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Awareness: what’s happening to the beautiful monarch butterfly

Gorgeous photo taken last year by Shani-lee Cox via Flickr

New petition aims to save the monarch butterfly from America’s most common herbicide – my latest story on Earth Touch

Each year, up to 300 million orange and black monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico to escape the harsh winters of Canada at the eastern United States. The sight is unlike anything else in the world (visual proof here – it’s six minutes of pure beauty!). But the species is now in serious danger.

Read more

R15 well spent

I try to spend special time with each of the kids whenever I can. Today my younger son and I had a”date”. It was a glorious day, so I took him to the local nursery and let him choose a tray of seedlings to plant. I was kind of hoping to kill two birds with one stone and use the opportunity to supplement my veggie patch, which needs major attention. But Little Mr marched straight past the vegetables and stood in front of the flowering seedlings, contemplating earnestly. He settled on a tray of pretty pink and white numbers, which won’t provide any nourishment for my family, but that’s what he chose, so that’s what we bought.

We came home and spent a beautiful hour digging, weeding, planting and watering. And I realised that, while you can’t eat flowers (at least I don’t think these ones), this tray of seedlings was nourishing our souls, not to mention our relationship. And every time I walk past them, I’ll be filled with warm fuzzies. And that’s just great 🙂

Isn’t this worth the cost of a coffee?

 

Illegal logging is destroying rain forests and resident species

Wrote another article for Earth Touch News on how a corrupt Indonesian official this week got off lightly with illegal logging charges – but the Indonesian rain forests, not so lightly:

SHOCKING VERDICT PROVES CRIME DOES PAY FOR INDONESIA’S TIMBER TRAFFICKERS

Earlier this week, a police officer from a coastal city in the Indonesian province of West Papua stood in court accused of being the mastermind behind a massive illegal logging ring – one that had stripped the Raja Ampat Islands of West Papua of vast quantities of a rare and precious timber known as merbau. His punishment? Just two years in prison and a fine of US$4,000…

Read the rest of the story here.

 

Drooly and Droolier: Veg Medley

Protein, carb, plus the sweetness and betacarotene of the carrots makes this a light but balanced meal. My baby loves it followed by a spot of pureed apples for dessert – or mixed together with the dessert and eaten all at once!

Veg Medley OR corn, carrots, peas ‘n beans

Ingredients:

500g corn kernels (sweetcorn is best if your baby’s got a sweet tooth)

500g carrots

500g peas

500g green beans

Method:

1. Steam or lightly boil all the ingredients. It helps if you chop up the carrots and beans around the same size as the peas and corn, as they will cook evenly. You can also ‘cheat’ and just buy a bag of frozen mixed veg.

2. Puree the ingredients, thinning to desired consistency with the steaming/boiling liquid (or some sodium-free stock if you prefer).

Makes approx. 2.2 litres.

General Notes:

Output quantities are given in litres, not servings, as each baby eats a different quantity per meal, and this of course changes as the baby grows. You can calculate how many servings the recipes make by dividing the output quantity by the average number of ml’s your baby eats per meal. Output quantity will also be affected by how much liquid you add (this depends if your baby prefers runny or firm food, and this will probably also change with time. Note: firmer food is harder for baby to chew but easier/neater to feed! Your call.)

Of course all quantities can also be halved/doubled/etc, and all recipes can be altered according to your baby’s taste or what you have in the fridge!

For more exciting vegetarian baby food recipes, search for ‘Drooly and Droolier’ in the search bar on the top right of the page, or visit the ‘Recipes’ tab under Categories. 

 

Note: The corn cobs also make great teethers!

Is your face wash killing fish, birds, animals, and ultimately even yourself?

I’m very chuffed to announce that I’ve been published on Earth Touch, an international environmental news agency!

My first story was about how the tiny plastic microbeads in personal hygiene products like face washes have been found polluting major water systems and posing threats not only to aquatic ecosystems, but also to life around the water sources.

The “yay” side of the story is that a Californian NPO and New York’s Attorney General have just introduced ground-breaking legislation to ban these killer beads, and already major cosmetic companies are phasing out the products.

To read the story, click here.

Drooly and Droolier: Cauliflower and Cannelli beans with marrow and sweet potato

Veteran readers will recall that when my boys were small I began experimenting with recipes for vegetarian baby food to make sure they got enough protein and variety in their diets (balanced vegetarian jarred options were rather limited). I called the series Drooly and Droolier, a baby-fied pun on the food blog Julie and Julia (for the backstory, click here, and for more reasons to try making your own baby food, click here).

Now that their sister is at that age, I’ve been back in the kitchen and adding some new and exciting concepts to the old favourites. Last week’s winner: cauliflower and cannelli beans with marrow and sweet potato. It’s pale and sweet. Kind of like her!

Drooly and Droolier: Cauliflower and Cannelli beans

with marrow and sweet potato

Ingredients:

1 small head cauliflower

800g cannelli beans (cooked or canned)

400g (about a punnet if you can’t buy loose) marrow/courgette

1kg sweet potato

Water or veg stock for thinning

Soy milk or cheese (optional)

 

Method:

1. Cook the sweet potato (steam it, boil it, or roast it while something else is in the oven).

2. Steam the cauliflower and marrow until tender.

3. Puree all ingredients and thin with water or veg stock to desired consistency. For an even creamier result, thin with soy milk.

4. If you fancy, add grated cheese to taste for extra calcium.

Makes approx 2.7 litres

General Notes:

Output quantities are given in litres, not servings, as each baby eats a different quantity per meal, and this of course changes as the baby grows. You can calculate how many servings the recipes make by dividing the output quantity by the average number of ml’s your baby eats per meal. Output quantity will also be affected by how much liquid you add (this depends if your baby prefers runny or firm food, and this will probably also change with time. Note: firmer food is harder for baby to chew but easier/neater to feed! Your call.)

Of course all quantities can also be halved/doubled/etc, and all recipes can be altered according to your baby’s taste or what you have in the fridge!

For more exciting vegetarian baby food recipes, search for ‘Drooly and Droolier’ in the search bar on the top right of the page, or visit the ‘Recipes’ tab under Categories. 

Gag reel – when you’re done feeding, it makes great finger-paint!

Seeds of Unity

Planting seeds of unity and inspiration at Durban Botanic Gardens. From left: Dr Mariam Khan (representing Islam), Mohini Padayachee (Ethekwini Municipality), Yours Truly (representing Judaism), Akandha Kritan Das (representing Hinduism), Hailey Fudu (representing Baha’i), Jabulani Memela (Durban Botanic Gardens and representing traditional African culture) and Dorothy Lutchmiah (Ethekwini Municipality)

Today was the Seeds of Unity seminar in honour of World Interfaith Harmony Week at the Durban Botanic Gardens. Representatives of  the world’s major religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Bhuddism, Baha’i and traditional African culture) gave talks on the significance of trees in their faith, after which guests were led on a guided tour of the gardens to view some of these trees.

What was so interesting is that all of the holy texts are replete with references to nature. The Torah lists the seven sacred species. Jesus used trees and plants in so many of his parables. Mohammed prohibited the harming of plants, even in times of war. Buddha was born under a tree. The Bhagavad Gita discusses the interaction between physical nature and the spiritual nature.

This was a common thread in the presentations – the importance of trees in sustaining us, both physically (food; oxygen – duh!) and spiritually (as a metaphor for our own growth and a connection to our Creator). It made me realise that, although there are many differences in the ways we practice our faiths, it all boils down to the same core values. Ultimately, way back down the timeline, we all share the same roots. Today we are all leaves on the tree of life; colourful flowers in the garden of faith.

The seminar was a perfect example of unity through diversity, and I was so glad to be a part of it. I learnt so much about other cultures and how we can live and grow together, even while maintaining the integrity of our own religious beliefs. These are ideas I want to pass on to my kids. Once again, the garden grows.