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The Life-Changing Magic of Soap Nuts

When I was pregnant I got a few gems of advice from my friends who had already had kids. This is how I found out about the life-changing magic of soap nuts.

soap nuts

How had I never heard of this amazing nut that is essential tide pods that grow on trees? While Anna has imparted much wisdom to me over the years – this one is the most tangible. We were already trying to find ways to make the switch to natural cleaning but were intimidated by making our own soaps and jaded by the clever world of “natural” cleaning product marketing.

Soap nuts (also known as soap berries) are native to India so being on this side of the world didn’t make it harder to source them, in fact it probably make it easier – and definitely cheaper! For $9 US, I bought a bag of soap nuts that lasted us from the week before she was born to 9 months old – that’s a ton of laundry, since we used them for our typical washing needs but also a constant flow of dirty diapers. Continue reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Soap Nuts”

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Building a Village

Bunmi Laditan’s article, “I miss the village” came out before we had a baby, but it recently resurfaced and no doubt struck a chord with a new generation of parents – or at least with me. When we lived in the US, we didn’t have kids but most of our friends did. We were part of a circle of people that were trying to live in a modern version of community – spread out in typical urban fashion, but interconnected and supportive. To myself as a childless person who felt like my life had no margin and kids would never fit, these friends made having kids look kind of possible. Continue reading “Building a Village”

Attack of the Aphids

A lot of our garden experiments are in a waiting phase right now. The moringa is almost ready to start clipping from, which will be a great reintroduction to our lives since at our old house we had four huge plants in our tiny 20sq’ yard that we could eat off of daily. Most mornings we had fried eggs and moringa – fresh from the backyard. Right now we have a few herbs like mint, thai and sweet basil, and fennel that are going strong and we need to get in a better habit of using. But the pumpkin and cucumber are still slowly sprawling out, the cherry tomatoes aren’t quite blooming yet, and the leafy greens have gone to seed. A lot of these things we planted early just to see what would take during the monsoon and I think their progress is slow and steady because they rarely have a chance to dry out and breathe a little. But even in the past two nights, we’ve noticed a temperature drop in anticipation of cool season – a great growing time in Thailand.

But the yard long beans have been abundant for the last month. Non-stop green beans. Yesterday morning I went out to pick more and noticed a strange clumpy dirt gathered on a lot of them. Continue reading “Attack of the Aphids”

How to Politely Decline MLM Offers from Acquaintances

Just say no thank you. That’s the short answer.

But the very nature of peer marketing makes this really difficult. So here is the long answer.

In an attempt to curate our consumptive habits, we are trying to only proactively bring things into our lives that we know will have direct and substantial benefit without doing unnecessary harm to the planet. However, we often look around and realize we own things we never meant to acquire.

Even if you’ve never heard of Network Marketing or Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM), you’ve probably gotten an invitation from an acquaintance Continue reading “How to Politely Decline MLM Offers from Acquaintances”

Our Sewing Machine is Broken

When we first moved to Thailand, we relied heavily on the moving sales of other expats and the market near our house to get established since we came over with just a suitcase and backpack each. We also had no car, so anytime there was a sale within walking distance, we were on it. This is how we ended up buying a random assortment of kitchen and home goods from an interesting Russian couple down the street. Tory walked home with a bag of miscellaneous kitchen utensils (including a freaky vintage can opener that we still use if we have to) while I slowly drove the scooter back loaded with two end tables and yes, a sewing machine! Continue reading “Our Sewing Machine is Broken”

The Future of Recycling and Reuse is Here

On Hornby Island, British Columbia, we were introduced to The Free Store – more than just a free thrift store it’s actually a massive systematic recycling and reuse operation. Started in 1978, the island now diverts 70% of the trash that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. Take a look at the video to see the free store and next level recycling in action along with our reflections.

There are only about 1000 residents on Hornby during low season while we were there but as the sun peeked out more and more, the bustle of “downtown” increased dramatically. Still, The Free Store is open on weekends during non-peak season and since we arrived just before the weekend and stayed ten days, we were able to participate in a full recycling and reuse cycle and benefitted greatly. Continue reading “The Future of Recycling and Reuse is Here”

Observable Benefits of Plastic-Free July

We are on the tail end of Plastic-Free July. Tory was reflecting on how he was initially cynical about the experiment and worried it would turn me off to environmentally beneficial endeavours in the long term. As we’ve mentioned before, there are many ways to work around plastic free July without truly removing plastic. We were nervous about the scarcity would give us a bad taste towards environmentalism but we’re within a week of the end and it hasn’t really felt that way. We’re missing the quick-meal convenience of prepackaged pasta and bread and we both felt pretty passionate about the paper-wrapped chocolate bar we got at the grocery store the other day, but overall, we’ve brought our own bags and cups, found alternatives, DIY-ed new things, and started making local veggie markets and nearby farms our go-to grocery shopping stops.

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Continue reading “Observable Benefits of Plastic-Free July”

Plastic Free July: Week 1

One week has passed since we decided to get on board with Plastic Free July. So far, adhering to the rules of no plastic has been relatively easy. We have both had a few slip-ups and oversights. Mainly straws. We really like going out for drinks, but straws have so subtly worked their way into our unconscious brain that I just reached for my straw that was kindly omitted from my drink and had a mental glitch when there was nothing there. It is estimated that Americans consume 500,000 straws  every day that is more than one per person in the US every single day. I do not mean to rant about straws, just illustrate my first point: just how subtly plastic has made its way into every part of our life. Continue reading “Plastic Free July: Week 1”

Gearing up for Plastic-Free July in Chiang Mai

How do we end up finding ourselves surrounded by so much disposable plastic?
…plastic grocery bags because we made an unplanned trip to the store, plastic packaging for the imported food we love, plastic cups and straws because even though we order drinks “for here” it sometimes still comes in a to-go cup, little plastic bags because some food at the market is pre-bagged, another landfill offender- styrofoam – because we wanted take out, an iced tea made in a plastic bag, inside a paper bag, and then put into another plastic bag with handles for carrying… it goes on.

Thailand has become entrenched in plastic and so have our lives. Our family has made small changes over the few years and yet it still seeps in constantly. So when we heard about Plastic-Free July, we were impressed and a little uncomfortable – we wanted to do it but we were (and are) worried about the things we’ll have to give up. Continue reading “Gearing up for Plastic-Free July in Chiang Mai”

MIP of our Road Trip: My Social Skills

Before we left for our Canadian road trip, I was curious what kind of growth would emerge. We definitely expected to have some clarity on whether we might want to live there in the future and I think there’s potential for sure, though we’re still getting our feet back under us here in Thailand where we’ll be for the next 10 months. We also had an idea of how much Cam would change between 9 months old when we left and almost a year old when we got back. And I suspect I am more connected to the earth now since we spent a lot of time in nature. But the Most Improved Player on this trip is my social skills. As an Enneagram 4, Continue reading “MIP of our Road Trip: My Social Skills”