Mimi Joung: Maker of Vessels of Wonder

Do you ever think about how things are made?

There are so many things that we use every single day, we probably don’t even give them any thought, they’re just there waiting to be used, yet again. But how are they made? Where do they come from? What’s their journey from being raw material to being a staple of our everyday life?

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Rosie Y: Experimenting

“Anyone who’s ever told you that you couldn’t make a difference was wrong.”

This is a very important concept from J-F and B L’s blog 222 Million Tons, which is a constant help and inspiration to me.

Since starting this blog in February 2012 I know I have positively influenced some people to think more of what we do, buy, use and waste and these actions’ effects on our surroundings. From showing my mum how easy and better it is to finely chop and eat broccoli stalks rather than throwing them away – which is a small change, an easy-to-get-used-to habit – to bigger issues such as climate change.

After starting a new job in December 2012, I got to know a very interesting, stylish and overall amazing young lady, Rosie Y.

We went to a great exhibition at London’s Kensington Olympia, ART 13, and I asked her a few questions about her little experiment…

Rosie Y - @ ART 13

Meet Rosie Y

For the whole month of February you didn’t eat meat, fish or eggs. Why did you decide to do this?

Because I love eating and in China there is a saying: “民以食为天”, which is an idiom that means “Food is the God of the people”.

When I was in China I decided I would not eat meat in order to lose weight but then I gave up, I didn’t even insist for one day! This time I was determined to give it a go as I hadn’t tried a diet that limited this kind of food before: it was like an experiment to see if I could do it, it was my goal to do it.

The trigger was when my friend, Su Fei, had a vegan month in January and I was very inspired by this and wanted to do something similar. I had previously failed my attempts but Su Fei succeeded so it was time for me to try it.

How did it go?

I was very surprised not to feel any different at first. It turns out that not eating meat, fish or eggs for a month is not as difficult as I expected, but I also didn’t feel lighter or healthier as I expected. I made more of my own food for diversity.

Vegetarian and vegan choices in normal restaurants are few, even normal sandwich shops offer very few meat-free options – I have to admit that I got very tired of eating falafels! Oh, the only difference might be that I felt hungrier, or I got hungry easily; however my stomach always felt good, unlike when it sometimes feels uncomfortable, too full and I feel guilty after eating meat.

Are there any positive aspects you noticed during your meat-free experiment?

I expected it to be very hard but now I feel like I can do so much more, I am not afraid of trying new things. Su Fei suggested to upload some pictures of the food I was eating on Instagram and many people from all over the world liked them, that was very surprising and encouraging.  Before my experiment I thought that meat-free vegetarian food wouldn’t be as tasty as meat dishes but after seeing their pictures I realised that it also look and taste just as delicious.

Before this experiment I didn’t like salad. Now I really appreciate salad’s natural taste, and the same happened with Brussels sprouts and other vegetables I tried. Also, I often used to go for food that had many added condiments and sauces, now I really like simple food as well, less processed and less ready-made.

When you eat, do you think about food’s sustainability?

No, but I don’t know why I believe eating vegetarian is a good thing. At the end of the experiment on 1st March I bought fried chicken, not because I wanted it but because it was an easy and practical option. After eating it I felt unwell, my stomach felt heavy, too full, and I felt like a garbage bin for junk food. I did think that maybe I should carry on eating vegetarian.

After trying a vegetarian month, do you feel like trying and eating more vegetables and fruit?

Yes, I have a plan. I must have a whole vegetarian day before having meat or fish the next, as I feel like a vegetarian diet is good for me and also good for the planet.

Rosie Y @ ART 13

Rosie Y @ ART 13

 

Would you consider giving up meat/fish/eggs/dairy for a while to be healthier/more sustainable/ try something new?

The Art of Upcyling: Mr Brainwash and More Inspiration

Upcycling is an art. It’s the art of seeing potential in something that seems to be useless.

I have written a D.I.Y. Upcycling post about my little upcycling projects, but last week I went to Mr Brainwash’s exhibition at The Old Sorting Office in New Oxford Street in London and it really inspired me to see everyday objects in a completely new form and environment.

I first saw that there was something going on in New Oxford Street a few weeks ago, the dazzling wall paintings on the corner of the street kept adding up every time I walked past there to go and meet my friends in the West End.

Mr Brainwash’s take on The Queen and The Beatles

It was a pleasure to see more and more images and colours appearing

Inspiring Message and Kate Moss

I told my boyfriend about it and he said “It must be that man’s exhibition, the man who was in the Banksy film we watched”. He was completely right, Mr Brainwash was the street art lover in Banksy’s film “Exit Through the Gift Shop“, a film we watched together the night I made my vegan baguettes, sitting on the carpet together, watching how street artist operate and thinking “wow…..”.

I was really happy I went to the exhibition with my friend last week and breathed in inspiration.

Mickey Mouse made of Coca Cola metal plates

This Mickey Mouse was taller than me! Just nearby there was a massive Darth Vader sculpture made of tyres…!

Michael Jackson Record Portrait

If you look closely not only the hair but also the shirt’s shadows in this portrait are made from whole or fragments of records.

As far as records and CDs are concerned, I only ever thought of reusing them – if scratched and not working properly anymore – as funky coaster or to hang up outside as I once read that their reflection keeps birds away, making it useful if you have a vegetable patch.

I would never have thought of making art with them! This is really motivating.

There were many other vinyl records portraits, I loved Billie Holiday’s…

Mr Brainwash’s Billie Holiday Portrait

and David Bowie

Mr Brainwash’s David Bowie Portrait

Contemporary Madonna Pop Art

In my quest to find more ways to upcycle this exhibition was very stirring, making me realise there aren’t as many limits as we may think when we want to reduce waste and make something beautiful out of something unlikely to be useful.

Mr Brainwash’s work not only provided a most welcome contrasting and stimulating diversion after a hard week at the office, at the end of the exhibition there was a chance to make a donation to Great Ormond Street Hospital and a free poster gift, I chose the “Follow you Dreams” poster.

I have also found inspiration from other blogs: being more sustainable and saving money often go together, and on Miss Thrifty’s blog I found great uses for old maps ideas, using them as wrapping paper, to make lampshades…

After posting my D.I.Y. Upcycling post I received an amazing comment: a very kind reader told me: “I upcycled a disused gold brocade curtain that had been slapped over a junked old fridge at our old flat into my beautiful gold brocade wedding dress”.

I could not believe it, I had to see it! So she very kindly posted a picture of her beautiful upcycled wedding dress on her blog, chrysaliswithaview. Take a look by clicking on her blog name, didn’t she do an astounding job?

Her incredible intuition, motivation, vision and skill enabled her to make something as precious as a wedding dress from something that someone else had carelessly discarded. This is the best example of upcycling I have ever seen! Thank you so much for sharing it!

If everyone made a tiny effort to use their imagination and reuse more and throw away less I’m sure the results would be absolutely worth it, the Earth would be cleaner and its resources under less stress.

There are more upcycling examples on the Crafty Beggars website too.

Do you have any upcycling ideas?

Are you inspired by these examples?

London Green Fair 9th June 2012

I was really excited to be going to the London Green Fair with my budding journalist mate A yesterday but I didn’t imagine it would be as great as it was.

If you can, go there today and have a look around: it’s free, there’s live music, lovely food, workshops, free samples, and of course great people to talk to. Have a look at the Fair’s programme.

After a not so exciting (but not so bad) trip to the dentist’s yesterday morning I walked from the City to Regent’s Park and the Saturday morning relaxed London atmosphere was just  lovely.

I met up with A and we headed towards the heart of the park where we found the Fair’s location. We got there just after 12pm and it got busier and busier, and the weather got better and better, after that.

The London Green Fair has 3 live music stages with local and global music, including an orchestra, a speakers forum with talks and films, a children’s tent, outdoor performances, the electric BikeFest, several stalls dedicated to Permaculture, a tent dedicated to sustainable living with inspiring talks about eco homes, biodiversity, energy efficiency and more, plus of course all the delicious food stalls, here are some examples.

Land Trust were giving out free trees

We went past theLand Trust stall and the girls there told us they were giving away 2,000 trees this weekend, so that the people going to the Fair could plant them and offset the carbon footprint created to get there. Some people even go back and tell them how well their trees are doing, we got a field maple.

Recycled Materials Bird – wings made with blinds!

Great Variery of Recycling Bins of course 🙂

At the Sustainable Living tent, we met EcoAlex, and attended his talk on Green Roofing to save energy, cut your bills and save the planet.

EcoAlex Green Roofing Model

Capital Growth stand

There were fluffy hens and chicks, a singing cockerel, bunny rabbits and geese who attracted many children…

Happy Chicken and Chicks

Riverford displayed examples of their Organic fruit&vegetables delivery service.

Riverford Organic Food Delivery stand

My absolute favourite stand: The People’s Supermarket‘s! I mentioned them in my Food Waste post just the other day so I was so chuffed they were there! 😀

Emanuele, Jamie and Jess from the People’s Supermarket

Fresh clean fruit was on sale, together with lovely spreads and jams made with ingredients that were still great but not as fresh.

I had a great chat with lovely Emanuele, Jamie and Jess and bought one of their banana&cinnamon spreads for my boyfriend, which he loved 🙂

Unfortunately I read on Twitter that they sold out so they won’t be back today but you can go to their shop in Lamb’s Conduit Street to buy their super sustainable food.

Another great stand was the FOE = Friends Of the Earth one where they were raising awareness about the Bee Cause, which I also mentioned in my Bee Cause post.

Me and a Friends of the Earth Bee

I love this picture with a FOE fluffy bee!

There really were many mouth-watering food stalls to choose from and many people enjoyed a tasty lunch in the sun

Lunch in the sun at the London Green Fair

The food stands included several vegetarian and vegan ones, this one was just like the one I regularly went to at Leeds Festival a couple of years ago…

Vegetarian & Vegan Food at the Fair

Tempting Churros y Chocolate with vegan churros

Churros y Chocolate at the London Green Fair

Raw vegan and vegetarian food

I had something tooth-friendly, a chickpea and spinach curry with “ever so soft” bread and rice

Chickpea and Spinach Curry

It was such a lovely day, and the Fair goes on until tonight.

London Green Fair in Regent’s Park

Did you go or are you going to the London Green Fair?

What did you do and see?

What did you enjoy the most?

Edible Designer Baguette – Vegan Day 20

Day 20 of my vegan pledge and as it’s Saturday it’s treat day!

This time last week I wanted something full of flavour, satisfying and fun to eat, so I made the perfect eco vegan Saturday night meal: Vegan Sausages Baguettes: scrumptious!

Vegan Sausages Baguettes

Ingredients:

  • 1 small Baguette for each person (I used the ones that need baking so they would be warm);
  • 2 Vegan sausages for each person (I used Linda McCartney’s);
  • A few washed lettuce leaves;
  • A few cherry tomatoes, washed and cut in half;
  • A sliced spring onion;
  • A few thin red onion slices;
  • Houmous or ketchup (or both!);
  • Chilli flakes (optional).

All you need

Delicious vegan fillings

To prepare:

-Cook the vegan sausages and the bread following the pack instructions;

-Prepare all the vegetables;

-Assemble as you wish and Enjoy!

My meat-eater boyfriend LOVED it!

Hungry?

Tuck in!

Bursting with flavour…yummy!!

As an extra treat, I made rosemary and garlic fried potatoes to go with them…

Rosemary and garlic fried potatoes

If you want you can even use other types of bread such as ciabatta bread warmed up in the oven or even ordinary sliced bread for an extraordinary sarnie!

These Linda McCartney sausages are really nice, they have a really nice taste and texture, and are much healthier and have less fat (especially saturated) than ordinary pork sausages.

Linda McCartney Sausages

Linda McCartney was a photographer, musician and an animal rights activist who wrote several vegetarian cookbooks, including “Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking” and started her food company and married Paul McCartney in 1969. She lost her battle with cancer in 1998 but her legacy lives on.

She even appeared with Paul McCartney in a Simpsons episode!

Linda and Paul McCartney’s daughter Stella, is one of the most famous international fashion designers, but unlike the majority of designers she refuses to use leather or fur for her beautiful designs.

If you click on the link be prepared to know the awful truth about how animals suffer for this, and if it’s too hard to watch, keep listening to Stella’s message about how buying leather is directly contributing to the suffering of animals and how it is damaging the environment.

Have you ever tried vegetarian sausages?

Have you tried any of Linda McCartney’s vegetarian meals range?

Eco People: Penélope Cruz

Day 14 of my vegan challenge: 2 weeks have already gone by and I miss one my favourite meals ever: toast.

Toast with buttery spread and a cup of English breakfast tea with a dash of milk. I feel rather deprived without this warming tasty “meal” but I still feel like eating vegan food is oh-so-achievable and doable!

 

I studied Spanish for 8 years and one of the best ways to learn, keep up or improve a language is to watch films.

-I am currently following a very interesting Chinese film blog my friend D writes called Chinese Procrastination if you are interested.-

My favourite Spanish films are Pedro Almodóvar‘s films, and he has had a long-lasting friendship  and working collaboration with the beautiful Spanish actress Penélope Cruz.

Penélope Cruz – Image from Google Images

I once chatted to my friend D about how some directors get very close to actors, as we can see with Pedro and Penélope, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Di Caprio, Robert Rodriguez and Salma Hayek, Wes Anderson and Angelica Houston…can you think of more similar relationships?

Penélope and Pedro’s collaboration has progressed over the years, it started with the 1997 film “Carne Trémula” (Live Flesh), then 1999’s “Todo sobre mi madre” (All About My Mother), followed by the incredible 2006 film “Volver” which I absolutely love and finally 2009’s amazing “Los abrazos rotos” (Broken Embraces) which I highly recommend to everyone.

But Penélope isn’t only an extremely talented actress and the first Spanish actress in history to receive an Academy Award, she has also volunteered in countries such as Uganda and India and has become the face of a new Peta campaign against the use of fur in fashion.

Find out more about why Penélope gives fur the cold shoulder. She has also adopted and rescued dogs and cats that she sometimes takes to interviews.

Even Spanish retailer Mango, for which Penélope Cruz designed a collection with her sister,  has banned the use of exotic skins in its lines.

Give fur the cold shoulder – Image from Peta

With major retailers producing really nice faux fur coats and accessories like this, is there really a need to kill animals to skin them in  awful, cruel ways just for their fur?

What do you think of Penélope’s initiative?