Putting Alternative Milks To The Test. And The Winner Is…

I’m a simple girl with simple pleasures. As you all know, I love a good cup of coffee. I’m happy with an Instant (no snobbery here), I’m happy in a coffee shop, but I’m happiest when I’m in the comfort of my own home, cradling a nice hot cup of my own creation.

Milk has always been a foe of mine. I hated it as a child and I still hate it now, except I can make some allowances (like when it’s being made into a mac n’ cheese sauce. So in a vow to be more animal friendly and to find a solution to my life-long hatred of dairy milk, I pulled out all the stops. I tried a different, easy to buy find dairy alternative once a week for five years.

Here are the results:

Almond Milk

First up was almond milk. I’ve bought this on and off for the last few years, but ehh I just can’t get on board with it. It’s a great gateway non-dairy milk if you’re a milk diehard and apparently it is #GoodForYou but it’s just not the milk for me. The taste is okay if you want a sub-par coffee but if you want a tasty drink then move on. I’m not the best with steaming any kind of milk for coffee but almond milk loves to curdle, making it a pretty impossible task.

Coconut Milk

If you want every drink you make to taste like coconut then coconut milk is your pal. I love coconut milk but sometimes you want your coffee to taste like err, coffee and the overpowering coconut flavour is just a little bit too much. Coconut milk is your boy if you’re looking for foam that literally plonks itself on top of your coffee, which I’m going to guess, that’s not what you’re looking for.

Hazelnut Milk

Hazelnut milk has a lovely nutty taste but the sad fact is, it’s a curdler. If you don’t mind your coffee looking a little bit weird then by all means, try out Hazelnut milk. It’s not my favourite but coupled with a shot of a vanilla syrup it makes a gorgeous Sunday morning treat drink.

Oat Milk

I love oat milk more than anything else in life. That might sound over the top but right now we have one opened oat milk in the fridge and three in the cupboard just in case there’s some kind of oat milk apocalypse. I am obsessed. It’s been said that oat milk is the closest to dairy milk in taste and in that it’s actually possible to get some kind of latte art out of it.

Soy Milk

It’s the cool kid of alternative milks. If you’re in an independent coffee shop and they only have one kind of alternative milk, you can bet that it’s soy. Soy milk is frothy as hell but I’ve found it super hard to make a nice looking coffee out of it. It has a nice sweet taste but it’s just not the most exciting to make coffee with.

Overall, it’s pretty clear that oat milk is the king of non-dairy milks but there are so many alternatives out there that you’re sure to find one that you like.

Have you switched to non-dairy milk? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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4 Ways To Quit Social Media Falseness

Social media is a tricky trickster isn’t it? You don’t even log in to anything anymore, you just type the first couple of letters into your URL bar and up it comes. That’s when you’re faced with utter information overload. Opinions stated as though they are fact, edited photos on edited backgrounds, it’s impossible to tell whether you’re looking at something real or entirely curated?

At the end of 2018, I realised I was becoming more and more irritated with a certain aspect of blogging: the falseness of it all. I probably shouldn’t let it affect me so much but when I see bloggers admitting that they’ve only bought something for a post or I see heavily photoshopped pictures, it really grates on me. I gave it some thought over the last few weeks and that’s when it hit me. I don’t have to engage with it. What a simple concept that just hadn’t occurred to me because I spend so much time online.

In the past year, if not longer, I’ve found myself totally perplexed by the constant stream of successful bloggers preaching that the way to ‘get ahead’ is to ‘be yourself,’ yet when you take a step back and look at what these bloggers are writing about and how they look, it’s hard to tell one from the other.

I’ve seen a lot of posts and videos already this year about curating what you see online and I’m so here for it but as well as cutting down on the accounts that I follow on social media, I also want to set myself some social media rules.

  1. If you like something, tell someone

    I’m so bad for thinking a post or a photograph is so wonderful and being too shy/awkward to say anything to the poster. There are so many bloggers out there who I really admire but have never told for fear of them thinking I’m weird, when in reality, I know that if someone said that to me I’d love it.

  2. No fake commenting

    I’m pretty good with this anyway, but I have to admit that I’ve typed ‘gorgeous photo,’ one too many times into Instagram when I don’t actually mean it. This year I’m only commenting when I mean it and saving my praise for the people who deserve it most.

  3. Unfollow everything that makes you feel bad

    Over-edited photographs, fitness accounts and beauty bloggers are things that I just don’t like. I would say that I’m reasonably confident in myself but some of these accounts still make me feel like I need to change things about myself. Last night I cut down both my Twitter and Instagram accounts that I’m following by half and I know this will make a huge difference this year.

  4. Go against the grain

    When I first started blogging I knew what I was writing about and I didn’t care if it wasn’t always a popular topic. Now I find myself with draft posts that I’m too scared to hit publish on. 2019 is a year for risk-taking and I’m ready to find my place in the blogging world again.

These are some small ways that I’m getting over the falseness of the blogging community and I hope that they pay off this year. Have you set yourself any social media resolutions for the new year? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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Dear 2018,

As Kylie Jenner put so eloquently two years that 2016 was going to be the year of realising stuff, 2018 has been my realising things year. At the beginning of 2018 I wrote myself six goals in the front of my Fearne Cotton Happy Journal.

  1. I will become a registered mental health nurse.
  2. I will get married.
  3. I will get a great job.
  4. I will run 10K.
  5. I will move to a new area.
  6. I will go abroad.

I remember almost scoffing at some of the goals, because none of them seemed difficult. In fact, I thought I’d gone pretty easy on myself for the year but 2018 had different plans for me.

  1. I will become a registered mental health nurse.
    Tick. Although this certainly wasn’t easy, I was pretty confident that I would manage this one and I did, finishing university in September and graduating in December. I am a nurse and that still feels incredibly bizarre to say.

  2. I will get married.
    Oh naive January Rachel, this one also seemed pretty easy. There was a date, a venue and a dress but what I learned this year was that it doesn’t really matter how concrete plans are, life throws curveballs and it’s totally possible to come out of a shitty situation unscathed and stronger. I also learnt that maybe I don’t want the married, house, kids dream that most people are aiming for at my age and that’s okay!
  3. I will get a great job.
    Tick. I never thought I’d be one of those people who said that they truly love their job but it turns out that I got a really incredible job this year. I took a job that I wasn’t sure about. I’m one of the most risk averse people usually, but this one has paid off!
  4. I will run a 10k.
    This one was a firm no. In fact, I’m not sure I ran more than 10 times this year. Why? Because I decided that I actually hate running. This year I took up pilates and yoga and found that it’s much easier to do an activity you enjoy. Goodbye 10k, you are not a goal that I’ll ever regret not managing to do.

  5. I will move to a new area.
    Tick. After finishing uni, I had pretty solid plans to move to the South of the country and by South, I meant Brighton. Once again, life had other ideas and I ended up South, but South West, starting a new life in Somerset. It certainly wasn’t what I had in mind and I can’t say that I was particularly receptive to moving to a 100,000 population sized town in the middle of kind of nowhere, but here I am and I haven’t complained about it in at least a month. Life is full of (good) surprises.
  6. I will go abroad.
    Tick. California, Köln and Berlin were totally unexpected holidays this year that just kind of happened and made up some of my best memories this year. Hopefully I can add a few more to my travel list in 2019.

    2018 has been the biggest year of twists and turns and laughs and cries and though I don’t think I’ll be sad to see it go, I can truly say it’s been the year of realising things.

Rachel x-x-x

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Beating The Winter Blues with Tempur

Every year the same thing happens. September rolls around and I feel the weight of sadness that Summer is over. Then as the year speeds up in that way that only happens in the lead up to Christmas, something darker takes hold. For some, this presents as the “Winter Blues.” Feeling lethargic and miserable as a result of the dark nights and cold weather is pretty normal but if you find that just can’t shift your apathy, then it could be worth talking to your GP about Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I’ve struggled through the Winter months for a long time, even to the point where I was dreading them as the days got shorter, but in recent years I’ve found ways to combat my “Winter Blues.” By embracing the Winter months, I’ve found them a lot easier to deal with, and this year I was almost excited for the start of Autumn. I’ve always found that I struggle to sleep in Winter. It’s dark all the time, so it feels like my body never really gets ready to go to bed, or I end up napping on the sofa at 4pm in the afternoon, throwing my sleep pattern and mood totally off kilter. As a nurse, good quality sleep can be hard to come by, but here a few things that can help to beat the “Winter Blues” this year.

I love my bed. There is nothing more perfect than sinking down into the mattress after a long day and letting your eyes close. Having spent the last seven years sleeping in horrible student houses, with stained mattresses and springy beds, my sleep hasn’t been good for a long time. But this year we finally bought our own mattress. And it’s made a huge difference. We spent ages umming and ahhing over which bedframe, mattress and pillows to choose. I’ll gloss over the argument between my partner and I over whether a Kingsize bed was necessary… It wasn’t but we have ended up with one anyway. If you feel like treating yourself (and you should, because sleep is a priority) check out Tempur for a range of the comfiest mattresses and pillows. Their ergonomic section is a dream.

Something else I swear by is my SAD lamp. Getting up in the morning is hard enough, let alone when it’s pitch black outside. SAD lamps begin to light up before your alarm so that your body gets used to the light while you’re still sleeping, helping you feel more refreshed when you wake up. Mine is a Lumie lamp and I wouldn’t be without it.

Another way to make sure you get a good night’s sleep is to actually go to sleep! Winding down before bed is so hard, especially with everyone mindlessly scrolling social media in the lead up to bedtime. But it’s so important for your brain to have that downtime before you go to sleep. A hot bath or a book (not reading on your phone!) is ideal and the perfect excuse to hide under the duvet as the year gets colder.

Do you have any bedroom must-haves for a good night’s sleep? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

 

*This post is in collaboration with Tempur, but all views are my own.

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Review: One More Chance by Lucy Ayrton

Dani hasn’t had an easy life. She’s made some bad choices and now she’s paying the ultimate price; prison.

With her young daughter Bethany, growing up in foster care, Dani is determined to be free and reunited with her. There’s only one problem; Dani can’t stay out of trouble.

Dani’s new cellmate Martha is quiet and unassuming. There’s something about her that doesn’t add up. When Martha offers Dani one last chance at freedom, she doesn’t hesitate.

Everything she wants is on the outside, but Dani is stuck on the inside. Is it possible to break out when everyone is trying to keep you in . . .

I really love anything published by Dialogue Books, Little Brown Book Group’s imprint, designed to showcase authentic and diverse voices. Prison literature always interests me as I find it often has strong links with my work as a mental health nurse, so right from the start I was feeling good about Lucy Ayrton’s One More Chance.

Ayrton’s debut novel was inspired by her work for a woman’s prison charity, which is what gives voice to the character of Dani. Dani felt so real to me that at times I had to keep checking I was reading fiction, rather than an autobiography. Dani is representative of so many women who are sadly failed by the social services system, but I haven’t read many books where the portrayal of a female prisoner has felt so sympathetic.

Parts of the novel feel almost fairy-tale like (you’ll have to read it to understand what I mean), but it brings a whole new aspect to the novel which I’ve never seen anywhere else.

It’s a must-read for anyone interested in the prison system as well as being an all-round enjoyable book.

Rachel x-x-x

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