Saturday, June 29, 2013

I Had Loved You Before I Met You

Dear Elin, 

We longed for you many months before you were conceived. And when "that time of the month" didn't come, our hearts raced and beat so fast at the thought of you. We had to wait for three weeks before we could find out for sure because we were at the beginning of our vacation in Spain. Throughout the weeks, the constant smell and sight of jamon hiberico all over town made Mommy nauseous but it made us think of you, little sweetheart. The moment we came back home, you were tested positive and we were overjoyed with gladness. And we were given your very first photo by the doctor and we couldn't stop smiling at you. You were just a tiny being (2 cm long) in Mommy's tummy, but you made us overflow with love.

At 8 weeks
At our check up the following month, we began to see your body forming. Your head, nose, mouth, arm, and legs started to show and were so amazed at your beauty.

At 12 weeks

Then it was the moment we were waiting for - to know your gender. We found out you're a girl! And oh, look at your spine. It was forming ever so lovely. You will be strong and a supporter for those in need.

At 16 weeks

Five weeks later, we saw your footprint. The five little toes on your right foot. We hope you will grow up knowing that God's word is a lamp for your feet and a light on your path (Psalm 119:105).

At 21 weeks
Mommy still vividly remembers feeling your first kick the day before we saw your footprint. It was your uncle's birthday on July 20 and we were moving furniture from someone's house to ours. Mommy had not eaten all day and we think you were telling her that you were hungry by kicking. 

Then at 33 weeks, we were able to see your lungs, liver, bladder, stomach, and heart. We pray that you will keep your heart pure and honor God with your body as it is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
At 33 weeks

A month later, we finally saw your face. We couldn't help but say "Hi" to you as we walked home from the clinic.

At 37 weeks

We had loved you long before we met you and we love you even more now that we've met you. We thank God for allowing you to be in our care. Welcome to this world, sweet child.

Now we understand how we can love you so much.. because God has loved us first.

"We love because he first loved us." - 1 John 4:19


Friday, June 28, 2013

Homemade Vapor Rub for Cough and Cold

Homemade Herbal Salve

I used to use Vicks vapor rub when I caught a cold or cough for as long as I remember. I rubbed it on my neck and back to warm my body and relieve congestion. And I would rub it all over my neck and cover it with a small handkerchief to keep the warmth in when I suffered a severe cough. It worked well and I am glad for it. But as I'm becoming more familiar with natural alternative remedies, I find that I can make my own vapor rub that is natural and works just as wonderfully without worrying about preservatives and questionable ingredients, especially when I need to apply it to my baby. I've been mixing just eucalyptus essential oils and sweet almond oil for relief, but at times it is not convenient to bring the whole bottle of essential oil and carrier oil when we're out and about. And I've spilled eucalyptus essential oil all over the floor when I tried to mix it with the carrier oil (although afterwards the whole room smelled like eucalyptus the whole night and it helped me decongest!). To solve this problem, I experimented making a homemade eucalyptus "vapor rub" in the form of a salve. It is simple, safer, and also cheaper to make.


2.5 parts coconut oil
1 part beeswax
Eucalyptus essential oil


Melt beeswax and coconut oil in a pan and add the essential oil. Pour into a glass container or tin. I like to re-use the 2.5 oz or 4 oz baby food jars to store the salve. The salve will harden in fifteen minutes or so. If you find the consistency too hard, scoop it back to the pan, re-melt and add more coconut oil. If it's too soft, re-melt and add more beeswax. The more eucalyptus essential oil you put in, the stronger the strength of the oil. Find what works best for you. One of these days I want to try to add peppermint essential oil to the salve for its ability to relieve headache, fever, and muscle-ache. I re-use glass baby food jars for this.

Beeswax pellets and coconut oil.
The oil becomes yellowish after the beeswax has melted.
I pour into baby food glass jars and wait for it to harden.

I apply this salve on my temple for headaches, under my nose to relieve nasal congestion and on my neck, chest, and back to relieve chest congestion.

Read here for guidelines on using essential oils.

What essential oils have you used that work well to relieve cough, cold, and headaches?

Disclaimer: Although I am passionate about healthy and natural living, I am not a certified or a licensed medical practitioner who can counsel anyone in medical issues and cannot be held responsible for any decision you make regarding your health. What I am sharing are what I have learned and applied to my family but may not necessarily work for yours. My only hope is that this blog may encourage you to learn more about healthy and natural living which will hopefully help you as you make decisions for your own family.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Recipe: Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup

This orange-colored soup is rich in vitamin A, C, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. Eat it as is or you can dip bread in it. 


Pumpkin and/or butternut squash, cut small
Chicken broth (click here for directions)
1 onion, chop small
A few cloves of garlic, crush and chop small
Pastured butter
A dash of milk
A dash of coriander powder (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Steam pumpkin and/or butternut squash until soft. Smash them with a fork and set aside.
2. Heat up butter and sautee onions and garlic until fragrant and add pumpkin and/or butternut squash. 
3. Add chicken broth until you get to the consistency you desire. Then add a dash of milk, coriander powder, and salt and pepper to taste.

Bon app├ętit!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Practical Things I Learned from My Late Grandfather

I had an awesome grandfather. He was one person who was always full of energy and full of love. You would rarely see him idle. He was always talking to people, giving advice to people, and helping people, regardless of race, status, or religion. When he was alive and in his old age, he had daily habits that he just had to do, which made people wait for him and put patience to the test for those who cared for him. We thought those habits were time consuming and pointless, but now I realize that those were some of the most practical things that are actually beneficial for our health. They might seem trivial and unimportant, but he knew better, and I'm so glad he never stopped telling us the same things over and over until they are stuck in my mind.

Physical Health

1. Always gargle your mouth with water after you eat. When we are out and about, it is important to clean your mouth at least with water after you eat, especially sweet food, so that food particles don't get stuck in your mouth. Bacteria grows not only in between your teeth, but also on your tongue.

2. Comb your hair a hundred strokes after you take shower. Brushing keeps our hair and scalp healthy by distributing the natural oils throughout the hair shaft and increases blood circulation in the scalp.

3. Dry your hands and feet completely after you wash them. Check in-between your fingers. Drying our hands thoroughly after washing prevents the transfer of germs.

4. Dental hygiene. He always made sure he cleaned his teeth after each meal and got rid of any food that might have stuck in between his teeth to minimize bacteria from growing. 

5. Exercise. He went to Monas each morning and exercised with my grandmother until he couldn't do it anymore. We know the importance of exercising but we don't usually do it enough.

Spiritual Health

6. Always smile. When I think about it, I have never seen my late grandfather frown or had a sad look on his face. He was always smiling and seeing him brightened our days. Maybe that was one of the reasons he had a long healthy life.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." - Proverbs 17:22

7. Sing and Dance. He loved to sing and dance, even in his old age or in the midst of strangers. He was a happy man. No, we don't have to sing and dance in public, but I find that when I sing (whether loudly or quietly) when I'm down, I'm comforted, when I sing when I'm happy, my heart rejoices. 

"Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting." - Psalm 147:1

8. Simplicity. He was always doing something and talking to people, but he was a simple man. He loved God and his family, and that's all he needed. He didn't ask much of anything, didn't want to burden anyone with anything, and gave the best to other people. 

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:21

9. He gave more than he received. He gave generously in every area of his life, be it time, energy, or money. He gave without expecting anything in return.

"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" - Acts 20:35

10. He was a man after God's own heart. He believed in Jesus Christ and his life portrayed Christ-like characters. His presence conveyed joy and peace that you could only see in a person who has experienced the love of Christ. He has touched many lives and he has finished his race well.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." - 2 Timothy 4:7

Life is too short to dwell in the trivial things of life. Life is too precious to rush through in the fast lane. Let's finish this race well and leave a legacy worthy of passing on for the generations to come.

"We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done." - Psalm 78:4

Monday, June 24, 2013

Don't Forget To Remember

If I forget to remember the pain of suffering,
I'd miss appreciating God's faithfulness in my life.
If I forget to remember the sorrow of loneliness,
I'd miss that God's grace is sufficient for thee.
If I forget to remember to show compassion to the less fortunate,
I'd miss to understand that they are also precious in His sight.
If I forget to remember that the air we breath is God's free gift to us,
I'd miss God's mercy in our lives.
If I forget to remember that Jesus died on the cross for our sins,
I'd miss realizing that salvation is costly.
If I forget to remember that our life is already mapped out in God's hands,
I'd miss living with peace.
If I forget to remember that our health is in God's hands,
I'd miss the contentment of living in the now.
If I forget to remember the importance of sharing the gospel,
I'd miss the joy of living purposefully. 

If I forget to remember that I am the recipient of undeserved grace, I'd miss thanking God for His blessings and providence in our lives.

I don't want to forget to remember that my body is the temple of God,
So that I don't become a stumbling block to other people.

I don't want to forget to remember that God allows suffering to exist in this world,
So that God can refine us to be more like Christ.
I don't want to forget to remember the importance of our words and actions,
So that I will finish this race without regret.
I don't want to forget to remember that you and I share equal standing in God's eyes,
So that I may not boast in my strength.

I don't want to forget to remember how people have encouraged me,
So that I can be an encouragement to other people.
I don't want to forget to remember that all things work together for our good,
So that I will face life's many challenges with obedience.

I don't want to forget to remember to live life intentionally,
So that I can take part in extending His Kingdom.
I don't want to forget to remember to give more than to receive,
So that I can extend God's love to other people.

I don't want to forget to remember to love others more than myself,
So that God's name will be glorified.

"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." - Proverbs 11:25

What do you not want to forget to remember?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ten Foods to Boost Our Immune System

Healthy food is the foundation to a good health and goes along way in preventing illnesses. Sometimes we are still down with sickness even when we have tried our best to be healthy. Fortunately, if we have a strong immune system, our body can fight illnesses, shorten the duration, and even cure the illnesses naturally.

Foods that boost our immune system:

1. Bone broth. Properly prepared homemade bone broth is very nutritious and provides many vitamins and minerals for our body.

2. Raw honey. Raw honey, especially manuka honey, contains antiviral and antibacterial properties that supports good health. 

3. Cod liver oil. Cod liver oil is rich in vitamin D and A that is critical for growth and repair of body tissues, contributing to the health of our immune system.

4. Coconut oil. Paired with cod liver oil, these two work synergistically to supply healthy fats and vitamins needed for many bodily functions. 

5. Elderberry syrup. Elderberry is a natural immunity booster that is high in vitamins and antioxidants.

6. Echinacea. Taking echinacea at first sign of illness often reduces the severity of of the illness and speeds up the healing process.

7. Consume more (raw) garlic. It is anti-viral and helps to fight infections.

8. Blueberries. This dark colored fruit is very rich in antioxidants and flavonoids that are extremely valuable for superior health. It is one of the best antidotes to oxidate stress, something that ages you. Blueberry is an acid-forming food, but its health benefits outweigh the negative aspects.

9. Citrus fruits. Citrus fruits are vitamin C powerhouse good source of antioxidants.

10. Sea Vegetables. Seaweed and kelp are rich in many minerals especially iodine which is important in supporting our thyroid.

What other immune-boosting foods can you add to the list?

Disclaimer: Although I am passionate about healthy and natural living, I am not a certified or a licensed medical practitioner who can counsel anyone in medical issues and cannot be held responsible for any decision you make regarding your health. What I am sharing are what I have learned and applied to my family but may not necessarily work for yours. My only hope is that this blog may encourage you to learn more about healthy and natural living which will hopefully help you as you make decisions for your own family.

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.

Eat Your Antioxidant-Rich Foods

With the recent haze in Singapore due to forest fires in the neighboring country, we all have been finding ways to avoid breathing in the toxic particles present in the air. These pollutants may cause inflammation in your lungs, skin sensitivity, and irritate our eyes, nose, and throat. Staying indoors, closing the windows, turning on the air conditioners and air purifiers are some ways to protect us from the haze, but there are also other ways that we can do nutritionally that can boost our immune system.

1. Drink more water. This will help our kidneys flush out toxins we inhale or absorb through skin.

2. Limit your alcohol and coffee consumption as they promote the fluid loss and leaching of nutrients from our body.

3. Eat more antioxidant-rich foodsAntioxidants fight off harmful molecules in the body called free radicals. Free radicals are toxic and highly unstable molecules that damage body cells such as DNA, lipids, and impairing the brain and other tissues. They are formed as a natural by-product of body chemistry (from things like pollution, alcohol, cigarette smoke, etc) and worsen when you consume rancid vegetable oils and those containing MSG. Stress, pollution, alcohol, and smoking cigarettes also further accelerate the formation of free radicals. Antioxidants are important to protect the body from the damage caused by free radicals and our skin from radiation from the sun, so the more you can include them in your diet, the better that your body can defend itself against free radicals. 

Deep-colored produce signify the presence of antioxidants. Here is a list of food that is rich in antioxidants:

- Berries (blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, cranberry, and cherry)

- Red Fruits and Vegetables, such as tomatoes, papayas, and carrots.

- Dark Green Vegetables, such as broccoli and kale.

Nuts and Seeds. These vitamin E-rich foods are natural antioxidants. Moisturizing our skin with creams that contain natural vitamin E will also protect, preserve, and renew skin cells by reducing oxidative stress.

Vitamin C-rich foods such as bell peppers and citrus fruits such as orange and grapefruits (the highest concentration of the antioxidants is in the pulp, so don't drink just the juice!).

Garlic. It contains antioxidant flavonoids that also has anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.

- Rooibos Tea. Naturally high in antioxidants and caffeine-free.

- Green Tea or Matcha. It has the capacity to reduce free radicals and protect cells from oxidative stress and skin damage. 

Isn't it a blessing that we can breathe in clean air? Do you realize that some of the most important things in life are free, such as oxygen and water? Thank you, Lord!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy 5th Year Wedding Anniversary

Nine years ago, I was introduced to someone that I would otherwise never meet. Four years later, I was the lucky girl that became his wife. And five years later, today, marks my fifth year wedding anniversary with him. I am one blessed woman! 

I love the quote that my friend, Yanny, wrote: "The early stages of romance do not compare to the security of a committed relationship. Marital love may not always burn with the heat and passion of that first stage of romantic love; however, it also does not burn out easily. The consistent warmth it provides is there on the coldest days and darkest nights." 

I find it very true. As the years go by, I feel more and more secure with our marriage. Little things that used to bother me don't bother me anymore because I've come to know my husband inside out. I respect and trust him with all my heart. And I'm proud of him. 

He understands and applies the Word of God. He knows his role as a husband.   He does his job well, never even once complains about his job, and always comes home smiling, even after a long day at work. The security he provides in this area is another one of the things I'm so thankful for.

We are different in many ways, but with God at the center of our marriage, everything else is work-able. We build many memories together through traveling, eating out, biking, and even grocery shopping together. Yes, we love grocery shopping together, especially lately when we started venturing out to learning and searching for real food, trying different brands of pastured foods, and looking at food labels more closely. I'm glad that God gives me a passion for cooking and learning about food and healthy living, because this is one area that we are both very passionate about and it sparks many conversations between us both. We also love to travel and I've been so fortunate to be able to experience God's creations through traveling to so many places with my husband. Thank you, E, for opening my eyes to the world. Can you believe we've been to all these places together?

Happy 5-year wedding anniversary, E! I can't wait to see what the next five years (times five) will bring!

Love, V.

"Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find? The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him." - Proverbs 20:6-7

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Singapore's Eco-Friendly Mall and Crafts

This month at Pasture Living, we're doing a series on "I Care for Our Planet!"  in conjunction with us being nominated as a finalist in the "eco challenge" category of the Singapore Blog Award 2013.

I had an opportunity to attend the eco craft workshop organized by Panasonic and at Singapore's first eco-mall, City Square Mall. I learned a few new things about Singapore's movement towards green living and I'm proud to be a part of it. 

What did we do in the eco craft workshop?

The theme was "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle." So we made a few eco-friendly activities that used something old and turned them into something new. Simple activities that you can do with your children while teaching them to reuse and recycle.

1. Handmade Coasters. We used old t-shirts, cut them into long strips, braided three long strips, and glued them into a circle. Using old t-shirts to make coasters are very good because cotton absorbs water well. You can use this "coaster" in various ways. Put it on greeting cards, make it into a headband, or pin it into a bag (like I did, see picture below).

2. Handmade Bags. We used old t-shirts, cut the neckline, sleeves, and bottom hem. Turn the t-shirt wrong side up, tie the bottom of the shirt with the hem that you cut earlier, turn the t-shirt upside up, and you have made a handbag! Decorate the bag as you wish. I used my "coaster" and made a lollipop design.

3. Handmade Stationery Pouches. We used unused socks, cut two slits on the top, and put a ribbon through. Decorate as you like.

I made some nice friends there and it was a refreshing experience to meet fellow bloggers.

The ten finalists of the Panasonic Eco Challenge category

Each of the bloggers were interviewed about how we felt being the finalists of the eco challenge category of the Singapore Blog Awards 2013 (pleasantly surprised and honored, of course!) and I was asked how I view green-living in my personal life. And I answered how I read a story about a mom who made a beautiful dress for her little girl, how initially that dress was only worn for special occasions, how as she grew taller, layers of fabrics were added to extend its life, how then it became a top when it no longer fit as a dress, how then it became an apron, and then a dusting cloth, and then became cloths to clean the floor. Nothing about that dress was wasted and she used that dress until it was no longer usable. This story is so powerful in reminding me about being a good steward of things and I hope I can find ways to do the same. 

Each of us was given a goodie bag and among the gifts was a bamboo towel. It's the softest towel I've seen! It's so fascinating I decided to write about it in a separate post.

At the end of the workshop, we were given a small tour of the mall to learn about the mall's green features. What Makes City Square Mall Eco-Friendly?

1. The mall uses panels that allow natural lights to shine through, thus requiring less electricity during the day.

2. Lighting sensors are installed in the mall that detect how much natural lights pass through and it will manage on its own how much extra lights it needs to turn on or off based on the level of brightness they detect (auto-lighting).

3. The escalators save energy by slowing down when its not in use. 

4. You can find recycling bins in the mall.

5. In their outdoor fountain area, which is also covered by glass panels that allows natural light to pass through, has a green wall that is made of fern plants which acts as a beautiful backdrop and provides a cooling effect. They made the system such that it stores rain water to water the plants, instead of using clean water.

And I found out from its websites, there are more green features that make this mall eco-friendly. You can read more about it here.

Yay for a greener Singapore!

The Earth-Friendly Bamboo

This month at Pasture Living, we're doing a series on "I Care for Our Planet!"  in conjunction with us being nominated as a finalist in the "eco challenge" category of the Singapore Blog Award 2013.

I received this bamboo towel from the eco craft workshop I attended and it is amazingly soft. This is what the packaging says:

"Bamboo towels are made from 100% bamboo fiber. The bamboo plant is naturally antibacterial, so it is grown without pesticides. It can spun into yarn without harsh chemical treatments.

Softer and more absorbent than cotton, cashmere or silk, bamboo towels are completely biodegradable.

Environmental Benefits:

We could call bamboo the most environmentally friendly plant on earth. It is the fastest growing plant on earth, some species can grow over one meter in 24 hours. It regenerates itself after every harvesting, which means it required no replanting, no tractors and no ploughers which in turn mean no pollution is generated in its regrowth. 

Bamboo can be continuously re-harvested every 3-5 years with no damage to the surrounding environment.

Bamboo plays a critical part in the balance of earth's oxygen/carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere, generating around 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees, and that's all year round as bamboo is an everygreen plant. It has one of the highest rates of photosynthesis in any plant species.

It is believed that if bamboo were planted on a mass basis it could completely reverse the effects of global warming in just 6 years!"

How amazing is that? I wish I could plant bamboos myself! But even more amazing is the Creator of bamboos, don't you think? If our God can create such a fantastic plant which can self-sustain, how more will he take care of us humans who were created in the image of God! Soli deo gloria.

"And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." - Matthew 6:28-34

Let's be a "bamboo" to our earthly home!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How to Reduce Energy Consumption

This month at Pasture Living, we're doing a series on "I Care for Our Planet!"  in conjunction with us being nominated as a finalist in the "eco challenge" category of the Singapore Blog Award 2013.

The energy we use everyday mainly comes from fossil fuels such as crude oil, natural gas, and coal. We burn these fossil fuels to generate electricity that is used to run machines and power electrical appliances. Cars and buses use petrol or diesel which are produced from fossil fuels. The extraction and burning of fossil fuels results in large amounts of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) to be emitted and cause the earth's temperature to rise (global warming). Fossil fuels take millions of years to form and are considered non-renewable resources. Thus, we need to conserve our energy and depend more on renewable sources of energy, such as solar power, wind power, and hydro power as much as we can. 

There are many things that we can do at home daily to support our environment, such as eating food that minimizes the harmful effects to our environment and managing our waste, but there are also other longer term investments that we can make to be ecologically-friendly and conserve energy in the long run. More and more companies and businesses focus on green movements and develop innovative ways to be environmentally-friendly without sacrificing performance capabilities. Getting well-informed about eco-friendly options on electronics and appliances will benefit the environment as well as saving us money in the long run. 

Here are ten ways we can help to reduce energy consumption:

1. Turn off switches, lights, electronics and appliances when not in use.

2. Buy energy-efficient electrical appliances.

3. Avoid overloading or opening refrigerators unnecessarily.

4. Install inverter-type of air conditioners.

5. Buy electronics that feature maximum energy-saving mode, both in standby and active modes.

6. Look for dishwashers and washing machines that are designed to use less water and electricity. Run them on full loads and on cooler temperatures.

7. Use cellphones that are utilize eco-magnesium, a new type of clean magnesium alloy that do not produce the harms that conventional magnesium brings about.

8. Choose LED lights over conventional light bulbs.

9. Get hybrid or more fuel-efficient cars if you need to have one. Or better yet, take public transportation if that's available in your area. My family decided not to buy a car because public transportation is very convenient in Singapore and on top of that my husband bikes to work almost everyday, 10 km each way. I'm proud of him!

10. Last but not least, educate and share the knowledge! Teaching our children and others how to be a good steward of this place God has graciously blessed us with is probably the most important thing that we can do. We don't see much of the harmful effects now, but if we don't educate and do anything now, their generations and the generations to come will suffer from our ignorance.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." - Proverbs 22:6

Is there anything you can add to the list?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day 2013!

Happy Father's Day!

This post is dedicated especially for my beloved Papi, who is always there for his family, my Father in law who has raised such an amazing son who is now my husband, and of course my husband, the father of our beautiful daughter, Elin

"I can't think of all of you without feeling proud and love." - Daddy Sidarto

Dear Papi,

Thank you for always having a positive attitude towards life, for showing us the importance of family, for reminding us that we have to think about other people first and foremost before our own, for supporting us in all aspects of life, for teaching us to be gentle and patient, and for telling us not to be afraid to try new things and that nothing is impossible in life if we do our best. When we say "no, we can't," you say "yes, you can." We are very blessed to have you as our Dad and we love you, Papi! Here's a video for you.

I was proud to walk down
the aisle with you, Pap!

Dear Daddy,

Thank you for being a godly role model, for your wisdom and advice, for showing us to be generous, for teaching us that it is more blessed to give than to receive, for reminding us to trust in the Lord in the "desert" seasons of our lives, and for raising up Evan to fear and love the Lord. I am very grateful for him. You did an amazing job as a father!

Dear Evan,

No words can express how much you mean to me. Your love, commitment, dedication, and sacrifice are more than what I deserve. I am a better person, mom, and wife because of you. I am so glad that Elin looks just like you because I now have "two" of you. Theodore Hesburgh said: "The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." And you live up to it. You're the best Dad Elin can ever have and we thank God for you.

"The righteous who walks in his integrity - blessed are his children after him!" - Proverbs 20:7

Friday, June 14, 2013

Simple Steps to Manage and Reduce Waste

This month at Pasture Living, we're doing a series on "I Care for Our Planet!"  in conjunction with us being nominated as a finalist in the "eco challenge" category of the Singapore Blog Award 2013.

While it's wonderful to think about various ways to be greener and conserve water and energy, I often overlook the importance of managing waste products. Living in Singapore where trash shoot is conveniently located inside or right outside our apartment, and being able to throw trash in small plastic bags instead of accumulating them in a big can until the trash truck comes once a week, we don't get the see how much trash we throw at the end of the day. Most of us generate tons and tons of trash which gets carted off for landfill burial, and at the rate the trash is piling up, landfills will reach its maximum capacity sooner than we know. Not only that, much of it will not decompose anytime soon and some waste even releases toxic chemicals into the soils, streams, and ground water, which then affects wildlife and ultimately ends up right back at us. Most of us don't even think about it because it doesn't affect us much right now. But think about the future generations - our children's children's children. If we don't find ways to manage and reduce waste now, this beautiful land that God has entrusted to us to take care will not be able to sustain life the way He created it to be. 

Our family is taking one baby step at a time in trying to reduce waste as well. Every step will make a positive impact to our environment. Here are ten simple steps to start managing and reducing our waste:

1. Wash and reuse ziplog bags until they are not usable anymore.
2. Cook from scratch, thus avoiding the packaging that comes from processed foods.
3. Buy in bulk whenever possible.
4. Buy concentrated, natural cleaning supplies, such as Dr Bronner's Castile Soap which I use for making homemade floor cleaner.
5. Start composting. I haven't tried this since we don't have any outdoor space in our apartment. But my friend shares how she does composting and how easy it is.
6. Use as little tin foil, paper towels, plastic wraps, etc. as possible. Use glass jars with lids, re-usable containers, or ziplock bags to store food in the fridge.
7. Use cloth wipes for cleanup. I also cut up old white t-shirts that we no longer use into smaller sizes for cleaning the house.
8. Buy good-quality items. Cheap items tend to break easily (which equals to more things into the trash cans) while good-quality items generally last longer.
9. Consider buying used items whenever possible. Places like Craigslist or eBay sell used items usually for a cheaper price and many times the items are still in very good conditions (e.g. due moving sale, overgrown toys, etc.).
10. Reuse and refashion. Before you recycle or throw anything, see if you can reuse the items for something. Now that I have a little baby, egg cartons, boxes, plastic bottles get multiple uses at home. I also re-use glass bottles or jars to organize my things. If you sew, see if you can refashion unused clothes into usable items.

Any more that you can add to the list?