lauantai 29. joulukuuta 2012

Compost your waste!

My dear husband purchased us a composting toilet. We live in our own house and all the waste water goes into a tank. A huge truck has to come every month to haul our waste away. It felt very silly to a) use all that fresh water to flush and b) to take mostly water away.

We still kept the old loo, since we are a family of six. But the compost toilet has worked wonderfully. My husband does the dirty work by changing the bags. Toilet has two compartments to separate the poo and the wee :D The watery version goes into the tank and it is flushed onwards with just a cupful of water. The toilet has a fan that keeps the smells away and the whole thing is as easy as a normal water toilet. I totally recommend it. We will also be saving money since the truck won't be needed as often, but that was not the main reason. The very good drinking water was. We have lovely water to drink here and it felt such a waste to use so much of it like this.

The full bags go into a warm compost (DH has made these himself) and finally it can be returned to ground. We have a food waste compost as well for potato peels and carrot skins etc. and soil from that can be used for growing more food. The toilet waste can't be used for growing beds but it can in the end be returned to ground safe. Well, it _could_ be used for anything if composted for long enough but the thought is not attractive to me. *lol*

So, compost! Make soil from the different scraps of your daily life :)

torstai 20. joulukuuta 2012

December is here!

What would you do if you knew this is your last day on earth? I am hoping I would do the things I do anyway - cook for family, hug my kids and kiss my husband.

I do not know. Probably I would panic and scream.

Rest easy; I heard a distinguished Mayan researcher state that the end of Mayan calendar is just as dramatic as the end of our calendar every year. You just gotta go and buy a new one. Merry Christmas/ Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year!

tiistai 23. lokakuuta 2012

Food and warmth

We had a "Homeless Night" at 17th of October. Already quite a cold time of year here in Finland and makes you really think about people who don't have a shelter.

We organized with friends an one hour -thing with free, hot soup, possibility to donate/ take clothes, a few songs by a man and a guitar -duo and a sing along. Lots of candles outside, coffee and cookies and cinnamon buns as well.

It warmed my heart when an old lady brought a bag of clothes to give. She did not want
anything and did not stay - she just came to give. She looked like she has had some hard times in her life herself so may be that is exactly why she wanted to help.

It was easy to see who were in need themselves. They looked from far first and they had to be asked closer and offered the soup, sometimes twice. Very polite, quiet, a bit shagged perhaps. One could almost say they were a bit scared by life. And no wonder. I would too, if I was not born under these lucky stars that have given me education, food, a home and a loving family. I am extremely lucky. And you never know. Like Mellencamp has sung; "I never thought this could happen to me."

This is not such a good quality version but the song is outstanding John Cougar Mellencamp

Trying to behave - yes, doing something because I think I should, but in the end getting more than giving. Singing with a stranger, who at first was standing alone, singing quietly and then gradually starting to sing out loud when he collected his courage. Such a big moment for me. Or - as the said man with a guitar phrased it: Now I can do some silly and meaningless things for a couple of months again. *g*

Asunnottomien Yö

tiistai 18. syyskuuta 2012

Saving energy

Resolution; at least one lapfull of wood into the house each day and also into the wood burning stove. We have an excellent stove that stores heat and would help greatly in cutting the electricity bill. If we remember to use it. Now it is getting a bit colder day by day, so adding wood is definitely going to cut down the costs. We have such luck that we can get fire wood in exchange of a bit of sweat.

Also another resolution; to dig up the cord for our car. When the temperature hits +5C and lower, the use of pre-warming (in the lack of a better word) the engine cuts down the petrol usage and also keeps the engine in better condition.

Let's see if I keep these better after I have said these out loud.

The photo; migrating swans

keskiviikko 12. syyskuuta 2012

Flu - darn it!

Soon I will need candles since it is autumn time here in Finland. Today was really warm, but greyish. I think it is time to start sprouting again. Right now it is a wonderful time of harvesting and everything is really good and fresh, but pretty soon the real seasonal stuff will be things like potatoes, cabbage and different root vegetables. Tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce will all be produced in the green houses with lots of energy.

Sprouting I generally make ours with just a glass jar and a thin cloth.

Right now I have a major flu. I have been fighting it with home made berry juice and lots of warm rooibus tea. Annoying. I have been pottering about the house for two days but obviously it is not fun since all I can do is sleep and read a bit. If I was feeling well, I would totally enjoy the possibility to hang about with my woollen socks on.

lauantai 8. syyskuuta 2012


This photo is about looking from our backyard. DH took it. This little forest is heavy with wild blueberries this year. Everyone in Finland has a right to pick wild berries and mushrooms from the forests and every year we (all) feel bad because so much is left in the woods.

I have picked probably 3 desilitres worth of those this year, I am useless when it comes to picking berries. DH has been picking wild chanterelles and drying them. I picked nettles and dried those. I use them in cooking and baking. Drying wild veggies and mushrooms makes perfect sense to me; they will fit in small spaces and are easy to use.

So many things speak for utilizing the forest. Free exercise, free food, fresh air. If only I could get my lazy bones out. I am happy to say that both my mother and mother in law are way better with this, I hope I will one day follow their example.

tiistai 4. syyskuuta 2012

Food that feeds your soul

My dear husband took our other daughter to bird watching and fruit foraging whilst the other was at her circus club. They had looked up beforehand where in Helsinki there are fruit trees available for anyone. They found plums, apples and pears. Impressive, I think. They only took enough for everyone in our family to eat one or two so others will get their fruit as well, which I consider responsible. We also have our own apple trees but so far the only harvest has been this year - two apples. But I can see more ripening on the trees!

So, now we have a mission. We gather the cores and keep the seeds for next year to plant. Hopefully we will finally end up with tiny trees we can then take to different areas. Tending a garden in city - even a small one has grown more and more popular recently. My hubby feels that when the energy crisis will be on, the crofter spirit will raise. Simply because food can not be brought from far then.

Cooking with happy thoughts

I started cooking by asking the boys what they would like to eat from the following; carrots, cabbage, turnip, beet roots, potatoes, onion, broccoli. "What would you like? we are having falafel and which veggies or roots would you like me to cook?" We had plenty of choice because the organic goodies had arrived through our joint purchase with friends.

Boys answered: "Pasta." without hesitation. I explained it was not a choice. "So, which veggies did you say, mom, we were not listening?" Obviously, I knew they were just messing with me but still listed the ingredients again. And the answer was "Pasta.". I gave up, cooked som rice, broccoli and carrots. I had misread the falafel recipe and had put in way too much water, so had to mix some "peacrush" with it. It is a Finnish ingredient that is made by milling the dried peas. Lettuce for the salad was home grown and tomatoes from the organic farmer as well.

To follow, I made pancake in the oven. Instead of milk I used whey left over and frozen from cheese making this summer. I mixed some sliced apples into the mixture. Whey is supposed to be a good source for protein as are the chickpeas and peas I used for the falafel. My other son does not eat meat nor fish so I try to make sure he gets enough protein. Too bad no one actually likes most of my soy experiments.

Cost for the wallet and the Earth

When the meal was ready, I calculated the cost. I was really happy to note that all had cost me just about 12 € and we are a family of six. This included rice and falafel mix from the shop plus ice cream. The falafel was marked down and the rice bought in bulk but still, I consider it a good value meal with about half of stuff being organic. This makes me double happy - saving money plus eating climate friendly and organic. It was vegetarian with the expection of just milk and some organic eggs. Rice is a minus, but I defend myself by saying that I am not allowed to eat barley (a really good substitute, Finnish grown) and I will save a lot of cooking time today when I can make a stir fry from rice and veggies.

Of course there will be days when I shall consider oven ready French Fries a proper veggie meal - especially if we have ketchup to go with it. But still, gradually these good for the soul and for the planet -meals will hopefully grow to be the majority of our eating.

perjantai 3. elokuuta 2012

Flea markets and free parks

This summer we have taken up a bit more sports than before. That said - my family is actually pretty active but I am not. But this summer we utilized the neighbourhood free tennis courts and their running track with my husband and one of the kids. We had quite fun, and hopefully I will see some results too. I have taken on the habit of wearing the walk-o-meter to tell me how many steps I take daily. The addicting part is the little guy that waves his hands if I pass the 10 000 steps per day -limit. So the dog might get an extra walk if there is no little guy. Win-win, I think.

For free summer fun we took a table at street flea market with my girls one Wednesday. They collected their old toys and I looked up something I no longer need. I sold nothing, but the girls rustled up 14 € with stuffed animals. They were impressed enough. The closets were emptier and they got some spending money. My girls get 15 € from us per month so actually they got a fortnight worth of money each. Looked that way; I would be happy too if someone changed my old clothes into a two week pay check.

Girls also changed their room to more teen-agish. They now have a really good study table, given to us from an office make over. Come to think of it, we have quite a few hand me down -furnitures. Why not?

torstai 2. elokuuta 2012

What makes you happy?

The obvious answer is "small things". This is what you are supposed to say. And hey, it is true too. Things that yesterday made me happy were the fact that I was given a lift to a meeting and back by my dear mother in law. We had good time to set the world in order whilst driving. I would have had to choose a car at least for 20+ kms if it was not for her. I added a subway trip to the car pool and so we saved a bit of environment with our choice too.

The second thing was that the meeting had some left over treats and I was offered to take them to my kids. So, I was heading home happy and with a box full of goodies. On my way I met a girl selling the Big Issue (the Finnish version). I said that absolutely I will buy the magazine if I have any money with me. She said that she will give me discount :) I found my wallet and there was no need for a discount. We parted, both happy.

Amazing; I got a really good kick out of a free ride and free treats for my family, both for not spending money and saving a bit of environmental resources (the treats were to be binned if I did not take them) and an even better by using my money for something worthwhile.

A good day was rounded up with a nice movie and a small drop of good Scotch with my dear husband. These choices drowned the small sorrows of yesterday; a bit of toothache and an ahcing shoulder. Small things make all the difference in life. What makes you happy?

maanantai 4. kesäkuuta 2012

Small commandments/ the dos and do nots of everyday

Today I want to share some random thoughts about being ecological and being kind to yourself. Just something, nothing fancy.

1) turn off the lights and computers, televisions and all other gadgets when not in use. Turn them off, don't just let them hibernate. Take out the phone chargers. Extension cords with a switch are handy.

2) don't waste water. Rinse the coffee pot with the excess water from the electric kettle

3) don't waste water, coffee beans or electricity. Try to estimate as good as possible the amount you are going to consume. Don't let the coffee sit in the coffee maker. It tastes bad and wastes electricity. You also risk the chance of forgetting to switch the things off. Put the coffee into a thermos if not drank immediately

4) drink good, fairtrade coffee. It can be a bit more expensive, so you will appreciate it more.

5) keep drinking water in a can or thermos flask. Don't let the tap run. In the sink you can keep pots that need soaking so the excess water will help the process.

6) when you finish cooking, put some water into the empty pan. It will start softening the food remains and helps the washing up later on.

7) a little cleaning up here and there, now and then will save a lot of time, energy and detergents later on. (With this I have a lot of learning to do)

8) be happy! Get off your chair/ sofa pretty often. You will save a lot on hospital bills later!

9) allow yourself some me-time every day. Yes, every day. Put on your walking shoes and go grab some fresh air, read a book, knit something. All good things for your over all happiness, your health and general well being of the globe. No, honestly.

10) love yourself

keskiviikko 2. toukokuuta 2012

Small steps by Simon Dale

The wonderful low impact home by Simon Dale takes my breath away Simon Dale He has built a "hobbit house" and is working on another, very beautiful project now. But here are his Some things we all can do His thoughts are very much worth considering and pondering over. Please do read. I had a lovely break in Lapland with DH and our girls. They had gone sledding with huskies.
Plussides in my holiday were: - overnight train to Kolari - cross country skiing as a sport - wood heated sauna, heated with sustainably forested wood - mainly vegetarian food with local fish to accompany - cooking with an "extended family" of friends; 5 adults, 7 kids. More people eating from the same pot equals less energy used whilst cooking - on route had locally fished white fish for lunch, and we also prepared sandwiches ourselves Minuses: - took the car down south with family and used the car for transport around. No real possibilities to travel by bus or train but we kept it to the minimum - had dairy - fell for purchasing a plush toy, a Very Pretty Otter from the naturecenter.

torstai 26. huhtikuuta 2012

Making the world a greener place

Today I planted some Chlorophytum comosum or as in Finnish; rönsylilja at work. I have an old plant growing and had taken off some tiny offsprings and put them into water. They first grew some roots and now they were planted, sitting quite happily on the top of my filing cabinet. Besides using up carbon dioxide, this particular plant also cleans the air. And it even helps with removing the mold particles (for the lack of better word) from the air. I was really pleased with myself for the effort. Okay, not too big an effort, but at least I finished my mission of planting a new plant. I have now three plants that clear the air in office, and then also aloe vera and some African Violets as well. The cleanse the air but also bring a bit of nature inside the building. This reduces blood pressure and calms the heart beat.
The pretty amaryllis we all had for Christmas last year for our office windows. Another plus today; I will take the night train to Lapland for a few day holiday. Train is eco efficient way of travelling but I also like travelling in the lulling of train. I can stretch out, with nothing to do besides read, knit or sleep. When I have arrived, I will so some cross country skiing and perhaps take part in our annual ice fishing competition of two families. The minus side is that we will take the car down. But DH has been good about this, he has combined his work thing (that needed the usage of car) with our little holiday, so no extra kilometres will come of it.
I hope to see some Aurora Borealis. My DH took this photo last time he was there, in March.

keskiviikko 18. huhtikuuta 2012

Good morning!

Oh well, it was not too good a morning. I have a flu and am really easily irritated. My small good thing for this morning was to make only instant coffee. The minus is short and intense energy peak of the electric kettle and on the peak hour of morning rush. Plus side is the exact amount of coffee, no waste water nor waste coffee. The energy efficient way is to purchase and prepare food and drinks only so much what you are going to consume. This is one of my favourite topics and I will dig into it another day.

I have tried to find out the environmental costs of a cup of coffee and come to the conclusion that if we only make up to two cups the right way is instant. It is produced further, but the packaging is small. Also Fair Trade instant coffees are better for the farmers because they get the benefits of the further "handling" in the lack of better word. This is of course putting things simply but this is how I have understood it.

Point to consider; use your devices at off peak hours. These hours are said to be at 7-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. Many electric companies make deals that sell cheaper energy on those off peak hours, like ours that offers cheaper electricity after 10 p.m. until morning. They can do this because the power plants produce energy by the same amount all the time AND it has to be produced by the amount that is the biggest need. Australian energy companies hav a bit similar deals with customers - they for example give out cheaper deals if the customer won´t use air conditioning on the peak hours.

I read once that one nuclear power plant is needed in Great Britain to produce the energy of kettles being turned on at the half time of footy. So many cups of tea are being prepared whilst watching the football game from tv.

About energy efficient kettles

The commands for me this morning:
- buy Fair Trade
- buy sustainable produced
- use off peak hours to wash clothes, dishes etc.
- cook only what you will eat or drink
- try to be nice to the family (Mission Impossible? Hope not)

tiistai 10. huhtikuuta 2012


Good morning! After a really short night´s sleep I am totally not ready for the world. I stumble into kitchen to make coffee, oatmeal and then it is showertime.

- short shower in intervals
- non brand bar soap instead of shower gel (when possible, we have hand made ones)
- towels used until they do need to be washed, not tossed into the laundry after one use

We happen to live in a really lovely area where we have amazing water. We have our own well and don´t have to pay for the water we use. We do pay for waste water. But I consider us very lucky. Most people, it seems, have to drink water that has travelled either in pipes or in bottles for a long way. Water has been said to become the next reason for world wide conflicts and I for myself don´t doubt it for a second.

Using a search engine it took 0,16 seconds to come up with over 81 million hits for texas imports water. For an example.

Houston, we have a problem..

The water crisis are real in many countries around the globe, now already.
What Treehugger has to say about it?

We, in our Finnish household try to minimize our water usage simply because using water uses energy. Using heated water uses more energy. When our waste is taken away it uses energy. When we are travelling in countries that are struggling with clean water, we try to be even more considerate. When lathering with soap, we turn off the water. And why a soap bar - that is another story :D

Hinchinbrook Island, Qld, Australia

perjantai 6. huhtikuuta 2012

First real post.

I am starting this blog feeling very raw and emotional. I learned this morning that I have lost a friend to lung cancer. Thinking of you, Karen. Missing you, big and gentle hugs to you girl.

My aim is in this blog to look at choices I make and ponder if they have been ethical, environmentally sustainable and/ or kind. I will look at one thing at a time and try to figure out if I made a good deed or not. Kind of put my life under a looking glass.

My choice for today is bread. As I look at the idea of bread, there are the questions of environment, health, the cost and tradition. My Dear Husband, later referred to as DH baked two kinds of bread today. The other was sourdough, naturally leavened. The "root" is originally from DH´s birth home. We know it is at least a hundred years old. What you do is leave a bit of the dough to the rims of the bowl the dough was made in and let it dry. Next time you wake it up with a bit of warm water. Wikipedia for sourdough

Plus sides are
- 100% rye bread, very healthy
- home made (love the smell!)
- much smaller cost on the environment since the flour is only brought from outside. DH bakes a big bunch of rye bread from a 5 kg of flour.
- little salt, no additives
- inexpensive to make
- passing on the tradition of baking your own, and especially with the same "root" as the family years back has done.

Minus sides.. can´t really think of any. Rye bread is high in fibre and rye is proved to have big health benefits.

DH also baked bread for me. I have a coeliac disease and can´t eat wheat, rye or barley. So he chose a gluten free flour mix and spiced it up with cashew nuts and raisins. Oh the bread was lovely!

This bread had the same plus sides as rye, but the rye has more health benefits.
- gluten free bread is quite expensive

- gluten free bread is low on fibre
- I ate way too much of the bread! It was so lovely when it was warm.

Definitely worth baking your own, I think. Especially when DH makes it. Good for the globe, good for the wallet, good for the body and definitely good for the soul. Bad for the waist line if you eat too much and if you go for the low carb diet, then you would skip it.

tiistai 3. huhtikuuta 2012


This blog is meant for writing down things I do and things I aim for. And the big picture? This means things I do for the world. Trying to behave for the sake of all of us. Big target, babysteps. Stumbling, failing, hopefully succeeding as well.

I did a websearch to ensure I wasn´t stealing anybody´s blogname with "trying to behave" and came across this great thought by Kurt Vonnegut written above in the header.

Let´s save the world! :)