Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Goodbye 2013. Hello 2014.

Posted by on Dec 29, 2013 in Uncategorized | 8 comments

“Live each day as if it’s your last”, that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that ? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy ? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to simply try to be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard at….something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.” – Emma Morley, a fictional character from one of my all time favourite books “One Day” by David Nicholls.

This post is not really keeping with the theme of the blog but, then again, part of treading kindly surely involves sharing what you have enjoyed throughout the year ?! Without further ado, this is what I have enjoyed in 2013 (am sure my Virgo friends will be proud of my diligent list makings skills throughout the year !) – peppered with a few pics of an animal, Garp (along with his best friend Ivy), who knows how to lead the best life ever…..and his tips on how to do so.

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Embrace Friendship (and symmetry)

 

Books – Fiction

Like A House on Fire – by Cate Kennedy. The equivalent of people watching in a book (short stories).

Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love – Sarah Butler

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

The Sunshine Years – Asfaneh Knight

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The occasional bout of naughtiness is ok

 

 Books – Non Fiction

Madness – Kate Richards (unputdownable memoir about mental illness and what it feels like to live with).

Sex, Drugs and Meditation  – Mary Lou Stephens (did not make me want to do a 10 day silent mediation retreat but was entertaining and enlightening to read about)

Free the Bears – Mary Hutton (if you need some inspiration about wanting to make a difference about something you are passionate about)

Quiet – Susan Cain (if you loathe the limelight and are after some explanation as to why – a very interesting read !).

Changing Gears – Greg Forsyth (loved this book about a couple cycling through Australia and their quest for a more sustainable, meaningful way of life which sounds very earnest but it was very entertaining).

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Protest about what is wrong in this world

 

 Movies

Did not see nearly as many as I usually do…so just a select few…

The Quartet (sweet movie about the going ons in a retirement village filled with talented musicians).

Amour (bittersweet movie about old age) 

Blue Jasmine (a voyeuristic look into Cate Blanchett’s character’s life unravelling)

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Laugh lots

 

Series

The Bridge (continuing my obsession with Scandinavian crime shows)

Enlightened (cringeful to watch but very funny)

Top of the Lake (by the very clever, creative Jane Campion – set in New Zealand)

Twentysomething (very funny Aussie series)

Orange is the New Black (excellent black humour-ish series about women in a US prison – addictive !)

Redfern Now (from the superb Jimmy McGovern – loved “Cracker” 20 odd years ago and this too was a great series).

Girls (younger, quirkier and more realistic version of Sex In the City)

 

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Turn up the charm or cute factor if required

 

Music

Have reclaimed my youth by returning to JJJ which helped me to discover…

London Grammar

 

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Explore

 

Getaways

Mill Paddock Cottage in Mountain Lagoon, NSW.

Tegal Sari, Ubud, Bali

Naya Gawana Resort, Bali

 

Eating Out

Mocan and Green Grout, Canberra

Nourishing Quarter, Surry Hills, Sydney.

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Hold on passionately to what is dear to you

 

In 2013 I Learnt how to…

Make candles (and had lots of lovely people buy them to raise money for Animals Asia)

Grow mushrooms (a surprisingly complicated feat !)

Has been lovely….

Meeting some beautiful new people through my wing man Garp, gathering a few more likers and subscribers together to read my blog witters, getting down to Melbourne to see old  (figuratively that is !) friends and gaining more clarity and insight about what is important to me.

Would love to hear what has made you happy in 2013 in the comment section below. Am always up for some recommendations from like minded souls about anything.

As for 2014….I have a lot of  plans on the horizon which includes more travel, lots more animal product free cooking, clocking up 100km of hiking (get those walking shoes ready Sam), learning how to do Tai Chi (for my increasingly geriatric body and ever chattering mind), writing many more informative blog posts  and, of course, helping out the animals and environment however  and whenever I can.

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Stay unique and true to yourself

 

I hope that 2014 brings you happiness, fulfillment and adventures. Would love to hear what you hope it has in store for you ! xxx

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Christmas Feasting

Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in Christmas, Recipes - Savoury | 2 comments

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Ah, Leunig – what a wise and insightful man you are !

With just a couple of weeks until Christmas, it is probably time to organise one’s menu options for the day.

For the meat eaters of the family, if you live in Sydney, the following companies are tried and tested and completely transparent in their ethics of how the animals which end up on your plate were treated. Feather and Bone and The Free Range Butcher. You will be spending more and you need to be organised by ordering ahead but you will be sure that there is no deceptive advertising involved and that their free range really is free range (Don’t forget that some devious types may advertise their hams as “free range” when they are in fact only “bred free range” – which is not far off factory farmed pigs (piglets are born “free range” but moved into an indoors, intensive arrangement shortly after). For my regional and interstate friends, the Flavour Crusader has an enormous amount of information about sourcing proper free range pig products and turkeys from local farmers doing the right thing. You may wish to re-visit my very first post (over 1 year ago now !) on why “factory farmed” meat should be avoided at all costs. Remember too that animals raised in genuine free range conditions do have a better quality of life but they do go to the same slaughterhouses as ‘factory farmed’ animals – there are no “kind abattoirs” unfortunately.

I, the sole vegetarian of the family, am ironically the ham purchaser this year (from Feather and Bone).

Alternatively, you may wish to “pardon a pig” at Animals Australia and receive a great e-book of Christmas vegetarian recipes for your trouble so you can whip up some extravaganza to show your tribe that vegetarian meals can be festive and mouthwatering too.

I had a dismal cooking fail with my lentil loaf stuffed with mashed potato which was my intended Christmas Day masterpiece. Time consuming (3 hours!), fairly bland and crumbly and described by my beloved as looking “like a tray of kitty litter.” Suffice to say, this project was shelved and I had to eat it every day at work for a week. Sigh.

Luckily, I was saved by the success of this mouthwatering  pistachio and ruby grapefruit salad, baked rosemary and garlic potatoes…….and the convenient Sanitarium Vegi Roast with Rosemary and Mint Glaze which I bought from Coles.  Had a practice run last night and received a solid 9/10 mark from my carnivorous partner which restored my pride somewhat after the kitty litter-esque loaf performance. This is how it looked:

 

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And here are the links I used to make it :

Quinoa tabouleh with pink blush grapefruit, coriander and pistachios from the fabulous “The Mindful Foodie” – a great blog to subscribe to. This salad was truly delicious – loved the grapefruit addition. 

Rosemary and Garlic Roast Potatoes – from VeganEasy.org. There are an array of delicious meat free Christmas recipes to pick from if you need some inspiration. Turned out great – lots of flavour and good to use some of my mountains of rosemary growing in my garden.

I topped the lazy but tasty roast with some cranberry sauce and found it to be a very hearty and worthy meat substitute. 

Found this Otter site to be full of interesting information and handy links about having an ethical christmas – for food, pressies etc. 

Have a glorious, stress free end to 2013. I hope to sneak one more post in before the year’s out xxx

 

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Be a kind Christmas soul

Posted by on Nov 30, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

“For it is in giving that we receive” – St. Francis of Assisi

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An example of a dog helped by PETA’s “be an angel for a cold dog campaign” – the winner of our family’s Christmas Charity Kris Kringle in 2012.

 

With Christmas just on the horizon, I thought it timely to share some ideas about how my  family have wrangled around the whole stressful present giving issue. It is no secret that Christmas is becoming more about frenzied consumerism and less about the nicer parts about it (good food, wine and company).

As an atheist, the meaning of Christmas to me is nothing about religion and all about being generous to those who are not quite as lucky as most of us in Australia are (and, of course the good food, wine and company part !).

So, a few years ago, we came up with the idea of a Charity Kris Kringle in lieu of gifts (aside from the cherished children in our family – we only have a couple of them and they still get presents).

Each adult contributes a nominal figure (for us, $50 each) and writes down their charity of choice and puts it in a bowl. Child member of family picks charity name out and that charity scores the lot – usually around $350.

I have been accused of rigging this process or bribing my niece (the charity hat puller) as my chosen charity has won the last 2 years (weeehoooooo!).

Two years ago, the very worthy Brightside Farm Sanctuary in Tasmania won the spoils and last year it went to PETA’s “be an angel for a cold outside dog” campaign. ($265 buys a kennel and bedding for a dog in the US who has nil or inappropriate shelter from the elements – see pic above).

As for gift giving between me and my fella….we reserve this for birthdays and do the charity thing too for Christmas, Valentine’s Day etc. Our house is filled with so much STUFF that we have come to the conclusion that a donation to each others  favourite charity is money so better spent (and far less angst inducing…..after many years together, it becomes harder to come up with that perfect gift!).  My favourite charity is, as it has been for about the last decade, the glorious Animals Asia and my fella’s is Medecins Sans Frontieres. Both do incredible, life changing work for animals and people.

If you are part of a family who wants to do the physical gift thing, have a read of my previous kind gifts post for some ideas. I have added a few new ones which have recently caught my eye so please re-visit this post for some ideas.

Also……Checking It Twice is a fabulous ethical gift guide (Thanks Al, I can’t stop stalking it since you put me onto it….here I am trying to be all anti-consumerist – and lists galore of beautiful ethical things stare tauntingly back at me !!) 

As for christmas cards and calenders, here are some links to my favourites. They are beautiful and creative and, best of all, a large part of the proceeds goes back to help an animal and/or person in need.

Cards

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Animals Asia cards

Edgars Mission cards

Unicef cards

Calenders

Monika’s Doggie Rescue (original home of our little black patch eyed hound so we are forever grateful to this great rescue group).

Animals Asia 

Ask Alice’s Wish You Were Here Charity Calenders – 100% of profits go to the Melbourne Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. (PS Their gorgeous stationary is well worth a look too – lovely, artistic, ethical company).

Until next time, stay calm during this silliest of  seasons. Would love to hear about any kind Christmas festivities planned. Stay tuned for my next post……kind eating suggestions for Christmas day ! 

 

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Sleeping dogs and bircher museli

Posted by on Nov 15, 2013 in Recipes - breakfast | 2 comments

I wanted to swindle in a photo of our kooky dog sleeping but couldn’t think of a suitably relevant blog topic…..so I have made the very loose connection between our sleeping hound (in the crook of his daddy’s arm, on the lounge…spoilt much ??) and my most favourite new breakfast concoction………delicious coconut bircher museli. Until a couple of months ago, I thought that bircher museli was reserved for trendy cafe menus and the whole over night soaking thing put me off. But no, this bircher museli is so delicious, nutritious and easy to make that I habitually make up a batch on Sunday night and have it every morning for breakfast at work. I have tried a few other varieties but keeping coming back to this one….

 

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 Ingredients

2 & 1/2 cups of rolled oats

500 ml coconut water

100g flaked coconut

4 tbsp honey (or agave syrup)

4 large pinches cinnamon

3 tbsp sesame seeds

Julienned granny smith apple and sliced banana

Optional : 4 tbsp Greek yogurt (sourced from a kind dairy)

What to do

Make up batch by mixing first 5 ingredients above together and refrigerate overnight. Serve topped with apple and / or banana or any other fruit you desire along with yogurt if you want and top with more sesame seeds and flaked coconut.

I find it makes 3-4 generous serves. 

 

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Melbourne Cup alternatives

Posted by on Nov 3, 2013 in horse racing | 0 comments

“We love booze and hats, but not at the expense of the 7 in 10 thoroughbred horses that get “discarded” as “wastage” or the multitude of injuries and shameful conditions that many racehorses are subjected to. And just in case you think we’re tiresome, humourless, do-gooder bleeding hearts, we challenge each and every one of you to a drinking-champagne-in-the-sun competition” – The Low Road Cafe, Brisbane Queensland.

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Photo from Animal Quotes, Animal Rights & Religion facebook page

A round of applause for The Low Road Cafe. Not only are they donating 50 cents for every coffee sold on Melbourne Cup day to The Coalition For the Protection of Racehorses but their quote is so spot on.

If the glitz and enthusiasm surrounding the  “race that stops a nation” leaves you feeling a bit flat, it does not mean that you are an “un-Austrayan” bleeding heart kill joy.

It may mean that you are disturbed by the fact that :

* over 10,000 racehorses end up at the abattoir each year (some who have been found to have won hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money for their owners) as a result of not making it to the track in the first place, not performing well enough as a racehorse or having retired from horse racing. Over breeding of the animals is rife as only an estimated one third of the 17,500 thoroughbreds bred for racing each year actually make it to the track. Some are re-homed as pleasure horses, police horses etc but these instances are in the minority as there simply are not enough homes for these animals to go to.

* Injuries are common in all racehorses but particularly in undeveloped 2 year old horses. 

* 22 hour a day confinement in a stable is akin to keeping a bird in a cage but this is the way most racehorses live.

* Humane slaughter of these animals is impossible. Horses are highly sensitive, skittish animals who get spooked by the likes of a rustling plastic bag. Their slaughter involves being shot in the head with a rifle just a couple of meters away from those horses waiting behind them to be shot. A hard to watch but informative video shows what happens here  – wastage. There are only 2 horse abattoirs in Australia – one in South Australia and one in Queensland which means massive travelling distances for many horses prior to being killed.

* The sight of little men whipping a beautiful creature who is obviously already trying their hardest in front of a roaring crowd is sad.

* Or you may simply find the egalitarian aspect of the racing world where the rich get richer and the poorly paid stable hands earn a pittance, to be a bit of a wank.

Treating these majestic animals as disposable pieces of garbage because they cannot bring an economic return is plainly unacceptable.

The racing industry is a massively lucrative industry and the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses is trying to convince The Australian Racing Industry to allocate 1 % of the $15 billion collected  from the betting ring to giving retired or unsuccessful race horses a good home rather than being sent to the “doggers”.

What you can do to help

* Attend one of the alternative Melbourne Cup day festivities being held around the country (Nup to the Cup in Melbourne, Not the Melbourne Cup in Adelaide and Escape the Race in Canberra). I am donning a frock and going to drink some champers at Sydney University’s “Not the Melbourne Cup“.

* “Like” The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses on Facebook to receive regular feeds of interesting information.

* Consider a donation to a re-homing organisation such as Quest Equine Welfare or Amanda Vella’s S.A.H.A Horse Rescue and Sanctuary or awareness / policy fighting groups such as The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses.

* Write a letter to the CEO of the Australian Racing Board expressing your concern about the thousands of horses being sent to the abattoir each year . Things can be done through the Animals Australia’s page here.

* Read this great article, “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” which featured in the Good Weekend in September 2013.

Although the focus of this posting has been on thoroughbred race horses, it applies to Standardbreds used in harness racing too (except these animals are harder to re-home due to their unusual gait).

 

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Spit to Manly walk and salty sweet balls

Posted by on Nov 1, 2013 in Recipes - Sweet | 6 comments

“Someday you will miss today” (author unknown)

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Just around the corner from Manly – out of this world view.

I did the beautiful 10km Spit to Manly walk a couple of days ago with a treasured friend. In the rush and humdrum of day to day life, it is so easy to forget the gorgeous-ness which exists just over the bridge (or wherever you are for that matter). It was a gentle nudge of a reminder to me to get out and do the things TODAY that I am always planning to get to “one day”.

 

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Pretty Flannel flowers

 

I had intended to take some whimsical photos of our picnic to include in this posting. Alas, my lentil pie turned out to be a big, odd tasting fail and the natterings over wine, baguettes and olives proved too distracting and I forgot. We even forgot to eat the highly acclaimed salty sweet balls until the ferry ride home.

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 So, there is my at home photo of the best ever salty sweet ball that you will ever eat. At the risk of sounding creepy, I adore little sweet balls and have made a few variations. But this one is the stand out.  Not only are they divine and healthy and taste of caramel but they are the perfect sized car, movie or picnic snack which you can chow down on guilt free (healthy and zero animal products). Plus, they only take about 15 minutes to whip up.

This recipe is tweeked a tad  from MindBodyGreen.com

Ingredients

20 big, soft pitted Medjool dates

3/4 cup of pecans

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup chia seeds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Place the coconut on baking paper in a baking tray in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius. It should brown in about 5 minutes. Remove and then, similarly toast the pecans in the oven – this will take about 10 minutes.

Process the pecans in a food processor. Remove and then put the dates, vanilla and sea salt into a food processor and process until it forms a paste. Remove and place into a mixing bowl with the chia seeds, pecans and coconut. Mix together with hands and form into golf sized balls. You could roll in some surplus pecan bits or dessicated coconut if you wish – I chose not to.

Makes about 8 balls (lasting 2 days in my house, eek !).

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October Bushfires

Posted by on Oct 20, 2013 in Topical | 0 comments

“The predictions on climate change are for worse bushfires with greater intensity as we go down this century. That means that if we are looking to minimising these tragedies in the future we very much have to turn around this catastrophic potential of climate change and take action now in our own time.” Bob Brown

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Photo from Blue Mountains Australia facebook page – taken in Winmalee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I am finding the current bushfires burning around NSW to be so upsetting. The loss that people and animals in the affected areas have suffered is heartbreaking and I can’t stop thinking about some of the personal stories I have read about and seen on the news. I am so worried that this is a sign of what is going to be “normal” in our future.

If you are feeling as helpless as I do right now, there are some good ways to help out. The NARGA Disaster Response Team is a fantastic facebook page to “like”. It has so many suggestions on ways to help out – from volunteering to drop items to places in need, how to prepare for a bushfire, ways to donate money and how to sign up to offer your services as an animal minder for people needing temporary homes for their animals.

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Another wonderful organisation is WIRES who are obviously inundated at the moment and would benefit greatly from donations.

Woolworths are generously matching any public donations for the next 2 weeks to the Salvation Army too for the bushfire appeal. This can be done at the check out.

 

Please, weather gods, bring some rain.

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