Tuesday, 18 November 2008
What inspires you?
How can someone buy your work?
Thanks Zoe! Please check out her website for more information and up-to-date pieces for sale.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Monday, 10 November 2008
For all you budding artists out there (or even if you're not) Rob is running a two-week trip to Kerala in India with the Responsible Tourism Award-winning company The Blue Yonder in February 2009. A group of 10 will participate in art workshops alongside those of local Indian artists. The trip will offset its carbon by physically planting saplings in a local reforestation project. The trip will also go on a spice tour and learn local cooking.
Monday, 27 October 2008
I have not abandoned my Eco Self, but am taking a short sabbatical. Instead I am writing about lots of lovely, unnecessary things I don't need, as I have a really strong interest in design. Doesn't sound very eco, does it? Still, believe me when I say I still have the rumblings of an eco conscience. Today I went to two fancy dress shops in New York (I'm here as an election tourist), and felt really quite unwell at all the aisles crammed full of plastic use-once for Halloween tat. And then I bought a Cleopatra headress. I promise I will take it home and file it away for future fancy dress reference.
So, if you're wondering where I've gone, that's where I have gone. I'll be back.
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
1800s button bracelet.
My Eco Self is very taken with these book vases and especially the standard lamp. They are the brainchild of designer Laura Cahill.
Books are notoriously difficult to recycle, because of the glue used in the spine, even though the Confederation of Paper Industries says that it is not impossible. What's your preferred method of disposing of old books? My Eco Self is going through a non-philanthropic stage, due to unemployment, and is selling old books secondhand on Amazon, rather than donating them to a charity shop.
I think that books are not necessarily that much of an ecological disaster (apart from the publisher's returns system, don't get me started) because most people keep their books and display them on their shelves to give off an air of intellectualism.
My Eco Self thinks that it is chick lit which is the greatest environmental liability. Keep this to yourselves, but in recent months My Eco Self has read Chasing Harry Winston and The Manny - but there is no evidence in my flat which would suggest so...Chasing Harry Winston was a throwaway purchase, read on the Eurostar between Paris and London and left behind on the train.
via Tea for Joy
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
This month's Rise magazine has an eco focus.
Check out my feature on the Hyde Farm Climate Action Network - it is a community group in South London which is really involved in lots of energy saving initiatives, including lightbulb libraries, draughtbusting and foraging for fruit on the local common. When I was interviewing Sue, one of the founders of the group, she had to excuse herself to answer a very cloak-and-dagger telephone call. I later found out why - Gordon Brown visited her house three days later!
I also wrote about my experience of joining Food Up Front.
Sunday, 5 October 2008
I've been a fan of Poojas for a long time - they sell 4 delicious samosas for £1. I tentatively went in there last week for the first time in a few years and with only £1 in my pocket; convinced that inflation and the credit crunch would have pushed up the prices. But no, still 4 samosas for £1.
The event was organised by local community groups Transition Town Tooting and Food Up Front.
I first discovered Food Up Front about a year ago, when they had 30 members and I wrote about them here. They are a scheme which encourages members to grow food in containers. Since then there's been a flurry of FUF activity - watch this space for an update on their activity coming soon.
Saturday, 4 October 2008
Except that I have been enthusiastically searching on Ebay for bargains. Further to my recent sales (for minimal results) I was convinced that there would be bargain purchases as well.
Where to start? There is just so much for sale, that it's almost impossible to narrow it all down. So I started searching by keywords of things I like; trees, hummingbirds, storms, swallows, Polaroids, black and white photographs. In my over-enthusiasm, I managed to buy a 2005 black and white photo of Green Park. 2005 is not exactly the vintage era I was aiming for. I lost out on Wedgewood hummingbird teacups, a cross-stitch of a hummingbird and an old hummingbird print. Do you notice a recurring theme?
Then I got a little bit carried away with shopping online, and bought a set of five spotted dishes from Lottie's Barn, like the one in the picture above. I am very excited about this new purchase, which of course is going to encourage me to use up all my leftovers and completely abandon any inclinations towards food waste.
Picture via Vintage Heaven.
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Monday, 29 September 2008
If you get the chance, have a listen to the podcast on the WSJ site - it's actually pretty interesting. I'm sure it must depend on the material used - if you're using recycled fabric to make your own bag, that has to be preferable to using a plastic bag.
I'm really wishing I had bought the yellow trolley bag in Paris.
I wish London had a scheme like the the Velib scheme in Paris. There are various bicycle stops around the city where you can pick up and drop off the bicycles - for a minimal fee. The bikes are great too - they have everything you need; a basket, lights, and locks. I saw lots of people using them, although it seems that French cyclists don't use helmets. People of France, that is a mistake! Although there are some allocated bicycle lanes, there still seemed to be some pretty risky manouvres going on - not least because cycling in high heels (as lots of the French women were doing) seems like a recipe for disaster.
Sunday, 28 September 2008
This is my list of eco to-dos before the end of October. Warning: if you believe that I am some kind of eco guru (in which case I'd have to assume you are a new reader) - and are averse to having that image shattered, then look away now - there are some shocking revelations on this list...
- Check if my loft is insulated (shameful, I know, but it's really inconvenient to get into my loft - through a very high hatch - I've never been up there.)
- Use up all the contents of my organic vegetable box before the next one comes, at least once - so I don't have to always resort to Friday morning soup.
- Make one of Orangette's delicious banana bread recipes (with the collection of mushy frozen bananas in my fridge which I didn't eat in time - see point 2. Note: top tip - freeze them without the skins - or perhaps you all knew that already? Never occurred to me.)
- Do an inventory of all of the reusable bags I already own, so I don't feel tempted to buy another one...
- Become more serious about my food shopping habits, take my shopping trolley and try out the well-reknowned organic butcher, Chadwicks in Balham, near to where I live.
- Turn my thermostat down by one degree.
- Remember to water my rocket plants so that they don't die.
- Look on Ebay for some second-hand bargain furniture, the likes of which elude me but seem to feature regularly in the homes of celebrity stylists/designers/never your ordinary 5'8" in Living Etc.
- Put up the curtains I've lived without for 17 months (I know, how did it get to be so long?) - a major energy waster.
- Buy one of those energy monitoring electricity devices.
I could go on, and on - perhaps I'll update this list when I've achieved everything above - I want to keep it manageable...Please post your list below and I will feature any good resolutions (as long as the intention is sincere!)
These are my happy Paris feet - and as much as can be revealed for public consumption. I took one small rucksack, with only a few cardigans and clean vests, and I suspect I looked quite rough for a few days. As a last minute gesture towards Parisien chic, I threw in a lip gloss at the last minute, but I am not sure that was enough to pull me back from the depths of scruffydom. Lip gloss + towel-dried hair does not equal a chic Parisien look.
I managed to exercise great spending restraint and I only spent 28 euros on things for myself. It was so sunny in Paris that I felt myself drawn to this yellow Perigot trolley bag, but then I remembered I already own a shopping trolley so in my non-wasteful attitude I decided I couldn't justify getting another one.
I think this may have been a mistake. This one was really sturdy, whereas mine is a) very flimsy, so it's a real pain to pull along and b) not yellow! I think if you're going down the old lady trolley route, you might as well have a statement piece? Oui?
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Monday, 22 September 2008
Apologies for the digression, but I was so thrilled when this link appeared in my inbox, that I feel I need to spread the word. I do so love the music ofIain Archer. This is a recreation of a rather touching moment at Greenbelt this year where he had his parents and parents-in-law get up on stage and sing with him.
One of my favourite songs of the last few years is Take That's Rule the World. I even heard it the other day when I was in a taxi with a Turkish taxi driver - and he was singing along with it as well. Anyway, the thing is that I was never into Take That the first time round - but now I absolutely love them.
Don't let that admission colour your opinion of me - but I just wanted to point out that I WAS into Iain Archer the first time round, and every time since - I've been listening to his music for more than half of my life.
Thursday, 18 September 2008
- learn how to make newspaper animals
- cover my boring clothes rail in ribbon
- become an expert in vintage costume jewellery
- find a pretty cake stand to display my jewellery
- wash those clothes which are at the bottom of my washing basket, and intend to sell on my stall
- get into my back garden (my back door is broken) to cut some greenery to display in a nice vase on my stall
- and there's more. Believe me, there's LOTS more
Still, I am very excited about the fair - there are lots of good things going on. Firstly, I am thrilled that Ellie Bethel is coming to give a reading. I love her book, Michael Recycle, and I think we're going to sell out of all the copies we have. My Eco Self is not jealous that Ellie had the idea for an eco-friendly children's book before Eco Bear and the Recycled Bicycle managed to find a publisher... Watch out for Ellie's sequel coming soon, Litterbug Doug!
Secondly, the manicure table is being sponsored by Green Hands. So much of what goes into nail products is really nasty stuff - so I'm delighted that Green Hands offer some greener options.
There's free breakfast too, from 10am - organic muesli provided by Rude Health.
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
I just saw this beautiful hummingbird flea market find at the eco-conscious Daily Danny. Inspired by him, I went on a trawl of my local charity shops, ever hopeful, but no joy. The US is definitely the land of opportunity in many respects - including flea markets. I've never had any luck in the charity shops here.
Photo by Danny Seo, via Daily Danny.
So, as a penance, I decided I needed to live off a very strict budget for at least a month, before I go to New York as an election tourist. But somehow I haven't started yet. I just went to IKEA today on a different mission, and somehow I have come home with a brand new lamp, duvet set and pillows, baskets...ever since I read about IKEA's environmental policy, I haven't felt so bad about shopping there - if it wasn't for buying things I don't really need.
I am a person who can't live off a budget. But I am determined to try - starting after my brother comes to visit this weekend.
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Saturday, 13 September 2008
Monday, 8 September 2008
On the way home, I was thinking about what really great meals I have had recently. And I realised that they have all been things which I or a friend have made myself, simple but delicious.
These are the top three contenders, which I know are going to stay in my repertoire for a very long time. They are all simple meals, but those which actually make you skip home a little faster in anticipation of what's to come, and arouse major feelings of food lust, an overwhelming feeling which makes you go a little crazy and ignore everything else until you've eaten.
- Homemade granola (not the chocolate kind, I will post this recipe at some point - it is amazing) - Food Neurotic Friend and I shared a batch.
- Carrot and lentil soup.
- Lying low tomato sauce.
The other day, FNF texted me to say 'Silent Light - great film' - about a film we watched at Greenbelt two weeks ago and really enjoyed. Did you watch it again, I asked, when I remembered to mention it, but he said no, he just was making the point again that it was a great film.
These feasts are Silent Light moments - I'm inspired to text him now to remind him about the carrot soup. And I can guarantee that one of these days I'll get another text saying 'great granola.'
Saturday, 6 September 2008
I've been recently inspired by this post, where the owner of the beautiful house above says that in their renovation of their home, establishing a front garden was a real priority, as it improves the quality of life of everyone on the street. I never thought of it like that - my front garden is the very last thing on my list; in fact I haven't even weeded once, in over a year. Perhaps I need to change my attitude.
I have, however, signed up for Food Up Front, which encourages people to grow vegetables in their unused front spaces, partly because it encourages interaction with your neighbours. Unfortunately my front garden belongs mostly to my neighbour, who is not particularly interactive, so I'll be toting my compost and container to my back garden, and eating all the lovely vegetables I grow all by my very self. Or perhaps not - not because of my philanthropic vegetable outlook, but because I'll be amazed if anything actually manages to grows in my garden. The benefit of growing vegetables in your front garden is that you don't forget they're there..
This is a dog house with a 'green' roof from Sustainable Pet - but perhaps it's just because I don't like pets - it actually looks quite nice. But, not claiming to know anything about animal behaviour, wouldn't a dog jump up on its roof garden?
I protest too much. I am back, embracing the green movement in spirit and in action - tomorrow I am going apple picking in some local back gardens. What a great idea! I can't wait.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
The above are an example of the difficulties of frugal living - I already have a whole stash of cards for every occasion, but I really feel I have to have these. I can see them now, propped on the mantlepiece in my spare bedroom, currently styled as vintage chic. There you go, a season of successful frugality ruined by a whim and a cute retro owl. Even the prevalence of holiday cards on their website isn't enough to put me off (one of my pet hates about the US is holiday cards; everybody - it's Christmas.)
Sunday, 31 August 2008
Technically, Food Neurotic Friend made the soup. FNF did not endear himself to me when he ignored my instructions to use the old wizened carrots from my old vegetable box, having explained to him the premise of the Friday morning soup. Instead I came back to the room to find him merrily peeling the brand new carrots, having made his executive chef decision that fresh ingredients in soup make all the difference without consulting me.
Despite this altercation, not the best start to a weekend, it was a really good soup, one of the best I've ever had. I wish I had taken a photo to document this culinary delight. We added coriander and natural yogurt, and I added a cube of cold butter when I whizzed it in the blender (a chef's tip FNF learned on a cooking course to make your soup restaurant quality.) It was one of those meals where you take each spoonful gingerly, pausing to reflect, carefully considering just which of the ingredients it is that really gives it an edge, determining a theory which is then challenged by the very next mouthful. And so you begin again. In the end, you may conclude that it was the fresh coriander that did the trick.
- Manufactured in compliance with Good Manufacturing Practice, governing the manufacture of cosmetic products.
- Water-soluble make-up.
- Skin colours are dermatologically tested.
I'm not sure this is quite enough to warrant calling it eco-friendly?
I also came across some recipes for making your own face paint with cornflour and food colouring. It sounds like a good solution if you are playing with children at home, but I'm not willing to take this on as an en masse solution - does anyone know a good brand?
Thursday, 28 August 2008
- Two people living together is more energy efficient than one, and reduces food waste.
- Meeting someone who lives locally reduces the relationship commute.
- And the most convincing; people who are interested in sustainability issues may be more interested in sustaining a relationship?
* It's in Balham, South London, coming up soon, on 20th September.
Monday, 25 August 2008
At Greenbelt I also watched a Morgan Spurlock film, What would Jesus buy? It's a documentary which follows Reverend Billy, a bleached blond man with a mission and his own denomination, the Church of Stop Shopping.* Now, I don't know the doctrinal detail, but I think the idea is to make Americans think about the consequences of their consumerist society - both on themselves and on the people who make the goods.
Although there's not progression during the film, and I was a bit concerned how much his wife was 'directing' him, the film did quote some great statistics about consumer debt, and although there comedy act is unlikely to lead to widespread conversion, hopefully it will have made someone think about what they're doing before they open their purse.
*Do you think donations to this church are tax-deductible?
Festival highlights for me this year included:
- Iain Archer, an old favourite, who won an Ivor Novello award for songwriting for Snow Patrol, and just had his track advertise Friends Reunited on tv - this is the song. I've been following his music for more than half my life...
- Silent Light - a slow-moving but beautiful film about Mexican Mennonites which won the Jury Prize at Cannes 2007.
- Simon Parke - an ex-vicar who has a weekly column in the Daily Mail about the characters he met while working in a supermarket for three years.
There were quite a few talks with an environmental slant; if you're interested you can order or download them online. This is one of them:
An Inconvenient Truth 2 by Andy Mellen.
"Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the car, increases in the price of food and fuel are causing concern here, and hardship around the world. How can we understand the underlying realities and face an uncertain future with hope?"
A question for all of us.
- eating leftover lying-low tomato sauce for four days straight. I made it again for a friend coming for dinner. I had good intentions of using up all my food waste too - the sauce calls for the onions to be discarded at the end of the recipe. I was making carrot and lentil soup with leftover carrots from my vegetable box, and the recipe called for tinned tomatoes and onions. So I thought I would just chuck in the onions from the sauce. This would have worked if I hadn't burned the lentils to smithereens.
- not washing for four days. Not by choice, mind you - I have just returned from the Greenbelt Festival.
Festival food is somewhat of a challenge. My friend Ruth and I were camping, and I made an attempt at bringing my own food so that I wouldn't spend a fortune buying food from the stalls around. Well, deep in my heart I knew the call of homemade chickpeas with lemon juice and freeze-dried parmesan wouldn't resound that loudly with me...so I looked around for more appealing options. There weren't many. My favourite festival option is the Tea and Toast Van.
They serve Fair Trade and organic food, and it's all vegetarian and locally sourced where they can. I had to draw the line at the veggie-bacon option (it looked like a rather unpleasant mortadella), but the mozzarella and red pepper tapenade toastie I had was very tasty. Oh, and they have free fruit for kids. There were a few vans which sold organic burgers and sausages direct from their farm (a great idea for a farm to diversify like that, I think) - but on the whole I think sticking to vegetarian is the way forward at these events...
My Eco Self is definitely drawn to pastel-coloured vans. Remember Lola's ice-cream van? I still think selling food from a pastel-coloured van may be my culinary calling.