So at the start of the year I made the decision to go vegan 🙂 and I have not looked back since! Prior to this I had been vegetarian for 7 years, mainly because I don’t like the taste/texture of meat, but also because I was made aware of the ecological and climate-related impacts of meat production whilst at uni. I finally made the decision to go vegan because I sat down and thought about everything I was eating and doing and I believe that every effort, however small, made to save the environment and protect animals is beneficial to our planet – and going vegan is a big positive effort.

However, I do appreciate that going ‘full vegan’ isn’t possible or desirable for some people which is why I thought I would write a post on some easy ways to reduce the impact of consuming/using animal products for if you are thinking of going vegan or if you just want to contribute to the cause!

  1. DIET

Even having a few vegan days per week is beneficial if you can’t go cold turkey from meat and dairy! There are so many vegan meat substitutes out there now, including tofu, seitan, tempeh and vegan quorn (some quorn contains egg so make sure to check before buying) and shop-bought puff pastry is now made with butter substitutes so you can easily whip up a tart for dinner!

If you want to reduce your dairy intake there is now a huge range of vegan milk such as coconut, almond, cashew, rice milk and oat milk, on top of the classic soy milk. I like to try different ones to see which are best and also if you are being price-conscious, most supermarkets do their own brand of soy milk which is normally cheaper than the same amount of cow’s milk!

Also a lot of dark chocolate is vegan and doesn’t contain any milk so you don’t have to forgo your sweet tooth! But if you like your sweeter chocolate varieties there are lots of vegan brands which taste great, such as mini moo which you can buy in most supermarkets!

The economy works on supply and demand so if we reduce our consumption of animals and animal products, the production of them will fall in response. So any reduction in your spending on animal products does help make a difference!

2. MAKEUP

A surprising amount of makeup brands are cruelty-free, to name a few: GOSH, Barry M, Makeup revolution, Sugarpill and Urban decay. Superdrug, LUSH and the Body Shop all offer own brand cruelty-free products and are pretty affordable as well. You can see a more extensive list at www.crueltyfreekitty.com which can point you in the right direction!

Also many cruelty-free brands will have the leaping bunny logo which means they don’t use animal testing on their products and you can see the list on their website www.leapingbunny.org

3. ACCESSORIES

Leather and suede are a by-product of meat production and as such are undesirable if you want to go cruelty-free but there are so many faux-leather accessories available now on the high street that you can easily avoid them! However, if you simply must have a designer bag/purse made from leather I would say go for one which is going to last you years and years and that suits a majority of outfits and seasons as you are then contributing less demand to the industry!

 

I know that in the vegan community some people say it’s all or nothing but in the society we live in I do believe that every little helps, whether you are going meat-free for a few days a week or slowly transitioning to using more cruelty-free products in your life.

I hope this has been a useful post and feel free to let me know any more tips or comments you have below!

Maddie xxx

This weekend I’ve been at the first of many courses to work towards a professional qualification for management accountancy. I wanted to write a piece on my experiences so far with education outside of school and university and give some pros and cons to help if you are thinking of going for a vocational/professional qualification!

So I have been studying management accountancy for three years already and have only just achieved one of four qualifications. It’s been tough!! I am completely self-taught by this point which is why I’ve chosen to participate in weekend courses to speed the process up and gain a better understanding. I am studying this as part of furthering my career in finance and it fits well with my current job and enhances the quality of my work and my understanding of the processes behind what I do on a day to day basis at work.

Obviously this blog post is about a specific qualification but I’m hoping my opinions can be applied to other courses and qualifications! Also the title is post-university education because I’ve been to uni and this is the next step for me but it can equally be applied to post-school or college 🙂

In my experience so far, the pros and cons are:

PROS

* Increased salary – professional qualifications command a higher wage

* Increased confidence – you and your employer will feel more confident in your ability to do your job

* Increased marketability to new employers – sometimes having an extra qualification will put you ahead of another candidate and get you the job

* Higher credibility in your field – your opinion and advice will hold more weight if you have the relevant qualification

* Can open new avenues of work – if you attain a qualification in something you really want to do, you can then change your career and go into this field and pursue your ambitions in it

CONS

* Time consuming – you have to devote a LOT of time to studying and if you are also working full time this can be difficult

* Can be expensive

* Work-life-study balance – if you try to do too much you can burn yourself out and feel very stressed

* You have to deal with demotivation if you fail an exam. (However, unlike school this doesn’t matter too much because you can retake as many times as you need to!)

 

In my opinion, the pros far outweigh the cons if you are trying to further your career. If you are willing to sacrifice some of your social life and you have the motivation to do it, definitely think about a qualification in something that will benefit you and add value to your work, be it accountancy, hairdressing or investment management!

I hope this post was useful, please let me know if you think there are any more pros and cons that I’ve missed or if you are studying or thinking of studying any qualifications!

Maddie xxx

I live with my boyfriend and our pets, two of which are our gorgeous chinchillas Alfie and Archer. We got them in August last year and they are now almost a year old! They are brothers and are literally the cutest things ever 🙂 Alfie is bigger and a lighter grey colour (in the pic above) and Archer is smaller and more of a black colour.

I absolutely adore them and they are so soft it’s like holding a cloud when you pick them up but my boyfriend isn’t so convinced sometimes as they tend to make a lot of noise jumping around their cage and chewing through electrical wires… we’ve had to replace a couple of chargers and a plug-and-play kit for the Xbox because we weren’t paying attention and they had destroyed the wires before we could stop them 🤔

Chinchillas are rodents and, like rats, are intelligent and playful with big personalities and they make great pets

As pets, I have found them fairly easy to look after but you need to consider a few things before you go out and get one:

*They are social creatures and it’s a good idea to get two that are bonded (usually siblings) otherwise they require a lot of attention from you and if you’re out working a lot they will get lonely

*They do actually get sad and will go off their food so it’s important to keep them happy and occupied with toys and things to chew

*Their teeth grow constantly like rabbits so you need to provide a lot of wood and hay for them to keep their teeth trimmed on or they end up with dental problems

*They CANNOT get wet! Because their fur is so thick it gets mouldy if they are damp and this can kill the chinchilla! They use dust to bathe in and it’s super cute when they roll around in it and clean themselves

*They are quite active and require a big cage to run around in as well as being let out to play so it’s an expensive investment

*They will breed with each other if you have an opposite sex pair and they can multiply pretty rapidly so it’s worth getting a same sex pair – we got two brothers 🙂

I’m sure there are some other considerations I’ve missed so be sure to do some more research if you want to get one!

In the wild, chinchillas are critically endangered due to human impacts on their habitats in South America and due to the fur trade, their numbers were depleted as they were hunted and farmed for their thick velvety fur. They still are farmed for their fur which is really sad!

If you want any/want to share any tips on chinchilla care or ownership feel free to comment below 🙂

xxx

The great thing about art is that you can just pick up a pencil or a pen and start drawing on a scrap piece of paper and immediately feel like you’re being creative! But it’s always worth investing some money in good quality products when you can because a. It’s great to experiment with new media and b. It helps you produce higher quality art.

I wanted to write a piece on the different types of drawing I do at the moment and what media I use to produce them – each type of piece has a checklist of media that I utilise!

The different types of pure drawing (not using any paints) that I produce currently are:

*Detailed biro sketch

*Micron pen drawing

*Micron pen drawing plus copic markers

 

I love doodling and practising techniques in my sketchbook which is where I will do most of my biro sketches. This is normally rougher work that’s used to map out a composition for a larger piece that I’m going to paint or just to practise line work and proportions. Because it’s rough work I dont find that it matters what brand of implement I use as long as they feel good to draw with (as in does it create smooth lines and does it feel easy to use and good in your hand?) To create these I will use:

*HB sketching pencil

*Biro pen

*Sketchbook/any kind of paper

Next type of drawing is a micron pen drawing. These are similar to my biro drawings in that they are detailed and I use lots of lines to build up the shaded areas and put in the detail of the piece but they differ in that they can produce a thicker line (depending on which size you use) and feel more permanent. You can also use them for stippling which can create a great effect on tattoo designs for example.

Checklist:

*HB sketching pencil

*Copic 0.3 multiliner pen

*Sakura Pigma Micron pens (varying mm thicknesses)

*Sakura Pigma Brush pen

*Pentel brush pen

*Marker paper works well with these but you can use any kind

I really love using these pens to do tattoo designs as they can create strong bold lines and also fine detailing. The Sakura pens are reasonably priced for a set and I find that the ink comes out smoothly and would definitely recommend! The pentel brush pen is great for comic style outlines and for filling in large spaces of black. It’s also reasonably priced and you can buy one that comes with refills so it will last ages!

Last type of drawing is micron plus Copic markers.

Checklist:

*HB sketching pencil

*Copic multi liner pen for the outline

*Copic ciao twin tip markers for colouring

*Marker paper (I use Canson brand)

I use Copic markers when I draw people because they CANNOT  be beaten on blending skin tones! They are amazing and I can’t recommend them enough! However, their main drawback is their price. They will set you back quite a lot depending on how many you buy so if you’re not flush with cash it’s worth looking at alternative brands that are cheaper like Prismacolor or Touch Twin  markers. Saying that though, Copic markers are an investment and they are definitely worth the price and they can be refilled! It’s just the initial price that’s daunting!

A word of caution on the type of paper you use Copic markers on: marker paper is best as the ink bleeds through the page less. Try not to use thick paper such as for watercolour because it will suck a LOT of ink out of your pens and as they are expensive you will end up going through a lot of pens and ink!!

I outline my drawings first with the multiliner pen and then rub out all the pencil marks before using the copics as I’ve found that the ink doesn’t bleed when you go over it with the marker but the pencil does – it smears and gets on the pen nib which isn’t ideal!

So those are my drawing checklists 🙂 I wholeheartedly recommend all of the products on there and as I branch out and use different ones I will review them as well! Let me know in the comments what kind of media you use and if you’ve had any luck with any alternatives.

Lots of love

Maddie

 

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I drew this cute tattoo design today based on the song ‘Talking Bird’ by Death Cab For Cutie.

DCFC have been my favourite band since I can remember. I first listened to this album while reading ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley and every time I listen to their album ‘Narrow Stairs’ I feel this wonderful sweeping sense of nostalgia that lights the creative spark inside me.

The song ‘Talking Bird’ evokes in me the sense of wanting to protect something fragile and beautiful which I tried to capture in my drawing with a design of someone’s hands cupping a tiny bird. I used Sakura fineliner pens and a Pentel brush pen to ink the lines on the design which are wonderfully smooth and easy to work with.

Which Death Cab song is your favourite or are there any songs or albums that make you feel really nostalgic for a certain time in your life?

Let me know in the comments section if you like!

You can find this and more of my artwork on my instagram page 🙂

 

Maddie xxx