Making kind choices in your everyday life.

10 Fabulous reasons to vote for the Animal Justice Party

Posted by on Jun 26, 2016 in Politics | 0 comments

“The measure of a man is what he does with power” – Plato

 


My little blog usually focuses on all the things which we, as individuals, can do as part of our day to day life to be kinder and gentler to animals, the environment, ourselves and each other. I love the fact that these habits are immediately available and we remain firmly in control of such choices.

However, there comes a time where we need something a little bit more than our individual power. We need policy, legislation and laws in place to protect our world and the creatures we share it with….otherwise one can feel like a grain of sand in the desert, plodding away on our little individual quests to make the world a better place.

Next weekend, Australians will all have the choice about who we want to lead us, form our boundaries and come up with much needed new horizons to work towards. Yes, it is election time !

If you are reading this page, you are no doubt an animal lover. If you are an animal lover, there are a plethora of reasons to by pass the standard, lackluster duopoly and give the Animal Justice Party (AJP) your valuable vote. Here are my 10 of mine:

1. Unlike the Labour and Liberal parties (who inexplicably want to expand the trade) the AJP are fierce opponents of the live animal export trade. If you’ve watched the news over the last couple of weeks…you would have seen history repeating itself. Yet again, we viewed horrific footage of Australian cattle being bludgeoned to death by sledgehammers in Vietnam. This trade is just vile and the majority of Australians want it to end. It is also corrupt – with news breaking last week of the brave whistle blowing vet, Dr Lynn Simpson, being dismissed from her job after photos and footage she took of the appalling conditions faced by the animals  on board the live export ships were mistakenly posted (not even by her) and made public on the Department of Agriculture’s website. Outrageous ! If you have any questions, as I did, about the implications of ending live animal export (“won’t they just source animals from other countries ?”, “some countries can’t import boxed meat as they don’t have refrigeration, right ?” etc), I found this page from Animals Australia to be a wealth of info to help dispel the myths. New Zealand banned live animal export for slaughter in 2007 due to animal welfare concerns – so can we. The Greens also support an end to Live Animal Export.

2. They support an Independent Office of Animal Welfare (IOAW). This is a big one. As it stands now, animal protection is largely governed by departments of agriculture, or their equivalent, around the country. There is a glaring conflict of interest there which means that those given the power to protect animals, tend to do the opposite in order to…you guessed it….make money ! We need an INDEPENDENT organisation to look after the interest of farm, companion and wild animals – to create legislation to protect rather than harm these creatures. We also need to re-think who should be the primary agency when it comes to animal cruelty enforcement. Should such a vital role continue to be held by a largely public funded charity ? (RSPCA). The Greens and the ALP also support a IOAW (but to varying degrees). Read more here.

3. They seek to address the strong but too frequently ignored link between human violence and crimes and cruelty to animals. In an issue particularly close to my heart, in domestic violence cases they will seek to have refuges include facilities for pets too. Such a simple solution when so many women currently won’t leave a violent home due to fears for their animals.

4. They acknowledge the indisputable and damning correlation between animal agriculture and climate change.  Cowspiracy is a great documentary about this very issue if you want to learn more.

5. They have a viable, practical plan to deal with the crisis currently affecting companion animals where 250,000 healthy dogs and cats are being euthansed every year in Australia due to inadequate systems in place.

6. The AJP are offering kind and inclusive “people policies” too. They are supportive of refugees, the LGBTI community and believe in same sex marriage. They also recognise the unsustainable notion of an unlimited growing population and urban sprawl.

7. You can get a taste of what their influence could look like by following the great things Mark Pearson’s (the AJP member in NSW) has been striving for  in State parliament from wanting sprinkler systems installed in piggeries (to prevent sows burning to death in a fire) to ending kangaroo slaughter.

8. They oppose grey hound racing. Another corrupt, cruel, greedy, self serving “sport” which so many other countries have banned. Undercover footage showing the use of live animals used for bait and our government’s lack of care when it comes to exporting dogs to countries devoid of any laws to prevent animal cruelty shows that this industry has no future.

9. The AJP consists of a diverse collection of kind, measured and smart people. I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the current contenders. NSW, QLD, WA, TAS, SA and the ACT have candidates for the senate and NSW, SA and VIC are well represented by contenders for House Of Reps spots.  Our government currently seems full of many large egos, questionable agendas and skewed morals. To have some representatives in parliament who share the commonality of wanting a kinder world would be a breath of fresh air. The AJP how to vote page reveals if you have a contender in your electorate. I unfortunately don’t have one in my area but can still vote for AJP number 1 in the senate.

10. No you don’t have to be vegan to be part of the AJP but the benefits of a plant based diet are on their agenda – for good reason. Vegetarianism and veganism are growing in popularity world wide. Companies overseas like Hampton Creek and Beyond    Meat are going gang busters with new plant based innovations. Like renewable energy versus coal, the benefits of investing in farmers who grow plants should not be underrated on an economic basis.

You can read more about the wonderful policies of the AJP on their webpage here.

Finally, there’s a pretty god damn cute poster boy for the AJP….in my house at least….

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Autumn

Posted by on May 15, 2016 in eating out, Eggs, Recipes - Savoury, Recipes - Sweet, Topical | 2 comments

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns,” ~ George Eliot.

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Image from www.earthporn.com

Where are you my beloved Autumn ? T’is but a mere 2 weeks away from winter and yet another t-shirt wearing Sydney day is just finishing up. Frightening stuff – and, scarier still that our politicians in their election campaign are steadfastly avoiding any climate change talk. It’s all “jobs and growth” but what kind of world are they expecting us to work in and grow into ??

My blogging frequency is about as lack luster as this balmy excuse of an Autumn we are having. I am keen to get back into the swing of addressing a topic once a month or so but, for now, it’s going to be all the brilliant, interesting and inspiring things which have been tickling my fancy or firing me up since I last wrote all those moons ago in Spring.

Inspiring people

  • Marc Ching from the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation in the US. His missions to save dogs from the meat trade in Asia (most recently in China, Thailand and Cambodia) are epic and heart wrenching to watch but ultimately heroic. He does what so few animal lovers could do or face. When he is not rescuing dogs under the guise of being  a dog meat buyer so he can infiltrate into the grimmest of world’s where dogs are tortured before being killed for their meat, he is rescuing animals from the worst cases of neglect and abuse in the US. Here is his facebook page which follows these incredible rescues.
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    Marc Ching : Photo from Hope and Animal Wellness Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst on this topic, please join Ricky Gervais and sign this petition against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China. Public opposition to this barbaric festival grows each year. Please add your voice. It needs to end.

  • Marianne Thieme. I went to see her talk a couple of weeks ago at the 2016 Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series. This utterly impressive woman is the leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals. I felt like I was immersed in an episode of Borgen – watching a rare species of politician who is progressive, intelligent, compassionate and actually thinking about the issues that will make this world a better place for the people and animals living on it.

If you’d like to know where do our political parties stand on animal protection here is a handy summary provided by Voiceless. If you would like to see better protection for our most vulnerable members of society, you’ll see that the Animal Justice Party tick all the boxes. I know who will be getting my vote at the up and coming election.

Heavy topics over with…..onto some of my more pleasurable discoveries (which I am noticing are dominated by FOOD ) and a viable explanation for my increasingly gripping pants !

Eating Out Recommendations 

Gigi’s in Newtown continues to tantalise my taste buds with it’s mouthwatering array of pizzas and cocktails and other delights. Seriously, go there.

Gelato Blue in Newtown – have always found it to be the best gelataria in existence but it has now outdone itself by taking a leaf out of Gigi’s book and going completely animal product free.

Golden Lotus in Newtown – delicious and affordable Vietnamese food. Vegan Pho and the like.

Food

New vanilla and blue berry flavoured coconut, dairy free yogurt courtesy of Nudie. I hunted down the Vanilla one at Woollies and rate it big time.

All the new drool-worthy Over the Moo dairy free ice cream flavours, including Matcha Green Tea, Caramel and Ginger Ninja.

Successful Recipes

I have been on a biscuit / brownie making rampage of late with the following little morsels getting rapturous feedback…

As for savoury new discoveries……

This one pot Mexican quinoa dish has been on repeat in our household. Love it.

I’ve just fallen in love with a new cooking blog where every dish looks sensational, nutritious and uncomplicated. The Buddhist Chef – check it out. The Dragon Bowl is getting a run this week in our house.

Recycling etc

Like every second person seems to be doing, I have jumped aboard the house and contents de-cluttering bandwagon – albeit at the most snail like pace imaginable (we’re talking a drawer a week). The Slow Home Podcast and The Minimalists are my go to podcasts to bolster my enthusiasm levels. I am trying my best to rid our unwanted items as responsibly as possible – rather than just turfing it out the front for council collection as I know it’ll get chucked straight into landfill. So, there’s been a couple of handy discoveries I have made….

Terra Cycle. I have created a couple of boxes….one for all my old cosmetic containers, squirty gadgets etc which can’t be recycled via the normal council bins….and the other for all our tooth care regalia – so old toothbrushes, used toothpaste tubes etc. Once full, I just print off my label and mail it off (for free) to the creative Terra Cycle people who make it all into something new and functional. Clever hey ?They have a whole lot of different categories like rubber gloves, pens and coffee pods which run in a similar way. You can earn points too but I didn’t figure out how to do this. I just wanted to be rid of my loot.

H & M. Now this is an impressive move for a chain clothing store and sorted one of my dilemmas. What to do with all those sheets, old t-shirts etc lurking in your cupboards which have a little mark on them or are a bit old and threadbare so unsuitable for Vinnies ?? You take them into your local H & M store where they take them off your hands and do something constructive and worthy with them like making them into new products. PLUS you get a 15% discount card for your troubles should you wish to purchase something (which I did not as am trying to curb my consumerist ways too).

Good new app

If you do eat eggs, Choice have released this great, free app to allow you to avoid all the dodgy, so called “free range” eggs when you are at the supermarket. If you’re going to eat eggs, please pay a few more dollars and support the farmer who stocks the 800-1500 birds per hectare rather than those cashing in on the now legally allowed 10,000 birds per hectare definition, even when the poor birds can’t get outside. And, whilst you’re at it, you can let Aldi know that they are living in the past by supporting the continued sale of caged eggs.

Random nice things

I’ve discovered a new funny comedian who’s podcast I’m loving – the inappropriate, ballsy, sweary, hilarious Jen Kirkman. Her books are great too. Divorced and suddenly single in her 40’s, child free by choice, flying anxieties, weird Prince dreams….it’s all there. And, she’s vegan as I only recently discovered. So sad that I missed the boat and did not see her recently perform in Sydney.

Speaking of Podcasts…a new discovery for me is “Knowing Animals“. An informative learning hub for animal related advocacy issues. JJJ’s Lindsay McDougall was the most recent guest.

Movies – 45 years, Rams, The Daughter, Sherpa and Mia Madre are all fantastic, must sees in my humble opinion.

TV Shows – am obsessed with the UK police show “Happy Valley”. It is so engrossing and gripping.

Books -Nest by Inga Simpson, A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Simpson and The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland. All great reads.

I sincerely hope that it is not in 2 seasons time until I see you again. I miss tinkering on my little blog but struggle with time management (obviously). I have no idea how many people read it, would not know how to view my stats to save myself but, for my own sake, it’s a way of gathering up everything I learn or discover and plonking it down in one spot. I hope you get something out of it too.

You can find me on facebook as well.

Ciao xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stories of Spring

Posted by on Nov 29, 2015 in Christmas | 2 comments

“Every man and every living creature has a sacred right to the gladness of springtime” – Leo Tolstoy

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Image from Moqfefeq

(for any keen eyed Tread Kindly folk, yes, I have used that gorgeous Tolstoy quote before but…it’s so apt for this time of year and it’s one of my favourites !)

Spring…..lordy, I’ve really only just snuck in by the skin of my teeth haven’t I ? Life has been busy and my little blog has been woefully neglected. Alas I am here and keen to share my Spring re-cap with you!

  • My favorite Springtime event was a few days spent with a group of like minded, kind and wise souls as part of the Lucy’s Project conference in Byron Bay earlier this month. If helping domestic violence survivors and their animals sparks your interest, join the facebook group to keep up to date. I can’t wait for next year’s conference and to see what we can collectively achieve over the next year. Anna, the founder, is one incredible lady and has shown us what one person can do when they put their mind to it.
  • Speaking of amazing ladies, I loved this article by Edgar’s Mission Pam Ahern about how to speak up for something you believe in when you are not naturally a loud or outspoken person. I feel that I will be referring back to it a lot.

Tried and tested wonderous recipes to share

  • This rice salad (courtesy of my mum) receives rapturous praise and requests for the recipe whenever I make it. So, for my tribe of adoring salad fans from a couple of weekends ago…..here it is ! I think a few dried cranberries thrown in there will make in sufficiently christmas-y ?
  • In all it’s fire breathing glory – my Mapo Tofu. Not for those delicate of tongue !

New discoveries

  • Aquafaba (the viscose-y liquid found in tins of beans like chickpeas) as an egg replacement. I can’t believe I’ve been tipping this amazing substance down the sink for so long.

Yes, free range eggs are better than caged eggs BUT even free range chickens are slaughtered around 18 months of age and male chicks are killed at birth. Plus, our Egg Corporation has some serious integrity issues going on and what they are seeking to be the stocking density for free range is a (sad) joke.  So, why not cut down or eliminate egg use in cooking by giving aquafaba a try ?

Here is my first aquafaba experiment – chai spiced ginger biscuits. They are yum (if not a tad lurid !).

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Join the facebook group – Vegan meringue – Hits and Misses and be bamboozled by what some clever people are creating with aquafaba.

  • Green Smoothies. I have always shied away from even the mere thought of a smoothie made from spinach or kale but they are actually pretty damn delicious. Thanks to The Slow Home Podcast (which has introduced me to so many good things), I discovered Simple Green Smoothie’s website full of recipes and I’ve been trying to make one every non work day.

Inspiring people

  • Thomas King – one of those people who makes you feel a bit inadequate having achieved so much at such a young age but we definitely need more compassionate, young men like Thomas in leadership positions.
  • Amber Canavan. In a story which leaves you shaking your head at the lunacy of this world, Amber was sent to jail for a month for exposing hideous cruelty in a Foie Gras facility in New York and rescuing 2 birds. Her story leaves me feeling uneasy about how the recently passed “Biosecurity” (Ag Gag) laws in Australia will punish brave souls who expose animal cruelty.
  • Mark Pearson from the Animal Justice Party. I love watching his measured speeches in Parliament. Animals are finally getting a voice in politics. Hooray !
  • Wang Yan who’s search for his missing dog, ended up with him spending his fortune on rescuing dogs from the meat trade in China.
  • Journalist Sam de Brito who died on the 12th October 2015. I so miss his words in the Sun Herald each week. Having a blokey, regular Aussie guy discuss compassion and kindness in the mainstream media was so valuable. Here are my favourite Sam articles : Confessions of a Vegan, We Are All Nazis When It Comes To Animal Rights, Put the Cameras In Farms, Not Outside and, his final column, My Baby In Bed. Farewell lovely man.

Great news from around the globe

With Christmas just around the corner

FOOD

“Peace and goodwill” should be offered to ALL creatures this Christmas time. There are a gazillion kind Christmas Day recipe options out there but I’m tossing up between the following delights (or you can check out my last year’s Christmas post for some other ideas):

Bed and Broccoli’s garlic prawns

PETA’s cashew nut roast with herb stuffing 

Epicurious’s Vegduken (I reckon Aquafaba would work a treat to replace the eggs and vegan parmesan if you want an animal product free version)

Vegan Dad’s Maple Apple Cider Tofu

Watermelon Granita with Ginger Syrup

GIFT IDEAS

Thankfully, my family is all on board again to do the donation thing, rather than buying presents but here are some gift ideas which are catching my eye.

Western Australian based Scent To Rescue Candles – 100 % of profits from these gorgeous candles go to animal rescue groups

Sea Shepherd’s “Cookin’ Up A Storm” cookbook

Animal’s Asia stunning bear charm bracelets

Any of the delectable wines from Goodwill Wine. You pick which charity receives the generous donation from your purchase.

T-shirts from Where Pigs Fly Farm Sanctuary (I have one, they are massively cute – don’t you think ??)

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Say farewell to glad wrap by using pretty Beeswax food wraps sold by Ecolosophy

The latest from the fabulous Women of Letters books – Between Us. All royalties go to Edgars Mission animal sanctuary.

Perfect Potion gift boxes. Beautifully presented, ethical body products.

Great Reads

Good Eats

Now……..it’s time to leap into summer……..see you soon (probably sooner on facebook – please stop by and “like” me if you haven’t)! xxx

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This joyous image is from Landfill Dogs (http://landfilldogs.info)

 

 

 

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Mum’s Divine Rice Salad

Posted by on Nov 22, 2015 in Recipes - Salad | 2 comments

This is my famous rice salad which I have pilfered from my mum. Pretty much every social outing I go to where I have to bring a dish, THIS salad makes an appearance. And, inevitably, I will be asked by several people for the recipe – so, here it is. 
 
4 cups cooked brown rice
5 spring onions finely chopped
2 red capsicums chopped
1 cup raisins
120 g cashew nuts roasted and chopped
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
 
Put all of the above ingredients in a big bowl and then mix this dressing together in a jar. Tip over salad and mix in well.
 
soy dressing
1 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons lemon juice
3 garlic cloves crushed
3cm piece ginger crushed / grated
Salt and Pepper
 
I know I am tooting my own horn but it really is delicious. Despite it’s deceptive “salad” label, it is not even remotely slimming due to lavish olive oil content. But scrumptious all the same.
 
Thanks mum ! xxx
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Vegan Mapo Tofu

Posted by on Nov 21, 2015 in Recipes - Savoury | 0 comments

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I chose to make this quintessentially Chinese dish whilst my delicate palette-d partner is away. It is impressively fiery and tasty and is a mish mash of the vegan mapo tofu recipes I found on line. It is my new go to dish. Serves 2-3 and takes about 20 mins to prepare and cook.

You need

  • 2 tablespoons of oil (I used rice bran)
  • 3 cloves of garlic – minced.
  • 2 cm squared piece of ginger – minced or grated
  • About 100g vegi mince (I used Quorn)
  • 300g of firm tofu – drained and chopped into 1cm squares
  • 1.5 litres of “chicken” (ie Massel) flavoured stock
  • About 4 dried red chilies (from Asian store)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 packet of Mapo Tofu seasoning (cheaty I know) (easy to find at Asian store)
  • Handful of dried porcini mushrooms – soak in warm water and chop up when hydrated (discard liquid)
  • A few chopped shallots
  • Half a chopped long red chili
  • Chili oil (optional)
  • Rice

To make

Heat oil in wok. Add garlic, ginger, dried chilies, packet of Mapo Tofu seasoning and mushrooms. After a few minutes add your “mince”. Whirl around wok for about 5 minutes.

Add stock, bring to boil and then reduce heat. Stir through cornstarch and you’ll see the sauce begin to thicken. Add the tofu and simmer for about 7 mins. Pick out the dried chilies.

Serve with rice and top with shallots, chilies and a drizzle of chili oil.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did x

 

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Lonesome (but not lonely) in Launceston

Posted by on Sep 13, 2015 in eating out, Holidaying | 6 comments

“In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself” – Laurence Sterne

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View out my window (at Oswalds) with aptly titled book on display

A quick disclaimer here……I truly love and relish spending time with my partner, friends and family.

BUT………..I also love spending some quality time……alone. (You will feel less hesitant admitting to this if you’ve read the brilliant book Quiet).

I was lucky enough to have been able to tack on a couple of “it’s all about me” days on the tail end of a recent adventure to Tasmania.

These days were spent in a town I have fallen madly and deeply in love with…….of all the unlikely places on the planet……Launceston ! What a magnificent place. Here is a little run down of what I got up to during my couple of days of self imposed solitude:

  • I stayed at THE most blissful airbnb place. Oswalds. Affordable for my solo self. Peaceful, comfortable and, well, just perfect. Loved the cruelty free Sukin bathroom products too. The church bells next door (in the beautiful St Oswalds church) ring out every Monday to signify the plight of refugees.
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Pretty church next door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Ate out. I do not have enough superlatives to describe how good the food was at Garden of Vegan. No wonder it (a vegan restaurant ‘n all !) rates number one on Trip Advisor for Launceston.
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Garden of Vegan – beautiful hey ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegi cafe Fresh On Charles was pretty damn fine too. (How stunning are the wall designs ?)

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Fresh on Charles groovy decor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Coffee Place award went to Sweet Brew (the coffee was superb). A plethora of groovy mags like Frankie to immerse your solo self in. AND, the draw card for me was this sign….(the cafe owner’s 5 year old son sells lemons to raise money to release captive bears in Romania – he has already raised enough money to enable one bear to be released – read more about Tariku’s inspiring tale)

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Tariku’s lemons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

………suffice to say, I came home with a few lemons in my luggage.

  • Strode many of the thigh strapping tracks on the spectacular Launceston Gorge which was right on my doorstop.
  • Fossicked in a few very sweet shops – loved Inside and Den which were full of locally made lovely things.
  • Had a massage which, in my books is the pinnacle of some indulgent “me time” – I would highly recommend Tai Chi Chinese Massage.
  • Went to the glorious Saturday farmer’s markets (admittedly I did this the weekend prior when I was with friends) but I enjoyed my purchases (including a 3 pack of some local “Henry’s” ginger beer (including a scrumptious Wasabi flavour) during my solitary sojourn).
  • Read an incidentally apt book  – Neon Pilgrim by Lisa Dempster. A brilliant memoir about her solitary (and vegan) 1200 km pilgrimage on the Henro Michi in Japan. Really loved this book.
  • Did not enjoy the Japanese macaque enclosure in the Botanical Gardens. It was little more than a small zoo enclosure which left me feeling a bit sad (even though the macaques were undeniably cute).
  • Thought about going on a bike ride. Alas, it was a bit too chilly (and I was a bit too lazy) but there are free bikes available to wizz around on – available through Artbikes.
  • Stalked the neighbourhood streets eyeing off the beautiful houses whilst imagining myself (with ease) as a Launcest-eon 
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    Gorgeous houses abound in Launceston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I acknowledge that as a child-less person, it may be easier for me than some to have some one on one time with myself. And maybe not everybody would enjoy it ?? I however, have come to the realisation just how much I need and cherish a few reflective, self indulgent days to myself. Hence, each year I will be guiltlessly weaving in a few such lonesome days into the calendar. Try it out – you can ponder and potter, listen to whatever music you like and go to bed at 7.30pm without being heckled and called names (like nana).

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Hi Dawn….. View out of my bedroom window on my last morning (sob)

It is unlikely that I will be able to lure myself anywhere else for the forseeable future other than back to Oswalds to do all this again BUT, a couple of other good solo destinations I recommend are :

  • The Pittwater YHA in Sydney. I have been going there with friends since I was a young lass. They do have very affordable, single rooms though but you have to book ahead as it is so damn popular now that the secret is out.
  • Some shameless spruiking here but my mum’s airbnb place, in the inner west of Sydney. My mum has always been a very bold, intrepid, often solo traveler so she is sympathetic to the plight of the lone traveller and prices her cute place accordingly.
  • A tad more costly for the single traveler but Inspirations on Bruny (yes, Tasmania again, there is a bit of a theme going on hey ?) is another brilliant place to escape from the world.

Do you have any others to recommend ? Am I alone in my love of some alone time ?

 

 

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The wonderful world of SOAP

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015 in Animal Testing, Cosmetics, Not tested on animals - cleaning etc, Palm Oil | 0 comments

Because the heart beats under a covering of hair, of fur, feathers, or wings, it is, for that reason, to be of no account? ~Jean Paul Richter

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Me (third from left) proudly displaying my soap bounty with my lovely class mates !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have recently dipped my toe into the wonderfully intriguing world of soap making, having completed a day class with Remington & Emmett.  I cannot sing the praises of this course and the gorgeous, funny ladies who ran it, Nicki and Cheryl, highly enough. (They are so passionate about the palm oil issue that they even sponsor an orangutan and reminded us to download the new palm oil app so you can scan products at the supermarket to find out if they contain palm oil or not. My kind of people !!). They also do some other alluring courses which I am planning to get myself into.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Suffice to say that when you slather something on it, presumably on a daily basis, you want it to be something which is not only kind and beneficial to your body and pleasant to smell but also not harmful to our environment or animals.

Hence, when selecting said kind soap, there are a few issues which come to mind.

1. Does it contain palm oil ? Palm oil is in so many products these days, including soap, and you may have heard about the devastation it’s demand is reeking on the forests in Indonesia and Borneo, resulting in orangutans and other animals having nowhere to live. So, avoid products containing non sustainably sourced palm oil. Palm Oil Investigations is a wonderfully informative site to find out more about this issue. Remember that our woeful labelling system still enables palm oil to be referred to as “vegetable oil” (bring in the palm oil app I say).

2. Does it contain animal products ? The type of animal product often found in soap and it’s acceptability to you will vary. It can be anything from the very common (and gross sounding) ingredient of beef or pig fat (labelled as sodium tallowate)  to goats milk, lanolin and honey.

3. Has it been tested on animals ? Animal testing is still regularly carried out on many cosmetic and hygiene products such as soap which is so sad and unnecessary. Please don’t financially support companies who continue to do so. With so many companies out there taking a stand against animal testing, it does not make any sense to support the greedy, thoughtless ones who do.

The main stream supermarket soaps which most of us buy as they are convenient and cheap, don’t do well in these categories. The Shop Ethical Guide gives them a rating according to their stand on these (and other) issues. It’s interesting to see which of the big names fail so terribly (Nivea, coming in at last place, shame on you !). The Choose Cruelty Free list and PETA’s Great Cruelty Free Soap Bars are good places to hunt down an ethical soap.

My fella is a massive fuss pot and will only buy the likes of Coles Revitalising Citrus Fresh Soap (or anything else on special). I attribute this to him being a bloke with zero interest in soap – and wanting something cheap and convenient. It has an overwhelming citrusy smell (no doubt attributed to the Ethidronic Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, CI 21100 and CI 12120 found in the list of ingredients on the back !)- perhaps to disguise the rendered beef fat it contains – mmm, mmmm !! . So, I am on the hunt for an acceptable substitute, complete with a pre-requisite of rounded edges (!).

Soaps I covet ?

I hold Veronica Foale Essentials from Tasmania solely responsible for my recurring fantasy of sitting in my (as yet non existent) country cottage after fleeing my government job, whimsically making my living by selling my beautifully scented soaps, as all my rescue animals frolic about the undulating green hills outside. I love her warts n’ all writing style too which can be found on her blog (seriously, check it out, she is a great writer). A large number of her soaps are animal product free, all are palm oil free and the combination of scents are just delectable (Caramel Apple Cider anyone ??). She sells at markets around Hobart but they can be easily ordered on line too – it is a perfect time to order too with a 15 % discount available right now as her business celebrates it’s first birthday.

As for the larger companies, I am a fan of :

Biologika : Hand and body washes galore (we have the lemon myrtle one – t’is lovely) as well as some fab sounding soap bars. Very affordable, ethical, cruelty free Australian company.

Lush : – their range is massive and the cheese wheel like wedges of delights never fail to suck me in when I venture into their shops. The “Honey I washed the Kids” is my fave. What could one not like about being slathered in honeycomb and toffee ? Lush, in general, is such a good, kind business to buy from in all respects.

Dr Bronner’s Castile Soaps – I’ve been buying the big 950ml liquid soaps but they do the cakes of soap too (as well as other things such as toothpaste). Beautiful scents (cherry blossom and citrus orange are in my shower right now), affordably priced and oozing with virtuous credentials. They are Leaping Bunny accredited (ie no animal testing), vegan and give back financially to a whole array of wonderful causes such as Compassion In World Farming. Lovely rags to riches tale too which is always good when it’s happened to a nice person which Dr Bronner most certainly was.

Finally, to wrap up……

Does anybody else frugally take hotel soaps with them when they leave ? I tend to do so due to 1. a fore mentioned frugality and 2. not being able to reconcile with the fact that this almost full cake of soap is going to be thrown away after just a couple of lathers of my skin. Cringe-fully wasteful.  Luckily, to assist with this dilemma, in steps Soap Aid, who have identified this need by collecting barely used soaps from hotels around Australia, making them into fresh bars and shipping them off to be distributed in India and other disadvantaged countries where children die from hygiene related illnesses from not washing their hands. What a brilliant initiative.

Any thing soap related you want to share ? I love hearing from you !

 

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