To harm oneself

This is Durdle Door here in beautiful Dorset. I think I’ve chosen one of the best locations to study wildlife conservation here in England. Durdle Door is a natural rock formation along the Jurassic Coast which is a World Heritage Site. I had the great pleasure of seeing it and there are many more photos to come.

These words came from a fascinating book I’ve been reading titled Nature’s Web: Rethinking Our Place on Earth by Peter Marshall on the chapter concerning Hinduism. It’s a book about ecology (as I’m studying this, naturally I’m interested in the topic); how different cultures, views, religions, and people have shaped it and the green movement to what it is today; and how we will continue to change it. I’m only a few chapters in and I’m already looking for a copy to purchase and would definitely recommend it.

I strongly believe in these words and wonder why others don’t realize that everyone and everything in this world is connected. I’m reminded of my respect post from a while back. That plant in your neighbor’s yard, the dog you see wandering around, the person jogging, etc. We are all connected and “to harm other things or beings is to harm oneself”. Please be conscious of this and do your best to cause no harm whatsoever to anyone or anything. Have a harmless weekend, my friends!

Tag it with these beauties

I love simple features that make something automatically go from bland to extraordinary. These wooden, hand painted chalkboard gift tags do just that to anything they’re attached to. I already was a fan of this type of gift tag, but these take tags to a different level.

Since these are hand painted, reusable, and an easy add-on to a plain wrapping (as shown below), these are a great eco-alternative to other gift tags and wrapping techniques.

They’re made by Kate’s Paper Goods and I just discovered, upon working on this post, that she sells many other amazing chalkboard tags on her Etsy shop. I’m so glad to have spotted them on Mellisa Loves a little while back and discover Kate’s gorgeous artwork.

(Original images from Kate’s Paper Goods on Etsy)

Stop the cruel killing of street dogs in Ukraine‏

[UPDATE: Remember those poor dogs in the Ukraine?]

In an effort to “rid the streets of [stray dogs] in time for the Euro 2012 soccer championships” in Ukraine, dogs are being poisoned to death. “Meat laced with poison is being left out for the animals to consume, resulting in their prolonged and agonizing deaths.” There have even been reports of dogs being burned alive in incinerators.

This is horrific and must be stopped. The Humane Society International along with other animal protection organizations in Ukraine have contacted authorities and expressed their distress and objections with no response. My brother just yesterday informed me of this and I’m usually aware of issues like this as soon as they arise. Apparently this has been going on for some time now. More people need to know about this and help put an end to it.

Please sign this petition and share this information with others. Feel free to edit the letter in whatever (polite) way you’d like. Tell Ukraine that you’ll boycott the Euro 2012 soccer championships if they don’t stop this immediately. These dogs need our help. So many have already been killed and we can’t do anything about that now, but we can at least help those that are left. Thank you!

(Original image from Humane Society International newsletter)

The time we have rushed through life trying to save

In the center of Bournemouth, there’s a hot air balloon (pictured above) which you can go on and see the city from up high on nice, sunny days. I hope to one day go on it. In the meantime, I’ll admire it from the ground.

These words by celebrity Will Rogers are one of those sadly true quotes. It always seems as though people rush through things so that they can then relax and enjoy themselves. Once we get to that time of relaxation, we almost always waste it and don’t take full advantage of it. The thing is, life should be enjoyed at all times, not just when we finish that daily/weekly to do list. Easier said than done, but we do only have one life and it goes by too fast.

I’ve gotten crazy busy lately and I have to remind myself sometimes to come back to the here and now, to take a break from schoolwork, the computer, my thoughts! That’s one reason why I’ve come back to writing more often here at Four Leaf Clover. I hope to post every other week day (as I’ve done so far this week) until I can get back onto a normal schedule once again. I’m missing so many stories and lovely finds that have started to collect dust in my bookmarks.

Ah, right… what I’m trying to say is: have a wonderful weekend, don’t rush through it, and find some time to enjoy… and not just today, but every day (even if only for a few minutes)!

So this is Poole

You may remember my “I’m here!” post a while back which just so happens to be when I took all of these photos. I haven’t been taking nearly as many pictures as I did when I first arrived, but I think my camera is going to have to become a staple in my bag once again. Although I study at Bournemouth University, I live a little ways away in Poole. It may be a bit far for an almost daily bus ride, but Poole has many great features (many of which I’m sure I’ve yet to discover)!

The weather has become a mucky and cold sort of thing, but it doesn’t make the bus ride back to Poole any less comforting. This place has more or less started to feel like a home (away from home, that is). I figured it was about time I showed you my first impression. It definitely has a nautical feel with seagulls calling out and the smell of saltwater. Also, Poole Harbour just so happens to be the second largest natural harbour in the world!

I live right next to the railway and the sound of trains is constant. I’ve not seen one for a while, but the steam trains that came by always had me out of my bed and peering out the window at night.

Midnight Sun

This may be the most beautiful video I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to believe such wonders really exist in this world of ours. Even though I’ve watched this short film a few times now, each time it doesn’t fail to amaze me and literally take my breath away. It looks as though it’s about time the world finds out about the gorgeousness that is Iceland.

This magic was captured thanks to Joe Capra on a 17 day solo trip during Iceland’s Midnight Sun. “Midnight Sun: A natural phenomenon occurring in the summer months north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle where the sun never fully sets and remains visible 24 hours a day.” Click here to go to the video and find out more.

When I first saw the stills on Cohabitaire, I thought they were paintings and had to see it to believe it. You’ll be missing out if you don’t do the same. High definition and fullscreen required. Sit back, marvel, and dream about your future trip to Iceland.

Life as a vegan

Yesterday marked two years of my being vegan! I knew it was coming up, but I didn’t realize what day it was until I checked my calendar today. I should have been paying better attention because then maybe I would have celebrated in some way by making a vegan cake or something equally delicious. Instead I went to a food festival and was reminded why I’m vegan in the first place.

Having been a vegetarian for about six years before I became vegetarian, I’d had quite a lot of “practice” in becoming a vegan, specifically because I knew I’d adopt a vegan diet eventually and already cut down many dairy and egg products (among other non-vegan-friendly ingredients). So when people ask me if it’s hard, I say without a doubt that it’s not. This new environment of mine (university) has brought all kinds of new challenges, but never have I considered going back or that I may be doing something wrong.

I’m vegan because I love animals and don’t want to be the reason for any of their pain. The (health, eco, weight, etc.) benefits that come with being vegan are just an extra bonus. I’d been considering going vegan for a while, but it wasn’t until I read the must-read book Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin that I made the decision then and there to stop eating dairy and eggs for good and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve been meaning to write a book review to share with all of you on Skinny Bitch because it really is a fabulous book, but there’s so much to say I don’t know where to start. I figured it was about time I at least tell you about it.

I’ve been vegan for two years and I can honestly say I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. If I ever (very rarely) get sick, it lasts a few hours tops. I lost over 30 pounds and gained a lot of confidence and self-love. I no longer feel guilty about the food I eat. I’ve improved my cooking and baking skills immensely. The list goes on and on.

That’s a summary of my vegan story. Do you have one? I’d love to hear it! A few of you have asked about my veganism before and, if you have any other questions, please write them in the comments below.

Awaken your Food Sense

When it comes to food, the internet is one of my favorite tools. Yes, cookbooks are amazing, but sometimes you can’t find a recipe to fit your mood, taste, or time at that very moment. In comes the internet. Look up a combo of anything and you’re sure to find something just right.

Julie has taken it to another level with Food Sense, a website dedicated to providing “recipes, stories, and featured vendors [that] are handpicked, thoroughly researched, and well-loved”. I can’t help but mention that a while back Food Sense featured my brownies!

Just looking at the site has my mouth watering and my fingers itching to get cookin’. I love that Food Sense features recipes, photos, stories, tips, and more from people just like me… lovers of making and eating great-tasting veg-friendly foods.

I asked Julie a few questions so that I could better explain Food Sense to you, but after reading her responses I felt that this post wouldn’t be complete without her answers and no one could better explain it than Julie herself. Here’s our little interview:

Why did you get started with Food Sense?

I love sharing food with others. I wanted to create a community and set of resources for people who love plant-based food – simply because it’s really good food. Done right, it’s delicious, creative, elegant, and satisfying. I wanted it to be open to anyone who’s interested in vegetarianism or veganism – whether they call themselves that or not.

What purpose does Food Sense serve?

Too many people abandon plant-based eating because it seems hard. Or, not that tasty. Because Food Sense brings together the very best articles, resources, recipes, and vendors, it helps readers maintain a positive experience with vegetarian and vegan food. (And, I think I’ve achieved that in some part, because it’s taken some time for some of my visitors to realize it’s a vegetarian food site – apparently, the food looks so good that it successfully breaks from people’s common misperceptions about vegetarian food!)

What do you hope will come from Food Sense?

I hope it continues to grow beyond my voice, to a collection of voices. I hope Food Sense will become an interactive community of home cooks, who can find everything they are looking for – cooking inspiration, how-tos, entertaining ideas, recipes, products – on our site.

[Note from Julie: Food Sense is building its team of contributing editors! Topic areas of focus include: Recipes, Entertaining, Nutrition, and Food Sense features such as 10 Things, and My Veg Life. Julie is also open to column ideas. If you're interested in joining the Food Sense team, please e-mail Julie at]

Why it’s important to protect the Boreal Forest

Today on Care2, I watched this short but very informative video about the Canadian Boreal Forest. I realize that not everyone thinks like me and protecting something because it is part of nature isn’t always descriptive enough. By protecting one place or species, like the Boreal Forest, you are protecting so much more. This video is so informative and in the best possible way. I wish they showed it in elementary schools all around the world. It makes me want to head into the Boreal and explore all the beauty within. I hope you enjoy this little tour!

P.S. If you haven’t yet, you can sign this petition to protect the Boreal Forest.

Blogging may not be my life, but it sure does add to it in the best possible way

Where to start?! Hello! Thank you for sticking around/visiting. Not updating FLC for the past two weeks was mostly helpful due to the fact that every time I visited I was able to see Miciek‘s happy little face. It was the best thing I could have done. Since I can’t see Miciek anymore and can’t go home and be with my family, visiting Four Leaf Clover was as close to going home as I could get.

The other day I got back to my bloggy things including Facebook, Twitter, and my friends’ blogs and boy did it feel good! I realized that I was missing a part of myself by not blogging and going back to it and realizing how happy and helpful this community has become to me made such a wonderful difference. Thank you for being a part of it, for making my life better.

I especially want to say thank you to (wow.. feels like I’m giving some kind of speech, ha!) to all of those who commented, tweeted, emailed, etc. Not only did it help me cope, but you all helped me feel less alone in this new home of mine. Along with missing Miciek, I have adjusting to university life to deal with.

If you’ve been around for a while, you know that I’ve been wanting to go to university for quite some time and since being here there have been many moments where I’ve been sitting in a lecture (even the most mundane ones) and thought to myself “Wow, I’m finally here! I’m in university!”

I’ve realized that it’s mostly up to me to make the most of my time here and in this moment of my life so I need to keep that in mind and continue growing and blossoming. Four Leaf Clover and you all have helped me thus far and I’m looking forward to what’s to come.

I know I will continue to miss Miciek, have days where it feels unbearable, and have many more struggles in life, but I still have four beautiful boys (fyi: boys = my cats) to take care of and a world to heal. Please join in the fun and share your two cents, insight, love, etc… wherever and whenever you’d like. The more the merrier! There’s a lot of work to be done, but we’ve already done so much and I know we can handle it.