogs are nice and friendly and you might even try to use a type of "Not All Dogs" argument with me. Well, my brain doesn't care if it's "Not All Dogs" and it believes that I'm in danger any time a dog comes near me. I'm also scared of cats, but I think I could learn to be ok with cats, in a controlled environment. To me, being followed by a dog is like being chased by a bear (or something else that could be very dangerous).

Something that has been exacerbating this fear has been encountering a LOT of stray dogs while on holiday in Sri Lanka.  There was one morning when I'd been on the beach before 7am to go dolphin-watching, and two dogs had been coming towards me, and then about 4 other dogs joined them to play on the beach.  There were been other times when I saw at least 6 stray dogs in one go while in Sri Lanka, and even if they were sleeping, I'd be constantly checking to make sure that they hadn't woken up and come closer towards me. 

There is a history of rabies in dogs and other animals in Sri Lanka (read this article).  When my grandma was young, she was bitten by a dog and had to go through several weeks of anti-rabies injections to prevent the disease.  I can barely deal with a single injection every few years because I get so stressed about the pain and seeing the needle and everything, so I can't go through daily injections for this (although I would have to if needed).  Therefore, even though I'm really cautious about dogs while at home in the UK, I am even more terrified of being near stray dogs while wearing shorts or cropped-trousers (i.e. not having my legs covered) because I am so scared of being bitten or scratched.

A few days ago, my eyes were darting around to keep an eye on the cats that were behind me while I was eating my dinner, but the second that a dog came towards where I was and got too close, I got up and ran to several metres away until I felt safe to return. I've been told "It's just a dog" or "It's just a puppy", and I've even been told "Katie, there's a dog behind you" as a joke even when there wasn't, just to see if I reacted and looked behind me.

Well, it's not funny. It's never funny to do something like that to someone with any type of irrational phobia.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Chocolate Soy Ice Cream

It was quite hot over the past week (possibly over 30 degrees Celsius just after 5pm last Tuesday), so it was decided this morning that we were going to make a batch of ice cream at work today (amongst everything else that we're doing, and it also doesn't take that long to prepare the ice cream to freeze).  The coffee machine that we have used is the Gaggia Gelatiera, which is available to purchase from here, and we have used Maison Routin 1883 chocolate syrup, Alpro Soya Original milk and Alpro Soya single cream to make the ice cream.  This batch turned out to feel a bit watery and was so solid after being left in the freezer until the next day that I needed a knife to remove it.  The ice cream is completely dairy-free and vegan-friendly.  I've included a comparison below of the nutritional content of both the soya milk and the semi-skimmed milk we normally use.  I think that the soya milk turned out to be healthier overall and also cuts out the cruelty to animals, and I hope to experiment with other plant-based, dairy-free milks (i.e. almond, hazelnut or coconut milk) and maybe even make the switch permanently in the future!

Alpro Original Soya milk (per 100ml)
Energy - 161kJ / 39kcal
Fat - 1.8g (of which 0.3g is saturated fat)
Carbohydrate - 2.5g (of which 2.5 is sugars)
Fibre - 0.5g
Protein - 3.0g
Salt - 0.06g
Vitamin D - 0.75µg
Riboflavin (B2) - 0.21mg
Vitamin B12 - 0.38µg
Calcium - 120mg

Morrisons British Semi Skimmed milk (per 100ml)
Energy - 206kJ / 49kcal
Fat - 1.7g (of which 1g is saturated fat)
Carbohydrates - 4.8g (of which 4.8g is sugars)
Fibre - 0g
Protein - 3.6g
Salt - 0.1g


300ml soy single cream
300ml soy/plant-based milk
100ml chocolate syrup


  1. Pre-freeze the ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Pour the soy single cream and soy/other plant-based milk into a large jug.
  3. Add chocolate syrup to the jug of milk and cream and mix well.
  4. Pour the mixture into the ice cream machine, and freeze-churn for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours until the ice cream is cold, smooth and creamy before serving.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Vegan Sausages and Mash

Last Friday night, my dad and I were left to cook for ourselves (as opposed to me just cooking for myself), and we had 4 leftover Linda McCartney red onion and rosemary sausages from when I'd cooked myself a veggie hot dog the previous night.  Dad had suggested making mashed potatoes, so I looked up how to make vegan-friendly mashed potatoes, with a preference of a recipe that didn't involve using a milk alternative, and I found this recipe from the Minimalist Baker that is completely vegan and doesn't use a milk alternative.  These mashed potatoes were actually pretty tasty, and to preserve how they should look, I've taken pictures of the meal.  When put together, the sausages and mashed potato make a really easy vegan meal (apart from the fact that I really struggled with peeling the potatoes with a really rubbish peeler!

Ingredients (serves 4)

6 Linda McCartney Red Onion and Rosemary Sausages
6-8 potatoes
3 tablespoons vegan-friendly margarine, such as Pure or the new dairy-free Flora
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Cook the sausages according to packet instructions, adjusting the temperature and time of cooking in accordance with whether you are using an oven, a fan-assisted oven or a grill.
  2. Peel the potatoes, and if they're large, cut them into halves.  Bring them to a light boil over a medium-high heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until very tender.
  3. Once tender, drain the potatoes of water and transfer the potatoes to a large mixing bowl.
  4. Using a potato masher or a hand-mixer, mash the potatoes until fluffy.  Be careful not to overmix to the potatoes when using a hand-mixer.
  5. Add the margarine, salt and pepper and mix into the mashed potatoes well.
  6. Serve mashed potatoes with the sausages and lettuce.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Veggie Hot Dogs

In Rent (one of my favourite musicals), during the song La Vie Boheme, in which the characters have gathered in the Life Café for dinner following Maureen Johnson's protest and are mocking Benny's idea that "Bohemia is dead" and celebrating the bohemian lifestyle with mention of ideals, trends, icons, symbols of bohemianism.  Their dinner order is "5 miso soup, 4 seaweed salad, 3 soy burger dinner, 2 tofu dog platter and one pasta with meatless balls" (and wine and beer), so when I had to make dinner for one (myself) last night,  I decided to make veggie hot dogs (inspired by the 2 tofu dog platters)!

Ingredients (serves 3)

6 Linda McCartney Red Onion and Rosemary Sausages
3 bread buns or 6 bread finger rolls
3 salad tomatoes, cut into slices
tomato ketchup


  1. Cook the sausages according to packet instructions, adjusting the temperature and time of cooking in accordance with whether you are using an oven, a fan-assisted oven or a grill.
  2. Cut each bread bun or finger roll in half, and add slices of tomatoes and lettuce on the base half.
  3. Once the sausages are cooked, divide them between the bread buns or finger rolls, using 2 sausages per bread bun or 1 sausage per finger rolls.  Squirt tomato ketchup along the sausages to serve!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Teddy Bear Sandwiches

Some really bad stuff has been happening this month, so for this post, I'm only going to talk about the positives and then move on to the recipe.

Last night, I finally received my official degree classification results, after having friends from other faculties receive their own from Wednesday onwards.  I've achieved a BSc Honours 2:1 in Web Design and Technology, which I feel is really good for me because there was a point in January/February where I knew I'd passed but hadn't done very well in one module but hadn't yet received the results in another module where I thought I'd done really badly, so I had been panicking about getting a 2:2, but then my hopes of a 2:1 were reignited again when I actually got a good result in the other module.  So I have a 2:1 now, and I will be graduating at 10am on Wednesday 13th July.  Sadly, most of my closest friends at uni (BUSOM friends) are in different faculties and will be therefore graduating in different ceremonies, but I'll still have a couple of media friends who might not be on my course, but who I've shared modules with.

Although I haven't recently been at Disney World or Disneyland (I visited the former last July), I am still pretty Disney-obsessed practically all the time.  This morning, I was reading a Winnie the Pooh book (an original A.A. Milne one with illustrations by E.H. Shepard) and I decided to look around my bedroom for some of my Winnie the Pooh merchandise:
  • I have Winnie the Pooh pyjamas, T-shirts and jumpers in my wardrobe.
  • I have a Winnie the Pooh rug on my floor that my mum and I made using a pattern when I was 9-12 years old.
  • I have a Winnie the Pooh clock on my desk that currently doesn't work, but I might get new batteries for it soon.
  • I have Piglet and Tigger pictures (from an amazing Winnie the Pooh stationery design studio CD, which was also used to make bookmarks and birthday party invitations when I was little) that I coloured in a while ago and stuck on my bedroom wall.
  • A Winnie the Pooh album, including songs like The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers and Forever and Ever.
  • A ceramic letter K figurine with Kanga and Roo flying a kite.
  • Two keyrings.
  • A necklace that my best friend gave me for my 18th birthday.
  • A piglet mug which I drink water from almost every day.  It also has a matching Winnie the Pooh mug, and we also have plenty of other Winnie the Pooh mugs around the house.
  • A Winnie the Pooh toy.
  • More Winnie the Pooh bookmarks and notebooks.
  • There's also even more Winnie the Pooh things around the house, including a candle!

On top of all this, there's even more Disney things in my house including lots of videos and DVDs, mugs, CDs, a Monopoly game, jewellery-making kits, pins from the parks, books, LOTS of other things.

You'll probably wonder why I'm discussing how much I love Disney?  Well, today's very simple recipe is for teddy bear-shaped honey sandwiches, inspired by Winnie the Pooh's favourite food.  Sadly, unless you want to use marmalade instead of honey, they're not vegan (but are vegetarian-friendly), but they could be a great idea for kids parties!

Ingredients (serves 8)

8 slices of bread, either white or wholegrain
honey or marmalade


  1. Toast your slices of bread using either a toaster or a grill.
  2. Spread honey or marmalade on your slices of bread and put them together to form sandwiches.
  3. Using a teddy bear-shaped cutter, cut shapes out of the sandwiches to serve!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Vegan Chocolate "Cup" Cake

There are probably many shop-bought chocolate cupcake mixes out there, where you can put a small amount of the mix into a coffee cup (rather than one of those big mugs), add a liquid to it, and microwave it for a minute or two to get a cupcake.  One of these mixes that I've had was from Foodness, where you spoon a couple of spoons full of the cupcake mix into a cup, add a bit of milk, cook it in the microwave, and then eat it.  Sure, you could use a plant-based milk such as almond, hazelnut, oat or soy milk as an alternative to dairy for making this, but this unfortunately still won't make the cupcake vegan as there is actually egg in the dry cake mix itself.

While I was trawling through the World of Wanderlust website (a travel website founded by Brooke Saward), I came across the recipes section of the site, which included recipes inspired by her travels.  The recipe that the one I'm going to share with you was inspired by was under the title of "A Single Girl's cake for Valentine's Day" because the recipe yielded enough to make just one cupcake (plus a very small amount left over).  While this recipe didn't need milk to be added to it for cooking, it still contained one egg yolk.  Back in October, I made some Oreo cupcakes for a film-watching afternoon with my friends (featuring Rent and playing a Hobbit card game), which used mashed up banana as an alternative to eggs.  Surprisingly, my family still thought it tasted nice even though it contained no eggs and was completely vegan, so I knew that a banana could be used again in this recipe.  I've also skipped the espresso that was in the original recipe on the World of Wanderlust website!


3 tablespoons plain flour
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
dash of vanilla essence
1 tablespoon oil (I used olive oil)
half a large banana, mashed


  1. Mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl until well-combined.
  2. Add the mashed banana, oil and vanilla essence, and continue to stir until all the ingredients are combined.
  3. Pour the mix into a well-greased coffee cup.
  4. Cook in a microwave on medium high for 90 seconds, until the cake has risen and cooked through, but avoid overcooking.
  5. If you wish, serve with vanilla ice cream, strawberries, caramel or a dusting of icing sugar!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

My Birthday Wish - We Need To Talk About Orlando

Less than 2 weeks ago, on Tuesday 7th June 2016, I made a wish as I blew out the candles on my 21st birthday cake.  My brother commented at the time that I seemed to take a while to think about my wish.  I know the whole thing about your birthday wish not coming true if you tell someone about it, but I feel that this needs to be said:

My birthday wish was for a full stop to homophobia and transphobia, and any other hateful behaviour towards the LGBT+ community.  This wish was in immediate response to reading an article about a 17 year old girl from Texas called Sarah who had been sent to a Christian-based gay conversion therapy facility because she had taken her girlfriend to prom.  With the help of her cousin (Supergirl actor Jeremy Jordan) and the public, she has now been released from that facility, but she was to not have any contact with the outside world at all for a whole year.  I was horrified that these types of facilities had still not been banned in the United States and shut down since President Barack Obama expressed that he wanted them to be banned following the suicide of Leelah Alcorn in December 2014.  This wish was also in response to the transphobic comments that have very recently been made towards a few of my friends, including misgendering and asking if one of them was a "boy girl".  I want the homophobia and transphobia to stop.  I want to be able to call my best friend by her correct name and pronouns all the time rather than only around certain people (this isn't because she isn't out to those people, but rather their refusing to use the correct name and pronouns).

On Sunday 12th June 2016, at approximately 10:30am, I started to see a headline trending on Facebook about a shooting at an LGBT+ nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  I knew that on Friday night, singer Christina Grimmie had been shot at her own concert in Orlando, but at the time, I didn't click on the headline and continued to do other things and read a book for a while.  When I turned my laptop back on later in the day, the news of the shooting was everywhere - across all three social media platforms I mainly use (Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr), across the news sites, and if you dared to type "Orlando" into Google, you'd read about the shooting and not anything about Disney.  I was going to watch Aladdin on Sunday evening, but during one of the advert breaks, I decided to switch over to BBC News 24, where they were only reporting about the shooting and were due to have a statement made by Obama.  By this point, they had already identified the gunman, and were discussing his possible links to IS and how he'd allegedly called 911 just before carrying out the attack to pledge his allegiance to the group.  But the only thing I knew was that this attack had been carried out at an LGBT+ nightclub.  This is what I added to my reblog in one of my earlier posts on Tumblr about it on Sunday evening (I've reblogged and talked about it on Tumblr a lot in the past few days):

"I am so fed up of hearing the BBC and their sources put the suspect’s religious beliefs as more of a cause of this crime than his beliefs about the LGBT+ community.

He could have gone to yet another school or university.

He could have gone to a supermarket.

He could have gone to a cinema.

But he went to an LGBT+ nightclub intentionally.  He went into a space where people are meant to feel safe and were just having a good time and he targeted them.  Neither the media, the police nor the government can overlook this."

Now that the news about this attack is starting to die down on the news (or I've just started to avoid the mainstream live news), it's still being mainly labelled as a terrorist attack linked to IS by all the main news corporations.  This media branding has even made me question whether or not this was just another attack that IS have claimed responsibility for or if it was a homophobic hate crime.  But I'm still standing with it being a homophobic hate crime, and it's been really helpful to have had friends around me who realise this and think the same.

One of the things that I've thought about over the past few days was the possibility of this happening to me or any of my LGBT+ friends.  If you're wondering why I'm putting myself into the picture, it's because I identify as LGBT+.  Well, the + really.  I identify as the A and the P in LGBTQIAP+ because I have identified myself as asexual since March 2015 and panromantic since October/November 2015.  I am currently in a romantic relationship with a girl and have been for over 6 months now.  Neither of us are the type to enter an LGBT+ club or any club, but I have friends who feel comfortable at these clubs (including a non-binary friend who spoke about this in a video they made following the attack in Orlando).

What if this had happened to any of my friends?

Yes, I know I live in the UK where we have much stricter regulations on obtaining guns, but there's still other weapons that could be used.  The Admiral Duncan pub in London was bombed in 1999.  I have a LGBT+ friend who was in Orlando (or Miami, I'm not sure, but was definitely in Orlando a few days beforehand) at the time of the attack, and although I knew he was safe because of the reason why he was there, I'd thought about what could have happened if he was in Orlando for just a holiday rather than the reason why he was there, and had visited the Pulse nightclub that night?  The first post I saw from him afterwards was a sharing of a image about the irony of asking for blood donations for people from a community who are banned from giving blood themselves (because men who have sex with men and haven't been celibate for a year are banned from giving blood due to the increased HIV/AIDS risk), before a later post about how those who had shown solidarity with France in November 2015 and Belgium in March 2016 via the application of Facebook filters to their profile pictures but hadn't applied the Pride flag filter for Orlando to not do so straight away out of guilt, but to truly think about why they weren't standing in solidarity with Orlando.

While the media have been largely ignoring the identities of those whose lives were taken, I've read through the posts of friends and pages on social media about the names of the 49 victims and sometimes even a bit about them.

Luis Vielma worked at one of the Harry Potter rides at the Universal parks in Orlando.

Jerald Arthur Wright worked at one of the shops on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.

Juan Ramon Guerrero and Christopher "Drew" Leinonen were planning to get married and build their future together, but will now share a joint funeral and will spend their future buried together.

I've thought about Shane Bitney Crone and Tom Bridegroom, whose story I learned about around this time last year after a classmate attended a screening of the Bridegroom documentary with a talk by Shane Bitney Crone himself during her year abroad in the USA.  A man who was prevented from seeing his boyfriend in hospital before he died from injuries sustained in an accidental fall from a roof, and all because of the lack of legal recognition of their relationship of 6 years.

I've also thought again about the 21 trans women, including many of colour, who were murdered in the USA in 2015 alone, including 21 year old Zella Ziona.  I've thought about Leelah Alcorn and Ashley Hallstrom (the latter of whom died in the same week as Zella Ziona) and the approximately other 20 trans people who took their own lives in 2015.

I've read again about Matthew Shepard, who was beaten, tortured and left to die on 6th October 1998 in Wyoming, USA.  He died from severe head injuries on 12th October 1998, the day after my brother (who will be 18 this October) was born.

I read for the first time about both the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in the Soho area of London, UK in April 1999, which killed three and injured approximately 70 others, and the Fire at the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans, Louisiana in June 1973, which killed 32 and injured 15.  The latter of these was previously considered to be the "deadliest known attack on a gay club in US history" before Sunday's attack in Orlando.

I've wondered if this will EVER stop?  When will LGBT+ people be able to live in peace and have the same rights to safety, marriage, adoption, healthcare and even bathrooms as everyone else?  Not just in the USA, but in the UK as well.  Only yesterday, I read an article about protesters standing outside a parliamentary equalities conference in London and demanding legislation, similar to that passed in North Carolina, that would aim to prevent transgender people from using the bathrooms of the gender they identify with.  Although same-sex marriage is now recognised in all 50 states of the USA now, I feel like there's still been backwards steps since.

And right now, I'm scared that we will not go far enough forward for a long time.  I'm scared that I'm just going to continue to read and hear about homophobic and transphobic attacks against LGBT+ people both in the USA and everywhere else around the world.  I'm scared that I might still be silenced for trying to speak out when it's not to other LGBT+ friends or allies of the community.  I'm scared that other very similar attacks to that in Orlando could happen, and they'll be branded by the media as "terrorist attacks on all of us" rather than attacks and hate crimes against the LGBT+ communities of the world.  I'm going to cry over and over again at this and other similar tragedies that have happened and are happening and will happen around the world.

Everyday, I'm grateful for the acceptance, support and knowledge of my friends, especially those who have listened and supported me and possibly others over the past few days (and even before that), but I'm scared that one day, if they were in the USA or even other countries, that this could be them.

If there's a vigil held near you and you identify either as LGBT+ yourself or an ally, go to it.  Dress colourfully and know that I'm with you in spirit (although I may not be allowed to attend my nearest vigil in person with my friends), in the rainbow tie-dye Mickey Mouse T-shirt that I made last year and my Hogwarts badge.

Here are the words from a call and response chant that I saw in a video from a vigil held in Nottingham on Monday:

"Black and brown,
Trans and queer,
Their (Our) lives matter."

Sunday, 12 June 2016

The 100th Post and 21!

So this post was originally supposed to be published in April, but it's only being posted today, on Sunday 12th June, which also happens to be 5 days after my 21st birthday.  So Happy Birthday to me for yesterday!  At the time of starting writing this post (6th June), I don't know what it will contain, so let's start with some personal highlights of blogging over the past 2 years:
  • My Adventures in the USA series (July-September 2015): This set of posts followed my adventures with my family in both Washington DC and Florida, and listed my top 5 places to visit in Washington DC as well as in each of the Disney World parks and the Universal Orlando parks in Florida, and also featured some recipes inspired by the trip.
  • My Back to the 80s posts 1 and 2 (March 2016): In my excitement over BUSOM's main show, Back to the 80s, I posted little diary entries from my view as the show's producer in the days leading up to the show, as well as the daily countdown photos and other promotional things.
  • My interview with Australian blogger, Kara Ready (unfortunately not in person), in which she talked about her passion for media and journalism, veganism, travel, and her tips for health and happiness.
  • My post about my little trip with my friends from uni to our local Waterstones bookstore for a Harry Potter event.
  • The highlights of my short trip to Newcastle in February this year.
  • My post about what my friends and I did for Halloween last year.
  • My final week of uni before Christmas post.

Favourite photos

Homemade bread rolls in Summer 2014

Berries and overalls in Summer 2014
A banana and date smoothie!
Chocolate Rice Krispie nests at Easter 2015
Fruit haul for snacking around Washington DC

The World War 2 Memorial in Washington DC in July 2015

The wall of 4048 gold stars, each of which represent 100 Americans who died in World War 2

A waterfall at the Roosevelt Memorial Park

The White House!

The Hogwarts Express at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando

Festival of the Lion King at the Animal Kingdom
Making my own tie-dye T-shirt at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa at Disney World

My finished rainbow tie-dye Mickey Mouse T-shirt

Cinderella's Castle at Disney World Florida in July 2015

Fireworks at the Magic Kingdom in July 2015

Vegan Oreo cupcakes in October 2015

Carving pumpkins at uni in October 2015

Paddington on the Harry Potter display at Waterstones in February 2016

Falafel and Mango Chutney from Tea Sutra in Newcastle in February 2016

Activities Ball in April 2016

My birthday party mocktail in May 2016

What's in store in coming weeks

I've got a few ideas buzzing around my head for some upcoming posts, including the following:
  • a chocolate "cup" cake recipe - a homemade mix for a cake in a cup that doesn't contain eggs or dairy!
  • a chocolate brownie recipe - I think this recipe will be the closest thing to the chocolate brownie recipe that my family traditionally uses and which everyone loves, so I'm dying to try it!
  • a possible collaboration
  • a post on anxiety
  • a few posts on coffee - I want to see sometime which plant-based milks are the best for coffee, ice cream and coffee-based recipes, so I may have another collaboration for this.
  • my Sri Lanka adventure series - I plan to journal my family trip to Sri Lanka in August, and then write a few posts with my favourite places to visit and a few curry recipes!

Asparagus with Vegan Hollandaise Sauce

Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce and Toast

For my birthday tea, we had asparagus with Hollandaise sauce and toast for starters, but unfortunately, the shop-bought Hollandaise sauce was non-vegan (contained egg yolk and possibly also butter), so I decided to find an easy recipe for vegan-friendly Hollandaise sauce in case I wanted to use it with asparagus again in the future.  I found this recipe and the recipe for the cashew butter used to make it on the Whole Foods Market website!

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup of sauce)

3/4 cup cashew butter (see recipe below)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 a teaspoon ground turmeric
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a few bunches of asparagus
2 cups raw cashew nuts (will make 1 cup of cashew butter)


  1. To make cashew butter, place cashew nuts in a food processor and process for 2 minutes at a time.  Doing this at intervals will prevent the food processor from overheating.  Scrape down the sides of the processor when required until the cashew nuts break down completely and become a completely smooth butter - before this, the mixture will go through a dry paste, crumbly mixture and large ball stage.
  2. Combine cashew butter, mustard, lemon zest and juice, garlic powder, turmeric, cayenne pepper and 1/2 a cup of warm water in a blender for about one minute or until smooth.
  3. Add more warm water as needed to reach the desired consistency.  Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  4. Rinse stalks of asparagus in water.  For larger stalks, bend the spear until it snaps and throw the harder end away.
  5. Boil in water for 3-5 minutes or steam for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Serve asparagus and Hollandaise sauce with slices of toast.

My 21st birthday cake!

Non-Vegan Cheesecake with Grated Chocolate

    Monday, 30 May 2016

    Asparagus and Radish Salad with Green Chilli

    So I'm back!!!  After nearly two months of no new posts, I think I'm just about ready to start writing again and I think I have a few ideas in store, with maybe even a couple of collaborations but nothing's been organised yet.  In the next couple of weeks, I'll be publishing my 100th post (which you can still send asks to @rainbowsunshine67 on Tumblr for, both anonymously and non-anonymously), so look out for that!

    So I've actually been up to a lot in the past couple of months, so let's have a little catch-up:

    On Friday 15th April, it was the Activities Ball on Friday 15th April.  While the ball had been at the Cedar Court Hotel near the M606 last year, we returned this year to the Bradford Hotel where the ball was when I was in 1st year, and for the first time in years, the Activities Ball took place separately to the Athletics Union Colours Ball (which was in March).  I ended up wearing the same F&F Limited Edition purple satin dress that I wore for the ball two years ago, but one of my friends commented when I told her it was the same dress that I'd "grown and matured into the dress" since 1st year.  I don't really understand what she meant but she said it was a compliment.  I wore it with my gold flower necklace and black bow flat shoes, both from Marks and Spencer.

    I received an individual colours award for my services as exec member of both BUSOM (in 2nd year) and RamAir (in 3rd year) after my wonderful friends from BUSOM nominated me.  This year has been a big year for awards in BUSOM as a total of 5 of us received individual awards, we achieved gold status in the society quality mark (SQM) scheme, and we were also shortlisted for the Event of the Year award for Back to the 80s, narrowly missing out to Pak Soc and the Hindu Society's collaboration on the Rang event.

    I chose the vegetarian option for the meal, but I don't know how much difference there was between the vegetarian option and the vegan option (I also don't know of any vegans who were at the ball).  The main difference between the vegetarian option and the normal option was that everyone else had chicken with their vegetables instead of vegetable tarts for main course, and the tomato soup starter was probably the same for everyone (except for a friend who was allergic to the cornstarch in the soup).  The raspberry panna cotta wasn't the best but it was alright and if it wasn't already vegan-friendly, it could easily be made so.

    A bag of sweets!
    The table centrepiece

    Starter: Tomato Soup

    Vegetarian Mains: Vegetable tart with vegetables

    Dessert: Raspberry Pannacotta

    On Tuesday 26th April, I completed the website for my final project (which can currently be viewed at, had my presentation, and completed my final 4000 word essay and my degree on Monday 9th May.  I'll have to wait for a few more weeks to receive my final results, but I'm still just about on track for a 2:1.  I'm due to graduate on Wednesday 13th July!

    Thursday 28th April was BUSOM's summer concert, I Can Sing A Rainbow, where we sang lots of songs about colours.  I sang Colours of the Wind from Pocahontas as a solo, and also had a solo line in Rainbow Connection from the Muppets.  Other songs included I've Got A Golden Ticket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Somewhere That's Green from Little Shop of Horrors, Red and Black from Les Miserables, and Joseph's Coat from Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  You can read Phil Lickley's review on the concert here. The photos below are courtesy of Bradford Student Productions.

    During my final week at university (15th-20th May), I took part in RamAir's 24 Hour Show where I both studio managed other shows and hosted the final two episodes of my own show, Breaking Walls and Closing Cupboards - although the final episode ended up under the name of Fixing The Wall and Opening The Cupboards.  I also took part in the return of Grumpy Young Farts and the final episode of Anything Goes with Emma.

    I had my 21st birthday party 3 weeks early so I could celebrate with my uni friends before they all went home.  We used the uni bars' karaoke system for entertainment (I sang Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall, Call Me by Blondie, Tide Is High (Get The Feeling) by Atomic Kitten, and Walking On Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves), and played the chocolate game, pass the parcel (including Truth or Dare) and Never Have I Ever for party games.  I love my friends from BUSOM and I think they made this an amazing birthday party for me.  Hopefully, I'll be publishing my 100th post by my 21st birthday (on 7th June)!

    My birthday mocktail gift from the bars, with pineapple juice, cranberry juice, blueberries and grapes

    Playing the chocolate game

    Other events from that week included the Student Leader Awards where I received a gold award for my volunteering with RamAir and a silver award for being a student representative, the BUSOM end-of-year BBQ, and Party on the Amp, which I missed most of due to work, but had a good time with my friends for the 2 hours I was there and afterwards when spending more time with BUSOM friends.

    Emma and I with our awards, photo courtesy of Philip Lickley

    I've also now started working at Gaggia Caffe Shop, where I'm tinkering with a website redesign and answering lots of customer phone calls at the moment, but I might be learning more about the coffee machines themselves in the future so I can understand better to give advice to customers.

    And now finally for this week's recipe.  While flicking through the May 2016 edition of Tesco Food Family Living, I noticed that there's a new symbol for about 4 of the dishes - a small green V with a leaf at the right finishing point of the letter.  I looked up what this meant and found that these recipes "use no animal products, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy".  This will definitely make finding vegan-friendly recipes in these magazines as I was previously searching the vegetarian recipes for milk or eggs and thinking of how I could adapt these recipes.  The first marked vegan-friendly recipe from Tesco that I'm going to share here is going to be Asparagus and radish salad with green chilli:

    Ingredients (serves 4)

    100g (3 1/2 oz) fine green beans, trimmed
    1 x 250g bunch of asparagus, shaved into long strips using a vegetable peeler
    2 spring onions, sliced
    100g  (3 1/2 oz) radishes, finely sliced
    a small handful each of fresh dill and mint, roughly chopped
    1 tablespoon hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

    For the dressing:
    5cm (2 inches) piece fresh ginger, finely grated
    1 garlic clove, finely grated
    1 green chilli, seeded and finely diced
    1 lime, juiced
    1 tablespoon sesame oil


    1. Cook the green beans in a pan of salted, boiling water for 3 minutes, or until tender.  Drain, run under a cold tap and drain again.  Arrange on a serving platter with the asparagus, spring onions, radishes and herbs.
    2. To make the dressing, combine the ginger, garlic and chilli in a small bowl.  Add the lime juice and sesame oil.  Season with a pinch each of salt, pepper and sugar, and mix well.
    3. Scatter the hazelnuts over the salad and spoon over the dressing.

    Sunday, 3 April 2016

    Vegan Meringues

    I'm pretty sure I said on Wednesday that I was going to publish this post on Friday and yet I'm now only finishing writing it late on Sunday night.  Please forgive me, I've been sorting out coursework (prototype demonstration is in 11 days, final presentation is in 23 days, my final assessment is due in 36 days, and I'll be graduating in 101 days).  In fact, during the writing of this post, over 50% of my final assessment (a 4000 word individual reflective report) has accidentally been written and this actually took the place of an afternoon nap.  This post is now only being posted late on Sunday night following doing more coursework and also watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  I don't know how much time I'll have over the next month to write posts each week because of coursework and other things, but I'll try my best to at the very least post on time.  I also have something special planned for my 100th post on this blog, so look out for that in the next fortnight or so.

    So this week's post is for vegan-friendly meringues.  Remember how we had a can of chickpeas in last week's falafel recipe?  Well, the chickpeas in those cans are surrounded in a liquid that can be known as "aquafaba" (bean water) that can be used as a replacement for eggs in some recipes.  This recipe from Slate uses chickpea water to make meringues that are vegan-friendly and could be used in different desserts, such as nests for Easter or a vegan version of Eton Mess!


    1 can of chickpeas (you can save the chickpeas for something like hummus or falafel)
    2 tablespoons caster sugar
    2 teaspoons vanilla essence


    1. Drain the can of chickpeas by holding a sieve over a cup, and pouring the contents of the can into the sieve.  The chickpeas will remain in the sieve while the chickpea water will filter through into the cup.
    2. Using a free-standing mixer (i.e. a Kitchen Aid) or a hand whisk, whip the chickpea water for approximately 15 minutes until the chickpea water becomes white and fluffy in texture and forms stiff peaks.
    3. Add caster sugar and continue to mix.
    4. Add vanilla essence and continue to mix.
    5. Scoop the mixture onto a baking paper lined tray using a tablespoon to form round cookie-like portions.
    6. Place the tray in the oven preheated to 120 degrees Celsius or 250 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for approximately 90 minutes.
    7. Leave to cool before serving.

    Wednesday, 30 March 2016

    Adventures in Newcastle: Tea Sutra and other stories

    This post has been waiting over a month, and at the time of posting, I've been on Easter/Spring break for a week and a half, but I'm actually doing lots of coursework, so forgive how long this post has taken.  I promise there'll be another new post on Friday (as in in two days time).  I suppose it's good that I have left this post until now though because I have slightly more time for writing the more descriptive posts like this one (even though I did plenty of that in the days leading up to Back to the 80s, the review for which you can read here and see photos of here).  Over the Valentines weekend, I headed up to Newcastle for one day for my best friend Haaris' 21st birthday celebrations.  I didn't manage to visit that many places, so I might have to update this post after any future Newcastle visits that I have.


    We had our dinner at Pizza Express, where I had the Pianta pizza, which is the only fully vegan-friendly pizza on their menu (although if you take your own vegan cheese, they can use it to adjust any of the vegetarian pizzas as their pizza bases are ALL dairy and egg-free) and is topped with chestnut mushrooms, pine kernels, artichokes, chilli flakes, spinach and copious amounts of rocket salad.  The chilli flakes are unfortunately a huge weakness of mine, which results in me needing tissues to wipe my nose after every couple of mouthfuls of pizza as I am terrible at dealing with hot/spicy foods.  We were also given complimentary chocolate love hearts for Valentine's Day!


    A few more of Haaris' friends then joined us (only one of them was there for dinner) for a game at Lost and Escape!  We split into two teams (one with four of us, and the other with five) to take on a game each - my team entered the Lost game while the other team went into the Escape dungeon.  In Lost, we started in a room where we had to solve a series of puzzles to open cupboards and padlocks on boxes, before entering the next room to climb through a laser maze (where if you touch the laser beam with any part of your body, an alarm goes off and you have to start from the beginning of the laser maze again), before finishing in a third room with more puzzles that eventually led to the treasure chest (pictured above).  We had an hour to complete the whole game, and we had entered the final room with approximately 35 minutes to spare, but we were then confused by some of the clues in the final room and didn't realise that one of the puzzle boxes had a second secret opening that contained an important clue.  We eventually only finished the game with about 5 minutes to spare.  We were meant to see some comedy at The Stand after this, but tickets had sold out and I was actually quite tired anyway, so we were back at Haaris' student house by 9:15pm and I spent the next 3 hours mostly asleep.

    Lunch at Tea Sutra

    While looking through my cousin's girlfriend's Instagram pictures several months ago, my eyes were drawn to a photograph of a teapot, a timer, a teacup and sieve, two slices of cake, and an elephant-shaped teapot (let's face it, the elephant drew me in).  Amongst the tags was #vegan, so my interest immediately peaked and I looked up Tea Sutra (another of the tags) to find it was in Newcastle.  I found that one of Haaris' friends, Saffron, has also visited Tea Sutra, so I messaged them in advance to ask for their recommendations of what to eat.  Saffron's recommendations were Lapsang Souchong or Blossoming tea, the Mediterranean veg wrap, and the lemon and earl grey cake.

    The teapot, sieve and timer
    For tea, I had Lapsang Souchong as per one of Saffron's recommendations.  It came in a teapot with a cup, sieve, and a 5 minute timer.  This means that I had to wait for 5 minutes after adding the hot water to the teapot for the tea to brew before I could pour it into my cup to drink.  It was quite hot, but also very nice and soothing and I got even more tea because Haaris had ordered the same but then found that he didn't like it and offered it to me.

    Warm Lapsang Souchong tea

    For my main course, I went against Saffron's recommendation of the Mediterranean veg wrap (mainly because I was overwhelmed by choices) and instead opted for the falafel and mango chutney wrap with salad.  I'm not sure if I'd ever eaten falafel before, but it had a nice, soft texture which went well with the sweet mango chutney.

    Falafel and Mango Chutney wrap with salad and crisps

    For my dessert, I really couldn't decide what to eat out of the two choices available, so I figured that I should really make the most of being there as I probably won't be eating at Tea Sutra again for a while (because I'll be taken to other places if/when I'm next staying in Newcastle, including one of the cat cafés), and ate a slice of both cakes.  The first, the Earl Grey and Lemon cake, was my favourite and also recommended by Saffron, as it had sultanas sprinkled on the top as well as a nice lemon taste in the icing.  The second was a banana and chocolate cake which Haaris also had a slice of, and had little chocolate chips and dots of chocolate frosting.

    Earl Grey and Lemon cake

    Banana and Chocolate cake

    Falafel and Mango Chutney Wrap

    This recipe is supposed to be inspired by the falafel and mango chutney wrap that I ate at Tea Sutra, and involves this falafel recipe from

    Ingredients (serves 2-3)

    One 16oz can of chickpeas.
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 cloves of garlic, chopped
    3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
    1 teaspoon coriander
    1 teaspoon cumin
    2 tablespoons flour
    oil for frying
    3 tortilla wraps
    mango chutney


    1. Drain chickpeas, place in pan with fresh water and bring to a boil.
    2. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then simmer on a low setting for about an hour.
    3. Drain and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
    4. Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper (to taste) in a medium bowl.  Add flour.
    5. Mash the chickpeas, making sure to mix the ingredients together, or combine the ingredients with a food processor to form a thick paste.
    6. Roll the mixture into balls and flatten slightly.
    7. Fry in 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees until golden brown (5-7 minutes). Leave to cool slightly.
    8. Place 2 teaspoons of mango chutney into the centre of each tortilla wrap and spread around the surface of the wrap.
    9. Place falafel balls along the centre of the wrap and roll to serve.
    10. Serve with salad.