Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Kind (and beautiful) Bags & Wallets

Posted by on Jul 19, 2015 in Kind Companies, leather | 10 comments

“When you dress in suede or leather, Or some fancy fur or feather, Do you stop and wonder whether, Are you wearing someone’s brother, Perhaps it’s someone’s mother” – Dr Doolittle

DSC01118

My aptly captioned bag from www.bagladies.com.au

I remember a time, not all that long ago, when I would not have thought twice about buying something made of leather. I found it synonymous with quality and luxury and found the vegan anti leather beliefs to be a bit nuts. When I did give it any thought, I justified my purchase by telling myself “it’s just a by product of the meat industry, right ? I am honoring the animal’s life by making sure that every part is used etc etc.”

Moving on a couple of years and things have changed somewhat. I’ve read up on what the real cost of leather is to both animals and the environment and it is not pleasant.

There is an interesting debate going on at Mamamia – over the scorn that a rabbit vest-ed wearing staff member copped from her leather jacket clad workmates. Reading through the comments, it became apparent that the most common view point is that fur wearing is evil and it’s wearer should be shunned because of the inherent cruelty behind it’s production but leather is OK. I agree that it is possibly the lesser of the two evils – but only just. Afterall….(and what has put me off ever buying leather again) :

  • most leather comes from China and India where animal welfare considerations are zero. You can almost guarantee that the animal who was killed for it’s skin died in pain and fear. Read more here.
  • recent investigations have shown that dog skin is commonly used to make products like gloves, imported from China, and legally sold here. It looks exactly the same as cow, pig and goat skin (read more here) so you would never know what animal’s skin you are actually wearing.
  • It is a fallacy that leather is just a by product of the meat industry and much leather comes from young calves (as well as an array of other animals) who’s meat is not used (read more in this interesting article from The Guardian)
  • In India,exhausted cows are made to walk to their deaths by people breaking their tails and rubbing chili into their eyes to make them walk to be slaughtered. (read more here)
  • The tanning process of making an animal’s skin become leather is horrendous for the environment and the worker’s health.

Despairing.

HOWEVER, the glorious thing is that in this day and age, there are so many gorgeous alternatives out there to leather. This post will concentrate on wallets and handbags. Shoes, belts, car interiors, footballs and all the myriad of things commonly made from leather…they’ll have to wait for another day. I hope if you are after a new wallet or bag made from non animal materials, you’ll consider one of these lovely, artistic, ethical and (mostly) local companies. Such a better place for your money to end up than the alternative wouldn’t you agree ?

Needle vs Thread : Simply stunning array of bags / handbags of all varieties made in the Blue Mountains – you can pick your own fabric (including Kokka Wolves, Koi, Foxtrot – how do I choose ??). Whenever this stall is at Marrickville Markets, I dither around, fondling and gazing at the bags but leave empty handed (nightmare customer) due to quite literally having too many fantasy bag choices to pick from. Well, maybe this one

IMG_2281-Copy2

Needle Vs Thread Small Messenger Bag

 

(but with Koi fabric) is winning the race….(shameless hint to boyfriend with my birthday on the horizon !)

Anna Nova : Stick an owl, fox or elk on something and I’m sold. I own one of these elk motif-ed “faux leather” wallets (with a matching baggage tag) and would highly recommend this affordable brand if you are not into plain wallets.

Catherine Manuell Design : If you can’t find a bag (handbags, travel bags, wheely bag, slouch bags – you name it) here which tickles your fancy, I give up. This Australian company feature a lot of Aboriginal designs too which assist Indigenous women in outback Australia. I have a beautiful maroon CMD shoulder handbag which is now headed into it’s 2nd decade.

Orange Oranges : Gorgeous Brisbane company selling a vast array of cruelty free bags, even man bags. They stock the highly acclaimed…..

Matt and Nat bags and wallets too. This Canadian Company sell their beautiful, sleek, elegant array of bags / wallets / purses of every type in Australia. Their environmental kudos is outstanding (including the fact that 100% of their linings are made from recycled plastic bottles !)

belperio-02

Vegan Ware’s Belperio bag

Vegan Wares – another wonderful, cruelty free wonderland with bags (love the Belperio bag above) and wallets galore. I recently bought my fella a Vegan Wares wallet to replace his tatty looking (leather !) Country Road wallet. It looks like the real thing and has opened up a whole array of debates amongst his very blokey work mates about all kinds of animal welfare issues which is what all of this is about….making people think !

DSC01124

My fella proudly displaying his new Vegan Wares wallet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cuban Pink – I fell in love with my Cuban Pink handbag many moons ago. It is still going strong and I am always receiving lovely compliments about it. My google searches have led me to the belief that these handmade bags (with each fabric an original) are now only being sold at Bangalow Markets. Anyway, I wanted to show it off !!

My much used Cuban Pink handbag

My much used Cuban Pink handbag

For a final shout out whilst we are on the bag topic, for an evening clutch, you need to peruse “Biddy Bags”. A treasured friend bought me the red Signature Sarah Blasko biddy bag a few years ago and, for my increasingly rare nights out on the town, I adore it. They are such a great company too – connecting isolated “mature age” ladies who share their amazing talents to whip up gorgeous bags (and teas cosies).

So many durable, original, cruelty free local designs out there. As per the beautiful mantra from Edgar’s Mission “if we could lead happy and healthy lives without harming others….why wouldn’t we ?”. Why indeed.

 

 

 

Read More

Winter witterings

Posted by on Jun 14, 2015 in Uncategorized | 10 comments

Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless. ~Terri Guillemets

IMGP2291

Homeless (but snug) dog we spied in Osaka, Japan a few years ago

Aside from having to traipse to work in the chilling pitch black during the week, I adore winter – even this mild excuse of one which we have in Sydney. And I don’t mind a list. So, here we go, a nice winter obsessed list of everything that has been grabbing my attention of late.

Eating

* I made this ramen this other night and it was divine. I added corn and tofu to it – scrumptious.

* Can’t wait to make Lila Wolff’s Leek and Potato Soup or this Italian Orzo Spinach Soup.

* Just check out these drool worthy baked potatoes and accompanying dipping sauce thanks to the delightful Tassie Cabin Fever. Oh my lord !

* Victorian based Dairy free Damona Divine Brie is a magnificent example of how sublime vegan cheese can be. I hunted it down after reading this very funny review on vegan cheeses in general. I polished off the whole wheel in a week on some biscuits with quince paste. Can’t wait to try the entire range (easily found here in Sydney at The Cruelty Free Shop).

* This home made Chai is so easy to make and so tasty and warming on a chilly day. I make mine with coconut / almond milk.

* Being a porridge lover, this hot Apple Pie Oatmeal looks entirely up my alley.

* I am attempting to be a good, savvy shopper and buy seasonally. Thanks Cityhippyfarmgirl for your great guide to what we should be buying during winter. Sustainable table do a fab guide as well.

Wearing

* Yearning after these very suave little ankle boots from Vegan Wares in Melbourne.

* These articles, The Ugly Side Of Ugg and 18 Vegan Ugg Boot Alternatives are filled with cruelty free suggestions to keep your feet toasty in winter.

Skin Spoiling

* Avoid reptilian dry skin this winter by giving yourself a good ol’ rub with the scrumptious hot salt body scrubs by the ethical Australian company Mancine ( I’ve been using the Coconut and Vanilla scented one). Or DIY it up with one the many homemade scrubs out there – I like blah, blah, blah’s coffee body scrub.

Doing

* Despite being the “challenged” pupil in my recent learn to crochet class (complete with the indignity of being the sole member of the class to be given a gigantic, beginners crochet hook) I am still determined to master the granny square and beyond. When I am ready to purchase some wool, I’ll be going straight to EWE Ethical Wool Enterprises where the wool comes from loved, rescued sheep and alpacas. (Need a reminder on what is wrong with (some/most) wool ? My post here may help). I am far, far away from knitting / crocheting projects but here is a great way to share your skills (and keep a rescue dog snug) at the same time.

* Petition signing. This month, the growing surge of protest against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, scheduled for next weekend in China needs your support too – you can sign here. Public outcry last year led to the number of dogs killed being 2000 instead of the previous years 10,000 so petition signing does help.

* Starting to de-clutter the shed. Today is the last day of the Tu-Share challenge but it is not too late to join up and rid yourself of what may be trash to you but treasure to someone else (whilst bypassing landfill) – plus, plus, plus !

* Gardening. Gardenate is my bible for finding out what to grow, next to what and when. Things to plant right now include asparagus, spinach and kale. A loved blog I follow “Think Big Lives Simply” provides a cute, printable guide when you subscribe (which you should, it’s a beautiful blog – particularly for tree change fantisizers like myself). My garden is currently chock a block full of weeds (really hideous, entrenched ones) and I have missed the boat for this winter so my aim is to prepare for spring by de-weeding and “green manuring” the soil – faba beans, field peas, oats and wheat are apparently good ones to use at this time of year to put nutrients back into the soil.

* Dreaming of a get away to The Beet Retreat which will become a reality next winter. Those misty Yarra Valley hills (and Jan’s food) are calling me !

* I’ve just finished reading “The Opposite of Loneliness” by Marina Keegan. Goodness, if you need a kick up the bum to make the most of your time on your earth (and marvel at the outrageous literary talent of this 22 year old), read this book.

What wintery delights have been tickling your fancy ?

 

 

 

 

Read More

Tiptoeing through Bali

Posted by on May 24, 2015 in travel | 4 comments

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

My little travel bug within was indulged recently on a trip with my fella to the beautiful Bali.

DSC00132

Gorgeously lush surrounds of Ubud

It is slightly harder to tread kindly when you are away from home but we gave it our best go.

First stop after Denpasar Airport was Ubud. Regrettably, I discovered Ubud a bit later in life and the Ubud of today would be immensely different to that of 20 years ago and I feel a bit of travel envy over some friends who visited Ubud long before it was “discovered”. Although still undeniably gorgeous, this town is clearly being loved to death and the construction and development which has occurred since we were last there a couple of years ago is significant – hotels are going up EVERYWHERE. On the last visit we ate at one of the restaurants gazing across the rice paddies. Now the view is this.

DSC00115

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sigh.

I stumbled upon a wise but troubling article by “worm lady” (this namesake coming from her ambition to re-populate the soils of Bali with earthworms) Ni Luh Kartini, the founder of the Bali Organic Association who pointed out that the current rate of development is just not sustainable. The surrounding rivers and lakes are choked by rubbish, the soil is ruined by pesticides – which in turn has killed ducks and worms and each big, new hotel uses around 50,000 litres of water a day – water which Bali desperately needs for it’s rice and other crops.

The rubbish problem in Bali, notably in the rivers and oceans, is immense and really did make me want to cry. The influx of western living (and the need for all the visitors to drink bottled water) with seemingly no rubbish disposal plan to speak of, means that rubbish is everywhere. At times I felt guilty for just being there knowing that my western lifestyle is in most part to blame. The most shocking examples we saw were near the town end of the Campuhan Ridge walk where tonnes of rubbish and plastic were lining the steep banks down to the river. I also saw an elderly local woman upend her garbage bin full of plastic and rubbish into the river near where we were staying. It is obviously just the normal way that garbage is disposed of as there is nothing else in place which I found quite saddening to see and makes me fret about the human race and what we are doing to the world. You can pull your tiny, minuscule weight though (and it does feel like the equivalent of removing a grain of sand from the Sahara desert) by avoiding plastic bottled water by bringing your own water bottle and filling it with safe, drinking water at a number of refilling places around the town for the equivalent of about 50 cents – including a couple of the restaurants I have listed below as well as the library near the monkey forest football field.

We stayed in Motama Villa for 6 nights which was a great find (own private pool ‘n all – spoilt !) and set out of town a bit which gave it a bit of a village-y feel which I liked (aside from the local village cock fighting (of the bird variety) ring we stumbled upon one day – not so nice). It is a stone’s throw from the Yoga Barn, if that is your thing. (I always like to think that yoga is my thing but I never quite make it – why do classes start so freekin’ early ? Why does everyone look so damn serene, coordinated, suitably attired, lithe and soulful looking ?!? – I felt like an unfashionable, uncoordinated, thundering interloper even walking through there !). Nice food in their cafe though.

A traipse through the monkey forest is a must – even if you decide to tempt fate and buy a bunch of bananas which will result in you being front and centre of a loud, squealing (you !) monkey fracas (which I secretly enjoy). I could never tire of watching packs of marauding naughty monkeys and, unlike other animal entertainment options, there is no cruelty involved – the monkeys clearly lead good lives in their vast forest.

DSC00056

My other Ubud highlight has to be the FOOD. Omigoodness. Unlike the rest of Bali, vegetarian and vegan food is abundant. Some of the raw foodie cafes have the yoga-panted, new age-y earnest, dread locked, fire twirling vibe about them which is not really my scene (you have a lot to answer for “Eat, Pray, Love” !) but I found plenty of other places to keep my voracious appetite at bay. Unlike my last visit where my usually iron clad stomach was crippled by food poisoning for most of our stay, we ate our way around the town and my recommendations are :

1. The Elephant Bar and Restaurant. This place was so much up my alley it was ridiculous and if I could’ve gotten away with eating every meal there I would have – stunning hillside setting and view, random dogs lounging around, superb  vegi / vegan food and juices and cocktails and you can fill up your water bottle there.

2. Kismet. Oh lordy, I loved this place too. We sat up on the balcony a couple of times, watching the world go by, playing scrabble and eating vegi / vegan exquisite food. Their “bowl food” is the best. Another water bottle filling up venue.

3. Art Kafe : Good selection of vegi foods and non diary smoothies but meat dishes available too. Love their little multi mirrored walls – such a cute and quirky little place to hang out in.

DSC00094

Art Kafe

 

My favourite, atmospheric Ubud day spa Kayma Spa is near the back of this cafe. When massages cost around $20 an hour, let’s face it – you will probably spend your fair share of time being pummelled within an inch of your life, I know I did. Another favourite was Karsa Spa up on the Campuhan Ridge Walk (although I should’ve listened to my inner skeptic and avoided my “chakra alignment” which involved a dull (but peaceful) 30 minutes of having the chakra whisperer hovering his hands over my torso – zzzzzzzzz.)

4. The Melting Wok Warung : My fella’s pick of the bunch. Very French. Very chic. A few delicious vegi options for me.

If you are usually a meat eater, Ubud is the perfect place to try some plant based meals and see how magnificent they can be. South east Asia has a dreadful reputation for terribly inhumane methods of animals slaughter (who could forget the Four Corners report a few years ago and, more recently, grisly reports about how cattle in Vietnam – including those from Australia – are killed).

A visit to Ubud would not be complete without a visit to one of the 2 Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) shops (there is also one in Sanur). There will always be a gorgeous rescued dog or two smooching around if you are feeling homesick for your hound which I was.

DSC00121

BAWA

They have some beautiful gifts (I love my bumble bee necklace, t-shirt and stash of street dog photo cards from there) and you know that by buying from them you will be helping the animals of Bali -animals who desperately need all the help they can get. BAWA do a tremendous job and there are a number of ways you can help (by bringing products from their wish list from Australia with you, donating, buying from their shop). If you see an animal in need, which you inevitably will (and we did)- you can ring or email BAWA with the details and they will do their best to help and send one of their ambulances to the location. (As with most developing countries – or developed for that matter (we just hide ours better) – there are some sad animal issues to deal with and witness. Life is hard for the dogs (particularly those outside of Ubud where help is not so close), there are thousands of tiny cages with birds in them (I find the sight of birds in cages quite unbearable) and the sad little ponies who drag around the tourists in Kuta (and on the Gili Islands) will break your heart.

After all that eating and being massaged, some physical activity was in order and a bike ride around the hills and rice paddies was just what we were after. Unfortunately 99.9% of the bike tours in Ubud include a visit to a coffee plantation – inoffensive suggestion at first glance, yes. However, I was railroaded into one of these tours on my last Ubud visit without realising that they all involve the tourist entrapment of trying to make you buy Kopi Luwak (civet cat coffee). I do not want support this cruel industry which involves a nocturnal animal being placed in a small, barren cage and forced to eat unnatural amounts of coffee beans. Luckily we chanced upon the half day tours offered by Bali Emerald Touring which involved purely bike riding only. It was a lot of thigh burning fun and the scenery around the town was beautiful.

DSC00077

Bike riding around Ubud

Ubud (and many other places in Bali) is big on advertising elephant rides as an activity. Please do not support this terrible industry. (I am so ashamed that my younger, ignorant self, rode elephants in Thailand because I “loved elephants and animals”). This post from my latest fabulous blog discovery “Earth By Anna” has written the best synopsis of the heart wrenching cruelty behind the elephant riding / performing industry ever – even the ones which claim to be “sanctuaries”.

Onwards from the glories of Ubud, it was East bound to Talumben – a pretty, sleepy dive town, under the shadow of the imposing Mount Agung. Spent the time doing my first dive ever (terrifying) around a wreck, eating lots of tofu and tempeh curry and vegetarian spring rolls as vegi dishes were few and far between. There was a lot of plastic bag and other detritus collections too along the rocky shore – only to have that sinking feeling – not only that my act of picking up a bit of rubbish was laughably ineffectual (plus I think I looked a bit mad, I was the only soul doing it) but also that the debris I placed in the garbage bins would end up exactly where I found it – in the ocean.

The last day was spent near the rowdy, flashy Kuta for airport convenience only. (In saying that, Waterbom provided much fun and hysteria for our mid 40’s childless selves ! Incongruously they actually had a lovely little homemade vegan ice cream stall in there). My determined search for some vegetarian food in a seemingly meat obsessed town found us at Black House Burgers where I had possibly the best vegi burger and chips I have had in a long time. It was also run by an incredibly lovely couple. I had my final, glorious 2 hour body pummeling massage courtesy of Smartspa who caught my eye as they donate to BAWA. Plus they do a damn fine massage.

At that point it was back to Sydney and work for me – waaahhh – whilst my spoilt other half continued on to a sublimely gorgeous looking part of Indonesia. He has been floating around like a prince on a diving boat for nearly the past week around Flores and Komodo – all National Park and brimming with incredible sounding sea life and turquoise warm oceans. If I can get beyond my nancy girl fear of diving (or just stick to snorkelling), I will join him next time.

Oh, and for my fellow avid readers out there I devoured 3 great page turning holiday reads too on my holiday – Girl on the Train, King of The Road and Big Little Lies. I would recommend them all.

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

Luscious Locks

Posted by on Apr 26, 2015 in Animal Testing, Cosmetics, Palm Oil, Shopping | 14 comments

“Consumers have not been told effectively enough that they have huge power and that purchasing and shopping involve a moral choice” – Anita Roddick

tumblr_mhe4rgym7b1r38hk2o1_1280My hair and hair care regime are fairly simple things. A wash every couple of days, a $25 chop every few months and a touch up of my old biddy grey (or, more accurately, white) roots once a month or so is about the extent of things hair related in my world.

What is not always so simple though is selecting a “kind” shampoo, conditioner and hair dye. Particularly when the majority of choices bombarding us on the supermarket shelves are anything but. A quick inventory / shower stalk at my work place revealed the usual suspects like Dove, Sunsilk, Pantene, Wella Balsam and L’Oreal which I think would accurately reflect the “norm” of shampoo selections out there in the general community. They all score a disappointing C to F with the Ethical Consumer Guide due to criticisms about everything from containing animal ingredients to being tested on animals to use of poorly sourced palm oil to containing micro beads. Not companies I would like to reward with my money !

In my ongoing quest to tread kindly with everything that I buy and do (and to reward the companies who do the right thing by animals and the environment with my patronage) I have been seeking out hair care products which do not contain animal ingredients, have minimal or recyclable packaging, do not contain palm oil or contain only sustain-ably sourced palm oil, are not tested on animals, don’t contaminate the environment (or my head !) with a cocktail of obscure chemicals (after all, it does go straight down the drain) and, ideally, are made in Australia. Luckily, there are quite a few products which tick these boxes (aside from the made in Australia part which is not a deal breaker for me) which I’ve either tried or come highly recommended.

LUSH I am about to set off on some travels and the Lush solid shampoos will fit the bill perfectly. They are compact and fit into a little reusable tin. They smell delightful, the choice is vast and I have tried and tested a few of them now with good results.

ALAFFIA HAIR CARE Their coconut scented shampoo and conditioner gigantic containers are in my shower right now. Their whopping 950ml containers mean that they last seemingly forever. I bought them from my local health food shop at a bargain-ish price of around $20 each. Profits fund poverty fighting community projects in West Africa as well as the planting of 10,000 trees a year to help combat climate change. They also fund maternal care and educational projects in this region. I am a complete sucker for a lovely philanthropic company.

ORGANIC CARE This is probably the most easily sourced and affordable pick from my choices. Their shampoos and conditioners are around the $3-$4 mark / 400 ml and can be found in all big supermarkets.

AESOP Lots of custom made products here (eg for volumising, itchy scalps etc). Gorgeous scents. On the pricey side but worth it for a special treat.

YAROK A US brand (but available in Australia) of hair products which sound divine and and are apparently the saviour to anyone poor soul cursed with limp, fine locks (that would be me !). Not cheap but 3 % of their profits go to protect the Amazon rain forest.

SUKIN This company gets a good rap and they have a nice range of very affordable options.

ECO STORE This lovely company make lots of “eco friendly” products such as cleaning products but also do a hair care range (including anti dandruff shampoo).

GROWN ALCHEMIST A shampoo which promises “damask rose, black pepper and sage” aromas sound almost too tempting for words. David Jones and Myer are stockists.

ETHIKOOL – sell only “palm oil free, cruelty free, chemical free, vegan” products. They sell shampoos Kuush and iRaw which are as close to “natural” as you can get. Not cheap but their ethics are hard to beat. This lovely Australian company raises money to protect the Orangutans and the forests in Indonesia, hence their strong no palm oil stance.

DE LORENZO – score a resounding “A” on the Ethical Consumer Guide. This company would be the pick of the bunch for the “higher end” of the market and are used by many hairdressers. Not just shampoos / conditioners but all the other hair related paraphernalia as well.

AUSTRALIAN BIOLOGIKA – Highly recommended, sits up near the top on the Ethical Consumer Guide and, when my current shampoo runs out, I’m going to give them and their highly affordable, bulk containers (1kg) of alluring scents such as coconut and bush lemon myrtle a try. Zero palm oil content too.

And, one for the fellas, D + T CHAMPION OF MEN

My man………………..

IMG_0537

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

is blessed with many dashing qualities but a full and lustrous head of hair is not one of them. If he did, I would be buying him some Man Shampoo. For all the men out there with bountiful locks check it out – (also a great range for bearded men). Organic beard oil and balm – who would have known the existence of such substances !

As for do it yourself hair dyes to touch up pesky old roots, I have been using Herbatint for years and pick it up from any health food shop. Not only is it a cruelty free product but you can just use what you need as you go so there is no wastage which was always an issue when I used other hair dyes in the past. Tints of Nature is supposedly good too. And Lush have an interesting array of Henna Hair dyes.

After a hairdresser who does the right thing and uses only cruelty free products in their salon ? Seek out those who use De Lorenzo products via their website. Otherwise, in Sydney, I have spied Organic Hair Culture in Ashbury, nice and close to me who use only vegan / non animal tested hair products so will be paying them a visit next time I need a hair chop. For my Victorian friends, Veg Out Hair in Sommerville looks just perfect.

Or, indubitably, the kindest (and cheapest) option of all would have to be hopping on the”poo free” (often coupled with the bicarb soda and Apple Cider Vinegar rinse regime) wagon. If I was in a position to hide from the world for a couple of weeks, I would give it a go. The results from just letting your natural hair oils just do their thing are meant to be quite transformative. However, my hair resembles an oil slick disaster after a couple of days of non washing so this is one experiment I am just not brave enough to try.

Don’t forget these go to guides to help you choose, not just your perfect, kind shampoo, but all manner of things  :

Ethical Consumer Guide

Choose Cruelty Free

How does your shampoo / conditioner stack up in the kindness stakes ? Any more good ones to recommend ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

Kind Baby Gifts

Posted by on Apr 5, 2015 in Kind Companies, Shopping | 6 comments

“May you live everyday of your life” – Johnathan Swift

DSC00061

Maggie and her new goose (from Orangutan Crisis Foundation)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you little Maggie for being the perfect model for my “kind baby gifts” post.

A few friends have been having bubs of late.  I have therefore been on a shopping jaunt, seeking out baby pressies which are not only unique and cute but give back in some way – whether it be to support an organisation which uses your money for good, is environmentally responsible or to support the “little guy”. Here are some examples of what has been catching my eye.

Pebble Toys  – helps women out of poverty in Bangladesh and the toys are quirky and colourful.

Shelter Pups – all the way from the US but worth it, adorable replicas of shelter dogs with their own distinctive stories with the funds going straight to help a real shelter animal.

Pooki Boo shoes – I bought the very cute Easter themed bunny baby shoes which are made from sustainably sourced bamboo fleece and locally made.

Orangutan Crisis Foundation – beautiful goose or elephant toys made from recycled blankets. Funds go straight back to this great charity.

Hamlin Fistula Foundation – by purchasing a toy like this one

4db940a103cb60cfa583969096188959281bf76c

Hand made Zebra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

you can help fund this life changing charity. The hand made animals are beautiful.

Animals Australia – I love their range of cuddly toys which send a message about that particular animal’s plight whilst raising money for this wonderful organisation.

Edgar’s Mission – I have re-visited their on line shop many times but, today’s visit took me straight to the animal themed rattles

HandRattles-200x200

(I could not go past the pig). Buying from Edgar’s Mission helps to keep this animal sanctuary do what they do best – rescuing animals in need.

Gus and Ollie – one of my far flung (Germany) blog with pip classmates who’s very individual, hand made cute critters would make a wonderful baby pressie choice.

Ecolosophy – one of my favourite on line shops has eco friendly baby products galore – including little body suits, creams and teething gadgets / pendants.

Are there any kindly sourced baby gifts which you can recommend ?

Read More

15 Magnificent reasons to participate in meat free week

Posted by on Mar 15, 2015 in Topical | 4 comments

“But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy.” – Plutarch

meatfree

Just as Earth Hour does not expect you to live by candle light for the rest of your life, Meat Free Week does not aim to turn everybody vegetarian or vegan . It does, however, aim to have meat eaters pause and think for a week about what they are putting in their mouths and, hopefully, make some positive changes at the end of the week. Whether the motivator is for health benefits, concerns about the environment or  despair at the condition which billions of animals farmed for their meat or bodily products world wide are kept in, there are many reasons to give it a go. Here are 15 of them :

1. You can help to raise money for wonderful charities. I will give $5 to Voiceless on behalf of anyone who makes the pledge via a comment at the bottom of this page or via my facebook page. A Voiceless grant enabled Meat Free Week to become a reality a few years ago. I like to think of them as the brain’s trust behind the animal welfare movement in Australia. We need these smart people to fight against travesties such as Ag Gag Legislation. Alternatively, you can raise money yourself by having friends sponsor you via the Meat Free Week page.

2. The animals who’s lives are taken for us to eat will thank you for leaving them off your plate. Particularly the majority of the animals of the world who lead completely wretched lives in factory farms (50 billion !) before their lives are taken.

523441_684753241543415_1544504471_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 3. You will be in great company. Some famous vegetarians / vegans who I admire are : Actresses Natalie Portman and Abi Cornish, Absolutely Fabulous icon Joanna Lumbley, Game of Throne’s star Peter Dinklage, funny fellas Chris Lilley and Tom Ballard, cricketer Peter Siddle, writer Marieke Hardie, singers Sia and Missy Higgins, Triple J’s Lindsay McDougall, surfer Layne Beachly and journalist Sam de Brito.

4. You will be healthier – which is precisely why Bill Clinton became a (mostly) vegan in 2010. You will reduce your risk of bowel cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and the list goes on. Vegetarians are 12 % less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters and a whopping 45 % less likely to develop cancers of the blood such as leukemia (see more here). As for the common, “where do I get my protein?” query, these sources are good ones.

5. You will be helping the environment. It takes 4800 litres of water to produce 1kg of pork. The U.N. has identified the livestock industry as one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. The intensive farming industry is simply not sustainable. See the Meat Free Week page for more.

6. You will be more svelte. Vegan and vegetarians, on average, weigh less than meat eaters. (And this comes from an independently sourced, unbiased ABC article here).

7. You could shut your eyes and pretend that you are somewhere exotic like…..Palitana in India, the first vegetarian city in the world. Or, one of my favourite places on this planet, Mount Koya-san in Japan where vegetarian food in this Buddhist haven is the only, wonderful, option.

8. You can save some money. Your main staples, lentils, beans and tofu are CHEAP !

9. You will discover some fabulous eateries. For example, in Sydney, yum cha at Bodhi (my favourite), closely followed by Yullis and Nourishing Quarter. Rubyfruit in the Blue Mountains and Sweet Bones Bakery are my favourite “out of Sydney” choices. Melbournians are spoilt for choice with Smith and Daughters at the helm (see great blog Where’s the Beef for more suggestions). I am itching to try the highly rated (number 1 on tripadvisor for restaurants in Launceston!) Garden of Vegan in Launceston later in the year.

10. If you are travelling by plane, you tend to get served first if you order a vegetarian or vegan meal. They are not so mass produced so are generally of a better quality. Just remember to order ahead.

11. You will be able, guiltless-ly, to attend a Morrissey concert. This very passionate vegetarian, bans meat from being sold at the entire venue where he is playing (including the Sydney Opera House for his up and coming shows during the Vivid festival).

12. It’s a small way of saying thanks to the heroic, selfless actions of those around the globe who continuously fight for better conditions for farmed animals (land and sea) – including Animals Australia, Compassion in World Farming, Voiceless, Sea Shepherd, Melbourne and Sydney Pig Save and the brave Toronto Pig Save supporters who stand out in the freakishly cold and hot weather conditions in Toronto, Canada to give a voice to the millions of pigs sent to slaughter there. All of you  lovely people are my heros.

TorontoPigSave_Jan22_2

13. Your repertoire in the kitchen will skyrocket. My favourite go to site is One Green Planet, I have weekly recipes sent out to me by the Humane Society and Sanatarium. Pinterest is choc-a-block with talented bloggers and the like displaying their recipes….my latest “on weekly rotation as they are so outrageously delicious recipes” are this thai green curry (NB vegetarian fish sauce tastes exactly the same as “the real thing”) and this fragrant cambodian noodle salad (where I add silken tofu for more protein). If you prefer your recipes in cookbook form, I highly recommend Simon Bryant’s “Vegies”.

14. You will discover how easy the supermarkets are making it for hard working vegetarians who want some convenience food. Sanitarium, Quorn, Macro and Linda McCartney products (LOVE her sausages) are plentiful and have whole sections devoted to vegetarian / vegan food. A little harder to source but so worth it is my new product discovery – Kinda Bacon. On my lord – coconut pieces which uncannily taste like smoked bacon. A serious taste sensation.

15. You will be a trend setter. Move over you bespectacled, bearded hipsters, vegetarians / vegans are truly the new cool and numbers are on the rise ! Israel is leading the charge with a vegetarian population of 8 % up from 2.6 % 5 years ago.

If any of these reasons have inspired you enough to participate in Meat Free Week, please head on down to the comments section or find me here on facebook to pledge your commitment and my $5 donation on behalf of you will be heading to Voiceless. You’ve got a week to get organised, find some delectable recipes and stock up on all that delicious veggie food out there. And for the flaky almost vegetarians / vegans like myself, I’ll be going completely animal product free for the week – anyone willing to join me on this quest ? Good luck !!

 

 

 

Read More

Liebester Love

Posted by on Mar 8, 2015 in Uncategorized | 7 comments

I feel most honored to be nominated for a Liebester Award by the very talented Pia from These Woven Words. Thank you Pia ! I adore Pia’s blog and her thoughts on social justice issues, book reviews and general life musings.

LiebsterAward-300x264

The aim of the award is to share the love and give a shout out to some blogs which take your fancy and to share some tid bits *** of one’s life. For unknown reasons, the Liebester award centres around the number 11. So, 11 things to share about myself, 11 answers to Pia’s questions, 11 blogs I want to nominate and my 11 questions to them. So, without further ado –

11 facts about me

1. *** Until a couple of weeks ago, I thought tid bits was pronounced and spelt “tit bits” so I have used this saying in this manner for my whole life and used it in a work email recently which went out to my 100 or so  new-ish work colleagues.

2. I adore cold weather so am ecstatic that Autumn has arrived.

3. My favourite country outside of Australia is Japan. It encompasses everything I love – quietness (there is not a peep in those train carriages), mountains, snow, cold, outlandishly good food, politeness and punctuality (said like a true old fuddy duddy hey ?!).

4. I have loved U2 since I was 13 years old and have seen them play live 8 times. My partner finds this mortifying and thinks Bono is a tosser but, bless him, he took me to see them for my 40th birthday where I cried like a mad lady when I saw how close to the stage we were.

5. My perfect day would involve a massage, delectable food with friends and a great movie.

6. Speaking of movies, my top 3 would be : Life Is Beautiful, My Life As A Dog and Stand By Me.

7. I lived in London for 2 years in my early 20’s and loved the opportunity to live in another country.

8. I went to university in Wagga Wagga and studied Applied Science which is a million years away from what my career turned out to be but it was lots of fun going to a country university.

9. It takes me a good 3 months or so to feel I can be myself with new people I meet. I sometimes wish I could speed this torturous process up.

10. My Virgo-ish “to do” list never ends. I will need about 50 lifetimes to get through everything I want to do. Crochet, permaculture, meditation, soap making, vegan cheese making, trekking in Nepal…you name it, it’s on my list !

11. I worry way, way , way too much and would love to master the art of how to calm my whirling mind (hence, need to learn to do list number 3 from above).

My answer’s to Pia’s questions

1. What is the last thing I made ? I am guessing that means in a crafty kind of way – in which case, my offerings are thin on the ground but I did make some cinnamon scented candles a couple of months ago (they are so easy to make and help turn those old Vegemite jars into something lovely. In a non crafty way – vegan pesto with my bountiful basil leaves from my garden !

2. What is one of my fondest memories ? Hanging out with my fella in Luang Prabang in Laos about 6 years ago – it was one of the most romantic, atmospheric places I’ve been to and I’d gladly time machine whisk myself back there and peer down at the monks and their early morning procession through the cobbled streets.

3. Favourite thing to drink ? Depends on the time of day but the order would go… Coffee, diet ginger beer and Rose in summer or Pinot in winter….and a licorice Pukka tea as my dare devil night cap.

4. Best book you’ve read recently ? I am reading “Farmageddon” by Philip Lymbery and Isabel Oakeshott which is an interesting synopsis of intensive farming and the damage it does to the environmment, our health and, of course, to the lives of billions of animals – the content of which sends point 11 (above) into overdrive. Entertainment-wise, “The Death of Bees” by Lisa O’Donnell would be my recent good read pick. It is very quirky and enjoyable.

5. Is there a cause or charity that you feel strongly about ? Loads ! But if I had to pick it would be Animals Asia. They are incredible do-ers and I think that what is happening to bears trapped on bear bile farms in China, Laos, Korea and Vietnam is one of the worst (and pointless) things going on in the world. Animals Asia educate and rescue and enables transformed lives like these ones (sorry for upsetting image – and, yes, this is how many of the bears exist, often for decades. Unfathomable.)….

images

Image from Animals Asia

(Please head on over to to http://halong.animalsasia.org/savehalongbears/ to add your signature to the nearly 110,000 signatures seeking the Vietnamese Prime Minister to release the remaining 9 bears held  near Halong Bay in Vietnam in dreadful conditions to Animal’s Asia’s sanctuary. The others have died from starvation and illness whilst waiting for this decision to be made.)

6. Favourite place to read ? In my bed.

7. What’s your idea of an awesome holiday ? Cold, snow, fires, nature, good company, sublime food, some form of exercise so food can be enjoyed without guilt and inches on my thighs and somewhere completely different from home. So, probably a skiing trip in Japan.

8. Best snack ?! Vegetarian Gyozas (I buy the brand KB’s from a big Asian grocery shop near by) and they take just a few minutes to steam or fry and drizzle with some sesame seed oil. Scrumptious.

9. What do you think your best attribute is ? I like to think that I am kind person.

10. What are you listening to this week ? My spotify playlist – lots of Sia, Morrisey, U2, Blondie, Simple Minds, Goldfrapp, Lana del Ray, Florence and the Machine, Sarah Blasko, Little Birdy, Lisa Mitchell……

11. Is there something or someone who makes you laugh every time ? I am lucky to have a very funny partner who makes me giggle everyday. He has recently introduced me to Shane Micallif on telly who tickles my funny bone too. I find Ricky Gervais to be hilarious too.

My 11 questions

1. What is your favourite song to boogey too ? (More than 1 welcome….I would love to build on my playlist).

2. Who would be your ideal dinner guests at a dinner for 4 (including you) if you could pick anyone in the world to be there ?

3. What is your greatest phobia ?

4. You need to buy a housewarming present for a good friend. Which online or real shop would you head to ?

5. Favourite series you’ve watched ?

6. Favourite restaurant or cafe anywhere ?

7. Have you ever seen or experienced anything which would make you believe in life after death ?

8. Best way to get out of a cranky mood ?

10. Most coveted job ?

11. Do you think the world will be a better or worse place to live in 100 years from now ? 

These 11 questions are now put to the authors of 11 favourite blogs of mine – in no particular order. I know some of you popular, talented souls have multiple nominations so please feel free to not answer, answer in a blog post or answer in the comments section below but, being the massive sticky beak that I am, I’d love to know your answers !

1. One Small Life

2. That Summer Feeling

3. Life With The Crew

4. Heike Herrling

5. Bear Loves Dove

6. Authentic Abundance

7. di Terza MaNo

8. A Wondering Life

9. Betty Rose and George

10. Gus and Ollie

11. A Zesty Life

Over to you lovely ladies and thanks again Pia for the nomination. It is a wonderful way to find other blogs and have a sneaky peak into the lives of those we admire ! x

Read More