About Me

Someone who fell in love with the natural world early on and has been smitten ever since. A blade of grass, a mighty mountain, a tiny raindrop, a roaring waterfall, all fill me with awe and wonder. Nature feels home, filled with warmth and love. It pains my heart to see this home being ravaged. This blog is an effort to find tweaks in modern living to preserve the sanctity of this home. I sincerely hope that you join me in this green karmic journey.

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Don't Waste The Seed - Eat Or Treat!

Since last few days, I have a little, restless investigator visiting my compost bucket. She relentlessly pokes and turns the compost, spreading bits and pieces all around, messing up my balcony!

I wondered what she was looking for in the compost. Was it something to build her nest with? Was it food? I think, it was a bit of both!

Then I had an idea. If she was looking for food, I could offer her something better. I had saved a few cantaloupe seeds from the last time I relished the melon. I thought of offering these seeds to the little birdie. 

Musk melon seeds are loaded with vitamins (A,C, E and K) and minerals like zinc and magnesium. 

It was such a delight when she pecked at them. There was another bird following her. Anya told me that was the baby. Soon, the Mom was feeding her baby with the seed too!

That was my aha moment. I had been discarding all watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkin seeds. I did wash and dry them occasionally, but not always. Every time I threw them away, I remembered my childhood. 

The goodness that you throw away, if you don't use the seeds!

Summers meant vacations and melons. We would wash and dry the seeds of musk melons and watermelons and spend lazy hours chatting, peeling and relishing those seeds. 

Watermelon seeds are rich in magnesium, iron, folate and fiber.

The white and delicate seeds of musk melons were easier to crack than the black and hard seeds of watermelons. Both could be cracked by pressing between teeth in a certain manner.

I remember liking musk melon seeds better than watermelon ones. 
It was hard and slow work to peel those seeds but quite rewarding. 

Later, I got to know that these seeds are packed with nutrition.You can buy these kernels off the shelf. They are quite a delicacy and quite expensive too. 

Don't throw in landfill what you can share with your winged friends. 

We all know the nutritional benefits of pumpkin seeds. They are packed with micro nutrients like potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. We literally throw away nutrition when we don't use these seeds. 

Even if we don't use them for ourselves, we can offer them to our winged friends. 

Birds would relish both the seeds and the stringy pulp.

If you've a yard or a balcony, you can make a corner for birds. They love eating different fruits and berries. You can also offer them the whole gut of cantaloupe, pumpkin, squash etc. There's no need to separate the seeds out. They'll eat the pulpy strings and thank you for the treat. 

Birds  also love to peck at the leftover flesh of cantaloupe rinds. After they've cleaned the rinds, you can always toss the remains in your compost.

I've now decided never to throw away seeds or pulp of a melon, a pumpkin or a squash in the compost. If I want to use them for myself, I can dry the seeds. If I'm feeling lazy, I can leave the whole pulp and seeds for the birds. 

Thank you little birdie and my compost, for the lesson of the day!

This lesson also subtly highlights the issue that we have with modern lifestyle. 

We chuck away stuff (seeds) that come naturally packed (in a melon) to landfills (which emit methane) and then buy the same stuff (seeds) off the shelf (packaged in plastic) and again throw away the packaging in landfills (which cause leachates).

Just because we don't have time or energy to do the former. 
Just because we have a choice and can afford the latter! 

Just sayin'!

Leaving you with that thought! Ciao!

Image Credits: www.pexels.com

Monday 11 May 2020

Guess What!

Guess What!!
I had made this shampoo with amla, reetha and shikakai (gooseberries, soap nuts and Acacia concinna).

On a whim, I took a picture and asked a 'green' friend to guess what it could be. I generally share all green news and views with this friend and wondered if he would be able to guess it. 

He couldn't. And just for the fun of it, I thought of asking all my friends. Here are the answers: 

Most Popular Guesses:

Keri Panna

Also Rans: 

Jeera- Ajwain Water, Apple Juice, Apple Cider, Banana Stem Juice, Amla Juice, Pumpkin Juice, Lauki Juice, Sugarcane Juice,  Tamarind Water, Avocado Juice, Kale Juice, Toddy, Barley Water, Oreo Shake, Chamomile TeaLemon Water,Boiled Chickpeas/ Kidney Beans Water

Frustrated Tries: 

Mud Water
Gutter Water
Moraji Desai Inspired Drink ;)

Favorite Answer:

Compost Tea

I was surprised that nobody could guess it right. I thought that a few would have definitely used it, at least in their childhood. 

I guessed that the froth at the top might be a give away. But yeah, even sugarcane juice has froth:) Also, if you've not used soap nuts ever, you wouldn't know.

Now, if you recollect having used this shampoo, do let me know your recipe and experience. 

Ciao!! And thanks a ton for your answers:)

Saturday 2 May 2020

How To Make a Natural Shampoo

Right: Soap Nut and Shikakai powder. Left: The mix with water

Nature is one stop shop for all our needs. It's a grocery store, a cosmetics shop and a medicine cabinet - all rolled into one. 

Seek and thou shalt find!

Growing up, I always washed my hair with a concoction of amla, reetha and shikakai (gooseberries, soap nuts and  acacia concina). Mom kept a powdered mix of this lovely trinity in a jar. 

I would soak a handful in an iron vessel overnight. The next day, it would be my natural, herbal shampoo with free hair color thrown in! Gooseberries soaked in an iron vessel gave a solid black color to the mix.

As life got busier, I started reaching for the bottled shampoo more often because I would forget to soak the mix overnight. 

Slowly, the switch to bottled shampoo was complete and the herbal mix retreated to the depths of the toiletries cabinet. 

In time, as I got more aware of the harmful chemicals in the shampoo, saw people with greying hair at a young age and the waste that a plastic shampoo bottle created, I decided to switch back to the trusted, old formula. 

About the ingredients:

Coarsely grounded Shikakai, Amla, Reetha - my holy trinity for hair care

Acacia concinna or Shikakai: Shikakai grows as pods on a medium sized tree. It is rich in antioxidants and is a great natural cleanser. Shikakai softens and thickens hair, reduces hair loss and slows graying.  It also brings shine to them.

Gooseberry or Amla: Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, amla is a superfood. Amla works wonders for both hair and skin. It has been a popular ingredient for hair care in India - be it in the form of shampoo or hair oil. 

Soapnuts or Reetha: Reetha contains a chemical called saponin which is a surfactant. A surfactant is something that helps remove dirt and grime from any surface. 

No surprise, sopanuts can be used as detergents, dish washing liquid, mopping liquid, body wash, hair wash etc. 

In addition, soapnuts have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties too. What's not to like about them!

How to buy these lovely ingredients for your hair?

If you want to buy dried pods and nuts, they are available online. Try to buy the one with minimal packaging. In India, you can buy them at a grocery store from a bin and can do without the packaging too! 

In case you are short of time and don't want to go the whole nine yards, you can buy a ready powdered mix. Like the one below. 

The powder can be soaked overnight or steeped in warm water just before use.

The froth in the solution is due to saponin of soap nuts.

Or you can make the shampoo on your own!!

I take 1:2:2  ratio of that coarsely grounded reetha, shikakai and amla. Soak the mix overnight in an iron wok. Next morning, mash the mix thoroughly and bring it to a boil. When cool, strain. 

Your 100% natural, full-of-goodness shampoo aka hair tea is ready!!!

I can't make it from scratch each time!

You can make a large batch and store it in a glass bottle in the refrigerator. It can easily last for a month. 

If you want to store it for a longer period, freeze the mix in ice trays. Take out required number of cubes and voila! You are good to go in a jiffy!

How to use?

Apply the tea to the scalp and gently massage it in. Leave it for 15-20 minutes before rinsing with cool, plain water. 

Avoid getting the mix in your eyes. It will sting! 

If you do manage to get it into your eyes, just wash the eyes with plain water. 

Customize the recipe:)

Every Mom and Grandmom has her own version of this concoction. 

My Mom occasionally added dried orange or lemon peels powder. I've heard people adding curd, fenugreek seeds etc. according to their type of hair.

Go ahead and ask your Mom, Grandmom or Aunt about your family's traditional recipe. 

This is the perfect time to do it:) Share your versions in the comments below. 

What to do with the leftover fibre?

Well, add it to your compost pile, of course, you Green whiz! 

From Earth. To Earth. Completing the Circle. 

Close your eyes, and be ready to get soaked in that awesome green wave of satisfaction that's going to knock you off your pretty feet!:)