Charities and Organisations I support

At this time of goodwill I thought I’d tell you about some of the charities and organisations I support and I why I do so.

I support international aid. I think the poverty suffered in developing countries is more than we can imagine in the West. Some don’t agree with the Government giving money to other Governments in aid when they are spending their budgets on other projects, for example sending aid to India when they have a space programme. I support two charities who work directly with communities to educate, improve sanitation, safety and the economic environment for those involved.

I have sponsored a child through Plan International for over 5 years. Plan started by providing care for children following the Spanish civil war and has since grown enormously. My child lives in Honduras and it’s great receiving letters, photos and updates about him and his community as well as the wider work Plan does. As Plan have bases is so many developing countries they are usually one of the first organisations on the ground following natural disasters and as they have supply chains and contacts already set up they are in a position to provide a lot of help. My Mum also sponsors a child through Plan, she had sponsored another child buy Plan withdrew from that area as they helped the community so much they were self-sufficient and no longer needed Plan’s help and guidance.

I also support Care International. They are my company’s global charity partner and provide international aid. They started sending care packages during the second world war. I also support Care international through their “lend with care” scheme. They partner with microfinance companies in developing countries to loan money to small business owners in order to expand their businesses. You can look at the entrepreneurs’ profiles to see what industry and country they’re in and what they want to do with their loan. It will tell you how much they want to borrow and how much of their loan has been met. You can then lend an amount starting from £15 or can buy others gift vouchers. You will then receive repayments on your loans every month which will go in your lend with care account, then you can either withdraw the money or lend it to someone else. You periodically receive updates from the entrepreneurs to see what they have achieved with their loans. I have made 12 loans, helped 38 entrepreneurs, helped 149 family members and created 4 jobs.

I also support my local hospice. St Francis Hospice in Havering atte Bower. This was where my Dad passed away and received excellent care from the staff and volunteers throughout his illness. Hospices support the NHS enormously and provide care and assistance in the home as well as day therapy and in-patient care. St Francis Hospice must raise over £7m a year to continue to provide care to the community. They have a number of shops and organise sponsored events as well as setting up tribute funds for those who have died and people leaving legacies in their wills. They also have a lovely memory tree where you can pay to have a loved one’s name engraved on a leaf. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of my Dad’s friends and family who have contributed to his fund. I would sincerely hope you support your local hospice as you never know when you may need to rely on their care.

I also support a couple of vegan organisations. The Vegan Society provide educational materials and spread the word of the benefits of veganism to animals, health and the planet as a whole. I also support Viva! a vegan campaign group who campaign to reduce the exploitation of animals throughout the world. They raise issues from supermarket supplying exotic meat to plans for mega farms amount many others. It’s great to see their updates on what has been achieved.

There are many other good causes out there and I try to give one off donations when I can. As my new year resolution is to only buy second hand clothes I’m sure many more charities will benefit from my purchases!

What charities do you support? Let me know in the comments.

Plumes x

Plan International

Care International

Lend with Care

St Francis Hospice

Vegan Society

Viva!

 

Charities and Organisations I support

Round up of the week’s food – Christmas Edition!

This week I have been very grateful for my food processor and my dishwasher! As there’s only two of us we have a slim one so it has been on at least 3 times a day over the last few evenings!

We had a busy day on Monday organising for the funeral so we ate in a local independent coffee shop. I had this lovely breakfast.

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I started my Christmas prep by soaking vodka with dried fruit and spices to make Christmas pudding flavoured vodka! It went down very well on Christmas day! I also soaked my nuts overnight for my vegan cheeses as this helps them blend more easily.

 

Another couple of store cupboard favourites during a busy week. Spinach dhal with cauliflower rice and cheese on beans on toast. I am aware these are regular dishes that have featured on the blog before so I might need to widen my range!

I developed a sore throat and cough in the week so out came the lemon, ginger and maple syrup. I got a tip on instagram to added cayenne pepper which I did on my next cup, I was worried it would burn my throat but it really helped out!

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I had fun making my four cheeses, only one of which I have made before. Starting from top left, this is macadamia brie with cranberry sauce en croute. I was a bit worried as this was an American recipe containing pectin that I hadn’t used before and it said it would only work with a certain brand not available in the UK. It came out a bit bigger than I was expecting so next time I would halve the recipe, the pastry leaked a bit but it was still damn tasty. Next on top right is smoky pesto cashew cheese. This tasted very mild which I wasn’t expecting so I might up the spices and salt used in this next time. This also produced loads of cheese and I ended up with 5 ramekins full, so I sent my guests home with some and another couple ended up in the freezer. I used agar in this recipe which looked very gelatinous when I was preparing but I was very impressed with the texture and well done on my little mixer for grinding those cashews! In the recipe they recommend using this in fajitas so I would be interested to see if it melts at all. Bottom left is almond feta which I have made before, this is so easy as it uses ground almonds. Everything goes in the mixer and then drains overnight in cheese cloth and then baked in the oven. This has a lovely crumbly texture and a real tang. Lastly on bottom left is my nut and herb encrusted cheese log. This cheese used silken tofu and agar again as the setting agent. This had chives and sundried tomatoes running through it and was a tasty soft cheese to have on crackers.

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To go with my cheese I made lentil and mushroom pate and an easy chutney. I was impressed with the pate as it was really tasty. Again all these recipes seem to yield loads so I was shipping people home with it! The chutney was a recipe from the Hair Bikers with onions, garlic, dried fruit cooked in sugar and white wine vinegar. It went down a treat!

I had another go at bread making and I’m definitely getting better!

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On Christmas Eve I wanted something light so I made garlic mushroom pasta which is simple and so tasty!

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Our dessert on Christmas day was maple pecan pie. I have loads of individual tart dishes as I made a tower of hazelnut chocolate tarts as my wedding cake, and I think they look lovely on a plate. This recipe comes from vegan favourites Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero and has secret ingredient silken tofu in it to help it set. (The non-vegan version would have eggs.)

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On Boxing day my Mum and her partner came round for lunch and bought some bubble and squeak they had made which I chomped down in the evening and the next day for breakfast!

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Yesterday was my Brother’s birthday. It was nice to get dressed up as I haven’t really done so this festive period. We had a lovely time in the pub and I found out that our friend Ross is an avid follower! He said it would make his day to be featured so here he is enjoying some homemade ginger biscuits another friend had given my Brother as a present.

Hope you all had some fantastic food and a great time this week.

Plumes x

 

 

Round up of the week’s food – Christmas Edition!

It’s not a diet it’s a lifestyle

When people hear or talk about veganism they usually first and sometimes only think about what people eat. This is a very big part of veganism but not all of it.  Being vegan influences many of your choices that affect your life.

People also usually remember that vegans avoid leather, but we don’t use any animal products in our clothing so this includes wool and silk. Many argue that sheep need to be shorn, but this is due to them being selectively bred to carry more wool for our own ends. They risk infection from cuts they receive during the process and if you’ve ever seen film of them being shorn they don’t look like they’re enjoying it! Some people don’t have much sympathy for insects but boiling silk worms alive so you can use their thread used to make their cocoons without it being damaged does seem a bit extreme when there are so many cruelty free alternatives.

Another big thing that vegans avoid is animal testing. I don’t think many people are in favour of animal testing for cosmetics. Some may be surprised that it still goes at all as it seems so outdated. In the EU are law was passed in the last couple of years stating companies couldn’t test products on animals, however if your favourite brand also sells in China their government insist on animal testing in the name of consumer safety.

Many brands are anti animal testing and fund research into alternatives. My favourite is Lush. They aren’t just cruelty free but try to reduce packaging and use as few chemicals as possible. They recycle bottle lids that aren’t usually able to be recycled by councils and they reuse pots you return and you even get a free face mask when you return 5. (Then you only need 4 more to get another one as the mask comes in a pot!) I also really like the enthusiasm of their staff. Some people (like my Mum!) hate shopping and find their approach a bit too much and has told a startled sales assistant on more than one occasion! But I find it refreshing when you have so many disinterested sales assistants in shops nowadays. Cruelty free cosmetics and toiletries don’t have to be expensive either, Tesco, Sainsburys, Marks and Spencer and Superdrug own brand items are cruelty free. You’ll have to check the label to make sure they don’t contain animal ingredients but Superdrug clearly mark if products are vegan.

Another issue vegans face is parent companies. It’s up to your own morality what you do but some cruelty free brands are owned by parent companies who are known to test. For example The Body Shop is owned by L’Oréal. A few years ago there was outrage in the vegan community when cruelty free brand Urban Decay announced they were going to enter the Chinese market. Due to the backlash they reversed this decision and vegans applauded. However for some this was short lived as soon after the debacle they too were bought out by L’Oréal. They are two arguments, firstly that you don’t want to support animal cruelty in any form so you won’t buy from a company owned by a shady parent one. Alternatively you may think if the parent company see the success of cruelty free products and brands they will expand their offering and reduce their non-cruelty free items. When we look at food, Alpro who have a massive share of the dairy free market is owned by an American dairy company and fave ice cream brand Swedish Glace is owned by Unilever. None of us shop in exclusively vegan shops no matter how much we would like to, so perhaps boycotting certain brands is not the answer. I do try my best to buy from ethical companies but sometimes there isn’t alwats an easy or convenient alternative.

I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comment section. I also plan on doing a post regarding cleaning products but I’ll save that one for later.

This post has been a bit word heavy so here’s me feeling a bit pampered after the hectic week!

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Plumes x

It’s not a diet it’s a lifestyle

Happy Christmas!

Hello Everyone!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas day spent doing what you enjoy whether it be with loved ones or volunteering to help others. I spent the day with my Husband, my Brother and my Sister-in-Law. We had been invited to a larger family gathering but I think I preferred it just the four of us as it was only two weeks since Dad passed away (and I’d already ordered a turkey for the boys!)

We had lunch at one as I was more excited about evening tea this year so wanted people to get peckish again! I’ll tell you more about the individual items in my weekly round up but here’s a couple of photos of what we had.

My Sister-in-Law made this delightful chestnut soup, which was a great way to start the meal as it wasn’t too heavy. I made croutons with my homemade bread as again you don’t want to be full before the main event!

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For the vegan main I made mushroom nut roast in pastry. We also had vbites bacon wrapped sausages and stuffing balls which I’d put granose sausage mix in. I also made my own cranberry sauce.

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We were too stuffed for pudding and by the time our food had gone down it was time for tea! Here’s my vegan spread.

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Another couple of hours later after playing games and quizzes and watching a bit of TV we were ready for dessert. None of us are big Christmas  pudding fans so on the suggestion of my Brother I made these individual maple pecan pies. The boys had ice cream with theirs, I went for soya cream and my Sister-in-Law had both! (Why not?! It is Christmas after all!)

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My Brother and Sister-in-Law took a box of food home. My Sister-in-Law does outstanding work as a vet nurse at the Blue Cross Animal Hospital in Victoria. She’s working boxing day so will take in a buffet box of all the bits she snaffled! I also have my Mum and her partner coming over for lunch today so none of it will be wasted!

On to presents! I always feel lucky and touched by the thoughtful presents people give to me. The first one I opened was my Secret Santa from work. I think I am quite easy to buy for – some vegan treats and something owl shaped and I’m happy! I love these Divine Mint Thins as they use fairtrade cocoa and the farmers co-own the Divine Company. Also the famous mints you can only have after a certain time have butter fat in them so are a no go. (My husband quite likes this fact as when he buys himself a pack he know I can’t pinch any!) The candle is not only owl shaped but is green tea scented (the only thing I drink at work) and is made using soya wax. Soya is a lot more ecological than paraffin wax. I’ve even bought some granules myself to top up my candle holders.

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The second present I open early was from my late Father who had ordered my gifts already. I knew what these were as I asked for them. In a bid to be more ethical I want to compost my food waste. Unfortunately I have no outside space to use it in but will happily give it out to friends and family! As I prepped a lot of my food on Christmas Eve it was useful to have the pail and I put together the big bin this morning. The only downside to that is that it doesn’t have a bottom so I will have to be careful about moving it if I need to.

The other presents that I knew about were tickets to see Miss Saigon in January with my Mum, money for a hair treatment from my Husband, a voucher from my in-laws which I have used to order boots as my current ones fell apart when I last visited them and my skeleton handbag from my Nan. I love my current handbag which has cherry candle skulls in it (and so do lots of other people with all the compliments I get for it!) but I have loved it to death and the handles are about to fall off! I also asked my Brother and Sister-in-Law for some perfume from a wonderful company, Eden Perfumes, based in Brighton. They are completely cruelty free and base their perfumes on famous brands which aren’t so you can still have your favourite fragrances once you’re vegan! I went for the one based on Paco Rabanne Lady Million.

My Mum got me a few little presents to open, including a boots voucher, an owl backpack, some owl stickers and lovely little notebook. My Brother and Sister-in-Law also got me an owl photo frame and some vegan goodies, my Sister-in-Law and I both love Ruffles raspberry sweets whether its a bag or the bars, They also got my some raspberry golden crunch biscuits which I haven’t tried before and the amazing massive hazelnut bar which is Vego! If you haven’t tried this one yet you really must! My Grandparents got my some lovely soft towels and a bath mat. My Sister-in-Law and Brother-in-Law got me a beginner’s dressmaking book as I had mentioned as part of my strive for ethical living I wanted to make more of my own clothes and go on a course so I was really touched they’d remembered and got me this!

Lastly my Auntie always gets us a little something and this year we weren’t disappointed with our Christmas pudding doorstop! I’m not sure whether I can bare to put it away on twelfth night so it might be an all year feature!

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I saw a lot of lovely vegan meals on twitter and instagram yesterday, (remember I’m @plumesworld on both!) and I can’t wait to see people’s ethical and tasty presents!

Plumes x

 

Happy Christmas!

Round up of the week’s food 151220

A few more photos for you this week. Over the weekend I had McDonald’s twice. Some vegans boycott Mcds  but when you are on the move they are a handy option. I also think it is good for transitioning vegetarians and vegans to see they are being catered for and it is easy to grab something. I had the spicy vegetable deluxe without mayo. No photo as its never the best looking thing! If you’re that interested you can look on the website.

For tea on Sunday I had cheese on bean pate on toast. I prefer the brussels pate from vbites but can’t seem to get it in Holland and Barrett’s but the bean one is the next best thing.

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On Monday my brother, sister-in-law and I had a lot of admin to do regarding Dad’s funeral preparation. While we waited for the registry office to open after they had closed for lunch we went to have some ourselves at a local Turkish restaurant. I had falafel, stuffed aubergine, beans, kisir and houmous. My sister-in-law wasn’t too keen on the falafel as the texture was very smooth, I quite liked them and we both agreed there is nothing worse than a dry falafel!

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On Tuesday I spent some time with my Mum in Buckhurst Hill and we visited the Green Owl cafe. They sold lots of owl related accessories which I loved, I wanted everything! If I get any money for Christmas I think I will be heading back! I had mashed avocado on sourdough with a dressed salad and hand cut chips which were more like wedges. The avocado was pureed rather than mashed but it was all delicious! My Mum had a beetroot soup which I tasted, it was sweet and I’m not sure if I’d manage a whole bowl.

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I had some left over bean stew for dinner which is so easy just to bung in the microwave and dumplings make my belly happy!

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I bought some Taifun tofu hotdogs in Waitrose and used them in this pasta dish with Sacla aubergine pesto, peppers and shallots. I really like these substantial hotdogs although they are a bit long to fit in standard buns.

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We had a lot of peppers so my Husband made me this pepper and paprika risotto which was very tasty and so nice to not have to cook!

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I ran out of bread so used up the last of my crackers with some more bean pate. I’ve got my Jacobs big box which I’m not opening until Christmas!

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We went to my in-laws this weekend which you will know if you read about The Mill. On Friday I had these Goodlife Picador Parsnip & Sweet Carrot Nut Burgers with peas and roasties. These were rather tasty and better than some other ones I’ve tried. Goodlife does not have many vegan options now so be careful and make sure you read the labels.

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Sunday family roast was a Waitrose spicy bean burger and more roast potatoes! I swear my Mother-in-law is trying to fatten me up! I like these burgers and would have them again although they don’t really go with a roast! Waitrose again has a lot of veggie options but not so many vegan ones.

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I had a lovely day today with my nieces even if they can be little terrors!

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Plumes x

Round up of the week’s food 151220

Extra Vegan Beauty Box!

My dear friend ordered me a vegan kind (website) beauty box instead of flowers on the passing of my Dad as, ever the pragmatist, she said they’ll only die anyway!

When the box arrived I was worried it would be the same as my November box (see post) but it was the same as a box I received last year, which I didn’t mind as I’ve used up all those items!

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Firstly we have Hedgerow Herbals Bath Bags. I got the lavender ones. These are fab to throw in the bath and I feel like I’m in a big cup of tea!

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Another one I use in the bath is Premae Skincare Mild Dermabrasion Face & Body Scrub. This is great for clearing out your pores and making you feel really fresh.

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This White Rabbit Skincare Comfort Clenching Balm comes with a lovely flannel. I wasn’t too sure about this one at first as the smell of eucalyptus oil made me feel like I was using Vicks  vaporub on my face! I got over it quickly and enjoyed using it daily as a cleanser.

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This must be the product I used the quickest the last time I had it. Olivia Soaps and Balms Chocolate and Coconut Body Butter. This smells so delicious you have to be careful not to eat it! I like it when the air’s a bit warmer and it’s really soft. But be careful when you open in the height of summer as it can turn to a liquid.

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Lastly these fab Fresh Therapies Nourishing Natural Nail Polish Remover Wipes. Handy to carry around and have in your hand luggage on holiday without the harshness of some of the chemical based ones.

Hope you enjoyed these beauty treats and maybe you’ll try some out for yourself.

Plumes x

 

 

 

Extra Vegan Beauty Box!