Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Starrlight Jewelry - Trendy, Gothic and Fabulous.

One of my favourite shops on Etsy is this fabulous shop called Starrlight Jewelry .
Everything in this shop is Cruelty Free, vegan suitable.
The owner Starr has a wonderful, kind, caring spirit and is very helpful and friendly. She makes beautiful jewelry, gifts and home decor,  as well as caring for many  homeless cats, and raising funds for worthy animal causes. Certainly a busy lady!

I purchased this stunning necklace, made with black and red beads, and a beautiful black rose cameo. It looks gorgeous on, and I've received many lovely comments about it. I've worn it on  'dressy' occassions, as it goes very well with black clothing, of which I have many! It certainly turned a plain outfit into a glamourous one.

A look at Starrlight Jewelry will show you a good assortment of fashionable, alternative jewelry, in a Gothic/Victorian style. All unique and handmade.

If black is not your colour, then with luck, you may catch a beautiful coloured item such as this multi coloured ring, which would look gorgeous with everything, and could be worn as an evening piece or equally look good in the daytime. Just wear it with confidence, and accept the compliments!

I'm a big fan of spiders, and this brooch is one of my favourites. It's Stylish and exciting.

Starrlight Jewelry has a good assortment of jewelry at reasonable prices. Actually, considering all the time and effort that goes into creating such gorgeous, individual pieces, they are well worth the money. There's Home Decor such as fan/light pulls, to add a touch of elegance (or decadence - depending on your choice) to any room, and who could resist this adorable stich marker. If I was the lucky owner of it, I would just have to wear it as a brooch - sorry Starr - it's far too beautiful to be hidden away with knitting, it needs to be shown off, on a black jumper or wrap!

So next time you are on the internet, feast your eyes, by checking out this wonderful shop, Starrlight Jewelry and treat youself - you know you want to!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Where to find vegan information.

Anyone looking for vegan information will sooner or later come across
The Vegan Society. The website if full of information on subjects such as the History of the Vegan Society, Nutrition, Lifestyle, Faith, News and Events, Shopping and a whole lot more.
It states "Veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose."
Another useful website is The Vegan Village , with a useful noticeboard, groups and forums, shopping and services, health, charities etc.
Here's the link for a list of animal ingredients to look out for: http://www.happycow.net/health-animal-ingredients.html
and an interesting site that lists foods that are 'accidentally vegan' - I can't believe it's vegan!, which lists American products that just happen to be vegan suitable, but were not made to intentionally be vegan. Cool eh? Wish there was a UK site like that, maybe there is......
PETA has a whole load of information about being vegan, it's a very useful site. I find the American site has more information than the UK site, but it's all good.
To Happy Vegans is an interesting and informative site from written by two women Mitsu and Sasha, about all things vegan. Well worth a read.
Another fab read is The Vegan Family House Blog , which has some interesting recipes and information. Including the link to these white chocolate buttons which are a vegan godsend to chocoholics and can be bought from Goodness Direct if your local health food shop or supermarket does not stock them.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Vegan Cupcakes really do rule the world (no need to take it over!)

This is my favourite recipe book. The cupcakes are amazing. I tend to stick to the basic vanilla cupcake with the buttercream topping or the chocolate cupcake, with ganache topping. I usually change a bit here and there, adding something or substituting something either for convenience (that's all I've got in stock) or to try it out or cos it's what i fancy. They have always turned out fabulous. So I can very highly recommend this book. There are superb basic recipes, also some very fancy cupcakes, with mouth watering pictures and easy to follow recipes. I'm not much of a baker, so if I can make a decent cupcake anyone can.

Today I fancied lemon cupcakes. Actually I've been fancying lemon cupcakes for a few weeks but only just got around to making some today. I finely shredded the rind of 2 unwaxed lemons. Then squeezed the juice from them. Quite a bit of lemon for a cake, but I really fancied the 'zing' of lemon with the sweetness of a cake. I used the basic vanilla cupcake recipe from this book, leaving out the almond essence (I find it too overpowering- even in small amounts), and added two-thirds of the fresh lemon juice and rind.

For the topping, i used the 'lemon cream cheese frosting' recipe from the above book, but added a bit more sugar and the rest of the fresh lemon. I already had some vegan soft cream cheese in the fridge, which has a sweet taste, and not savoury as I was expecting it to be, so perfect for cakes, or even a vegan cheesecake. I found this dairy free spread at Waitrose, it's new product to me, so I don't know where else they sell it.
The recipe for toppings in the book, are always generous in the amounts that they make, so unless I want lashings of a topping, I will half the ingredients. Today, I went for the full amount.
The cakes cooked in about 20-25 minutes on a low heat. they smelled delicious. I waited for the to cool down, then added the frosting, which as predicted, the recipe made a bit too much topping. Still, it was nice, no, it was more than nice, it was delicious. Sweet and Zingy, lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting, perfect!

To see this recipe and lots more, check out theppk.com, where you will find this book, and lots of other recipes. The ppk.com is a wonderful place to interact with vegans. There is a forum, blog, shop and much more. Very funky cool.

This amazing cupcake book is available at Amazon. Which is a convenient way to shop, or by searching google you can find lots of suppliers that sell it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Brunch on a budget

Brunch has become a favourite with us lately. It's easy and quick to make, and there are no set rules as to what to include. Brunch originates from a combination of Breakfast and Lunch. Our brunches tend to be along the lines of a cooked breakfast, but I like the term 'brunch', and it usually differs a bit from traditional cooked breakfasts, being a) we're vegan and b) it depends on what's in the cupboard!
A lot of pre-made vegan options for a cooked breakfast can be very tasty, but on the expensive side. Also not that readily available, unless you happen to have a wholefood store nearby, or indeed a very good supermarket. we have neither. our supermarkets are bog standard - Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose - in no particular order other than where I shop- depending on my budget. As my budget is usually tight, I thought I'd write down today's recipe, for what was a particularly tasty brunch, that was produced on a shoestring (so to speak). I must add that some of the ingredients used are personal taste, such as raw garlic, as I'm sure many people with find the flavour too strong, and prefer toasted garlic, or no garlic at all, but we're garlic freaks, and never mind the consequences. Therefore I'll try to mention alternatives, where I think it may be overload for others, actually i think garlic is the main one!
This particular brunch ended up being piled high on toast, but would work equally well laid side by side, flat on the plate, again whatever you fancy.
The items were: buttered toast, garlic, yeast extract, tinned tomatoes, patties (my version of a burger!) and mushrooms. ta-da: -

Now then, how to reach this stage: It doesn't take long but does require a bit of juggling, especially since only one of the rings on our cooker is working!

To start with , how to make the patties (burgers). For a base, I use a packet or Sage and Onion Stuffing Mix, or any other flavour stuffing mix if I fancy a change. Around Christmas time, there is a multitude of mixes to try, so good other a bit weird, but all interesting. Supermarkets basic range of Sage and Onion Mix can costs as little as 16p a pack. You only need one pack. of course, you can make your own mix from breadcrumbs and stuff if you are so inclined, but that would be another recipe all by itself!
Add the tomato juice from the tin of tomatoes, also a little olive oil. the olive oil is optional, but I find it helps the patties to stick together (any oil would do the same).

Add a small amount of hot water. the mix will be quite wet now, so add some dry potato flakes to thicken up. Other options at this point could be to add oats or breadcrumbs, or anything that is absorbent, that you fancy. I also added a sprinkle of seed mix at this point. Again optional, and you could add anything that takes your fancy, such as:- Baco Bits, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, onions, veg etc. I also added a shake of cayenne pepper (optional - experiment with flavours!). This is what the mix looked like before cooking:

Put them under the grill, until cooked,
they will look darker, and the outsides firmer.

While they are grilling, make the toast (separate toaster if you have one), crush a much garlic as you can handle! I used 3 cloves- hardcore!

Chop the mushrooms, and saute with butter, add salt and pepper to taste. I'd like to mention that the cheaper, odd shaped mushrooms usually taste better than the perfectly sized and lined up ones, don't know why. 
While the mushrooms are cooking, butter the toast, add yeast extract, if desired, and spread with crushed garlic. Timing is crucial to get food hot!. While this is going on, make sure you have flipped the patties. When the mushrooms are cooked quickly swap the tomatoes to heat up, or in most cases (more than one cooking ring), this can be alongside the mushrooms. 

Add tomatoes to prepared toast, unless you prefer crispier toast, if so, add the tomatoes last. I prefer the tomatoes to partially soak into the bread.

The final part is to add the patties and top with mushrooms. voila! A very tasty and satisfying brunch!

You can make variations of this by using different types of bread, you could use beans instead of tomatoes, oh the variations are endless. I guess by just starting with a cheap pack of Sage and Onion Stuffing Mix, you can make no end of delicious meals and it won't cost much at all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Fabulous Vegan blog!

While searching for a recipe to cook a vegan omelet, I came across this site:
It has the most amazing, delicious recipes, and pictures.
I must try some of the recipes!
I will post pictures and the recipe of the omelet I make, when I have found a recipe I am happy with, or one I can adapt. In the meantime, browse any section on this site to get you thinking of food :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

From the Vegan Village notice Board:

ADI USA vacancies
Animal Defenders International is expanding, and moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles. We are looking for campaigns and office management staff. We will also be looking for lobbying staff for a satellite operation in Washington. See www.ad-international.org/work_with_adi for details.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fancy something sweet?

With christmas approaching, it's always nice to have the odd sweet treat. Well actually, who needs an occassion to eat sweets, if I fancy it, i'll have it! It just seems that at this time of year, maybe because it's colder, I quite often fancy something sweet. Lucklily, there are plenty of sweet treats in plenty of shops to satisfy my cravings. the lastest 'finds' are easilty obtainable and are not too expensive.
I popped into Lidl. Which Europeans will know is a German store, that sells a mix of branded products and it's own brand, a bit like a small supermarket. Both Lidl and Aldi are known to be reasonable on their prices, and as the advert says 2 don't change your lifestyle, change your supermarket", or something like that. I've certainly known friends go there and buy what they can, and anything they don't have, go to the bigger supermarkets, probably saving a fortune. Anyway, enough of that, I neither advocate using them or not, it's personal choice. here are the sweeties I bought from Lidl:

Coconut Ice was a real surprise find. I've not had this sweet for years. And it's labelled Vegan, so makes identifying it's suitability much easier. Coconut Ice is super sweet. I mean, very, very sweet. really, one piece is all I can manage at any one time. It's actually too sweet for me,but I'm sure many people would enjoy it.

Then onto Aldi, which is another German small supermarket, similar to Lidl. Here I found  Riter Sports in minatures. I like novelty things, so the mini squares appealed to me. Of the two flavours that I could see were vegan suitable, I liked the Marzipan ones the best. the other ones being Very Dark Chocolate. the Marzipan squares were light and only slightly tasting of marzipan, whereas the Very Dark Chocolate squars were a bit too bitter/dark for my taste buds. Maybe with a strong coffee when I'm in the mood for a caffeine fix, but not today!

Finally, as it's getting nearer to Christmas,  it's almost compulsory to have a mince pie. I have never made mince pies, nor do i want to, as I'm not a big fan of them, but once a year, feel, it's necessary to have one or two, or it won't be christamstime! Sainsbury's Value range do a cheap and cheerful mine pie, which satisfies my need to partake in a mince pie at this this of year, without making me feel too stuffed and yuk1 about them! They're small, less filling, pastry/crust is a bit doughy but fine, and probablt one of the best for the money. That is of course unless you LOVE mince pies, and really know what it takes to make a person really want one! Then of course they may not measure up!

While checking these products on manufacturers websites, I came accross Elizabeth Shaw's Mint Crisp, which used to be vegan, but now contains traces of milk, what a drag! so I've deleted them from this page, and passed the actual chocolates onto a non vegan friend. I do wish manufacturers would stick to their ingedients, or better still label their products as 'suitable for vegans'!

A cross blog reference.

I have reviewed some vegan products and services in my other blog 'MidnightRabbits', so I thought it may be useful to include some links here:

Just a few to go on with. The Weekened in Brighton post is all about the Vegan Fair in Brighton and vegan places to eat and shop in Brighton, I can't wait to go back there.

A BIG thanks to the EatOutVeganWales crew for a mention on their website- you guys rock!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Peace to all Creatures 'zine

A wonderful vegan woman called Pippi and a friend of hers, Jessi, produce a quarterly 'zine called 'Peace to All Creatures'
For those not familiar with 'zines, they are a - in the words of Wikipedia -A zine (an abbreviation of the word fanzine, or magazine; pronounced /ˈziːn/ "zeen") is most commonly a small circulation publication of original or appropriated texts and images. More broadly, the term encompasses any self-published work of minority interest usually reproduced via photocopier on a variety of coloured paper stock.

While not wholly about veganism, it has a mainly vegan slant, all of the articles are vegan freindly, and certainly this Fall 09 issue is 'the Vegan Issue' Couldn't get more vegan than that! This is the second issue of this zine that I have contributed to, the first being a written piece about Freeganism, and in the latest issue I sent in a drawing. I get a real kick out knowing my work is in a publication that anyone anywhere can see. How fab is that.
Aside from the self fulfillment contributing to the zine gives me, I must say it is also a fabulously good read. It's refreshing to find real articles from real people, about subjects that they have an interest in, instead of a mainstream magazine that is written by journalists, that do it for a living regardless of the subject. It seems like a much more personal read, and by the end of it, it makes one feel as though you've had a little insight into other people's ideas and interests. The articles are interesting and informative, also varied. The adverts are vegan friendly. The artwork is superb, right from the Front Cover, showing the two beautiful 'Kissing Cows' by Mvegan5, through to the Back Cover, which is a photograph of sweet cows, one looking right into the camera, by Ryan MacMichael - Vegblog.org.
The zine is well made, and is of good quality, both in print and paper. It includes articles such as 'Taking a Road trip with Your Dog', 'Marketing Veganism' and 'Aromatherapy'. And a lovely little surprise is that it arrives with some very pretty postcards and a pin badge.
The 'zine is available from UberDuperCreations Etsy Shop, is available as a hard copy or a digital download, and can be shipped Worldwide. Well worth buying and suitable for vegans, and non-vegans alike, eco friendly peeps and any peeps that want to look 'hip' - carry this super fab 'zine around!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Eat Out Vegan Wales

This free booklet and Internet guide 'EAT OUT VEGAN WALES' is a must have for vegans in Wales or a Vegan visiting Wales. Areas are listed alphabetically, and it's a big help for vegan eating in the smaller towns of Wales , where one may otherwise not have known where on earth to find vegan food. It's nice to know, cafes and restaurants are being added regularly, and listings amended when establishments are less than vegan friendly.
I will be doing a review of places I come across or have tried, many whom have been found in this guide. Put together by a friendly bunch, Tim and Paul and others? (don't know who else), who are enthusiastic, fantastic vegans. It's worth getting on their email list, as they sometimes arrange a get together for a vegan meal, which has always been a lovely evening out, and a real bonus to sit amongst vegans, and know that animal products are not going to be on the table. With Christmas coming up, I'm hoping they'll arrange a Christmas Meal, as the few I have been to were wonderful. An essential information guide for veggies in Wales.

Jobs at Animal Defenders

Job ads at Animals Defenders in London and San Francisco. They do fabulous work campaigning on behalf of abused animals worldwide:

Junior Research Associate, London
Closing date: Friday 27 November 2009 Reporting to: Head of Research Hours: Monday–Friday, with overtime as necessary Holidays: 4 weeks, plus 4 days Christmas-New Year office closure

Campaigner, London
Closing date: Friday 27 November 2009 Reporting to: CEO and Campaigns Director Hours: Monday–Friday, with overtime as necessary Holidays: 4 weeks, plus 4 days Christmas-New Year office closure

Fundraiser, London
Closing Date: Friday 27 November 2009 Responsible to: Supporter Relations Director Hours: Monday–Friday, with overtime as necessary Holidays: 4 weeks, plus 4 days Christmas-New Year office closure

Office Administrator, San Francisco
Position: Office Administrator Location: Animal Defenders International, Inc., San Francisco, USA Office hours: 9-5pm Monday-Friday Vacation: 4 weeks, plus Christmas-New Year closure

Latest Hair Styling Products

I am so happy to have found the latest hair styling products from Tara Smith
Rock on Hard Hold Styling Gel, vegan certified, and smells lovely. It holds very well.
I am a fan of Tara Smith products
and have blogged about her other products in another other blog, VeganEtsy
So you can imagine my delight when I found another addition to her range. I have just tried out the Rock On Hard Hold Gel and it's fab. I washed and conditioned my hair with Tara Smith shampoo and conditioner and applied a small amount of Rock on Hard styling gel . I can assure you, only a small amount is needed, it goes a long way. My hair feels fresh and light, with a good style and strong hold, along with the fact that it carries the Vegan Society Logo I love it.