Delicious and easy to make. Can make this with either organic lemons or oranges
Make sure the zest is organic. Make sure your baking soda and baking powder are not expired.
Line 2 twelve cup muffin pans with cupcake paper liners. I used unbleached standard size, greaseproof paper cupcake liners from Amazon. The paper liners makes for easier clean up and serving. Makes 24 cupcakes.
Preheat convection oven to 325 F degrees (regular bake is 350). I prefer convection bake because it bakes more evenly.
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup oat or soy milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 1/2 cup table sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
In a large mixing bowl, add olive oil, apple sauce, milk, lemon juice, zest, and sugar. Mix together.
In another bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt.
Carefully fold in the flour mixture into the liquid mixture. Whisk. Stop when flour is blended in. Don’t over do it.
Spoon in about 2 large tablespoons of batter into each cupcake liner. The batter should fill about 3/4 of the paper liner.
Bake in preheated convection oven for about 20-25 minutes (regular bake is 10% longer).
Cupcakes are done when tops are light golden and cake-like when you break upper part of cupcake it with a fork.
Another company that Greenwashes is Ikea. Their plastic packaging, illegal logging, over dependence on particle board use, and the disposable quality of their furniture need to be improved.
The little triangle with the number in the center imprinted on plastic products (e.g. ♶) is greenwashing. Currently, 95% of all single-use plastic ends up in landfills and oceans. The plastics industry uses these tricks to make consumers feel better about buying plastic.
Remember – What you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body as if you ate it.
Natural, non-synthetic products are likely going to be more environmentally friendly. For instance, look for reef safe, chemical free sunscreens.
Also, be mindful of the containers and packaging. Look for containers made from paper/cardboard, glass, metal, or post-consumer plastics. Is the container refillable?
Are ingredients sustainability sourced? Organic, not tested on animals?
This is a partial list of unfriendly, if not outright toxic ingredients, found in topicals in the USA. The EU has stricter rules and has banned some chemicals still allowed in the USA. Avoid these ingredients as much as you can (nail polish has some of the worse ingredients) – nanoparticles (which can end up in our mitochondria, brain, and our ecosystem), parabens, artificial dyes. formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), triphenyl phosphate, aluminum, DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine), DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl, mineral oil, petrolatum, PEG (Polyethylene glycol), Siloxanes, Synthetic fragrances , oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and avobenzone, animal fats, Phthalates, Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT), etc. This list is not extensive nor complete. Different countries have different regulations.
Topical serums and oils packaged in glass jars, are usually the most natural and sustainable ingredients. A product that is readily available and meets the above criteria is Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis). It is a sustainable oil that resembles our own sebum. The Jojoba plant, a drought- tolerant shrub, grows in the Southwestern desert.
According to Healthline, it is
6. Controls sebum production
7. May help promote collagen synthesis
8. May help speed up wound healing
9. May help soothe eczema, psoriasis, and other drying skin conditions
10. Soothes sunburns
11. May help acne
12. May help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
Trying to eat healthfully, one hears all this advice about healthy food. Eat this; it is good for that; this is an antioxidant and that is an anti-inflammatory, etc. It can be overwhelming. There are so many recommendations. I cannot eat this much food in a single day – too many calories.
Why not put some of these healthy recommendations into a morning drink? I tailored the healthful recommendations for my situation: a mixture to help prevent cancer, diabetes and to support brain, heart, and immune function. Drinking my Daily Smoothie makes me feel good because I started my day on the healthy side.
Keeping the preparation simple and quick, I have all the ingredients lined up and ready to go. Using a Costco Ninja smoothie blender, I blend it twice on the smoothie setting to minimize the small bits that would get stuck between my teeth. I keep the blender undercounted cabinet, so I can close the cabinet doors during blending to reduce the noise.
Pick and choose what you think is best for your own health needs. Add enough fluid, so it blends into a drink. Most of the calories in this recipe are from the nuts. So be mindful of that.
Fingertip grab of mixed nuts (protein, healthy oils, fiber)
Fingertip grab of walnuts (omega 3, 6, antioxidants, protein, fiber. If you have to choose only one nut, go with walnuts)
Frozen blueberries and strawberries (antioxidants, fiber – total 1 cup)
Frozen or raw broccoli pieces (about two pieces with a pinch dry mustard powder to enhance antioxidant and anti-inflammatory sulforaphane release)
Powders: (note powders are potent and can be potent enough to interact with medications).
– beet powder (nitric oxide – brain and circulatory system)
– turmeric and ground black pepper (Anti-inflammatory – brain and pain. Definitely drink with a straw or your teeth will stain. For that reason, consider leaving this out of your smoothie and take it as a capsule)
– Sri Lankan cinnamon (blood sugar) *
– mushroom powder (depends on the mushroom – immunity )
– matcha or coffee or cacao or carob (caffeine free) is optional (adds caffeine and flavor)
– fiber – psyllium or ground flax seeds (after adding fiber, drink it immediately, or your smoothie can start to thicken and make it difficult to drink through a straw)
– Favorite non-dairy milk. Soy or oat milk are good choice. To form a complete protein, need two of the three from this list – Nuts, Whole grains, Legumes. Soy is a legume, and Oat is grain. To reduce calories, can substitute milk with water. Read the label for the amount of calcium in the non-dairy milk. Some do not contain any calcium.
To save time, you can premix powders like cinnamon, seaweed, and fiber. Be familiar with your proportions and ratios. For example: 1/2 tsp cinnamon: 1/2 tsp dulse flakes: 1 tsp ground flax seeds. Same as 1/2 c: 1/2 c: 1 cup, respectively . From this mix, you add 2 tsp to the smoothie.
Optional to add sweetener – dates, banana, pineapple, apple (be mindful of the extra calories)
Other options for greens are frozen (frozen keeps longer than fresh) spinach, kale, avocado.
Pour this into a travel container, and off you go.
These are easy to make and such a unique delicious flavor.
Fresh bread, sliced. Baguette is a nice size for appetizers. Toasted is optional for crunch.
Mix equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar onto a bread size plate. Dip sliced baguette face down into mixture. Top the dipped side with a slice of tomato, then sprinkle w capers, top with chopped mint, salt and pepper.
Composing, sending, receiving, and storing emails leaves a carbon footprint.
Even though email energy usage is 1/60th of paper mail, we send many more emails. If you take a long time to compose or read your emails or send pictures and videos, these all take additional energy.
In a year, for example, say you send and or receive 100 emails daily. This estimate includes spam and all those work emails you are cc’ed on. This level of emailing per day is equivalent to the CO2e* of driving a gasoline-powered 2020 Camry 260 miles or 1% of your total annual CO2e production.
According to The Good Planet, “nearly 107 billion spam emails were sent and received a day in 2019. If every person only deleted 10 of those emails, they could save 1,725,00 gigabytes of storage space and around 55.2 million kilowatts of power”.
Checking my own situation, I have several different email addresses, each serving an assigned purpose. I had to separate incoming emails to various addresses. There were so many every day that, if not categorized, important emails were easily overlooked amongst the multitude of spam. I have an email address dedicated to personal emails from friends and family, another for personal business like health, banking, bills, etc., one for shopping and politics and finally, several for work.
Summing up my many years of undeleted emails, I am embarrassed to admit, that I have 100,000+ unread emails. It is impossible to keep up with my emails; literally out of control. Since learning about emails having a carbon footprint, I have been reviewing old emails and then deleting them if they no longer serve a purpose. If I delete 20 a day, it will take more than 13 years to clean up my in-boxes! Plus, more spam comes in every day. I feel like I will never catch up in my lifetime and, in the interim, will likely develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Lucky, I can offset my email carbon footprint by not consuming beef or dairy.
Each year, a single cow will belch about 220 pounds of methane. This amount is approximately 3.3 tons of CO2e, equivalent to driving 2020 Camry 7000 miles. In contrast, my 100,000 emails represent 70 miles of driving and hoping for less each day.
Additionally, we need to
Produce electricity using sustainable technology
Clean out our in-boxes by deleting read or unnecessary emails
Unsubscribe and report and block spam emails
Tech companies need to make #2 and 3 easier to complete
To have a sustainable planet, not only do we need to take care of our Earth, we need to take care of ourselves. Both our bodies and our minds need to be sustainable.
By not connecting with the Earth, we can build up energy that makes us feel off balance.
We are ultimately containers of energy. We build up electrical charges in our bodies that are meant to be discharged and equalized with the Earth’s electrical charge. Connecting with the Earth is one of the ways nature naturally supports us.
Many of us walk around for days without touching the Earth. We walk on synthetic flooring materials such as carpeting, vinyl, plastic, etc. Our footwear has synthetic soles.
We need to physically touch the Earth or an organic material that is physically touching the earth.
Here are some methods to equalize our electrical charge with the Earth. Walk barefoot on a beach or lawn or lay down on the grass on a 100% cotton towel or other natural materials like a wool blanket. Avoid synthetics. Petting our dogs would also create an exchange of energy. Our dogs walk directly on the ground.
Another favorite earthing technique is hugging a tree.
Tree-hugging has the additional benefit of aligning our chakras which can help us feel more relaxed.
The first step to tree-hugging is find a suitable tree to hug.
Ideally, pick a tall, vertical tree with healthy, smooth bark, nothing peeling. Avoid dead bark. The idea is for the tree’s energy to balance your Chakras’ energy. Best to wear natural fabric clothing.
Old-growth trees that have been grounded deep into the Earth by their long roots are excellent choices.
Once you select your tree, you need to ask your tree permission if it wants a hug. It shows respect for the tree and nature.
Stand a few feet away from the tree, with your arms at your side, open palms facing the tree, and look up. Ask your tree if you can hug it. Wait until the answer is clear.
The tree in the photo is a Gingko tree. Gingkos grow straight and tall with smooth enough bark. Quite huggable.
Beware: one time, my friend did not ask permission from her tree. She got a spider bite right in the center of her forehead. That tree did not want to be hugged.
Proceed only when granted permission. Place your hands around the tree with one hand at your neck height level and the other hand at the height of your lower back. Put your third eye or forehead on the trunk. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and naturally.
Keep this stance until your third eye sees the color of the inside of the tree. This is the exchanging of energy with your front Chakras. The process of tree-hugging can be meditative and calming.
Once you feel the color of the inside of the tree, part one is complete.
For part two, turn around and put your back against the tree. Extend you arms backward to hug the tree, with your hands in loose fists. This is exchanges energy with your back Chakras.
The best time to tree-hug is early in the morning when the Earth’s energy is just waking up, and the sun’s energy is not yet shining on the top of your head.
If you can, practice this at least once a week.
Tree-hugging: a carbon-neutral way of sustaining your Body, Mind ,and Spirit.
Note that this blog is meant for entertainment and in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat. Everyone’s situation is different. Please seek help from your health care providerif needed.
Please consider switching to natural ingredient bar soaps, shampoo, and conditioner.
Bar hand soap, dish soap, shampoo, and conditioner consumers, reduce plastic waste and fossil fuel consumption used during transportation. Weight for weight, and volume for volume, the bar products provide more washes, hence less fuel used during and for transportation.
For example, an 80 gm shampoo bar will last approximately 60 to 70 washes, depending on hair length. Whereas, if two teaspoons (10 ml) of liquid shampoo are used per wash, a 500 gm bottle produces only 50 washes. Less washes for more than 6 times the weight (assuming a density of 1). Plus, the bar shampoo container is smaller and made of more sustainable materials than the giant plastic bottle of liquid shampoo.
As the bar dish soap wears down, it becomes more difficult to use by the above method. To use every last bit, the soap can be cut into hand soap size pieces or grated. The grated soap can be added to the dish water or your brush can be dipped into it. Cool not to waste anything.
Remember to click on the FOLLOW button….Thank you 🙂
Cows make 40% of the world’s most potent greenhouse gas, methane. It is hard to justify leather goods in an era of rapid global warming. Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide.
Vegan leathers that mimic natural leather are mostly plastics and petroleum-based. Unfortunately, not eco-friendly, does not feel like natural leather, and does not have durability. Other products made from pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels, other fruit waste, or recycled plastic make poor imitations too.
Thanks to mushrooms, we now have plant-grown, carbon-neutral luxury fabrics with the feel of real leather. Being embraced by haute couture brands like Hermès and manufacturers like Lululemon and Adidas will hopefully set a new eco-friendly trend.
Human ingenuity created this mess. Human ingenuity can get us out of this mess.
The ultimate test is, will plant leathers make a good baseball glove?
Who doesn’t like fresh-smelling, soft, and clean laundry?
This luxury comes at a cost: water, detergents, softeners, energy, and plastics.
To reduce water use, use water efficient front loaders and wash a full load each time. To reduce pollution, use earth-friendly detergent sheets instead of pods. The sheets can be torn into smaller sizes to match smaller loads and reduce plastic waste. Even better, use detergent powder that comes in a cardboard box.
To reduce air pollution, use natural fragrance dryer sheets that are biodegradable or natural reusable lavender dryer bags. Consider skipping fabric softeners altogether.
Hang clothes on a clothesline or rack, either indoors or outdoors. Choose a spot with good air circulation – in temperate climates – dry near a hot air source. During the winter months, when our basement furnace was in use, we used to hang our laundry near it.
You naturally get that fresh outdoor smell that the chemicals in dryers sheets are trying to mimic when you hang laundry outdoors. The fragrances and chemicals of traditional dryers sheets create air pollution and carcinogens.
There are laundry products that are natural, biodegradable, and contain no plastics.
Consider brands like Seventh Generation, Earth Breeze, Trader Joe’s lavendar dryer bags. Other options: 100% cotton clothes, when hung to dry, can feel stiff. Adding 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser may soften 100% cotton laundry such as towels. Note: Vinegar is an acid hence harmful to some fabrics. Most synthetic blend fabrics are still soft after being hung-dried.
Avoid fabrics that need dry cleaning. Please keep it simple.
I am asking you to be conscious of how your purchases affect the environment.
Change your diet to a plant-based. You can do this slowly, one meal a day or one day a week (meatless Mondays or at least avoid sugar, red meat, and dairy). Or jump right in and change 100% to a plant-based diet overnight like I did. It is good for your health, the planet, and the animals.
Eating whole foods, unprocessed plant-based diet will reduce your body’s overall inflammation. This will help clear up your skin, reduce pain and improve your cognition, amongst other things.
I will be posted some favorite plant-based dishes that my friends and I enjoy eating. I encourage you to buy organic for the same reasons – fewer chemicals, which is better for you, the planet, and the farmers.
My next few posts will be family tested recipes. Bon Appetit. Bonne Santé.
Peel and slice potatoes and onions. Place in a sauce pan. Add garlic. Sprinkle w fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Pour in vegetable broth, enough to almost cover potatoes. Add just enough oil to cover mixture. Cook with high heat until boiling. Then reduce heat to simmer. Cook until potatoes are soft, about 15mins. You can substitute the garlic cloves with either garlic salt or garlic powder to taste.
Can serve this as a side dish with a vegan burger and salad.
All of these portions can be customized to your own taste preferences. Serves 6-8.
2 1/2 cups of dried red kidney beans (Prepare in Instant Pot pressure cooker. You can also prepare with traditional method of soaking for several hours and boiling)
6 cups of vegetable broth *
1 cup raw coarse bulgar **
1.5 cups marinara or spaghetti sauce
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
Olive oil to sauté
1 cup each, chopped:
sweet green peppers
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice ( juice from 1/2 lemon)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp chili powder (more or less, depends on how spicy you like it)
3 Tbsp of tomato paste
3 Tbsp cooking wine
Salt and pepper
Rinse beans. Place in Instant Pot and add vegetable broth. Make sure there is a few inches of liquid above the level of the beans (water height should be at least double height of dried beans). Cook in pressure cooker, high pressure for 20 mins. You can do quick release of pressure for al dente beans or let it slow realize for softer beans. Strain beans and set aside.
Meanwhile, add bulgar to tomato sauce. Let sit until all the liquid is absorbed. Let it stand at least 30 mins.
Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Add rest of carrots, celery and spices. When vegetables are almost done, add peppers.
Combine all the ingredients and heat by simmering, stirring to prevent burning. If too thick, add more fresh vegetable broth. Simmer until veggies and bulgur have the texture you desire. Takes about 15-20 mins.
Serve topped with chopped parsley.
*I do not reuse the bean broth. Although tasty, it is high in sugars that can cause bloating and gas. If you want to thin out the chill, add more fresh vegetable broth. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12489819/
**The grain used in this recipe is for texture. It need not be bulgar. I tried the grain Folio the other day (in photo). It’s from Africa, grows in poor soil conditions and drought tolerant. Follow the package direction. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fonio
Those Who Plant Trees Under Whose Shade They Will Never Sit Understand Life
Plant a tree. What type of tree? Start with what grows locally and grows fast. Young trees absorb CO2 as they grow.
Trees cleans our air, absorb heat, prevents erosion, provides wildlife habitats, and rebalances our soil.
If planting a tree is not practical for you then contact your mayor’s office to plant some trees in parks, empty lots, or to line streets. If they say they don’t have the money then ask them to install solar panels over open parking lots to raise money to plant trees, with the added benefit of protecting your car and making clean energy.
Some people argue for the status quo. They demand to stay on the same course. They think the threat of climate change is BS. They claim that the history of our planet has naturally cycled through temperatures of highs and lows. Coincidently, many of the same people have a financial interest in fossil fuels. Many are older and they are uncomfortable thinking about a future in which they will not be participants. Ego-driven, with no skin in the game people, cannot see beyond themselves. Many cannot be bothered to consider the world they are leaving their grandchildren. Many cannot fathom the shift they would have to make because their cognition cannot cope. Sadly, it takes being near the end of life to realize that the whole concept of ownership ultimately is meaningless. Some are living a life in crisis mode and any shift will push them into the abyss. At least that is the fear. For whatever reason, they cannot see that sustainable ideas are to make the world better. They continue to deny what is happening around us. Extreme climate patterns, droughts, wildfires, temperatures so hot airplanes can’t take off or tolerate violent turbulence as a result of wind pattern changes, and destruction of wildlife.
But look at the data- never did the rate of temperature rise increase as quickly as it is now and at the same time, the planet has nearly an unprecedented 8 billion mouths to feed.
We have or will soon cross a boundary of no return. Fortunately, as time passes, the number of deniers will dwindle.
Hopefully, this will give you some talking points when someone denies climate change.
What gives me hope are the brilliant and dedicated younger generations who are fighting for their future. A new wave has started.
How long can you hold your breath while counting your money?
A few years ago, my lavender bushes used to be swarming with bees. But now it is bee-less. This disappearance is a wake-up call to everyone. Without the bees, the world will not survive as we know it.
Bees have been declared The Most Important Living Being on Earth. They are now on the endangered species list! What have we done?
The disappearance of bees is real. Time to get active. Think Global. Act Local. Stop using pesticides and herbicides, especially neonicotinoids (neonics). Eat organic. Better for you, better for farmers, and better for the environment. Sure it might cost a little more. But when it comes to food, consider higher quality and lower quantity. The majority of the western world could eat less to abate the obesity epidemic.
Other factors, besides chemicals, that negatively affect pollinators are drought related to global warming, habitat destruction, lack of food, air pollution, and disease.
With all of these factors happening at once, our bees are overwhelmed. Like all living beings, the weaken bees become more sustainable to disease and death.
Here is how to help save our pollinators
Plant organic plants that attract bees.
Make your yard a pesticide/herbicide-free zone.
Support sustainability initiatives.
Become an Activist in your local area. Call or write to your mayor’s office to suggest organic green spaces and allow residents to keep beehives.
Become a beekeeper. Keep your own hives. Bonus: free authentic honey.
Support Honeybee research at the University of California, Davis by adopting a honey bee (Projecthoneybees.com).
Reduce fossil fuel consumption.
The bees can live without us, but we cannot live without the bees.
Since writing this, some of my bees have come back!
Toxicity of neonics:
Widespread neonic contamination has gotten worse. According to the latest data from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), 93% of surface water samples in Los Angeles, [other], counties contain a neonic—up from 92% in 2019. In northern California, 67% of samples contained a neonic, a substantial increase from the 57% just a year earlier.
Pregnant women may be especially at risk of exposure. A new study of 171 pregnant women tested, over 95% had neonics residues in their bodies. Neonics were most commonly found in Hispanic women, and neonics were detected more frequently—and at higher levels—over time. Widespread exposure among pregnant women is particularly bad news; neonics present significant risks to developing fetuses because they can interfere with the highly delicate development of the nervous system. Neonic exposure in the womb has been linked with birth defects of the heart and brain, as well as autism-like symptoms
There is new evidence of effects of neonics on testosterone. Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers have linked neonic exposure with a 20% decrease in testosterone, fueling concern about neonics’ reproductive and hormonal effects. Similar studies also suggest possible connections between neonic exposure and changes to fat metabolism and insulin regulation, as the list of possible human health harms continues to grow.
A capsule wardrobe is based on the idea of having a limited number of quality garments in your closet. Items that fit you well, are timeless, fit your personality and fit your lifestyle. Fewer items doesn’t mean that you always wear the same outfits. Did you know that you can create approximately 80 outfits with ‘only’ 30 to 37 items?” Excluding underwear and accessories.
The fashion industry creates tremendous waste. The EU plans to counter this by setting new rules to discourage disposable fast fashion by 2030. But we can start this now as informed consumers.
Buy quality items in classic styles to last you many years. It costs more but is an incentive not to gain any weight! When clothes get tight, time to cut back on calories and portions.
Another bonus of quality clothes will be that they will survive a second or even third owner. See Sustainabilty Tip #2.
GO THRIFTING… Instead of buying new, buy it used. This action will reduce the amount of garbage on our planet. Producing new products generates greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
Go shopping at a thrift store, garage sale, flea market, or eBay. Other benefits are, you can find beautiful retro or vintage clothes with even haute couture designer labels for a fraction of the price.
Greenwashing. Greenwashing is misleading or giving false information to consumers or investors about the negative environmental impact of a company’s products and operations. It’s a form of false advertising. This blog aims to alert consumers who want to be sustainability responsible and prevent being duped by false claims. If you are paying extra for something,… Continue reading Sustainability Tip #16
Sustainable Skin Products. Remember – What you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body as if you ate it. Natural, non-synthetic products are likely going to be more environmentally friendly. For instance, look for reef safe, chemical free sunscreens. Also, be mindful of the containers and packaging. Look for containers made from paper/cardboard,… Continue reading Sustainability Tip #15
Time to clean up your in-box. Composing, sending, receiving, and storing emails leaves a carbon footprint. Even though email energy usage is 1/60th of paper mail, we send many more emails. If you take a long time to compose or read your emails or send pictures and videos, these all take additional energy. In a… Continue reading Sustainability Tip #14
Plant a tree. What type of tree? Start with what grows locally and grows fast. Young trees absorb CO2 as they grow.
If this is not practical for you then contact your mayor’s office to plant some trees in parks, empty lots, or to line streets. If they say they don’t have the money then ask them to install solar panels over open parking lots to raise money to plant trees, with the added benefit of protecting your car and making clean energy.
Some other activities you can do to help plant and save trees:
Vote for candidates that support climate-saving initiatives. If you are not eligible to vote then volunteer to help those candidates.
Eat less meat. Better yet, consume less animal products.
Happy holidays my friends. This year’s gift-giving intention is pro-environment and zero-waste. These gifts are focused on reducing our plastic consumption.
Instead of wrapping paper, tape and ribbon, I used Furoshiki wraps. These are square-shaped Japanese traditional wrapping cloths. To stay with the eco-friendly theme, I used 100% cotton fabric, purchased at JoAnne Fabric and Craft store (check their App for coupons). With the width of my fabrics being 44-45 inches, I was able to efficiently sew squares that were approximately 20 inches wide when finished. You can make the squares any size within the limiting parameter of the fabric width.
On Youtube, there are multiple videos with step-by-step instructions on how to tie various styles of Furoshiki wrap.
My gifts are to initiate my friends to return to the use of natural bar soap with a self-draining bamboo soap dish. By avoiding the use of plastic pump soaps and plastic refill containers, we reduce a lot of plastic waste. The cotton wraps can be reused, repurposed as napkins, scarfs, etc. If I do this for all my gifts, my friends could potentially end up with a collection of mismatched napkins!
Start the holiday season and new year with a gift that sets the intention of a sustainable future.
Happy that many municipalities are banning plastic straws. These straws are not recycled and end up in landfills and or sea animals’ noses or stomachs.
Not using plastic straws is a small thing that we each contribute. Collectively, it will end up being a big thing. It will benefit the environment and our health. The less plastic exposure in our food, the better. Plastic in straws can leach into your food. Safety advice: never use a metal straw while driving – the metal could pierce your brain or other organs if you were in a motor vehicle accident…
There are other types of non-plastic straws: bamboo and paper. Bamboo straws texturally feel better, they are harder to sanitize. Also after a few uses, they tend to crack or split, making them useless as straws (I have repurposed my bamboo straws by using them as stirrers for washing small things or stirring coffee). The problem with paper straws is they tend to fall apart before you finish your drink. Metal straws are longer lasting.
The metal straws I bought came with a tiny cleaning brush and a silicone holder. But I don’t have the patience to use the cleaning tiny brush.
Here are the steps to easily clean your straws:
After use, keep soaked in water or rinse off.
You can put straws into the silicone holder or
Side straw into utensil rack, with the top side (curved end) of straw down, threading it through the holes. This maximizes the amount of water going into the straw and prevents the straws from dropping through the utensil rack.
Use only natural dishwasher detergent.* This avoids the chemical residues left on your dishes and in the straws. Also, avoid rinsing agents. If your water is really hard, find a natural biodegradable detergent. No need to consume undisclosed chemicals. Plus our lakes and rivers don’t need them either.
If everyone made even one or two water-wise changes, it would help. Here are some examples of what you can do:
1. Bucket, pot or plastic garbage bin to collect shower water especially when you are waiting for it to warm up. This water can be used water plants or mop the floors.
2. Shorter showers. Even one minute shorter helps.
3. Do not leave faucet running when brushing teeth.
4. Install touch free photosensitive faucets. Turns on and off automatically. Plus more hygienic.
5. Use grey water from rinsing dishes or laundry to water yard plants.
6. Only run dishwasher or washing machine with full loads.
7. Put some river rocks into the toilet tank. This makes each flush use less water. Maybe unnecessary with newer water saving toilets.
8. Toilet Tank Top Faucet.
No. 8 is probably the most intriguing on the list. Here is how it works.
I purchased my easy to install Toilet Tank Top Faucet from Amazon.
This is how it works. Incoming water goes thru a sprout-like faucet before going back into the tank, This fresh clean water is ideal to wash your hands. My Toilet Tank Top Faucet took less than 20 minutes to install.
The amount of water it took to wash my hands was about 750 ml or 3 cups. If the toilet is flushed 10 times a day, then there is a savings of about 30 cups which is close to 2 gallons of water. Every little bit saved helps.
You do not want to wash any other material into the toilet tank besides the germs related to toileting. You do not want to create scum in the tank. You can scrub clean your sink but not likely the inside of a toilet tank.
A quick backsplash can be made with 3M Command Hooks to hang a towel.
A Toilet Tank Topper Faucet would be a wonderful Holiday gift.
Be conscious of how you use water. It is a precious resource that we cannot live without.
We are in this together. This earth is our only home. There is no backup.
About once a month, I turn off the water source. Then after the next flush or two, tank will be empty. I pour in some white vinegar and let it sit in tank for 30 minutes or overnight. This helps to clear out residue and sanitize.
This vlog is a simple guided Qi Gong breathing exercise that helps relax and calm the mind.
You can do this by standing, sitting, or lying down. Use the position that is most comfortable for you.
If sitting on a chair – make sure your feet are resting on something and your knees are at hip height. This vlog assumes you are in a sitting position.
If lying down (bed, yoga mat, or recliner), your arms can be by your sides with palms facing up or put both hands on your lower abdomen.
If standing, it will be like a traditional martial art or tai chi stance – with feet, shoulder-width apart, the outside of your feet parallel, resulting in your feet being slightly pigeon-toed. Your knees are slightly bent. Your back straight and eyes gazing forward.
It is essential to practice abdominal breathing because this type of breathing activates your diaphragm. When your diaphragm is activated, it activates your vagal nerve, which activates your parasympathetic system, which activates calmness and relaxation.
You are the CEO of yourself
Warning: do take responsibility and respect your body. Do these exercises at your own risk. Everybody’s situation is different, no one size does not fit all.
If you like dark chocolate, you will love these cupcakes. The secret is in the zucchini. It adds moisture and a “vegetable”. Yields about 18-24 cupcakes. Make them various sizes to give people some choices. Some may want more, some may want less. During Covid serving cake in the form of cupcakes is a great idea. It is much more sanitary and easier to handle.
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup soy or oat milk
1/3 cup and 1 tbsp organic canola oil
3/4 cup of organic cane or coconut sugar (can use 1/2 cup if you prefer a semi-sweet bitter chocolate taste, my preference)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup apple sauce
3 medium zucchinis, finely shredded. With water squeezed out should be about 1 heaping cup
1 cup vegan dark chocolate chip
Preheat Oven 350 degree F. Line cupcake tray with (unbleached) paper cupcake liners.
Prepare the zucchini by finely shredding and putting a handful of it in a cheesecloth or tea towel and wring out as much fluid as you can. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking power, baking soda, salt.
In another bowl, mix together milk, oil, sugar, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, apple sauce.
Gradually mix liquid mixture into the into the flour mixture. Mix well.
Then fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
Spoon into cupcake tray.
Bake 20-25 minutes. Ready when the tops start to crack open.
The other day, I witnessed a noninjury hit-and-run car accident in a grocery store parking lot. While backing up his car, an older black man hit a parked car. He paused, looked at the car he had hit, then drove off. I should have shouted, “Hey you, stop,” But I was silent.
I hesitated to call him out for 2 reasons. If there was any potential for confrontation, the police might be called. A scenario like that could get ugly and even lead to someone being killed. The other reason is that there is a real probability that anyone in the general public could be carrying a firearm. That is another potential confrontation I did not want to face.
I confess that I live with this underlying fear. I would like to be the person who steps up, speaks up, and defend others when there is injustice. But fear keeps me from being myself.
There is one place, though, where I can be myself. Do you know where that is? Is at the airport after security. I feel safe there. People are not armed.
Once during a heavy snowstorm, I was stuck at Dulles International Airport for some very long hours. Travelers kept arriving, and no one was leaving. At the gates, there were more people than there were seats. Passengers wear sitting on the floor where ever they could find a spot. Assessing the situation, we could choose to be miserable or enjoy this downtime. Because I felt safe, I decided to go around and cheer people up.
This was an easy audience. Everyone was either from somewhere else or going somewhere else. This fact became an excellent introductory question, followed by asking how they were coping. We were all at the mercy of the weather but still warm and dry with access to food and restrooms. I met an Israeli whose company tracts our every move while we are surfing the web…good to know. Met quite a few pastors as there was a pastors conference in town. I met some people from Australia, some students, business people. A few elderly folks needed additional attention because our gates and departure times were frequently being changed, and they became confused. I felt like a friendly version of the Pied Piper leading a parade of elderly people through a chaotic airport to their proper gates.
This certainly made my layover a pleasant memory. Amazing how positive intentions can change the outcome of what could have been a miserable experience into something fun. I would not have been able to cheer up random strangers if there was a possibility that they could be armed and or cause me harm. I am no superhero.
Do you feel privileged? Should there be privileged? Being privileged implies you were born with societal advantage(s). Some examples of privilege in America are skin color, race, gender, intelligence, athleticism, and the amount of money your parents have.
Which culture you are born in makes a difference too. For instance, Warren Buffet said, if he were born in the middle of Afghanistan, his gift of picking good stocks would have been useless.
If you have difficulty envisioning what it means to be privileged – watch this YouTube video: Privilege/Class/Social Inequalities Explained in a $100 Race (linked below). It makes a powerful visual statement about how having privilege moves a person to the front of the competition before it even starts.
But privilege can be ruinous. For the rich, hard to know who your true friends are. Are they your friends or your money’s friend? Privilege can make you feel entitled and lazy. It can make one feel like there is no need to work as hard because life on a superficial level is coasting. Having a privilege life is comparatively easier. It can be so unchallenging, there are no incentives to even start the race. The race being your life. It is an easy trap to fall into.
Remember, struggling and hard work develop character, allows for self-discovery, and builds resilience against adversity. Without this, there can be stagnation and even regression. The ultimate ruin is never reaching your full potential.
If you were so lucky to be born with privilege, use this gift to better the world.
Reach out. Go beyond your ego. Be of service. Contribute to society. Start by helping one person at a time. This will reverberate positives back to you beyond your imagination.
Let’s look at being born with disadvantages such as poverty and black. There is nowhere to go but up. Two people whom I admire did just that: Oprah Winfrey and LeBron James.
They had to struggle. And in doing so, they discovered their purpose. They used their platforms to better the world.
In both scenarios, privileged and disadvantaged, the secret is to find purpose in your life. Realizing our purpose is what brings us happiness. No matter where you are on the privileged scale, find a mentor, a coach, a role model. People like teachers, counselors, coaches, club leaders, health care professionals should be available for advice. Listen and absorb the lessons and interpret them for yourself. Find your inspirations. Develop positive habits and hang out with supportive people. If you hate the lessons and everything else, be honest and examine the internal hate you may have for yourself.
Cultivate good friends and be the good friend you want to attract – integrity, loyalty, respect, encouragement, and compassion. Life is like an echo.
Start with believing that you can do it. Visualize the world through abundant eyes rather than with scarcity eyes. Everyone has something to offer. I heard this quote the other day, “I never met a strong person who did not have a difficult past”. Rather than retreat from our difficulties, acknowledge and forgive them. Heal as much as you can. Move beyond it. Let gratitude give you strength. Find where you belong. We all belong somewhere. This is your adventure for your lifetime.
Discover your dreams, set goals, be determined. Believe and manifest your dreams. You are worth it and good enough. You deserve it.
Learn to quiet your mind through meditation. Let your ego go, then look within. It’s grounding. Ask what is my purpose? Where is my path? Then look outwards for guidance. We are not islands. Within our community, there are resources to help (especially now that we are online).
That beautiful energy you create will come back to you in positive ways that you could never imagine. This is how you can become soulfully happy. Now that is truly privileged.
Privilege/Class/Social Inequalities Explained in a $100 Race:
These two commercial buildings inspired this blog.
While traveling in Australia, I saw “The Reject Shop”. It made me laugh in the way that when you say, “you are kidding”, in unbelief. It is possible, that, that was the marketing plan – to shock. Imagine a retail store with a name like this America. Our society already has so many levels of rejection that a Reject Shop could potentially trigger more anxiety about our hidden racist truths. It is reminiscent of segregation and rejected people.
Rejection resonates as one of our deepest fears because it can be equivalent to a death sentence. Fear of rejection is coded into our DNA. Back millions of years ago in the savannas of Africa, when someone in your tribe was rejected and abandon in the wild to fend for themselves, they would most certainly die. Hence, the fear of rejection goes deep.
There are two types of rejection. Indirect rejection is by society. Direct rejection is from another person.
Poverty is a type of societal abandonment. A lack of housing, food, health care, education, basic hygiene leads to premature death. Without a guaranteed Living Wage or Universal Basic Income, there are people working full time and cannot afford to put a roof over their heads.
Societies with a smaller division between the rich and the poor with majority in the middle are happier. Happier because they feel like they belong. They can afford to participate in society. Government policy and politics, rather than geography make the difference. Look at San Diego vs Tijuana and Detroit vs Windsor.
We all experience rejection on some level. Rejections from lovers, friends, family, bosses, etc. Those rejections hurt too. Feeling unloved hurts.
Then I see “Bank of Hope”. It counterbalances “The Reject Shop”. The Bank of Hope reminds me of how we can bounce back. Setbacks help us discover who we are. Humans are resilient. Never give up. Bank on Hope. Believe. Then make a plan to achieve it. If you discover you don’t belong in a particular tribe, no worries, go find another tribe. Life’s an adventure.