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”

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”

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”

Back Home.

I’ve sweat more in the last two hours than the last two months combined. But I’m home. I got the scooter tuned up, topped up my Thai cell phone, got an hour of back massage and bought all the fruit I could carry. Cam is reunited with the neighbor’s dog so she is happy as can be. Tory is extending the travel with a work trip he left on immediately after our arrival so we are looking forward to settling in all together later this week.
Continue reading “Back Home.”

Outsourcing Pollution

It was a surreal moment: we were driving through fresh Canadian air surrounded by fog and century-old evergreens when we flipped on the radio just in time to catch this interview with Dr. Steven Davis, sharing the tough findings of his research on how consumption in the West actually results in the premature deaths of people in Asia and other global manufacturing hubs. This is real.

Continue reading “Outsourcing Pollution”

Hello Canada?

In just ten days, we leave the foothills of northern Thailand for the west coast of Canada where we’ll spend nine weeks exploring and testing out whether it’s a place we’d want to put down roots in the future. And between now and then, we have two trips planned! Although I know we brought this on ourselves, I have a low level anxiety humming in my body since yesterday – the first day of March. We have laid plans, booked flights, and mapped our our time in such a way that most things will just happen to us if we ride the current but still I fret about being prepared, about how it will all go, about whether or not I’m forgetting something major. WAIT DO WE HAVE OUR PASSPORTS?? Continue reading “Hello Canada?”

We’ve Got Cream Cheese!

This time in Thailand for us is all about experimentation. There’s roominess here – we have affordable childcare, flexible work schedules and are living on a few beautiful acres of orchard not our own. There’s less accountability and less personal investment than we want to have in the future, but for now, we’re hoping to use this time for a bit of trial and error.

So on that note, I found a small farm in our area that delivers raw milk. We don’t typically drink cows milk and haven’t for many years. So why would I want 5 gallons of raw milk delivered to our door? Continue reading “We’ve Got Cream Cheese!”

Adding Grain Weevils to our Diet

We’ve decided to allow our years in Thailand to be one experiment after the next. It’s kind of like a gap year for high school graduates or a sabbatical – a block of time where we’re renters again, we have affordable childcare and intriguing work, big adventures, and some time left over for some slowness and simple living practice if we schedule it all right. Maybe someday (that’s a big but hopeful maybe!) we’ll be able to grow or trade for grain but for now, we are adjusting to country life (and life in a developing country) and trying to source and experiment with good wholesome food. Continue reading “Adding Grain Weevils to our Diet”