Handmade Burger – Vegan Burgers

I realize posting this so soon after the post about the Gardener’s Arms might make me look like a burger addict, but I don’t care. I love burgers. Being a vegetarian and loving burgers was tricky to start with, but it became easier in recent years. You might think that being vegan and a burger lover might be difficult, but it’s not as difficult as I thought it might be. And I’m making it my personal mission to try as many different vegan burgers as I can!

Over the Christmas holidays, Phil and I dropped Poppy at her grandparents and headed to Reading for a dog-free day. After a pit stop at the cinema to watch the final Hunger Games (why did they ruin it by splitting the final book into two films? WHY?!), we headed to Handmade Burger Co., at The Oracle. I can’t remember how I discovered they did vegan burgers (yes, burgers plural!), but I knew I wanted to try them to see how they compared to the Gardener’s Arms and my own VBites burgers that I have at home. Having studied their menu and their allergens menu at home, I knew that I had choices to make, which can be unusual in a mainstream restaurant. All their vegan items are labelled, which is mega in itself. Four out of their seven veggie burgers are vegan. Four. All the chips are vegan and most of the dips. Epic!

Handmade Burger vegan burger Handmade burger vegetable skewersPhil and I both opted for the cajun vegetable and bean burger. Phil added mozzarella to his and I added jalapeños to mine. We ordered a portion of the veggie skewers to try and a portion of fries each, though I had plain fries and Phil had cajun fries. The burger was epic. And I mean epic. It was filling and tasty, though they put too many jalapeños in it for my liking. I like my heat, but I need to be able to pick my burger up without the filling falling out. The veggie skewers were good too, though we didn’t really need them and couldn’t finish them. Next time we go, we won’t bother and we’ll share the fries. Getting a portion each was too much for both of us. They are thick cut chips and were really filling. I still think the Gardener’s Arms burger was better, though this was pretty good.

I was also impressed with the staff. I asked the waiter if the BBQ sauce was vegan, as I couldn’t remember and he said he didn’t think it was but he checked on the allergens menu and let me know it was. Also, the waitress initially brought over veggie skewers with halloumi in, but she corrected it straight away, before we’d noticed and, more importantly, before we’d started eating it! I would recommend if you’re in the area, if for no other reason than to have a choice of burgers!

My 2016 Goals

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions, mainly because they rarely last beyond a week! Also, within teaching, I often feel like there are so many new starts and am often trying to think about ways to improve myself, what I do etc. But there are a few things that I want to be better at by the end of 2016. Here they are:

2016 GOALS1. Sort out my finances. Ugh, every year I think ‘I’m gonna save more and waste less.’ Well, enough is enough. This needs to happen. I want need a new bathroom and more holidays in Cornwall. This is only going to happen if I save more regularly and waste less money. I need to organise a budget for birthday and Christmas presents and decide which charities to donate to, instead of the ‘donate to all’ frenzy that happened this Christmas. I also want to ensure I use a bank and banking products that are ethical and do good, rather than the harmful history some of the banks continue to deal with. I also want to get back to a point that my credit card is paid off in full every month and I can go into the bank without worrying that they’ll lock the doors with me in there!

2. Organise regular fitness. I honestly thought walking Poppy would be enough, and it was, in the summer, when we walked a lot. But as school got busy and the nights got darker, I haven’t been walking Poppy as much as I would like and lots of our favourite weekend walks are, well, muddy and unpleasant. I’m not going to join a gym, as I hate them, and running is pretty much out, thanks to my knees, so I’ve got to organise something that will help to keep me fit and strong. I’m thinking pilates, but want something online or a DVD as I know I will not keep up going to classes. I never do!

3. Expand my cooking repertoire. Since becoming vegan, my diet has definitely improved, though all too often, I find myself sinking back to lazy, convenient ways. While I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy cooking, I want to eat well. In order to do this, I need to cook more, become confident with different vegetables, different herbs and spices and gain in confidence so that I’m not reaching for the take away menu too often.

That’s it. I’m stopping at three. Any more than that and it’ll probably be too much! I have everything crossed that I’m successful with these!


Winter Stripes from People Tree

Hello, my name is Cathryn and I’m a stripe addict. Yep, there’s no such thing as too many stripy tops in my book. And just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean you can’t wear stripes. So when the lovely folk at People Tree asked me to pick something from their Autumn/Winter collection, I knew that I wanted this stripy dress. It can be dressed up with pair of boots or dressed down with a pair of trainers, ballet pumps or wellies, which make it ideal for dog walking.

Alma Cardigan in greyBlack people tree leggings Malena Stripe dress in black

{c/o Malena Stripe Dress – Was £65, now £32, Alma Cardigan in grey – £68, Black leggings – £26 : All from People Tree. Hat, made by me, using this pattern, Hunters boots, similar found here. Dachshund scarf was a Christmas present from my Mum. No idea where my coat is from!}

I bought the leggings to go with this dress, but leggings are becoming a staple in my wardrobe, as they’re comfy and can go with so many things. The cardigan was a present from my mum, along with the supercute scarf. This coat is my only winter coat, bought originally for dog walking, as it’s got deep pockets for all the usual junk I carry with me when walking Poppy. All the People Tree items are made with organic cotton and are Fair-trade, which is another reason why I love them!

Tuesday Treat – The Third Estate

When I became vegan back in September, I had no idea how much it would impact on my wardrobe. While I knew that fur was incredibly cruel and pointless, I never made the connection between that and leather, wool or silk. There are lots of different ideas about what you should do with animal derived items in your wardrobe when you become vegan. As I don’t want to waste anything, and am on a budget, I’m looking to replace items as and when they wear out or when I can afford them. When I mention this to friends, they often ask the question about what vegan shoes and clothes look like, probably thinking of stereotypical vegan ideas i.e. head to toe in hemp. (Not that that would be a bad thing, considering the fact that hemp is one of the most eco-friendly fibres on the planet, but that’s another story!) So when Phil told me to go to The Third Estate website, I wondered what he had found. My friends, he found a one stop shop for your vegan clothing needs!

The Third Estate

{1. Matt & Nat Tierra bag – £108. || 2. Spruce Pom by Brick Beanies – £24. || 3. Three Eye Shoe by Vegetarian Shoes – £110. || 4.  Running Foxes jumper by Slyde – £30. }

I am in love with the Matt & Nat bags. I will definitely be saving up for one (or two!) of those. I also love that you can get a range of shoes, from different places, at The Third Estate. Although, I now have a quandary about which ones to get! I want so many different styles! Everything is clearly labelled, including whether it is sweatshop free or is made with organic fibers, which is really important to me. This is definitely going to be one of my go to online shopping sites from now on.