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Zaful Wishlist // Burning Man 2017

Zaful Wishlist // Burning Man 2017

I recently discovered Zaful.com and had been taken back by the amount of affordable and fashion-forward pieces they had. Whether you need a midi dress or swimwear, they have it all and there's always a sale on too which is a bonus.

It is with great sadness that I announce I will not be attending Burning Man this year, although I was awarded a ticket. Needless to say, throughout the month(s) of August/September, I will mainly spend my time crying (about the fact I'm not there) and my Burning Man chummy and I will be embarking on our own private Burning Man ceremony to celebrate the memories made at Black Rock City in 2016. For those of you who are attending, check out my Burning Man 2017 wishlist below for outfit inspiration for this year's theme 'Radical Ritual'.

Want to be the more fancy in this summer? Just do it! Discover our newest summer arrivals! Surprise code: ZFEN

If you haven't already seen my blog post about my time at Burning Man, take a look here and discover more about the eye-opening life-changing gathering in Black Rock desert. 

How To Minimise Food Waste

As an aspiring zero-waster, I'm always trying to find ways to minimise waste - whether it be food waste or non-decomposable waste that will eventually end up in landfills. The average household will throw away a tonne of waste every year - that's the same weight as a car! And every year, we produce 3% more waste than the preceding year.

Now you may think that because food decomposes, it's fine to leave it in a landfill - WRONG. When you send food waste to a landfill, it creates dangerous methane gas which is a greenhouse gas that affects our climate. But what about composting? Composting promotes aerobic decomposition which creates less methane gas and generates nutrient-rich dirt that can be reused and recycled.

However, I know that being environmentally-friendly is a long and arduous task. Sometimes it can cost us a pretty penny and I know that being completely green is unrealistic. But there are little changes you can make to your every-day life that can benefit the planet we live on and help us become more zero waste.

Supermarkets alone throw away 115,000 tonnes of food waste every year and this figure has sparked mass controversy. The first food-waste supermarket was opened last year called The Real Junk Food Project and it aims to sell off food from local supermarkets and businesses that would otherwise be thrown away. 'Communal Fridges' have also began popping up, whereby the local neighbourhood can donate food that is close to expiry to a communal fridge for others to use instead, helping to reduce food waste.

In Manchester, we don't have anything like this but I discovered a pretty neat app called Too Good To Go which is available all-throughout the UK and it shares a similar concept. The app lists local businesses that have signed up with TGTG and it lets customers buy leftover food for as little as £2 and a maximum of £3.80. Pick-up times are always at the end of opening hours (understandably) so this can range from 3pm all the way to 10pm but for the price, there really isn't anything to complain about.

I decided to try it out myself and it did not disappoint. The app is incredibly user-friendly with a very soft interface. The app will locate nearby businesses listed with TGTG or you can manually select a location yourself. Each business will describe what you will get from them and also detail their pick-up time slots. You pick what you want, pay via the app, pick-up at the allocated time and show your code when you arrive - it's that simple.

I decided to pick up a box from Kettlebell Kitchen in Ancoats which is a high-protein clean-eating fast food restaurant located just opposite a Pure Gym in Manchester. I had previously eaten here and enjoyed their fresh and healthy Kettleboxes and their gym-themed restaurant in definitely Instagrammable. 

This box, although seemingly small - could dish out three lunches or two larger meals and it contained chicken, sweet potato mash, kidney beans, butter beans and peas. All for £2.50!

These are perfect for snacking, a healthy and affordable takeaway alternative, for late night shifts or why not try donating one to the homeless?

About a third of the food produced on the planet never gets eaten. Think of all the waste water, carbon emissions and non-decomposable packaging we create, just from food waste alone. Considering we've been graced with a planet as naturally beautiful as the one we live in, I think it's rather ungrateful of us to then destroy it. Don't you agree?

Star Sew Bright

The lovely Cara from Nana Momo Makes contacted me to review a new monthly sewing box. The subscription just launched in November and began with a quilting course which I found exciting and was definitely up for the challenge. I am a keen sewer but by no means a pro, however - quilting was a first for me. 

When you join the subscription, you have access to the video tutorials Cara personally creates for you which run you through step-by-step just what you need to do to achieve the end result. If you want to take up quilting as a hobby, I would definitely recommend purchasing the additional instruments that Cara advises you to. 

As a newbie to quilting, I found that I had to improvise with what I had lying around but definitely thought the end result would have been finished more professionally had I had the right equipment. 

The pile of fabric comes neatly piled and tied with a ribbon, and comes with all the relevant information to get you started. The video tutorials run through these pages visually and makes it more digestible, as this information can be a little overwhelming at first!

I did make a couple errors including sewing down the middle line but this wasn't an issue as I had to cut down it anyway. And also, I didn't align my squares from the centre so the star at the end was a little misaligned. 

However, I was very happy with and proud of the outcome of the star even with it's imperfections as they added a little more character to the piece. I also love the fabric choices she included and found this mustard print adorable. 

Cara includes enough fabric to create two of these and while I probably won't be taking up quilting full time, the box has given me enough fabric to make another star which I could use as a creative way to wrap presents. 

As I'm a budding zero waster, I'm hoping to decrease the waste I produce and get more crafty at home to replace products I would otherwise buy and then throw away (like wrapping paper). The box has also taught me how to make this unique gift and I'll be keeping the instructions for reference as I'd love to make more of these adorable quilt squares. 

I'm very grateful for Cara for reaching out to me about this box because now I have learnt a new skill and something which is invaluable to me. Both my mother and I are very creative and my father, has a creative engineering mind. My mother has recently learnt how to crochet from being an avid knitter herself, but sewing is not her forté and relies on me to teach her whenever I get the chance. Having learnt this new skill, I can now use this to bond with my mother the next time I'm back for some home comforts. 

Eating Pancakes For All Three Meals

What would happen if I were to eat nothing but pancakes for all three meals of the day at different establishments? 

Well, we'll soon find out! Yesterday graced us with one of my favourite religious holidays - Pancake Day...where we learn that Jesus lent his frying pan to Judas for 40 days and 40 nights and that's where we get Lent from*. 

For breakfast, I went to Alabama's All America Eatery in the Northern Quarter of Manchester as I have enjoyed their pancakes previously. As I was short on time and they suggested leaving up to 40 minutes for a visit so I had to bail and opt for personal favourite; Ezra & Gil. Served in no time, I opted for the very simple and classic blueberry and maple syrup fluffy American-style pancakes. It hit the spot with a cup of their chai latte and was just enough to fill me for breakfast. 

The reason why Ezra & Gil is my favourite café establishment is because of so many different contributing factors. It's big, it has a friendly and homely atmosphere, it promotes and sells local produce (which gives me a very zerowaste vibe), they are dog friendly with free dog treats, free wifi, you can spend hours in there and not realise, CANDY MACHINES, they do a mean smashed avocado (which I'm obsessed with) and they are bloody efficient! Their kitchen is beyond fast yet it's not huge nor abundantly staffed. They always produce my orders in record speed and once, my plate arrived the second I sat down. 

For lunch, I went back to Alabama's to be told the wait to be seated would be over 45 minutes long and you had to be texted when a table was ready since there was no room to sit, even though I did try to book a table online on the OpenTable widget on their website but consequently told that they aren't even registered with OpenTable. So off we went to another homely kitchen named Evelyn's Café Bar. I've heard nothing but great things about this place yet never found the time to go. My bestie raves about the Sunday roast here which is next on my list. They had three pancake specials on; a fluffy soufflé pancake with fresh berries, a green superfood avocado and apple pancake, and a savoury Indian cuisine inspired pancake with spices. I opted for the superfood pancake and my chummy, the berry soufflé pancake and halved each when they arrived. 

The superfood pancake definitely ticked my boxes with the berry pancake falling short. Both delicious and took no time to arrive, the superfood won it for me. The berry pancake was a little too heavy for my liking with some parts tasting more eggy than others and other parts tasting more sour from the berries.

Finally for dinner, I popped over to Trof to peruse their pancake offerings. I had been here for drinks before but never for food until the other week when I tried their smashed avocado. I might possibly say it was better than Ezra but if I say this out loud, I feel like the bestie would go ape since she seems to be in an open relationship with the establishment. All that was left at Trof when we arrived were a mushroom and cheese pancake and ham, tomato and cheese pancake. This was not an issue for me since I prefer savoury food over sweet food any day of the week, so I went ahead and ordered the ham, tomato and cheese. 

Sadly, this didn't do it for me. The ham was actually dry cured ham, yet I was expecting juicy slices of ham inside. The tomato was fresh but the ham ruined the dish for me and I felt that these options were just variations of omelette but replacing egg with a pancake. Sadly, this wasn't appealing enough visually to make it onto my Instagram either. 

Winner: Superfood Pancake at Evelyn's Cafe Bar

*not a fact

Plan A Solo Vacation // Giveaway

I am an advocate for solo vacations, or as we call them here in the UK - holidays. I've always loved travelling alone; I feel as though it leaves you more room for open mindedness and adventure. Don't get me wrong, I love travelling with friends. But the more friends you have on holiday with you, the more conflicting interests you have. I have been so lucky in the sense that I have been on many solo expeditions and have always come out richer from these experiences. So to celebrate Plan A Solo Vacation Day on the 1st March, I am giving away some goodies that I think are essential for a solo holiday.

Lime Quilted Cross Body Bag - A cross body bag is essential for any solo trip, whether it is abroad or  domestic. It frees both arms for ultimate exploration potential and isn't so big that it becomes a burden. You need a bag small enough to not get in the way, but big enough to hold all your essentials. It's also handy if the chain can be tucked away as it can double as an evening bag/clutch. Having a multi-purpose bag means you can travel with less (just one bag) which means more room for shopping hauls or additional luggage if you are planning a backpacking style trip. This fun lime Miu Miu style quilted cross body bag is perfect!

Lovisa Turquoise Crystal Ball Earring Studs - While some may think jewellery is not essential for a holiday, I think it's important to pack a pair of earrings for certain occasions. Some understated but colourful studs will do the trick if you want a bit of daytime bling in the sunshine or evening glitz. These studs are versatile and do the trick!

Missguided Statement Necklace - I believe you should bring at least one necklace on a holiday with you, while not necessary in the day, I think having one glam piece is essential. Stick with silver so it can match any outfit you pick out.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin and Love Poems by Pablo Neruda - Always bring at least one book with you unless you know there will be books at your accommodation. If you stay in a hostel, chances are there will be many books to pick from but if you're at a holiday resort, it's safer to bring one from home. Choose a classic like Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice or if you don't want to commit to a long story, choose something easier to read like a collection of short stories or some love poems. 

Nude Nail Varnish - While makeup should be minimal on holiday, I think it's important to have well groomed nails. Opt for something understated like a nude brown or french manicure pink. A lot like the silver statement necklace, the colour of your nails should be able to match any outfit you pick out. 

Semi-Rimless Tortoiseshell Vintage-Style Sunglasses - Last but not least, sunglasses! You can never predict the weather, and it is very important to look after your eyes. Not only can the sun's rays damage your eyesight but squinting can increase wrinkles around the eye area. Keep your eyes protected with some stylish sunglasses and make sure they themselves are protected from scratches.

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La Douleur Exquise

Ever since I spotted Oscar De La Renta's striped sequin and ostrich feather top on my favourite blogger Blair of Atlantic Pacific, I knew I had to have it. But at about £2,000 for the beautiful piece, how would that be possible?

I took a mini hiatus from any DIY projects but returned in full force with this cheeky number. I had an old navy and white striped cropped tee from H&M that I was planning on throwing out (crop tops are not cute on a 27 year old woman) but loved the shape and quality so much that I couldn't bring myself to do it. Queue the lightbulb moment! After buying 2 meters worth of crisp white ostrich feather trimmings, I decided to sew this to the hem of the top to elongate it (making it more wearable at my age) and also channel my inner Oscar De La Renta. Not only was this one of my easiest upcycling projects but one of my favourites also.

Step 1

Since ostrich feather trims are quite sparce in feathers, it is likely you'll have to double up the trimming in order to gain the same look as the Oscar De La Renta top. Work out what length of feathers you will need.

Step 2

Double up! Fold the trim on itself to double the volume of feathers, align and pin in place.

Step 3

Pin to the inside of the top. The reason we do this is so that the hem of the top hides the ribbon trim of the feathers. It looks neater and more professional.

Step 4

I would highly recommend machine sewing, the industrial needle will penetrate the double trim and hem of the top with ease. Align and sew leaving a slight gap between the start and finish. Do not leave a big enough gap so that it's visible (the feathers should mask the gap) but big enough for a little stretch. Because this trim does not stretch, you may find this difficult to put on without a stretch gap. Failing that, you can insert a zip. 

Once complete, style with dainty and delicate jewellery or a vintage brooch. The top I had was upcycled from an old H&M top and the feathers were bought for £7.48 which seemed like a much more reasonable option compared to spending £2,000. Check out Oxfam's shop for some easy stripes to upcycle here.

While I do love a good brand or label, I think it's important not to add to the environmental impact the fashion industry already has. As an aspiring minimalist and zero waster, I am aware of just how much waste is involved in the industry and knowing that I'm minimising my impact makes me feel that little bit better. 

Absolutely Divine

The lovely Christine from Divine Legs kindly sent me a box of goodies to try this winter season. Divine Legs are a monthly subscription service that provide hosiery and socks for men and women. Christine included in the box her Beauty Balm tights and a pair of hold-ups. 

The Beauty Balm tights are an innovative type of hosiery that improves circulation, stays put and also enhances the look of your complexion. They are available in powder and black but Divine Legs are working hard on producing new shades. I tried this out for the first time one evening while out for drinks; perfect for a test run.  I tend to buy tights a size larger in most retailers as this prevents tights from falling down. However, these Beauty Balm tights were very snug and barely drooped at all. You can feel the support it gives you and see from the quality of the tights how they blend your natural complexion. The only downside to this for me was the shade; powder, but like I mentioned - Christine is working on new shades for the near future. If you're fair skinned, then by all means opt for the powder. Otherwise opt for the black which undoubtedly would be perfect for winter, especially as the tights provide better circulatory benefits than any others.

The hold-ups I was most apprehensive about, as I've never really had a good experience with them; they either ladder easily, are of terrible quality or don't hold up. These however, were a pleasant surprise. Not only did they hold up, they did not budge an inch. Not to mention these are of very high quality and luxurious to the touch. Everything you want hold-ups to be and even more perfect for this coming Valentine's Day. 

I would highly recommend this service, especially for those who wear tights to work and in the evenings. Such a simple service can make you feel a million dollars, and it teaches you to appreciate good quality workmanship. Why spend so much money buying countless tights that rip on the first wear? Not everyone is blessed with the ability to use their own legs, so it's only right to look after ours, when they go through so much to support us!