My nitrate free and smoke free home cured bacon

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Theres something irresistible about bacon.

Crispy, salty yumminess…

It sings Sunday mornings. School holidays. Summer. Family. Happiness. Freedom.

Yet the story behind bacon is not a good one.  Sad, forelorn pigs locked in cages far from the open paddocks they long for. Unable to turn around. Unable to walk; let alone run. Never having felt the sun on their skins. Our world is seriously f&@# up!!

The heart of my 40 year old self skips a beat every time I walk down the smallgoods aisle of a supermarket. Past the meat section with its open fridges containing long lines of cheap factory farmed meat.  The image in my mind of tortured pigs in cages in dark, cold, sterile piggeries to me are not unlike the pictures from genocide camps in WW2. I cannot, and WILL NOT ever buy this meat!!! I would rather go hungry.

Lucky for me there are choices. If you look hard enough there are options. I firmly believe that by the choices we make everyday within our food stores and our farmers markets we can change the way our food is raised.  Grown.  Produced.  And the way the human race treats it’s animals.

This is why I choose to buy only free range, organic where possible, ethically raised and slaughtered, grass fed and finished meat. The way meat should naturally be.  I don’t believe this is a financial choice only some can make. We all have options.  Reduce your portion size if you need to. Buy direct from farmers at your local market and cut out the middle man. You have a choice. We all have a choice. And if you care strongly enough, like me, have the guts to stand firm on it.

My nitrate free, smoke free, ethically raised bacon

  • A square piece of ethically raised, grass fed and finished pork loin or belly roughly 16cm squared; trimmed and rind scored thinly through to the fat
  • 1/2 cup Himalayan or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup Panela, Rapudura or coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tspn turmeric
  • 1 dash of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 dash of bourbon

Mix together the apple cider vinegar and bourbon I a bowl. Pour mix over the meat and rub in well, making sure it gets into the score marks in the rind. Then mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Cover the entire cut of pork with the dry mix, pushing it into every nook and cranny including the score marks. When you’re happy, place meat into a sealed container or glad bag. Place into the fridge for 3 days (longer for a bigger cut of meat). Toss and turn it everyday until it feels firmer to touch.

When cured, rinse the meat well under the cold tap and pat dry with absorbent paper. Place back into the fridge, uncovered and on a rack, for 24 hrs.

Roast slowly in the centre of your oven at 100 degrees Celsius for around 90 minutes. This is the time where you could also choose to smoke your bacon. (I choose not to due to the carcinogens found in wood smoke). Once cooked, chill again in fridge.

Slice and keep in fridge for a few days or freezer for a few months.  We have bought a meat slicer from eBay as it is a much easier way to slice your bacon. We have found the best results and taste with bacon sliced in 2-3mm slices. Thick slices seem to be quite firm.

Good luck!

xx

Eco babies

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There’s something very un-eco about having a baby.

From the nappies; to the constant loads of washing. The leaking boobs. The bottles of milk or formula tins; to the wasted food that ends up on the floor from a disgruntled toddler. The maternity clothes. The maternity pads. The increase in shoe size. Not to mention the Indian sweatshop you manage to keep in business with the continuous need for your baby’s new clothing sizes and then there’s the toys….. Oh the toys!

There’s some things with which you can find a way to hold fast to your eco ethics, some things you compromise on and some things you can do nothing about. The ethical treatment of animals, chemical use on our planet and maintaining a toxin free home are things that I will not compromise on when it come to the health of my family.

Here are some of the products I have trialled and have found to be all that I need for the personal care of my child.

Baby wipes

We purchased 10 reusable bamboo wipes from Green Kids nearly two years ago. We use them every day and they still look like new. It’s as easy as wetting them with water, one wipe (yep.. that’s all it takes! They are amazing!) and throw them in the wash. Simple. For out and about we use Water Wipes. Made with only water and grapefruit seed extract, they are the healthiest disposable wipes I have come across.

Nappy cream

The best nappy cream is fresh air but if you have to use something for a bad rash the best we have come across is raw coconut oil. You will need to apply thickly each nappy change over the entire rash but it works a treat!

Talc

For those hot summer days where bub is struggling with heat chaffing try Tinderbox Baby Powder. Made locally in Western Australia from tapioca starch, cornflour and essential oils, it’s as natural as can be and is capable of holding up against all those toxic baby powders on the market. It’s absorbent as it comes. And smells divine!!!

Nappies

I have written a previous blog on reusable nappies. If you are looking for a great compostable disposable nappy look no further than Ecoriginals, a Brisbane based family business. Look out for their fabulous nappy deals online.

Rashes

Pure Vitamin E oil, Suvana Pawpaw Ointment and organic unrefined coconut oil can heal anything!

Soap

Nearly two years in and we have never used soap or shampoo on our child. We wash him with water alone. Apart from his current flushed teething cheeks, his skin is beautiful. Our bodies are amazing. When we are born our bodies are covered by a white coating called a vernix. The role of this is to protect the newborn’s delicate immune system from invading bacteria. We chose to only cloth-wipe his skin after birth then wait a week before our child’s first bath to give him as much protection from his new world.  We all know that a good immunity comes from exposure to the world. He loves digging in the dirt. On the odd occasion we need to wash his hands rather than wipe with a wet cloth we use Dr Bronner Castille soap.

Moisturiser

Coconut oil. All you need.

Chest Rub

Perfect Potion’s Breathe Easy is the very best natural chest rub there is! Our son LOVES it. We rub it into his chest, his back, his throat and the soles of his feet both morning and night before rugging him up warmly. It helps the congestion enormously!

Cold and Flu remedy

By keeping their little guts healthy you can minimise the duration of most bugs. This is when probiotics are so important! Your child can have a dose morning and night in some milk (Our son is dairy intolerant so I use almond, coconut and rice milk. Rice milk has the same amount of calcium per serve as regular milk.)  Raw unprocessed honey on a teaspoon with cinnamon is a great flu remedy.  My son will have this quite a few times a day whilst he is ill. Also, a spoon or two of coconut oil will help the gut to heal.

Cleaning teeth

Jack and Jill have biodegradable toothbrushes and natural toothpastes that are a hit with the kids.

Probiotics

Such an important start to life is a healthy gut. As well as nourishing foods, probiotics can help maintain a healthy immune system. We use Bioceuticals BabyBiotic 0+ yrs.

Maintaining health

My toddler drinks a green smoothie everyday. I include superfoods like spirulina, wheatgrass, barley grass, gubinge powder for vitamin c, acai powder, cacao, chia seeds, Vital Kids multi-nutrients, bee pollen and raw, unprocessed honey.

I use turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, wakami flakes, kombucha and coconut oil regularly in our diets to help maintain a healthy gut.

Good health and good grooming need not be expensive and detrimental to your family’s health or the environment.

You mum’s rock. Looking after a child is the hardest job a woman can ever do. Baking the baby was the easy part. Be kind to yourself.

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xx

Fragility

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Every once in a while something shocks you. Strikes you down. Hits you hard. In the chest. In your heart. In your soul. Something that will stay with you forever.

Something that when it does, saddens me to the core. Makes me bleed.

A few months back it was an image of an orangutan. Covered in blood. Burned by humans, to death. The real face of the fight against palm oil. The real victims.

That image hit me hard. That image has changed me. It has made me more aware. It has influenced the way I shop at the supermarket. It has changed the products I buy. Palm oil is currently my enemy number one. I can fight with my wallet.

What absolutely knocked me for six was an image I came across on Facebook just the other day. An image so confronting that I will share it only on a link below. It was a photograph of a beautiful strong African male elephant killed by poachers. They hadn’t just sawn off his tusks, but had hacked off his entire face for the illusive ivory of his beautiful strong tusks. All whilst he was alive. Probably to save on time and bullets.

What???!!! Images like this distress me. Images like this and the orangutan haunt me. They make me feel sick to be human.

Unlike palm oil, this reality I can’t fight.

War, as much as it horrifies me to say this, I can deal with. Two sides, both human. Both with egos. The devastation it causes is tragic but is human created.

Famine, also so tragic, I believe is nature’s way of culling. Us, animals, plants…. It’s survival of the fittest. It’s Darwin’s theory of evolution.

What really hits me is human vs nature. One with a mind and an ego so big. The other much more fragile and innocent.

Both the orangutan and the stunningly strong bull elephant will remain in my mind forever. Both have lost their lives. But, both have made a life changing imprint on my life. Both have changed me as a human. Both have made me stand up ready to fight. To fight for the future of their species and of this beautiful planet we share. Neither, in my heart and soul, have died in vane.

I believe that education is the greatest teacher. Through awareness we learn. By acting on that knowledge we grow strong.

With enough noise, one man can change the world.

xx

Orangutan: http://www.greenerideal.com/science/0911-burned-orangutan-dies-result-of-palm-oil-demand/

Elephant: http://freespirithobo.tumblr.com/post/18623870552/his-face-hacked-off-with-no-conscience-or

My Eco Nursery

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b65f6cc3599eed35cb2175cb220992edWith only 2 months to go before the birth of our first child, the nursery set up has begun.

We are determined not to overload our nursery and our child with EVERYTHING.  There are so many children around the world who grow up with nothing….  Our child is lucky through the luck of birth to be born into the first world.  We hope to teach him how lucky we all are and to teach him awareness of the world around him by showing him firsthand.

So..to the Nursery.  With what we have chosen, we have tried to remain eco-friendly and organic where possible.

THE BASSINET

slide1We have been soooo lucky to have been given a Hushamok as a newborn gift by my mother-in-law.  It’s a beautifully designed organic baby hammock that is designed to mimic movement that the newborn baby has been used to within the womb.  It is designed to cradle them and gently rock them to sleep with each movement they make.  You can find some fabulous prices on secondhand sites such as Gumtree.

tetra_snuggle_bed_white_4There is also a gorgeous little organic swaddle bed by Tetra that would be a fabulous and potable bassinet that doesn’t disrupt your child’s sleep.  They also have wonderful and sustainable cot mattresses and pillows.

THE COT

There are many wonderful sustainable cots out there on the market such as

cot-600x600This cot converts into a table as your child grows…Soleil baby bed

ubabub_plywood-room-BAnd this one grows with your child into a toddler bed…..Ubabub

961d8a7cf08b50dc_cardboardcrub.previewFor highly biodegradable…..Cardboard Album

There are so many beautiful “green” cots to create a fabulous designer nursery with an eco edge.

We have chosen not to purchase one of these cots (as much as I would like to) because we have been very lucky to have been given a cot from a friend that is no longer needed.  Now I call that sustainable.  Recycling at it’s best.  Once again, if you’re not so lucky to be given a cot, check out Gumtree or a similar site to buy a secondhand cot.  Just remember, if you choose to paint it make sure you use low VOC or VOC free paints.  Just ask at your local hardware and tell them you need kid friendly paint.

SHEETS AND SWADDLES

product_images_ecoLinen_organic_bassinet_sheet_set1Now if you read my blog regularly, you would know how much I love Ecolinen Organic.  Ecolinen Organic have some beautiful cot and bassinet sheet sets for your special little oone.  Think the most beautiful sheets you have ever slept in, imagine they were 100% organic cotton and Whalllaaaaa!!! Divine!!

little_bamboo_muslin_wrap_-_mainFor swaddling, we have purchased some beautiful 100% bamboo swaddling muslin wraps from Little Bamboo.  Bamboo is such an absorbent, breathable and sustainable fabric designed to keep your child warm in winter and cool in summer.

gro-swaddle-fv1For something a little thicker Groswaddle make some 100% organic cotton swaddles designed especially for newborns.  They are cut specifically and are such a beautiful warm cotton weave that keeps babies so warm and snug.

REUSABLE MODERN CLOTH NAPPIES

I am a firm believer in using cloth nappies.  I understand every family is different and I will never judge others, but for myself there is no option other than cloth nappies.  Besides being reusable, they are better for the environment and your child’s skin.  Some question the water used for nappy washes and the detergent, but today’s modern cloth nappies are sooooo much more than the terry towelling squares that were used on us as kids.  Once rinsed, they can be placed in a normal washing load with other clothes, require biodegradable detergents only and do not require soaking or whiteners as they are designed to remain white when dried on the clothes line in the sun!

CBHomeCollageCocobaby have THE most beautiful designs for their MCN’s.  Butterflies, spots, floral patterns…… I can’t tell you how divine they are! Their sizing is one-size-fits-all from birth to toilet training.

9807d420-d7ba-4419-8739-84c17e1683e7If you are looking for one-size-fits-all pocket nappies with insertable bamboo liners that you can adjust depending on your requirements, look no further than Green Kids. I think the design of their nappies is pretty clever and the bamboo inserts are so absorbent.  Within the pocket, they draw any moisture away from your child’s skin meaning the nappy can be worn for longer between changes.  They also stock fabulous bamboo reusable and washable wipes that I intend to use each and every nappy change.  So soft and absorbent on your child’s skin.

I have also been very lucky to have been given some fabulous new nappies from a girlfriend.  These nappies are from some fabulous companies.  Baby Beehinds, and Bonnibuns as well as other brands.

Every child is different and I have been told that what nappy brand leaks for a friend’s child might fit your child perfectly.  Therefore, I suggest you purchase one or two of each nappy brand you like and try them before purchasing a full set.  A full set can be around $600 but if you compare that to the $2000-$4000 cost of disposables over the same period, I think it’s fabulously worth it!!

TEETHING AND SOOTHERS

There is much debate over whether you should “dummy” your child.  I say whatever works for you and your family.  Hevea_children_forside_rubber_naturally_designed_1Hevea manufacture some fabulous natural rubber dummies and teethers.

logoVULLI_0250(800x532)My mother-in-law knows me so well and had given us a beautiful Parisian “Sophie le Giraffe.”  A wonderful 100% natural rubber teething toy that has been a favourite with French children since 1961!  How stylish!!

PRAM AND CAR SEAT

productimage-picture-stroller-g2-119_jpg_580x420_q90The “greenest” pram I can find is the Orbit G2.  Made with Orbitgreen certified fabric, it is the world’s first stroller with all fabrics and foams certified safe by Oeko-Tex® Standard 100.  It is also BPA and PVC free.  Only problem is it is not currently available in Australia.  Orbit also make a fabulous baby car capsule that clips into the Orbit G2.  It uses safe flame retardants in it’s manufacture without the potentially harmful chemicals, PBBs and PBDEs, used in most other car seats.  I looked at importing one of these into Australia, but as they are not currently certified to Australian standards, if you have a car crash and the child is injured or worse, you as the parent must wear any court findings including manslaughter….. Scary I know!!  Therefore, I have chosen instead to purchase a secondhand running pram on Gumtree and a new baby-to-4-years Australian certified car seat and fit them out with a natural sheepskin fitted liner that is washable and will minimise skin contact between our child and certified flame retardant fabrics.

CLOTHING AND TOYS

PurebabyPure Baby is a truly beautiful organic Australian children’s clothing brand that is all about social conscience.  Their clothing is divine!

cocoome_pj_bj_and_romper__20174.1365908723.1280.1280A friend of mine runs a fabulous organic children’s sleepwear company called Cocoome.  Many children’s pyjamas and onesies are coated in a flame retardant chemical, hence why organic is so important for our children’s sleep.  Amanda’s designs are beautiful.  Tell her I sent you.  You’ll love them!

eco_toys_1Ecotoys have fabulous wooden toys and organic cotton dolls for when your little one grows and starts to interact.  Wonderful toys that are also highly stimulating.

Some other companies that have toys that I love are Alimrose Designs and Moulin Roty.  bg-000-009Alimrose Designs are stunning Australian designed dolls, toys, bibs etc that are sooooo unique and divine!  The company gives back to Save the Children Australia and Bear Cottage, a respite and palliative care hospice for children & young people with life limiting illnesses & their families in Sydney, Australia.

2_Biscotte_et_PomponMoulin Roty, as far as I know, are not eco but they do have some of the most beautiful traditional wooden toys and plush toys you will ever see designed by a French toymaker.  For a classic, unique toy that will be pride of place for a lifetime, look no further…

NAPPY BAG

Screen_Shot 2012-05-22 at 4.49.36 PMI have chosen a tote bag from Apple and Bee as my nappy bag.  A fabulous Australian company that is carbon neutral and commits itself to having the lowest minimal impact on the environment that it possibly can.  They also stock a fabulous range of bibs, nappy mats, library bags, lunch boxes, totes and accessories for kids and adults of all ages.

MOBILES

mobilecribPetit Collage have some stunning mobiles for your child’s nursery.  Made in the US from sustainably harvested bamboo, all the images are laser cut and assembled by hand.

I have chosen though, a beautiful white handmade Indian dream catcher similar to this to be hung over our baby’s cot.

98e8d4de0094675b0b541bce17c5d935Sweet dreams baby…….xx

0dfeb4de0501a272e2a6054ee0d9e529♥♥♥

Nitrate-free Corned Beef Silverside

The verdict is in!  The organic beef brisket/silverside that I corned at home a few weeks ago without nitrates was voted by ALL that tasted it as “the best corned meat they have EVER tasted!”

With winter rearing its head here in Australia, we are all turning to yummy, bone-warming meals to warm our souls.  My mother used to do a mean Corned Beef so this is always a favourite in our house.  Previously, we have bought the raw store-corned nitrate loaded version, but after how easy and how yummy it is to do yourself at home, NEVER again will I cook a store bought version.

Picture-14-Modern-Gas-FireplacesNitrate is a preservative found in many meat products including bacon, salami and many smallgoods.  It is considered carcinogenic and has been linked to cancer.  What better reason to avoid it at all cost!

Here’s the recipe I adapted from another who had apparently originally adapted it from Alton Brown’s Good Eats.  It will take at least 10 days in the fridge to fully corn and you can freeze in the brine once done.

Corning your meat

  • 2-2.5kg organically reared beef brisket/silverside
  • 2 litres water
  • 1 cup himalayan rock salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 tsp allspice powder
  • 12 juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Place the water into a large stockpot along with all the dry ingredients. Cook over high heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved. At this point it smells beautiful!

Take brine mixture off the stove and leave to cool to room temperature.

Once it has cooled, place the meat in a zip top bag or large glass container with lid and add the brine.  Seal and lay flat, cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 10 days.   Check daily to make sure the beef is completely submerged and flip over to stir the brine.

Cooking your Corned Meat 10 days later

  • 2 white onions, whole and peeled
  • 3large carrots, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 2-3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp agave syrup
  • 10 cloves

After at least 10 days, rinse the meat and place into a slow cooker or a pot just large enough to hold the meat.  Add the above ingredients and cover with water.

In a pot, bring to the boil over low heat and simmer for 3 hours until the meat is fork tender.

In a slow cooker, set to low and leave for 7-8 hours.

Remove from the pot and thinly slice across the grain.  In our house we serve it with the onions, carrots, white sauce, mashed potato and peas.  Yummo!

2166932-baked-corned-beef

 

xx

Is the Vitamix all it’s cracked up to be?

Well my beloved Breville glass blender whirred it’s last spin last week which left me with a MAJOR dilemma!  I have smoothies EVERY morning….. Without fail!  They are my nutrient-packed start to the day!

blend

Now, I could’ve gone out and bought any blender… Instantaneously!  But, oh no… I researched and researched.  I am not a fan of our disposable society.  I cannot buy another blender only to have it end up as landfill in a years time.  I am buying for life!

smoothie

So, there’s the Vitamix that came in at number one.  A full powered mega machine that creates smoothies, ice cream, soups and even mills your own grains, coffee and nuts.  Sounds pretty impressive hey!  There’s also a Froothie and Optiblend that are quite similar and get rave reviews.  But for me, aside from the cost, the one main turnoff is the plastic jug.  I know they say that this plastic is safe……. For now.  After having a massive cleanout of plastic from my kitchen last year due to finding out that toxic chemicals in plastic may have contributed to my micro adenoma, I was not about to bring another new plastic item into my kitchen!!!

So alas began my search into high-powered glass jugged blenders.  Here are the ones that I found.  Sadly there aren’t many…

  • Oster 4093Beehive
  • KitchenAid 5 speed
  • Waring Pro Mega mix, Waring Beverage Blend and Waring NuBlend ( comes with a plastic jug but a stainless steel one can be purchased separately)
  • Magimix le Blender

They all vary in price, wattage and design.  Ultimately my choice came down to what best suited my use.  I eventually chose the Magimix le Blender.  A lovely glass jugged machine with simple buttons, an amazing 1200 wattage, quiet operation, the ability to make soups, ice cream and mill grains and nuts (YES! Like a Vitamix!) and although it comes with a three year warranty, the knowledge that Magimix are made to last.

4

I’m in love with it so far.  Let’s hope I’ll still be raving about it in ten years time!

As for my beloved Breville, it’s not heading to landfill.  It’s off to be recycled.

xx

Happy Easter

DSC_0203_2451-1Wishing you and your family a truly special Easter break.  For those that celebrate, may you be surrounded by those you love and may you be blessed with new life and new beginnings.

There are always ways to remain earth-friendly during this time.  Why not buy palm oil free Easter Eggs to save the Orangutans (details for Aust/NZ are available on my facebook site), plant a tree for new life, go vegetarian for the day to save a life, make peace with your neighbours for a new beginning and then, make craft with the kids out of all those left-over wrappers before you collapse on the couch with a chocolate hangover!!

Image courtesy of www.sarecopeland.com.au

Here’s an oldie but a goodie! ♥

Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hopping down the bunny trail.
Hippity hoppin’,
Easter’s on its way!

Bringing every girl and boy
Baskets full of Easter joy
Things to make your Easter
Bright and gay.

He’s got jelly beans for Tommy,
Colored eggs for sister Sue.
There’s an orchid for your mommy,
And an Easter basket too. Oh!

Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin’ down the bunny trail.
Hippity hoppity
Easter’s on it’s way! 🙂
Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hopping down the bunny trail.
Look at him stop and listen to him say,

“Try to do the things you should.”
Maybe if you’re extra good,
He’ll roll lots of Easter eggs your way.

You’ll wake up on Easter morning
And you’ll know that he was there,
When you find those chocolate bunnies
That he’s hidden everywhere.
Oh!

Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hopping down the bunny trail.
Hippity hoppity
Happy Easter Day!

xx

Burma. A land of extremes. A land of contrast.

image2As the sun rises on Burma, the dust and smoke from wood fires of the night before still linger in the air. Through the hazy smog, what is seen is a land longing to look to the future. A land longing for a future.  A bright one.

From its glacial Himalayan mountains, to its dense lush jungle, to its stunning coral reefs, to it’s dry plains of ancient civilisations, Myanmar, as it is now known, is full of surprises.

My husband and I have traversed extensively in SE Asia.  And by traversed, I mean truly traversed. We have spent time in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and now Myanmar.  We travel by train and by local bus, moto and songthaew.  Journeys are rough.  Journeys are difficult.  Journeys are long and bumpy.  Journeys can be shared with chickens and pigs.  And snails.  Eels. And hundreds of people.  No room to move. But we feel this is the only way to truly see a country; to get off the highways and out of the airports.  To get away from the “farang” and head deep into the truth of a country.  It’s life and its people. We strap on our backpacks and hit the road.

They do say the joy is in the journey right?!

Well, Myanmar is proving a little more elusive a beast. As independent travellers Myanmar is not easy.  Travel in Myanmar is full of “cant take anymore” tears.

Some people book tours, stay in lovely colonial hotels and have a fantastic experience. Travel agents and guides are found.  Flights are booked around the country.  Hotels have hair dryers.

As an independent traveller, regions are closed to you, guest houses are minimal, beds scarce, and travel information hard work to find and travel even harder.  Why, you ask? It can’t be that hard?

The reason is the Junta.  The Burmese people live under severe oppression.  Human rights are non existent.  Torture is commonplace.  Free speech is only a dream.

The Myanmar people have not known freedom for a long time.  When the British colonised in 1826, they found a land with very unique and different ethnic clans.  It was not an easy colonisation on either side.  Bitter fighting and an unceremonious partnership.  During WWII, the Japanese were initially welcomed into the country by the people as an ally against the British. Upon recognising the brutality of the Japanese, it was realised the English were the better ruler and success prevailed!  In 1948, Burma was given its independence and became Myanmar. Almost immediately by default, Myanmar launched toward a military government.  Since 1958, the Burmese have lived under a military dictatorship that rules with an iron fist and that held Aung San Suu Kyi, a people’s elected leader, under house arrest for a total of 13 years.  Finally there is hope with a newly quasi-style government.

This is a country wanting to open to the world but is so scared at the same time.  There are so many secrets hidden deep within that the authorities do not want the “west” to know.  That is why independent travel is so hard.  It is nearly impossible to get off the “beaten” track.  There is civil unrest, ongoing fighting, daily torture and areas closed to foreigners for no reason at all.

The easier road is so tempting.  The lure of relaxed looking tourists being driven around is oh so tempting!   European package tourists step on and off clean buses in immaculate clothes, seeing the best of the country’s sights.  The sad underlying truth of these tourists is that virtually not a cent of their money (US dollars mind you!) will end up in the hands of the people that need it most, the local people.  The Junta have a hand in every pie. Businesses with strong government links own and/ or manage the big hotels.  They run the package tours.  They own/ or control the airlines.  So effectively, tourists are unknowingly funding the atrocities of the Junta.  By travelling your own road, by staying small, by eating local, by travelling slowly, by spreading your money around and by supporting the sellers on the street you are maximising the money going to the local population.  By volunteering in schools or finding a family and buying them what they need, you can take it one step further.

With our windswept hair, our simple clothes respecting the culture, our “thannakka” coated cheeks and our dusty feet covered with the sands of Bagan, hubby and I are heading deep into the cultures of those that we meet.  We are hearing their stories.  We are seeing their worlds. We are learning of their world. We are getting an insight into their religion and beliefs.  We are testing out their language.  This is the gift we will take away.

We struggled long and hard in whether it was ethically right to travel to Myanmar.  As we “bounce” through the countryside slowly, we are happy in the fact that we are touching the lives of a few of these beautiful Burmese people, albeit nowhere near as much as they are touching ours.  They truly are such a beautiful race.  So poor, yet so rich in life.  So scared, yet they speak so openly and honestly.  So oppressed, yet so many are educated and speak impeccable English.

“Australia! Kangaroo!”

This truly is a land of contrast.

As the sun sets over the great Ayeyarwaddy River tonight and the smoke and dust haze returns, lets pray that tomorrow brings in it’s wake, another little sweet scent toward freedom for Myanmar.

xx

NB This post was written ten days before it was posted.  It could not be posted until we crossed the Myanmar border into Thailand for fear of government persecution to those whose internet service I could have used.

Our Homegrown Tomatoes…

Tomatoes.  So easy to grow. So rewarding to grow. So fun to grow…roma_tomato_6-20-12

We are picking close to ten tomatoes every few days off the three vines we have planted in our garden.  Such a bountiful crop!  Traditionally considered a fruit, tomatoes are packed full of Vitamin C, vitamin A and Lycopene.  Lycopene is not an essential antioxidant required in the human diet but it is non-toxic and has been linked as a potential fighter in the prevention of certain cancers in the human body.  Tomatoes also help the body in fighting our harsh Australian UV rays.

Here’s a little fact.  Tomatoes have four chambers within them.  And so do our hearts.  Funny that, as it must be nature’s way of letting us know how good eating tomatoes is for the health of our hearts!P1010415

We grow Roma Tomatoes as both my family and myself are susceptible to salicylates.  Roma tomatoes contain the lowest levels of salicylates of all tomatoes.  Almost all foods contain some form of salicylate.  It’s a substance that acts as a natural preservative and insecticide.

What better way to celebrate your beautiful home-grown tomatoes than with them taking pride and place on top of your own home-made pizzas!

P1010422I will share with you soon my husband’s fabulous gluten-free pizza dough.  He is a fabulous home-taught breadmaker and his doughs, pastry and breads are divine!

xx

Happy New Year!!

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As this new day dawns full of energy and life, the world is full of new beginnings.  Those fireworks signal the start of a new year. The remnants of Christmas very quickly disappear.  Another year down and regular life begins again.

Time to make time.  For you.  For your family.  For your lover.  For your life.  For life itself…

I hope your Christmas break has been truly special and I wish you and your family a wonderfully successful 2013 where dreams really do come true!

So long Christmas…….

The “living” Christmas tree has been beautiful…..  But it seems like a lot of effort for just a few weeks of Christmas cheer.  And what do you do with the (now dying) living Christmas tree?

Natural-Christmas-Tree-Decorated

They are renewable; they absorb carbon dioxide and they create oxygen. So why not recycle?  Right……HOW?

SYDNEY: Every Wednesday between the 29th of Dec and the 19th Jan, the Sydney City Council is offering a free pick up of pine-Christmas trees. Once collected, these trees will be composted.

MELBOURNE: Melbournians check with your local councils.

ADELAIDE: In Adelaide there is no pick-up service but nurseries should accept used trees.

DARWIN: Take your tree down to the Shoal Bay Waste Disposal Site and there the trees will be disposed of correctly.

Unfortunately in CANBERRA, PERTH, HOBART and BRISBANE, there are no recycling programs at this time. Never fear though…

If you need help recycling yourself why not borrow a mulcher off your neighbour and make some compost of your own?  Or if you have a pond or dam?  Tossing in your Christmas tree actually helps the fish by providing shelter and nutrients.

As far as live and artificial Christmas trees compare; the pine trees are much better for the environment…  And by turning your pine tree into compost you are preventing methane from entering the atmosphere.

Next year, I have found an even better idea!  I will be going for an “ECO CHRISTMAS TREE.”  Finally an Aussie company that is renting out real, “living,” potted Christmas trees, 1.8m high, for the same price as a cut pine.  After Christmas they go on to plant your tree in a plantation.  Now THAT is a fabulous idea!

Let’s make 2013 the year of sustainability, health, tree hugging and banning everything toxic in our homes wherever we live. Cheers to the future! x

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My Merry Christmas

“Living Green in a Modern World” is not about going without.  It is not about foregoing quality and a modern way of life.  It is about choosing ethically, choosing responsibly, choosing with a conscience and most importantly living consciously through every moment in every second of every minute of every day.  And about being consciously aware of where we all sit in this web of life.  And this universe.

Christmas is a time of mass.  Mass consumerism, mass spending, mass expectation.  For the general population, everything is large!  For me, Christmas is much richer than that.  Christmas is a time to stop and celebrate life. Celebrate love.  Celebrate family.  Celebrate the fine thread of life.

Three years ago my family had a very different Christmas.  A Christmas spent in an Intensive Care ward, watching and waiting for that fine thread of life to choose whether it would hold on or snap.  This Christmas, 2012, is the first Christmas since that my family can and will all come together and celebrate that fine thread and the choice it made three years ago…. It chose “Life.”

I must say I am a tad excited!

Sure…. We buy presents for each other.  We have a big feast.  We stuff ourselves silly and then spend the rest of the afternoon rolling around on the grass trying to rid ourselves of the agony in our bellies.

In my house, we don’t have a different Christmas.  We have a responsible one.

Presents are chosen because they are actually wanted or needed.  They are bought responsibly, from independent quality retailers and small designers.  All Australian.  Beautiful wrapping paper is folded up and reused again.  Ribbon is collected.  Packaging is recycled or goes into our compost.

Our designer menu is selected with seasonal produce in mind.  Fruit and veges are bought through local farmers at our local Farmer’s Market.  Any cut of meat is chosen responsibly and ethically.  It is then bought directly from the farmers who raise the animal responsibly through a free range, organic method that has given THE best life to that animal. The meat is then cherished and respected for what it is.  A life that has been sacrificed for our table.

Off cuts of food feed our compost.  Leftovers are kept.   If not homemade, condiments are bought in jars not plastic.  Herbs and selected veges are picked fresh from our garden.  Food is prepared fresh, not out of a packet.  No food goes to waste.

The table is decorated with flowers from our garden and gorgeous beeswax candles.  Our tablecloth is linen.  Our napkins are linen.  Our crockery ceramic. Cutlery, a mix of stainless steel and silver.  Glassware always glass.  Nothing is landfill here.

Beautiful Christmas carols are downloaded online rather than bought as cds.  The atmosphere is euphoric.  We are comforted knowing that our electricity bill is going towards green power.

Of course, we know that we are lucky to be able to afford these choices.  But then for the small cost, what kind of world would we have if we didn’t?  We all have a choice…

At the end of the day, we will choose to sit outside under a beautiful star lit night.  Under the moon.  And remember our place in this universe.  And give thanks for that thread of life.  For life would not be worth living without it.

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas.

xx

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My wickedly healthy, awesomely yummy banana smoothie

There is no better way to start the day than with a fresh and super healthy smoothie.  Here is my favourite banana smoothie…

SARE’S WICKEDLY HEALTHY, AWESOMELY YUMMY BANANA SMOOTHIE

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2 bananas

150ml biodynamic apple juice

1 handful of ice

1 tespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon agave syrup

2 good tablespoons of natural greek yoghurt

Whack it all in a blender and whizz!! Yummo!!

For a chocolatey version, just add a tablespoon of raw cacao powder.  Tastes just like a Boost King William smoothie but LOADS healthier!

xx

Ethical Phone Apps for the Supermarket

As much as we try to avoid it, we all shop in supermarkets.  They are quick.  They are easy.  They are everywhere.

In this fast world of consumerism our supermarkets are a place of mass confusion to people like you and me.  Where do you start when it comes to choosing ethically??

Well there are two phone apps that I LOVE to rely on!

SHOP ETHICAL – $4.49

Available for iphones and androids, this app guides you through every aisle at the supermarket, rating every brand and giving you the choice of what you buy.  Featuring the most up to date data from the Ethical Consumer Guide, this app gives you information on over 3800 products.  It tells you who manufactures them, their principles, the ingredients they contain etc… So finally you’ll know which products contain palm oil!

You can also access this guide in hard print from http://www.ethical.org.au/shop/

SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD GUIDE – free

“The fish we choose today will directly affect the health of our oceans tomorrow” – Australian Marine Conservation Society.

This iphone app is fabulous when you are looking longingly through the glass displays at your local fishmonger, giving you an insight into the sustainability of over 100 seafood species commonly found at our fishmongers and in our supermarkets, fish and chip shops and restaurants.  It tells you where the fish comes from, how it is caught and whether it is responsibly fished.  Once again, helping you to make an informed ethical and sustainable choice whilst saving the health of our oceans at the same time!

The app also includes the FABULOUS  “Greenpeace Canned Tuna Guide” to help you sort out your tunas in the supermarket aisle.  Absolutely priceless!!

The guide can also be bought in print form from http://www.sustainableseafood.org.au

I’m sure there are plenty more apps out there on the market that help us change the world one product at a time whilst we shop.  These are two that I use on a day to day basis.

I’d love to hear from you if there’s an app you’d like to share.

xx

Uashmama – A paper bag you can wash

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UASHMAMA

A paper bag with the texture of leather.  A paper bag you can wash.  A paper bag with a life span of a leather bag.  Made in Italy with virgin fibre from cultivation not deforestation, Uashmama bags are DIVINE!!!  I just stumbled across them in Harvest Deli in Newrybar yesterday and already I am in “lurve” with mine!!

To wash, just handwash in 50 degree water with a little handsoap or detergent and dry flat.  They come in brown, black, white and grey.  For everyday use or so special you can use them in homeware displays. Use for lunch, your grocery shopping, in your laundry, as a vase or planter, or a rubbish bin… The uses are endless!!!

They have even released special gold and silver Christmas designs that are made to weather and look like alfoil.  These look amazing!!!

Made in 5 different sizes these bags are ready for every use you can imagine.

This Lucca based family run business even make gorgeous shoulder bags, aprons, paper light shades, and totes.

You can find Australian stockists here http://www.objettrouve.com.au/Stockists.aspx

Yay for Uashmama!!!

xx

Eco Gift Ideas for Christmas

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As Christmas comes around again, so to starts the dilemma of present shopping.  What would Uncle Bob like?  Will Cousin Sandy appreciate her present this year?

Then if you are like me, there are the bigger questions… How can I minimise my impact on the environment this year whilst avoiding consumerism?  By promoting local Australian made?  By giving gifts that keep giving?

Here are some suggestions if you are looking for ideas:

For the ladies:

Queen B Candles

Beautiful Australian made beeswax candles

Polli

Using plantation timber and recycled stainless steel, Polli make the most wonderful jewellery right here in Australia!

Bambu

Beautiful kitchenware and homewares made from completely renewable materials.  Not made in Australia but I adore their totally renewable cork bowls.  Such a feature table piece to talk about!

Madonna Bain

Organic and eco luxurious underwear.  Australian made.

Ecolinen Organic

THE most beautiful bedlinen you could EVER sleep on!!!  They also have a fabulous range of bathroom and baby linen as well as organic pillows and doonas.

Apple and Bee

With THE most gorgeous totes and purses, Apple and Bee is a must!!

Ecovault

Stunning iphone and ipad cases handmade from brass etc in a little shop in Brooklyn NY.  Something your gal will cherish forever!

Solar powered lanterns

Divine!!

Eco yoga mat

Made from TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer) foam, these eco yoga mats contain no latex, PVC or rubber and they use no toxic materials in their manufacture.

Handmade linen ballet flats

So beautiful!  Made with cotton canvas and hemp and found on Etsy.

Mokosh

An Australian organic skin care range that has the most fabulously smelling massage oils, body butters and soaps!!

EcoTools

Environmentally friendly make up brushes etc.

Or what about a gift card for a fabulous local masseuse or beauty bar?  Or a specialist eyebrow shaping?  Or a gym membership?  Local dressmaker?  By supporting local you are keeping your money in Australia where it is needed.

For men:

Organic Wine

Why not buy him a beautiful case of Australian made organic wines?

Automatic Solar Powered Mower

Leave it to Husqvarna to come up with it!!

Envirowheels electric bikes

Get him out and about without sweat!  Great for the commute to work!

Bamboo MacBook Case

Stunning!

Holloway Sunglasses

Stunning sunglasses made in Brisbane out of recycled skateboard decks.

Keep Cup reusable take away coffee cup

An Australian made reusable take away coffee cup for his coffee on the run.  BPA free.  And you can even design your very own design on the website!

Bokashi Bucket

Australian made composting bucket that works right in your kitchen.  Reduce your landfill whilst improving the soil in your garden.

Stonemen

Not eco but seriously cool and they ARE Australian made and donate to Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace, Surfers for Cetaceans and My Life.  This November they are donating to Movember – supporting prostate cancer and male mental illness.

Adrenalin Gift Vouchers

They may not all be eco friendly but at least you are supporting Australian businesses whilst feeding your man’s need for speed!

For the kids:

Avoiding Chinese made and by giving a gift that keeps giving and teaches your kids along the way…

Skipping Pebbles

An Australian small business bringing back the games of elastics, hopscotch and skipping ropes.

Cocoome

THE most divine organic sleepwear and pjs for kids!!

Eco Toys

A treasure trove of eco toys, gorgeous teddybears and eco versions of the good ol’ favourite toys we had growing up including a gorgeous eco bug catcher that will last generations!

Balloon Balls

Imagine a ball that the kids can use inside!!

My Munchkin Home Santa Sacks

Not eco made but OMG!!  The cutest and totally reusable Santa Sack for generations to come!

Decorations:

Have you met Miss Jones

Made from ceramics in the Phillipines, these decorations are THE most divine things you will ever have hanging on your Christmas tree.  These will become hand me downs!

And if all those ideas are still not right for your special one or many, there are some amazing charities that you can choose to donate to this Christmas both in Australia and abroad.  You can adopt an orangutan, save a koala, buy a goat to feed a village, etc..etc.. You can even volunteer to help others on Christmas day.  Just google and you will find!

Now THAT truly is the gift that keeps giving!!

Happy Christmas Eco Shopping!!

xx

Organic meat vs conventional farmed meat

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Why eat organic meat?

There are many reasons to choose organic meat over regular farmed meat.  Both health wise and ethically.

  • You will find more Omega 3s in grass-fed pasture ORGANIC meat.  As we all know, Omegas 3s are essential in reducing risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc.
  • ORGANIC meat contains up to five times more CLA, a fatty acid called Linoleic acid which reduces your risk of cancer.
  • A 170 gram ORGANIC steak has 100 less calories compared to a regular steak.  It also contains less saturated fat.
  • ORGANIC meat is free from toxins, antibiotics and hormones.  Because ORGANIC animals are not fed animal by-products there is no risk of mad cow disease to you or your family!
  • ORGANIC meat poses a low risk of carrying E.coli.

Not to mention the ethical reasons!

  • ORGANIC farms use renewable resources, conserve water and don’t require the growth, transporting, waste and use of bulk feed.
  • ORGANIC free-range animals are free to roam, socialise and show their instinctive behaviour 365 days a year.

There is no denying it…… ORGANIC meat IS unfortunately more expensive to produce and that is why it is more expensive at the counter. By paying that little bit more at the counter, you can sleep easy knowing that your money is going into the health of you and your family.  Knowing that you are making a difference to the lives of our livestock animals when you put your money where your ethics are.

You can even go one step further and choose your meat by choosing the farms that you trust.  Choosing farms that look after their animals humanely.  Choosing farms that protect their animals from stress all the way through the meat process.   Choosing to shop at local farmers markets where you can talk to the farmers who love their animals.

Why not choose one or two days a week for your family to go meat-free?  There are fabulous vegetarian recipes that will have you not even missing meat they’re so good!!!  The animals will love you and so with your health.

The most fabulous farm I have ever come across for ethically raising their animals is Pasture Perfect in Australia:

http://www.pastureperfect.com.au/organic

Have a good look around their website and their FAQs page.  You could not ask for happier, healthier animals!  Pasture Perfect are just about to open an online store so you can order directly from them.  I don’t eat much pork at all as I have always had trouble digesting it, but I can tell you this pork is DIVINE and no trouble on my stomach!  Their Chrissie hams are THE BOMB!!

I am sure there are many other fabulous farmers out there doing similar work.  I would love to hear from you about your favourites!!

xx

PS Did you know that pigs have the cognitive ability of a three year old child and that chickens can recognise up to 100 different faces?  Amazing hey!

The Backyard Gardener

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Okay my fellow animalarians (yes, it’s my word and I am taking it global!), I am on a mission to return us all to a society that finds chooks in backyards across our cities!!!

As well as the obvious eggs, chooks are weeders, pest control, fertiliser and lawn grub eaters.  They make fabulous pets to boot with every chicken having such independant personalities!  Your garden and your health will thank you.  So too will the kids!  Not to mention, the hundreds of thousands of battery chickens that exist for one year only inside a farm and never given the chance to ever do what is instinctively natural for a chicken, to scratch in the dirt and feel sunshine on their gorgeous little backs.  Yes I am a chicken lover.  I was converted after seeing the Jamie Oliver special on the chicken industry.  How wrong our intensive farming principles are!!!  Two of my four “girls” are ex battery hens and I would never believed it if I didn’t see it but the first thing they did after spending their entire 18 month long lives in a cage was instinctively scratch when they first touched soil.  I nearly cried!!

As we have recently moved to Perth from Brisbane and are now renting, I sadly had to leave my beloved “girls” in the loving hands of a friend.   Somehow, landlords just don’t seem to understand my cause!!   I dream of the day that we purchase a home and I can return to a life surrounded by “girls.”  I now have to buy my eggs which I hate, but through my local farmers market, I have chosen a specific farm and know that although I can’t assure their chickens of their lives after egg laying, that my eggs have come from happy chickens in paddocks in the sunshine.

And yes, my husband now calls me a “crazy chicken lady” but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Neither would he!

xx

Kale…The super food

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I have recently discovered Kale.  This superfood is amazing!!

my-new-roots-kaleKale contains amazing levels of Vitamin A,  Vitamin B9 (folate), Vitamin K, alpha-lipoic acid and lutein.  Therefore, it’s an important food in the fight against stroke, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and depression.  It fights infections and regulates blood clotting.  In fact, research conducted by the Angiogenesis Foundation in Massachusetts suggests that kale may be effective in blocking angiogenesis, making it much harder for cancer cells to grow and multiply in the body.

Therefore, why wouldn’t we all include kale in our daily diets!!!

Here are two recipes for a breakfast smoothie that are just divine!!

Blueberry Banana Punch

1 banana

A handful of frozen blueberries

Half an apple

A small handful of kale

200mls of biodynamic apple juice

Teaspoon of chia seeds

Ice.

Whizz in blender.

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Monster Juice

A decent handful of Kale

1 cheek of frozen organic mango

1 banana

200ml of biodynamic apple juice (if you can’t find, the Nudie nothing but apples is good)

dash of coconut water water (100mls ish)

squeeze of lemon (this releases maximum iron from the kale)

A handful of ice.

Whizz!!

YUM!!!!!

xx