top three fruits ever

First things first: I love cake. Cake was my last stand against going vegan; I told myself that I couldn’t do it because I would have such a hard time finding cake (which is increasingly wrong – many mainstream bakeries now offer at least one vegan item!). There is nothing I hate more than when people say that “fruit is nature’s candy” – no. Fruit is fruit, and it will never be equivalent to candy, and especially not to cake.

That said, damn, there are some delicious fruits out there.

1. Dates

I used to think I didn’t like dates. I had somehow got them mixed up with plums, which I genuinely don’t like, and so I never bothered trying them. I don’t know why I didn’t realise that since sticky date pudding was so delicious, surely dates would be delicious as well? But I guess I just wasn’t thinking clearly. I went to dinner at a friend’s house once, and she had got me some dates for dessert since she wasn’t sure what else would be a good dessert for a vegan – so obviously, out of politeness, I tried one.

I weep, now, for all the dates I’ve been offered and declined through the years. If I only knew what deliciousness I was allowing to pass through my fingers! This is the one fruit I would forgive people for calling “nature’s candy,” since it actually is that sweet and delicious. I am still a bit fearful of having too many at a time, but I like to push my limits and live on the edge.

2. Rock melon

This is another one that I thought I didn’t like. Thinking back on my life, I should probably stop saying I don’t like something if I don’t know for sure. I think it’s a holdover from when I was a picky child – there are a lot of things I genuinely don’t like, but that doesn’t have to extend to things I haven’t even tried.

I have always loved watermelon, but all other types of melon were outside my scope. We just never had them in the house when I was younger, so I assumed that I didn’t like them. Obviously, when I was flying to Australia about a month ago and realised that my dessert was a fruit cup made up of only different types of melon, I was pretty disappointed. However, when you are on a plane, I feel like the best course of action is to eat whatever is put in front of you, no matter if you like it or not, because you know you’re not getting that much food, and you know it’ll be hours before they offer you anything else. So I tried it, and… it was the most beautiful thing I’d eaten in a long time. I actually prefer rock melon over watermelon, now.

3. Avocado

Obviously, everyone who is anyone already loves avocado. I don’t need to tell you that it’s the most delicious fatty fruit (or berry? Don’t ruin this for me) on the planet. But what you might not know is that it is absolutely delicious with nutritional yeast on top!

For those of you who aren’t already vegan, nutritional yeast sounds like a strange thing that no one should have to be subjected to. If you only knew, though; it’s a yellow flaky powder of cheesy, nutty deliciousness. It goes amazingly on avocado with a sprinkle of salt! I urge everyone to try it ASAP.

Avocados are also super bomb with marmite; I already eat marmite straight out of the jar, so when someone told me avocado and marmite were a match made in heaven, I was instantly on board. I think what they mean when they say that avocado and marmite is a good combination is that you should try it on toast, but who needs bread? Not me, that’s for sure.

back end of summer

Summer is here! you have no idea how hilarious it is to me as a European to be writing that in October. I’m loving it, though; I know a lot of people like autumn because it’s cozy and you get to wear more layers, but I hate it. I would like to be warm without wearing layers. When all my friends back home post updates about how it’s getting colder and darker, all while I am walking along on the beach, wishing I had an umbrella to shield myself from the sun, something within me grows three sizes. I don’t think it’s my heart, because a heart shouldn’t grow from something that just slightly relies on schadenfreude, but it’s something all right.

I chose to celebrate the return of summer by doing two things I haven’t done in a long time; one of them was to get back in the hoop and get some practice time in, which I haven’t done for over a year. The other was to get there by bike, which I haven’t done in probably more than five years. It was a lot of fun and I could feel my thighs growing three sizes as well! But apparently a bike seat is pretty unforgiving so now my bum hurts a lot. I’m gonna say it was worth it, though; I’ve wanted to get a bike since I got here because I feel like it’s a waste of my time to have to get the tram every time I want to go into the city.  Now that it’s warm enough, and once my bum recovers, I will get the bike instead and no longer be a slave to PTV.

I celebrated with a glittery selfie – as I posted on Instagram, I think I looked especially gay today. I think it’s the snapback. I’m in a very extravagant mood when it comes to makeup lately. I seem to go through two cycles; perfectly applied neutral makeup, or “my five year old chose these colours”. They’re both nice, but clearly five year olds just have way more fun!

Smith & daughters

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Every hipster and vegan in Melbourne knows and loves Smith and Daughters. Every time someone mentions that place there’s a chorus of “have you been? Oh my god you have to go! It’s sooo good!” And part of me is always like if that many people like it, it’s probably down to some mass delusion rather than actual quality, and part of me is very intrigued. They serve tapas, and while I do enjoy the whole idea of sharing food between you, tapas would never be as interesting to me as dim sum.

Nonetheless, I wanted to try it at least once, so tonight I went there with some friends, and I have to say – the next time someone mentions Smith and Daughters, I’m gonna have to join that chorus. It was so good! We had some cashew cheese and bean dip with nachos, some smoked paprika mushrooms, a leek and potato bake, and potatoes with chimichurri. Oh, and a vegan blood sausage that I refused to try because… blood sausage? Come on. All the food was just so delicious and flavourful, I definitely understand why people love it so much.

After that we went to get crepes at Rue de Crêperie, which is just up the street. I got a salted caramel and banana crêpe, which is my absolute favourite flavour! I love that Fitzroy has so many different vegan restaurants and cafes. Thank you Fitzroy!

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ambition vs. inertia

One problem that I have in my life is that I often feel like I should “do something,” but the what of what I’m supposed to do completely stumps me. I’m almost scared to admit it, because it makes me sound like such a boring person, but most of the time if I feel like I want to do something, my first thought is “well, I can’t sit at home on the internet all day! Let me pack my computer up and go to Starbucks and sit on the internet all day instead”. How sad is that!?

Things that I would like to do more of in my life include exercising – I’d love to get back in the hoop again – and… I can’t think of much else except a nebulous “something”. Reading? Writing? These are all things that aren’t actually that hard to do, but I have a hard time doing anything at the drop of a hat. I’d prefer to have things planned from the day before, if possible, but that requires me to actually make a plan the day before. For a while, I was pretty good at using my planner; maybe if I got back into that again, I’d have a busier life!

I also worry that it says more than I’d like about my willingness to start making the changes to my life that I would like to implement. I don’t want to work for anyone else, ideally; I’d like to have a career working solely for myself, but that requires more than just wishful thinking. It requires that you’re not one of those “creative types” who never actually create anything – and being one of those people is one of my worst fears. The only thing you need to do to become one of them is absolutely nothing. So hey, time to break out the planner and make sure that it’s full!

sunday shoe shopping

Today is a beautiful Sunday, and Melbourne is finally becoming a bit warmer. I’ve been sleeping with double blankets and a hoodie, lately, because for some reason Australian construction doesn’t take into account that though it is a hot country, parts of it have proper winter that requires proper insulation. -15 degrees in Sweden, where you can crank up the heating and curl up on the couch with a hot beverage, is preferable to 10 degrees in Melbourne, where whatever temperature it gets down to outside, will almost certainly be the temperature in your house as well. If you’re lucky you’ll have a space heater you can huddle up to as it struggles to do more than just move the air around.

Because it’s such a lovely day, it’s a perfect opportunity to get out of the house and run some errands. I desperately needed a new pair of dance sneakers – while they’re not ideal for a rainy climate, Melbourne is dry enough that I can indulge my preference for shoes that don’t have a full sole.

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So these are technically for dancing, and not meant to be worn outdoors – see the aforementioned half soles; if it starts raining you will curse the day you decided to wear something equivalent to a sock out the door, basically. But until that point they are super comfortable, and they make dancing in the street so much easier. And who doesn’t love dancing in the street!?

Yuck

Every time I order dumplings, or anything else where you can’t actually see what’s in the food, I’m terrified that they’re going to give me the meat version. It normally doesn’t happen; I’ve been vegetarian for thirteen years, and I can only think of three times someone actually gave me the wrong food. But today it happened; I ate a dumpling and thought it was just a really gross mushroom one. But no. It’s been hours and I still feel so grossed out, I might cry.

On a practical level, I’m pretty scared I’ll get food poisoning; on an emotional level, I can’t actually remember this ever happening to me before, and I feel tainted. I think the worst part is that I did think it tasted like meat, but because we’d ordered veggie ones and my friend didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with it, I thought I was being silly. Turns out, I should have just trusted my first instinct and spat it out!

I suppose the only thing I can do is try to forget it, and think of all the yummy food I’ve been having lately; yesterday, I made this peanut stew from the vegan stoner – although I prefer actually boiling the potatoes rather than making them in the microwave. If you chop them up before cooking them it’s 300% quicker! If you have some broccoli and zucchini lying around, they go great in this recipe as well. I didn’t know until recently that if you mix up tomato sauce and peanut butter, you get a creamy tomato sauce. How awesome!?

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Image from The Vegan Stoner (click through for post!)

la revolucion

Me and the Captain went to a burlesque/cabaret performance the other night that was so weird. We thought it would be more circusy, because it was put on by Circus Oz, but it turned out to be mostly cabaret style acts which is also fun, obviously.

The Captain wasn’t that enamoured, but I loved it! It was everything that I wish that cabaret normally is; there was, for example, one performance where a woman came out dressed only in dreadlocks down to the floor that covered her face and most of her body, and a huge, hairy merkin. The entire performance was basically her jumping up and down the stage and swinging her dreads around. Absolutely hilarious!

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My favourite of the night was a performance where a ketchup bottle acted as a metaphor for death and stand in for a heart – it was just the right level of pretentiousness and weirdness for me. I sometimes feel like burlesque performances are a bit too straightforward, and I would appreciate a bit more weirdness. It’s not for everyone, but I thought it was super interesting!

Madame K’s redux

When I left Melbourne a little over a year ago, one of the things I knew I’d miss the most was Madame K’s, or, as I like to call it, the best restaurant ever. They serve vegetarian Thai food, which doesn’t sound like it’d be that hard to find, but so many Thai restaurants use fish sauce in their curries and for some reason can’t leave it out, so it’s nice to go somewhere where you don’t have to worry about that!

I have been longing for this panaeng curry since the last time I had it, right before I left. It is a thing of beauty and I want to marry it. I don’t know if they actually have changed the tofu, or if it is just my memories painting their food in an even more flattering light, but I swear the tofu used to be even better.

No matter. It is still the best, and they have the most delicious roti with peanut sauce, as well. If they delivered, I would live on Madame K’s alone.

human kindness and the importance of travelling light

I just made my way to Australia for the second time in my life. When I was younger, Australia seemed like a very far off land that you could’t really go to unless you were very rich and very adventurous. There’s a lot of things that my younger self thought that haven’t quite turned out to be true, of course, but my family hadn’t really travelled far unless it was for work, and I couldn’t see myself working with anything that would take me to the magical land down under. I would never have believed, had you told me when I was ten, that I’d be going to Australia twice in my life (at least!).

I was 100% sure that my baggage allowance was 30kg, but as it turns out, it was only 20. I had tried very hard to take only the non essentials and leave everything behind that I couldn’t absolutely see myself using a lot during three months, and I still weighed in at 28.5 kilos. I suppose I am pretty materialistic. I’m not even sure what it is that I’ve brought that weighs so much, but maybe I’ll open my luggage and find I’ve brought my pet anvil.

Obviously, going over by that much doesn’t come cheap, but the check in attendant asked me to repack a little bit as otherwise she’d have to charge me 190 pounds(!!!) and of course I obliged. I like to try shedding the non essentials along the way, and travel light not only when I am going somewhere, but through life. Beauty is an important ideal, but I’d like to think that it can be achieved with minimal luggage. I am constantly torn between this belief, informed by my dear grandmother, who spent the last five years of her life trying to throw everything non essential away and still leaving us with way too much stuff after she passed, and my natural tendency to hoard absolutely everything, which I believe also comes from her. It’s a struggle.

Oh, and they didn’t charge me at all. The second time I came to the check in desk, the attendant seemed pleased that I’d at least made the effort, so she let me through scot free. Sometimes all you need is a smile on your face and people will do what they can to keep it there.

Alexander McQueen at the V&A

A few weeks back a friend and I decided to go to the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the V&A – I’d wanted to go for ages, but I just never got around to getting tickets. So when I found out she wanted to go as well, I took the chance to actually plan something rather than just thinking about it endlessly! We had a look at the website, and realised it was so popular that they couldn’t keep up with demand. They had ended up opening it up for 24 hours a day during the last days just to give people a chance to see it! By the time we actually tried to get tickets the only ones available were between 2am-5.30am the last Sunday and Saturday… You’d think that was the end of it, but I had decided to go, so I went. I’ve never been to a museum at 2am before, and I can’t say I think it was an ideal time to go, but it was absolutely, completely worth it.

Alexander Mcqueen was the first designer I could ever really pick out of the noise of the fashion crowd – I got into fashion a couple of years ago (before I properly discovered makeup) and he was the very first one that caught my eye; his designs were just so innovative and unique. So when I first heard about this exhibition in its first incarnation back in 2011 (in New York, at the Metropolitan Museum) I prayed that I would get to go at some point in my life!

I walked around the exhibition in a daze; just being so close to these masterpieces felt monumental, and seeing creations in real life that I’d previously only admired in pictures was pretty special (I wasn’t quite as moved as the guy who struck up a lament when he had to leave, but I think I also wasn’t quite as drunk).

One thing that I didn’t really expect was how inspired I felt by this exhibition. It made me feel like I’ve lost a lot of the things that used to give me direction in my life and that I need to get back to my roots and create a lot more. I think that really drove home to me the beauty of fashion – when it’s done right, it’s so much more than just clothes. Alexander McQueen was definitely an artist, and such a unique one at that. I am so happy I had a chance to go!

(Pictures borrowed from here and here)