how is it made?

i’ve been doing a lot of crocheting recently and have been thinking and reflecting about how things are made. and how we decide to buy things. this all started when i tried to make and sell these very cute (at least in my opinion) crochet pumpkin decorations.

no one wanted to buy them. (my bestie kelsey did buy a set right away though! shout out to her for always supporting me!!) and it really got me thinking. why aren’t people buying?

i feel like the majority of people make decisions to buy things based on price. they’ll buy it if it’s on sale. they’ll buy it if it’s cheap. they’ll buy it if it’s a good deal! not many people make decisions based on how things were actually made and consider the price that things should be worth.

my mom bought some new tights the other day. she did need a few new pairs and they were ‘only’ 10 bucks. i told her that they probably weren’t made in the most ethical conditions if they only cost her 10 dollars. how are you supposed to make fabric, sew that fabric and then ship the final product to america AND still make a profit on something that’s $10?

it just doesn’t compute…

what about the people (like me) who work on sewing and crocheting their own creations? hand-making the items that they need?

for the last few weeks, i’ve been working on this amazing awesome super warm lap blanket. it took me a few hours a day, for a few weeks to make and finish it. time, talent and materials all went into this project!

while working on my blanket project, i’ve been thinking about making conscious consumer decisions. do i actually need this? was it ethically made? am i supporting local business? did someone hand make it?

it’s a challenge, i’m not going to lie to you. especially when it comes to medicine. i need allergy medicine to live. BUT you can only buy it in plastic bottles, that come in plastic packaging. and was probably made super cheap in a factory in india, where i would hope that people were at least paid a fair wage.

so i can’t buy 100% ethically, local and hand-made for every single purchase. but i can make conscious decisions about what and where i buy. and i can make sure that my purchases are directly supporting people! i encourage you to do the same, whenever you can!

how do you purchase? leave a comment below! let’s learn together!!

(and send me an email if you would like your very own set of cute crochet pumpkins!)

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#35til35

in celebration of my 35th birthday, i have started an awesome project! #35til35 is a daily photo of each year of my life so far! you can follow on facebook or on instagram (but don’t need to have accounts)! i hope you enjoy the memories of my almost 35 years on mother earth!

climate change in the midwest

i’ve said for a very long time that we are living in the opening credits of a disaster movie. the opening credits are news clips of increasing earthquakes or severe hurricanes or massive tornados. in the movies, 10 years of news clips happens in 3 minutes. so all you can think to yourself is, ‘how did they not see that coming?!’

so because it’s all about the global climate strike today, i thought i would share a bit about climate change in the midwest.

first, a brief lesson

climate and weather are 2 different things. but they are connected! weather is what happens everyday. climate is the trend of weather over time. so the average weather over 30, 50, 100 or even 500 years is climate!

when weather becomes more severe or extreme, it is going to change the climate! 100 days of record high temperatures will increase the average weather over time. (that’s climate, remember?!)

how can we fix it? first, we have to figure out if what we (the humans) are doing is causing the change or not. GUESS WHAT?!?!!!! it’s us. and we’ve known this for YEARS!

greenhouse gases are increasing which is causing warmer temperatures. and like i mentioned earlier, more extreme weather days will change our climate. this is happening all around the world. every day. july was the hottest on record. ever.

so does it begin or end with weather?!

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inaugural peach tree season!

2019 was year 1 of the ochocki family peach tree!

planted in may, no one expected to get peaches this year, but WE DID!!!! and last week, they were ready! peach breakfasts, peach crisps, peach crumbles and even frozen peaches for a winter pie!

1 branch broke, my dad and i taped and splinted it, so hopefully it will make a full recovery!?

and just like that, peach season 2019 is finished. it’s getting colder and the farmer’s almanac predicts snow the week of 21-25 september. so this is it, the end of summer!

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don’t forget your self-care

i met annabel years ago at sangam. (well actually, we first met on email because she won a scholarship to come to a sangam event!) annabel is a long time supporter of girl guiding and girl scouting, both local and global. over the years, the guiding world has brought us together in several locations: india, uganda, madagascar. most recently, we were at sangam together in april. working on the archive, having fun at easter with all of the sangam local staff and exploring good restaurants in pune!

a few weeks ago, annabel’s doctors discovered she has stage 4 ovarian cancer. today she is having round 2 of chemo.

when you hear ‘stage 4,’ you think, surely there must have been signs? but that’s the tricky thing about ovarian cancer. she was just feeling tired after work, but shrugged it off (as many of us do). but then the bloating started and, as a nurse, annabel knew she couldn’t shrug this off. the doctors did an ultrasound to find 5.1 litres (1.4 gallons) of fluid. that fluid revealed the ovarian cancer.

annabel’s life has completely changed, but things are looking up!

what you can do!

even if you don’t know annabel, the first thing that goes through your mind is ‘oh my goodness, what can i do to support her?’ well that is a very good question and one that annabel has some answers to!

“there is nothing people can do for me – support is wonderful and much appreciated but this is my battle.”

annabel

i know this quote from annabel sounds a bit harsh when you first read it. you instinctively say, well that’s not true. of course i can support and help annabel! but as you ponder it, you realize that in fact, we can’t do anything for annabel. we are (probably) not her doctors. we can’t do the chemo treatments for her. we can’t keep her hair from falling out. we all want to support and help annabel, but this is her personal battle.

but

annabel has a few suggestions of changes and actions we can do in our everyday lives that will make her journey and battle have an even stronger purpose.

step 1: listen to your body

we all know when our body is talking to us. sometimes it’s good (wow! thanks for that yoga practice, i feel incredible!). and sometimes it’s warning us (hey christa, stop eating all this oily food because you are making that gallstone bigger!). we feel those aches and pains. but do you take a moment to reflect upon what those aches and pains mean?

do you need to go to a doctor? do you need to exercise? do you need to eat a healthy meal?

annabel has been sharing her story and struggles with cancer in hopes that this will encourage at least ONE other person in this world to listen to their bodies and get checked out.

when was the last time you went for a physical? when was the last time you got that pap smear? when was the last time that you got that mammogram?

preventative medicine can go a long way, so don’t delay! if you have been procrastinating that check up, just GO!

“this is why i think, as a nurse and a guide leader, i’m in a position to try and help women stop and think about themselves and to get checked out. maybe this will stop someone else going through this trauma.”

annabel

step 2: support kusafiri

“i’ve lost a lot through this diagnosis – work, being a guide leader, my flat and my independence. but i refuse to allow cancer to remove my passion for travel and world experiences.”

annabel

annabel is an incredible advocate for kusafiri world centre (the world association of girl guides and girl scouts’ world centre in the africa region). and cancer is not stopping that! it’s time to step it up! let’s all become friends of kusafiri to support annabel!

you can become a friend of kusafiri with a simple, one-time donation of GBP40/US$50. the time to donate is now! because there is an anonymous, generous friend out there in the world who is going to match donations up to US$10,000!!!!!!!!!

ready to donate? follow this link and you’ll learn everything you need to know!

so remember…

  • let’s all support annabel by getting our regular check ups
  • take time for your self-care routine
  • encourage a friend to take time for their self-care routine
  • and let’s ensure that annabel’s passion for travel and world experiences stays strong and resilient – become a friend of kusafiri!

#plasticfreejuly, ruined

My #plasticfreejuly was ruined on the 1st of July.

I still have my braces and it involves a LOT of single use plastic. Special plastic toothbrush. Special small plastic tooth brushes to clean under your braces. Special plastic floss threaders. Plastic holds the metal onto your teeth to make the braces work in the first place. Retainer? Made out of plastic (at least mine has glitter in it??!!?????).

BUT!

PLASTIC. PLASTIC. PLASTIC.

They come off next week! And my teeth will be looking straight and beautiful again, to the detriment of Mother Earth.

So I’ll need to make some other lifestyle changes to make up for it! Stay tuned for the next edition of #plasticfreejuly, where I’ll share how I’m turning the house into a 100%-new-plastic-bag free zone!

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in photos: july and august 2009

i went home for a visit for the 4th of july. these are the great sioux falls!
jacqueline and her new baby, named christa!
the kids licking the bowl after making chocolate cake!
tree pose!
more licking of spoons after baking!
went on a community school visit at siambele church of christ.
and the compulsory group photo after school!

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nepal flat

south dakota flat

i’m used to south dakota ‘mountains.’ we have newton hills, the black hills and the badlands. south dakota is so flat, that the hills look like mountains because there is no other point of reference. one of my favorite books is ‘walk two moons’ by sharon creech. in the book, the main character describes south dakota like this:


after driving for so long through the flat south dakota prairie, it was a shock to come upon the badlands. it was as if someone had ironed out all the rest of south dakota and smooshed all the hills and valleys and rocks into this spot.

sharon creech, walk two moons

there is no better description of south dakota’s flatness. 

nepal has hills and mountains. but for me, the hills seem like mountains. i was enjoying the massive and expansive peaks. i kept calling them mountains and jen kept correcting me, they are hills.

then the mountains appeared…

for a large amount of my time in nepal, it was unseasonably cloudy and rainy. it’s summer in this part of the world and it isn’t usually rainy. an occasional summer storm, but not days of clouds and rain. which is what we had in nepal.

one morning, the clouds drifted away, the sun came out and we saw MOUNTAINS.

mountains so high that the snow never melts. mountains so high that some have never been summited. mountains so high that you can’t help but stop and awe at the amazing strength and power of our mother earth. mountains so high that even thinking about hiking anywhere near them fills me with a bit of fear and anxiety.

and we were going hiking. not in the mountains or even to the mountains. just in the hills. but remember, coming from south dakota, even the hills look like mountains to me. but the lodge said that the hike was easy. so i wasn’t too worried about my lack of physical preparation. plus jen said you only need tennis shoes, not actual hiking boots. so again, not too worried that i wouldn’t be able to physically do it.

but still a bit scary when you see these beautiful mountains towering over you when you are on an impressively high hill.

day 1

we started the hike in the pouring rain. and i didn’t have a rain coat. luckily, i was able to borrow one from one of the local staff at the lodge. without that, it would have been miserable 2 minutes in and i would have turned back to stay in the nice, warm and comfortable lodge. it was quickly apparent that the nepal description of ‘easy’ was drastically different than my own. but since i’m not an avid hiker, i wasn’t going to say anything because i have no benchmarks for these things.

while we started in the rain, it let up about an hour in. then we were just hiking in mist. but it didn’t feel cold, so that was a positive. and it was slightly uphill, some steps and a bit of flat-ish path. when we arrived at the hostel, it was foggy and misty. perfect napping weather! after a big lunch of rice and dhal, i took a lovely afternoon nap. 

a short first day of 3.5 hours of hiking. my phone tells me that i walked 14,143 steps or 6.5 miles or 10.46 kilometers.

day 2

the second day was a BIG one.

it was mostly up, which was manageable. but because of the unseasonal rain, thousands and thousands of leeches were everywhere! and these were not manageable. leeches were EVERYWHERE!!!!! you were forced to stop every 10 feet or so and check your shoes to flick the leeches off before they got into your socks. it was leecheville!! even though it was a bit intense, we kept our spirits up and continued pushing through!

in the last few hours of our day (and about 4 protein bars in) it started to lightning, thunder and pour with rain. thank goodness we had made our way out of the forest and onto the jeep track to walk. then it got cold. and i mean COLD! ​my pace slowed down tremendously, but so did everyone else’s. while i was slowing down, i was still moving forward. one step in front of the other.

​finally we came upon the village that our hostel was in and had 1 final staircase of stone steps to descend. i don’t think i’ve ever been so excited to see stairs in my whole life! we made it down, went to the room, took off all the wet clothes, put on ​my last dry outfit and crawled into the giant and warm comforter!!

this day was mentally challenging for me. it was tough having leeches everywhere. walking in the forest. flicking off leeches. walking on the jeep track. flicking off leeches. walking down stairs. flicking off leeches. walking up stairs. flicking off leeches. walking next to cliff faces that drop so far down you can’t see the bottom. walking in the rain. flicking off leeches. walking in the lightning and thunder. and still flicking off leeches. instead of complaining, i decided that i was just going to be in the moment and feel it all. good and bad. positive and negative. i was just going to experience it all. and while it was tough, and definitely not an ‘easy’ hike, i was there and i was going to finish it.

after an hour under the comforter, i was finally warm again. we ate dinner in our beds (thank goodness for our hiking guides who took such great care of us!!) and talked about our day. we played headspace on jen’s phone​,​ drank strong and burn-y nepali rum​ and had french fries and popcorn for dinner​. i slept very well!

my phone tells me i walked 20,958 steps or 9.5 miles or 15.28 kilometers. it was a LONG 7.5 hour walk indeed, but i finished it!

day 3

on the final day of our hike, we had 5 hours of walking. most of it downhill, which i usually prefer! but after a long 7.5 hours of hiking the day before? it was ROUGH. the stairs were steep but luckily not slippery since the sun decided to peak out for a brief moment.

a lot of physical feelings were arising in my body. i had jen’s yin yoga voice in my head, ‘it isn’t pain, it’s a sensation. listen to what your body is telling you.’ well, my knees are telling me that they hate doing thousands of stairs when I don’t do thousands of stairs EVER. so for my knees’ sake, i should probably keep exercising and keep them in better shape.

we reached a village across the lake from pokhara. it was impressive to look back up to the top of the hill and realize that i hiked all the way down. and i felt proud of myself! i made it all those miles. i didn’t collapse. i didn’t get bitten by leeches. i didn’t get blisters! and i hate to admit it, but i actually had fun doing physical activity! 

we took a public bus back into town. it was a typical developing country bus ride. a ton of people crammed in, people and luggage on the top, a kid throwing up and jenny (one of the ladies on the trip) ended up with someone’s kid in her lap!! we made it into town, had an amazing lunch of rice and dhal and came back to the lodge. in true ​hiking trip fashion, we arrived back in the rain​.​

my phone says that i walked 25,755 steps or 11.8 miles or 18.99 kilometers on day 3. that makes a total of 60,856 steps or 27.8 miles or 44.73 kilometers. much farther than that time me, lwendo and kim went off to some distant village and thought we were going to die because it was so far away!

nepal flat

in the dictionary description sense of the word, south dakota is flat. nepal is not. somewhere along the way, our guide introduced us to the concept of ‘nepal flat.’ because of all the hills and mountains, a dictionary description of flat is in short supply in nepal.

‘nepal flat’ is a wonderful section of road or path that allows you to relax a bit and just walk. it might be slightly up, it might be slightly down, it might be slightly curvy. but it’s mostly flat. it’s flat-ish. it’s nepal flat.

in our group, we had a few people who have been on a few hikes in different parts of the world. they were discussing how the hike would not be labeled as ‘easy.’ this made me feel so much better about thinking it was a bit harder than ‘easy!’ an ‘easy’ hike is mostly flat. our hike was nowhere near flat!

but no matter how you describe the hike, we all finished and survived to tell the tale! and despite the leeches, rain, thunder, cold, sweat, clouds and cliffs, i had a wonderful time. and i would go hiking in nepal again!*

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*if the hike contained a considerable section of nepal flat. 

momos and beer

the best combination

while in nepal, you must indulge yourself in the local food.

in my case my favorite nepali food was MOMOS! small dumplings with vegetables (or chicken) inside, i think i ate 100 of them. i had a range of different tasting momos, which i rated accordingly. but i definitely didn’t have a bad momo the entire time! yes, i ate some so-so ones. but overall? momos are just plain delicious!

my favorite momos were chicken momos i had on my last morning in nepal. it could have been because it was my last morning. it could have been because i was super hungry since i hadn’t had breakfast. or, they could have just been plain amazing! these were at a little restaurant just outside of our hostel.

and we had these amazing vegetable momos for lunch at a little restaurant when we were visiting the boudhanath stupa in kathmandu. they were juicy and tasty and went perfectly with beer on a hot afternoon!

i even learned how to make momos!!!

at the peace dragon lodge where we stayed in pokhara, they arranged a momo making class for us. momos are a challenge to make when you are first learning. i have giant hands, so working with small things is always a bit of a challenge. but after trying my hand at a dozen, and watching the chef do it SO slowly another dozen times, i finally got the hang of it. momos are pretty fun to make after that!

the filling is simple to make. and the dough is even simpler.

the dough is a simple white flour and water recipe. roughly 1 cup of flour plus 2-3 tablespoons of water is enough to make a dozen momos. you mix and work the dough a tiny bit and then let it sit for about 15 minutes. pinch off a tablespoon sized bit of dough and roll this out into a circle. OR, to make things easier, you can roll all the dough out and use a circle cookie cutter or a glass to cut out circles in your dough. when rolling out the dough, you want the thickness to be approximately the same thickness as a tortilla, maybe a bit thinner.

the filling is also super easy! you use a combination of vegetables, in this case carrots, onions, cabbage and green beans. you chop these up very finely and mix with momo masala, oil and soy sauce. you filling shouldn’t be too wet. and the more oil and soy sauce you add, the juicier your momo will be! if you want to add meat, it’s easier to use minced or mashed chicken and mix that with the vegetable mix. and if you are just learning how to make them? the chef suggested cooking the meat before you add them into the momos, that way you know that it is cooked 100%.

then comes the hard part. actually trying to figure out how to fill and fold the momos!

with a tablespoon of filing, put this into the center of your dough circle. you pinch one end together. then you basically pleat the dough together. we were all doing this differently, but you really just have to figure out how it works best for your fingers and your brain!

finally you can cook your momos! steam or fried, they are delicious and fast to cook!

i was also brainstorming different flavor combinations that you could create inside. taco momos. dessert momos. bbq chicken momos. the combinations are endless! i’ve been so inspired that i even bought 2 momo plates as well!

beer

i tried many local beers too!

beer is expensive in nepal compared to india, the prices seem more in line with what you buy on tap at a bar at home. you can get a cocktail for about 520 nepali rupees. a beer is anywhere from 420 nepali rupees to 545 nepali rupees.

my favorite beer is everest. it’s light and has a good crisp-can drink it on a hot day flavor. i’d recommend it when you visit nepal! they also have nepal ice and nepal ice strong. a few of the others in our group enjoyed the nepal ice. i liked the nepal ice strong better. (but i usually prefer the strong version of any kind of beer in this part of the world!)

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