Hello March, Goodbye February 2021

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This time last year was when things started to pick up on how serious COVID was. Near the end of March, the UK went into its first lockdown, and it feels like we never truly left March of 2020. It was a weird time for all of us, but here we are, heading into March of 2021 in full force.

The good news is that things are starting to look up. We have the vaccine which is being given to people at an impressive rate. This means that eventually, infection rates will go down, and we can start getting back to normal. Boris Johnson will start to ease up on restrictions and eventually let us out of lockdown.

It’s looking good, and the Sun is starting to shine, which has drastically improved my mood. My wife and I have been out for walks the past week, and we both feel better.

Last months blog posts

What’s in store for March?

My wife and I will be taking part in “March for March”, and we will be walking 10,000 steps a day during this month. Hopefully, there will still be enough time to get a fair amount of blog posts out.

I hope you have a lovely month in March, and I hope its filled with happiness and joy.

Why You Should Have a Post-COVID Wishlist

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I read the blog post below, and it got me thinking. What is my post-COVID wishlist? I was supposed to be travelling to Corfu for my 30th birthday, but that got cancelled today. It would have been my first time abroad, too. (I know, I’m very sheltered).

I guess that would be a good one to start with. Post-COVID, I would like to travel to Corfu. There are also many other things I would like to do, including but most definitely not limited to…

  • See my mum
  • Talk to a stranger
  • Smile at strangers (I love smiling at people)
  • Hug a stranger
  • Go to a restaurant
  • Get drunk in a pub and/or nightclub (I don’t normally go on a night out, but I am ready for one).
  • Watch a movie at the cinema, and I’d love to go and see Mortal Kombat when it’s released.
  • Go to a live gig. Hopefully, I will be able to see Guns and Roses if they don’t postpone. However, My Chemical Romance has apparently postponed until next year. I also have a comedy gig lined up that’s performed outside, so we should be good for that.

There are probably many more things that I’m dying to do, but this list is the things that spring to mind.

What would you love to do post-COVID? Is there anything you are aching to get back to? Let me know in the comments, and also check out the blog this post was inspired by.

As we approach a year of our lives being turned upsidedown by the pandemic, it’s easy to become saddened by all of the things we have missed out on …

Why You Should Have a Post-COVID Wishlist

Celebrating pancake day the only way I know how

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Yesterday was pancake day here in the UK. Most people will have pancakes for breakfast or dessert, and that will be it. However, that’s not how I celebrate it. After all, it’s called pancake DAY, not pancake hour.

Most years, I will have pancakes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. The combination will be sweet, savoury, savoury, and finally, sweet pancakes. This year was a little different as we didn’t have any for lunch. But we did have vegan bacon and maple syrup pancakes for breakfast, followed by vegan cheese and bacon on pancakes for dinner.

Finally, for dessert, we had banana slices, whipped cream, agave syrup and biscoff spread on pancakes which was bloody lush. You can see the result of our pancakes below.

Do you celebrate pancake day? If so, how do you celebrate? I’d love to know your stories in the comments.

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Born to run (things) and How to Be Great

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I really like reading Seth Rogan’s blog, and the post linked below really stood out to me.

Talent is overrated. Skill is acquirable.

Born to run (things)

Talent is indeed overrated, and it takes a lot of practice to acquire skills. Gaining skills in writing, programming, music all takes time and effort. The more time and effort you put in, the better you will become.

Another blog post that continually sticks in my mind, and is similar in topic. To be great, you need to be good constantly.

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I bid you farewell January, and hello February 2021

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Last month was a pretty boring yet stressful month for me. However, I did close it nicely by starting a new job. It’s a senior developer position with a company called Meshh. They’re a market research company and create analytical data from live events. I’m pretty excited to be joining, and I hope I’ll pass my 3 month probation period.

Last months blog posts

As for January blog posts, let’s see what went on…

What am I planning in February?

A few blog posts are sitting in my drafts folder that I hope to post very soon. Hopefully, I can slowly get back into a nice rhythm of blog posts which you can all enjoy. I’m sure lockdown will still be ongoing for the whole of this month, which is a little annoying because I want to get back to CrossFit and see more faces again.

Oh, it’s also my wife’s birthday on the 13th, and then valentines on the 14th so we’ll be having a few treats. Despite the shit-storm, life isn’t all that bad, and I’m very grateful for what I have.

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A personal mission to cut down on single-use plastics

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This year I’m making more of an effort to cut down on single-use plastics. We’ve seen the impact plastic has on the environment and how it can kill wildlife. We’ve also seen how plastic doesn’t degrade and turns into microplastics found in fish, bugs and our own stomachs.

I’m hoping that sharing what I use personally will inspire others to take similar action. Also, you may be on a similar journey but might have missed something.

Personal Hygiene

I used to use a lot of plastic products for face wash and shower creams. However, I’ve been interested in switching to soap-based products, and my wife found a lovely company call “Little Fox Soapery”. She purchased a gift set that contained face, and body washes, as well as shaving soap. They also have hair and dishes soap which I will be buying shortly.

Another thing I used to use was a plastic body scrub or pouffe. They’re pretty bad for the environment since you can’t recycle them, and are thrown straight in the bin. As an alternative, I have switched to soap pouches. They are 100% plastic-free and made from natural fibres and are therefore biodegradable.

I currently have an electric Oral B toothbrush, and I’m not sure how I can replace this just yet. I could go the bamboo manual toothbrush route, but I don’t want to throw away something I’ve had for over 5 years and is still working as that wouldn’t be beneficial at all.

Toothpaste would be a good one to replace next. I’m thinking of giving the tabs ago, and I have found a company called denttabs. I’ll purchase a month’s worth of them and see how good they are and report back.

Some other ones for me to consider would be deodorant and moisturising cream. At the minute, I’m using spray bottles with plastic tops, and the BullDog moisturiser uses >50% sugar cane as a plant-based plastic. There’s a company called Wild who offer plastic-free deodorant which I’m willing to try. As for the moisturiser, I haven’t found anything yet, but I would love to find an alternative.

Cotton pads are something I almost forgot to add. Of course, the pads themselves are plastic-free. However, they usually come in plastic wrapping, which is bad. To combat this, I have purchased some washable pads made from bamboo. So far, they have been a great alternative, and I recommend the switch.

You might forget toilet roll too because the rolls aren’t plastic, but their packaging is. I swapped to The Cheeky Panda who use sustainable bamboo and is completely plastic-free.

Kitchen Essentials

Currently, I am using washing up liquid that’s contained in plastic. However, I have just purchased a kit from Little Fox Soapery. This kit has a dishes bar soap, and also comes with plastic-free sponges. I have been using plastic sponges for a very long time, so we’ll see how I get on with these alternatives.

In the past, I have purchased knives which had plastic handles, and have a plastic holder. I have realised that these are bad, and I decided to switch to knives with a wooden handle. However, I have found some on Amazon that works nicely, but unfortunately, they came packaged in plastic wrapping, which was a little disappointing. I also purchased a wooden knife block which looks great together.

This experience was similar to our chopping board. I wanted to stop buying plastic chopping boards and switch to a nice wooden board. These can be purchased in many places. Another benefit to wood boards is that they last longer and are thicker.

I purchase my kitchen roll from The Cheeky Panda, and I’m pleased with how strong and sturdy it is. You can now also purchase kitchen roll packaged in a thick paper in supermarkets now, which is great news!

I use Smol products that I have reviewed before Smol Laundry tablet review and Smol 2020 Review for washing up tablets and fabric conditioner.

Food

Most of my food comes from Gousto who are on a mission to cut down on bad plastic and switch to either plant-based or recyclable plastics by 2022. Some of their herbs and veg come in plastic bags, but they are at a minimum. Also, Gousto is great for creating minimal waste because all of the ingredients will get used every week. So even though it’s not a massive win, it’s still better than nothing. I’m also hopeful they can keep to their plastic targets by 2022.

As I’m a gym-goer, I do have protein powders. And, I’m afraid to say, all protein powder comes in plastic containers. However, I get the biggest container I can to ensure the product lasts longer, and I’m therefore not throwing out so many of them. The plastic is also in sturdy recyclable containers. I know it’s not the best solution, but it’s the only good one I’ve found so far.

This brings me to my next problem. I’m afraid to say that I use Huel for my lunches. They’re great for a calorie-controlled diet, but they aren’t great if you’re cutting down on plastic. Unfortunately, they use non-recyclable plastic, but they are constantly researching to find what’s best.

Conclusion

As you can see, going plastic-free isn’t as easy as chucking everything out of the window and starting again. You really have to think about the choices you make and whether it’s the right one for you. You can start cutting down, and the small wins definitely go a long way. None of us is perfect so you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself if you can’t go 100% plastic-free.

I would love to be free of plastic packaging and products one day, but I know I have a long way to go. If you have any ideas and recommendations, then I’d love to hear them. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

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We’re now into our third lockdown in the UK

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This time, it isn’t going well for me. For my first week, I did two CrossFit workouts and then lost all motivation to carry on. I enjoy the company with my CrossFit buddies, but home workouts aren’t the same. I can’t seem to wake up in time for my morning workout, and I really don’t want to workout in the afternoon or evening.

Instead, I have turned to gaming which has had its benefits but at the same time does have it’s negatives. It keeps any anxieties at bay, and I have less worry when playing games. On the other hand, I completely forget to look after myself. We are now into the third week of our six-week lockdown, and I’ve barely walked out the door, I haven’t been blogging much because I don’t know what to write about, and I haven’t worked out or stretched.

I’ve taken to doing some meditation which has helped me focus during my working hours. However, it still hasn’t helped me increase my motivation or confidence. Hopefully, if I keep up with the habit, I will see further improvement in other areas.

Constantly drained and in need of change

I’m constantly drained and want some change from this “new norm”. I respect the fact we’re all in this together, and we’re doing it to save our NHS and save those who are suffering more, but there are so many people not doing what they’re asked to, and it’s ruining things for the rest of us.

Hopefully, the government can speed up the vaccine process, and the fact we have varying vaccines is definitely positive. I have been less social online, and it’s because I’m conserving precious energy. That may sound weird to a lot of people, but it’s how I’m currently coping.

Anyway, apologies for being a negative Nancy. I just wanted to voice my words and create a new blog post. If you’re new here, then I can assure you it’s not always like this. I have some posts that will be full of good news, and I’m hopeful they will inspire you.

How are you holding up? I hope you are all well and staying positive.

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RIP Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom

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The other day, I learned that Alexi Laiho had passed away. For those that don’t know. He was the lead guitarist and vocalist for the great melodic death/speed metal band called Children of Bodom. Or CoB for short.

It brought great sadness to hear of his passing. He was a huge influence on my choice of t-shirts, music influence, and vocal style.

I clearly remember seeing him in an interview wearing a t-shirt that said: “guitar players finger better”. At the time, I was a young teenager, and for some reason, I really wanted that t-shirt. I actually bought it, and it brought lots of hilarious memories which would have never happened before.

Our second year at Download Festival (2009) and I’m wearing the t-shirt Alexi inspired me to purchase.

Then there was the time I went to Download Festival (I believe it was in 2009). The second time my friends and I went to the infamous rock/metal festival, we went to see CoB in the second stage. During their performance, I remember entering a circle pit and losing a shoe. You can’t stop and grab it in a circle pit because everyone is running in one direction. During the performance, I couldn’t find my shoe, but I could still take in and enjoy their energetic performance. They were incredible and truly inspiring to me.

Because of Alexi and CoB, I became a scream vocalist in a melodic death metal band where we had some much fun. We didn’t get anywhere, but we had a great time, and Alexi was usually in my mind when I screamed. He was an idol to me. Also, without CoB Trivium either wouldn’t have existed, or they would have been completely different. You see, Trivium was another influence for me.

Alexi and his band were influential in so many ways to so many people and groups that the world would have been very different without him. Unfortunately, he passed away due to long term health issues at the age of 41, but at least he’s no longer in pain. May he rest in peace, and I hope he’s rocking out with all the other rock/metal artists who have passed away. He may be gone, but he will most certainly never be forgotten.

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How to make the perfect vegan coffee

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Affiliate links:

Please be aware that the links in this article are affiliate links. If you click on them, I will gain some sort of commission. All money gained will help future blog posts.

I have been drinking coffee for many years, and feel I have a level of experience to help others. Suppose you’re looking to become a vegan for Veganuary. Or you’re already a vegan who would like to make better-tasting coffee, then you have come to the right place.

Finding the right vegan milk

I’ve been a vegan for almost 2 years now, and have tried many kinds of vegan milk including; oat, soy, rice, coconut, hemp, and tiger nut. My absolute favourite has been oat milk, and my number one brand is Oatly. They have barista milk which goes frothy when shaken or stirred. It’s by far the best milk I’ve purchased, and they’re the best company I have purchased vegan milk from. Paired with your favourite beans, it will make for an amazing vegan coffee experience.

Getting the best frothy milk experience

For a while, my wife and I would shake the bottle to get a somewhat frothy top. However, it wasn’t a real barista experience, and the milk was less frothy on newer bottles. To combat this, we chose to buy a milk frother made by Lavazza, a renowned coffee brand. Since purchasing this device, our coffee experience has gone to the next level.

The frother can make both warm and cold frothy milk, or it can warm and not froth your milk. It’s a great product, and one I highly recommend, especially if you can’t afford a high-end coffee machine.

Finding the right utilities for your vegan coffee

I personally have a mix of bean coffee early in the morning, and pre-ground coffee during the later morning. I grind the beans using a bean to cup coffee machine. Personally, I use the Russell Hobbs bean to cup coffee machine, and I’ve had it for over 4 years now. It’s truly stood the test of time and works with both bean and pre-ground coffee. It also has a hot-plate to keep your coffee warm, and it will stay on for up to 30 minutes. If it turns off, and you still require warm coffee, you can set the grind to off, and press the big button. This will then turn the hot-plate back on, and you can have another round of warm coffee.

Using it for pre-ground coffee like a person of one can be a little too much. You have to clean the previous coffee out and deal with water levels, and the whole experience can be quite time-consuming. If you’re also a person of one and would like something more simple to use, then I would recommend the Aeropress by Aeropress.

If you have never purchased one, then I recommend you purchase the Aeropress kit. It comes with everything you need to get started, minus the coffee. It’s a great piece of kit, and you can easily travel with it and take it wherever you go. They have also made a travel version which comes with a coffee cup, and everything fits nicely together inside the travel cup.

Finding the right coffee

It’s probably a surprise to no one but all coffee is vegan. There are so many choices when it comes to finding the right coffee. Do you want beans or pre-ground? There are light, medium and even dark roast, and all of them have their qualities. I like a mix of different types depending on my mood. However, some people may not like dark roast as it can be quite bitter. Others might not like light roast because the flavour doesn’t come out as much, and it feels too smooth.

Personally, I buy my beans from Amazon in 1kg bags, and try to mix and match depending on how I feel at the time. They’re pretty inexpensive and more cost effective than smaller bags and will last for a good amount of time. For pre-ground coffee, I purchase them in my local stores and mix them up when I can. I’m the kind of person who likes all types of roasts which means the choice is huge for me.

If you would like any recommendations based on your personal tastes then please feel free to comment below. I will make sure I reply with my recommendations, and maybe someone else can help with their own experiences too.

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