At the end of April, I was sitting in the famous Fiddlers Green pub in Portaferry (Northern Ireland by the way for those new to my blog) to celebrate the end of yet another successful fieldcourse. It was my first (and only) Guinness of the week, and little did I know that it would also be my last (for 6 months anyway..).
As someone known to 'hold her drinks well', after my sporty and healthy life led me to reduce my intake, I was surprised at how one (just one!) drink seemed to affect me, so adding to tiredness of a week of early mornings and late evenings working with the students I was ready to collapse in bed pretty early. But even so, after just one drink and an early night, my morning run was somewhat disturbed from it and the all of the following day I felt less than my normal strong self. And that's when I decided that maybe I just shouldn't drink for a while. And this while has lasted 6 months, in all honesty without me noticing or without me missing it!
Let's have a look at some changes that it made in my life:
I recommend for everyone reading to try, not necessarily forever, at least one night out without drinking and see that you don't need it to be funny/liked/dance/talk to people - and if you do find yourself thinking that you need the booze to do all these things, then, maybe, is time to tackle the issue instead!
Countless times I have been told that cooking healthy and sustainably is only for the wealthy,
that is too expensive to follow the sustainable life,
that people have family so how can they afford to eat well ?
Today’s recipe is not only yummy and full of goodness, it’s also zero waste and sustainable as well as being very very cheap (about €2.50 everything included for one very large portion or two smaller ones).
Ok, I am telling you in advance is not really suitable for the faint of heart and it’s not super quick
( it does require a little preparation).
Firstly, you will have to go find yourself a local fishmonger – ‘fishmonger?’ I hear you scream ‘but everyone knows that fish is expensive, how can this be a fish-based recipe?’.
Simple! We are using "scraps"
So, here goes the second task: ask them for some scrap parts. I got myself a nice fish head (full of meaty parts as well!) for a whole €0.50!!!
I added to it a couple of crab claws as they are very tasty, but see what takes your fancy. Some molluscs would make a nice addition.
Now, onto the preparation. To divide the meat from the bones I firstly gave the head a quick boil. It stayed intact, and took it out (keep the water though!!) and divided the good meat from the bones.
I kept the bones (more on this in a minute).
Then added the meat and other good parts from the head to the water, together with the crab claws, a can of peeled plum tomatoes, a shallot and a hint of chilli. Back on to cooking and it’s done!
With the bones that I previously kept – they are still full of goodness, so why not make some fish stock for later-on in the week? Just add water and boil for as long as you can (the longer the better but be wary of losing too much water) – then sieve the bones out and done! Freeze or refrigerate and you have some nutrient dense stock to add to your next meal!
On my quest for a better, more sustainable and chemical free life I decided to dedicate a new series of blogs specifically to getting rid of all sort of chemicals from the house (Jo I think I can do with some of your daily inspiration for this!).
As fall dawns upon us as a prelude to the dark winter ahead, the need for cozyness and some good hygge increases, and nice illuminations and smell are a MUST! Which in my world equals candles.
But what kind of candles?
Commercial candles are likely made of paraffin-wax. This wax when burnt emits toxic chemicals such as toluene and benzene, which have been related not only to increase in cancers but also to increase incidence of asthma and other allergies... so, something to think about when buying the typical cheap candles! Plus, if you are looking for coloured and perfumed candles, both colourants and fragrances can add extra chemicals to it! Enough to make me skip the cheap candle aisle...
So, what are some natural alternatives?
Well, the most obvious is BEESWAX candles. You can find them from some natural shops, and if you can choose go for the yellow ones as they have not been 'whitened' with extra processes so are really natural. If you want a good reason for spending the extra - they will (should) burn longer than normal candles! Another great (perhaps even better) place to find your candles is a local honey producer - you will know exactly where your money goes! Perhaps they don't sell it as ready-made candles but you can always get the wax and try yourself out with some DIY!
Other options include Plant-based wax. Soya-derived wax is one of the most common, made from soyabean oil which is a lot cleaner than artificial oil such as the above mentioned paraffin (remember that paraffin is a petroleum derivate!). However with Soy candles make sure they are from a good brand using GM free crops, and getting soy from sustainable sources!
Also some soy wax candles seem to be extremely expensive (I mean, if you can afford it check this nice list on the independent). I personally just bought one nice plant-based wax fragranced (wintery orange and ginger, with pure essential oils!) from Dille&Kamille and it's great.
Next step: make my own with some of these great ideas found on Pinterest, I love wintery smells so here some combinations of essential oils I would love to try and make healthy candles with:
As part of my series on the environmental impacts of sports, this month I chose to have a look at a ‘sport’ very close to my hearth. As a marine biologist this is not simply just a sport, but an essential component of my work.
Diving, in my opinion, can have both environmentally-friendly aspects but carry some risks for the environment that needs to be analysed in depth and discussed. As always I will try to provide some solutions and advice as well, to aid you make some informed choices!
Let's look at the positives first:
Firstly, when someone goes diving and immerse him/herself in the wonders of the blue water, he/she becomes aware of the magical hidden world that lives beneath the surface. This, perhaps, makes him/her more prone to taking protective actions towards it, and thus has great conservation potential...
Secondly, recreational diving can be used as a useful tool for 'citizen science' projects, such as temperature data collection or seagrass monitoring! So not only fun but useful...
But now... let's be a bit critical and look at the negative impacts of this sport on the environment:
For example, scuba diving 'mass tourism' brings excessive number of people to dive in delicate ecosystems. More often than not, these divers are not careful and do not follow sensible code of conduct (do not take, do not touch..), perhaps are not even made aware of the actions that they should and shouldn't take whilst in the water.
Another problem with this kind of tourism is that divers are often beginners, just taking their first open water experiences in the tropical destinations - nothing wrong with it per se, but with often limited 'buoyancy control' they risk damaging delicate ecosystems.
Also, boating to the destination can have an impact per se - boat presence, noise, fuel consumption.. can amount to a high carbon footprint if you ask me! Not to talk about equipment, often made out of not so environmentally friendly material...
So here a few simple rules and ideas to follow if you'd like to be a sustainable diver
Most of us are aware that exercise should be incorporated in our busy schedules if we want to lead a healthy life. Guidelines recommend a min of 30 min of daily moderate exercise (something that increases your heart rate).
Exercise is often viewed as something "too expensive" to be included in daily routines, and that's true if we look at gym memberships, swimming pools, clubs and classes...
And if you include the fact that eating healthy is also more expensive than eating junk food (on this note I believe something really should be done by higher authorities!) - it may seem that healthy lifestyles are not affordable!
But let's have a look at ideas to exercise for free :
So - no more excuses - get on your gear and get out!!!
It has been a while since my last 'fashion' post, and this could not be a better time for it! As finally, after years of battle, I have reached the body size and shape that I always wanted, it arrived the time and the need to get new clothes that fit instead of hide the new figure.
While for all 'top' clothes and skirts I am a strong advocate of vintage and charity shops, I am particular with my jeans. And so I went to my jeans retailer of choice, the big chain GAP. Yes, even I shop at big chains sometimes, mea culpa and hope I can be forgiven by the most strict anti-capitalists who are reading me.
Saying this, gap is also quite involved with sustainability projects - and my new jeans are part of their 'washwell' series aimed at protecting waterways by using sustainable denim wash techniques.
Which brought me to this post - what exactly are the impacts of our clothes on waterways? Let's have a closer look at clothes production (as I am writing this I am also learning this for the first time ! A self teaching blog!)
So far I have learnt that cotton, despite being an amazing natural fabric for you and your skin, actually has quite high environmental impacts (hence the rise of organic and eco cotton labels!)
According to good on you:
So, there you have it - cotton should be sustainable and brands should disclaim their use of chemicals in the making of your favourite tee/denim.
And how are these chemicals washed away/where!
Not just cotton but everything that is coloured with dye is washed and the first few washes will take some of the dye with them so it's very important to do this process as ethically and sustainably as possible!
It's no secret that most of the clothes found on the high street are made in the third world and developing countries (I dare you to look at your labels now!), and don't be fooled, expensive does not automatically mean more ethical! Just means, likely, more money in the producers pockets...
So here my word of advice - if you need to buy on the high street - try and be suspicious, ask questions, be aware, informed and then make your choice!
Happy Saturday shopping :)
Yoga - just open instagram and you will immediately notice how it has become a craze
I already spoke about how I came to yoga and started loving it in this post, and we have got to remember that every journey is different
But beyond all those fancy #instayoga pictures there is a lot more.
While it may be viewed as fitness now, with classes promising to make you lose weight and tone up while enjoying relaxation - yoga has benefits that go well beyond what we, on the west, consider fitness. Yoga may help you heal by creating this whole body connection which includes mind, physical body and most importantly the breath.
So far I do love the online classes done by Erin at fiveparks yoga, which help me channel and connect my inner strength with body strength to create balance and make it through some challenging poses (which are also really fun) and for more relaxing and classical flows, I love the ever so famous yoga with Adriene - just hearing her voice is so soothing! And she always has encouraging and inspiring comments which leave you with food for thoughts all day long post practice!
But I also tried some new yoga classes, for example the classical Astanga of which I am not so convinced about..from what I gather, is always the same sequence and can perhaps get a bit 'boring' - at least for me! But maybe it just was a bad class or a bad day, as it is meant to be a very flowy kind of practice (and also would help to know the whole sequence first!)
I also did some hot yin yoga - which in all honesty was very amazing and relaxing! Not something I will include in my weekly schedule but definitely something to treat myself to every now and then especially when I need some tlc..
Also went to a typical yoga class taught at a gym - good but too many instructions and interruptions and again not quite so flowy and tailored to beginners...
But then tonight (last night but the time you are reading this..) I found it! Flow yoga at soham yoga studio ! The class was exactly what I was looking for and I am so happy - a good mixture of poses, great instructions that didn't interrupt the flow but enhanced it, great atmosphere, nice people...
Bottom line - find what works for you and don't give up the search! Yoga can be great for you, strengthening your body whilst empowering your mind and teaching you some self-control.
I invite you all , as I invite myself, to read more and gain a deeper understanding of the yoga culture and history, instead of taking it as simple exercise routine.
Disclaimer: some posts may contain affiliate links. At no extra costs to you, buying through the link will help me in this blogging journey!