Thursday, 28 April 2016

App of the Month: Is it Vegan?

This month’s app doesn’t get the usual praise I’d give to an app that proved itself worthy for this feature. So why am I bothering to pick it out and proclaim it as my reigning app for April then? Well it’s a hard one to answer, and I’ve gone back and forth over it. The thing is that this app is such a great idea and can be incredibly useful, the only issue is it’s just not as good as it could be… Or if I am being brutally honest, it needs a lot of work. However it is still a download I would recommend and one that I do use on the regular, well regular-ish.

Name: Is it Vegan?
Category: Food and Drink
Price: Free (‘Is it Vegan? +’ available for £3.99)
Available On: Apple App Store and Google Play

‘Is it vegan?’ is a database of ingredients and products which you can search through to determine whether something is vegan, vegetarian or not. You essentially use the app to answer the question, is it vegan? Shocker! For me this could be the most useful thing in the planet, not sure if I can eat something or not, just a few taps into my phone and bam, there’s my answer. If that was the case I’d be shouting from the rooftops about how amazing it is, but unfortunately although it’s what this app should be in theory, reality delivers us something quite different. 

First of all, the scan feature doesn’t work for us in the UK as it’s only compatible with American and Australian barcodes. But this isn’t exactly new, as most of the scan features of apps don’t work for us poor little British, we’re left out in the cold. PETA’s Bunny-Free, September’s App of the Month, is an example of just that. Inconvenient though it may be, I’m used to it and as long as the manual search works I’ll be quite happy to keep my mouth shut about that little injustice… But sadly that’s only one thing of my list of grievances when it comes to this particular app. 
Number two on my lists is the biggest problem of all, being that its database is severely lacking. While some products aren’t recognized at all, others having missing ingredients or indefinite classifications. I don’t want to know if something is ‘Probably Vegan’ or ‘May Not be Vegan’, I have common sense for that what I want is a definite answer, otherwise what is the point? Unfortunately this means that for a lot of us the app generally fails in its only purpose. Although I have found my own ways to work around this, which means this app isn’t completely useless. 

I’m afraid I might be being a little harsh, as I’m aware that ‘Is it Vegan?’ is designed with the idea that users will add in products, ingredient lists and barcodes. Thing is you have to have the paid version to get this privilege. Who’s going to pay £3.99 to essentially do all the foot work and make their own database? Not me! I can save time just googling, or just pass on the items that lack a definite status. Although if someone does want to do this, I’d be extremely grateful as you’d basically be making this app. 

For the mean time, I use this app as a go to check in, and then whatever ingredients it remains undecided on I flick over to Animal-Free, November’s App of the Month, to search those ingredients independently. Yes it’s not quite as convenient as having the answer waiting in one app, but using both apps collaboratively can still be short cut to food, and nobody ever wants to wait longer than they have to for food.

Have a read about one of my other triumphant Apps of the Month:

Elevate      |       Pacer

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Things I've Accomplished

We can all get a little down sometimes, and even begin to slip into thoughts about what we’re really doing with our lives, if we’re on the right path and whether we’ll ever get to where we want to be. Am I the person I want to be? Will I get to where I want to go? Am I doing enough to be able to ever achieve either of these things? I’m all too familiar with these thoughts on all sorts of a scale; I worry if I’ve done enough research for my essays, I stress about not publishing enough blogposts a week, I beat myself up for not eating the ‘right’ things or not going to the gym as often as I should. The key theme of these awful habits seems to be a fear of not having done enough in whatever capacity.

I can't believe I'm alone in suffering from this form of anxiety, so I thought I’d share the way that I’ve managed to beat, or at the worst of times suppress it. At the start of the year I decided to buy myself a notebook and write down three things I was proud of having accomplished every day. These little notes ranged depending on the type of day I’d had and what challenges I’d faced. I don’t tend to reveal much of the ‘personal’ on this blog, but as it’s relevant to this post it’s probably worth mentioning that I have my daily struggles due to variety of enemies that dwell in side me. I was diagnosed with ME last year, and I am continuing to live with Crohns Disease and Osteopenia. Sometimes I have to be reminded that I can’t hold myself to the same standards as others because I physically cannot survive on 8 hours sleep a night, have to be careful about how I choose to spend my small reserves of energy and know full well that I’ll never be able to keep up with the average healthy 21 year old.

We all have our own challenges in our lives which we might fight behind closed doors or out and proud, but the thing is that as long as we are each aware of what we’re facing and that we’re doing the best we can, why don’t we cut ourselves some slack?
So when I write down the three things I’ve accomplished each day it’s not always about how healthy my diet was, how long I went to the gym for or about the amounts of uni work I got through because I simply can’t push myself to get that far every day of my life. I don’t think anybody can, nor should. While I’ll always have some good days when I can boast about how much I’ve achieved, other days I will be proud of being able to pull myself out of bed and having a shower when I really didn’t feel like it. I’ll make a note of the days when I’m smart enough to prioritise self-care and take a step back from everything else. I’ll happily write down in my little notebook that I managed not to feel guilty about having a lazy day because not feeling guilty about looking after myself is an achievement in itself which should be recognised!

Of course I’m not going to turn into a couch potato just yet and will keep striving to be the best and most proactive I can be, challenging myself in all sorts of ways but at the same time I’m not going to let myself feel bad about the days I don’t quite feel up to facing the world. Staying in bed all day is an achievement of some sort and sleeping 18 hours straight (not even my personal record) is an accomplishment because not everyone can do it! 

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Thursday, 14 April 2016

My Uni Room

I apologise for having neglected my blog recently, my final year of university is getting pretty intense, but I'll be free before too long and back to posting regularly. Just please bare with me for the next month!
One thing I really enjoy is having a nose around people's rooms, whether it be their bedrooms, lounges, kitchens and if not that then the next best thing is wandering around ikea showrooms. I've slowly started to gain an interest in interior design, or maybe a better word for what I enjoy is 'room aesthetics'? Either way I enjoy playing around with my room and making it feel as homely and as 'me' as possible. Back in October I published a post about dealing with homesickness at uni (which you can read here) in which I advised making your spaces at uni reflect your own personal touches. As a follow up to that I thought I'd share photos of what I did to my bedroom in this year's student house which could perhaps act as a form of inspiration, or otherwise just be something a bit different to post.

So here we are, starting with my before picture which was actually taken when I first viewed the house and before I actually knew that this would end up being my bedroom for the year. As you can gather it's not the largest of rooms, I would probably describe it as a small double. Once I moved in I arranged for the bookcase to be replaced with a desk but otherwise all the furniture seen here was included in my contract and belongs to the landlord not myself.

The majority of bits and pieces I have scattered around my room have been collected over a number of years so I'm afraid I can't share where to get hold of them, but I do hope you've enjoyed my room!

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