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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Drum Beats for the Giveaway Winner, "I ♥ Trees" Pendant!

bijouxlouvlie giveaway,drum beats illustration

Drum beats as I announce the winner who was picked by the random number generator:

random number

Number 6 is Jenn!

Congratulations Jenn! You'll be receiving an email shortly so I can get your details.

Thank you everyone for participating. Those who didn't win this time, stay tuned, I have plans for other giveaways soon.

Coming up soon are the photos I took from the Vegan Bake Sale. If you are following me on Facebook or Twitter, you'd know I've been busy baking. I made Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Coconut. It was a hit and the cake disappeared in no time! There were loads of other goodies too brought in by other fellow vegan bakers.

Friday, 20 April 2012

**Closed** A Giveaway: I ♥ Trees Pendant

i heart trees, pendant, bijouxlovlie

It's been a while since I hosted a giveaway. Well, here it is! This one is a thank you for all the new Facebook fans I've been getting recently. It's really awesome and I have to say a special thank you to My Attitude - My Life - My Rules for sending them my way.

So what am I giving away?

This "I ♥ Trees Pendant" (a unique piece, handmade by me) to one lucky winner. The rules are simple. Just visit Bijouxlovlie on Etsy and tell me what's your favourite piece of jewellery in the shop. Leave your comment on this blog (not on Facebook). I can only count entries in just one place to keep it more organised.
Please only leave one comment.
Entries close Friday 27th April 2012, 11:59PM GMT

**Update: Entries are now closed. A winner will be announced soon.**

i heart trees pendant

The winner will be chosen with a random number generator.

Important: Be sure to leave me an email or link on which I can contact you in case you are the winner.


To make sure you don't miss out on updates (and sometimes posts on Facebook only), please like Veganlovlie on Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter @Veganlovlie.

By the way, the pendant will come nicely gift wrapped, just if you wanted to give this away in turn to someone else.



I hope you like this one. Good luck everyone!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Irish Tea Brack

Irish Tea Brack

This is a popular fruit loaf in Ireland. I sometimes buy fruit loaves in the supermarkets; they have some that are dairy & egg-free. I've always wanted to try out a proper homemade tea brack recipe though. After searching for a vegan recipe, I found that most of them used egg-replacer which I didn't have. So I decided to start off from a non-vegan recipe that I veganised.
I replaced the egg with 1/2 a banana. Only half was just the right amount to act as a binding agent without leaving the banana flavour behind. I also reduced the sugar because I thought the fruits would provide enough sweetness and also because I like this to be more like a loaf than cake. (I could have reduced the sugar even more I think...)

The original (non-vegan) recipe said to bake this at 160 degrees Celsius for one hour. But I started baking at a higher temperature then reduced gradually. It took longer than an hour and in the end I baked it for an hour and a half. It might have been because I used prunes and they contain a bit more moisture. So, if you are not using prunes, you might need less baking time.

Irish Tea Brack

Ingredients
100 g muscovado (or soft dark brown) sugar
1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
300 ml black tea (I brewed strong Lyons loose tea)
350 g mixed dried fruits (I used raisins, chopped dried apricots, prunes and dried cranberries, you can reduce the amount to 250g for a bit less fruit)
1/2 banana, mashed
240 g flour (I used 75g wholewheat and the rest plain white)
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Add dried fruits to hot tea. Dissolve in the sugar. Let soak for about 15 minutes.
  • Mix baking powder and flour.
  • Add liquid ingredients, stir and mix well.
  • Add mash bananas.
  • Pour into a loaf tin.
  • Bake for 1h and 30 minutes (or until a metal skewer comes out clean). I baked this at 180 degrees Celsius for the first 20 minutes, then lowered to 160 degrees for the next 50 minutes, and then 170 degrees for the final 20 minutes. I turned off the oven and let it sit in there for another 10 minutes.
  • (But do the fork test to see when yours is done. You might need less time...)
  • Allow to cool before cutting.

I liked the way it turned out; it was crusty on the outside but moist inside. This is nice smeared with a bit of vegan margarine too! Enjoy with a cuppa tea.


Irish Tea Brack

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Wabi-sabi

musings

~~~~~~Wabi-sabi~~~~~~

Have you ever wanted to just get out of the house being just you without having to look in the mirror first to see if you looked okay to go out? Are there things out there that you find incredibly beautiful but would not dare say they are because the whole world may not share the same opinion?

imperfection, wabi-sabi
Freckles as beautiful as stars in the sky.
Image from here.
Wabi-sabi, a Japanese concept that has now resonated strongly within me. What is wabi-sabi? I have explained the concept of wabi-sabi briefly as being the expression of beauty through imperfection and simplicity.
However, the concept of wabi-sabi expands far beyond this short phrase. I would thus like to not only elaborate a bit more on this concept that I have embraced but also share with you my personal expression of wabi-sabi.

In fact, words would fail to explain what wabi-sabi exactly is; it is but an expression of our natural self . It is the desire to embrace a natural way of life that eventually becomes part of one's philosophy and relationship with one’s surroundings.

The truth is wabi-sabi is inevitable. How one embraces it is what makes the difference in how it is perceived and experienced.


My Wabi-Sabi Embrace

Throughout my life, until recently (where I’ve experienced a turning point), I have been conforming to society's way of things both socially and in the work place. As a graphic ui (user inteface) designer, I have learnt the concepts of design such as alignment, balancing and colour theory, typography, layout, to name a few. While I’ve been following the 'rules' (almost!) and producing slick and what we would call 'perfect' designs that were generally pleasing to people (and especially the boss!), I have recently been questioning myself deep down about these aspects of things.

In the western world (where I have moved to for a number of years now), the concept of beauty is very well defined. Like I've said before, looking at yourself in the mirror before going out is probably something everybody does. Not that this is against the wabi-sabi concept but this gesture defines the concept of beauty meticulously. Aging, for example, is demeaned. Beauty is mostly perceived through the physical. Beauty models are photoshoped to look a certain way. During my two years of working as a Photo Retoucher in the fashion business (at ASOS.com), I did airbrush a lot of models to the image of 'perfection', despite the fact that I personally find people more attractive with their slight flaws.

Have a look around - that billboard, the ad on the bus shelter, the metro, tv, newspaper, magazines, the internet… We are constantly being overloaded with ‘instructions’ about how to live, dress, eat, socialise, even love and add anything to the list. Little (if not, no) room is left for self-expression, let alone your intuition. The word control springs out of my mind.

Over here, common practice every now and then, my colleagues or friends meet down the pub. Now, I am no longer even a social drinker ever since I changed lifestyle to veganism; it made sense to drop all alcohol if I was going to take care of my body. So, even in a pub I would usually go for fruit juice or water. Shocking, quite, if not, very, for some people. Basically, it is out of the norm here. That is to say, why would I go to a pub to have fruit juice or even worse green tea (if they happen to have it)? Plainly, it means I cannot socialise in a pub if I am to have non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night, lest having 20 questions to answer as to why I am not drinking alcohol. Anyway, this was an illustration of how much control society holds on us.

I have been finding it quite a challenge to conform to the rules (it has been a while now), socially, within the family and in the work place. I am not saying I am starting to become a renegade but it is rather my concept of things and relationship with my surroundings that are changing. Fundamentally, the struggle for perfection is really an attempt to eliminate imperfection. However, this struggle is exhausting and ultimately futile.

Reflecting back on my life into the things I have really loved and that which resonated deep within, I find that each time I really felt a sense of happiness there was the concept of wabi-sabi naturally being applied into the flow of things. Here’s a story:

I met my boyfriend in the workplace when we were working for the same company in 2003 (We've been together for nine years now). He was the one to approach me. On our first lunch date (at work), he wore a nice blue shirt looking smart and of course trying to make the best impression. He did look slick and the typical perfection (as we would call it) for a first date. However, I came to realise, this was not what impressed me most about him on an appearance level. He had beautiful fine facial features all well balanced except for one thing. His ears! They are the protruding type. They stick out more than normal. This was what did it for me! That one flaw in an otherwise perfect head is what I found attractive. The incredible elvish look they gave him, is what has left this impression, for a lifetime... Now, we all know how protruding ears can bring a lot of misery to children especially as they are exposed to teasing among friends. And sadly some people even seek treatment or surgery for this while it does not impair the use of any organs in any way.
So, every time I would mention to my boyfriend about how attractive I found him with the protruding ears, he would think I was teasing. (I think he is convinced now that I am genuine about this!)


To love our traits,
To find beauty in the imperfection of nature,
To live life through the senses,
To better engage in life as it happens,
In other words…
… flow, surrender ...

Wabi-sabi nests all of these although the competitive society of today does its best to cast them out.
Embracers of this philosophy live through the senses and better engage in life as it unfolds, rather than spend energy on unnecessary thoughts.
In allowing ourselves to be gracefully lulled by the course of life, wabi-sabi naturally settles in the appreciation of assymmetry, roughness/irregularity, simplicity, modesty, and the appreciation of natural objects and processes.


Wabi-Sabi and Nature

In reference to the Western ideal of top notch beauty as something epic, grandiose and durable, wabi-sabi is the exact opposite. Observed in nature, wabi-sabi is not the moments of bloom and greenness but rather moments of inception or fading away.

ivy, wabi-sabi,dried leaf

growing plant, wabi-sabi

It is not about gorgeous flowers, magnificent trees and breathtaking landscapes. It is about the insignificant and the shy, the uncertain and the transient: things so subtle and brief, they are invisible to crude eyes.

skeleton ivy, wabi-sabi

dried flower, wabi-sabi

When you think of wabi-sabi you think about materials that occur naturally like mud, clay, wood, bamboo, cloth, paper, hemp, grass and even iron. These would physically change with the passing of time hence the sense of impermanence. Wabi-sabi would not relate to materials like plastic, glass, aluminium.

wood ring, wabi-sabi
Wood jewellery by starlightwoods.

iron gate, wabi-sabi


Wabi-Sabi and Street Art

Here’s a beautiful illustration of the wabi-sabi concept: Graffiti weeds by NYC artist Gina Dawson. She beautifully developed this concept of creating sculptures of dandelions and other assortments of weeds out of coloured paper and then installing them all over the city. Most people would regard weed as much as graffiti a curse, an eyesore! Gina’s expression of something as insignificant as weed through a beautiful work of art is a nice embrace of the wabi-sabi concept.

weed grafitti weed grafitti
weed grafitti
weed grafitti


Wabi-Sabi and the Handmade

Embracing wabi-sabi in my life has naturally kindled my appreciation of the handmade. My own handmade jewellery work certainly bears the wabi-sabi traits – they are not always symmetrical, each item is unique in its own way. But from a wabi-sabi point of view, these imperfections are not...imperfect. They look as though that’s the way things should be. Perfect, in other words.

bijouxlovlie,wabi-sabi

bijouxlovlie,wabi-sabi



Nothing is finished
Hence, there probably isn't a conclusion to this...

But how about starting to embrace this concept for yourself?
Some people would spend a few thousands to get the perfect teeth alignment and the whitest shade possible (while there was probably not much wrong with it in the first place; remember Kate Moss became famous thanks to the gap in her teeth). Others would go on starvation diets to get that magazine model look (at the detriment of their health). Just when did we start to think that the perfect body means only skin on bones? One of the most adored woman in history was far from looking like a walking skeleton.

Is the struggle for perfection really an attempt to boost self-esteem? Or so has society condemned us to believe that this ought to be the case?

Instead of going for materialistic pleasures of the mundane world, why do we not start to learn to be content with our lives, exactly as they are today? Then slowly, allow the changes to happen naturally, merging and flowing with nature and all the rest, just how things intended to be...

Watch this space, more to come... because

...nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect...

plant on rock, wabi-sabi

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Lovlie Musings...Coming Soon!

lovlie musings

A while ago, I mentioned that I was going to introduce some new types of content on this blog. I will be starting a new section very soon - Musings - which will be, as the name suggests, a collection of thoughts and contemplation or sometimes ramblings.

Watch this space!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Galway!

galway

I'm back from Galway. We had a really nice break, Boyfriendlovlie, Sisterlovlie and myself in the city and we also visited the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. Like I said before, I visited Galway more than a year ago and fell in love with this cosy little city. It has a very positive spirit and vibrance. People are very friendly and there are quite a few vegan-friendly places. Here's a handful of photos. I'll post some more from our tour to the Cliffs of Moher and County Clare later. Hope you enjoy!

galway

galway

galway

galway

galway

Ireland is divided into four provinces, Galway being in Connacht.
galway

galway

galway

We had a nice view of the River Corrib from our hotel room window.
galway

galway

galway

galway

galway

galway

galway

galway

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Easter Break

daffodils

Daffodils has sprung and bloomed. They are almost gone already. But they've added so much spirit to the beginning of Spring with their golden dress!

I am off for the Easter break to spend a couple of days in Galway (on the west coast of Ireland). I've been there before but I loved this cosy little city so much that we've decided to pay another visit.
I'll share some photos when I get back.

Happy Holidays!

daffodils

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