3 things you can do for humanity, other than just pray for it…

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Let me start by saying that there is nothing wrong with praying.

Throwing positive energy into the universe can only be a good thing. And there are plenty of reputable studies to show the benefits of prayer and meditation on stress levels and brain activity. So, by all means, pray. But once you’re done praying make sure you spend some time creating the world you have just finished asking for. Remember, your deity’s only hands are those of its followers.

And a quick note for those of you who have used the hashtags prayforparis, or prayforhumanity, but have neither prayed nor taken action: don’t be that person. You have the power to bring so much relief in a world of pain. Use that power for good, not for gaining likes and comments.

So what can you do for humanity?

…Learn about it

There are many ways to do this. Read stories written from different view points, meet people from different backgrounds, travel. These are the best (and the funnest) ways to develop an appreciation for the things that make us different – like tiles in a complex mosaic – and the things that make us the same.

And there’s also watching the news. Keeping in mind that blogs, talk shows, religous publications and a Current Affair, are not news. Even the news has to be watched with the critical thinking part of your brain switched on. Television channels pursue ratings over truth. A fair proportion has to be the truth, or noone would bother watching. But it isn’t always the truth (Media Watch has many examples) and it is rarely the whole truth.

 

Media Watch

Just remember that anything you hear, from anyone (even me!!) comes through a filter of prejudices, experiences, hopes and adgendas. Learning to unpick the facts from the soup of human BS is a very important skill.

…Contribute to it

Wherever there are people trying to tear humanity down, there are people working to build it back up again. Whether it’s through actual building and construction, through the provision of essential services, or just the provision of arms to cry in.

You can be one of these people in your own community, but if you want to go one step further and help out in other communities around the world, then donate to a cause. The IFRC (known in Australia as the Red Cross) performs great work around the globe. From responding with blood and emergency assistance to the victims of our Black Saturday bushfires, to the needs of refugees fleeing Syria – if you are looking for a cause, these guys are a worthy one. They are also on the ground responding to the Paris attacks, so it’s a great choice if you are particularly interested in helping there.

 

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…Value it

In a world where life holds such little value, there will always be strife. In the west we are happy to trade the length and quality of life experienced by millions around the world for cheaper access to clothes, cosmetics and household goods. Don’t even get me started on oil.

Make consumer choices that enhance humanity, not detract from it.

And go hug someone.

Rant over.

 

Lying in with a lurgy – a few suprising products to nurse you through your cold

I have a little winter lurgy. One of those truly annoying ones that isn’t quite bad enough to get you out of work, but just bad enough to send you straight to bed when you get home. Ugh.

Needless to say, the last thing I feel like doing right now is sitting down to tap out the weekly post. I have, however, recently downloaded an app that scolds me when I don’t reach my weekly milestones, so I find myself at an impasse.

To take the sting out of soldiering on, I have decided to dial it down a notch and just share photos of some LLUF-approved products that are in my house for the purpose of providing sweet, sweet relief in moments like these. Such as Thursday Plantation Eucalyptus Oil.

Eucalyptus oil

Other than my bed, of course, this little bottle of strong-smelling goodness is my favourite possession in all the world right now.

Then there’s Ethical Nutrients Immune Defence tablets. Tastes weird, but I feel like it helps.

There’s also the essential super-moisturising body wash to help my skin withstand the longer, hotter showers I indulge in when I am sick. Natures Commonscents have just released their body wash range and they are divine.

Natures CS

And of course then there’s tea. Black tea, green tea, chai tea, peppermint tea. Realistically no hot beverage is off limits unless it requires lots of milk. I’m a big fan of a simple lemon wedge squeezed into a mug of water, or some diluted apple juice heated in the microwave as well.

Tea2

So there you have it. A few of my favourites. I hope they serve you well. And now I am off to bed.

Top tips for staying warm this winter…

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This has been a cold, nasty week in our nations capital. On Monday morning I went into work at 10.30 and there was still frost on the gound!! Not just in the odd shady corner either. There were thick blankets of it laid out across the grass. Not. Good.

So my top tips for keeping warm?

1) Build some big woolley socks into your wardrobe. Eco-friendly, and with lots of Australian made options, socks will not only keep you warm but may also increase your chance of orgasm!!! Find out more here.

Tuff Mongrel Socks

2) Block up spaces around your windows and doors to help keep the heat in. Don’t have anything? That’s ok. Make your own door-snake with these simple instructions.

doorsnake1

3) Drink lots of tea. Comforting, delicous and warm. You’d be mad not to use the change in the weather to drink more. It’s also an opportunity to help lift people out of poverty, with 100’s of tasty fair-trade blends out there for the buying. See this post for some of my favourites.

tea

4) Make your own heatpack from things that are lying around the house when things get truly desperate.This easy little trick is a great substitute if no hot water bottles or wheat packs are on hand to soothe a sore body or add a little support to feet that are desperately trying to warm up.

So there you have it – the simplest, cheapest and most universe friendly ways I know to add a little warmth to your winter.

Now you’ll have to excuse me while I go back to Netflix and a massive cup of peppermint tea… maybe winter isn’t all bad 😉

The Fab 5: The best posts of the past year

 28 April marks the one year anniversary of All You Need is LLUF.

It’s been a year of little triumphs, terrible disorganisation and great support from my loved ones. 44 posts and over 700 visits later, I have chosen 5 of my favourites to share:

Number

The first post I published, detailing the four part philosphy designed ‘to minimise the impact that my love of pretty things has on people and planet‘, that All You Need is LLUF was born from.

about

Number

The most popular post about our delightful stay in Hepburn Springs, Daylesford – a beautiful little town in wine country Victoria which I highly recommend for couples looking for romance, families looking for fun, and just about anyone looking for the perfect spot to relax.

Fair Grotto - HSMR

Number

The first to go ‘viral’ … ok, so the term ‘viral’ might be a bit of an overstatement. This is the first to be shared on Facebook by someone else. In particular the lovely people at Taygra Shoes Australia who were excited to be mentioned in the post.

Family of Taygra

Number

 My Mum’s favourite post. And there is no higher seal of approval.

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Number

The one that won…or at the very least was a favourite of the blog Living Well Spending Less who allows other blogs to post their best spend thrifting ideas to their Thrifty Thursday page.

BeetrootThrifty ThursdaySpring onions

So there you have it. Five of the best. A big thankyou for sticking with me so far, and a toast to the year ahead Champagne

5 alternatives to giving chocolate this Easter

I’m no health nut. And I love chocolate as much as the next overworked, slightly hormonal woman who occassional eats her feelings. But I feel like there are so many more sweet treats in everyday life than there ever where when I was a kid. Maybe that’s just because my Mum doesn’t tell me what to eat anymore, I don’t know. But I don know that there are alternatives out there to giving chocolate:

1) Easter themed books

Like these appropriately themed second hand books collected from local op-shops and second hand book stores.

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2) Real eggs

Healthy and delicous, and pretty as well. Die your egg shells with food die, or for something more adventurous, try coloured devilled eggs.

Colored Eggs in Easter Basket - Free High Resolution Photo

3) A real chicken or a real bunny

There are plenty of homeless bunnies and chickens available for adoption through the RSPCA. Just remember that an Easter bunny, just like a Christmas puppy, is a lifetime decision. Be a responsible pet owner.

Rabbit

4) Toys

If real bunnies aren’t your bag perhaps you should consider a bag of toy bunnies, like this cute as a button carrot full of fairtrade bunnies.

bunnies

5) Hours of fun

Or sit down with the people you love, no matter what age they are and do some easter crafting. Be inspired by these 40 great Easter craft ideas.

craft bunny

Hepburn Springs, Daylesford (ethical holiday extrordinaire – Pt 1)

Hepburn Springs is a quaint little village just minutes from Daylesford proper, and like Daylesford is famous(ish) for its mineral springs. A quick google of Hepburn Springs and Daylesford may have you believing that mineral spa bath, winery tours and restaurant dinners are pretty much the extent of Daylesford. But this quaint little region has so much more to offer.

We stayed at Clover Hill accomodation in private, comfy rooms that were super spacious, and CLEAN. My friends will understand the gravity of my approval when I say that it passed the ‘hair-test’ with a whopping five points remaining!!

I’m not neurotic. I’m just detail-oriented, ok?

Clover Hill provides some great complimentary facilities including gym, sauna, pool-table and dvd library. Your tarriff also includes a very well appointed continental breakfast, and champagne and chocolates on arrival. This secluded little getaway is on the far-end of Hepburn Springs, but still less than 5 minutes drive away from the myriad of antique stores, galleries and conveniences of Daylesford.

Fair Grotto - HSMR

Just up behind the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa is the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve. A 150 year old garden with many little trails that lead off to rambling fairy grottos (see above), a tree-top walk, fields of daisies, and of course the mineral springs. Each of which can be accessed through an old fashioned pump system.

Tree-top bridge - HSMR

We spent a few hours exploring, and still would’ve happily returned  for a picnic the next day, or for a Rainforest Allliance certified coffee at the architecturally stunning Pavillion Cafe, if only we’d had time.

Pavillion Cafe

Access to the reserve and springs is free, but make sure you bring a cup or waterbottle with you to make sampling easier. Each spring tastes slightly different, so it’s worth sampling them all, but prepare yourself. They all smell like sulphur, and with the exception of the Wyuna Spring, we decided that one mouthful was enough!!

Wyuna Spring

With this in mind we graciously requested tap water instead of mineral spring water when offered the choice while dining with Rubens@Hepburn. This is a delighful rustic diner, with tasetfully mismatched chairs and a delicous menu incorporating local produce with medditeranean tradition. Our meal included goats cheese from the award winning Meredith Dairy and Prosciutto and Chorizo from Istra Smallgoods.

Rubens

We teamed these with a Mt Franklin Pinot Grigio and an organic Sandy Farm Cab Merlot for the full local produce experience.

So between a day at the park (to help you buy less), an abundance of local produce, access to nearby antique stores and a fairtrade coffee at the Pavillion cafe, Hepburn Springs ticks some serious – and somewhat delightful – boxes for an ethical holiday destination.

But wait! There’s more! Look out for next Thursday’s blog about more of the wonderful things the Daylesford Region has to offer.

 

 

Just my cup of tea. The benefits of drinking fair-trade.

This is the fourth and final ‘winters warmers’ article offering tips for staying warm while feeling warm and fuzzy with the LLUF philosophy. So far I have covered:

So now to cover fair!! Fairtrade tea has long been a thing, but the fancy marketing and familiarity of big brands like Tetley and Bushells keep us going back for more. But there are plenty of similarly priced and equally delicious fair-trade teas that come with two added bonuses:

  • They are better for you (most fair trade teas are also organic), and
  • They are better for the people who produce your tea.

So if you are thinking of making the switch why not start with one of these (excuse my dodgy graphics):

Love teaBoth these teas are on the fancy end of the tea scale. And both are delicous. However Love Tea’s earl grey is organic, fair trade and comes in a very cute cardboard cannister. It is also an Australian run family business, which I love. When odering from their website I have always received my purchases within 48 hours and always with a little sampler of one of their teas to try!!

LiptonTwo old family favourites, similar prices, simalar tastes. But Lipton’s black tea range is Rainforest Alliance Certified which gets it the LLUF-green-box-of-approval.

NeradaI love peppermint tea. I have it in a 500ml stein because a standard mug just doesn’t cut it. So needless to say price is a major consideration when it comes to this purchase. Nerada Organics has a complete range of fair-trade organic herbal teas that is available in most supermarkets. And at around $5.50 for 40 bags beats Liptons ‘Refreshing Mint’ by 5c a bag!!

Still not convinced? Watch this short video about the benefits of fair-trade and then see how you feel.

No sweat

Family of Taygra

Sweatshop free workout gear.

Since moving to a colder climate I have found myself stacking on the kilos. Wintery comfort food, red wine, and a genuinely heartfelt desire to stay under the doona have all taken their toll. I’d love to tell you that nothing has been hurt but my vanity, and I assure you it is sorely wounded, but I have found my increasingly sedentary lifestyle has also compounded some other health problems and I just feel gross.

So after treating myself with a new gym membership (the third I have bought in my life, let’s hope I use it more than six times this round), I have decided to treat myself to some sweatshop-free work out gear, including:

Taygra shoes

I’ve actually had a pair of these for a while, a few of them in fact. And I’ve recently bought some for my partner too. I love the funky colours they are available in, and although not supportive enough for hitting the pavement at a run, I find them perfect for treadmill action or a brisk walk around the block. Vegan leather and made under ethical standards in Brazil, these puppies are also very affordable at as little as $69.00 for an adult shoe. Oh, and the service is excellent. Mens, womens and kids sizes available.

American Apparel athletic pants

So comfy, and with a huge range of colours and styles for men and women, you are bound to find something to suit any kind of athletic activity. American Apparel products are made in downtown LA by workers who are paid fairly and work in safe conditions. They believe that by keeping all their processes (design, manufacturing, business services etc.) in one place they can keep their prices low, while also reducing their carbon footprint and bolstering their local community and economy.

Daksha Singlets

A cheap $15 each and available in 19 different colours these super cute singlets are available online from fair-trade and eco sustainable label Daksha. In women’s styles only (sorry guys), they are made out of a lovely soft cotton that is woven by women in northern Thailand. This cotton is also used in Daksha other clothing. I plan on going back for some of the other tops, but with a heavy hippish flavour to most of their products, the dresses, skirts and pants categories are unlikely to be frequented by me.

And although I am currently observing the ‘less’ philosophy and using a green bag to transport my gym gear (classy, I know), I am considering a fair trade gym bag made out of recycled cement and rice bags in Cambodia. Such a cool idea.

 

Writing from The Rock – a series of surprises at Uluru

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This is my first time in the Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park, and I have to say that it has been an incredible experience. My Australian made Redback boots have set foot in the outback a number of times, and I am quite sentimental about the layer of seemingly immovable red dust that they have accumulated over time, so I jumped at the opportunity to head out to the Red Centre with two of my wonderful friends. Not only do I consider standing at the foot of Uluru something of a pilgrimige, but this is a sight I have been whistfully watching on postcards my entire life. So you can imagine my suprise when Uluru turned out to look nothing like the picture I had in my mind!!

As one of my travel buddies so succinctly put it, I had always believed that Uluru rose out of the ground like a giant bunt-cake, all smooth with a scalloped edge, and although it does look like that from a distance, as I got closer I was amazed to see that its surface is dotted with caves carved into the rock face, that its base is surrounded by jagged pieces of rock that have fallen away maybe thousands of years ago, and there are deep pools that cascade down it’s side, creating multi-layered waterfalls on those rare occassions when it rains. I was also amazed that despite the infrequency of rain, that the park is so green. There is even a beautiful waterhole tucked into the base of Uluru that acts as a perfect mirror to the cliff face above it.

I  didn’t expect Uluru to tower quite so far above me as I stood gazing in wonder from its base. It astounds me that anyone would want to climb it, as not only is it disrespectful to the Anangu, but given it’s immense height, and the fact that the climb is virtually at a 45 degree angle it seems like a very unsound safety decision to me. And what was even more suprising yet, was that Kata Tjuta, otherwise known as the Olgas, stands some 198 metres higher than Uluru just 50 metres away*, but I had barely heard it mentioned until I started to review tour options.

Naturally I hoped to take home souvenirs of this incredible experience, and I was pleased to discover a sizeable range of lluf-approved purchases available from the souvenir shops around Ayers Rock Resort, the parks Cultural Centre, and the airport. This included soaps, bush pot purri, and various spice mixes, sauces and jams incorporating native Australian ingredients. Yum. But what was really amazing was the availibility of non-perishable items made in Australia or in fair trade arrangements, as opposed to being mass produced in more ‘affordable’ manufacturing regions. I could only make small purchases, given that my 7kg of carry-on already included a pair of boots that weigh nearly a kilo on their own and four days worth of clothing, however I have been very happy to purchase:

A t-shirt: Australian made clothing is always hard to find, so imagine my suprise to stumble across a relatively tasteful souvenir t-shirt. Samsousan, as it turns out, has a wide range of Australian made promotional and souvenir apparel, and also incidentally do a mens tuxedo t-shirt which I am very excited about – that one never gets old. You can see the complete range at: http://www.samsousan.com.au/

Bracelets: I am madly in love with the above pictured bracelets from Better World Arts. Accompanied by the story of the design, they are beautiful and functional pieces of genuine aboriginal art. Better World Arts sells some amazing handicrafts with a business model that empowers the aboriginal artists and the artisans in Peru, Kashmir, West Bengal and Nepal who bring the designs to life on cushions, rugs, bags and jewellry. These can be viewed and purchased from: http://www.betterworldarts.com.au/products

Magnets: I actually bought heaps of Australian made magnets. Some that had aboriginal symbols for beautiful sentiments such as togetherness, happiness, and friendship from a brand called Wijikura, and some that featured classic postcard shots of the National Park from a brand called Visit. A quick internet search revealed that Visit sells lots of Australiana items- some Australian made, including some lovely scenic calendars, and some not. But all its Australian made products are well signed, so you don’t have to look too hard to find them. Many of these can be seen on their website: http://www.visit.com.au/

So next time you are shopping for souvenirs, I encourage you to put in the extra effort to find out where they came from. There are genuine Australian souvenirs out there and I have found them worth the effort to find.

 

 

* See the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Visitors Guide: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/visitor-guide-uluru-kata-tjuta-national-park

N.B. photos above were not taken inside the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. You may be suprised to learn that for the purposes of safeguarging the traditions and sacred places of Anangu publishing images taken within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park requires a permit and is subject to strict guidelines.