Sunday, 30 June 2013

June photo challenge

Photo from Instagram

At the start of June I took up the photo challenge set by Nina from Purplenina. The challenge was to take a photo every day on a theme. You could choose your own time but Nina was going with 'green', and that seemed a natural choice for me.

I have managed to take post a photo to Instagram every day with a green theme. And what have I learnt in the process?

  • I've learnt more about composition generally, and more specifically the limitations of the Instagram square.
  • I've got a much better idea of effects the different filters in Instagram have, and which ones highlight which colours.
  • Some things just don't make good photographs.
  • Light is very important when taking photos.
  • I've discovered that it doesn't take very long for something to become a habit. Especially if that thing is quick to do.
  • However it's better to do the work on your new habit early in the day so you get used to 'getting it out of the way'.
  • The world is a much more interesting place than you might expect once you start looking for specific things while out and about. Keeping my eyes peeled for green things made me look at my surroundings in a new way.
  • I was enthused at the start of the month. Lost interest for a few days part way through. By the third week it was part of my life.
  • I'd rather like a tattoo of the vegan symbol.
  • The Collage app is lots of fun.

All the photos can be seen on Instagram @midorigreenuk or on my photoblog on midorigreen.co.uk

Wishing you green ink and good food,

Annastasia


Friday, 28 June 2013

The 5:2 handbag challenge

My handbag has tendency to feel uncomfortably heavy. I seem to feel the need to carry ridiculous amounts of stuff around with me 'just in case'. Being prepared for every situation is never really going to be goer. There's no way I can be prepared for every scenario. And more to the point I'm perfectly capable of improvising. For example, in a hemline emergency a well placed staple is as good as a needle and thread.

Carrying a smaller bag doesn't help. I just overload the first bag, and add a secondary bag or two.

So I intend to try and wean myself off this habit. Inspired by the Guardian's recent application of the 5:2 diet for everything I'm going to use a simplified version on my handbag.

  • Two days a week I will carry the bare minimum.
  • I will go through subsections of my handbag such as my purse and make up bag with a view to ensuring these have the minimum.

In my head, I'm imagining a spring in my step to reflect the lighter load, and a Zen-like clarity in my head.

 

Wishing you green ink, and rather good food,

 

Annastasia

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

What's in my lunchbox? Hello Okara

Food
What's exciting about this lunchbox is that it makes use of the leftover pulp from my soy milk experiments. My first attempt at making soy milk resulted in a huge quantity. I was overwhelmed with the amount of beans and liquid. As a result I don't think I squeezed out the pulp (Okara) quite as well as I could have. Instead I put it in a tub, and flung in the freezer to use at a later date. And clearly that day has come.

When I've had Okara previously, I've been able to fry it and get something quite crispy to serve with soy sauce and onions. This time it clearly wasn't going to work like that. This stuff was extremely moist! So I added some peanut butter and chilli. The result was a thick, creamy satay type sauce. Delicious served immediately but even better with marinated soy chunks mixed into it before baking.

Clockwise from top left:

Strawberry and rhubarb compote with macadamia cream – I wanted to enjoy the first of this year's allotment strawberries all week so I made compote. I did add some coconut sugar but won't bother in future as they don't really need it. I made and froze the macadamia cream (from VWAV) in December so just needed to defrost it.

Spinach and rocket, marinated soy chunks in Okara peanut sauce,and rice noodles – this is such a good combination. A blast in the microwave wilts the greens slightly, and makes this ideal for a 'summer' day in the UK.Dates, dark chocolate, pistachios, and salted almonds – my top snack combination at the moment. The flavours all play together very nicely.

Wishing you green ink and good food,

Annastasia

P.S. this week's lunchtime reading is Attack Alarm by Hammond Innes.

Sent from my iPad


Monday, 24 June 2013

Sleep buddy

Sleep mask

Life is wonderful when it’s absolutely packed full of exciting and enjoyable things to do. As a result one tends to get to one’s bed a little later in order to do more stuff. Which results I less sleep. Now sleep is definitely enjoyable and a lack of it makes the aforementioned exciting and enjoyable things less so.

I like to get up very early (because I obviously need to get on with my exciting life) so I need to go to bed suitably early. However this is becoming less and less the case. It’s resulting in very dull conversation from me as I natter on about how I’m tired, and have a lot on and need more sleep.


So in order to take action on this situation Carla of Ducking Fabulous and I decided that we would operate a sleep buddy system for a week.


I hasten to add that this did not involve us sharing sleeping quarters in any way, or even being in the same location. Instead we used the marvel that is the mobile telephone to send text messages from 9pm entreating the other to begin making preparations for bed.


The great thing about this is that it makes you head in the direction of that wooden hill. You don’t want to have to confess that you haven’t gotten anywhere near your nightcap of hot chocolate/camomile tea/whisky, but are instead pinning images of vegan lasagne. You want to be able to honestly say you are in your PJs and preparing to count sheep.


It’s definitely a move towards more sleep and fewer late nights. Now if I can just find a way to make all the other things in life manageable then there are truly glorious times ahead.


Wishing you green ink and good food,

Annastasia

 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Bellies, giggles and fear

Exhibit A: At a recent flea market I was selling a belly dance costume. It's too big for me and as it's covered in hand sewn sequins not a good candidate for alteration. However it is a fabulous piece and I'd love to see someone putting it to use and feeling fabulous. As it turned out it got plenty of attention. Lots of women looked at it as they passed my stall. They all commented on how lovely it was and then without fail, laughed and stated that they couldn't wear it because they were too fat or had too much belly.

This made me sad. It's called belly dancing. It involves having a belly. Having a body that is not toned to within an inch of its life doesn't make you less of a woman or less beautiful.


Exhibit B: I started a new burlesque course. As a matter of fact, it's a routine that will involve some clothing removal (I know that you're all dying to ask about the nudity bit but please note that burlesque doesn't automatically mean stripping to g string ). The class took some time to talk about our fears about the activity. And the issue of bellies once again came up. Followed by giggles and worries about what other people might think.


The other women made jokes about themselves and their bodies. And about what other people might say, or have said. And like an undercurrent ran the feat of being laughed at for being different.


Now this might be the point where I go on about body image, or media portrayal of women, or Victorian morals or…


But the point I really want to draw attention to is another point that came up in the discussion –fear. When people feel nervous, when they think they might not fit in they get the giggles or they get aggressive. Or they combine the two by making people laugh at them first.


And it was that people act out of fear all the time that kept coming back to me all weekend. When someone commented on my use of soap and shampoo bars (instead of more liquid versions) it was because of fear. A fear of being different to the rest of the Western world who prefer shower gel to soap.


When someone pushed past me to get onto a train it was fear – of being left behind, of missing out.


When I got grumpy the other day, it was fear that I was letting people down. When I complained about the cost of something it was fear that there would be less for me. When I didn't want to be seen reading something trashy in public it was because I was scared people would think less of me.


I'm beginning to think the late Susan Jeffers really did have a point….



Friday, 21 June 2013

Things I love Friday

Churros and sauce
  • Vegan Churros – for being vegan and delicious
  • People watching in London - for inspiration and intrigue.
  • Vx – for being an amazing purveyor of good vegan things.
  • The unexpected – because life is more fun when it's not predictablem
  • Mel for Forever21 in the USA – because they have a green pair
  • Being comfortable with the way I look – Let time worrying is more time to have fun
  • Exciting burlesque projects coming together – next stop the Fling
  • Risotto balls – I refer you to my well documented love of leftovers

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

What's in my lunch box? So I rummaged in the pantry

Food and a book

 

I've often gone on about my love of leftovers and my enjoyment in using up odds and ends of ingredients. There's just something really satisfying about seeing what's in the pantry, fridge and freezer and then creating.


Clockwise from top left:

Roasted chickpeas and new potatoes in oil and vinegar dressing – I'd prepared these as separate dishes but they go so well together. The number of potatoes was a bit limited so the addition of the chickpeas made the most of them. The oil was the dregs of a bottle of basil infused olive oil.


Broccoli tarts – whenever I puree broccoli for a sauce I always have leftovers which is just perfect for topping some pastry to create these soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside tarts. I've topped them with some slices of radish.


The novel in the viola by Natasha Solomons– I'm devouring this. I'd expected it to be predictable but it isn't all. You can sense something terrible building up but my guesses as to what have so far been dashed. It makes me wish I was still in a reading group so I could discuss it.


Dates, Pistachios, dark chocolate, and salted almonds – while I wait for the strawberries to ripen this is my favourite source of something sweet.


Saturday, 15 June 2013

I am not just a bag lady

Alas the shocking truth is that I am a two bag lady. Or two bag woman? Or two bag female? Or two bag person? Anyway I digress.

I've always liked the thought of carrying as little as possible. Carrying only the absolute necessities with me which probably boils down to ensuring I'm wearing clothes, and maybe have a door key on some ribbon around my neck. However I also like the thought of being prepared for every eventuality and carrying things I will need with me. After all when you leave the house in the morning you just don't know where you will end up or what you might need. So in my head I'm some kind of minimalist who can't wait to get carried away on an exciting adventure - with accessories.


As a result I always end up with at least two bags. I can't seem to find any way around it. Obviously I need to carry the 'necessities' like purse, phone, handkerchief and keys. But then I also need glasses, sunglasses, make up, lip balm, small mirror (for when I don't want to get my big make up bag out), pencil case, spare cotton bags for purchases, nail varnish (two shades), headphones, sequinned beret, gauntlets, Japanese hand towel, mug cosy, day book for notes and to do lists, Sudoku puzzles, plectrums, journal and fountain pen, reading material, bottle of water, nail file and a small hip flask.


And naturally of these have proved to be, oh so, useful when I'm faced with an unexpected situation like my only sister getting hitched.


The above is just the current list. At other times I've also carried a tin of green tea, corkscrew, fruit knife, nuts and dried fruit, peanut butter, tights, leggings, socks, writing case, bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 (various flavours), huge aerosol of saline solution, flip flops, calculator, perfume, filofax, sewing projects in progress, work related badges and data sticks (in their own clutch bag), power leads, vitamins, a selection of remedies and balms, various magazines and journals, crossword books, vegan margarine, hand cream, plastic mug, and chopsticks in woven case.


It's no wonder that I never participate in those 'what's in my bag' type posts. However if the handbag and its contents do reflect the person (and the life) carrying it then I think mine is spot on. I always have lots of diverse different things going on in my life all crowding in on each other. If I just carried a few items maybe it would just mean that my life had become slow, un-crowded and quite possibly dull.


Thursday, 13 June 2013

What's in my lunch box? Every mouthful is different

This kind of lunch is surely what inspired manufacturers to produce those packages with crackers and circles of meat and cheese. Personally I prefer my version.

Clockwise from top left:

  • Radishes and green pepper
  • Home grown rocket
  • Pistachios
  • The Science of Discworld by Jack Cohen, Terry Pratchett, and Ian Stewart
  • Asparagus and spinach dip - made from the recipe in Veganomicon this contains garlic, asparagus, spinach, (home grown), and cashews. It tastes amazing. I've also tried it on pasta and it makes a lovely creamy sauce.
  • Ryvita - I'm starting to think that I have a major Ryvita habit...
Ryvita with toppings

Mix and match lunch combinations - every mouthful is different...

Ryvita with toppings

Wishing you green ink and good food,

Annastasia

 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Things I have learnt of late

Instruments set up

Don't wear high heels for playing bass

Not even if they are the loveliest shoes ever, and the green matches your outfit perfectly. By the middle of the set your feet will hurt in a most distracting manner, even if you do sound fantastic.

Flea market

People like patterns and themes

Rather than my usual jumble sale inspired approach, I tried a blue and pink theme at a Flea market on Sunday. Pink item went on one side. Blue items on the other. Things that had a bit of both went in the middle. It resulted in more browsers. And I sold a couple of things that I've taken to a number of fayres and market without selling. Next up has to be a rainbow theme.


I can watch things with subtitles

I've never been a fan of things with subtitles. It seemed too much like hard work. You had to observe the action, listen to the dialogue and read the translation. This need to focus meant the you couldn't do anything else while watching. So reading, sewing, blogging, knitting, sorting through paperwork, unpicking jumpers, and even filing my nails was out. However with a little focus (and a reminder to myself that it isn't necessary to multitask at all times) it becomes easy to sink into the narrative and bring together the audio, visuals and text.

Woman with flowers in a bowler hat

I'm never going to learn not to overdo life

Once again I'm packing things into every minutes of the day and feeling exhausted. I could spend time beating myself up for not doing less. Or I could just get on with things and see what happens. And if I don't manage to do something then the world probably won't grind to a halt.

Wishing you green ink and good food,

Annastasia


Sunday, 9 June 2013

June photo challenge days 1-8

 

 

Here are the first 8 photos I've taken for the June photo challenge on the theme of green. You can see my dail updates on Instagram @midorigreenuk or on my photoblog on midorigreen.co.uk I tend to only put photographs of green things on Instagram anyway but have been enjoying the challenge to find something to photograph every day. There are just so many green things to celebrate.

 

 

Friday, 7 June 2013

Leftover inspiration - vegan risotto balls

Bowl with rocket salad and risotto balls

I really do love leftovers. They induce in me a state of creativity. So I present here my first attempt at risotto balls. I used leftover Vegan with a vegance mushroom and sundried tomato risotto. I filled them with pieces of Field Roast chorizo style sausage that I picked up at Vx. I rolled them in breadcrumbs I'd stashed in the freezer. I fried them in sunflower oil. I served them on the last of the rocket I picked at my allotment last week.

They took slightly longer to fry than I expected so next time they might be a tad smaller - more walnut than golf ball. On the whole though I'm delighted that risotto can actually be made even better than it already it.


Thursday, 6 June 2013

Things I Love Thursday


Warm weather – rediscovering my summer clothes – lots of lovely new blogs to read – water with lemons and mint – taking the bus so I can read and enjoy the scenery – lunch in the park – Adding handfuls of home grown rocket and spinach to my meals – Getting grips with G+ and enjoying some interesting discussions on honey – ridiculous new green shoes (see photo) – eBay (perfect place for purchasing shoes) – completing job list items – tending my allotment - playing bass and getting excited about how good my band sounds

 

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

You can't rock'n'roll on toast

Saucepans

I knew that I would be pushed for time in this week. The band I am in is playing our first gig on Saturday night. As a result we feel the need to practice every evening. It's usually a bit of rush trying to eat before practice two nights a week. I usually try to prepare double amounts on other nights to ensure that I'm not playing on a dinner of toast.

Bearing this in mind I decided that it was time to try this batch cooking thing I'd read about. My only attempt at this kind of thing previously has been freezing cooked beans and pulses, or tucking large amounts of leftovers away for another day.

This time round still wasn't quite on the grand scale that some people manage (preparing a month of food in one go) but seemed to be a starting point.

So on Sunday afternoon I spent 90 minutes preparing the following:

· Mushroom and sun dried tomato risotto (from Vegan with a vengeance)

· Potato and asparagus soup (from Vegan with a vengeance)

· Chilli (made it up as I went along)

It was certainly less work, preparation and washing up to prepare everything at the same time. I chopped the onions, leeks and garlic for all recipes in one go. I could see how much of everything I had and assign it accordingly (rather than having to find time to go out and buy extra onions mid- week). The endless stirring that risotto requires took place in-between working on the other dishes.

I've found it rather nice this week not to have to think about dinner. I simply arrive home and heat up a bowl of whichever one I fancy. All three lend themselves well to 'pimping' so I've been adding toppings in the form of rocket, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, and fresh herbs.

Plate of food
There is risotto in there somewhere

However I think it has made me realise how much I enjoy cooking and appreciate the opportunity to get creative on a daily basis. I fell asleep last night wondering how the risotto would shape up as risotto balls. Very well I'm sure (although I'll have to wait until Thursday night to give this a go). But it does miss the point of saving me time. Yes, it's quicker than cooking risotto from scratch. However it's not as speedy as toast and Marmite.

So while I've can appreciate batch cooking as something in the freezer to draw on I think most nights will still see me slaving over a hot stove, or toaster.

 


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Cybher – the non food bits

Cybher sign
It is a truth universally accepted that if you offer refreshments at an event then that's all people will comment on. Presumably if there are no refreshments they will comment on the temperature of the venue or the toilets.
Having got the food bits of Cybher out of my system yesterday, it's time to address the rest of the conference. So what was it like?

The best bits – smiley face
Mario delivering a session on photography
The session on portrait photography run by Mario was absolutely brilliant. His delivery was fantastic; informal, enthusiastic, and practical. I now understand what the grid on photo editing software is all about, know how to tackle large things in the background, and am Lord of the Light. Do have a look at Mario's blog Someone once told me – it's brilliant.

The session on Podcasting run by Sparrow and Rice of the High Tea Cast was totally worth it. I'd only vaguely thought about podcasting prior to going to this session but left filled with thoughts about what I could podcast about. They made it sound easy, did a demo which showed that it was indeed easy and gave convincing arguments as to why it's worth doing (and no, it won't make you rich). Clear instructions to take away were a nice touch.

Meeting other bloggers had to be one of the most brilliant things about Cybher. It's always nice to be able to put a face (and sometimes a real name) to a Twitter handle. It's great to find out what other people blog about and what concerns they have. It's good to be able to encourage those just starting to blog (publish and be damned!). Finally I love discovering new blogs (My Feedly is going to be packed).

Crochet hook
Learning to Crochet with Lara and Nina at the Mollie Makes. I've never done crochet but do like to try new things. I had a bit of a shaky start and then I was away (it was kind of like unpicking a jumper in reverse). Tea, craft and a good natter meant the time passed much too quickly.

Tea was available all day (see you just can't get away from the refreshments). And it was it brewed, rather than of the tea-bag-in-a-mug variety.

Show sponsors weren't pushy (although I did get the impression some think bloggers are obsessed with cupcakes). It was nice to be able to go and chat to them if you were interested in what they had to offer. Naturally I found myself drawn to the green of the Collective Bias stand, and encouraged them all to learn to crochet.

The toilets were ample. Just thought I'd mention it as I was concerned that at a conference for women I might spend all day queuing.

Sad face bits

Leather conference bag – I know vegans are a minority but a leather bag making up part of the ticket price makes me uncomfortable about booking again. Maybe Fat Gay Vegan will organise a vegan bloggers conference?

The storytelling session – I thought this lacked the focus of some of the other talks but the previous session had overrun so maybe that impacted?

Session names were sometimes a bit misleading and so the full programme needed careful studying to ensure that you were getting what you thought you were. Time for a more what-it-says-on-the-tin approach?

And now?
It's time to go through my notes and collection of business cards and put them to use.

Wishing you green ink and good food,
Annastasia