keskiviikko 6. marraskuuta 2013

Why and why not?

During my work day I took a break with flipping through these images. 30 of the most powerful photos
Made me all teary. If we all just held out a hand, lent an ear.. why is it so difficult? Why not do it?

Just why not.

Soon it will be Christmas and some presents shall definitely be exchanged. Here are some nice ideas. First link has non material gifts and second is for adopting a piece of forest. Anna jotain muuta ja Luonnonperintösäätiö

keskiviikko 2. lokakuuta 2013

Meatless October

"Meatless October" was started when Leo Stranius was a studio guest at Docventures - a show that presents documents. He challenged the host Riku Rantala to give up eating meat for this October. They have a group on Facebook for this. Nearly 30 000 are participating. Finns eat a whopping 78 kgs meat per year. Producing meat is a big environmental issue and of course it is an ethical one as well.

Docventuresin Lihaton Lokakuu

Another current trend is commitment to climate. A campaign that asks people to give a promise they will do something. Ilmastolupaus I promised to ride my bike for as long as I can. Took it home yesterday from work and I was delighted to see the cold had absolutely no effect. The temperature near zero degrees Celsius did demand gloves and a coat but otherwise it was just lovely. Such a shame I did not take it today too. I will hitch hike a ride with my hubby but the weather is gorgeous. It would be lovely and crisp to bicycle home.. *sigh*

lauantai 31. elokuuta 2013

Small changes - big waves

When we do know what to do - why don't we just do it? When we know what is the etchical or ecological way of doing things, why not just go ahead with it?
My lame excuses are stuff like this: when I want to buy something that I don't really need. "Oh, it is so pretty, it will make our home look so much prettier" or "N.N. will be so happy when she gets this." Pretty new thing for the living room is a substitute for time spent leisurely at home. To give someone a gift is a cheap substitute for love.

What I really would want to do rather than try and delight someone with someTHING is to take my friends out for a picnic. Take my kids to a cafe. Have a massage. Sit down and be at peace at my own home.

Why don't I do it? Beats me. I think we have somehow gotten engraved into our souls that a good person is a good consumer.

This summer I have truly found the pleasure of bicycling - thanks go to my colleague who cheered me on and to my husband who got me the wonderful second hand bike. It has taken me around for almost 750 kms through this summer. Pretty good for a person who did not own a bike earlier. Rewards are many; better condition, happier, stronger.. hopefully also leaner new me soon. And quite a few ice creams not bought because the good feeling came without it. Good for the waist, good for the environment, this trading the ice creams for biking. Such a good substitute. I took my bike to work quite a few times. Easy decision; work out AND work commuting done at once. But we will see what happens when the autumn arrives. Most likely the lure of the car will be tempting. Sigh. I will try.

sunnuntai 26. toukokuuta 2013

Cooking from the cupboards - good for the environment and the wallet

"Take what you have" states a recipe in an old cookbook. I love it and today was Sunday, so:
a) I am pro everyone resting at least for one day every week. For religious people because of the sanctity of it and for others, we all need rest and play to balance work and hurry.
b) we try to limit our car usage to as little as possible. We need to drive anyway, so better to try and cut down where we can.
c) not going to the store means utilizing the existing means better; the left overs, the freezer & the dry goods. Plus it does work out way cheaper. It is so easy to think that whilst I am in store I can grab something delish for kids and oh look at those socks! Especially if I wander in on Sunday when there are very little people and I have time.
d) cooking from cupboards means generally more environmental friendly food, because I store stuff like flour, pulses and beans. Dry goods don't require cooling and they stay good for long. Usually they also have very little package around them, which makes them a good choice for the environment too.

Okay, so I got deep into the cupboards and considered. I felt like some Nepalese..yes I have some red lentils. Now online for a recipe - ahh, here we go. I have most of the stuff needed on the recipe and rest I am sure I can improvise. Pretty certain that not all Nepalese mothers have _everything and everyday_ this recipe demands. And to go with it some full grain rice.

I had to substitute the fresh tomato with tomato salsa leftovers (scary since the spices are very different in Mexican and Nepalese dishes) and the plain youghurt with vanilla flavoured soya yogurt. Of this I was very wary of, but turned out if one only needs two tablespoons of yoghurt, it might as well be vanilla. It does blend in. Honestly.

I flavoured rice by first heating up oil and adding whole cardamom seedpots and cinnamonsticks, Somalese style. The full grain rice does not really bring those flavours out but it added a bit zest anyway. Our dog looked at me in awe when come that night she was (among other weird human food leftovers) fed some of that rice. She was like "Are you sure? You know I prefer meat." And I said: "Oh go on, skip those cardamom seeds and you will be fine". So she went: "I guess it is okay, after all it is human food, so it must be good." And so she chomped away.

We also barbequed some corn on the cob (packed in plastic, although long storage) and some sausages (meat + fresh goods), so these were not so environmentally friendly. Shh. Don't tell anybody. The side salad was another left overs-combined with-take what you got. Fresh from the season cabbage, some pineapple slices from a taco dinner and corn accompanied with cottage cheese.

I felt pretty pleased with myself. But later that night the kids again complained they were hungry. Apparently they need to be fed more than once a day. Who knew? I dove into the cupboards and came up with milk powder for rice porridge and decided to bake some bread. No milk, so I was happy to find out there were still some berries in the freezer for some berry soup. Rice - not so good as it requires a lot of water to grow plus the route to Finland is long.

The bread dough was given some oomph with dried nettles, sun flower seeds, sesame seeds, four grain porridge flakes and rye flour to accompany wheat. Then I thought that if I have to heat up the oven, I should bake something else as well. The result was a veggie quiche with different odds and ends from grated cheese to radiches. Had to look the crust up because I always put way too little margarine in them. Of course I needed to twist the recipe a little to add some sugar beet flakes into it for extra fibre. *sigh* Poor family. But it did work out just fine. It was good too due to all that margarine I had to put in.

I chopped the veggies into quite fine mix and lightly sauteed them in olive oil. The veggie mix included also onion sprouts and a little cabbage plus a couple fresh mushrooms sliced up. I topped the mix with sourcream and cheese and popped them into oven.

To wash all the healthy and environmentally friendly food down I luckily had some apple juice my mother in law makes. It is so lovely and the effect of environment is very little since the apples come from her garden and they are freshly pressed, then sealed. No presevatives needed.

So I managed to feed my family for free. Nothing was bought especially for these two meals. Even if I calculate the total costs it adds up to quite little - around 22 € (27 USD) for 6 people. Not bad for two Sunday meals. The baking cuts the costs effectively plus of course the home made apple juice and some berries I got from my mom, some were bought. Also the fact that most of the proteins come from lentils cuts down the cost. If I compare it to one restaurant dinner, our family does not eat out for less than 60 € anywhere. This would be a cheap pizzeria and a bit better dinner is easily 100 € (123 USD).

A supply of dry goods is good to have in case of an emergency but it also needs to rotate a bit. What we do, is participate in a buyer circle of organic goods. We get things like dried beans, full grain rice, lentils and such in boxes of 12 packages - 6-10 kgs each. These keep well and buying in bulk works nicely for everyone. It is cheaper and the logistics cut down on fuel usage of both the stores and the consumers. We also get fresh produce once a month from a local farmer. Down side is of course the need of proper storage. We are lucky that we have enough room, but we don't have enough cool space. So we are thinking of a storage cellar that is partly underground.

tiistai 7. toukokuuta 2013

Re-defining cool

I was re-reading Ekovuosi Manhattanilla - No Impact Man by Colin Beavan. He gives quite a lot to think about. After reading the book I am thinking mostly of one thing; how are we lead into this consumerism way of life? Why do we believe that buying things gives us happiness? The right shade of lipstick will definitely give me love, the lovely shirt will make my boss like me more. Yeah. Sure.

I was discussing this with my son, who is 19. He mentioned that what happened in England - I believe a couple of years back - when there were riots and looting. He said people crashed into shops to steal brand name products.

Most likely they did not need those things desperately. But that is what they took.

These days downshifting is trendy and people are starting to consider how much they really do need. In my opinion that is good progress. I believe that in Finland we still feel we need to secure ourselves with things. Our last wars were fought so little time ago that people still remember the shortages during and after wars. So it made sense to cling on to what we have and could get. Therefore cutting down, buying less, giving away needs a conscious decision. We need to see what really is necessary for us to be happy and then give up on other stuff. Especially when we think of purchasing new things.

I am surrounded with things. I am that kind of person that clings on to things I have inherited or gotten as a gift. I remember people by looking at things that their lives have touched in some way. Also I have great difficulties in throwing stuff away. "I could do something with this.." I think and store away that half burnt skirt or those jeans that are filled with holes. This is difficult for me.

Bottom line is; have what you need and love. Give away. Don't buy more. *sigh* I wish. But I will try. Because I am not a consumer, I am a woman, a mother and a wife. I am human. Who can very well survive without the right shade of lipstick.

..I was trying to add a picture of my husband snowboarding at the sandpit next to our house. He bought his board secondhand. I think this is very cool.

keskiviikko 16. tammikuuta 2013

Putting things into perspective

Yesterday I spent a whole lotta time at the dentist chair, getting my teeth filed to be readied for a bridge. I felt quite sorry for myself because a) it shall be costly and b) it hurt yesterday and it hurts today.

At the same time Syrias refugees are struggling at their camps. It is an unusually cold winter and people have very little shelter and food. These people have fled their homes and they do not know what will tomorrow be like.

Yeah. And here I am, whining about my teeth whilst I am getting taken care of. *sigh* I should be slapped. Hopefully gently, since I am still sore. Oh, and my jaw won't open properly.

Something should be done, by me and by all others. Meanwhile, take a look at this:

Picture from one of the refugees campsTweeted by Arwa Damon @arwaCNN

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