Saturday 31 January 2015

Adieu, January

It doesn't seem like two seconds since I was greeting the new year with my wordy wanderings, and now here I am bidding farewell to the month of Jan, or should I say, Veganuary. Time really does fly when you're having (foodie) fun.  On the back of these past 31 plant-based days, I don't think it's a coincidence that I note especially high energy levels, an increased skin glow and a very happy tummy. Not to mention even more of an enthusiasm for vibrant vegan nourishment.

As I've indicated previously, this transient transition hasn't been the greatest contrast to my ordinary lifestyle - especially with my long-time lactose intolerance and deep-rooted love for plant power - but it's been a sweet opportunity to wholeheartedly devote my energy towards a movement that's intrigued and attracted me for a while.  Post-Veganuary, I think I'll more or less be sticking to what's worked for me over the past few weeks, albeit adopting a slightly more lenient approach; sustainably sourced fish (viz. SUSHI) and eggs will be making an appearance too. I'm not preachin' - living freely and according to our own personal principles is key - but I really do advocate a fresh food philosophy that's mindful, balanced, positive and nourishing. An inside-out approach that facilitates your happiest, most radiant self: just some food for thought. 

Tuesday 27 January 2015

The coffee "Canon"

If I'm not thinking about coffee, then I'm usually thinking about photography (and vice versa of course), so the fact that my current vessel of choice neatly combines the two makes me very content indeed. A bit of a novelty it might be, but we shouldn't neglect the - not to be underestimated - notion that the littlest of things can amount to a pretty gleeful existence. All the more so in the midst of uni deadlines and chilly climes. And who's to say a lens-shaped coffee container can't provide a small-scale snippet of gratification? 

Sunday 25 January 2015

Scrumpy Willow + the Singing Kettle

Quite simply, a weekend just isn't a weekend without a laid-back and hearty brunch to satisfy the soul. There's always time for brunchin'. While rustling up foodie delights with your own fair hands is certainly a beautiful thing, a slow-paced Saturday (and/or Sunday) is even more of a treat when the food magically lands on the table. For my latest little brunch jaunt, I popped to the sweetest of spots in Newcastle, accompanied by my equally sweet friend Juju. Having walked past Scrumpy Willow + the Singing Kettle - and salivated over the menu - a bunch of times before, I felt it was about time I gave into temptation and sampled their fine gastronomical wares. 

Located right in the city centre, this unassuming and adorable café is (wo)manned by friendly staff who serve up a simple but scrumptious selection of - predominantly vegetarian and vegan - fresh food and drink. From smoothies, to sweet treats, to savoury dishes, all their fare is sustainably sourced and made up of real, quality ingredients; not an E number in sight (no thank you). 

Quite uncharacteristically for my characteristically indecisive self, it didn't take me two seconds to settle on my order: the 'Vegan Traditional' - a wholesome platter of puy lentils, potato cake, spinach, slow-roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, homemade baked beans and their freshly baked bread (a choice of white, wholewheat or gluten free). Together with the top-notch soya latte and lovely company, last Saturday's Scrumpy Willow stop made for the perfect start to a contented kinda weekend. Needless to say, I'll be back.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Weekly wisdom #1

Actions might speak louder than words, but a little pep talk never hurt anybody. The first in the series of my spirit-liftin' slogans.

Today: Make it small, simple, but significant.

Friday 16 January 2015

This week I'm lovin'

Having been faithful to Veganuary for half a month (already!), I thought it might be apt to spotlight some of the tried-and-tested treats that have kept my foodstuffs far from boring over the past two weeks. While these goodies were admittedly part of my daily fare prior to this dedicated month of veganism, they've become all the more appreciated against the backdrop of a - marginally - more limited diet.   

1) COYO // This creamy, dreamy coconut dessert tastes anything but dairy-free, soya-free, gluten-free, lactose-free and sugar-free. Available in a fine array of flavours - vanilla, mixed berry, chocolate, mango and natural to name a few - this yoghurt's so rich in flavour and texture that it serves as a satisfying cream alternative to boot!  

2) Rebel Kitchen // Having hit upon these fun, flavoursome "mylks" in Berlin's Veganz last year, I've been hooked on Rebel Kitchen ever since. Comprising of a coconut milk base - there's a theme here - these delicious dairy-free, refined sugar-free bevs come in chai, matcha and chocolate variants and are neatly packaged, too (always a plus). Chai and chocolate are my particular faves! 

3) Raw Health // I'm a big fan of this wholesome lil brand in general, but their 'Super Seed Spread' has made a particularly frequent appearance in my diet of late. A fabulous source of those vital omega-3 fatty acids - let's not demonise all fats, please - this versatile little spread is a nifty source of nourishment in the absence of fish. "Scrumptious seed power" indeed.

Friday 9 January 2015

Matchy matchy

// Ditsy Print Trousers: Cooperative @ UO | Ditsy Print Top: Cooperative @ UO | Personalised Necklace: Tatty Devine | Earrings: Primark | Trainers: Nike Air Force 1 Lo // 

[Photo cred to lovely siblet, Leila C-M!]

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Guy Bourdin: Image Maker @ Somerset House

I don't need to be asked twice to call in on the beautiful Somerset House; this applies all the more so when ya throw the excuse of a first-class photography exhibition into the mix. Needless to say, I leapt at the chance to check out the latest - stunning - display of a famed fashion photographer whose seminal works I've been a long-time lover of. An in-depth retrospective of 100+ pieces, Guy Bourdin: Image Maker offers an intimate and insightful glimpse into the ingenious workings of one of the 20th century's preeminent creative minds. 

As well as showcasing a rich selection of some of Bourdin's most esteemed works, the exhibit - which runs until 15 March 2015 - outlines his entire creative process, with the photographer's orange Rhodia notebooks and tracing paper snippets of preparatory technical drawings displayed in simple glass cases throughout. Having been mentored by distinguished visual artist Man Ray, Bourdin constructed his creations with a marked surrealist vibe, fused with an unconventional style very much belonging to him. 

While Guy Bourdin was first and foremost noted for his exceptional fashion photography, namely his work for Paris Vogue and advertorials for Charles Jourdan, the 'Image Maker' of the expo's title is quite literal; Bourdin's unedited cine films (created on a Super 8 camera) and detailed sketches confirm his remarkable image-making ability per se.  

Whether he was using real-life models or - as characteristic of many photographs - surreal freestanding mannequin legs in their place, Bourdin had an unparalleled knack for subverting contemporary aesthetic ideals and creating images that simultaneously intrigued and delighted the spectator. Even his polaroids, which primarily served to check his meticulously thought out compositions before pressing the shutter, are of an unparalleled quality. 

As you reach the end of the exhibition, there remains no doubt that Bourdin positioned himself in the vanguard of commercial visual culture, inspiring subsequent generations of photographers in the process; Guy Bourdin: Image Maker certainly does him justice.  

Saturday 3 January 2015

Borough Market glee

Having missed the chance before Christmas, I was bent on hitting South London's beloved Borough Market before its annual festive adornments came to an end for another year - not that it ever lacks sparkle outside the season of goodwill. This in mind, today's inconvenient spot of rain wasn't gonna stop me from swinging by my fave foodie paradise for lunch. And it seemed others weren't deterred either, since - as is customary on a weekend - fellow food lovers flocked in their masses to satisfy gastronomical cravings. 

Even without the crowds, it's all too easy to lose yourself amid the resplendent selection of sights, smells and - most importantly - samples. Admittedly, there are trips where so many tasters are consumed that I leave little room left for much else. The breads! The oils! The honeys! It's hard not to get a foodie buzz (geddit) from all the first-rate fare.

This time around, though, I managed to save myself (a bit) for something more substantial too. Small wins! My Veganuary-friendly lunch consisted of a pretty delectable sweet potato and chickpea number from The Veggie Table, while Mama opted for a dreamy looking - and smelling - pad thai dish, followed by a mouthwatering medley of salted caramel and burnt sugar fudge. 
Oh Borough Market, you do make me happy.

Thursday 1 January 2015

New year, same me

As with every year, waving adieu to the season of excess and entering a fresh 12 month period inevitably signals the worn out "new year, new me" catchphrase. Mainstream glossies across the globe have eked out this cookie-cutter formula since, well, forever. While good intentions and self-betterment are not - by any means - to be knocked, this kinda fad-style mentality, in my opinion, neglects the idea that you (yeah you) are really, really great as you are. To me, a measured and mindful process of personal improvement is the real deal; a rapid and thoroughgoing makeover just isn't sustainable, nor required. We are a work in progress, people! 

While I try to stave off society's apparent insistence on changing me (which just isn't gonna happen - soz), I nonetheless see early January as an opportunity to reflect on where I'm at, set achievable personal goals and give myself a challenge that might just facilitate a fresh perspective or two. Growth is good. This in mind, I'll be taking part in this year's Veganuary: an international endeavour to commit to veganism for the month of Jan (as the name suggests).

Those who know me will be aware of my already existing enthusiasm for real, unprocessed, whole foods; I'm a big believer that food should be eaten consciously, and steer clear of processed GM junk where possible. It just feels better! Naturally, then, it figures that I'm curious about a movement with an overriding philosophy of sustainability, awareness and plant-based eatin'. Indeed, in this speedy society of on-the-go grub and often mindless consumption, the idea back-to-basics nourishment seems all the more appealing. 

During this month-long period, I don't intend to get all preachy and self-righteous, but rather to test out an alternative mode of living and prove - to both myself and anyone that's interested - that there's more to a vegan lifestyle than tofu and tree hugging (not that there's anything wrong with either of those). I won't be depriving myself of food groups or fun, I'll simply be remixing dishes in an experimental fashion, keeping them nutrient-rich and close to how nature intended. Feel free to follow me on this little venture!

However you might intend to start 2015, have a Happy New Year! And, if you fancy, meditate on this - deep but true - little gem from the wise Osho: 
"Drop all efforts to change yourself. Put your whole energy into knowing yourself, and out of that knowing comes growth. And that growth will bring your original face. You have to be only yourself. You have to be only that which you already are."