Thursday, 1 May 2014

Free range vs cage eggs

D and his ladies, back in 2008.
I started getting to know chickens on a more personal level after D started keeping some. They are such beautiful and amazing animals. Simple yet intelligent and incredibly amusing.

They have such soothing soft clucking noises that had a calming effect on me. When they decide to have a good old dust bath in the sun, you'll see feathers and dust going everywhere. They'll run to me when they see me (I'm not delusional, I know it's only because they think I have food, not because they love me). And to a certain extent, they're such peace-loving, timid little creatures that choose to freeze and cower when they sense danger. How could you harm something like that?

I have always tried to steer clear of cage eggs because of the documentaries I've watched and articles I've read that detail just how cruelly hens are treated in these "farms" (they're more like a factory, really. A windowless, dark and crowded factory). But getting to meet and rear these gentle little ladies have made me even more determined to buy free range.

Free range eggs are a little dearer, but when you watch clips such as this, you really can't buy cage.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Chunky basil and cashew pesto with coconut oil

Click on the picture to read the recipe
All the talk about my little basil plant reminded me it was time I made another batch of pesto! And so I made this up and shared it with our food buying group.

Basil plant (right) after being harvested. Still lots to go!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

How does your garden grow?

My aspirational farmer of a husband has somehow gotten me extremely interested in gardening, perhaps because nothing beats the feeling and idea of walking out of our apartment on to our little garden ledge to pick what we would like to eat.

Our little jalapeno and basil seedlings when we bought them back in October 2013 - our first married couple purchase!
The pot on the far left houses daffodil bulbs that needed to be unearthed and stored away for next spring.
A month later and we have jalapenos and a bush of strange pointy basil leaves
Basil is just about one of my most favourite herb/plant because it smells so amazing and I absolutely adore a good basil pesto. With our basil plant thriving, I started wondering if I could "grow" a new one from a cutting. So I snipped off a little stalk from our existing plant, stuck it in a tiny container of water for a few weeks and little roots started growing from its stalk! When the roots looked long and established enough, we planted it into its own pot.

There were only four leaves on the plant when we first planted it. Look at it grow!
With the cool of autumn setting in, it's time to research the best fruit or veg to plant for the season!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Interview with a wordsmith

To be honest, the only thing I knew about Kel Richards prior to our interview was the he was the author of the highly hilarious and yet reverent and relevant The Aussie Bible. The book made an impact on me because it proved to me that Christianity can be fun and attractive. 

Needless to say, it was quite an exciting day for me when a media release about his latest book arrived in my inbox, opening up the possibility of an interview. The cherry on top? While a fictional novel, the lead character of his book was C S Lewis, one of my favourite authors.

It was an interesting process thinking up questions for Kel. My research gave me the impression that he was a real thoughtful and intelligent man, and I wanted my questions to count.

I am not entirely sure if I managed to accomplish that, but I enjoyed reading his answers. Answers that reflected a deep love and passion for God.

You can read my Q&A with Kel Richards here.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Bulk food storage

I've talked a little about the urgency with which we need to reduce the amount of waste we generate – in particular plastic – because of the rate with which trash is slowly overtaking the planet we live in, with dire consequence.

Then there's this video, that talks further about how food and packaging waste have an "insidious, long-term impact on our environment, our wildlife and ultimately our own health".

Besides being a cheaper option, another reason why D and I started Purely Bulk Foods to buy food in bulk is because it reduces the amount of plastic packaging that is used. It's a slower and more thoughtful process because you don't have the convenience of simply grabbing the item you want and go. You actually have to think about bringing something with you to contain the items you purchase. But I think, and hope, that it's merely a shift in habits.

And a win-win way to do this is to reuse jars and containers that previously came as as packaging for some other food you've purchased. I have a collection of clean pasta and jam jars at home, ready to be used as vases, piggy banks and food storage. They do look rather pretty once you've removed the labels by soaking them in hot water (you can use eucalyptus oil for the really stubborn ones).

I got a bunch of Moccona (coffee bean) jars off Freecycle a while ago and they have come in very handy for storing some of the whole foods we've got. Add a bit of washi tape to help with labelling—in case you can't remember everything you've got and confuse plain flour with self-raising flour—and away you go!

And yes, I know we need to get more cashews.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Too busy

Image from 'The Busy Trap' article page
Have I ever reflected on 'The Busy Trap' article by Tim Kreider, published in The New York Times blog? It made such an impression on me when I first read it in late 2012 that I was telling everyone about it. I did a sermon at church on it, I wrote an article about it and I was probably relentlessly sharing some form of its message on my Facebook page. So it is with some surprise that looking through my archives, all seems to be silent on the blog front.

It could be because, ironically, the 'busy' level in my life went on steroids shortly after I read the article. So much so that I virtually stopped blogging in 2013.

If you haven't read the article, I strongly recommend you do. But maybe finish reading my post first :)

In the article, Tim basically talks about how 'I've been really busy' has become the go-to response whenever we ask someone how they are. He goes on to explore how it could be because of the values society puts on people who are 'busy'. Being busy gives the impression that you have a life worth living for, that you mean something to someone and that you are industrious and hardworking - both admirable qualities at the best of times. And so we crave the idea of being busy, perhaps even get addicted to it.
Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work. They schedule in time with friends the way students with 4.0 G.P.A.’s make sure to sign up for community service because it looks good on their college applications. 
But he questions the real meaning of it all and how we could be using it as an excuse to perhaps hide the emptiness of our lives. And it's become something we accept, perhaps even expect.

The reason why it made such an impression on me is because I felt Tim was describing me. To this day, I still get nightmares about not studying for an upcoming exam (I graduated from uni twelve years ago and my Master's program the last three years did not have exams) and for not handing in an assignment on time (can you tell I have some form of stereotypical over-achieving Asian gene?).

When I'm not doing something I consider 'productive', I start to feel nervous and guilty. Should I really be playing Toy Defense 3: Fantasy, should I really be sitting here doing nothing, should I be reading this trashy magazine? Ok, so maybe I really don't need to do the last thing, but the point is, I feel like I need to do something that will contribute to something: housework, work work, research something, write an article . . . relaxing just sounds so . . . wrong. And even when I'm doing something, my mind is hurriedly ticking away thinking about what else I can do next.

D is the master when it comes to relaxing. I'm not saying he's lazy. But he savours and enjoys the moment that he's living in. He appreciates what he has to do, what he's doing and has a much healthier emotional and mental state of mind than I do. He takes care when he does something and puts serious consideration into everything. If I'm constantly on fast forward, he's on my version of slow motion. I suppose between the two of us, we get some semblance of normality.

I do wonder why I am the way I am. I don't think it's because as Tim diagnoses, that I like to feel important or that I need to know that there's some meaning to life—as a Christian, I know I am important to God and that's all the matters, and I firmly believe that my meaning in life comes from a relationship with God. So why am I still addicted to busyness?

For the moment, it's a question I cannot answer. But what I can do is not be busy. To not feel guilty about not packing in every single second of my life with some form of 'productive' activity. To not flit from one thing to another, be it physically or mentally. To remember to breathe. To live in the moment.

And most of all, to not say 'I've been really busy' when someone asks how I've been. Because if I had to say that, it's simply because I've chosen to bite off more than I can chew.

Monday, 10 March 2014


Took this photo a while ago for a competition by 3M Command hooks/strips but thought it would be interest to share over here too.

I present to you my "bedhead", comprising two strings of photos and a line of fairy lights bought in Bangkok years ago, all held up by two little 3M Command hook. They look even more awesome when the bedroom is illuminated only by the fairy lights, but my camera is too substandard to take a proper photo.

Is it time to admit I have a bit of an addiction with these little hooks that don't harm your walls (important when you're living in a rented place)?
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