Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rebekka - the muffin recipe for you

This is the recipe for the Turkish Delight muffins that were facilitated by the muffin tin from Rebekka. Off topic, but closing the circle ... and yes, they were very good.

Turkish Delight Muffins
  • 2 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 125 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 x 55 g Turkish Delight chocolate bars
  • Whipped cream and mint leaves to serve

Chocolate ganache
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream
  • 200 g dark chocolate, chopped

1. Grease 12 hole muffin tin (1/3 cup capacity)
2. Sift flour, sugar and cocoa into a large bowl
3. Whisk egg, milk and melted butter in a large jug till combined. Add to dry ingredients and mix, being careful not to over-mix, until just combined. Finely chop 2 x chocolate bars and fold into chocolate mixture. Divide mixture among holes of prepared pan.
4. Cook in moderately hot oven (190 C) for about 20 minutes or until cooked when tested. Stand in pan for 10 minutes before turning onto wire rack to cool.
5. To make chocolate ganache, place cream and chopped chocolate in a saucepan. Stir over a low heat until mixture is smooth and combined. Transfer ganache to small bowl and stand at room temperature until mixture is a spreadable consistency.
6. Spoon ganache over muffin tops and decorate with remaining chopped chocolate bars. Stand muffins until ganache is set.
7. Serve with whipped cream and fresh mint leaves.

holding out

Happy to say I got over my bout of stuff lust, and haven't bought anything. Am wondering now about how this will work for me in the long term - I am fairly confident in thinking that my attitude towards consumption has changed significantly over the past couple of months - but realistically there will be times when I do buy new shoes/clothes etc. I am beginning to think that part of the answer lies in 'considered consumption' - thinking carefully about whether I do really need it/why I am buying it etc. And the other part of the equation is buying stuff that is high quality and is going to last a long time - and that I am going to want to keep for a long time. Don't know if this is the answer, but it seems a start.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

confession time

I've been avoiding the blog for a week now because I've caved in.

My great-aunt passed away at the age of 95 after a great and influential life, and I was in the city after a meeting, walked into David Jones and was so upset over it, I went and bought myself a really expensive dress to wear to the funeral. It was the first one I saw, tried on, and the whole process took 15 minutes.

Do you like how I've tried to justify the purchase first??

My husband's first response was "are you going to let your blog know that you've bought something new??"....(ie - not happy jan!)

I've felt so guilty about it so much since that I just don't think I'll get much enjoyment out of it. I've not even gone grocery shopping this past week to try and 'make up' for it.

And yes, I did wear it to the funeral so I can't return it.

On the up side, the guit far outweighed the 3 minutes happiness it gave me, so I won't be rushing back to the shops in a hurry.

the muffin saga

I have made the muffins! This is something I wanted to do a while ago, but did not have a muffin tin. I had a couple of generous offers via the blog - one from Brisbane (a bit far for a pickup) and one from Melbourne. And then I began to find the world is a very small place ...

I contacted Rebekka (with the Melbourne muffin tin) and we agreed to meet. In the process of making the arrangements it was clear that we both worked in the CBD, in the same street - and in the same building! We hooked up on Friday afternoon and the said muffin tin was handed over.

Yesterday I made chocolate turkish delight muffins - and they were very good. Even taking into account my extremely modest culinary skills.

So, thanks Rebekka, it was all due to you that our friends got a decent dessert last night.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Stuff lust

I am suffering from a serious case of stuff lust. I want to buy things - stuff - new stuff. Stuff I want - stuff I am beginning to imagine I need ...

So far I am holding out ok (I did buy a piece of jewellery, but it's antique so it doesn't count) but it does seem an almighty wrangle. I am fighting years of social conditioning, billions of dollars of advertising and god knows what else.

I am beginning to wonder if the acquisitive urge is hard wired - where does it come from, this desire to have more?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

New old bikes

This bike recycling project in Sydney is good.

Alana, can we add their link to our sidebar? I think we're a match.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

everything old is new again

I am sitting here wearing my new old shoes. I have a basket that I used to keep shoes in. I haven't looked in it for quite a while - well, yesterday I did and found a couple of pairs of great shoes that I had forgotten about. I mean completely forgotten - I had forgotten I even owned them.

Well, I feel like I have scored big time, I am now wearing them (very comfortable they are too, and just the sort of shoes I like - I am obviously a woman of taste and discretion). But it has made me wonder - how come I could forget that I ever owned these shoes? How come I could see the basket every day and not look in it for a couple of years ... How did I ever get so blase about possessions?

Probably because I have too much, and it is just too easy to get more.

Anyway, I am happy to report that the only books I have bought have been second hand. I have not bought any clothes or CDs or other stuff. Feeling pretty good about it all really, and I have new old shoes!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

almost famous

The Shopping Sabbatical has been mentioned in an article in the Windsor Star (Canadian paper)

Thanks Alison.

Monday, March 12, 2007

to use or not to use, that is the question

After having bought new body and earth friendly (I hope) moisturiser - I found a tube in the bathroom cupboard. Petrochemical based. And body lotion (several bottles). Now - what is worse - do I use it (not too keen on that option) or do I throw it away to landfill?

Can't imagine that the second hand market for already opened skin products is booming ...

Friday, March 9, 2007

A new mum who doesn't buy?

Here I am, two weeks out from the birth of my baby daughter, an oddball in among all the other young mums I know.

I admire their latest purchases for their kids - the teeny tiny sandals, the cute little onesies, the miniature biker jackets. I laugh (or cringe) at the myriad of talking toys (all requiring batteries), the educational plastic whatsits, the TV tie-in plush dolls.

I don't buy any of it.

One of my friends (due mid-year) commented recently how parenthood seems to be merely an excuse to buy thousands of dollars of often unnecessary equipment these days.

Do young parents really need a change table? Our baby daughter is changed on the kitchen table, just like I was by my parents when I was a bub.

Do babies really need 45 outfits (for every occasion), mini leather jackets, fifteen 'my first teddy bear' toys, and enough bunny rugs to stretch to the moon and back?

Every department and budget store worth its salt seems to publish 'baby must-have' lists that stretch almost as endlessly - one free book provided to me when I had my son even listed a Toyota Landcruiser on its 'must-have' list!

These lists seem designed to turn even the most budget-conscious parents into uber-consumers, and happy young parents into gibbering, quivering wrecks of parenthood, who forever wonder whether their child will suffer if they don't buy exactly the right electric swing and baby walker for their little bundle of joy.

Confidence and happiness gets twisted into insecurity, and security is sought in the purchase of yet more items that promise to fill the gaps and make parenthood a sure success.

Which is what consumerism is ultimately about, of course. Consumerism sells insecurities, then markets a dream in the form of products as a 'cure'.

As a society, we're spending more and more time at work, earning the dollars to buy the latest, the greatest, the prettiest and the best - but in the meanwhile we're losing touch with what's real and meaningful. Our kids might look great in the latest fashion, but what's the point if we're slinging them in child care 5 days a week to pay for it all?

Having the image of being the perfect, 'family beautiful' might be great on the outside, but we really need to question our priorities if we don't put our kids, their health, and the health of the planet above wearing trendy outfits on the ladder of importance.

With my baby girl I'm stepping away from the dream that is sold to us in catalogues and on TV. She's proudly wearing 90%+ hand-me-down clothes, and the only new items she wears are her nappies and baby socks (impossible to get second-hand).

I'm not saying I don't feel the pull of consumerism, luring me to the malls and the stores and the baby boutiques. I do. But as a member of The Compact, a serious Downshifter, and a longstanding Greenie, I know that my baby is just as happy in last year's baby fashions, and that the love and care and thought we spend on her is worth far more than any stupid Toyota Landcruiser.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

no to plastic bags

One thing I am fanatical about is not using plastic shopping bags. But sometimes Even I fail in my efforts when I am caught withought my shopper bags and use the ones the store give out..Lazy huh?

Not anymore...

I saw this website on the San Fran Compact blog spot and I really wasn't happy about that poor turtle having a blue plastic bag for lunch.

Even if you can't commit to the compact 100% - please say no to plastic bags. It really is unacceptable to use them in this day especially when there are so many alternatives!

Skin products again

I bought the moisturiser - Daintree - plant based apparently (the tinted one came in glass, the other one in a plastic tube - I did consider that at length, but decided to go with it). We will see. But after the purchase I was reading an article on the ACF's website about cosmetics which stated that a woman could absorb up to 2 kg of chemicals a year through toiletries and chemicals. Yikes - that is a truly disgusting thought.

And I suspect that most women are on autopilot when it comes to skin care products and cosmetics - it is just something that we do. Although I don't wear makeup (apart from lipstick - there are some things you just need in life), I truly hate to think of the volume of petrochemically derived moisturiser that I have slapped on my skin over the years. No more. Am beginning to think that if you wouldn't eat it, then maybe you shouldn't put it on your skin (and thus into your body). Almond oil is starting to look pretty good.

Monday, March 5, 2007

No umbrella

I love how being a compacter pushes me to do things differently.

I left work today and found myself standing in the lobby, staring at heavy sheets of rain. I didn't have an umbrella. I didn't want to get soaked. What to do?

I actually thought about stealing a brollie, reasoning that, after all, umbrellas are like lighters and pens, objects that belong to the commonwealth. I've bought dozens of umbrellas in my life, and where are they now? You have them. Give them back.

So anyway, I knew there was a shop round the corner with a stock of umbrellas. New umbrellas.

What I did was, I dashed from one covered section of sidewalk to the next. This meant going the long way from the office to the car, but I figured that this way, I'd stay dryish and wouldn't absolutely have to buy an umbrella.

I got damp, but not soaked. By the time I got close to the shop, the rain had lessened. And by the time I got close to the car, it had stopped completely.


Sunday, March 4, 2007

mending and fixing

It's just uncanny that Alana was talking about society being disposable and throwing things away. I have just spent the weekend going through the three huge plastic tubs of old clothing that I have getting things out that I've not work for a few years and seeing what can be salvaged and worn this year. I've managed not to go near the clothing shops and buy anything since 03rd January. It's been three months and is an absolute record for me, but I too am feeling the 'need' for a lovely pair of winter boots even though it's a stinking 32 degrees here in Sydney with about 150% humidity!

In my rummaging around, I managed to find a lovely suit I've not worn for two years missing a few buttons, and a top that I bought 5 years ago that I've worn to work today. The girls in the office all seem to like it. I also found a great jacket with the hem out and a denim skirt I do something with. So my project for this week is to replace buttons and sew up the hem of my jacked and fix the skirt up. Luckily I have a bit of a mending kit and a button jar happening...not too sure how flash my sewing skills are, but I'll do my best.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Fixing things and moisturiser angst

I am not a fixer. I don't know many fixers. We don't live in a fix-it society - we live in a replace it society. I had dinner with family a week or so ago and there was talk of darning socks. Yes, some people still do it (granted, I doubt many of them are under 70!). I don't know how to darn, and quite frankly I don't want to find out - but it got me thinking about generational differences in attitude to how we use things. It seems that people bought up in times of plenty always expect to have plenty, and the concept of fixing things is pretty foreign to us. People who grew up with less seem to value things more. A broad generalisation? Probably.

On another note, my shoes broke today. At first I thought it might have been a glue job, but closer inspection revealed that the sole had broken in half. Not a glue job. Chucked them out. And I don't need to buy any more because I have enough shoes. But, having said that I really like the look of the boots that are coming in for winter. I suspect I am desperately going to want a pair. Am totally aware how much I don't need them and how superficial this desire is, but there you have it. I shall wrestle with my conscience until one of us wins.

On another tack - I will soon need to buy some moisturiser. Generally it is a cheap supermarket thing for me because I suspect that they are all pretty much the same, despite the promises of instant youth and beauty. Now I am beginning to think that I should be using organic (better for me, better for the environment, yada yada) and product that is packed in glass rather than plastic. Had a look at some - and nearly fell over at the price. But - a big bottle, it will last longer and the packaging impact will be less... I didn't really think this business was going to get quite so complex. Anyway, will make sure I wring the last out of the plastic bottle of petrochemically based supermarket moisturiser before I cough up for the good stuff. And you know, I somehow doubt that it will make the slightest difference to how I look.

I reckon it is time someone sued those cosmetic companies for false advertising - if they were to be believed there wouldn't be a woman around who looks a day over 23.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Is it wrong to do the right thing?

I have purchased - and it was stuff that I do not need immediately. I have just bought a box of 6 compact energy saving light bulbs and a low water flow shower head. The way I figure I will need lightbulbs eventually - and it is better to have some that are environmentally friendly on hand. And of course, you can't buy used ones. And the shower head has to be a good thing in terms of reducing water use. But it is purchasing ...

I think I made the right decision.