Category Archives: Badass Business

Essence + Alchemy Review and Interview!

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As you may or may not know, I have a serious candle addiction. It’s an addiction I have no interest in curing. So, as a scented candle enthusiast I am thrilled to be able to tell you about Essence + Alchemy.

Essence + Alchemy candles are 100% natural, made with clean burning sustainable rapeseed wax and highly scented essential oils. Essence + Alchemy are GMO and toxin free, earth friendly, cruelty free and vegan.

I was sent the Essence + Alchemy Aether Candle and I’m in love with it!

The Aether candle is a blend of peppermint, rosemary and lemon essential oils with a hint of sage and juniper. I was promised an uplifting and energising scent and that’s exactly what I got!

First of all let me say I love the cute hand blown beakers the candles come in. A+E founder Lesley has a degree in enviromental science and considers herself a ‘natural scent alchemist’ – I love that! I think the beakers are quite elegant and the whole aesthetic of the brand is right up my street. It’s witchy chic!

The Aether Candle has a bold scent that’s perfect for an energising boost during the day or at night to relax and unwind. The wooden wick crackles like a small bonfire which is really soothing to listen to. Wooden wicks can be tricky but once it finds its way it gives off  a decent amound of light and unlike some other wooden wicks it doesn’t break off in bits of its own accord as it burns. It really is a clean burning candle and I would describe the Aether candle as ‘cosy’ in a jar.
I would definitely recommend that people check out Essence + Alchemy.

The Aether Candle has an uplifting and energising essential oil blend of peppermint, rosemary, lemon, sage and juniper, which will help refresh and cleanse the air.  The Aether essential oil blend has been charged under the light of the full moon to harness it’s lunar power and infuse the oil with positive energy.

– taken from the Essence + Alchemy website

INTERVIEW

I had a quick chat with Essence + Alchemy founder Lesley.

What led you to start Essence + Alchemy as a business?

The beginning of Essence + Alchemy and candle making was a happy distraction from house renovation and once I got started in candle making, I just couldn’t stop. I was already working for myself as an environmental consultant so a jump into self employment wasn’t the motivation, I was obsessed with making the most environmentally friendly and natural candle that I could make. It was more like an obsessive hobby that eventually took over my day job.

What do you find most enjoyable and the most stressful part of running your own business?

The most enjoyable part has to be the making, I love working with essential oils and learning about their properties and creating new scents. The most stressful part is trying to keep on top of everything else like admin, accounting, emails, marketing, photography and sourcing raw materials, I currently work alone so I have to wear a lot of different hats.

Of all your products, which is your favourite and why?

That is always a difficult question because my favourites change depending on my mood. I’m a huge lavender fan so the Unwind candle and mist will always be firm favourites but Tranquility keeps me super calm and is a good go to during stressful times. It’s also one of my favourite scents.

You make it clear on your website that ethically sourced ingredients and your products are vegan/cruelty free. It’s always refreshing to hear for me personally, why is this so important to you?

It is important to me. I don’t believe that anything needs to be made at the exploitation of people, animals or the environment. I made this my mission when I started developing Essence + Alchemy as a brand. When I first began in candle making I started with beeswax, knowing that it was locally sourced and sustainable but then when I learned more about it, I realised that it isn’t vegan friendly or cruelty free. I quickly moved to rapeseed wax which is manufactured in the UK from plants grown in the UK and the EU so it doesn’t have the carbon footprint of other waxes like imported soy and coconut. To be honest, sourcing ethically and sustainably hasn’t been an easy journey, it’s been very long and hugely time consuming but it’s definitely worth every minute when I know that what I’m producing isn’t causing harm to anyone or the environment.

What are your plans for 2018?

Without giving too much away, I’m expanding the E+A range to include Air and Earth products, so watch this space!

You can check out the whole range of goodies Essence + Alchemy provide here on their website.

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Moxie McMurder
The Badass Manifesto

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Penclic R2 Wireless Mouse Review

Something a little different today. I was asked to review the Penclic R2 Wireless Mouse. The Penclic R2 wireless mouse has become my new best friend. This pen inspired mouse is designed to reduce RSI (repetitive strain injury) as a vertical mouse lets you have your arm and hand in a more natural position. I wasn’t sure I’d get on with this design when it arrived but I found that I adapted to the vertical mouse much quicker than I’d anticipated. I’m now a total convert and haven’t stopped using the mouse since!

R2 Wireless

R2 Penclic You still push it around like a traditional mouse, so it’s not as strange to use as you might expect. The only issue I’ve had with the Penclic is that a couple of the buttons on the side are not quite as comfortable to use. That said the Penclic is light and really touch sensitive. The R2 is wireless thanks to the supplied USB dongle and has left click, right click and a scroll wheel. There are a couple of extra buttons that you can assign different actions to. It also has an on/off switch on the underside of the base that I never remember to use and am always surprised at how long the Penclic stays charged for!

The Penlic Mouse R2 retails at €79.99

comes with a velvet carry pouch, a small USB dongle, and a USB charging cable. No software’s required – it’s a case of plug-in-and-go for Windows, MAC etc If you suffering from RSI related to using a traditional mouse, or find using a traditional mouse causes you discomfort, which for me as a chronic pain sufferer is an issue, the Penclic R2 is certainly worth trying out! Moxie McMurder

Brew up a storm with Ace Tea London

I was recently sent some tea from Ace Tea London and here’s what I have to say. Founded in Autumn of 2016 Ace Tea London has already received three coveted Great Taste Awards for 2017.

“We embrace new rituals, new environments and new occasions.” I love this quote from their website. Tea as a ritual is something I can definitely get behind.
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They have recently released a Morris & Co. Tea Collection which was inspired by English textile designer William Morris (1834 – 1896).

Ace Tea specially crafted tea stockings house big leaf tea for exceptional clarity of flavour and Ace Tea only use 100% natural ingredients.

I love tea and I’d spotted Ace Tea via Twitter so I reached out to see if I could try them out. Who doesn’t love a cuppa? After chatting with the man in charge and talking a lot about tea and how disappointing a truly bad cup of tea can be
I was sent Quintessentially English Breakfast Tea, The Earl Grey and Lady Rose.

Quintessentially English Breakfast Tea

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Described as ‘rich, peppery and robust’ I have to say I agree. Using the very finest black tea from Sri Lanka this tea packs a punch that’s bold but not overpowering. This is the tea you want to be drinking alongside your full English breakfast or to get your day off to a great start. It’s an earthy tea with a deep tannin colour and a full bodied taste.

The Earl Grey

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I have to be honest, I was not looking forward to trying this tea. I always felt that Earl Grey was too floral, too perfumed for my taste buds. Ace Tea Earl Grey is a blend of Black tea,lemon peel, cornflowers, oil of bergamot and lemon essence. This Earl Grey tea has a subtle flavour with a citrus aftertaste that’s more zesty than perfumed, I was pleasantly surprised.

Lady Rose

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“Lady Rose can be enjoyed hot, chilled or blended in a summertime Gin cocktail.” This tea was awarded 2 Gold Stars at this years ‘Great Taste Awards’. This delicate tea was a real surprise. I’ve had rose tea before but I never considered drinking it cold, I’m going to try that out should the summer have a last hurrah before autumn really sets in. The floral aroma hits you the minute the ‘stocking’ hits the water and the mellow but strong taste is exactly what you would imagine an English Country Garden would taste like.
Lady Rose is a blend of black tea, rose petals and rose essence.

If you’re really into tea then I thoroughly recommend you check out the Ace Tea range. They’re good quality teas and full of flavour!

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How to brew the perfect cuppa!

Let your water tap run a little so the water’s well aerated before adding to your kettle. Only ever boil the water once to keep the oxygen level up. Oxygen in water helps flavour- don’t ask me how.
Let your bag brew for between 2-3mins, this lets the flavour develop. Oh and don’t mash the teabag against the side of your mug when you take it out, it can make the tea bitter. As can leaving the teabag in your mug for too long.

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Moxie McMurder
The Badass Manifesto

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Why I’d Be Lost Without My Smartphone

I use my phone all the time. All the time.
I have no doubt that when I die I will have my phone in my hand.

Chronic pain makes it difficult for me to sit at my desk or use my laptop for any real length of time due to the discomfort, so my phone is invaluable to me.

Being able to work from the sofa or my bed means I can still earn a living even when I’m lying in something that resembles the recovery position. I’ve written whole articles, emails, blog posts, book chapters and short stories on my phone.

I use my phone for Photography, social media, invoices, online shopping, poetry and keeping my calendar up to date. I use my phone to do so many things I truly would be lost without it.
I even did some photography for The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies – London for three of their events using only my smartphone. You can take a look at them here (Lecture from Stephen Thrower) and here (Kim Newman Lecture). You can also see more of my smartphone photography on my Burn The Witch Art Facebook Page.

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Without my phone I wouldn’t be able to keep in contact with my friends in other countries and I also wouldn’t be able to bombard my best friends with endless RuPaul Drag Race gifs. Due to chronic pain I can’t always hang out with my friends, so my phone helps me stay in touch through Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp,Kik etc

I use an to use an app to help me remember to take my medications, I used to use an app that tracked how far I was walking when I took my dog out. I use an app to apply text to my photography and I use an app order my shopping. Technology really does play a large part in my life and I’m grateful for that. Without these apps and without social media etc I would be more restricted than I am now.

My phone is a Sony Xperia, pretty sure it’s the Z1 version which is pretty out of date by now but it’s still a good phone and when I upgrade I’ll be looking to get another Xperia.

Do you use your phone to it’s full capacity or do you try to limit how much you rely upon your phone?

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Moxie McMurder
The Badass Manifesto

Badass Dessert – Pudology

I spotted Pudology in may local supermarket and because I’m vegan I feel it’s my responsibility to try all the different vegan desserts that come my way. So I can spread the word. *wink*

I bought the Pudology Decadent Chocolate Puds and I shared it with my husband (who is not vegan) and we were both seriously impressed. Pudology aren’t just vegan friendly, all their Puds are also gluten free. You can view their range here.

Creator and dessert maker Lucy was diagnosed with a dairy and egg intolerance in 2010 and realised there were very few tasty treats for people like her, so she took to the kitchen and started creating.

I was so impressed with Pudology that I contacted them and Lucy very kindly sent me some samples to review and we’re collaborating on a Badass Giveaway, so stayed tuned for that!
Using coconut milk and dark chocolate their creamy puds are bursting with a deep chocolate flavour that’s hard to beat. I also love that a woman decided to create what she couldn’t find and has not only created some delicious desserts but also a business that she’s clearly passionate about.

THE REVIEW

Orange Chocolate Pudding

‘Seriously smooth chocolate and orange ganache with Brazilian orange oil.’

Oh my! This tasted just like a certain well known orange chocolate ball that, despite what their ads claimed, you could not just ‘tap and unwrap’. Delicious thick chocolate that has a ganache style texture and infused with a zesty but not overpowering Brazillian orange oil . This one is a real stunner!

Scrumptious Millionaire’s Shortbread

‘Truly decadent layers of biscuit, caramel and smooth, rich chocolate.’

I’m not the biggest fan of Millionaire’s Shortbread, mostly due to the fact i don’t like shortbread. I may be Scottish but I draw the line at sugary sand! Pudology have used a biscuit base inplace of shortbread and the ratio of base to caramel and chocolate is spot on. The silky smooth chocolate and gorgeous gooey toffee made for an excellent after dinner treat. The shortbread/biscuit element was given the thumbs up by my husband, who knows about these sorts of things. All I can really say about the biscuit base is that it was crumbly.

Deeply Decadent Chocolate Pudding

‘deeply decadent & irresistably smooth chocolate ganache with Madagascan vanilla.’

I can’t quite decide if this or the Chocolate Orange Pud is my favourite, they’re both delicious. The thick, rich and truly decadent chocolate pudding, my mouth is watering just writing about it, is genuinely a vegan delight!
Honestly, no one would ever guess that these desserts are dairy free. They feel totally indulgent and of a gourmet standard.

Richly Indulgent Banoffee Pie Puds

‘Layers of biscuit, dairy-free toffee, banana & chocolate – the ultimate indulgence!’

This one was my least favourite of the samples I was sent. I don’t mind banoffee pie but it’s not a dessert I would choose to eat. My husband on the other hand, loved it and ended up eating mine as I couldn’t finish it. I can’t quite put my finger on what didn’t work for me but on reflection I think it was the banana element. Perhaps it was just too sweet for me.

Pudology has all the ingredients, allergen and nutritional information listed on their website but again, all their desserts are:

  • Dairy Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Wheat Free
  • Vegan Friendly
  • Coeliac Friendly

The Puds are now available at a range of shops including Sainsbury’s and I thoroughly recommend you seek them out.

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I look forward to seeing what Pudology brings out in the future and I sincerely hope it involves mint or peanut butter.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m working with Pudology to bring you a Badass Giveaway! Pudology creator Lucy Wager, who blogs here is getting some great Pudology swag for you to get your hands on, so keep your eyes peeled in September!

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Moxie McMurder
The Badass Manifesto