Holiday season is coming up soon! The season for sharing and gifting. And what better than homemade gifts? There are some great activity ideas, on pinterest, to do with your kids at home during holidays.
Next week I am starting a new, once a week, project with children at the foundation where I volunteer –
“Christmas gift for my family”.
We got a donation of lots of beads from a girl who was leaving Angola and that is what started this idea. Over the next 4-5 weeks I’m planning to teach kids, how to:
- make a gift bag using old newspapers
- decorate the gift bag with colourful cutouts and make gift tags- we will try to reuse empty biscuit boxes, wrappers etc for this.
- Make a Christmas card for their family. This would include writing a letter to their family as well. Telling them what it means to be together during the holidays :).
- make bracelets or keychains or other small trinket using the beads we received.
- make christmas ornaments for the tree at home.
Almost a month back when I returned to Angola, after 2 months of lazying around and feasting on awesome food and love in India, I had made a promise to myself to do more art. Learn something new and gift. Actually I had many more plans 😛 as I wrote back then! I am so glad I wrote them down here, it at least keeps me from giving them a miss otherwise it would be too easy to fall back on my lazy ways.
One shelf in my cupboard has a lot of waste with which I feel I can do something. There are empty cereal boxes, biscuit boxes, kitchen paper rolls, cardbords, plastic bottles and other packaging material. One day I realised I’m just adding things to it and not really making anything from it. So I decided to take some action :).
I needed a mail and document holder so I took out one empty cereal box, covered it with a single colour paper and illustrated the front of it. I used a few pictures that I had to help with the illustration. Simple patterns that I didn’t think will really go well together looked like they were really thought out and planned out before :P.
Mail holder from cereal box for me
And when Carole saw this one, she said she wanted one too! And when I made for her, I decided to try out something new that Thakkar had told me about – zentangle. In many ways it is actually illustrations but I like the way it says to divide the area into multiple sections and illustrate each separately without thinking about the other and ultimately the whole picture will be beautiful! At least that’s what I understood it to be! And here’s the one I made for her.
Mail holder from cereal box for my friend
Zentangle is fun. I don’t think I’m any sort of illustrator but once I divide the whole area into smaller sections, it does become easier and pinterest has so many images from easy to difficult patterns to give a start!
Today I started my day thinking the first thing I have to work on is the Moved by Love newsletter. But little did I know there were other plans for in store 🙂 I went out to water my plants. I had sown tomato and green beans about a week ago and every day I have been peeping into the seed pots to see if there is anything. Just like didi’s little scientists! To tell you the truth though I love to have plants, I don’t really have a green hand. I have never had a plant growing from a seed 😦 All my seeds till now have only resulted in weeds. All the plants that I have started with a sapling bought from a nursery or gifted from a friend like this mint.
mint growing in my balcony! The plant was gifted by a neighbour when we moved in.
The now image of the mint would have been even more amazing but while I was away in India, all the people I had asked to water my plants somehow missed and it got water only for a week in those 4 weeks 😦 The plant dried up a little but then picked up again once rains started! I still wonder at the magic rain water has for plants. Continue reading
… my small little coasters!
I’ve had this set of four coasters since a long long time… The idea is to put pictures in them and then use them to put your drink on! I did put pictures in them initially but soon realised that the water from condensation that collects in a little pool around your drink, slowly seeps into the coaster and then the picture gets spoiled. As soon as I noticed that, I removed the pictures and these were then lying just like this; with their original “Keep this cardboard as cushion” paper in them.
As I was unpacking one of my last boxes from the shipment, these came out and I started thinking “hmmm…. I need to do something for them… they don’t look very nice without a picture” and then it struck! Why not do some quotation cards! Even if they get wet; it will be super fun and easy to make some more; unlike pictures which I can’t print so easily!
dressing up with some art with heart!
And with some sheets of red and green paper and my beautiful pen set (that Lahar had gifted me) I made these cards and look how pretty my coasters now look! 🙂 I just love them. When Sikander saw these he said “now we can’t use them even more! I don’t want these quotation cards to get spoiled!” 😀
Well, I said, then I will get an opportunity to make some more! 🙂
Ever since I started working from home, I’ve been more aware of the amount and types of things we throw in the bin. Sadly more than 80% of it recyclable but due to lack of any recycling facility it usually finds its way into a landfill L So I decided to reuse and recycle as much as I can, collecting everything that I feel can be reused/ recycled in a cupboard.
I had been saving so many old wedding invitation cards, calendars, paper bags, cardboard boxes etc because I knew “I can do something with them”. Finally today was the D-day when I took them and my creative side out!
And here’s what I did! Continue reading
Every trip to Ahmedabad gives me something new to write! There is so much that I receive there that I can just not let it pass without sharing and giving back 🙂 I shared it on Volunteer Weekly, but like the Seva Cafe volunteering experience, I wanted to share it here as well. But this one is a shorter version of the original article.
Last month when I was in Ahmedabad; Mihika gifted me a SMILE deck.
Four suits of the SMILE deck
The smile deck is like any other deck of cards – 4 suits with 13 cards each and 2 Jokers – with a twist that each card has a unique kindness idea. These decks were created by a group of volunteers, people just like you and me.The four suits are four categories for kindness towards people you know, stranger, yourself and for the world. You can view all the ideas here:
Clubs: For People You Know
Hearts: For Strangers
Diamonds: For Yourself
Spades: For Our World
My SMILE deck has become a game now. I started with the Joker card as soon as I opened the deck – telling a joke to the person who gifted it to me. For a week I thought about how to use it. And then I decided to pick one card at random every day and do what it says. I have to confess that I haven’t been able to stay one-a-day with them as I had initially thought but the game is on till the deck gets over and it has been fun and rewarding. Here are some that I have picked till now and what I did :).
22nd April is Earth Day. I didn’t know about any such day until about a week ago when events about Earth Day celebration started featuring in my news feed. And today my 4 year old niece told me that she is practising for an Earth Day painting competition happening in her school tomorrow. I never celebrated Earth Day in my school or college, so I thought it must be a recent thing (10 years or so) to celebrate Earth. But when I looked it up on the Internet, I was actually impressed to read it’s 42 years old history.
I work towards promoting volunteerism in India and interact with a lot of volunteers on a daily basis. Sometime I’m at a loss when people ask me difficult questions like “How can I as an individual eradicate poverty from the country? If I can’t do much, why should I try?”. But if I think of Earth Day; celebrating Earth would mean celebrating everything we have received from her (it). It’s water day, food day, animal day, climate day, anti-pollution day all rolled into one – giving us unlimited options of celebration. If I don’t run my tap idle, I’m celebrating Earth Day; If I don’t waste paper, I’m celebrating Earth Day; If I water the plants, I’m celebrating Earth Day. It’s so easy :).
And why do we need an Earth Day? Shouldn’t Every Day be Earth Day? We use our planet every day, why not celebrate it every day?
Here is a list of 7 things that I will change/adopt to celebrate Earth every day for 7 days; every week for 4 week; every month for 12 months; every year till I can.
- I will put a pot of water for birds to drink on my balcony
- I will walk to shorter distance
- I will minimise my AC/heater usage. I will increase AC temperature by a degree in summers. (Every degree lower in the winter or higher in the summer you put it is a 10 percent decrease on your energy bill.)
- I will run my washing machine on cold temperature
- I will switch off all appliances from the mains switch, when not in use.
- I will use vegetable leftovers in the kitchen like coriander stems, spinach stems, cucumber & carrot peels, cabbage core etc to make vegetable stock instead of throwing them
- I will carry my own reusable bag for shopping
What will you do?
It’s been two months since I’ve been trying to find recycling centres in Abu Dhabi. With the exception of one supermarket, no other place offers recycling. There are some schools with recycling facilities but those are restricted only to parents of students. By far recycling is simply unheard of in UAE. Ask the locals and most have the attitude of “who cares?”. Fortunately with more and more people getting conscious about reducing waste things are beginning to change. But we are still talking about a big revolution that needs a lot of commitment from both government and people.
While we wait for adequate recycling measures to develop, can we not do anything to reduce our effect on the environment? Even though household are not the biggest contributor towards waste but every little helps (or hurts?). I’ve been thinking of how I can run a ‘greener household’ apart from changing regular bulbs to energy efficient ones. Some steps that we can easily take (apart from the ones I mentioned in my post “5p for a bag”):
- UAE’s climate makes lifestyles energy intensive. Personal transport and air conditioners are a necessity, but how about water heaters? We are living in 45°C! I know people who keep the temperatures in their houses at 18-19 and use water heaters for shower. Can we not easily cut down on this double wastage?
- Switch off appliances completely when not in use. A lot of household appliances use electricity even when they are not in use, mostly to support “instant-on” functions or a digital clock. Do we really need the microwave to tell time at 3am? Can we not live with the home theatre taking a few 10s of seconds to come up when you switch it on? According to studies in various countries, stand-by or off mode power consumption accounts for 5-10% of the total residential electricity. So really switch off the appliances.
- Kitchen is one place that has an enormous potential of reducing wastage as it the biggest culprit where household waste is concerned. Some practices to reduce the burden on both, the planet and the pocket!
- In Abu Dhabi where the tap water is not considered drinkable, a lot of spend a lot of money on bottled water and all these plastic bottles just end up in the garbage heap. A good filter may seem expensive but would turn out to be cheaper in the long run and you will never run out of drinking water. Alternatively, for short term you can get those 20 lts water cans that are reused by the supplier.
- Paper towels are convenient and should be handy in case of an emergency, but use long lasting cloth towels for regular jobs around kitchen.
- Similarly, dispose off the disposables.
- Buy local and seasonal produce. It’s cheaper, fresher, more nutritious and will reduce all the shipping. Eggplant from Holland costs 16 Dhs/Kg, from India 8Dhs/Kg and from Saudi 2.5 Dhs/Kg.
- Reduce packaging: Buy in bulk the item you know will finish before the ‘use by’ date, buy fresh unwrapped produce, take your own bag to the grocer. Reuse packaging like glass bottles and containers.
- Lets Cook! It’s healthier and you save all the energy and packaging that goes into frozen food. Plan ahead so that you are not inclined to pick up some ready-to-eat from the supermarket at the last minute.
- Eat less meat! (I know a lot of people may not really like that J ) Meat preparation uses a lot of energy when compared with vegetables. If you are a regular non-vegetarian, even one meatless dish a week will mean considerable savings over time.
- If you have an electric hob, turn off the hob 5 mins before the food is cooked. Same for the oven. Let the food cook in the residual heat. Use lids on pots whenever possible – helps reducing cooking time and save energy.
- Match your pot size to the burner size. A smaller pot used on a big burner (esp on an electric hob) results in considerable loss of burner’s heat.
- Use appliances wisely. Simple practices help save a lot of energy consumed by appliances and also increase their lifespan. Cool the food before keeping it in the refrigerator. Keep the refrigerator a few inches away from the wall to allow proper air circulation. Don’t open the door too often. Use the microwave instead of oven for re-heating. Maximise the use of oven by cooking multiple things at the same time.
- If you have space try growing your own herbs and compost your kitchen waste to use as fertilizer.
- Then there are always practices like ‘never leave the tap running’ or ‘fix a leaking tap asap’.
- Last but not the least on the list today: make that trip to the recycling centre atleast once a week or every fortnight. A little effort on our part means a great deal for the environment.
It’s difficult to change everything on one go. But every small step makes a lot of difference in preserving earth’s resources. One change at a time towards a greener, healthier lifestyle.
There are a lot more small things we can do at our homes that would help save energy and reduce wastage. Lets share.
I regularly volunteer at a local charity shop as a shop floor assistant. Very recently we started charging 5p for each carrier bag. Until now everytime I asked a customer after billing, if they wanted a bag, the answer was always a YES with a very few exceptions. But the 5p has magically made people find space in their own bags and those who don’t, remember to carry one on their future visits :). I guess we all need an incentive to do our bit to care for the environment.
Few more little things that we can do without much effort:
• Leave the ATM receipt in the machine. Receipts from ATM transactions are one of the biggest sources of waste.
• Use online statement facility for bank accounts, telephone bills, electricity bills and similar services that may be available online. A few service providers even give discounts/incentives to customers who opt for online statements.
• Don’t print it if you don’t need it. At offices where we have the luxury of a free printer, how often do we think twice before hitting Ctrl+P?
• Recycle. It may not be always convenient but make it a rule and you’ll feel better every time you drop that load off at the recycling centre.
• Donate old used items to local charities. Why throw things that others can use. Reduce the amount of garbage going into landfills. It takes 3-6 months for a cotton T-shirt to decompose in a landfill, which may become a new dress for a needful.