Spellbound #5

Another month (!!! already!), another spellbound. Let's go!

1. Ama Chronicles
I am constantly entering giveaways. Sometimes people seem embarrassed to enter giveaways, which is strange to me because I don't really understand what about it is embarrassing, but hey ho - if they're not entering, it just gives everyone else a better chance.. Anyway, I entered a giveaway on Instagram, and Mum and I each won a beautiful hand-sewn-in-Brooklyn yoga bag made from ethically sourced fabrics from all over the world. Alysa (the mastermind behind the brand) has travelled near and far, and on her travels was so inspired by the textiles filling the markets and bazaars that she decided to do something with them. I used to not bring my yoga mat to classes, partly because I was too lazy, and partly because it was an effort to carry it without it springing open and unfurling all the time - now Mum and I both take them to every single one because a) it's so easy, b) it's more hygienic to bring your own and c) I want to show off my shimmery, metallic, lovely yoga bag to the world! I have Ocean Moon and Mum has Golden Sands, both from the Indonesian Heartbeat collection which was entirely made by women. They're sturdy, high quality, durable, ethical, handmade with love and absolutely gorgeous. Buy one! Buy lots!

2. ByRachelBrown

I love doodling and calligraphing and generally being creative, but my super talented aunt takes creative skill to a whole new level. Within what felt like a few days of starting to learn calligraphy and posting it on an instagram account (linked above), she had already amassed a pretty impressive following which just keeps growing! We went to a calligraphy workshop together and even the woman leading it was super impressed, so that's pretty cool and a half. She created a gorgeous gift to celebrate my graduation and is also taking orders for bespoke commissions too (see her website and facebook page for some more info). Also also, while you're on her facebook page, why not give it a little like? Support small biz! Woo!

3. fun socks
Latest fun sock purchase: H&M trainer socks. V much recommend, fun socks will jazz up your life by about 3%, enough said. Not much more boring than a boring undies drawer.

4. Choc Pot
Ahhh, sweet freedom. Nope, that wasn't me remembering that I've finished uni for good (did I mention I've finished uni for good??) - it was me fawning over the wondrous brand that is Sweet Freedom. Firstly, I like the brand and their all-natural ethos. Secondly, I have been a big fan of their Choc Shot for a looooooong time. Therefore thirdly, as someone who used to have a Nutella toastie every single morning for breakfast to set me up for a brain-heavy day at school (yes, every single day for YEARS), I was predestined to love Choc Pot. Although I did love Nutella, there are a lot of things about it that aren't fantastic for you (but yes, I have read up on the sustainability of their palm oil) so why not switch it up for this instead? If you're really after that childhood favourite flavour then I recommend spreading it on toast with a smattering of crushed hazelnuts on top. Yummo. (Plus they sponsor Dogs Trust dogs and my nearly-15-year-old boy is from Dogs Trust so I automatically like them even more.)

Nothing earth-shattering here, just a traditional Italian food that I enjoy very much and recently used in a blood orange cake recipe. It's super versatile so can be a porridgey mush (tastier than it sounds, and to any Americans - it's very similar to grits), polenta chips, cake, a breadcrumby coating, all sorts of things. It's made of ground corn (i.e. cornmeal/cornflour), but no - you can't just use the same cornflour that you might use in your gravy or icing instead. Although polenta is the name of a dish of boiled cornmeal, rather than being the name of an ingredient, it has sort of evolved into being synonymous with cornmeal since they essentially refer to the same thing, just in different states of cooked-ness.
Cornmeal: comes in fine, medium and coarse grinds; medium and coarse can be used as polenta.
Cornflour (America): the same thing as finely-ground cornmeal.
Cornflour (British): not made in the same way; this is what the Americans know as cornstarch; would probably be slightly gross if you used it as polenta.
Basically, whether you're in the UK, America or anywhere else, don't use cornflour for polenta; either use cornmeal or something that is actually labelled as polenta. Anyway, it's in my spellbound because I think it's really cool!

6. Taisteal
Gaelic for 'journey', this is pronounced TASH-til (sort of.. I don't speak Gaelic), but I imagine was designed as a play on 'taste'. This is the not-so-new-any-more-but-still-kinda-new eatery that replaced Field & Grill house, that in turn replaced Buffalo Grill (*sob*) in Stockbridge, the most hip and trendy and extremely swishy area of Edinburgh (not biased). From the age of about five until about 11 or 12, I used to go to Buffalo Grill pretty much every fortnight to catch up with Dad, and it was wonderful. I lived on guacamole and tortilla chips for many, many of those years (ah, I was always destined to be a plant child - sorry Dad, but you should have seen it coming..), before we would share a California Suite for pudding - an absolute glory to behold, made of ice creams, cream, saucey drizzles and exotic fruits, and slightly different every time. And then, of course, once a year it would arrive with a candle in it too. ANYWAY, enough nostalgia, Buffalo Grill is gone and in its place is a very suave and haute cuisiney establishment. I went to their opening night, and the food all looked extremely tasty (although mostly not vegan, but I'm fairly sure they could whip something up if asked).

7. True Tea Club

Tea!!! Loose leaf tea, no less! I ordered myself a one-off box from the True Tea Club quite some time ago as a present to myself for finishing a uni assignment, and I still have plenty to keep me going. They had a special deal going for 50% off at the time, but considering how much tea you actually get I'd say it's definitely worth the full price too. They come with little pouches so you can make DIY teabags, but as the proud owner of a v snazzy see-through teapot, I just put the tea leaves directly into the infusey bit.

8. accidentally vegan
So many things are accidentally vegan. So. Many. Things. To the point where there is an (albeit not updated especially regularly) Instagram account to share the joy. Some of the most well-known ones are Oreos, Tesco churros with chocolate hazelnut middle, and almost every type of meat flavoured crisp (yes, really) - bacon rashers where u at? Fun fact: when I was extremely small, smoky bacon was my favourite flavour of crisp because the packet was pink, but then prawn cocktail stole the pink packet and I decided that I couldn't compromise my taste integrity to lower myself to the level of prawn cocktail (except for Skips, ahhh childhood), so I wised up and joined camp salt & vinegar instead, before finally realising that I actually don't particularly like crisps much anyway. (Except vegetable crisps because OMG YUM.) But yes, lots of vegan things in supermarkets entirely by accident and it's truly joyous.

9. Vita Coco

Coconut oil will kill you, yadda yadda yadda. I've heard the claims too, but I've done my research and I will continue to use it. Just as well, since Vita Coco sent me about 3kg of the stuff quite a long time ago and, despite regular use, I still have a fair whack of it left. I use it to cook, and sometimes to body moisturise, and did for a while use it as a makeup remover but it wasn't great for my skin (but Mum had success with it! so do try if you don't have sensitive skin) but cooking and baking is definitely where I use it the most, and like a lot. Vita Coco is my fave because the jars are actually a decent size so you don't have to constantly get more.

10. OMNI Superfood

I know about some things (cacao, that sort of thing) but I don't know a great deal about all these lesser-known fancy schmancy superfood powders. Enter: OMNI Superfood! They sent me one which is a combo of hemp protein, cacao, red maca, lucuma, MSM (a form of sulphur occuring naturally in the human body and plants, used to treat arthritis), and ~ayurvedic herbs and spices~. I add it to smoothies, muesli, banana ice cream and basically anything else where I feel like it might possibly work. It doesn't have an overwhelming taste like some of these things seem to, and it's nice to feel like I'm giving myself an easy extra boost of various nutrients!

Leave a comment just below letting me know what you think of these, and what you are spellbound by too - it might just make it into the next one! Only time will tell.


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