I used to be able to read in the car for hours and hours. When my family and I were on the Cabot Trail, I missed most of it because my nose was stuck in Tom Sawyer. Sadly, I can’t even be a passenger in a car now without feeling ill, and I certainly can’t read.
Before our road trip around the Toronto area last year, I decided to buy some anti-nausea wristbands. The online reviews were mixed, but I figured it was worth trying since they aren’t drugs and, therefore, have no drowsiness or other side effects, they’re reusable, can be machine washed, and have little to no waste associated with them. Plus the ones I bought weren’t expensive; less than $15 for a pair of the home brand from Shoppers Drug Mart.
The anti-nausea wrist bands work by applying pressure on points on each wrist. In Chinese Medicine, acupressure is the technique of applying pressure to acupoints and meridians in the body. Acupoint pericardium 6 (P6), the one we’re interested in, governs the movement of energy in the chest, harmonises digestion and stomach, regulates blood flow and calms the mind. The bands apply pressure on the pericardium six (P6) acupoint on each wrist by a plastic stud.
There have also been some ‘Western medicine’ studies on done these types of bands, which concluded that accupressure could be using the gate control theory of pain relief. This theory proposes that non-painful signals, such as pressure on the acupressure point, closes gates to the central nervous system to pain signals. This means that you and I feel less pain.
Regardless of what Chinese and Western medicine have to say, my experience with these bands is that they WORK! I can now travel in the car without a headache or nausea. Plus, I can read on my phone if necessary without worrying too much that I’ll start to feel nauseous. Sadly, I still can’t read in the car or bus for long periods, but I’ll take what I can get.
Let me start by saying that my skin has never been particularly problematic. I got the occasional hormone fuelled blemish, but my skin was generally clear. Since I switched to washing my face with a microfibre cloth and water then moisturising with oil, my face has been perfectly clear!
My first facial oil was the nourishing facial oil from Suki. I wasn’t sure how much I’d use the carrier and essential oils that I needed to make my own and wanted to test whether it worked for my skin before diving in head first. As you can probably guess, it was a big success.
I’ve moved on to making my own facial oil. My current facial oil is a mixture a grapeseed oil carrier oil with lavender for regeneration, tea tree for its antibacterial properties and lemon for wrinkles. When I need to restock, I’d like to try a combination of sweet almond and grapeseed carrier oils with myrrh for strength, carrot seed for UV protection, lavender for regeneration, and geranium to lighten spots.
I find it works best to fill my container about half full with the carrier oil, put in the essential oils and then top up the bottle with carrier oil. That way I’m sure all the essential oils will fit in
It’s recommended to keep your facial oil away from heat and light as it can change the chemical composition of the oils. I store mine in a transparent glass container, which is not ideal. However, I store it in the cabinet in our bathroom, where there’s minimal heat and light.
2. Gently swirl the oils together
Vigorous movement can damage the oils, and is not recommended.
To use your facial oil, take a few drops and spread over your face. If, after a few minutes, my face feels oily, I’ll take a cloth and wipe off any excess. More than a few drops are unnecessary.
A few months ago, a friend of mine who created This Renegade Love (which, if you haven’t checked out, you totally should!) wrote an inspiring article about 35 things she wants to do before she turns 35. While I’m nearly a year past my 35th birthday, it got me thinking about the things I’d like to do before I’m 40. So I made a list of 40 things to do before I turn 40.
Making this list was a lot harder than I expected it would be. I didn’t want to be negative or stifle my creativity, but I also wanted to be somewhat realistic about what I could achieve in four years. For example, there are some travel related things I’d like to do, like visit every continent in the world. This unfeasible in the short-ish time period and limited budget, so I included two of the four continents I haven’t been to, leaving the other two to visit before I turn 50.
So without further ado, here’s my list of goals for the next four years. I feel like I have dreamed big enough to make all of these a challenge to complete.
1. Feed myself (partially) through a vegetable garden.Our apartment has a small outdoor space where I experimented (unsuccessfully) with container growing last year.
2. Run regularly. Which leads to my next goal:
3. Run a half marathon.
4. Meditate daily.
5. Eat vegetarian a minimum of one day per week.
6. Regularly practice yoga.
7. Get out into nature. I think the David Suzuki Foundation 30 x 30 Challenge is a great starting point: 3o minutes a day in nature should be possible, considering we live in a more rural part of the Netherlands. Now I just need to find a job in an office near a park…
8. Create a personal carbon footprint/sustainability report & aim for reductions every year.
9. Buy as much local food as possible.
10. Buy only high-quality items.
11. Make mayonnaise that RB likes. I like a challenge!
12. Bake bread rather than buying it.
13. Make yogurt rather than buying.
14. (Successfully) Make lip balm. I tried it once, and it was a disaster
15. Clean my house with home-made and/or non-toxic cleaning supplies.
16. Make a tasty tomato sauce from scratch. Stop buying it from the store
17. Go on a safari in Africa.
18. Visit the countries of my roots: Scotland and Wales.
19. Walk El Camino Santiago in Spain.
20. See the northern lights.
21. Take a last minute trip to a random location.
22. Visit the beaches of Normandy.
23. Experience Thailand.
24. Experience Greece.
25. Travel from Vancouver to Toronto (or vice versa) by train.
26. Surprise someone in Canada with a visit. I suppose by putting this on the internet I’m making the surprise part a bit harder…
27. Speak Dutch fluently. I’ve signed up for classes that begin January 11th.
28. Earn a Masters degree.
29. Speak French fluently (again). I am a graduate of the French Immersion program, and it drives me a little crazy that I have so much trouble speaking French.
30. Read 50 books.
31. Complete 15 Massive Open Online Courses. I’m currently taking a few courses with Coursera and am enjoying them.
35. Go to an Ajax match (or another Dutch football match).
36. Ride a Segway.
37. Volunteer at a local charity.
38. Spend as much time as possible with my family.
39. Make a difference in people’s lives.
40. Live as if I am fearless. I know that picking up my life and moving overseas seems incredibly daring, but there are times feel like fear keeps me from doing great things. While I think a certain amount of fear is good, I don’t want it to stop me from living my life.
Do you have a list of things you’d like to accomplish before a certain time?
Leave a comment to let me know what’s on it!
There are lots of ways to wrap gifts using wrapping paper alternatives, and we’ve used lots of them in my family for years. We know not to trust the box that a gift comes in: my brother-in-law received once something in a glove box from the bay with the year 1973 written on it! RB and my brother in law gawked at how we all meticulously peeled off the tape on presents so we could re-use the paper. So it wasn’t a stretch for me to start using fabric wrapping, and I haven’t looked back!
Even though we had a few in the house (from who knows when), I sewed some bags using my drawstring bag pattern about five years ago using some Christmas fabric I bought. These are made with rectangular pieces of fabric, so it’s easy to make sure there’s no waste fabric while sewing.
Gift bags can also be easily made from leftover fabric from other sewing projects, clothes that are no longer repairable, or material from second-hand shop finds. I love this wrapping paper alternative using an old cable knit sweater!
My interest in using scarfs for wrapping started when RB gave me some solid shampoo and conditioner in a knot wrap. I still have the wrap he gave me, but I also augmented it with some square scarves that I found at my local second-hand shop. You could also use just about any rectangular fabric, like a bandana, (clean) handkerchief, tea towel or bath towel
There are about a million ways to wrap a gift using a square piece of fabric! I mostly use the basic wrap, but there are tonnes more at Furoshiki.com.
Every year after Christmas, my mom gathers all of her Christmas cards and cuts them to make gift tags for subsequent years. While I think this is an excellent way to extend the life of cards, most of the cards I get have pictures of my friends’ families, which would be weird to use as a gift tag. So instead, I grabbed some old clothespins and painted the names of my family on them. They’re easy to clamp onto a gift bag or wrap, and can be used for years and years!
When I first moved to the Netherlands, nearly all the waste we produced went straight into the garbage. You can imagine how frustrated that made me! Now that I’ve sort of figured out the waste and recycling systems, we’ve managed to reduce the amount of stuff we put into the garbage by about half. I’ve still got some learning to do, but hope to reduce our waste by another half in the coming year – new years resolution #2 (after finding a job!)
My former hometown of Toronto uses a single stream recycling system, where residents put all of their recyclables – paper, plastic, metals, and glass – into a single bin. The municipality collects these bins and takes them to a materials recovery facility (MRF) where they’re sorted back into their respective types for recycling. Many municipalities use a single-stream system because it’s convenient for their residents to use the recycling bin – almost as easy as using the trash can. Costs for a single-stream system are lower though processing costs are higher.
The biggest problem with single stream systems is contamination, resulting in lower scrap material quality and lower revenues for the recyclers. There is a particular concern that broken glass can get into the paper stream and mess with the paper mill and that bits of wet paper can get into everything. About a quarter of single-stream recycling goes to the dump, for glass, waste can be as high as 40%.
The system used here is a multi-stream recycling system. It’s more efficient for processors than a single-stream system because the majority of materials have already been sorted, and contamination levels are significantly less, eliminating waste and expense of removal.
In our apartment, we separate plastic bottles for a deposit refund, other plastic, paper, compost and glass from our garbage.
The garbage, compost, and other plastics are collected bi-weekly by the municipality. We take everything else to the grocery store, which acts as a sort of small waste depot. There you can find a place to deal with glass, paper, containers with a deposit, grease, batteries and light bulbs.
In the parking lot, you’ll find receptacles for glass, sorted into white, green & brown, and paper.
There’s also several bins for clothing donations.
Inside, you can find a machine where you can return beer bottles and plastic bottles for a deposit refund.
This machine scans the barcodes and prints out a ticket that can be redeemed at the cash register.
At the cash register is where you’ll find the containers for light bulbs, batteries and grease.
Since so many people go to the grocery store regularly, it’s not out of the way to take plastic, glass, and paper from time to time. If you’re like me, it’s more a problem to remember to do it than actually to do it!
If you’re interested in learning more about how single stream recycling works, I’d recommend taking a quick glance at this short NPR story from earlier this year.
Even though public transit in the Netherlands is much better than in Canada, I live in a more rural area that’s not as serviced as the cities. Assuming I pass my driver’s license practical exam, and if I find a job that’s also in an area less accessible by transit, I will likely need to buy a car, and I sure hope I’m able to buy electric!
Back when I had just graduated from university and needed to replace my Ford Tempo, I seriously debated buying a hybrid. At the time, a hybrid was the only option; there weren’t any plug-in hybrids or pure electric vehicles on the market. With my limited cash flow at the time, it just wasn’t feasible.
Fast forward 12 years (yikes!) and I’m unemployed again, and dreaming about the potential to buy such a vehicle. Thankfully, there are lots of pure electric and plug-in electric vehicles on the market now! And there is none more beautiful, in my opinion, than the Tesla Model S.
I am the first to admit, I love Tesla’s mission of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable transport. So if I had my choice of electric vehicles, and cost was no issue, a Model S would be it! But when is cost not an issue!? Even with the €15,500 fuel and road tax benefit, a base Tesla Model S costs €62,300! Probably more up my cost alley is the Renault Zoe, starting at around €22,000 plus battery rental at about €86/month.
On top of not really being able to purchase a car right now, there’s the somewhat important factor of where to charge this vehicle I so desire! RB and I pay electricity as part of our rent, there are no parking spaces adjacent to the apartment, and no exterior plugs that I’ve noticed. So even if I wanted to install a charger, I’m not sure where I’d do it here!
So for now, I’m just going to dream of an electric car, and be happy with my bike and OV chipcard!
I`d seen this photo of a t-shirt repurposed as a bag on pinterest what feels like a long time ago, and I had always planned to use this for the T-shirt I got at the end of the Inka Trail Trek. I knew I would never wear it but I also knew I could never throw it out. Well, I finally got around to actually making my t-shirt bag, and it was super easy!
1. Cut a semi-circle around the neck
Start by taking a plate or other flat, round object of similar diameter, and draw a circle around the neck.
Cut along the line you just drew.
2. Cut along the seam for the sleeves
Next, cut along the seams for the sleeves to remove them, making sure to leave the seams in place.
3. Sew the bottoms together
Next, turn the t-shirt inside out, and sew along the bottom bringing the front and back together.
4. Make gussets (optional)
I opted to sew gussets on my bag, which turned out to be super easy! On the two bottom corners, bring the side and bottom seams together to make a triangle. Draw a line about 4 inches long along the bottom of the triangle.
I pinned along the line to be sure the t-shirt wouldn`t move on me.
I then sewed along this line, and cut off the excess.
And that`s it. A bit of cutting, 3 lines of sewing and it`s done! Complete with a gusset.
My mom has this awesome Jewelry Pouch that she takes with her on every trip she goes on. It’s big enough to bring a few statement pieces and small enough that it fits in any tight space in her suitcase. It also boasts some lovely space separators to keep smaller items, like rings and earrings, from getting lost and/or caught in bigger items like necklaces and bracelets.
So I set about making two of my own; one to bring all my jewelry with me to the Netherlands and one to travel with on all my other trips! These instructions are for the smaller travel pouch.
Start by cutting the following pieces:
2 – 11″ diameter piece (large)
1 – 8″ diameter piece (medium)
1 – doughnut shaped piece – 8″ OD, 3″ ID
1 – 3.5″ diameter piece (small)
1 – 1.5″ x 8″ piece
I spent some time putting different fabrics together before deciding on what I wanted. This was a great way to use up some scrap pieces of fabric I had. I used an old, ripped pair of pj’s, fabric from an old, ill-fitting dress, and leftovers from the drawstring bags I made several years ago.
For those big-picture people like myself, here’s a diagram of what the final product should look like:
Press the the 1.5″ x 8″ piece in half lengthwise. Press each side in half again, so the rough edges are together in the centre. Press in half lengthwise again, and sew together. Alternatively, you could sew it together, lengthwise and turn right side out. I’m pretty crappy at turning small thing right side out, so I opted for the press method instead. Cut into 2″ pieces which will form the tabs for the inside of the pouch, where I thread my necklaces through. Sew these tabs int the small circle, facing in.
Sew the small circle into the doughnut shaped piece, making sure to keep the tabs loose. This was by far the hardest part! There’s a small wrinkle that I couldn’t get rid of, and it sometimes drives me a bit crazy.
Sew two button holes in the large circle, approximately opposite to each other, and approximately 2” from the outside of the circle.
Sew the large circles together, wrong sides together. Slash a hole in the middle of the large circle that doesn’t have the button holes, and turn it right side out. For a bit of extra security, I used a fusible interfacing to ensure the slashes don’t rip, but seeing as I sewed around this slash, it’s a step that can probably be skipped.
Repeat this step with the medium circle and the small circle with doughnut piece, making sure to slash the medium circle not the small/doughnut combo!
Sew around the large circles at the top and bottom of the button holes to create a pocket for the ribbon.
Centre the medium circle in the large circle and sew along the small circle seam to connect the two pieces.
Mark approximate locations for pockets with pins, and sew along these lines from the small circle to the edge of the medium circle. I have 8 (approximately) evenly spaced pockets at (approximately) N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, and NW. That’s one of the things I love about sewing this type of thing: approximate is a-okay!
Thread two ribbons through, with the ends starting and ending on opposite sides of the circle. Pull these to close. I like to wrap the ends around the top for a bit of extra security.
A simple thermostat with basic time programming will do a pretty good job at keeping our houses at the right temperature, so long as we put the effort into programming it. The trouble is, most of us don’t put the effort in. Enter the smart thermostat, offering to help us reduce our energy bills and extend the lifespan of our heating and cooling equipment. Here’s a quick look at a few popular smart thermostats available on the market at the moment; Nest Learning Thermostat, ecobee3, and Honeywell Lyric.
Before delving into the differences between these products, let’s first take a look at some of the things they have in common.
Away/Vacation feature: While each thermostat has a slightly different way of being put into Away mode, once it has been activated, the thermostat adjusts the temperature to reduce or eliminate the heating or cooling of an empty home.
Wi-Fi: Each thermostat can connect to the internet via a Wi-Fi connection. This allows the thermostats to check the weather forecast and use it to automatically adjust the heating or cooling system. The Wi-Fi connection also means the thermostats can automatically install software updates, rather than requiring the user to do it.
Mobile App: Each of the manufacturers has a mobile app, which allows the user to control the thermostat from his/her smartphone. These apps also give users access to historical data from the thermostat.
Easy Installation: These thermostats are designed so that nearly anyone with a screwdriver could install them. Installation typically involves screwing a mounting plate to the wall, and connecting the wires to the correct terminals, as described in the instructions on the manufacturers’ websites and mobile apps.
Applicable Systems: Each of these thermostats work with the majority of system types used to heat and cool houses, including forced air, electric baseboards, radiant heating, and heat pumps.
Geofencing uses the user’s smartphone’s geolocation services to know when to adjust heating and cooling in order to save energy when the user is away. Since I prefer to keep my phone’s location services turned off where possible, geofencing is not a feature I would use. However, it’s a great way to ensure a user’s house is at a comfortable temperature when he/she gets home, whether from a trip to the grocery store, from work or from an extended vacation.
Geofencing is a feature offered by Nest and Honeywell Lyric but not by ecobee3.
* update: a representative of ecobee has informed me that the latest ecobee3 includes geofencing, though this has not been updated on their website yet.
Occupancy sensors detect motion in a space. Controls based on occupancy sensors requires the user to be more engaged. While a short trip to the grocery store or a typically timed trip home from work would still mean a comfortable temperature when the user arrives home, the return from an extended trip would require the user to notify the thermostat he/she is coming home and to adjust the temperature accordingly.
Nest contains one occupancy sensor in the base unit and uses it to control the temperature of the home.
The ecobee3 system includes one occupancy sensor in the base unit and multiple wireless remote sensors (up to 32 per system) to control the temperature in the space. One wireless remote sensor is included in the cost of the system, and additional sensors can be purchased.
The Honeywell Lyric contains one occupancy sensor and uses it to know when to illuminate the unit, however it does not use it to control temperature.
Programming and Controls
Programming the Nest Learning Thermostat requires the user to set the thermostat to the temperature he/she would like at that particular time of day for the first week or so. From this information, Nest learns the user’s habits and builds a schedule for heating and cooling the house. For those that are inclined, users can set the temperature schedule on the first day, and the thermostat will learn from there. Nest contains an occupancy sensor and uses it to change the system to Away mode when there is no activity, or to Home mode when activity is detected. If geofencing is enabled, Nest recognizes when the user is on his/her way home and changes to Home mode.
The ecobee3 comes with a pre-programmed schedule for Home, Away and Sleep, however the user can adjust the times and temperatures for each setting as he/she likes. The system comes with two occupancy sensors, one in the base unit and one remote sensor, which allows the thermostat to switch modes, should the user be home or away unexpectedly. The thermostat can also average the temperature of sensors that detect motion or all of the selected sensors in the home, regardless of motion.
Programming the Honeywell Lyric involves creating shortcuts in the mobile app for reoccurring events, such as Sleep, Wake, and Work. Shortcuts can also be created and activated manually for non-scheduled events, such as having the windows open or hosting a party. The Honeywell Lyric uses geofencing to determine when the user is a home or away, and adjusts the temperature to the corresponding setting.
The Nest Leaf is a feedback system that is shown on the display when the user has done something that saves energy, for example turning the heating temperature down. A summary of energy use, the number of Leafs earned and tips for savings, are emailed to users in a monthly energy report.
When the heating or cooling equipment turns on, the heat or cool icon on the home screen of the ecobee3 are red or blue respectively. Information such as how much energy the user conserves are provided to the user through HomeIQ energy reports, available on the online web portal and mobile app.
Lights on the back of the Honeywell Lyric cast an orange or blue glow on the wall depending on whether it is in heating or cooling mode, and a green glow indicates it’s in energy saving mode. The Honeywell Lyric will also send the user a monthly performance report.
Dollars and Cents
These three units don’t vary greatly in cost or claimed savings; each appears to be differentiating itself in the market through its features and not on cost.
If I were to purchase one of these smart thermostats, my money would go towards a Nest Learning Thermostat. The biggest selling point for me is the Leaf user engagement program; a programmable thermostat only works if the users engage with it, and Nest makes this interaction fun and a bit competitive! For a slightly competitive person interested in the environment, this is a great system for me!
When my absolute favourite jeans developed a hole, I held out buying something new until they really weren’t wearable anymore. And then I bought the exact same pair. But I couldn’t bear the thought of throwing my first pair out, so they hung out in my closet. When that second pair developed a hole in the exact same spot (like a lot of wome, my thighs rub together) I decided I would go against my instincts and buy a different pair, which ended up being a big mistake. While the new pair is fine, they just don’t fit me like my favourite pairs! And, once again, my ripped pair stayed in my closet – I just couldn’t bear to part with them.
I decided that this pattern was a bit ridiculous, an so decided to see if it was possible to mend my jeans. And with a little help from Rawr Denim, I have two pairs of wearable favourite jeans!
The procedure is pretty straightforward. First ensure the fabric around the hole is smooth and flat. Next, for gaping holes like mine, add a patch to the inside to support the denim. Finally, sew zigzag patterns to recreate the broken yarns. For small holes, the largest zigzag setting on a sewing machine could be sufficient, but for mine, I needed to sew straight up and straight down to cover the whole hole.
The major lesson for me was this: jeans can be worn with a small tear, but it will eventually turn into a gaping hole and put my jeans out of commission. Fix the tear before it becomes a major problem and I can save your favourite jeans! At least until the next tear develops.