How to: Make Sock Poi

July 14, 2009

festival

Having finally emerged from Lounge on the Farm, pulling straw from my hair and ears still ringing, I have decided to further inform you all of how to have a really, really good festival experience. Naturally, my first thought on this subject concerned poi.

Poi is the art of swinging balls on string around your body, without smacking yourself in the face, stomach, arse or crotch. It all began with the Maori women, for whom poi was used in traditional dance. Now it’s more of a hippy travelling game, and you can’t move at any self-respecting festival for fear of walking into someone’s flying sock.

I made a pair recently, having left my old ones (now a little too short) in Bristol. The perfect opportunity to feverishly document my handiwork. And so:

how to,poi

You will need:

– A pair of long socks (readily available from any market stall or teen goth)
– A pair of scissors
– needle and thread
– rice

Firstly

Take the scissors in one hand, and a sock in the other. Cut the foot of the sock from the leg. As so-

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Secondly

Actually, the next couple of steps are interchangable. I leave that up to you…

Turn the legs of the socks inside out and sew across the foot end. A running stitch is fine.

how to,poi

Turn the socks the right way again.

Thirdly

Take the foot part of the sock and add rice. I usually fill each with about 4oz(100g) though I like my poi heavy. Don’t worry too much about the weight, but do make sure they’re fairy equally weighted.

poi,how to

Twist the top of the foot part and fold it back over the rice-filled part, so it resembles a little ball. You can also use hair elastics to tie off the top.

Fourthly, and finally

Put the balls of rice into the leg part of the sock. If they fall straight out of the bottom, return to step two.

poi,how to

The Finished Product

Ta-da!

poi,how to

On the left, you can see what it looks like if you forget to turn the sock the right way after turning it inside out. A bit silly.

Now you’ve filled your socks with rice, you can celebrate by making strange arm movements like this!

Lia,poi,festival,lotf
Lia swings the blues…poi

Further instruction in the mastery of Poi
How to make FIRE poi Oh yes.
How to make and play with poi. Very enthusiastic poi enthusiast!
The Three beat weave One of the first and easiest poi tricks, as well as the The butterfly.

Or if you just want the professionals to show you how it’s done: Fire shows and/or Circus Workshops

The best way to learn poi though, in my experience, is meet up with like minded fellows and hang out in parks and at festivals swapping tips and tricks. I learned in various parks in Berlin after meeting up with Ed, who’s been spinning poi for three years now and knows a thing or two, as well as having infinite patience! It does take a while to get the hang of, you’re swinging rice around your head in socks for Gods sake, it’s not normal!, but it’s well worth it when you start thinking…If I put one hand here, and spin it there, and do a little turn and Guys! guys! How did that look!? Also, spinning with fire is amazing.

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Go forth! And spin!

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Turning Vegan

July 8, 2009

chocolate pudding,vegan,food,café

There are as many reasons for changing your diet, as there are changes to make. Giving up meat for environmental causes; eating more protein for muscle gain; cutting out carbohydrates to lose weight; getting more iron to combat anemia; more omega oils for extra brain power (I swear I was smarter the year I ate tuna sandwiches for lunch…); less saturated fat to lower cholesterol; creating a new dish every week to expand your culinary horizons…

A couple of months ago I decided to make the switch to vegetarian and throw in a vegan week. The reasoning behind my decision was that I have always eaten badly: microwave meals when I was younger, cheese and tuna toasties at university, or not eating at all. I wanted to eat more healthily. A couple of my friends and housemates actually used to cook, at least every other day. They could whip up spag bol or smoked salmon with minimum effort – and were occasionally horrified at my poor diet. If I became a vegetarian I knew I would have to look at my diet and what I was putting into my body, thus causing me to eat more healthily.

It did take me a long time to reach this point in my life where I wanted to make a change in my diet. When I was heating up triple cheesy crispy pancakes, or surviving on ham sandwiches, I knew my diet wasn’t the healthiest, but I was at university watching Em and Ed cook tasty, healthy meals for four years before I decided that I could do that too. While these guys were definitely catalysts, I didn’t make any change merely because they hinted that my food choices were going to give me, at the very least, a sugar hangover, if not Type Two diabetes. (I don’t know that I really ate that badly, but apparently Type Two diabetes is pretty prevalent in people with high sugar diets.) If I hadn’t wanted to do something about it for myself, and not solely just because other people were telling me it was the right or better thing to do, I wouldn’t have had the motivation to make any sort of change, let alone cutting out meat and then dairy.

Early on in my vegetarian time I read Becoming Vegan which is full of lists of which foods contain what essential nutrient and in what quantities, as well as in-depth analysis of the purpose of each nutrient in the diet. Needless to say it is quite anti-dairy as well as meat, so even during being vegetarian I didn’t make dairy the mainstay of my diet, though I had still had milk on my cereal and cheese on my jacket potato.
Learning all this before I became fully vegan, and living a sort of veg*n existence, meant that the change to meat and dairy free has been almost shockingly easy.

Previously, I didn’t even know that there was protein in beans. I remember the food wheels at school, with sections for meat, dairy, fruit and veg, grains, and snack foods. Protein and iron was found in meat, calcium was in dairy. Carbs were in grains, vitamins were in fruit and veg. Fat was in snack foods and sugar. Someone may have once mentioned that you could get iron from broccoli, but you couldn’t create a meal around vegetables. Right? (When I say previously, I mean, last year. I really never looked into food before this.) I thought that vegans had to eat incredible amounts of lettuce (why? I don’t know), take vitamin supplements and generally be very careful about what they ate, making sure they got enough of the vital nutrients. (Consider that I didn’t know there was protein in beans. Imagine how hard I thought life would be.) Reading books like Becoming Vegan and a multitude of vegan websites really informed me about all the other foods out there that provide just as much protein, iron and calcium as meat and dairy, often with a lot less fat. I’m not going to go into which foods contain what nutrients here, suffice to say, ‘vegan’ foods are not specialised and can be found down any aisle in Sainsburys. I have found some interesting foods which contain no milk: Ben And Jerry’s Sorbet, Starbursts sweets, Asda stir in Chickpea and Spinach Sauce, McVities Hobnobs (score!). Obviously, always check labels, but there’s a lot of food out there with no dairy and no meat that isn’t in the ‘FreeFrom’
aisle.

Cooking for myself every day does take some effort though. I have to go into the supermarket at least once a week, check labels if I fancy something new to see if it contains milk, and then when I get home preparing a nice evening meal takes at least forty-five minutes with the chopping, slicing, boiling and baking. You know what though? I love it. I’ve never cooked for myself, and for others, as much as I have done in the past couple of months. I’ve never had people compliment me on my food ever! (‘Wow, this toasty is well done.’ ‘Soup microwaved to perfection…how do you do it?’) Trying new foods, putting new flavours together (I cooked with ginger the other day, slightly overdid it, but yummy bean chilli), having friends over for dinner and chatting to other vegans for recipe ideas – I love it. I really enjoy putting all the parts together and coming out with something nutritious and delicious, and the surprise on some peoples’ faces when you tell them it’s vegan!

There have been a couple of difficult points, however. Just before I became vegan, and had been vegetarian for nearly two months, I noticed that I’d lost quite a substantial chunk of weight. I’ve always been at a healthy BMI (not due a healthy diet, just because I used to temper my days of eating crap with days of not eating at all. Yum.) and assumed that I would remain at my previous weight even if I made the switch to eating healthily. Turning vegetarian and eating filling meals killed my sugar cravings for a while though, so I was eating less biscuits, crisps, fizzy pop (particularly those with beef gelatin in, etc) as well as not getting any fat from meat sources, so the weight just dropped off. Since I’m fairly slim to start with, this scared me a little and I decided I needed to up my fat intake, so I strayed back to scoffing biscuits. The day before going vegan I remembered that my reasons for not eating meat were due to health, so I stopped with the biscuits, and went on the search for healthy fats. I started throwing avocado and sunflower seeds into my salads, hemp seeds into everything else (though they do make a bean chilli disconcertingly crunchy…) and drizzling hemp oil over salads and meals. Unfortunately, due to a coconut allergy, I usually avoid nuts, which are also a great source of fats, and haven’t yet managed to get hold of any spirulina (seaweed and superfood), since the best place to get it from is the internet, as health food shops usually sell it in pellet form, rather than powder. (Becoming Vegan, again, hugely helpful with its lists of healthy fatty foods.) It is totally possible to eat unhealthy fats as a vegan; I’ve been making cookies all week, in many forms. Double chocolate and cinnamon being the current favourite. Don’t ask a girl to give up all her vices at once, right?

Most of my friends are completely behind what I’m doing though I did have a bit of an argument with Thom about not eating meat one night. He argued that if a person were body-building, they needed a lot of protein, and the best way to get that was from meat. I explained about the protein content of other foods (there must be other people who don’t know beans contain protein. Beans are my staple food, you might have noticed.) and how you can derive all your protein from one source, (unlike fruit and veg say, where it’s best to get a range) so you could eat nine eggs if you wanted. Anyway, we didn’t resolve the argument that day.
The next day we went to Camden, and for lunch at the Inspiral Lounge (review to come) and after maybe two bites of his cauliflower (nut) cheese, Thom was exclaiming over the deliciousness of the food and suggesting that they go vegetarian for a while, maybe even vegan for a week. (He’s been vegetarian for a week now, though still craves chicken.)
There have been other people who don’t understand why (or how) someone could be vegan, and have even eaten tasty vegan food and not become the latest proselytizer!, who don’t see any reason behind giving up meat, and also see veganism as a ‘restrictive’ diet. I usually have about one conversation with these people about veganism and then leave it. I’m not trying to convert anyone, but it’s hard work when someone close to you sees what you’re doing as a negative action!

Turning vegan has done for me exactly what I hoped it would. I eat better now, pay more attention to my food and know what my body needs to survive. I can cook (!) and have made food which my friends have found not only edible, but tasty. For a while I pondered on the idea of ‘feeling healthier’, but have realised that lately I have been full of energy and madly productive! My skin is also clearer and I feel like my digestive system is working better than ever. (Another side effect of veg*nism: gas. Good for the body, not for your friends. Mmm.)

At first I only planned to be vegetarian for a month and a half, have a vegan week, go vegetarian again for a month or so, then return to eating meat occasionally, but having got this far, I think I’ll definitely avoid having ay meat or dairy in the house, though I may relax my rules a little when it comes to eating out. It’s definitely been a positive experience though, and one I would recommend to anyone looking to eat healthily, do their bit for the environment or just try something new.

For anyone wanting to learn more about veganism

The Vegan Society
The Vegetarian Resource Group -So much information.
Vegan recipes and news
WikiHow To Become Vegan

Some Vegan people

Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk
Grumpy Vegan
Veganachronism
Food Porn
More Food Porn

A few tips for Turning Vegan

-Research food nutrition using the resources above. There’s protein in beans! Who knew.

-Really want to do it. Otherwise you might end up feeling resentful and restricted.

-Don’t feel guilty or give-up if you inadvertently eat meat or dairy. In my first week of being veggie, I ate out and had roast beef…

-Check labels. It doesn’t take long, and milk powder can be found in the strangest of places. (Pesto, why?!)

-Enjoy it!


Moving House

July 2, 2009

house,junk,moving
There’s always more stuff.
Top two: My old flat
Bottom three: Cheeky sub-let room.

Moving House

It’s shit.

If I never again had to deal with stuffing my last two plates in a carrier bag and opening my wardrobe to find a pile of unpacked pants…I’ll probably be moving house again net year, bringing my grand total of moves up to sixteen. In the past month I’ve packed up and cleaned down two houses. It is not fun. The next time I call my Mum I’m going to have to ask her how she managed it with two toddlers running around, as well as making sure nothing gets lost or left behind, and restoring the house to perfection. Apparently moving house rates in the top five most stressful life events, and I agree! Like anything though, practice takes perfect, and I’ve had a lot of practice.

I’m not going to give a comprehensive guide on ‘How to move house’, with all the bits like ‘Phone your bill companies’ or ‘Don’t leave anything behind’. But here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up the make the whole ordeal run the slightest bit smoother. Unfortunately lettings agencies are coming up with new ways to be completely ineffectual everyday, so there will never, ever be a smooth house move. Things will get lost, (things will get found!), there is always a stain under the sofa you never moved, and there is always more stuff. Here goes!

-When it comes to packing up and moving on, start at least a couple of days in advance. Box up anything you don’t use everyday. Photoframes, Pikachu figurines, books. Packing always takes longer than you think, because there is always more stuff. Always.

– Don’t buy packing boxes! Go to a local giant supermarket and ask where they put their boxes. You should be allowed to take them.

– Don’t overfill boxes. Remember you have to carry them, even if it is only to the van. Check the bottoms aren’t going to fall out either. Packing tape is a good buy. (Especially if you move a lot.)

– Have a plan. Start packing in advance and leave plenty of time to clean/take the rubbish to the tip/bleach the suspicious stains on the carpet. Checking behind the sofa in the last ten minutes ‘just in case’ and finding out where Hammy finally rested…not fun.

– Find out if there’s anywhere you can store your stuff so the house is empty when you clean it. A close friend’s, (for close, read nearby), or the garden – but check the weather! Alternately, hoover a room in the house, then use it for storage.

– Plastic bags are your friend. Black bags and recycle bags are very useful. Not only do they store rubbish, they’re also good for stuffing duvets and coats into. Carrier bags are good for the last few items hanging around (there is always more stuff) like those spare tins in the cupboard, or that screwdriver you weren’t sure was yours…

– Buy in cloths and sponges in advance. There will be wiping.

– Make a cleaning playlist. Whatever gets you moving. We shook our asses Groove Armada style and I scrubbed the kitchen to Shpongle. Dancing aids productivity. Fact.

– Did I mention there’s always more stuff? Don’t forget to check wardrobes, cupboards and drawers. I left my favourite jacket ever behind in my last but two house and forever regret not sliding back that wardrobe door. Tear.

– Make a box or bag of immediate needs for the new place. Kettle. Tea bags. Loo roll. Fluffy slippers. Your SATC poster. Whatever will make you feel most at home as soon as you arrive.

– Don’t get stressed! Break everything down into manageable actions. Pack clothes. Check. Wash up. Check. Load stuff into van. Check. (If only…)

– If you are in the enviable position of not having to cart your life across country, the help your friends who do have to! They will love you all the more, and you may even pick up a few bargains. I’ve picked up a good set of speakers, a green guitar, shelf full of beans…all this and more, for wiping down a few surfaces.

At the other end…

Moving into house isn’t quite as stressful as moving out. I find it fun to descend upon a blank canvas. I’ve been in my new house a whole day now, and my clothes are still in their bags, yet my desk is set up, and I’m testing some stencils on the wall…Others might have different priorities. I suggest:

– Unpacking your stuff as soon as possible. You’ll feel more at home with your own belongings around you.
– Or making a fort out of the boxes and refusing to come out unless there are fairy cakes involved. And tea. (I fully intended to do this, but the urge to decorate came over me.)

Decor,house,room
Who cares about clothes?
All three: My new room. Fairytale door hanging.