Saturday, July 23, 2011

Three Cows, 2003

This oil on canvas is by Indian artist, Subodh Gupta (Born 1964).  It's called 'Three Cows' and I fell in love with it when I was India last year. Unfortunately I didn't see the original, but I did see a print in the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai.  He takes everyday items, and gives them new life. By exploiting the cliches of India, he transforms them into curious works of art.  Three Cows depicts three bicycles, loaded up with milk cans - a common site in urban areas, where milk is brought in from rural areas, by bicycle.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Revelator - Tedeschi Trucks Band

As a struggling student, I rarely buy full length albums anymore, unlike the old days when I wouldn’t think twice about spending $100 a week to satiate my musical cravings.  Whereas some girls would blow their hard earned cash on make-up, clothes and hairstyles, I would happily spend mine on music, and music related magazines. 

In any case, the days of gratuitous spending on albums are long gone, although, the other day, I found myself in an old, but familiar situation where before I knew it, or could stop myself, I was mid-way through a transaction at the local record store, an establishment I regrettably stopped frequenting a while back.  There I was, nonchalantly parting with $25 of the $50 that was meant to last me for the entire week, in exchange for Revelator, the latest Tedeschi Trucks Band album.  Well, actually, their first album together, but let me tell you; No regrets! 

I first heard about Susan Tedeschi and her husband, Derek Trucks, some 5 or 6 years ago from a girlfriend of mine who had been living in California where they were both in their own right, apparently huge.  She couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard of either of them, and as far as I knew, they were relatively unknown in Australia at the time – at least they were in the circles I moved in.

Fast-forward the clock to 2011, and the band has finally made it downunder.  Performing as one of the headline acts at the 2011 Byron Bay Blues Fest, as well as a host of their own side shows around the country, the Tedeschi Trucks Band have well and truly lived up to their rave reviews. 

If you’re into 1970s and 80s blues influenced rock, you’ll love this album.  The album is a stunner. Listening to Revelator is best enjoyed sitting on your garden deck, with a glass of red.  The band itself is comprised of 11 musicians, including two drummers and an amazing horn section.  Tedeschi’s voice is a big as it is sweet.  She sings with grace, style and conviction, belting out tunes about relationships and life, whilst her husband, Derek, crafts perfect guitar solos that send shivers up your spine.  If it’s goose bumps you’re after, Midnight in Harlem is the song that does it every time.  With the intensity of the guitar work slowly building up throughout the song to its much anticipated crescendo, the song is a work of pure genius.

Other notable tracks to look out for are Don't Let Me Slide and Shelter.

All I can say is that, that $25 was money well spent.  I may be physically starving this week as a result of the purchase, but I am musically enriched. J

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Scary Sweets: The Dangers of Sugar

This is a great article I just found on the One Green Planet website. It's written by Dr Brian Clement of the Hippocrates Health Institute, and details very clearly the reasons why sugar is just like any other drug. It has all the characteristics of a drug - you crave it and it gives you a high.

There's a reason why it's often referred to as sweet poison!

Have a read.

Scary Sweets: The Dangers of Sugar

Zen 'Sausage' Rolls

These 'sausage' rolls are reeeally easy to whip up, and once cooked, the colour and texture of the filling can be quite easily mistaken for real sausage rolls (particularly if you substitute the cup of rice for a cup of breadcrumbs)! 

These are so delicious that even the most anti-vegetarian meat eater will have more than one helping!

125g walnuts
1 cup cooked brown rice

1 finely chopped onion
300g silken tofu
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
Salt and pepper to season

3-4 frozen puff pastry sheets (Borg's is vegan)

water or vegan milk for brushing pastry

sesame or poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 200C, and thaw out your pastry.  Chop or process the walnuts until they're thoroughly chopped, but not all gone to powder, and place them into a large mixing bowl with the rice and chopped onion.  Add the tofu to the mixture and stir until it's all combined. You can then add the rest of the filling ingredients: rolled oats, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and the Braggs.  Stir everything together well. 

So easy! Now all you need to do is spoon the mixture onto the pastry sheets and roll ‘em up!

Lightly grease a baking tray, then take the pastry and slice each sheet in half to make two rectangles.  Spoon the filling down the centre third of each pastry rectangle; lightly brush another third with water or milk and then roll the pastry, starting from the empty third and tucking it into the brushed third, and place them on the baking tray. Make a couple of cuts in the top of the roll, or gently poke the top with a fork.  Brush the top with more water or milk and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Repeat with the remaining filling and pastry. Bake the rolls for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until they're golden brown.

* I sometimes throw in half a cup or so of grated carrot or depending on what else is in it, my left over veggie juice pulp (the addition of ginger provides a very subtle zing), which also gives it a nice flavour.  

For more information on food and recipes, check out Food Renegade - it's literally an awesome wealth of shared knowledge!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Body and Mind Remedies for Eczema and Other Conditions

The past couple of months saw an unprecedented bad case of eczema, which started off as an innocuous patch of dermatitis, contained on one of my fingers, spread angrily all over my chest and stomach and onto my back, and finally, to each of my four limbs. 

It wasn't pretty, and it eventually got me really down, which obviously did not help!

Since becoming an almost organic vegan, my diet has been more or less in first gear over the past few years, and so I knew that the eczema was attributable to the stress I was experiencing in my current living situation. So much so, that the only thing that finally cleared it up, was taking a few weeks away from the environment; no amount of fresh green vegetable juice seemed to help clear this completely, affirming my theory that your mental health can manifest in your physical health.  

Whilst I tried to get my stress levels under control, a good friend told me about bathing in oatmeal in order to sooth inflamed skin. The porridge bath, as I now like call it – cheap as chips and really easy!

There’s just two easy steps:

1.                   Take the leg of an old pair of pantyhose, and fill it with about a cup of oatmeal.  

2.                   Tie it off, and immerse it in a warm bath

Make sure that you keep the bath water warm, as lounging in hot water warms your blood, which if you are prone to eczema or psoriasis, can further inflame the skin.

The water will become milky after a few minutes, and the ball of oatmeal will drip with a thick, gluggy porridge between your fingers when you squeeze it.  

The thick, syrupy-like oat milk feels amazing when massaged into your skin, and even if you don't have eczema, it's an excellent natural moisturiser in its own right, and is cheap enough to regularly bathe in.

It really does soothe any itches you might have, and you all of a sudden realise the value of Cleopatra's famous milk baths! 

The Mind and Body Connection

In addition to your physical self, the bath is also beneficial for your mind.  It's the perfect time to meditate, and let go of any stresses that may have caused unnecessary worry during your day or week.  Visualise and recall what it was that happened to cause you to feel how you do, accept it, and then try to let it go.

I have a few meditations that I have used to facilitate my stress abandonment and ultimately my clear skin, but my favourite technique for letting go is the visualization technique.  Unlike other meditations, the visualization technique requires you to envisage what it is that you want; Not only did I want peace of mind, but I also wanted clear skin. 

I have three meditations which helped me to achieve this, that I would like to share:

The first involves visualizing yourself breathing in grey matter, or the worry, as you inhale through your nose.  As you exhale through your mouth, visualise yourself releasing the worry, in the form of pink or golden sparkles. 

The second is to visualize your body as the colour red, which represents the rash.  Concentrate on watching the angry red slowly change to an alkalising green colour, which starts at your toes, and then slowly extends all over your body, until it finally creeps up to your head, where any red remains are released with each exhale.

You could also visualise the steam coming off the water as representative of your stresses, dissipating into the atmosphere...

The scenarios are limitless!  

I realise to some, it might sound a little bit whack, but it really does work!

This technique was inspired by a colleague with whom I used to work.  She told me that when she had cancer, she would spend days meditating by visualising her body as a real life game of Pac Man.  Her good cells were represented by a hungry 'Pac Man' who would go around her body, slowly conquering all of the cancerous cells, until they had all been swallowed and destroyed.

Eventually, along with a few other fundamental life changes, she was declared cancer free.

Pretty impressive!

Suffice to say, the mind can be as powerful tool as we choose it to be, and just as we exercise our bodies, we need to exercise our minds by way of meditation, in order to create the lives we want:

Healthy, happy and stress-free.