Sochi 2014 – What’s An Olympic Fan Got To Do?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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Judy Kauffman for ‘Illustrators for Gay Rights in Russia’

I have to admit that I have been putting off writing about this post for some months now. It is difficult for me to be articulate about issues that I find important, and even more difficult to do those issues justice. Whatever the reason or cause, it is always easier to turn a blind eye to the challenges and difficulties that other people face every day throughout the world. The sufferings are numerous, widespread, and can be overwhelming. But this is no justification to sweep those issues under the carpet for the sake of convenience.

In early 2014, the XXII Winter Olympic Games will be taking place in Sochi, Russia. As most people are aware, Russia’s current passing of legislation “protecting children from information promoting the denial of traditional family values” has caused some controversy regarding the rights of LGBT people in Russia. It is possible that the media frenzy surrounding the legislation is somewhat hyperbolic in nature, and likely leaves LGBT Russians in the same position they were already in: a bad one. A bad position to begin with is not a position that the rest of the world should be supporting, irrespective of the lack of the actual effect of the new legislation.

At the 1976 XXI Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, 33 countries boycotted the Games following the refusal of the International Olympic Committee to ban New Zealand after the All Blacks toured South Africa during times of apartheid. Today, no country has expressed any interested in boycotting the Olympic in a host country where the rights of Russian citizens are abused and disregarded.

I enjoy watching the Olympics as much, if not more, than the average person – the pomp, the circumstance and the spectacular of the union of so many people from throughout the world. Because of this, I have given a lot of thought to whether or not I will be watching in 2014. My final resolution is that I wont be. The people of Russia, however far away and far removed they may be from me, deserve our support and our recognition of their rights. They have their own lives and families, just like I have mine, and no matter where you are in the world it doesn’t hurt to take a stand, however small and insignificant it may seem, and to let people know that human rights abuses are not acceptable and not something that earning a sporting achievement is worth. For me, watching the Winter Olympics would be making the statement that my own pleasure is of more value than taking a firm position on a major human rights issue of the 21st century. It isn’t.

When I began to search for a quote to begin this blog with, so many of the words spoken by Martin Luther King Jr. on racism embodied what I wanted to express that it was difficult to chose just one. The fact that the words of a man dedicated to fighting the discrimination he faced still resonate today (in many situations, not just the one discussed here) is shameful and a tragedy. When Martin Luther King Jr. said that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” he was expressing a sentiment that holds true in any situation. Turning a blind eye to the degradation of justice of fellow human beings is a degradation of our own justice, to our conscience and to our humanity. No matter how big or how small the sacrifice everyone deserves a voice, and when they can’t have their own, a thousand voices in chorus on their behalf.

Conscious Consuming: Socks!

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I have a small obsession with socks. Along with pajamas, I own more pairs of socks than I own other items of clothing. Socks are beautiful and fun and keep your feet warm. They can spice up some boring shoes and jeans. I’m also obsessed with buying things made locally to wherever I may be at the time of purchase.

This is why I would like to talk about Columbine socks/hosiery.

Columbine are a New Zealand family-owned manufacturer of socks and hosiery that have been keeping legs and feet warm for over 60 years. I buy ALL of my socks and tights from them, because they are truly the best!

Columbine are always create fun, new, and often seasonal prints. Not to mention that their products are as cheap as chips. They also provide employment for many New Zealanders, and all the money goes straight back into our economy.

Why buy your socks in China when you can buy the ones made up the road?

It’s so important to know where the products you are buying come from. It’s an easy way to be sure that you know that the people who made your clothes are being paid adequately, are working in safe and good conditions, and you’re supporting local economy. Even something as basic as socks is something easy to check to make sure that you’re buying a product that supports human rights and a strong economy.

Ka pai.

Soul Food 1.0 – Misc. Asian Broth.

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Whenever I’m stressed or having an unhappy day in my head, I like to start cooking. There’s something cathartic about taking to vegetables with a knife. But mainly, putting my energy into creating something delicious and focusing on what I’m doing is relieving and extremely cathartic.

My ‘Miscellaneous Asian Broth’ recipe doesn’t come from anywhere in particular. I tend to make things up as I go along, and this is no exception. However, knowing the ingredients and the flavours – I do highly recommend it for wintry nights, or if you’re ever feeling a spot under the weather with a cold. It’s warming, healthy, extremely easy, and takes less than 20 minutes!

a. Ingredients and Produce
I believe in good produce more than anything. I’d almost go as far as saying it’s a core value in my life. For your own body, for the environment, for your health – produce is always key. For this recipe, not too many ingredients are required, but if you can think about them when you’re buying, that’s great!

  • Pork mince - I usually use 90g – 100g or raw mince per person, a rule I generally apply when cooking with meat. If you’re Jewish (or other) ((shout out ramblingsandgreentea.wordpress.com)) and don’t eat pork, you can use chicken mince too. I don’t have much experience with tofu, but why not, try that too if you’re vegetarian.
  • 500ml chicken stock – I’m very lucky my local supermarkets all stock (pun!) fresh stock, but you can easily use organic stock cubes too (vegetarians – vege stock?)
  • Somen noodles – Around 90g per person. In New Zealand I’ve only even been able to find organic varieties, so there you go!
  • Bok choy – as much as you like! Go WILD! The more Asian greens the merrier, really!
  • One large lemon
  • One chilli pepper – I usually use bird’s eye chilli, but it’s a personal thing how hot you like your chilli, and availability of varieties
  • Spring onions
  • Garlic – The more flu you have, the more garlic you add!
  • Fresh Ginger – Above rule applies.
  • Corriander/Cilantro
  • Tamari Sauce – Similar to soy sauce, tamari is lower in salt and usually gluten free. It also pays to look for organic varieties – soya beans like to absorb things, including chemicals.

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b. Easy, Easy, Easy Prep

  1. Wash all vegetables
  2. Roughly chop bok choy and set aside
  3. Grate le zest of le lemon
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  4. Finely chop le spring onions
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  5. Finely chop and crush (using flat of knife) the garlic
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  6. Chilli time! Do not touch eyes or shower soon after touching the chilli. It will only end badly.
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  7. Chop yo’ cilantro like it’s nobody’s business. Good stress relief. Watch your fingers.
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  8. Put it all together in the bowl and mix with the pork mince. Use hands. Go all Jamie Oliver on that pork. Pukka.

c. Cooking With Fire – To Be Done Simultaneously

  1. Stock – Put stock into a pot and leave to boil. Turn element down to simmer once stock has reached boiling point. (NB: You can add extra water to stock to make it go a bit further)
  2. Pork – in frying pan with oil, push around until cooked (my electric element takes 10 mins).
  3. Add bok choy to pork when pork is cooked through – continue cooking for 2 minutes until bok choy is wilted
  4. When all is a-go, pop the noodles into some boiling water and boil for two minutes and then drain. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

To serve, use a good old bowl. Pop in the noodles, the pork and veges, and the stock. Season with lemon juice and a splash of tamari (for salt) and you’re good to go! Warming, healthy, full of flavour, and good for the nasal passages and clearing the head. Big thumbs up for tummy.

Serves 4 – easily adapted to serve as many or as few as you like!

Singspiration I (Carol King – Beautiful)

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Some people have a thinspiration, but I prefer to have a SINGSPIRATION (thank goodness that ‘sing’ fits in the word ‘inspiration’ adequately…) – that is to say, a song of the week or month or day or year (probably not the year, it would get a bit repetitive) that sets the tone of my goals and health and life and day.

So, for you this Sunday I present my first ever singspiration! (I really love portmanteaus, I’m so sorry…)

Running with the Carol King theme this week, I have been listening to a song from Carol’s 1971 record ‘Tapestry’, to inspire the beginning of my new life as a blogger/healthy living-motto having-positive-glowing person. (Haven’t eaten any quinoa or been to the gym yet though, so not going totally to plan).

‘Beautiful’ is an amazing song for several reasons. Firstly, it’s on ‘Tapestry’, which has a cat on the cover. But mainly because the lyrics are inspiring, the tune is invigorating, and it’s just an all around positive wee ditty. The message follows along with the theme of living the life you love, and how having love for everything (even the thinks you don’t like) can make life more beautiful. It truly encompasses positivity in under three minutes (and ten seconds…) so it wont even take up too much time. So efficient. Hurrah! Go Carol! etc.

“You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face, and show the world all the love in your heart…”

Have a listen, have a boogie, BE the 1970s…

You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman (A Love Blog to Carol King)

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I promised, promised, PROMISED myself that I would not blog more than once a day, but I just got out of the shower and put on my grey cotton dressing gown and felt a bit like Carrie Bradshaw (this is totally unwarranted, I cannot claim to be anything remotely like Carrie).

Anyway, in the shower I was singing a bit of Carol King – “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” (when you think about it, this is a rather fortunate song to be singing whilst naked/in reasonably revealing dressing gown). It made me laugh, and I thought about “natural woman” as a phrase. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

For myself, I actually think that I have an answer. When I look at myself, I actually do feel like a natural woman. Everyone KNOWS that everyone is born a different shape, will be a different size during their lives, will cut their hair this way or that, might not have been born female etc. But none of that is how I see being a natural woman.

When I look at myself, I care about what I’m putting into my body, how fit I am, and sometimes my size. But I think my main problem with weight is worrying about how other people see me. (And the fact that I no longer fit my favourite jeans, but that could be remedied if I actually went for a bike ride more often). But what I actually SEE is something I am happy with. I look like myself, and I don’t think I look horrible. What a positive thing to say! I’m not a size 8, or a 10, and sometimes not a 12, but I don’t think that is a negative thing. I look alright naked. (Sorry, friends who read this, I will not traumatise you any further than this).

Appreciating your own body, and other women’s bodies, is really important. It’s about respect for yourself, for other people, and for sharing love. Tell your friends how nice they look today, and tell yourself, and serenade yourself in the shower with a good round of Carol King. She’s great. (Seriously, she’s the Gilmour Girls theme tune…).

P.S. The above photo is of my Mum and I listening to Carol King on the floor in my room on a cassette player. Carol is her ultimate fave. The other day out for dinner at a nice restaurant, she, her friend, and I sung a rousing round of “You’ve Got A Friend”. So good.

The Art of Living

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Today it has been raining for about a week, and my room is like a cloud inside (read: damp) which is ruining all of my books and clothes.

I haven’t really used this blog yet, but today I am going to start. Hello, no one.

Anyway, I’m not very happy. I want to change the way I live my life. Someone gave the advice the other day, “Live the life you love”. I really liked that. One day I’ll die, so I may as well live my life how I love to. And so, yes, I do have some kind of internet addiction, it’s here to stay I think, but I want to use this blog to write about the things that I’m doing to live the life I love. This is a positive blog!

I don’t like everything, but I do love everything. And there are lots of things that I care about. Food, water, art, Christchurch, New Zealand, fair trade, local produce, not putting bad things in food, books, film, music. Everything, really. On here I’m just going to write about things that I love and make me happy and that can make everyone’s day better.

Holler.

The Important of Being Feminist

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Hello.

I used to have a different blog, but it became too tempting to write things that aren’t of any value. Or, rather, just reblog pictures of Queen Elizabeth II. Do not worry, I will still include Her Majesty here.

What follows is possibly of the ‘tl;dr’ nature. But there is no point having a blog if I don’t write anything, and thus:

Until 2011, my first reaction to the word ‘feminism’ would not have been ‘ideology’.

And I would wager that for the majority of the population, they’d be in the same boat. (Not the 2011 boat. The boat that their first reaction to ‘feminism’ isn’t ‘ideology’. It’s a boat with a very long name.)

Where I feel lucky, is that I never associated ‘feminism’ with anything more that equality, despite an ignorant and shallow knowledge of the ideology itself.

It’s hard, as a young person in the 21st century, to come out as a feminist. I have to write to myself now about why it is still so important to be able to do so.

When many people think of a ‘feminist’, the word association game can pretty quickly shift to ‘dyke’, ‘bra-burning’, ‘butch’ etc. for women and ‘fag’, ‘girl’, ‘pansy’ etc. for men. Feminism has become a dirty word, a word that, instead of embracing and used to empower, is shrugged off and used to belittle.

1. Feminism is an ideology.

2. Feminism is a gender neutral ideology. A news article read a few weeks ago quoted “[X], a feminist, and her husband, a supporter of women’s rights”. Incorrect. That would be “[X], a feminist, and her husband, also a feminist”. You do not say “Robert, an anarchist, and his wife, a supporter of there being no state”. Both men and women can be feminists.

I don’t know why young people, especially young women, are turning their backs on feminism. I hazard a guess in commenting that it’s likely to do with the stigma that now surrounds it.

But the thing is, everyone should still be fighting the good fight for feminism. Because it’s still a pretty fucking uphill battle.

People still sneer when I don’t want to wear high heeled shoes, saying it’s ‘unladylike’. People still want to control women’s sexual health. People still aren’t going to give me jobs, or will expect me to do things they’d never ask of a man, pay me less, make crass comments in the workplace, expect me to stay at home when I have kids.

I hear girls saying, “Oh, I think people take feminism too far”. I see guys laughing half-heartedly at their friends’ “make me a sandwich” jokes.

Well, fuck that shit.

I recently read one of the smartest things; that we’re all just one of ‘the guys’. And it’s true. All of the people I know are just ‘the guys’.

And fuck you, world, if you think I’m not going to say something when I hear people saying that women can’t be good doctors or lawyers.

And fuck you if you think I’m not going to fight for the girls who still live in cultures of rape, and don’t have right to their own autonomy, or education, or voting.

I am a feminist, and a strident one at that. I am whoever I want to be. When you laugh at me and call me a dyke, I will adjust my bra (which I LIKE and am wearing, thank you, because otherwise it would all just be a mess), hold my head high, and school you in a very LONG and possibly quite BORING rant.

You can’t put your fear, ignorance and shame on me.

Hear ye, hear ye; my blogeth beginneth.