New Monday, New Week, New Goals!


As I write this I have so much motivation, I'm wide awake, my mind is open and I'm ready to tackle the week ahead. So, of course, I thought I would use this opportunity to share with you all my plans and goals for the next seven days.

Eat lunch outside!

Sometimes digital life can keep you cooped up. When I go to work I'm indoors, I get home and eat dinner indoors and then I spend my evening, you guessed it, indoors. I sometimes feel like a sad plant that's just sitting on a windowsill. And so in an attempt to reconnect with nature during the week I've decided to eat my lunch outside. It's only an hour but I just know it will make all the difference. I'm very lucky to live in such a vibrant city, so who knows what I'll discover.

Pump up the Glam.

With a few new beauty purchases, I've decided to spend an extra 10 minutes a day on myself. A bold lip, winged eyeliner or loose curls. I'm going to make myself feel that little bit more pulled together and a little bit more glam than my usual minimal self.

One draft a day.

It's no secret that I've been lacking inspiration on this blog. Posts are now few and far between. But it's not because I'm not writing, they're all drafted, all photographed. And I'm going to spend my evenings finishing off those posts and scheduling them for the weeks ahead. It's been a tough time comparing myself to those around me. But finally, I feel lifted by those people, inspired by those posts and have the motivation to start putting my words out there once again.

Out with the old!

I have piles and piles of clothes that I no longer need and have yet to make a serious dent in it. So this week I will be tackling it head on. Whether it be recycling pieces, donating them to charity shops, selling them on eBay, I need to get a move on!


Here's to the week ahead! I hope that yours is also a productive one, stay motivated, keep yourself inspired and don't forget to shout about it. Be proud of the little things.

What do you have planned for this week? Do you set yourself weekly goals?

Gem. x

Vegan Friendly | Barry M Coconut Infusion


I was over the moon when I found out that Barry M nail polish was vegan and cruelty-free. So I dug them out of my stash and ran straight to boots for a top up. With the Coconut Infusion collection in full swing, I picked up a few shades and fell in love with this pale nude, Skinny Dip. 

First of all, let's talk formula, this collection boasts a new innovative formulation. Its blend of both coconut water and oil nourishes and hydrates the nail while leaving a beautifully glossy smooth finish. This reflective, long-lasting formula has a brilliant colour payoff and has definitely shot to the top of my favorites list. 

I'm always a bit skeptical about vitamins and nutrients being added into nail polish, because who knows if they actually work? It could take time for them to have an effect. But one thing I found with this range is the instant difference I saw in my nails once I removed the polish. Usually, my nails are dry and brittle. But somehow they felt stronger, looked a bit brighter and weren't dry at all. 

Colour-wise this is my go-to everyday shade. Even with the weather cooling, I'm still in favor of something pale. For those looking for something a bit bolder Flamingo is a gorgeous pale coral and Laguna is a subtle sky blue with a slight hint of lilac.

All in all, I'm very pleased with this range and I cannot wait to try some more shades. 

Have you tried the Barry M Coconut Infusion polishes? What do you think about nutrient-enriched formulas? 

Gem. x

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The Perfect Wardrobe | Reinventing The Classic Breton


I love classics. Artwork, music, the humble espresso. But every so often a classic is reinvented and the result is beautiful. I'm talking about the Linen Breton Jumper from Jigsaw. It's been deconstructed, with a tubular and curved hem. And finished with knitted side panels and a ribbed collar and cuffs. It's been my go to layer of choice, easily paired with jeans or tailored trousers for an easy breezy classic look.

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The striped Breton was originally introduced to the French navy as a uniform following the 1858 Act of France. It was known as a marinière or matelot and featured 21 stripes, one for each of Napolean's victories.

Manufactured in wool and cotton, it became a staple for those working on and around the mariner. The classic stripe Breton was born but it wasn't just it's distinctive block pattern that brought it to the limelight. It started in 1917 with Coco Chanel's nautical collection debut.

With seaside holidays set for becoming a summer trend, the Breton was paired with long flared trousers, blazers and shorts. It was a force to be reckoned with. Throughout the years, style icons have solidified its cult status, including Marilyn Monroe, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn and my personal favorite Edie Sedgwick.

Today those who wear the Breton encompass chic Parisian style. And I for one definitely feel my best when I'm wearing a bold stripe. After all, creating a minimal wardrobe is about the key pieces, the cult classics and the one's you can't live without.

What cult pieces do you have in your wardrobe? Have you added a Breton to your hangers?

Gem. x

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Mother Nature At Her Finest | Salt of the Earth


Since I began my vegan journey I've been switching my products to cruelty-free, environmentally friendly alternatives, starting with the everyday. Toothpaste, shampoo, household cleaning and in this case deodorant. I had originally been using a Mitchum roll on, but the scents weren't quite what I was looking for. So when I saw that Salt of the Earth had released their first scented deodorant*, I just had to try it. 

Now I need to start off by mentioning that I'm not typically a sweaty person. If I forget to put on deodorant I know I'll be okay, as long as I have an easy day. But at the beginning of June, we quite possibly had the hottest weekend ever! I spent 4 hours on a train, an entire night dancing and then a whole day in the sun. And not once did I smell any less than fabulous. If I do say so myself. When I say this is long lasting, I mean it.

I was glistening, smiling and feeling confident. And that's all thanks to the wonders of mineral salts! They leave a thin layer on your skin which obstructs any potential bacteria from growing, which is the main cause of body odour. It's weightless, quick drying and a total game changer.

Since I began looking for alternative products I have been wowed by the power of nature, everything in this bottle is 100% natural. Even the fragrance has been blended with over 15 botanical extracts and oils. From the first use, this is super soft and fresh with sweet undertones. That's mother nature at her finest.

To be honest, up until recently I thought that any ol' deodorant would do. I've never taken a moment to establish what I expect from something so essential. Maybe that was my own naivety, maybe now that I have a set of guidelines I'll start to explore new products in a different way. Who knows, this is of course only the beginning. 

Do you use a natural deodorant? What do you think of the fusion of lavender and vanilla?

Gem. x

*Gifted Item - Pure Aura Scented Natural Deodorant Spray - £5.99

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One Pot Vegan Muffins: Chocolate & Banana


Since becoming vegan I've found it hard to substitute certain foods. So I set about trialling and testing different recipes to satisfy my sweet-tooth. And these muffins were at the top of my list. They're super easy, can be made in half an hour and the flavour combinations are endless. Now I was dubious as to whether these would be as good as other cakes I've made in the past, but I'm pretty impressed. 

And so was the boy. He did admit that they tasted 'like a healthier version of a cake but they're still good' and I'm taking that as a compliment. 

The idea for this recipe came from a friend of mine. Whenever I stayed at her house we would make these one pot muffins as we didn't want to weigh ingredients. The concept is simple, to keep all amounts relative to each other you take one yoghurt and then use that carton/pot to measure out the rest of your ingredients. It's super quick, super easy and failproof. 

I had seen soya yoghurt being used in vegan-friendly baking recipes and it clicked. So with multipacks of Alpro desserts in the fridge, I decided to throw everything together and hope for the best. But before I started anything I had a problem, the original recipe included eggs, so I had to research substitutes. One thing kept popping up and I just had to give it a go. Apparently a medium mashed banana works similarly to eggs as a binding agent. And low and behold it works! 

You can use any flavour of yoghurt and add any extras like fruits or vanilla extract. I decided that since I was including banana I would try to incorporate that flavour instead of masking it. And opted for the Alpro Silky Smooth Chocolate Dessert. My next baking adventure is going to be classic blueberry muffins, so in that case, I may swap the mashed banana for a traditional egg substitute available at Holland & Barrett. But this isn't a necessity. 

The thing that impresses me the most is the fact that I didn't have to go out to buy anything. I had everything I needed already in my kitchen. In just half an hour I had my tea brewed, a plate ready and 12 glorious muffins ready for me to indulge. So without further ado, I present my Vegan Chocolate and Banana Muffins.


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One Pot Vegan Muffins
A quick and easy way to make vegan-friendly muffins, with simple ingredients that you can find in the average kitchen.
Ingredients
  • 1 Carton Flavoured Soya Yoghurt
  • 1 Carton Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Cartons Self Raising Flour
  • 1 Carton Caster Sugar
  • 1 Medium Sized Mashed Banana
Instructions
1. Empty the flavoured soya yoghurt into a medium sized bowl.2. Using the same yoghurt carton measure out 1 portion of vegetable oil and caster sugar. Beat together with a wooden spoon.3. Now measure out 3 portions of self-raising flour and mix together gently.4. Mash your banana and add to the mix, ensuring that all ingredients have combined together evenly.5. Spoon out your mixture into small muffin cases and bake for 15-20 minutes at 180°. Or until golden brown.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12-15 small muffins


Fellow vegans, have you made any sweet treats recently? Share them below! Vegan or not, if you decide to try this recipe for yourself then tweet me a photo @slightgem and let me know what you think.

Gem. x


7 Goals For 7 Days


If there was one thing I would improve about myself, I would be more goal orientated. I try my hardest to write mini goals and set time frames but the truth is, I'll just write them down in a pretty notebook and forget all about them. It's only recently that I've started keeping everything in Evernote, that way everything I've ever written is in one place. Manageable.

It's something I'm working on, something I want to become a regular occurrence. My aim is to make more of a habit of it, for it to become part of my daily routine and that takes time. I once read a book that said it takes an action 28 times to become natural, to become a habit. And so with that in mind, I've decided to start off with something small, simple 7 goals for 7 days.

I could complete one goal a day, I could complete three, either way by this time next week I would like to be able to tick them all off. I have set them all as reminders along with alarms, in a bid to keep myself in the zone. So here they are:

  1. Drink eight glasses of water a day.
  2. Take five minutes to breathe and relax.
  3. Clear out my wardrobe.
  4. Socialise! Get out of the house.
  5. Use the day to its full potential.
  6. Complete a food diary.
  7. Document the day. How I felt, what I'm thankful for, positives, how to overcome negatives etc.

Hopefully, I will be able to successfully complete the week, and the see what happens from there. There are things I would like to make permanent, like drinking 8 glasses of water as most days I get to 5 and forget. Maybe I'll swap some around, maybe next week I'll add a book into the mix. Who knows.

Do you set yourself mini goals? If so how often do you stick to them? 


Gem. x

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Instagram Art


Moving into our first home has been wonderful. Collecting things to fill our home is one of our favorite things to do over the weekend. And one thing I wanted to focus on was displaying our adventures, passions and past times. We found a recored player and listen to Sam Cooke in the evenings, we filled a bookcase with our favorite novels, set up my film camera collection and keep the coffee table up to date with our favourite magazines.

I stumbled across something in Tesco that I just has to share. Now I know that this isn't something new but it's the first time for me. I took some of my favorite Instagram photos and got them printed in various sizes. There is a couple of machines that you bluetooh photos to and it prints them right there and then. I do have some of my film prints around the house, but I find it so amazing that I can take memories from a screen into the palm of my hands within seconds. 

Prices start from just 30p, so I've decided to use this opportunity to build a photo album as well. The boy and I have four years of memories to print, so it could take a while. But I'm sure looking back we will be thankful. In this digital age it's easy to forget the little things. We snap a photo on our phone, and a few years later it's been lost by software updates and swapping handsets. When I went to visit my mum for her birthday we sat around as a family and flipped through photo albums, showing my sisters boyfriend silly photos. It was lovely, and I definitely want to keep that tradition alive. Who needs the cloud, I want to be able to hold my memories and be surrounded by them.

Have you ever printed your Instagram photos? How do you inject personality into your home? 

Gem. x

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Buying Plants Locally





There is no greater feeling than a room full of plants. It gives off the nicest vibe of happiness, calm and most importantly positive energy. And today I wanted to spread all of that and talk about buying plants locally. 

I am very fortunate to have a beautiful market just minutes away from my house, open five days a week. But it's not just convenience that has given me a strong belief in local produce. I grew up in Suffolk where houses sold eggs and vegetables on fold up wooden tables in their front gardens. Almost every day is a market day and there are lots of independent shops just minutes away from each other.

There's a sense of community supporting those whose livelihood depend on your custom. You get to know these people, you share their spirit and most of all you contribute to something a lot bigger than a bunch of flowers. 

Here are just five reasons to shop locally:
1. You'll get yourself a good deal, and maybe some good advice.
2. You will learn what's in season.
3. You will be supporting your local community.
4. It's a lot more ethical.
5. You'll be contributing to a person, a family and a lifestyle.


After watching the Chelsea Flower Show this year I am so inspired to introduce more fresh herbs, plants, and flowers into my life. I feel like I've caught the green thumb and I'm loving it.

Do you buy locally? What kinds of plants do you have in your home?

Gem. x

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A First Home | My New Office


Eeek! Words cannot describe how happy I am with this room. Some say being an adult is hard, long hours, lots of responsibilities and a sense of new found independence. And I agree, it is all of those things but one thing that keeps me going is the freedom to really push myself. To take a step closer towards my dreams. 

Some of you may be wondering what this has to do with a room. But it's what the rooms represents. It's the fact that we earned it. We did it ourselves. And that makes me feel very grown up. Even whilst sitting at my desk in miffy pyjamas. 

For those of you that are redecorating, planning to move soon, or gearing up to go to university, I would recommend setting up some boards on Pinterest to see exactly what kind of style you're looking for. I have multiple boards for different rooms and each one contributed to this room in one way or another. I searched for similar items, similar layouts and eventually I managed to locate everything within our budget. 

We both spend a lot of time in front of the computer. And so naturally it was imperative that our office not only look clean and minimal but it also needed to be a hub of organisation and storage. So naturally we went to IKEA. For everything else we relied on the internet and found some amazing online stores. Our favourite is Cult Furniture, it specialises in modern and contemporary designs and doesn't disappoint. I could spend hours scrolling through and favouriting pages.

That's one room down and two to go. With pinning well underway our next venture is the bedroom. Let me know if you would like me to share the finished result!

What do you think of our minimalist office? Do you use Pinterest for interior inspiration? 

Check out my boards and share your links below!

Gem. x

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