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Ábel's Playthings

We're Abel, Lukács, Rebeka and @annakovecses We enjoy making instead of buying & hope to inspire others too 🌱

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Sorry about the silence guys. We've spent the past month rolling around in a straw stack 😄🌾🌼🌞 the best playmat if you ask me! And in the weekend we're finally off for our big adventure: a whole summer long sailing trip through the Mediterranean. We'll share our adventures and lots of diy play and school ideas here. Stay tuned! xoxo Abel

diy play dough: 1 part salt + 1 part water + 2 parts plain flour ☀️

Abel's new little bat friend called Rokko - sewn from scraps of cut off fabric I saved after sewing myself a dress 💚

I should be busy packing but I'm sewing the fifth harem pants instead. I really want to make a tutorial for these. Perhaps illustrated? ☁️☁️☁️

In a couple of days we're off for a big journey, we'll spend a wonderful month in a tiny log cabin in Hungary and then move back on our sailing boat for the summer. We won't take much stuff with us and I made a special little bag for the boys to hold their toys and maybe also to serve as an emotional anchor during these busy turbulent wandering months 💙

Abel's big favorite at the moment: busy books! (he calls them magic books). Basically a bunch of pages sewn together into a booklet, filled with some simple exercises like "give this snake some pattern" or "fill this jar with apples", "copy this letter" or "make a bead necklace". He loves sitting down by the kitchen table carefully laying out his crayons and working on the booklets for aaaaages :) I personally don't feel it's needed to give any old school academic education for a 4-year-old so don't stress too much about letters and numbers, rather try to keep the challenges light and playful and leave space for creativity. We're moving back to our sailing boat this spring so I'm preparing a mega batch of these for our boat school classes 💙

Step no. 5: Making your own stuff. This step might be the most fun of all. Making useful objects that replace store bought alternatives feels a bit like possessing some kind of supernatural power. Of course by now I learned that I don't need to make EVERYTHING by myself, and I rather focus on a handful of essentials which fit our family's needs perfectly. When starting this zero waste journey I examined the contents of our trash bins and tried to think if there's any way I could DIY the products we regularly bought. I found mainly snack packagings, milk cartons, cereal boxes (and their plastic liner bags), pudding and yoghurt cups, energy bar sachets, apple juice boxes, empty bottles of shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent and lots of paper towel. Based on these records I worked out a routine of making my own simple swaps for these products. Here are a couple of regulars: - snacks: yoghurt, nut milk, granola, energy bars, bliss balls, salty cheesy sticks, dried apple chips and berries, apple cordial, cookies and sheet cakes. This collection of snacks covers pretty much all of our general needs. I've also just accidentally invented a super simple recipe for making our own vanilla pudding, which is a HUGE hit in our house at the moment. -------- Turmeric vanilla oat pudding: 100 g rolled oats 250 ml water 250 ml milk of your choice (for this recipe I like using an organic whole milk, if you prefer sticking with plant milk go for a creamier, richer alternative like soy or cashew) 1 big tablespoon of honey 1 teaspoon of coconut oil 1/4 tsp ground vanilla a pinch of salt a dash of ground turmeric (about 1/4 tsp but experiment with the amount… it should give your pudding a nice light golden custard color but not so much to turn it into curry :) Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high speed until you get a homogenous liquid. Pour into a saucepan and start cooking on low heat, stirring continuously with a hand whisk until the liquid thickens into pudding like consistency. Taste and add more honey, salt or turmeric if you feel it's needed. Divide into 4 small bowls or cups and leave to cool for about 15 minutes... Continue in comments 👇

Mama and Dad took us to the Climate Strike yesterday. We painted our little signs at home and then marched with other children together in Nicosia. We often talk about our planet, not buying plastic and caring for nature at home and Mama told us that yesterday we had a chance to show our voices to the politicians and leaders. I think our planet is a lovely place and I like the sea and the forest and my favorite animal is the leopard - xoxo Abel

Abel is sick with the flu so for the past two days I've been busy trying to cheer him up. Besides chicken soup and an ocean of honey tea I made a tiny notebook (cover is from a pasta box, pages are from brown paper bags cut to size) and a little woolen horse finger puppet. I got very enthusiastic about presenting a masterpiece theater play when he politely asked me to stay quiet and let him sleep, which is probably the best remedy of all 😊💚🌱

Step no.4 Non-food waste. Ok. so you're more or less on track with your packaging free shopping, maximize the use of your food and compost the rest of your organic waste. Meaning your trash bin isn't overflowing any more, hooray! But what about the rest? All minimalist, zero waste books start with a chapter about de-cluttering your home, something you might or might not be willing to do. De-cluttering inevitably means parting with the majority of your stuff, which still needs to be done mindfully (just because you don't see something any more it still exists!) and make sure not to fill the empty spaces with new clutter! Plus, no matter how much you try there'll always be stuff that breaks, tears, looses purpose, stuff that you love too much to part with or sneaks into your home without your will. Here's a couple of tips I do with my trash instead of dropping them in the bin: - Mend it: one of the most useful skills my grandma taught me was darning my clothes. Embrace patches, embroidery, wonky stitches, contrasting fabrics. Use a sewing machine or your hands. - Upcycle it: my grandma used to have a large drawer dedicated entirely to rags: old nightgowns, rugged shirts, stained tablecloths, baby swaddles, etc. This drawer was pure treasure cave for me and I always dreamed of having my own rag drawer. I'm happy to report that I fully achieved this childhood ambition! I use my rags for a variety of creative projects and practical purposes and my kids adore them as much as I did. I've sewn up washable sponges, un-paper towels, menstrual pads, produce bags and small toys and last Christmas I turned many favorite scraps of fabrics into three warm quilted blankets for the kids. - Repurpose it: even if I try to buy our food in bulk, there's always an exception that is packaged in paper or glass. Yes, they're recyclable but I still try to make use of them instead of throwing them out. Partly because recycling works quite poorly in the place I live, partly because I'm able to make useful objets that eliminate the need to buy new ones thus saves resources, energy and money. (Continue in comments)

Didn't get round to posting the new step yesterday because of a last minute costume making race but will try to catch up later today! I know he looks like a butterfly 🦋 but he's actually a dragonfly 🐉

Step no.3 Food waste. Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year (approximately 1.3 billion tonnes) gets lost or wasted. In the meantime about 815 million people of the 7.6 billion people in the world are suffering from chronic undernourishment. Food that gets thrown out ends up in landfills, where it gradually rots and releases methane, that is 20 times more damaging to the environment than CO2. These sad facts tell a lot about the careless wasteful nature of our humanity and often leave me feel hopeless and defeated. But believing in my own power to initiate positive change gives strength and knowing that I'm not only doing it myself but with four other people in my family is already a huge leap further. The two best solutions for managing food waste are: 1. extend your food scraps lifetime as much as you can and 2. compost the rest instead of sending them to landfill. Composting has become a widely available and adaptable solution regardless of where you live. Look for options online and in your neighborhood. You can compost fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, grains, coffee grounds, tea leaves, paper, bamboo, wood and natural fibers. Being able to compost such a large amount of your waste does not mean you're done here. Be mindful and creative with your leftovers and scraps to extend their lifespan and potential instead of sending them straight to compost. Here are some ideas (would love to hear yours in the comments too!): - collect washed ends and peels of carrots, potatoes, celeriac, sweet potatoes, stems of broccoli, mushrooms, parsley, spinach and kale in a brown paper bag in your freezer. When your bag is full use the scraps to cook a yum veggie broth. - leftover porridge can be blended into smoothies or baked up into cakes and pancakes. - my son Abel has the wonderful habit of biting into apples and leaving them behind at different locations of the house. I always collect these half eaten apples along with extra peels and cores in the fridge and use them for making apple cordial - crushed eggshells mixed with used coffee grounds and water makes an awesome fertilizer (Continue in comments)

Step no.2 Building positive shopping habits. Buying. The whole process of wanting something and then rewarding ourselves with buying it floods our brains with dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure. It probably has a lot to do with our gatherer ancestry, we all still carry the instinct of hoarding as much as possible as quickly as possible in our genes. What I found is that mindful shopping habits and especially making useful objects by myself are a hundred times more rewarding. Especially in the long run. Ok, so here is a list of what I do now. Remember that every situation is different, and if you can adapt just one tip from the list that's absolutely great. It means you care and actually do something rather than nothing. - Say no to plastic. As soon as deciding to give zero waste a try I put a ban on buying anything made of or wrapped in plastic. It first sounded quite impossible but I soon found out that it's totally doable. There is a non-plastic substitute for EVERYTHING. - Buy bulk. The alpha and omega of zw food shopping is locating good bulk sources. We buy at farmers markets, a health food shop and a fruit and veg shop stocking a basic line of dry bulk produce. I sew up a dozen of produce bags from an old sheet and use large sturdy canvas totes as shopping bags. - Eliminate your need of processed and packaged food. We used to buy tons of these (cereals, protein bars, nut milk, pouched puree, puffed millet, etc.) that were labelled as healthy and organic, but happened to be heavily packaged. We said goodbye to most of these by changing our needs and habits. Now we make our own nut milk, bake cookies, freeze and dry our fruit, blend up smoothies, make our pesto, etc (more in this later). There are exceptions like pasta, tomato passata, olive oil, vinegar, baking soda, chocolate, beer and vine that can't be bought in bulk here, but we always choose those wrapped in paper (compostable) or glass (reusable). - Always… ALWAYS buy local and seasonal. Shopping at the farmers market makes this easy, but grocery stores always label origins too. (Continue in comments)

Step no.1: The Big Picture If you're reading this post chances are high that you already have a basic picture about the sad consequences of our modern lifestyle and willing to make a positive change in the impact you make on our planet. Because we do have an impact, each and every one of us. The first and most important truth to understand is that your everyday choices have consequences. Masses of people all around the world are becoming wealthier and consumerism rapidly sneaks its way into their lives. We are getting encoded to spend money on stuff that is destined to end up in trash, so that we can spend more money on stuff. We buy cheap fast fashion clothing, fill our lives with electronic devices, label ourselves as "travelers" and "adventurers" taking advantage of affordable flight tickets (aircraft engine emissions contribute horrendously to global warming), polluting our beautiful planet with our acts every day. So, I guess the first basic step in any zero waste journey is to understand your impact and make a firm decision to turn it around. Not because it looks good on instagram but because we don't want to leave behind a messed up planet for our children. Change should start at looking at your small everyday habits: audit your expenses and your trash bin for a week and evaluate what you find there. Ask yourself if there's any way to eliminate or replace bad choices with good ones? Do you really need all that stuff or are you just buying them out of habit or social pressure? Here are some simple basic tips. They won't solve all problems at once but are a good point to start. - bike or walk to work instead of using your car - dine in instead of take away, or bring your own container - use your arm power instead of relying on machines in the kitchen (chopping, mixing, grinding, grating) - eat less meat - discover your backland, instead of traveling to remote exotic destinations go on a camping trip - spend as much time in nature as you can instead of staying indoors and consuming energy. Reconnecting with nature is the most rewarding experience and brings you face to face with how extremely we are to destroy it. (Continue in comments)

My friend recently asked me to give her some basic tips on reducing waste and sustainable living. I wrote down everything I knew and organized them into 7 steps. I'd love to share these tips with you too over the coming week, one step each day. Stay tuned!

We made this little color collecting tray last year inspired by Jo Ebisujima's montessori book. Abel calls it our treasure chest. He loves going on long walks, collecting leaves, stones and flowers and sorting them according to their color. I realized it's the perfect activity to start when his emotions are getting out of control. A bit of fresh air, walking and pretend play (we're good pirates hiding our colorful treasures from bad pirates) always manages to push his reset button in the end.

Abel here: I had a grumpy day so Mama gave me a small house she made from a cardboard box. I was a happy boy again till my little brother woke up and put his hands on my house 😡

Mid-week essentials for dummies 💚 Inarguably the hardest part of the journey is convincing yourself to start it. Many people (including old me) think going zero waste is a huge commitment that requires expensive specialized equipment and redesigning your whole life. The truth couldn't be further from that. The only special stuff I bought was a new set of bamboo toothbrushes for the family, other than that everything you need is probably already there in your house. You don't even need to craft anything if you don't want to. * Okay, so the first thing you'll need is a good water bottle. The one I have is a 750 ml sturdy brown glass beauty that cost me €2. It originally contained carrot juice, I just soaked off the label and that's it. * next in the row is good old kitchen towel. Use it instead of paper towel, placemats and lunch bags (wrapped furoshiki style)! * all natural bars of unpackaged soap is the only thing we use for and hand washing. Plus it's the base of our simple diy dish soap (see previous post). * instead of buying or making tons of beeswax wraps what about a plate placed on top of your bowl? A plate can also double as a soap dish or a handy tool for straining your loose tea. * a massive collection of simple repurposed jars is a must and super easy to build up. When buying any packaged food (coconut oil, nut butter, sauces, chick peas, pesto, passata, etc) ALWAYS go for the ones packed in glass. Large jars are great for storing bulk food, while small ones act perfectly as lunch containers and to-go cups (if your coffee is too hot pull a kid sized stray sock on your jar)! * finally, sewing your own produce bags from old sheets in various sizes is super easy but in case you don't own a sewing machine a bunch of old pillowcases will do the job perfectly. 💚💚💚

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