Things I Like Thursday – Christmas Trees

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This year our Christmas tree is a little unorthodox as we’ve discovered that kittens enjoy nothing more than destroying living plants and creating chaos. So we’ve tinted green some of our photos from 2011 and created a mosaic Christmas Tree. … Continue reading

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Vegan Christmas Gifts

What do you buy a Vegan for Christmas? This question had my family stumped for years. I didn’t want to add to stress of Christmas with my ‘preferences’ but when asked if leather is okay, or if it really matters that a lip balm contains sebum (sheep fat), I had to smile and softly say, “Yeah, it does sorry.” Sorry because it’s inconvenient to seek out cruelty-free gifts, not sorry because I act according to my beliefs.

I suspect that other people who choose to live a cruelty -free life, would like to receive peaceful gifts as well. I have made a few suggestions to help or inspire you.

Body Care Products /Cosmetics

Vegan cosmetics and care products do not contain ingredients derived from an animal, including animal by-products. Some common animal (not vegan) ingredients include;

*Carmine or cochineal – a red/brown colour derived from ground beatles. Found in strawberry flavored milk too.

*Lanolin – Moisturizing agent obtained from sheep fat.

* Lard/ Tallow – Animal fat.

*Milk / Whey products – Comes from cows milk.

* Silk derivatives taken from the cocoons of the mulberry silkworm.

* Propolis-A resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds and sap flows.

*Elastin -A protein found in animal connective tissue.

*Hyaluronic acid or Hyaluronate- Animal connective tissue and neutral tissue.

*Lactose or lactalbumin – Derived from milk and therefore a lactating mother cow.

*Beeswax / pollen – From rearing bees. Some people will argue that bee products are vegan and others will not.

Make-up brushes are usually made from animal fur so they are not vegan unless labeled as such.  You can usually find vegan, non animal-tested products in your chemist or health food store.

Look for either of these labels to prove that the product was not tested on animals, but remember that this alone does not make a product vegan.


Aveeno is one of my favourite body wash and lotion. You can buy anything from Lush which makes some divine soaps and face masks too other brands include BWC (Beauty without cruelty), Ecco Bella, Zia, Urban Decay, Gabriel Cosmetics and Vegan Vibrance Brushes.



I recommend Body Shops new line Earth Lovers which offer a range of bio-deragable, soap free body gels which smell amazing.

Sukin is an Australian brand producing moisturizers, lip balms and cleansers 100% vegan.

And here in South Korea the popular beauty store Innisfree produce a range of eco-safety sunscreens and moisturizers.




Gift Cards and  Donations

There are many worthy causes vying for your Christmas penny. Some offer great perks such as discounts, a cuddly soft toy or sentimental E-cards so that you still have something tangible to offer as a gift.  I give these gifts a day or two before christmas so that my (very) young siblings appreciate the gift and are not caught up in the ‘stuff’ aspect of Christmas. I have listed these as I have had an affiliation with them for sometime, and have always been happy with how they spend donations.

MercyCorps – A US charity devoted to Alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities in countries around the world.

Offer a range of gifts from $25-300 with several options in between (tax deductible).  Give food, teach women to read or help train a farmer. These gifts are heartfelt and meaningful.  Their website has a search toolbar which allows you to search for the perfect gift based on the receivers interests.

World Vision-We all know about the 24 hour famine, and that World Vision sponsor children. But did you know that they offer a ton of Christmas giftees.

For $25 you can give clean water to a family and for  $100 you’ll help build a well. Gifts start at US$10. There’s lots of jewelry, handmade bags or education packages.

You can donate medicines, food or bed nets or even toys to brighten kids day. They offer a number of categories from ‘Education’ to ‘Hunger’, you can easily find something for your loved one.


WWF– is one of my favourite charities to donate to on behalf of my siblings who love animals. They adore the beautiful photographs or cards they receive and are very happy to know that they are saving an animal. WWF work hard to conserve the natural environment and protect endangered animals. For Christmas they sell beautiful calendars, cards, mugs and bags and (my favourite) soft toy when you adopt an animal. Prices start at $US25.

PETA is the next obvious choice for someone who loves animals and care’s about their well-being. They work towards the protection and ethical treatment of all animals, from pets to those keep to test beauty products. PETA’s gift options vary depending on what part of the world you live in, but usually range from t.shirts and necklaces, to dog houses and toys for lonely dogs. The price too ranges from as little as US$10 upwards.


Other popular favourites include Vegan Chocolates and plants. I always love receiving plants as gifts. Flowers are always better still alive.


~ Don’t buy fur. The reasons should be obvious.

~Check the back of wine to be sure it wasn’t filtered through an animal’s stomach

~Don’t buy products with excessive packaging or polystyrene (it doesn’t decompose!)

Happy shopping and Merry Christmas.



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Coconut Macaroons

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Oh my word these are good. Seriously simple to make, these biscuits take about 40 minutes including cooking time. You may vary the recipe by adding some cocoa to the dry ingredients or for a super sugar hit, dip the macaroons in melted chocolate … Continue reading

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Things I Like Thursday – Pot Lucks

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Where else do you have the opportunity to meet new and interesting people in an intimate setting? Test out you quirky orange-chocolate mouse? And lounge about on the floor in your socks? Potlucks are a great way to taste new foods … Continue reading

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Vegan Chinese Spring Rolls

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Chinese Spring Rolls are delicious. Crispy on the outside they burst with flavour and texture as you bite into them. They are great as a side dish or as nibbles at a gathering and are surprisingly easy to make. As … Continue reading

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Homemade Bird Feeders

It’s getting colder and I’m less inclined to spend the days outdoors, and the birds are feeling it too. Those who haven’t made the transition to warmer climates are searching out food. After coming across a dead finch on a walk yesterday, I decided to help fatten them up.

Mungmi and I went for a hike in search for pinecones. They were not as big as I hoped, but worked all the same.

Layered in peanut butter and rolled in seeds they make the yummiest bird treat, bursting with protein, energy and fat for their little bodies. I used what was handy: Linseeds, sesame seeds, flaxseed and sunflower seeds.

Tie a little string and you’re ready to go. Put them in popular bird hang-outs and smile.
It’s great if you can sit and watch them munch on the peanut butter lunch.

P.S It did occur to me that the string would not decompose naturally. I made a mental note of their location so I could go back and pick up the string once the birds finished their meal. It was also a perfect opportunity to see just how much they had eaten.

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Things I Like Thursday – Pets

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They are adorable, cute and usually up for a cuddle..but they can drive you crazy too. Pets. A few years ago, my friend (irresponsibly) took on a dog and was about to leave the country to pursue life as a … Continue reading

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What do vegans eat? – 7 Days of Vegan Treats

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What do vegans eat? These are the tantalizing treats of my autumn eats. From warm hearty soups to wholesome salads, lasagnas and sweet fruity ice-cream. I’ve collated a selection of dishes to encourage you into the kitchen and reinvigorate your taste … Continue reading

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The Outcomes – 2011 Gwangju UEA Summit

Mayors and city officials from 80 cities met in Gwangju’s Kim Dae Jung Convention Center last month. Amongst lavish lunches and trash bins full of small empty single-use plastic water bottles, they came together to pledge to steer their cities onto greener, more resource efficient, and lower-carbon trajectories.

Today over half the population of the world lives in cities that contribute 75 percent of CO2 emissions and 60-80 percent of the world’s total energy consumption. Cities are hubs of innovation and social change. How appropriate, therefore, that the greener cities conference, or UEA (Urban Environmental Accords), was established to improve the efficiency of cities. The bi-annual summit considers energy efficiency, waste management, transport, water management, and habitat protection.

A lavish affair, the Gwangju Metropolitan City spared no expense to show delegates and representatives a good time. On Wednesday they experienced Korean culture at Mugaksa Temple, enjoyed Korean cuisine, and sampled local delicacies. The closing ceremony on Friday saw a modern dance performance and a private opera show, French wine, and a five-course meal. Interestingly vegetarian faire was only offered upon request and was not the default meal choice even though an expert from Belgium spoke at one session, advocating the benefits to individuals and to cities of eating a vegan/vegetarian diet.

The three day summit brought together city mayors, leaders of environmental organizations, and representatives from NGOs, including the United Nations Environmental Protection Agency, UN Habitat, and the Earth Policy Institute. Together they began the process of developing a metric to measure and report urban sustainability, named the Urban Environmental Evaluation Index.  The index will be used to measure the sustainability of participating cities. To be completed by 2013, the index will be used to award a ‘Lowest Carbon City’ prize which will be accompanied by a cash reward. This should act as an incentive for cities within developed and developing countries to reduce environmental degradation and to put into place policies, regulations and innovative market mechanisms to protect their environments.  The ideas and enthusiasm are positive, yet the practicality of measuring such technical components is very difficult. How do you calculate a city’s food waste or the loss of carbon when uprooting a tree?

Another goal of the summit was for leaders to commit to creating Clean Development Mechanisms [CDMs] under the guidance of the UN climate convention. The reduced carbon emissions of one city may be sold to another if it exceeds its carbon allotment, similar to the European carbon trading scheme [EU-ETS]. And like the EU-ETS there are many kinks remaining to be worked out. For example, under the CDM a developed country which has exceeded its carbon targets can establish a carbon reduction scheme in a developing country. But again the measurements are dubious as are the benefits to the environment. Recently a scandal ensued in Indonesia where an ancient forest was destroyed so a palm oil forest could be planted for carbon credits.

There are also security problems in the financial trading scheme. Last year millions of dollars worth of carbon credits were stolen from the EU-ETS registry. Legal battles as to who will bear the financial loss are ongoing.

The Urban Clean Development Mechanism and Evaluation Index is set to be improved and elaborated on by the UNEP and other concerned parties before the next UEA summit in 2013. Although in its infancy there are reasons to be excited that leaders are showing an interest in protecting the urban environment, but how effective and how quickly these changes can be implemented is yet to be seen.

  • Carbon Markets Are NOT Cooling the Planet (
  • UN report shows role for EU ETS in helping to control rising emissions from aviation (

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All about Oil

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An incredible resource on oil characteristics, fat content, smoke points and best use. This information was not prepared by myself but by missvickie. A plethora of information. Enjoy.  Oils to avoid for better health While all oils are pure fat, not … Continue reading

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