He’s A Winnah!!!

I love pizza, and now finally that love of pizza has finally paid off (not counting all the delicious eats in the meantime).

I just won the Fuck Yeah Vegan Pizza Vegan Pizza Giveaway! A load of Redwood Co vegan ‘meats’ and ‘cheeses’ are winging their way to me as we speak.

pizza time!

I’m well chuffed. I love winning anything, but winning vegan stuff is doubly good! I won with a pic of the above pizza, and amusingly enough I was cooking the following pizza at the time I got the e-mail.

mushroom, sweetcorn, peppers & 'cheese' pizza

Just coincidence I assure you, lol. I’m not that pizza obsessed (honestly). 😉

Ok, so it was just a random number generated win between me and 7 other people, but as far as I’m concerned a win is a win, and that makes me smile. 🙂

(for the recipes I used, check out the dough here, and the sauce here)

The Universe Is On Your Side

This is something that I’ve believed in for a long time, that the Universe is on your side; that it does everything it can to help you get where you need to be (note: need to be, not want to be!) and even if you ignore it or fight it or give it the proverbial finger, it still does what it can to help you along The Way.

infinity road

Some quick notes first:

One, I’ve capitalised the word Universe as I, like Buckminster Fuller, consider it an entity rather than a thing. If you want to substitute God, Allah, the Tao or anything else to better understand what I’m saying that’s fine (and entirely up to you).

Two, I capitalised The Way as it specifically refers to Taoism.

Three, These are just my thoughts. 🙂

thames path, Richmond

So let’s see… so far this year I’ve had two car accidents and I’ve twisted my ankle. That to me is the Universe telling me something. It’s telling me to slow down. And I must really need to do it because the message was a persistent one. When I didn’t do it mentally – the accidents – I had to do it physically – the ankle.

But that’s not all. I’ve also ended up with next week off work thanks to someone who wanted to do what seems to me a very random shift swap. Now I won’t go into detail (the machinations of our shift system are many, myriad, and ultimately highly tedious) and I can’t say I understand it, but again I just took the message and went along with it.

And it’s good that I did, because only now that I’ve slowed down, created some head space, and finally released myself from all my commitments – both physically and mentally – for a while, do I realise just how frantic I was getting. I mean, not only were all my days pretty full, but the few days I had off I was making myself feel bad for not doing more on my own personal projects. And the worse I felt the more inclined I was not to do anything. It was really getting a bit messed up.

vanishing point - holland park, kensington, london

But now, check this out: Now I’ve let go of the idea that I should be working on my book, I’m suddenly more inclined to do it. It’s no longer a chore, and the ideas are starting to flow again. Of course if I do anything right now is up to me, I’ve got the week off and I’m not pressuring myself. But I can if I want and that’s what matters.

But even if I do write, I also need to make space to get my head right. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been rushing along on autopilot for a while now, and it was getting a little hazardous. Hell, I didn’t even realise I was doing it until I mentally started clipping trees as I headed toward the ground. Thankfully the Universe has given me the chance to pull up (enjoying the plane metaphor? ..hehe..), pull myself together, and get back to level before I hit the ground. Nice huh? 🙂

And the best thing about the Universe is no matter how much you ignore it, or fight it, or simply let the opportunities pass you by, it’s always there with another chance to get where you need to go. There’s no judgement or prejudice, it has no ego or memory, it’s help is unending, unconditional, and there for the taking; all you need to do is listen.

And best of all, the more you listen, the more you hear, and the easier it all becomes. 🙂

But remember…

“I know the Universe won’t give me anything I can’t handle, I just wish it didn’t trust me so much.”

– Mother Theresa of Calcutta

Discombobulated!

There’s only one word for how I feel at the moment, discombobulated. Ok, maybe befuddled. Or possibly even confounded? Y’see, I’m even discombobulated about my discombobulation!

They say a picture paints a thousand words, so allow me to illustrate my situation thusly:

ice skating!

That’s my ankle after going over on it ice skating at Somerset House. It’s the perfect metaphor for 2012 so far. I was shaky in the beginning, got confident, stopped paying attention, and ultimately landed on my arse.

A few things have gone a little bit haywire this week, and I put it down to one thing and one thing only, the non-practice of mindfulness. I’ve been asleep at the wheel, mentally speaking that is, and so it was just a matter of time before I had an accident.

Yesterday I told a blatant lie, thereby breaking one of the five precepts for the lay Buddhist, and for no good reason either. It was someone else’s thing that they wanted me to cover for. Why, I don’t know? I’m just annoyed that without even thinking about it I agreed. It just highlighted for me how little attention I’ve been paying recently.

But what has passed is gone, we can only look to the future (or rather, the Now!). I need to put my meditation practice on a more solid footing (no pun intended) and really make sure it becomes a permanent aspect of my life (satori not withstanding). Only in that way will ‘accidents’ like those above be eradicated from my life.

Not that I will be without injury, but at least the ones that do occur won’t be because I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. 🙂

Ups & Downs

Well, it’s been a roller coaster start to the year, a week of ups and downs. In no discernable order…

1. Picked up Bebel Gilberto’s 2nd album in the library for only £1. A real bargain! I’m well chuffed.

2. I discovered that Robert Rankin writes drivel. I got about a third of the way through The Da-Da-De-Da-Da Code and gave up; it was shit!

hairy - before & after

3. Finally had time to get me a new haircut. I needed it! I was getting right wooly.

4. Got a flat tyre on my car, had to get the train to work for 2 days, then had to fork out loads to get it fixed. What a pain.

chocolate swiss roll no. 1

5. Set my mind to making a good vegan swiss roll. The sponge tends to crack as it has no egg in it. The results so far are quite… average.

So y’see, there it is, up down up down trundle along the middle. Just an average week in the life of me. Next week tree planting, ice skating, and a possible trip to Portsmouth. Let’s see how that goes eh? 😉

Courgette and Spinach Soup

The great thing about cooking at the yoga centre is that I get to experiment once more. It’s been a while. So check this out, the first of many new recipes I hope.

courgette and spinach soup

1 leek
2 courgette
1/2 a bag of spinach (approx 100g)
1 inch of fresh ginger
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
olive oil
3 cups of boiling water

In a large pan fry the fennel and cumin seeds in hot oil for 1-2 minutes. Add the turmeric and black pepper, and mix.

Add the chopped leek and fry for a few minutes until soft.

Scrape the skin off the ginger and chop as small as possible. Add to leek and fry for another minute or two.

Add the courgette, cut length ways and chopped into half moon slices, and fry for a further 3 minutes until softened a bit.

Add the boiling water, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes until vegetables are cooked.

Add the spinach, washed and roughly chopped, and the lemon juice and salt. Cover and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend until smooth (mash roughly if you don’t have a blender). Do final seasoning then serve.

The lemon juice really gives this soup the kick of flavour it needs. And the fennel seeds add a welcome random element to the taste when eating, as you bite into them only occasionally, getting an aniseedy taste you’re not expecting.

I’m quite proud of this concoction, and I urge you to give it a go. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 🙂

Ever Tried Black Garlic?

You know you’ve got a cooking problem when you see some new random ingredient in the supermarket and you just have to have it!

black garlic and mini chillies

I came across this the other day whilst looking for fennel seeds (keep an eye out for an excellent soup recipe coming soon) and I just couldn’t resist. It’s garlic that’s been aged, meaning the harsh flavours have mellowed leaving you with a sweet bulb of balsamicy, squishy goodness.

Seriously, this stuff is so nice I kept just biting bits off to chew. It’s just that morish. I decided to cook it with some chillies from the plant my friend gave me as a thank you for providing her with Spanish lessons (on CD that is. Me no hablo… or something like that), and I’m glad I did. The spiciness complimented the sweetness very well, though admittedly next time I’d use a few less chillies; Phew!

sweet and spicy pasta

I just fried some chopped onion, added the garlic and chillies (also chopped), chucked in a couple of sliced chestnut mushrooms, two diced tomatoes (some tomato puree) and a sprinkling of oregano – pausing between steps to let the previous ingredients cook – and that was it, job done. Simple huh?

Chuck that in with some al dente pasta et voila, there you have it, a bowl of nice simple flavours that compliment each other really well. If you get a chance to have a go with black garlic I highly recommend it. It has a unique taste that your palate will thank you for trying at least once.

…and a Happy New Year

Start as you mean to go on they say. I started 2012 by sleeping til gone noon, then lazing about the flat playing online games and watching movies. So, a lot like 2011 then, lol. 😉

Ok, technically I started 2012 at the Sivananda Yoga Centre enjoying their new years eve celebrations. I went along early, did some cooking, some cleaning, a yoga class, then stayed for the puja, meal, and chanting for world peace into the new year.

It was a lovely evening, made all the more lovely by the company of good friends, the fine food, and just the all round happiness and positivity of the occasion. I’m really glad I went as it was an excellent start to the year, a year that hopefully holds a great deal of change for little ol’ me.

If all goes as planned, by this time next year I’ll be a trained yoga teacher with some experience, I’ll have visited Austria, Canada and Australia, and I’ll be contemplating a trip to Thailand to ride an elephant before heading back to Europe to see the northern lights. Then… well, who knows?

Of course, as they say, if you want to make God laugh tell her your plans. But still, you’ve got to give it a go because the alternative (same ol’ same ol’, day in, day out) just doesn’t bear thinking about does it.

last bit of christmas cake

I’ve made just 2 resolutions to kick off the new year. First is to meditate every day. That is the one area where I need most work. I want to do just half an hour a day. If I can manage to do that for 366 days (it’s a leap year this year, remember) I will consider it a significant victory.

My second is just for a month, but it’s to cook everything from scratch, and to not eat ready made overly processed foods all the time. I mean I don’t do too badly, but every day there’s a hash brown or Linda McCartney sausage in there somewhere (usually at the same time – oh Full English, how I love thee!). I’m going to make all my food myself for a while, thereby avoiding nasty stuff, convenience eating, and taking sandwiches to work every day.

Apart from all that my ongoing plans still revolve around writing, vegan cooking, and going out and having fun. Expect some developments on each one of these very soon!

And so there you go, that’s it from me for now. Actually, I think that’s enough to be going on with, don’t you? Happy New Year everyone. I hope you have a great and wonderful 2012!

Om Namah Shivaya. 🙂

But The Worst Of It Was…

I think you’ll like this. 😉

25 years ago, in a far away land called Cumbria, a 12 year old me (at the urging of his Grandma) entered a short story competition on local radio. There was but one criteria for the story, it had to end with the line,

“But the worst of it was I was eating a chocolate eclair at the time.”

Now by the time I got my entry in the ‘competition’, such as it was, was over. But they liked the story enough to get me in to record it so that they could play it out on air. I did, they did, and said Grandma (being quite a wise and proud Grandma) recorded it on audio cassette to enjoy again and again. (NB: for the very young out there here’s a link that explain what an audio cassette is.)

Fast forward 25 years. The recording manages to make it’s way off of tape and onto CD, then from CD to MP3, finally coming into my possession via the wonders of DropBox. This is where, for me, the true magic happens.

In a space of 2 hours I found, installed, and operated, some audio editing software to cut the 25 minute bit of radio down to a more palatable (and relevant) 2:32. I then found somewhere online to host it for free, and discovered a way to embed it into this blog, all so the world can have a laugh at my expense. Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing!

So, without further ado, I present to you:

“But The Worst Of It Was…” by Keith Dickinson (age 12).
 

 
Man, how bad is that! ..lol.. I honestly can’t listen to the whole thing anymore, it just makes me cringe. And it’s doubly weird for me, coz the voice I hear isn’t mine but that of my twin brother. Seriously, is that what I sound like? It’s all just too confusing for me!

Still, I’m glad I got hold of the clip. A nice bit of nostalgia to start the year off with. My first foray into the business of show. 25 years on I’m still writing, and still unpublished, but the dream remains alive.

Maybe one day I’ll get on the air again. Bloody hope so anyway. I’d hate to think I’d peaked at age 12!

Best Salesman Ever

In my ramblings round the internet I came across The Makerbot, a 3-D printer for $1000 which has just tickled my fancy something rotten. WOOT! (Want One Of Those) to say the least.

My enthusiasm is in no small part thanks to this guy…
 

 
Isn’t he brilliant. What a salesman! I’d buy anything he’s selling, especially those cool shades of his, lol.
 
🙂