3 Lessons I Learned in 2020

Lessons I Learned in 2020-gogoBags-Vancouver

There is a lesson in everything, we have learned to walk by falling, we learned to talk by making meaningless sounds as children. Somehow along the way, it became not so cool to fall and learn and mumble things, not sure why.

I tend to find a learning, a lesson in everything, I guess that is the entrepreneur in me. I think when I connect a positive learning to a negative outcome or a failure, I become more courageous to try again, move forward. That applies to everything, relationships, business, personal growth, or even things that are out of my control like COVID.

There is no need for me to say how and why my life has turned inside out, you have been through a version of it, the whole world has been through a version of it. But here are some concepts I have learned from my experience which may be different from yours.

Having the right mindset is gold

The right mindset gets you further than you ever imagined, and the wrong mindset freezes you where you are or even moves you backward and downward. The lesson here is that it is easy to fall for the wrong mindset, the mindset of lack, weakness and victimhood. Having the right mindset, on the other hand, takes courage and work. I learned to consciously choose the right mindset and move forward.

Never surrender, always fight back

Sometimes the circumstances will catch you off guard which stops you in your tracks, that is the exact moment to ask yourself: Are you going to surrender or fight back? When COVID hit, I had about 48 hours of shock and shot down and then asked myself the hard question: Am I going to throw the towel and give up or pivot and come up with something that works for the time being? I learned something a while back, when I was a travel agent, there is always a way out, always an exception to the rule, you just must be brave enough to fight for it.

Find joy in the little things

Maybe this is the most important lesson of the year, to find joy in the little things in life. As a family, we did not do any of the regular activities that always brought us joy. I did not host the Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve dinner and yet we managed to get by and enjoy our time with the family virtually. I learned to enjoy all the little things in life, like a cup of coffee on a cold, quiet morning, and be grateful for experiencing that moment.

These are my top three lessons I am taking with me to 2021.

Which are yours? Please share in the comments.

 

Stay tuned for my New Year’s Reset System on the next blog post.

Easy and Quick Christmas Butter Cookies

I have a confession to make, I’ve never done Christmas cookies with my children when they were younger. They are teenagers and this is the first year that I made Christmas cookies from scratch. It was a lot of fun for me to watch my daughter and her friend decorating the cookies, and decide on their own to spread the cheer and share some with the neighbours. Loved it!

I know my way around the kitchen but I’m not a baker, I’m good at a handful of baked goods but cookies were not among them. This year with COVID and all the restrictions I needed to make the season a little bit different create new traditions to replace the ones we can do anymore. So searched up a few recipes, here is a tip if you search up recipes online, compare a few to make sure the recipe is actually correct 🙂 I didn’t compare my recipe first and ended up improvising to make it work, which actually turned out to be great.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  1/8 cups unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 medium-size eggs (room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Direction:

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar first at low speed and then at high until it turns light and creamy. Beat the eggs at a low speed one at a time, add vanilla, beat at high speed until you get the creamy texture back. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour and mix with the baking powder, then add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix at a low speed until all ingredients mix and you have a soft dough.

Divide the dough into two or four pieces, roll them into a cylinder shape, wrap in plastic or place in an airtight container, leave in the fridge for an hour or so. If you are planning to leave it in the fridge for longer you need to wrap the dough in plastic to make sure it won’t dry and crack.

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Remove the dough from the fridge let it sit for about 15 minutes or so, on a clean and dry cutting board cut the cylinder into discs of 1/4 inch thick. Place them 2 inches apart on a non-stick baking sheet, bake in the middle rack in the oven for about 12 minutes or until the sides are slightly golden.

 

Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack, when cold decorate with icing.

This is the fun part there is no wrong way of decorating the cookies just have fun!

 

A Tradition Worth Keeping 

Canadian Makers Market (CMM) was created out of the pure joy I feel from helping others! This year especially, I wanted to help others have a better holiday season so I pursued an idea that had sparked in September. It was one of those grand ideas; you know, those ideas that become so persistent in your mind that you have to act on it? CMM was that for me. So, you see, every September when the kids go back to school it feels like a new year for me; I sit in my meditation chair and reflect, look towards the rest of the year, and tasks I have on the go for myself. During reflection, it hit me that this year there wouldn’t be any in-person markets, and the thought of small businesses losing their holiday market income, weighed heavily on me. Believe it or not, there are businesses whose majority of income is generated in the one and half months of holiday markets.

With the Pandemic hitting our communities hard, we’ve had to come together and stand stronger as we help one another. While some families have been affected more than others, and some even losing loved ones, we’ve had to gain comfort from the power of the phrase “We’re in this together”. We may not be sharing the same space, but we are together in spirit and action.

We can continue to help one another by making a conscious choice on supporting our communities and businesses by shopping close to home. Choosing Canada-made can make a big difference to those small businesses who rely on their holiday sales each year. Let’s stand together to make a small business owner and their families happy this season.

Canadian Makers Market has been just that, a platform where Makers and supporters can come together. If I hadn’t acted on making CMM a reality, we wouldn’t have the thriving and supportive space that CMM has blossomed into. With the help of my team, we have put together a social media campaign to provide our Makers the training and exposure they need to be able to sell online. While you and our communities have come together in this Facebook group by supporting, and I’m truly grateful for that.

Thank you for your continued support for Canadian Makers Market and our Makers! We wish you a happy and safe holiday season.

 

Anahita

 

2020: A Different Kind of Holiday Season

Have you put up your Holiday decorations yet? I have 😀

Any other year, I would wait until at least the first of December to decorate my house. This year however I was ready since August, I’m ready to add some joy and light into my life and feel the magic of hope, and I don’t even celebrate Christmas religiously, just love it.

I guess the reason is that every other year, I would be charged and excited for Christmas markets I was about to visit and attend during this time of the year. Not this year though, the joy of in-person markets is missing from my life.

I think we are all doing things differently this year, we are at a point in the history of humankind that I think everyone is going through the same thing at the same time. This COVID 19 kind of united us as a global and local community.

Since we are doing things differently, I like to remind everyone and myself that we need to start our Christmas shopping earlier this year and possibly stay close to home when shopping online. Shopping from local, Canadian made company means that we’re not just spending money, we are investing in our economy, yes we spent money but that money goes back to our community.

Study shows that small businesses recirculate up to $63 of every $100 in spending in the local economy, compared to $14 for multinationals. Small businesses tend to give work to their neighbours, buy from local producers and service providers.

This year a lot of handmade businesses that relied on the Christmas market are suffering as most markets are cancelled. We need to support these businesses as much as possible. These are hardworking men and women who create one-of-a-kind, amazing products and while doing that their children are learning alongside them. Their children are learning how honest hard work pays off and how they can also live doing what they love.

Most handmade products are family afire. From children to grandparents everyone has a tiny part in making the craft we used to see in the craft markets. Now every one of those businesses has to present their craft online and they will need our help to showcase them

This holiday season lets spread the joy in a bigger way. Let’s give meaningful one-of-a-kind handmade gifts to our family and with our purchase give a gift of joy and accomplishment to the Makers’ family the creators of those gifts.

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Thanksgiving-2020-gogoBags

This year has been a challenging and rather interesting year. Every Thanksgiving, I have a dedicated time to sit in silence and think of the things I’m thankful for in general and especially this year.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the blessing, especially if you were hurt. I know many have been hit hard by COVID. People have lost loved ones, jobs, and more. In general, as a community, we lost the mere stability which we took so for granted.

This year has been challenging, but we should know that growth always follows challenge. This year, we grew as a global community. For once, every country is dealing with the same issue and is united to help solve this global pandemic.

On a smaller scale, we grew personally and within our community. We know our neighbours better; help each other out more. We explored our neighbourhood and our own province for leisure, and we keep supporting our local economy. I am grateful for all the lessons this microscopic virus is teaching me and us every day.

Most importantly, I like to thank you, our beautiful reader, for your support during these unprecedented times. Every like, comment, follow, and purchase meant a lot to us; we did a little happy dance for each one 😀

Your trust and loyalty had touched our hearts, allowed us to be of service to our customer team members and create jobs when people needed it the most.

I am forever grateful for your valued support!

I hope that we could bring peace of mind, comfort, and a little bit of hope for a brighter future for our planet and humanity to you.

What are your grateful for this Thanksgiving? Spread the joy and share your gratitude in the comments.

 

Wishing a beautiful Thanksgiving for you and your loved ones!

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How to transition From One Career To Another

How to transition from one career to another

About ten years ago, I made the most significant transition of my life. I went from a service-based business to a product-based one. I can’t say the transition was easy; I had to do a lot of deep work and soul searching to make the move.

COVID has forced a vast majority of people to rethink their career paths and transition or pivot. I felt a calling to share my story and experience on transitioning from one career to another.

I  have worked as a travel agent since I was 17, first helping my father run his travel agency in Iran and then managing my own in Canada. The travel industry was in my blood; I was born into it. I was a travel agent before there was an online booking option, even for travel agents. Oh, good old times.

This job was exciting, addictive and actually very pleasant until all of a sudden, it wasn’t. When 911 happened, and discount online booking websites started showing up, I noticed that the spark was all gone.

Here I was at the age of 37 with two little ones and almost 20 years of experience in the travel industry looking to do something else, a new adventure, something different. I had attempted to change my career several times by then without any success; I would fall into the trap of answering phone calls and taking travel clients until I did the following.

This is a step-by-step guide I developed to figure out my strengths, likes and dislikes and release myself from old career patterns by only gaining knowledge and experience from the past. Only by this formula, I was able to acquire a new life path that was better suiting.

Dissect the old job

What I mean by this is to write down every single detail that you would do in your job—all the responsibilities and tasks and even interactions with customers or colleagues.

Pinpoint the highlights

From the list above, mark the ones that, for any reason, stand out for you.

Write down all the reviews and praises.

Then go over the feedback you received from your colleagues or customers. Write them down and try to find a pattern in that; most of the time, we receive praise within our strength profile.

Write down the excellent feeling memories.

Now write down the times you felt good at doing your job. What was it that you were doing? Who were you when you felt that way? Who were you with, or what was the work environment when you felt this way?

Compare and Narrow down

In this step, go over all the answers you have, compare them and narrow down your answers. Choose two or three tasks or talents that stand out the most for you and that completing them felt genuinely good at the time.

Congratulations, you found your strength, and with that, you can decide what your next career move is.

For me, it turned out that I really liked the human connection, the continuous learning and puzzle-solving challenges. Also, surprisingly, working with numbers and bookkeeping, I would not know this if I didn’t do this exercise. After this practice, I was able to detach my identity as a travel agent from my interests and choose my next move, which is another story on its own. But when that time came around July of 2010, I stopped answering travel related calls even when I hadn’t made money off my new business yet.

Are you trying to transition from one career to another? Share your experience with us on how to make the transition in the comments.

 

Stay mindful,

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What to Do with the Excess Grape Tomato From The Garden

what to do with the excess grape tomatos

It’s almost the end of a beautiful tomato season and every year we get more grape tomatoes than we can use, this year I came up with a quick and easy recipe to be able to use these delicious fruits well into the winter.

It’s a twist on the roasted tomato, since I didn’t have time to slow roast them, I sauteed them in a pan on high heat.

Ingredient:

  • Grape tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Clove of Garlic

Direction:

Simply sautee the grape or cherry tomatoes in a non-stick pan with a teaspoon of olive oil, just enough to get some of the tomato skins pop. Next transfer the tomatoes to a jar, add enough olive oil to cover the tomatoes, add salt and garlic and that’s it.

This is a great sauce to keep in the kitchen for quick and easy pasta and side dishes. Keep refrigerated hope you enjoy!

roasted tomato pasta

Feel Good and Be Resilient

feel-ggod-be-resilient

The definition of resilient is : (a person or animal) who can withstand or recover quickly from difficult situations. I believe a person is not born resilient, and it’s a learned skill. How do you become more resilient?

I was lucky to be introduced to The Law of Attraction at a young age of 18. Since then, I have learned and believed that we are not the victim of our environment and situations. We have the power to change anything and everything we aim to. The way I think about this is that I have the power to change my perspective and, therefore, my energy. This has proved to make me more resilient.

Obviously we can’t always change our exact situation. We can’t change something like the COVID 19 situation we are in right now, but we can change our reaction. We can stop and look for the silver lining in it. Doing so, we shift our energy. As a result, we will feel good and feeling good helps us think better and more positively. As Gabrielle Bernstein says in Super Attractor, it’s good to feel good.

Feeling good equals to good energy and attracts good energy. It just makes common sense, too; when we feel good, we can think better and make better choices, which results in better results.

Like most people, positive thinking doesn’t come naturally to me; I need to work at it. I do that by paying attention to my mood and how I feel. If I don’t feel good I consciously do things to make me feel good—kind of trick my body and mind to change my mood and feeling. When I feel good, then positive thinking will follow.  I am then able to find better solutions for my problems and, as a result, be resilient.

Here are a few things I do to pick me up and feel good when I’m down.

Listen to Music

I have a few different playlists, which I’ve created and added to them when I felt good and happy. They are there for me when I need to feel good immediately.

Meditation and Journalling

These two always happen together for me. I love journalling after meditation and always get a lot of insights from my journaling that way. Journalling is the fastest way for me to feeling good and finding solutions to my problems.

Clean and Declutter

This one always involves music. Whatever I’m worried about or overthinking about will be out of my mind for the duration of cleaning and listening to the music. Then I can come back to it with a fresh perspective. There is something about decluttering and cleaning that rewires my brain. I’ve read in books that your mind can make better decisions when your environment is clean and organized.

Cook like I’m a French Chef

This one is my absolute favourite and always makes me feel special and happy. It always works when I don’t feel like cooking too. There is nothing like sipping wine, listening to French Jazz music and cooking away. When I say cooking, I don’t mean to follow a specific recipe and to make it a chore. I mean, the kind that you go with your senses and feel the ingredients and create your own recipe.

Dance

Ok, so, normally this one rarely happens on its own. I do sometimes dance in front of the mirror for the sake of dancing. But when I want to make myself feel good, dancing happens when I’m cooking and cleaning and washing dishes or do whatever I’m doing. The music gets me going. When I’m done, I feel better, I’ve got some exercise done, and I can think better.

 

Being an entrepreneur, you need to be resilient, or you won’t make it. Feeling good is my trick to resiliency.

That’s it for me. What do you do to feel good?

 

eco-friendly-living-gogobags-vancouver

 

 

5 Easy Swaps For A Greener Kitchen

5 easy swaps for a greener kitchen

I’ve started my eco-friendly journey from my kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of every home and where most of our waste is created therefore the faster way to a low waste lifestyle starts from the kitchen. I’m the last person who does something hard to keep up with. My greener kitchen choices are things that I can swap easily, not time-consuming and can quickly become a habit.

I’m going to share my favourite and easiest swaps for a greener kitchen. With these quick and easy swaps, you will have a greener kitchen in no time.

1- Non-stick cookie sheet

This way, you won’t need to use any parchment paper – aluminum foil or too much oil for anything your bake, roast or broil. When choosing an oven-safe dish, try to pick one that has an oven-safe lid as well to reduce the use of aluminum foil.

2- Reusable rags or towels

It just makes sense to have washed ready to use rags or towels for little messes around the kitchen and house. Using a paper towel not only is creating a lot of waste, but it feels like you are cleaning the mess with a dollar bill and throwing it out, don’t you think so?

fresh-bag-gogobags-vancouver

3- Good quality food storage bags/containers

 

I use Fresh bags for storing vegetables in the fridge. Since I started using Fresh bags, I cut our food waste by 75%. Cooking is much easier when I have washed and cut vegetables ready to go in Fresh bags in the fridge.

I also use glass containers a lot. They help me avoid using plastic wraps to cover anything, and they go straight to the oven or toaster oven.

 

 

4- Natural cleaners

There are a ton of natural cleaners in the market. A lot of them available in a concentrated format where you can mix with water in your spray bottle. If you get the concentrated one, you will save on a lot of plastic bottle packaging as well. Another good option is the good old white vinegar and water. I add a few rinds of lemon or a few drops of lemon oil for a better smell.

loofah-greener-kitchen

5- Loofah sponges

Now using Loofah as a dish sponge was one of the easiest swaps I ever did. At first, I was skeptical and was not sure if it can clean my dishes well. But on the contrary, it did a great job and keeps doing that. The best part, after a few months of using the Loofah, when it breaks down and gets thin, you can put it in the compost and no waste!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are my 5 easy swaps for a greener kitchen that I turned into a happy habit. Share your easy swaps in the comments.

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5 Tips for Neighbourhood Engagement Towards a Greener Community

greener community

One positive thing that came out of this pandemic it forced a lot of us to know our neighbors better. During the quarantine and even now a lot of senior citizens were relying on their neighbors to do their shopping, something that normally wouldn’t happen. Now we can take that connection and build a greener community and even a stronger relationship with our neighbors.

 

Things you do for a greener community

 

1.- Assess nearby problems.

Problems like waste management including recycling, natural resources, contamination of air, water, soil or even noise contaminants. ⁠⁠A very simple way to start is to research the overall awareness within your neighborhood about sustainability, reusable culture and ecology.

2 – Make a Plan.

Once you’ve decided which area of sustainability and knowledge you wish to develop, make a plan of execution. What are the steps that need to be taken towards the results you are seeking?

Say you want to propose a community garden or make a plan to share unused items within households. Maybe you want to establish an idle-free zone or a weekly trade event.

⁠After researching about local laws and legislation, your plan can start by gathering a group of neighbors and establishing goals and a calendar including each person’s tasks. This can be an amazing way of coming together for a common purpose like having a greener community and learn from each other at the same time.

 

3 – Organize a fundraiser.

If you already lead or know of a great initiative underway that requires community support or you wish to contribute to a local organization with an online event, a fundraiser is a great way to gather funds as a group.

At gogoBags we support your nonprofit fundraiser either with products, discounts or promotions. If you wish to learn more and submit a project, email us at hello@gogobags.ca with subject line: ‘Fundraiser request’ and we will get back to you!

4 – Volunteer.

There are many ways of making a difference for our environment without any money involved. One of them is volunteering for local organizations that have this option. The value of your time can be translated into something amazing for our planet.

A lot of neighborhoods volunteer together to clean out their neighborhood beach or weed and clean out their neighborhood trails. This can go on top of the list for creating a greener community.

 

5 – Communicate, share, create a Newsletter.

Whether you are new or an expert in sustainability, communication is always a great way to share your knowledge. You can start by writing a one page Newsletter to friends and family via email with all the monthly information you have gathered and wish to share. Make this a project for engagement and collaboration for a greener community.

Of course there are more different things we list here. These are just a few we could think of. There is no right or wrong here. Anything you do in your neighborhood to create awareness and build a greener community counts.

To a greener community on every corner of this beautiful planet we call home!

 

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5 Hygiene and Safety Tips on Cloth Face Mask – 2020 School Year

hygiene and safety tips to use cloth reusable masks

Schools are starting soon, and parents are concerned about the safety of their children. There are a lot of unknowns, and like everything else in 2020, we are all learning as we go on. Some of us are trusting the system and sending our kids to school, some with cloth face masks and some without. I know a lot of us are homeschooling our kids. Either way is right as long as it’s right for our family.

By now we have learned that we are not in control of many situations, we do know that the staff and secondary school students need to wear masks at least in the hallways and common areas so we can take control of that and learn how to keep our children safe by teaching them how to use their cloth face mask in a safe manner.

Here are 5 hygiene and safety tips for the cloth face mask:

 

Tip #1 – Good quality and fit

Make sure your mask is made of at least two layers of tightly-woven fabric and better still if it has a pocket for a removable filter. You should not be able to see the light through the mask… If you do, the mask is not that effective. Fit is another important factor, your mask should cover your nose and mouth comfortably so finding the right fit is tricky. One thing you can do is to measure your face or your child’s face ear to ear, going over the mouth and comparing the measurements to the measurements of the cloth face mask you are buying. With this method, you can at least know if the cloth face mask you are buying is too large or too small, but like any other clothing item, you won’t be sure until you try the mask.

Reusable fitted mask-purple-paisleys-teen

 

Check out our reusable mask

For teen and child masks.

Tip #2 – Everything needs a happy home especially cloth face masks cloth-face-mask-bag-vancouver

Dedicate a bag and a backpack pocket for the mask. Preferably an easily accessible pocket of the backpack. You want to encourage your child to use that pocket only for the mask bag. Avoid transferring whatever viruses or bacteria that could be on the mask to the rest of the backpack and its content, it is also important to carry the mask in a bag that can be washed easily. A cloth face mask after use is considered contaminated and needs to be stored so that it doesn’t transfer the virus particles or bacteria that could be sitting on the mask to its surroundings.

 Tip #3 – Handle mask with clean hands only

That’s it. We need to let our kids know that this year one of their main activities should be washing their hands. I would go as far as getting a small hand sanitizer for their backpack in the same pocket as the mask bag so that they can easily clean their hand before touching it, they need to put their masks on their face and remove them with clean hands. They also need to clean their hands after removing their masks and putting them back in the mask bag.

Tip #4 – Face side folds in

Make sure they know how to safely put their mask on and off, always by the ear loop elastic. Adjust the mask to fit perfectly and then avoid touching the mask or their face as much as possible. This applies especially if they are reusing it during the day. Another important thing to watch for is what side goes on the face and what side is facing out, this is easy for the fitted reusable masks with a pocket but tricky with the pleated mask as both sides look identical. It’s a good habit to fold the mask in a way to have the face side folding in so it’s not in contact with anything else.

Our kids most likely use the same mask several times during the day. It is very important that they put the same side on the face. We can provide several masks for single-use during their different breaks and lunch break but let’s be real they won’t use a different mask every time.

 

Tip #5 – Wash and rotate

As per Health Canada, reusable cloth face masks should be washed after each use. It makes sense. Our kids may need to reuse their mask several times during the school day but it needs to be washed as soon as they get home, this is why it is important to wash the masks together with the carrier bag. We need to treat the cloth face mask as if it carries the CoronaVirus, if it did it would transfer the virus particles to the carrier bag too.

As mentioned by experts washing the masks in hot water and soap at least for 20 seconds should be enough to clean them. Laundering them in the washing machine and drying in the dryer is advised. If you hang dry the mask make sure to iron it afterwards to make sure all the virus and bacteria are killed. Remember that the masks are sitting on the mouth and they absorb all the bacteria in the mouth too so if they’re not washed those bacteria can grow in the mask and can cause other problems.

Some suggest disinfecting masks with bleach but experts say that is not necessary as long as we use soap, using bleach can cause other allergic problems for children. We do suggest having three masks and a mask bag per student for a school year to be able to wash and reuse properly. Most likely you will have to replace the masks as the elastic can wear off after a while but our mask bags will last you for many years.

 

At the end of the day, we all need to use our common sense. Reusable cloth face masks are quickly becoming part of our daily lives and we need to do our best to keep them both handy and clean to use and then safely clean and store them for the next use.

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Back To School Plan in Pandemic

back to school plan

Here we are again almost at the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. Do you have a back to school plan? I love summer so much so that I purposefully leave all my back to school plans and shopping to the last minute. I just like to be in denial that yet another summer is coming to an end.

This year’s back to school plan is a bit more hectic, like everything else in 2020. Each year a lot of kids start their new school year stressing about the unknown trusting their adult knows of the unknown and can help them navigate that. How do you do that as a parent when you don’t know what the unknown looks like. When you are not sure how to navigate that yourself let alone helping your child doing that. When you are still learning to navigate around this pandemic with all the different challenges coming your way?

Sometimes it feels like I’m in the middle of the tornado in the Wizard of Oz, no idea where it takes me, no time thinking about that just trying to survive the speed of the tornado while all sorts of things are throwing at my way.

Now imagine yourself in that tornado holding your child’s hand saying ” It will be Ok honey, you don’t need to worry, I’ve got this” Don’t you think she knows you are lying? The right thing to say is ” I don’t know how the future looks like, but I know this, we can figure it out together. I will be there with you every step of the way until we figure it out”

It’s hard being a parent with all the hats you need to wear let alone being a parent in a pandemic. Our generation of parents is the first generation parenting tech kids, navigating their online as well as offline life. Not able to ask our parents for advice on our parenting. Now add the pandemic and every anxiety known and unknown it adds into their lives. It’s hard to navigate that isn’t it?

Back to school plan ideas to keep our sanity in check

To make things easier to digest for me and handle my feelings and emotions while parenting in a pandemic, I stick to the basics. The constants in our life to the things, we have some sort of control over. In order decrease stress and create more connection, I focus on the following three ideas:

  • Establish a new routine

We know at least a few things that we will need to adjust to.

Their bedtime and waking hours. You can start changing your summer routine to school routine slowly so that they are ready for back to school when it comes.

Handwashing and sanitizing is another one. I know we wash our hands more especially when we come home from outside. But the students need to do that even more in school and not just before they eat something. It would help to create a routine that involves handwashing between every different activity at home. For older kids, I would even get them their own pocket hand sanitizer to use between activities so they keep doing that in school hours too.

Another good routine is to set a nightly private chit chat time. Where you would sit with your child privately and share something of your day or talk about something they’re interested in. You will be amazed at how they open up when they have this as a routine. This is a good thing to establish for when they are in school and dealing with all sorts of things that can cause anxiety.

  • Focus on constants in their school days

Ok so this could be different for every family and a lot of our constants have changed because of the pandemic. But we still can find some constant that we can work on following are a few that come to mind.

  • Using reusable bags for their snacks this could be constant no matter what life throws at you
  • The drop-off and pick up routine is another constant.
  • After school snacks could be another constant in their life
  • Their school gear too can be another constant
  • Shift the focus to planning rather than worrying

Getting the kids involved in planning their back to school will prevent them from worrying too much. It will also get them ready for some changes that will come their way. It also creates opportunities to talk about some of their anxieties.

Here are some of the things we are planning for.

  •  Clothes and school supply shopping and now their reusable mask.  Here in BC grade 8 – 12 students need to wear masks outside their classrooms. In my personal experience, this is not very well received in all teens. Have them pick their own mask.
  • Plan their weekly school lunches. It’s never too early to start a school lunch weekly plan.
  • Get them involved in creating their new routine. Things they like to do after school that has nothing to do with school or their extracurricular activities.
  • Planning for their study time at home, reorganizing their room to fit their needs better

At the end of the day, our children need to be able to navigate this pandemic on their own in school. There is no way to sugar quote this they need to get used to our new norm. However, we can and we should empower them that we can do hard things. That we as human beings can adjust to any situation. And most importantly that we are here for them. We may not have all the answers but we can look for the answers together that we are all in this together.

 

Now, this is a back to school plan I can follow. Cheers!

 

eco-friendly living

 

Refreshing Summertime Beverage

It’s one of those hot summer days and my to-go drink is always a cold refreshing glass of Sekanjabin drink. Which is basically a mind n vinegar syrup drink.

This is a traditional Persian drink one of the oldest recipes that were passed on generation after generation. We don’t know exactly how old the recipe is but it was originally made with wild honey and not sugar so I imagine it dates before the invention of sugar.

The beauty of this drink is that it’s so easy to make. You can keep it for years in your pantry. And it’s so versatile. You can use it as a sweetener for lemonade or any smoothie, have it as a dip with fruits and vegetables or in alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. Because it’s ingredients apple cider vinegar and mint it is also good for digestive health.

My absolute favourite is as a dip with roman lettuce. On hot summer days, nothing beats a healthy snack of roman lettuce dipped in Sekanjabin and ice.

Mint n Vinegar Syrup Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups sugar – can be replaced by the equivalent of honey
  • 2 Cups water
  • 1/2 a Cup Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Bunch of Mint

Direction

In a large saucepan bring water and sugar into a boil. Tie the bunch of mints and let it boil with the water. ( in a lot of recipes they add the mint at the end when the heat is turned off, I like the taste and flavour of mint so I normally let the mint to boil in the syrup to the end)

When the syrup is starting to thicken add the vinegar, make sure you have a window open or the hood on as the smell of vinegar will be strong when added to the syrup. Let the mixture boil for another 10 – 15 minutes. Remove the source pan from the stove, and remove the mint. Let the syrup to cool off and then strain it through a cheesecloth into a wide mouth mason jar.

This is will be more of a concentrated and thick syrup, you can keep the syrup in your pantry for years. However, if you didn’t boil the syrup enough you may find film of molds forming on top, which in that case you can remove the moldy section and boil the syrup to get thicker. The beauty of having a thick syrup as the base of any drink is that you can make it to taste of each person you are serving the drink too.

 

To hot summer days enjoying this versatile drink with your family.

 

Cheers!

 

 

Eco-Parenting – Raising Earth Friendly Kids

Eco-Parenting - Raising Earth Friendly Kids

Parenting is challenging on its own. Now eco-parenting is even more challenging. I found it more overwhelming to raise my children to be waste-free and eco-friendly, but the idea of raising them to be more Earth Friendly was doable.

The best kind of parenting is to model and be an example for your child. That is true in any subject. You want them to do something and follow you; you don’t tell them to do it. You model the practice, and they will follow even when you are not around to see.

This is true, especially in our subtle ways of doing things. Kids will pick up on the way we shop, where we shop. How do we treat the things we don’t want anymore and how we manage food in the kitchen.

Everything we do and the way we do them become the culture of our family, and our children knowing or unknowing will take it with them to their future family. Now that I look back, the way I run my kitchen is the way I saw my mom running her kitchen. Yes, I have changed a few things here and there and made it my own, but the base, the juice of it came from her. She was and is the most Earth friendly person in my life. She never let any food or anything to go to waste in our household. I learned the reuse, repurpose, recycle, and giving back from her.

eco-parenting-earth-friendly-kids

Attributes to focus on in rasing earth-friendly kids

I believe every Earth friendly person has three attributes. They feel a sense of responsibility towards their surroundings, people, neighbourhood, etc. They value our resources and hard work that goes to make the life we live today. And they care for others around them and everything they own.

Here are three simple things you can do to build these attributes in your child.

Responsibility

Plant something and give them the responsibility to water and tend to it.

With this practice, they learn how responsibility and caring for something works. They also learn how earth and plants work and how we need to take care of our gardens and vegetation. These kids tend to be more nature lovers.

Value

Show them the value of the food we have. Yes, composting is better than throwing food in the garbage. But we can use up more of the food we quickly put in the compost.

I remember when I was a child, we would never throw out leftover dried bread, as simple as that. We didn’t have compost back then, but some vendors would come to our neighbourhood and would exchange the dried bread with salt. The dried bread would be turned into food for cattle.

The thing I learned from this and what my mom thought me was that a lot of people worked hard to grow the wheat and turn it into the bread that we eat, and just throwing it out would be disrespect to them and all their hard work. And now, I see the value and the simplicity of that simple act.

Caring

Caring and giving back to your community can be done in so many different ways. Helping kids pick groceries for the food bank is one way. My Earth friendly activity though, is teaching them to donate the clothes they grew out of.

I remember wearing hand me downs and knowing that I need to keep my clothes in good shape because one day, it was going to be passed down to my cousin to wear. This can be done in so many different ways.  We don’t have friends or cousins the same size or around the same age to do so now. But I thought my kids at a very young age that their close that doesn’t fit them anymore are perfect clothes for those who are younger than them. I got them involved in taking their unwanted items to the thrift store.

With this act, they learn to value their belonging and don’t throw them in the garbage when they don’t have use for them. That, if they don’t need or have use for it, someone else will. I know this works well because my children, who are teens now, don’t even think about throwing away any of their belongings. If something doesn’t fit, they automatically put it in a box to be given away. This is so grained in their mind that if by mistake I tell them to throw something out, they come back with:  ” WHY?? It just doesn’t fit me. Someone else can perfectly use this.”

By this activity, they learn both the value of their belongings and how we are a community and how we can care for each other.

 

So there you go, three simple things you can start doing today to raise and more earth friendly child. Being earth friendly doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t have to suffer through it, it can be done with simple steps and then build on that when you are ready.

 

eco-friendly living

My Secret To Easy Waste Free Picnics

waste free picnic

Maybe not this year, COVID kind of threw us off our routine and plans for this summer. But we are a road trip kind of family. Every summer we go camping at least twice or three times which includes a short road trip going and coming back plus a road trip to Okanagan. We have a system that works for us, even the kids, well more teens’ bickering is accepted and very well tolerated by all in our road trips.

This year however we are going on more picnics than road trips. More because it’s safer and we get to go home at the end of the day.

There a few things I do and have around to minimized our waste as much as possible. Although I have an eco-friendly and waste free related business and mindset my whole family don’t share all those values. I know they are aware of it and better than many but in general if it’s not easy it can be avoided. In general my success in waste free living is my preparedness.

My trick to have a waste free picnics and road trips is to go prepared and make it as easy as A B C for all the people involved to follow through and be waste free as best as they can. And I have to emphasize the “as best as we can” I never aim for perfection just our best effort towards a waste free road trop or picnic.

As much I like to be organized and know about our plans well in advance, picnics are one of those things that happens spontaneously in this house. Well, living in Vancouver you need to take advantage of a surprise sunny day and if a friend is going on a picnic you want to tag along too.

To be able to go on a picnic anytime and be waste free I have a few things prepared in advance, ready to go on a short notice.

Here is the list of things for waste free picnics

  1. Old mugs
  2. Old reusable water bottle and to-go mugs
  3. Old reusable utensils
  4. Reusable plates, I’m using the set we had when the kids were young (Not plastic but unbreakable)
  5. Set of wash towels
  6. Loose leave tea, instant coffee, hot chocolate powder in separate reusable containers
  7. A set of reusable tea bags
  8. A few reusable snack and sandwich bags
  9. A set of old salt and pepper shakers
  10. Old tea towels
  11. Brown paper bag (to store food waste to compost either at the site or bring home)

Using my kids’ old lunch bags I have stored the above list in collections.

Mugs, plates, towels, and utensils in one bag. All edible items plus the tea towel, tea bags and the brown paper bags goes in another lunch bags. I always have snack and sandwich bags handy, I will add those to one of the bags as we heading out.

When you have these items ready to go, you won’t scramble around and end up buying disposable plates and cups. This means that beforehand we made a conscious choice to reuse some of our old kitchen wears that we needed to replace. That includes different sizes of plates and bowls, cups and mugs, utensils, tea towels and wash towels. When it was time to replace any of those items I simply stored them in the old lunch bags that I needed to replace and started using those on our camping, and road trips and now on our picnics.

When I have taken care of the things that can easily be replaced by disposable kind, having a waste free picnic will be way easier. I just make sure I have a thermos of hot and cold water with me, that will help us avoid water bottles and to-go drinks.

Of course, we take homemade sandwiches in gogoBags sandwich bags and fruits and salads in reusable containers. For more waste free ideas check out Plasticfreejuly they have a ton of waste free tips.