Friday, 31 January 2014

No new clothes for a year

I’m having a year where I don’t buy clothes. Or footwear. Or accessories. I have enough of everything, and despite not buying very much my apparel collection has been continuing to grow.

I’ve been inspired by various blogs I’ve read over the years who have done the same challenge. What I have noticed about these is that they are most interesting to read when thy feature a daily outfit photo. I can’t see me finding the time to do that, and I suspect there would be lots of repetition. However I will be reflecting at the end of each month (because 2014 seems to be all about reflection) on how it’s gone, if I’ve been tempted, and anything I’ve noted about my routine or habits.

During the first thirty one days of the challenge I’ve spotted the following:

  • I’m in the habit of looking for new stuff even when I don’t need it. I’m particularly drawn to sales as a justification for this. So I had to make an active choice not to go into Office and see if they had any Melissa shoes (which I really don’t need).
  • During the winter I rotate back and forth between 2 pairs of boots until they need to go on the repair pile. So the multiple pairs I have should keep me going for several winters!
  • I need to start going through my mending pile on a regular basis.
  • I’ve just started to log what I wear each day so that I can spot things I’m not wearing at all.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

What's in my lunch box? The duller stuff

Lunch box and book


There has to be balance in everything. And it would seem that if I am eating new and exciting dishes at evenings and weekends (curried butternut squash and lentil soup, and sesame, sweet potato, and Kale), then lunchtimes are a little duller. Hence once again brown rice and cabbage are making an appearance in my lunchbox. Not that I’m complaining they taste great.

Clockwise from top right

  • Savoy cabbage
  • Hummus topped with roasted chickpeas
  • Brown basamati rice
  • Gingerbread apple pie

To read: Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist

This was a book that I really couldn’t guess the how it would turn out. Despite opening with the end, there were a number of totally unexpected events, characters and plot twists to get there. The writer has a brilliant way of making a situation feel tense, then just as you’re anticipating what will happen he introduces a new element, forcing you to question your original thinking.


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

What's in my lunch box? Visitors = variety

It’s not that I’m a lazy cook when I’m just cooking for me. However it would be fair to say that I tend to make a dish and stretch it over several meals. Hence weekend guests encourage more variety. This weekend I made creamy cauliflower soup, grilled ‘cheese’ and ‘pepperoni’ sandwiches, tofu and kale delight, and a sort of Chinese inspired cabbage served with spring rolls. Most of these left no remains. The ones that did are finding their way into my lunch box this week.

In the mix:

  • Cabbage, shredded and fried in sesame oil with leeks, garlic, peanut butter, and soy sauce.
  • Brown basimati rice
  • Hoisin 'duck' rolls – picked this V-bites item up in my local health food shop
  • Spring rolls from the Coop – a cut price bargain I couldn't resist
  • Samosas from Iceland – still using up excess Christmas provisions.

To read

I’m still working my way through A Greedy Man in a Hungry world by Jay Rayner. Happily a bus malfunction( the wing mirror fell off!) allowed me the time to actually finish this. It’s a book where every page gives you something else to think about. I liked that he was Clare Rayner’s son and seemed to have inherited her common sense. I enjoyed the anecdotes about his childhood, and recognition of when he was basing an opinion on something other than facts.

I did indeed find that he made me think differently about things like farmers’ markets. I can see that the situation with food supply is a tricky one, and that there is no easy answer. One cannot simply say supermarkets are evil and be done with it. Indeed Rayner points out that supermarkets are both evil and not evil at all. I think this book was saying that there is a need to embrace both the big and the small, accept that there is no one solution for anything, and really focus on sustainability. This need to embrace multiple viewpoints is what makes the content of this book so difficult to take.

Oh, and I should add that I thought his comment that vegans had difficulty getting enough protein a tad on the ill-informed side. A pity when research had clearly been carried out in a thoughtful manner in other areas. He might have been better off simply saying theat veganism wasn’t for him. Which in the context of the book surely Rayner would have agreed would be perfectly fine.


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Eleventh day, twelfth night

The days following Christmas are great for meals made up entirely of leftovers. As the days past and the choicest items are gone meals either get duller or more inventive. The first week in January is the one where you try to make sense out of what is left.

In my case two pots of hummus (that the label claims should be off by isn't), not as crisp as they could be vegetables, and some of the nut mountain.

Clockwise from top right:

  • Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, dark chocolate – should have added some dates
  • Hummus with a blob of fig chutney
  • Cracker selection
  • Raw cabbage and carrots

To read – A greedy man in a hungry world by Jay Rayner. This promises to challenge my assumptions about food. I'm interested to see how this will compare to Not on the label. So far I'm willing to concede that supermarkets did open our eyes to a broad range of ingredients, and reduced the time it takes to shop. However it doesn't make the terms they offer suppliers any better. Let's see how things develop in the next few chapters.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

That was 2013

Went to the Discover Story centre in Stratford with my Niece to celebrate my birthday. Took part in a craft swap. Went to Start up Saturday to future proof myself. Visited the Death exhibition at the Wellcome collection. Went to Ukulele workshop - drove there with Mimifeeling like thelma and Louise.

Visited the folks with my sister. Went to the crime fiction exhibition at the British Library and also discovered a nature garden behind King’s Cross station - thanks to my secret London book. Attended a rather dull vintage evening but wore an amazing kaftan and hat to liven things up. Loved new burlesque routine to Venus (not the Bananarama version) and began to make plans for our own troupe the Paper dolls.  Battled with a sinus infection via lots of steam tents.

Went to Vegan drinks at new venue (the Big Chill House in King's Cross). Endured lots of snow flurries and dreamed about Spring turning up. Spent a couple of days in Barcelona and enjoyed the change in temperature, the architecture, artwork, vegan food (Juicy Jones, Gopal and ice cream at Gelaaati). Did our first photoshoot for the Paper Dolls. Read the Free Range Humans book and thought about setting myself up to sell paper pasties and green things. Went out for cocktails and tapas for a 30th birthday wearing an amazing green dress. Went salsa dancing, had an awesome time and sustained an stiletto injury. Visited Postman's Park and Museum of London. Tried to learn to play Smoke on the water on bass. Pantry was refurbished and everything is now visible and accessible. Got inspired about Stonehenge.

Started doing the Change your life in 20 weeks project. Went to the Stationery show for Ink Drops. Choreographed a burlesque glove strip to Ain’t no sunshine. Attended the launch for Science of Discworld 4. Went to Geoffrey Farmer: The surgeon and the photographer at the Barbican - totally amazing.
Went to Bristol Vegan Fayre. The sun shone and I ate lots. Had a stall at a Flea market and made a modest profit. Performed my own burlesque choreography at Spring Fling. Had A good hour massage at Lush. Went to Korean secret supper club. Made tofu for the first time. Finally made it to Borough market. Bought a strimmer.

Got fantastic strawberries off my allotment. Ate some of them with my sister and her family. Had vegan Chorros and sorbet at Scoop. Did lots of burlesque classes. Discovered that The Paper Dolls had been accepted to appear at the fling and ran round making it happen. Did a Flea market and discovered that power of organising one’s stall by colour. Played first gig as Dan’s Attic, featuring me with a winning combination of Bass and burlesque costume. Acquired a real bowler hat. Made risotto balls.
Made mexican millet. Did my first car boot sale. Appeared at the Fling with the Paper Dolls and had people queuing to see our show. Plotted for Project Pin Up. Made jam. Attended London Vegan Drinks at  Kensington Wholefoods market. Did my first Google hangout. Moved offices and ate lunch by the river and under various trees. Did some foraging.

Did my first car boot sale. Made a profit. Drove to Somerset in blistering heat through massively heavy traffic. Helped my parents have a big clear out so they can actually get into their sheds. Fainted in The bear due to heat, dehydration, and lack of food. Acquired more Melissa shoes. Tried an electric shoulder massage belt, and felt totally chilled out. Read The Happiness Project and felt inspired. Had an excellent day in London with lots of lovely vegan food, and a rhubarb Bellini at Saf. Went to V Festival and stayed stober. I did the driving and lots of dancing. Went to Reading Festival, camped and had a fab time.

Choreographed a burlesque routine to ‘I’ve got a brand new combine harvester (and I’ll give you the key). Found vegan sorbet off the King’s Road. Learnt how to make nipple tassels. Visited Thames Chase country park. Had coconut rolls made (or should that be steamed) for me. Had dinner at Giraffe with other club 20 girls, and found they were lovely and accommodating to vegans. Tried to dine at The Saracen’s Head and found the opposite. Did a car boot sale and cleared more stuff. Visited the Saatchi gallery and discovered the work of Zak Smith. Went to Carnival, and watched the parade. Then danced and sang along to evening bands (Queen II and Bon Giovi). Got into very odd positions showing non stretch hot pink satin onto a stretchy black bra. Went to talk on Eating as a multisensory experience as part of the Ideas festival. Acquired new guitarist for the band. My photo appeared on Someone once told me.

Went to Vegfest London. Tried the vegan food at Fleet Bakery. Spent a day and night at Centre Parcs with my family and tried Segway. Also went on the cyclone water experience/ride/shute twice -massive fun. Went to lunchtime concert at Chelmsford Cathedral. Cast on a pair of socks. Spent time sewing. Took part in Burlesque Jems cabaret despite damaging my arm stepping off a bar stool.

Learnt how to do stuff with my left arm. Helped out on the Vegan society stand at the Brecknock Road vegan festival. Went to  a talk on foraging and discovered the wonders of fried mallow leaves. Went to Vegan Pot Luck and ate loads of amazing food. Enjoyed a lunch concert at Chelmsford cathedral. Meet some free range humans. Woke up early in the morning filled with inspiration for  a new website.Did auntie duties. Went to Hogswatch, had a great time and burlesqued to Lonely Pup and I’ve got a brand new combine harvester. Discovered that wellies and a corset are a great combination.

Went to Vegan Pot Luck. Did a giveaway for a week on Twitter to celebrate a year of Ink Drops. Had lunch at the G&T cafe. Saw the Christmas lights on Carnaby street. Went to lunchtime concert of Christmas music at the cathedral. Volunteered on the Vegan society stand at the Animal Aid Christmas fayre. Went to A Very Vegan Christmas meal at the Gallery cafe. Bought a Christmas tree. Had massive lack of communication with Dad. Read Barbara Sher on Scanners. Ate at Kashari Street, then went to London Vegan Drinks and on to the pub. Spent Christmas at home in a cat onesie with my family. Had Christmas Eve drinks with Mum and Dad at the Travelodge. Spent a day with Carla - met her kittens and drank some alcohol. Celebrated new year at home with Naomi and Carl, Moffet, Ted, Mark and Christa, and Dan. Set up my new website - Not the vegan police.