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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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!
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!
July is here and so is the Plastic Free July. We are halfway through the year, the best time to review our goals and see if we are on track.
2020 has been an unusual year so far with the ongoing pandemic. Our way of life has changed dramatically. To avoid spreading the COVID 19 virus many of us started using plastic disposable gloves, disposable masks. Our shopping even changed. The stores didn’t accept reusable bags at one point, some still don’t. The bulk section of the regular stores is either closed or everything is prepackaged in plastic bags.
Unfortunately, the pandemic added and keeps adding a lot of waste to the landfill. I can’t say it’s an unnecessary waste as the personal protective equipment is necessary to keep us all safe. But to offset that waste we need to be even more accountable for the waste we are creating in our homes.
Here are a few simple ways I can think of.
If you are not a health care professional there is no need for you to use disposable masks. Invest in a couple of reusable masks and wash them frequently. Using reusable masks you want to make sure each member of the family has his/her own mask. Keep the masks in a proper pouch. Our snack bag makes a perfect mask keeper. If you don’t have a snack bag any small purse or pouch will do, just make sure it has been cleaned and sanitized.
A lot of restaurants are offering take out instead of dine-in. Support your favourite restaurant by ordering takeout. When you place your order check if they accept your reusable container instead of their disposable. Something you always have control over is using your own cutlery. We always have a set of our reusable cutlery for each member of the family in their favourite utensil bag in the car. That is just in case we want to stop somewhere for a takeout spontaneously.
The other thing we have total control over in pandemic is refusing disposable straws. Same this I do have 4 straws in one of our straw bags in the car ready for when we are ready for a drink. We also have a few extra ones at home for when we bring anything home.
I’m sure there are tons of other things that we can do to reduce our plastic waste. These are just the simplest one that can be done in a matter of seconds without too much work or compromise.
We are running a Plastic Free July challenge/contest on Instagram and Facebook.
We are one week into summer and it’s getting exciting. I love all seasons, I love walking in rain and snow in fall and winter and love the rebirth of nature in spring but summer is something else. It stands out for me, gives me more energy than any other season. Maybe it relates to my favourite childhood memory.
I remember picking fruits in my grandfather’s orchard in summers. It was exciting to go there play in the dirt, climb a fruit tree, sit up there and eat fruits right from the branch. I was free labour but I didn’t mind it I would pay myself with fresh pick fruit. I think I ate more than I put in my pail, but nobody cared.
It was fun to see all those fruits to be picked and boxed to send away. I was too young to know if my grandfather actually sold those fruits to stores or not. I do remember that sometimes there was just too much fruit so my mom would turn my grandparents garage into a market. She would sell these luscious fresh fruits to the neighbours. It was fun to run around the neighbourhood nock the doors and inform the neighbours of the fruit sale.
Now we know where do I get my entrepreneurship gene 😉
Then it would come days of turning those fruits to something that we could use for the rest of the year. Nothing would go to waste, that’s the beauty of it. The fruits that were ripe and looking good would go to neighbours. The ones with a few dots or something would be turned into jams or canned. And those that were just too ripe or mushed would be turned into sauces or fruit leathers.
Now you can imagine how I look at fruits and vegetables in my household. Exactly like in my memory, nothing goes to waste.
Here are a few tips and ideas on what to do with different fruits when you have too many of them or they are going to go bad.
This is the perfect way of preserving fruits that carry a lot of water. Plum fruit leathers are my favourite, and something we made a lot when I was a kid. You can turn any kind of berries or fruits into fruit leather. They are a perfect healthy snack especially if you don’t add sugar to your puree.
Making sauces is perfect for the end of summer extra tomatoes you pick from your garden. Or if you just have some tomatoes that are just too soft to add to any dish. I make small batches just to avoid the fruit to go bad and keep in jar in the fridge. When I have more sauce I add that to the jar too. To make this last longer in the fridge I add a little bit more salt into my sauce. If I have too many small batches of sauce added in one jar, I cook the content of the jar once more so that all different batches cook together.
Canning or pickling
This goes for a lot of fruits and vegetables. Green peas, peaches, apples, cherry tomatoes. I do love canned cherry tomatoes, not sure if I’m doing it right or not but it works for me. Whatever leftover I have of cherry tomato that are going soft of me. I broil and then transfer them into a jar then I add salt garlic and olive oil. It’s a nice garnish to any pasta sauce.
Same with cucumbers I have a jar of saltwater and garlic and every time I have extra cucumber it goes in there. Not gonna lie, I don’t even make the saltwater, I just keep the juice of the store-bought pickles for this purpose.
That is given, and one of the most used forms of preservation. Berries, apples, peaches, grapes, even peppers can be turned into healthy homemade jams with little to no sugar added.
The freezer is my friend in the kitchen. I do freeze everything that I can’t cook to something else or if I don’t have time to do that. Things that come to mind that I freeze are bananas, grapes, berries, peaches, watermelon and melon balls. The best way to freeze these is spread around on a parchment paper on a tray uncovered in the freezer for a few hours and then transfer to a container or a freezer bag. I do use a silicon freezer bag and sometimes Ziploc bag which I wash and reuse many many times.
There you have it. These are my ways to keep fruits from going to waste. Share with us your way.
A friend of mine once said to know how to save money in the kitchen is key to a comfortable and successful life. I tend to believe her, the kitchen is the center of every household around the world and how you work in the kitchen and spend money in it will determine your household budget and lifestyle. Over the years I came up with these money-saving tips, they probably not new but simple enough that we can forget them from time time. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much money you make, but how do you spend it and on what.
Money saving tip #1 – Cook From Scratch
A lot of food helpers on the grocery store shelves are just there for companies to make money. They don’t have any nutritional value, they are full of salt and sugar and come with a lot of packaging. I don’t really see the point in them. Your dish will taste better and will have more nutrition if you use simple ingredients and cook from scratch. Things that I never buy or rarely buy are pasta sauces, hamburger helpers, and mac and cheese boxes. All of these can be made easily with fresh ingredients or a mix of fresh and frozen with way less sugar and salt and way more nutritional value. And of course with a fracture of the cost.
Money saving tip #2 – Dehydrate Herbs
This is a no brainer. I’ve started dehydrating herbs when I started gardening mostly out of necessity because I hated to throw out perfectly good mint just because I had just too many of them growing in my garden. The result was amazing, the smell and taste of the mints I dehydrated myself compared to the store-bought was not comparable. And it wasn’t that hard, I just had to cut the mint and wash it lay it on a towel to air dry and then slowly get dehydrated. After a few weeks, they become crunchy enough that you can crush them and put them in a jar (that hopefully, you reused from a store-bought something 🙂 )
Here is a trick, I use one of our fresh salad bags to dehydrate the herbs after they dry enough but not crunchy I transfer them to the fresh bags and hang them somewhere airy, it’s just there until I need it.
I don’t plant every herb that I use but every time I buy a fresh herb that I’m not going to use up completely instead of letting them go bad I dehydrate them. Having a homemade dried herb will reduce the need of buying the all different seasonings that are available. Let’s face it all those seasonings are nothing but a mix of different dried herbs and salt and maybe pepper. Google the seasoning ingredient and mix up your own. If dehydrating herbs is not your thing, buying individual dried herbs will still save you money over buying the seasoning itself. You can work with the individual hers way better mixing them to create your own seasoning, adding them to your pasta sauces, dressings, and marinades will add so much flavour to your dish.
Money saving tip #3 – Use The Freezer
Buy family packs or stock up when there is a sale, then freeze the extras for later use. We do this a lot with meat and poultry. We normally buy family packs or more than we need when there is a special going on, then portion and freeze them for future use. This method is good for a few reasons, we immediately save money for buying at a lower price, we have reduced the number of trips to the grocery store, which will save on gas and the obvious thing, the less your go grocery shopping the more money you save. And we have what we need to be creative and make different meals when we feel like it.
Money saving tip #4 – Have A Shopping List
This has been said in so many money-saving articles out there. You won’t impulse shop when you have a list. Well if you follow your list and not buy everything on your list and the things you tell yourself you need but forgot to put on the list. Don’t fall for that, if it’s not on the list it’s not needed. I have a tip for the shopping list though. My shopping list is based on my weekly meal plan, but to take advantage of the sales when I’m at the store. I have alternatives builtin to my list, so I can take advantage of the specials while sticking to my list. My shopping lists are based on my meal plan for the week which on its own is created in a way to even save more money and ingredients. That will be on another blog post.
Money saving tip #5 – Use Up Those Leftovers
I’m not a fan of eating leftovers but it happens we have leftovers from time to time. To save time in the kitchen sometimes I cook more so I have leftovers for the days I don’t feel like cooking. It’s all about the perception we have about leftovers. I find it if I portion the extra food to freeze before I serve I don’t tear it as leftovers. Even if it’s not much, take that portion out of the way before serving it, if it’s not there at the dinner table, it’s not considered leftover to the kids. I portion the amount I feel is going to be leftover in my freezer dish before serving it to the family. If they need more, I bring that out if not I freeze it when it’s cooled down. We have that leftover later in the week or in a couple of weeks and it’s not a leftover it’s just frozen dish.
I also freeze the smaller, individual portions. Those are the worst, if they end up in the fridge no one wants to have them and they go to waste. I freeze those and we have restaurant-style dinner when I have enough individual portions for the whole family. Then everyone can pick what they want to each from the menu and have that. We all have our favourite food that was once leftover with maybe a fresh salad and drinks to make it even more special.
The ultimate money-saving tip is to go shopping less often. I’ve been looking at our spending in the past few months that we were in quarantine and I noticed that we spent half of what we would spend regularly. It’s interesting because except for going out for coffee nothing much has changed, yes we don’t go to restaurants anymore but we have increased our take-outs to both support our local businesses and create some sort of variety for the kids. After a lot of contemplating and analyzing I decided it should be because we just go shopping half the normal time. I can’t tolerate the long line ups so we tend to go shopping less often and buy everything we need in one or two trips a month. That should be it when you don’t go shopping you don’t spend as much.
What are the money-saving tips you can share with us? Leave us a comment.
So many of us all over the world are trying to figure out the best course of action towards maintaining a zero-waste lifestyle. These unprecedented challenges have created a new approach to how we use what we need and how we discard what we don’t. If you were on a waste-free path prior to the pandemic, you might have encountered that your lifestyle drastically changed especially while trying to stay focused on your health. As the tidal wave begins to calm, we find ourselves processing this enormous and significant experience as a collective. This is what will define us from now on and set us apart from the past: The individual response becomes as important as the collective one and community awareness takes the central stage.
For us right now, our part is providing a place of hope where we can be an encouragement to one another. We are working hard to produce masks so that we can avoid waste, allow sufficient stock of the disposable ones for Frontline Workers and stay healthy, together.
In the midst of hard days like these, we believe more than ever there is room for connection, reflection, and inspiration. We want to look back on this time knowing we clung to hope and loved well, embracing all that our health and the health of this planet represents for everyone, today and all the days to come.
Here are 5simple swaps we can help you with to continue in a plastic, waste-free mindset during these regenerating times:
1 – Mesh Produce Bags instead of plastic bags.
We’ve created the softest, strongest most flexible bags we could source with material that is made to last. They include a string closure and they are very easy to care for, just rinse and lay or hang to dry. These will keep all the produce plastic bags away from landfills in an easy and effortless way.
If you are a Tea drinker we encourage you to try reusable bags with your loose leaf tea. It is an easy and convenient way to avoid waste while staying healthy,
3 – Reusable Snack Bags instead of plastic bags.
These are for all your snacks and sandwiches to go. We have created the signature Snack Bag Set to make our lives easier and have an amazing tool to stop waste. These multi-purpose bags come in a variety of prints for the entire family and they have become a favourite as well.
4 – Fresh Salad Bags to avoid food waste.
One of the biggest concerns in our household was food waste. Since we created the Fresh Salad Bags that have been one less worry on our minds. These bags are specially designed to keep greens fresher for longer, up to 10 days and they help you purchase lettuce without plastic wrapper because you know once you get home it will be kept fresh.
5 – Reusable Masks instead of disposable ones.
We have been providing hundreds of masks for our community and we are honored and humbled to be able to do so. In a time of change and defiance, staying true to our convictions has played a huge role. Thank you for your support.
We wish you a happy weekend, be sure to come back each Saturday for a new Blog Post on wellness, eco-awareness and to share our passion for a sustainable future.
One thing I learn from the pandemic is that being zero waste enthusiast and knowing a lot of DIY comes quite handy when you need to stay home and not every services and stores are open. I have to say my self-care and beauty routine has not changed because of the pandemic.
I use beauty salons from time to time and get an occasional facial but pandemic or not pandemic most of my self-care and beauty routine happens at home by me. From taking care of my skin, coloring my roots, doing my nails to shaping my eyebrows.
I’m just one to those people who like to learn things to do themselves. And that came quite handy in the pandemic both for me and my daughter. The other day she proudly called me an essential oil mom. I had no idea there was a term for it. But she is right I’m an essential oil mom, I’ve got some sort of home remedy for almost anything and everything. I also make a lot of my own beauty products, from lip balm to sunscreen and serums.
I did tap into making my own sunscreen around 9 years ago when my daughter developed a skin sensitivity to the combination of sunscreen and chlorine. We still don’t know exactly what is she allergic to but I know if she puts store-bought sunscreen and goes to the pool, she gets a skin reaction that stays with her for days. What I learned soon is that she is not alone a lot of kids are just like that they are sensitive to the chemical reaction of chlorine and one of the ingredients in the sunscreen. So I make my own and solved the problem.
Since sunny days are coming I thought sharing my recipe would help. Now I had made two different types of sunscreen one that is like a cream and another one that is a serum. I like the serum kind better it is moisturizing can apply better but needs to be applied more often.
Sun Protection Face Serum
A lot of essential oils provide UVA and UVB protection. Among them are Raspberry Seed Oil, Carrot Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil and Coconut oil. There are many more that you can research about but these are the ones I tried and used. Not only they have sun protection quality some also have vitamins and fatty acids that have anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory qualities.
Here is the recipe for my Everyday Face serum that has some sun protection
Jojoba Oil, 15ml
It resembles the skin natural sebum and absorbs well into the skin. This quality makes this oil the perfect carrier oil for mixing and diluting any essential oil. It is rich in Vit A + E effectively treats bruises, psoriasis, sunburn and chapped dry skin. Jojoba contains anti-inflammatory Myristic acid with SPF 4.
Raspberry Seed Oil 30 drops
This oil is rich in omega 3 + 6 fatty acids and antioxidants. It offers UVA and UVB sun protection and is similar to titanium dioxide protection, found in most mineral sunscreens. In addition to providing SPF 8 UVA and SPF 28-50 UVB protection, it also helps heal eczema and psoriasis as well as prevents stretch marks.
Tea Tree Oil 20 drops
Tea Tree Oil has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps with acne and itchy skin. I use this to keep our face as clean as possible. My teens use this serum and so far had minimum acne on their face.
Lavender oil 20 drops
It has inflammatory properties and it’s soothing to the skin
Rosehip oil 30 drops
This oil is packed with anti-inflammatory fatty acids and vitamins A and C. It has anti-ageing properties and firms the skin.
Use a 30 ml glass bottle preferably dark color. Your essential oil serum will preserve it’s the quality better if it’s in a dark bottle and away from light. And remember never store essential oils in a plastic bottle, plastic can leach into the oil the combination is not healthy.
Working with essential oils is both fun and dangerous. You can get severe skin reactions or even skin burn if you use too much and undiluted oil. Like anything else you need to do a patch test on your skin to make sure they work with you.
If you are trying any oil or a combination of them for the first time I suggest trying in smaller doses and in single oil and gradually increase the dose and add other oils to make sure you don’t have a reaction to them. Safety comes first.
Both my daughter and I use this serum daily, sometime a few times a day depending on if we were in the sun or not. It feels great on our skin and I feel my skin is firmer and brighter than before.
It’s May!! I love the month of May, not just because I was born in May because you get to feel the change in the weather and our nature. The flowers and vegetables are in bloom. It’s just beautiful, don’t you think so? And May has always been the start of my gardening season. Not that I’m a serious gardener. I’m using gardening as a form of therapy and stress release.
A couple of weeks ago, I took our Insta TV audience to my garden and told them what I’m planning to plant. Interestingly I got a few private messages from fans that they want to start gardening and don’t know where to begin from—asking me what is the easiest to plant for beginners.
I’m no gardener, but I thought to share my experience and expand on gardening for beginners.
So if you’ve been gardening for a while, this blog post is not for you. It has nothing to offer except my personal stories and opinions 😀
But if you are new to gardening and want to spend the minimum of the time doing so, just looking to plant some practical crops for your use and a few flowers to make your space come alive, keep on reading.
Prepping your garden
As I said, I’m not a gardener. I garden to meditate; weeding is a form of stress relief for me. And it can give you the pleasure of achievement immediately as you can see the result right away. Caution: when you start weeding, make sure to decide on the space you are working on to get that satisfaction as weeds are all around, and sometime you can’t get to all if you have a large piece of land to weed.
As you guessed it, your garden or planter may have a lot of weeds to pick. The first thing you want to do is to clear the area you like to plant. The less weed your garden bed has, the better. Having said that, if you are new to your area or gardening, you need to know your weeds. Don’t pull anything that is growing a lot in your garden.
Here is a funny story about that.
When I moved to Canada and had my own garden for the first time. Obviously, I decided to garden. I was familiar with weeding since I was a kid in Iran. My mom loved gardening, and plated are sorts of things in our backyard garden. One of my spring and summertime chores was to help her with weeding. So the first thing I did started pulling weeds in my garden. Soon I realized that I’m dealing with different kinds of weeds.
I knew some plants enough not to mistake them with weeds. But there were some that I wasn’t familiar with and there were a lot of them. So I started pulling them one by one. Luckily the previous owner of the house we just bought came for a visit. She saw me pulling these plants and immediately screamed “Oh NO do you know what are you pulling?” turned out I was pulling her strawberry bushes one by one thinking they were weeds 🙂
So know the weeds in your area before starting pulling something especially if you are working on a previously owned garden.
Here are few weeds safe to pull:
Dandelions: You can use the young leaves in salads, but they are considered weeds as they can take over your garden soon if not contained.
Crabgrass: No use for these, and if not pulled when young, the root can go way down the dirt and pulling can be difficult, get to them as fast as you can.
Bindweed: These are like snakes. They are vining plants that can take over your garden and kind of chock your plants and flowers. Be careful to pick then when they are young and just came out; when grown, they can be tangling your plants. Pulling time when tangled your plant can damage your plant, make sure to cut the tangled part and then remove the rest safely to avoid damaging your plant.
Cinquefoil: These are the most persistent weed I ever encountered. The definition says they are found in neglected lawns. No, they are wrong; these are everywhere, and it doesn’t matter how you care for your garden. They come back, and you need to pick them. The spread with creeping stem, and I find that if I get to them when they are young, or they stem just rooted, I can pull them easier. They’ve got beautiful yellow followers, though, but I don’t suggest you wait until they bloom.
Moss: And finally, moss. Picking moss may be the simplest thing ever, but you will lose a layer of your soil doing so. It’s best to remove the moss as much as possible as it will mess up with the moisture of your land, and therefore your plants won’t have the right amount of moisture they need. Too much or too little water both are damaging to your plants.
So here is the first step. Part One. Prep your area for planting. Now, if you are just starting in planters. All you need to do is to get some well-draining planters. Before shopping for planters, decide on how much time do you want to spend watering your plants. If you are a person who likes to spend a few minutes every day watering the plant, get the ones that drain right away, the best kind for your plants. If you are not willing to water every day and prefer to do that once or twice a week, get the self-watering kind. The ones that hold on water and don’t drain right away.
We will expand on picking your plants to plant next week.
What do you suggest? Which one is your favourite gogoBag? Most common questions I’ve been asked at farmers’ markets, craft fairs and trade shows. Can you pick a favourite child? I don’t think so. You love them all the same amount may be in different ways.
GogoBags are like my children. I was there every step of the way. Created them with care and love, picked every fabric imagining the bags in the hands of moms, dads, and children alike. Most of all, in every step of the way from imagination to production, I have you the end-user and our planet in mind with love.
So no, I can’t pick a favourite, but I can share which ones I use the most and how I use them.
These bags are the staple of gogoBags we started our like with them, and to be honest, we haven’t changed the design or the fabric type since we created them ten years ago. They are just a bit larger these days.
Now I use these bags a lot, and I mean a lot! We sent them to school every day, of course. But I have used them for more than just snacks to school. Here is a list of things I’ve used these in the past ten years:
Small change purse
Organizer tool for my children when they were younger. The would organize their tiny toys or small blocks in them to carry to a friend’s house or just to keep them separate. They each had different designs to make it easy for them to know what belonged to who
Road trip snacking system. You have no idea how many road-trips our bags been through. I don’t even get in the car without these bad boys. Each kid has his print of the bag in the car. During the car ride, they would pass their bag to the front to get it filled with fun and a variety of snacks that I’ve already bought and prepared in bulk. We saved so much on single-serving packaging. I can’t even count
As my breakfast-to-go bag. If you followed me on social media, you’ve seen pictures of it. Having breakfast is important to me, but I don’t always have time to have them before I have to leave the house. Over the years, I had so many breakfast sandwichs in my handy sandwich bag next to my coffee in the car.
A compost bag! Yes, you read it right. I even used them as compost bags. A sandwich bag can hold a lot of things in it. On picnics and out and about, we have a lot of snacks, healthy snacks like oranges and pistachios and other snacks that have peels or shells that are tiny and organic that we can compost later. Every family member has one of these bags next to them for their organic garbage. When we get home, we empty the bag in our compost bin and wash the bag as simple as that.
Ok, maybe I pick a favourite after all. These are my lifesavers. I always had a problem keep vegetables fresh in my fridge, and that would be a cause of friction between my husband and I. I love having certain vegetables in my fridge at all times in case creativity strike, and I like to create something new. There are a few vegetables that help me with a lot of salads and meal creations, like celery, mushroom, carrots, cauliflower, and herbs like parsley, cilantro, chives. These are the staples of my fridge and also the kind of vegetables that can wilt and be useless very quickly. Since the creation of the fresh bags, we haven’t had that problem at all, no friction too 😀
But I don’t just use the Fresh Bags to keep vegetables in the fridge. Although this is the main reason we created them and the primary use of these bags, I also use them for other things as well.
We keep raw avocados in the fresh bag in the fridge and take out one a day to prevent them from ripening all at once. It works like a charm
I have used them to prepare a few days worth of cut vegetables for snacking. Having them in the fridge in a fresh bag that written on,” I’m cut vegetables pick me first! ” next to a container of dip helps everyone in the family to choose a healthy snack in an instant.
I’ve taken them to package-free stores. Use them as a container to buy flour, tortilla chips, nuts, rice, pasta, you name it. They are lighter than any container and easier to carry with me.
Used them to make dehydrated herbs. Simply wash and dry the herbs with a tea towel, and transfer in the fresh bag, hang it in a well-ventilated location. Your herbs will dehydrate without losing their nutritional value due to heating or losing their color due to sun exposure. And you won’t use a lot of energy to do this. If you decide to use this method, remember to leave a lot of space in the bag, don’t fill the bag with too much herb. While the herbs are still very much fresh and not dried up yet, check the bags and share the herbs once a day or so, just to make sure the leaves are not sticking together to go bad before they dry up. This step is only needed for a few days until the herb is not fresh and looks dried up but not completely dehydrated, then you can leave it until you feel it’s dehydrated enough to crush.
At the moment, I’m experimenting with Bananas. I have a few bananas in the fridge in a fresh bag to see if I can slow down the speed of the ripening and go soft and black. We’ll see how it goes.
There you have it. These are the ways I use Snack and Sandwich bags and our Fresh bags. I thought I couldn’t pick a favourite, but in the end, it seems like my favourite is the Fresh Bags.
It’s the first day of spring. The air is soft and the sun is shining, birds are chirping. The Earth is celebrating its rebirth. Last night was my New Year, Persian New Year, Norouz, Spring Equinox. If it was another year, I would be out with my family visiting our extended families and friends and celebrating with them. This year is different, my husband and I together with our two teenagers are in two weeks quarantine in our home. We just came back from a spring break vacation in Mexico and now for the safety of others, we are in quarantine. And it should be that way. This year we are celebrating through social media and video chats. Paying a virtual visit to our family and friends. Can’t say I love it. But I’m so grateful for the technology these days. As human beings, we need to stay connected to continue living and the technology will let us do that for now.
Norouz has a special place in my heart. I think it actually has a special place in everyone’s heart in the northern hemisphere. Not because it’s Persian New Year but because it marks the first day of the spring. No matter what is happening in the world you just need to look out the window and see how nature is rebuilding and rebirthing and recreating. No virus or even human being can take that away from the mother Earth. Right on the clock, it starts a new cycle, starts over and starts rebuilding and creating. Together with all the birds and animals, we celebrate that with or without knowing it.
In the light of COVID19 my 15 years son said something that really stuck with me, got me thinking. He said ” Isn’t it scary? As the human race, we think we are on top of the chain and we still can’t figure out how this tinny little virus works. We think we know so much but actually we don’t”
Mother Earth knows it all. Look at it with or without COVID19 Norouz happened the flowers are blooming, nature is continuing the course, we are stuck at home, figuring out this new way of life until there is a solution.
To mother earth, you found a way to keep us indoor and heal yourself :)
First of all, today is International Women’s Day! Although this day is not a national holiday, it is still a very important day to remember for both men and women. This 2019, the motto for the year is “Balance For Better”. The focus is all about balance.
The first original “National Women’s Day “ started in New York by the Socialist Part of America in 1909.
Finally, in 1975, the United Nations adopted the term International Women’s Day.
In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly has their member states to adopt the International Women’s Day of March 8th as a day for “Women’s rights and world peace”.
International Women’s Day 2019
Since 2010, the committee for International Women’s Day began to focus on different themes and issues that women often faced in their daily lives. Hence, this year of 2019, the theme is “Balance For Better.”
According to this year’s theme, balance representation among men and women in our communities, like boardrooms, workplaces, is very important.
It is time to really think about the cultural, social, economical and political achievements of the women all over the world. We should be able to easily find more information about them. There should be more support to help increase this balance.
One excellent way to support this International Women’s Day is to look for businesses run by women. Then, you can start to support the women entrepreneurs in your community. You can either support their businesses through purchases or you can show your support through social media! Every single “like” and “share” that you do on social media platforms help increase their exposure.
So you have decided what to do on Valentine’s Day, and with whom…You may have invited one or more of your loved ones…. Finally, you ponder on the type of gifts that you can give to display your caring heart. There are too many disposable gifts that are made of plastic being sold during Valentine’s Day. Zero-waste presents do not have to be costly and can come from deep within the heart.
Gifts For Adults
To be honest, some folks out there may believe that Valentines Day presents need to be expensive. Fortunately, zero-waste means better for both the environment and your wallet. Just because the present does not cost an arm and leg, doesn’t mean it doesn’t come from the heart.
Eating out at your favourite restaurant can be very costly on Valentine Day. So, what can you do….
Think about taking your reusable grocery bags for a run and pick up some fresh produce. Make a simple, but heartfelt meal, then go for a walk. You can even turn this into a cooking- together date.
Gifts For the Young and Young at Heart
Instead of buying the typical prepackaged candies and Valentines cards, you can make some yourself with any level artistic level you prefer. Just remember to emphasize the usage of recycled decorative materials. You can also visit your local candy shop to purchase some sweet treats to fill up mason jars as gifts. You can purchase some pretty fabric scraps to tie as ribbons for decorations. What a sweet idea!
In the beginning, the Americans used the term Black Friday around 1952, as the day after Thanksgiving Day in the United States. This term described the heavy traffic that happened after Thanksgiving Day. Many people would take the day off after Thanksgiving Day. Having this extra day off would make it a long weekend. Black Friday’s heavy traffic caused a lot of disruption in the city. Hence, this was considered “black” Friday.
Afterwards, in the early 2000s, retailers promoted Black Friday as the start of Christmas season shopping. This was also known as the day that retailers supposedly began to be profitable—“in the red to being in the black”.
2) Great for the Economy
At first thought, people believed that this increase of purchasing and spending would be wonderful for the economy. Black Friday often displayed extreme discounts and special promotions. At this moment, you might be noticing that these Black Friday specials are advertised around you now.
Have you ever thought about the items being advertised as benefiting the environment too? Or were they only benefiting the big box businesses out there?
3) Great for the Environment
First of all, Black Friday could be an excellent shopping day for the environment. You could start by focusing on local shops around your neighbourhood. One of the worst type of pollution on Black Friday was the terrible and heavy traffic that could happen. Hence, if more people walked to their local shops and businesses, there would be less air pollution too.
Secondly, local shops often carried products that require less travelling; therefore, they needed less or even no packing material. Less packaging helped to reduce the amount of plastics in our garbage. Futhermore, these plastics often accompanied many overseas-made products.
Lastly, for those who lived farther off and away from the city, you could shop online. Similarly, you could search for local entrepreneurs who owned personal online stores.