Tuesday, April 24, 2012

:: spring has sprung - finally ::

Spring is here, and we are loving the warm weather for running around, and for practicing with my new-to-me camera. Evening light is the best :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

:: fair trade easter ::

 
 

The Easter Bunny buys fair-trade truffles from Choklat


One of the reasons I love being a teacher is because my students inspire me to be a lifelong learner.

I volunteer with our school's Humanitarian Outreach Group and at our weekly meetings we discuss how to make the world a better place for people. We volunteer our time locally, raise awareness about international human rights issues, and raise money at times to support humanitarian causes.

We work together to decide how to donate our money in our KIVA micro-credit account - which allows people in developing nations to acquire the funds to become entrepreneurs and break the cycle of poverty. This has inspired me to open my own Kiva account, where I chose a woman from South Sudan who is opening up a fish selling business in order to have the money to send her children to school. Once she pays back the loan, I can lend out the money to somebody else. (you can too, by clicking here. You will also be given $25 to loan out.)

Every year, in addition to our micro-finance project and local volunteer time, we pick an issue to investigate and take action on. This year, we decided to explore Fair Trade. It has been eye-opening and heartbreaking at times to realize how much slavery still exists in the world, especially when those slaves are children.

We watched the BBC documentary "Chocolate: The Bitter Truth" which documents the state of the cocoa industry in West Africa, and opened our eyes to the reality of child trafficking and slavery in producing much of the cocoa that goes into the chocolate we love to buy and eat around the holidays. I watched it around Christmas, and since then, I have tried to buy fair-trade chocolate and cocoa to ensure that our sweet treats are not contributing to child slavery in any way. Because fair-trade chocolate is so much more expensive, it's been good for my waistline as well.

Easter is the number one holiday for chocolate purchases, and I decided to buy our sweet treats from Calgary business Choklat, a unique chocolatier where you can create custom truffles, enjoy real drinking chocolate and savour the most rich and delicious chocolate desserts, all made from fair-trade cocoa beans which are roasted and ground in-house.

We went this morning and created 5 truffles - we chose the fillings, and the toppings that they are rolled in and now they are sitting all wrapped up in brightly coloured foil, tempting me as Hunter naps!

Fair Trade, and reducing my Human Slavery Footprint has become something I think about more often lately. Maybe it's being a mother that makes me so much more conscious about the effects of my actions on the lives of children and their families around the world?

I'm certainly not perfect, but I've tried to be more thoughtful about my purchases in the last few months, especially when buying any of the Top 13 Unfairly Traded Goods, some of which were very surprising! (click to read about them on FairTrade Canada)

Our school Humanitarian Group hopes to put out a Fair Trade shopping directory for Calgary by the end of the school year, and I have been helping create an online directory too. I hope to share both on the blog soon. Until then, I really really love browsing on Canadian site Ethical Ocean (did you see them on Dragon's Den?) to find great companies to support.

I know issues like these are quite a bit heavier than the topics I usually blog about, but I have been wanting to write this post for months. I hope you'll do some research on Fair Trade in your city, and hopefully make a few small changes to make the world a better place for families all over the globe.

p.s If you are wanting to buy some fair-trade chocolate for your Easter baskets, try Canadian company Cocoa Camino, which is widely available across Canada. Click here to find a store that sells this brand. Happy Easter!
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Monday, April 2, 2012

:: 30 before 30 ::

 

So...I started a 30 before 30 list last year and the deadline is quickly approaching - I turn 30 on Easter Sunday. Most of the time, I still think I'm in my mid-twenties, and when I am at school teaching, I don't feel much older than the high school students.

I'm not dreading turning 30, if anything I think I am happier now than I was at any other age. I am much more comfortable and confident in myself, and I have a beautiful family, a wonderful job and so much to be thankful for.

I haven't checked off everything on my list, but I have accomplished a few notable things:

- finally paid off my student loans (yay!)
- gave our master bedroom a makeover (in progress)
- learned to sew (not an expert yet, but I have made a few cute things!)
- painted a piece of furniture (our $20 kijiji armoire)
- made my own tomato sauce (smitten kitchen's easy one)
- ate brunch at the banff springs hotel (a treat for our 5th anniversary)
- found a red lipstick that I love (as well as the confidence to wear it!)

I'm going to transfer the rest of the list onto my Life List (Jen at Rambling Renovators inspired me!) which I might share with all of you in the future.

This list is similar to the one Laura Vanderkam talks about in her book 168 Hours, though she calls it the list of 100 dreams. It's purpose is to keep you on track to pursuing the things that you have "always wanted to do" in the time that you have right now.

 I think I am going to like my thirties, and I see many of the things in my list of dreams coming true in this decade. At the very least, I really want to get to Hawaii for a vacation at some point. Somebody tell my hubby that is at the top of my list....there's still time to surprise me before Sunday!
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