My trash doesn’t fit in a jar anymore. When I started my zero waste journey, my trash did fit in a 16 ounce mason jar. However, int he past few years, I needed to purchase items that had extra packaging in which would not fit in my nice little jar anymore.
A lot of the time, when we shop at bulk bins in grocery stores, although we don’t bring home trash into our homes, products do get shipped to grocery stores in packaging. We as consumers don’t see it, but it doesn’t mean that the packaging doesn’t exist. Now, I’m not saying that every company is wasteful, but truth be told that is how our products are packaged from the manufacturer and then transferred to the distribution companies.
Trash pollution, plastic pollution is hidden in plain sight. We as consumers, do have the choice to not bring trash into our homes, and that’s a privilege. But packaging does exist, it’s not always compostable, and it may not even be sustainable. We as consumers can still vote with our dollar, and we still need to remind manufacturing companies that our trash pollution is at the highest quantity right now. I do think the tide is turning, but with The daily production of trash in the speed at which it is produced, we’re going out to tackle a very, very large problem and that’s with magnified with an unimaginable speed.
I live in the Bay Area, and bulk food items and products are readily available here. There are plenty of other states and areas, which bulk food is not available. If you can fit your trash into a small jar and continue to do so, I think that’s amazing and admirable. If your trash can’t fit into a jar, just keep in mind, the trash you’re producing and keep putting effort towards living a more zero waste lifestyle. I think using the glass jar as a standard is a bit unreasonable, because not all of us are lucky enough to live and afford certain amenities where we are located.
So my trash doesn’t fit in a jar this year, maybe next year it will be less. If not, I’ll keep trying to continue to strive to live a zero waste life.
Have you ever created a New Year’s resolution and were not able to fulfill it? You know, when you hype yourself up during the last week of December, and then plan out your goals, and your morning and evening routines; then life gets in the way? I know I have. I failed when the goal was much larger than I expected it to be. I didn’t take my goals step by step, but tried to accomplish them in leaps and bounds. It took a bit of time and discipline, but I’ve learned to break down my goals into small daily habits that I could adapt to.
My blog does talk about Life Hacks but this is more of a personal life hack. If you’ve ever set up goals for yourself and wondered why you failed halfway through there might be a good chance you’re biting off more than you can chew.
There are a lot of YouTube channels that talk about 30-Day Challenges that may vary from health challenges, to emotional and environmental challenges. Some of the challenges might be, decluttering, getting in shape, going to bed early and even drinking more water on a daily basis.
I follow Matt D’Avella, who was the director of the documentary Minimalism, and he has been taking on his own 30-Day Challenges for 2019. It was really fun and amazing to see how the challenges helped shaped his habits and helped him push his limits. It was inspiring.
If one of your goals was to workout in the morning, but you’re finding it hard to wake up early and still have enough energy to workout, maybe the first challenge to overcome, is simply waking up early. Instead of your goal encompassing waking up early, going jogging, making breakfast, and then going to work, maybe the goal should just be – to wake up early. You don’t have to pile everything on at once. Perhaps the next 30-Day challenge might be to wake up early and then go for a short walk; just a short walk. Nothing crazy, nothing over the top, but a simple walk.
I wanted to set up 30-Day goals through the rest of 2019, so I could see what habits stuck and which did not. They were only a 30-Day commitments, so the dedication didn’t feel overwhelming. I only had to commit 30 days, out of 365 days in the year, to see how I would adapt.
The idea here is to develop keystone habits, that will help you set up healthy habits, which will help contribute to your larger goal.
A lot of people tend to set goals and are passionate about accomplishing them, but we’re a society that is conditioned to expect immediate results. Developing patience is a skill, no matter what stage you are at in life. The habits may not be easy, but persistence is key.
I tested out my own daily challenges, and when I broke down my goals into smaller habits that I could develop over time, they were easier to accomplish and my habits stuck with me.
If you’ve had a goal in mind, and you still want to accomplish it, perhaps breaking down the goal into 30-Day habit challenges, might help. If you have a partner or friend or internet support group that can do a challenge with you- all the better! It’s only a 30-day commitment, so why not? You can find a lot of 30-Day challenges on the internet, but I thought I would make a list of 50 challenges, that I thought were interesting, down below.
Here is a list of fifty 30-Day Challenges:
Drink more water
Plan all of your meals in advance
Practice good posture
Make a green juice or smoothie every morning
Eat 7-9 cups of veggies every day
Keep a food journal
Bring your lunch to work
Detox your house of harsh chemicals
Cook a new recipe every week
Eat vegan or vegetarian for a month
Take a cold shower
Take a 30 minute walk each day
Walk 10,000 steps every day
Take the stairs each day
Go to the gym
Set priorities for your day
Clean up your clutter
Clean up your digital clutter
Follow a morning routine
Follow a bedtime routine
Make your bed
Wake up early
Check email once or twice a day
No credit cards, pay only with cash
No fast food
No social media
Listen to audio books or podcasts instead of music
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day events in more than 193 countries are now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.
This year, in the celebration of Earth Day, I thought I’d walk through my process of how to do a plastic audit in your home. But first, let’s take a look at the dangers of plastic and why it is not as recyclable as we are lead to believe.
EDUCATE YOURSELF ON PLASTICS
What do you know about plastics? Although it is one of the most common packaging material used worldwide, it ends up in our landfill and our oceans. It eventually makes its way back to us through the foods we consume. There are also a lot of facts that are not widely known, here are some facts from the Plastic Pollution Coalition.
Although it was considered one of the breakthrough materials discovered in 1907, only now are we realizing the damaging consequences of using this material so rapidly. How is it harmful?
There is a huge misconception that all plastics can be recycled, however, that is not the case. Microplastics are small plastic particles in the environment. They come from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes.Two classifications of microplastics currently exist: primary microplastics are manufactured and are a direct result of human material and product use, and secondary microplastics are microscopic plastic fragments derived from the breakdown of larger plastic debris like the macroscopic parts that make up the bulk of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Both types are recognized to persist in the environment at high levels, particularly in aquatic and marine ecosystems.Because plastics do not break down for many years, they can be ingested and incorporated into and accumulated in the bodies and tissues of many organisms. The entire cycle and movement of microplastics in the environment is not yet known, but research is currently underway to investigate this issue. Here is more information from the National Ocean Service, What are microplastics?
What plastics can you REDUCE or better yet, REFUSE in your home? Track the amount of plastic used in different rooms/areas of your home by using the Daily And Monthly Plastic Pollution Chart (this chart is a template, feel free to customize it)
Keep track of items that are contained in plastic by going through areas such as your: (add or take out any items that are missing or not applicable in the chart)
Slowly go through and keep track of each item on a daily basis or monthly basis
After charting each item, plan how to avoid purchasing plastics by using the Plastic Pollution Audit Chart. What actions will you take to reduce the amount of plastic being brought into the home? Can you refuse the plastic packaged product by finding an alternative in a non-packaged form? Or would reducing the amount taken in be a better step for you? Maybe consider investing in a sustainable, resuseable product, so you eliminate the single use plastic product.
If you choose to keep track of your plastic use on a monthly basis, you can audit each month by recording how much plastic you use and compare your yearly results using the Plastic Pollution Tracker.
SOME OTHER ACTIVITIES TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY
Around your home
Change out all of your light bulbs to energy efficient CFL or LED light bulbs. The energy savings of cooler-burning bulbs, including CFL and LED, can have a significant impact on your utility bills and on making your home greener. An Energy Star light bulb replaces about six incandescent light bulbs because it lasts six times longer than the average light bulb.
Change out your dangerous household cleaners with safer versions or make your own from vinegar/apple cider vinegar and water. Vinegar is a mild acid, which makes it a great multi-purpose cleaner for around the house. As a household cleaner, vinegar can be used to do anything from removing stains, to unclogging drains, to disinfecting, to deodorizing, and it can even be used to remove stickers. You can use it undiluted, combined with baking soda, or as an ingredient in a homemade household cleaner, and every room in your house can benefit from vinegar in some way. Check out 45 Uses For Vinegar.
If you have the option of drinking tap water, switch to tap water or buy a attachment filter if needed.
Bike or take public transportation instead of driving. Instead of driving everywhere, try taking public transportation, biking or even walking to places.
Schedule a visit your local recycling center and tour the facilities to understand where your trash goes and how it gets sorted. It sounds strange but every piece of trash we throw away has a different route towards recycling or on its way to the landfill. Each county and each state has different recycling processes and so learning about your local recycling process is always helpful. You’ll be more informed and more aware of what REALLY happens when you recycle your trash.
Join a local park, river or beach clean up.
Plant a tree, herb garden, or even flowers!
Check out your local city’s or county’s Earth Day activities
Earth Day will be celebrated on April 22, 2018 this year, so you still have over a month to decide what you want to do! Check out the Earth Day Network to find out more information. They have an extensive website that has a list of campaigns and activities for participants.
In the honor of Earth Day, check out some of these blog posts from other fellow bloggers:
Whenever I go and do a beach cleanup, it’s never really a formal event. I use large fabric bags that I had sewed awhile back and I gather what I can. I use old running gloves to pick up the items because I don’t own a pair of rubber gloves anymore. I can easily also toss these gloves into the laundry when I’m done. With fabric gloves, I’m still very cautious about what I pick up and how I pick items up.
Most of the time, I’ll find anything and everything discarded on the beach. I usually walk along the shoreline and carefully look through the seaweed and debris that gets washed up from the ocean. A lot of ocean trash gets tangled up in the seaweed which then gets washed up on the beach.
I went to Roosevelt Beach this time for the beach clean up, and this beach looks fairly clean overall, but when you slow down and walk slowly, you can see little bits and pieces of trash everywhere like this:
On the surface the beach looks clean, but once I examined and shoreline and walked further and further, I kept finding more and more trash. At one point, it felt overwhelming because I knew I probably missed a bunch of pieces of trash due to the angle I was standing at or maybe my eyes simply couldn’t see the trash clearly. The reason why I like to do beach cleanups is because of the amount of trash that now occupies our ocean. There are different garbage patches that exist in five different ocean gyres in the world. With the ocean currents and the trash that’s discarded into the ocean, the combination creates different garbage patches which subsequently, kills the ocean wildlife. Since I live alone the Pacific Coast, the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch is the closest garbage patch to me.
Here are the basic facts about the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch;
7 million tons of weight
Twice the size of Texas
Up to 9 feet deep
In the Great Pacific Ocean Gyre there is 6 times more plastic than plankton, which the main food for many ocean animals
By estimation 80% of the plastic originates from land; floating in rivers to the ocean or blew by the wind into the ocean
The remaining 20% of the plastic originates from oil platforms and ships
According scientist it is the largest plastic dump on earth; so plastic patches are larger than waste dumps on land
Trash patches consist for 80 percent out of plastic
Scientific research from the Scrips Institution of Oceanography in California U.S. shows that 5 to 10% of the fish contain small pieces of plastic.
There are many reasons why I choose to live a zero waste life, or at least as close as I can to a completely zero waste life. Knowing that the trash we discard into the ocean is killing wildlife weighs on me. Although there are many concerns in the world that I do care about, this one hits close to home. We did this. Humans did this and are still doing this to wildlife.
There’s a program called Take 3 For the Sea, where they encourage that when you visit any location and pick up at least 3 pieces of trash, you too can help with reducing the amount of trash floating out in wildlife. This non-profit organization delivers education programs to inspire our global community to help create a cleaner planet for wildlife and future generations. You can pick up 3 pieces of trash wherever you go and that would make an impact on the environment.
I encourage you to do this. Please help clean up your local beaches. You can even download the app by Ocean Conservancy called Clean Swell. It’s a global movement to keep beaches, waterways and the ocean trash free. Head out to your favorite beach and use the app to easily record each item of trash you collect. Then share your effort with family and friends.
You can also find local beach clean up organizations near you. I have been a member of the Surfrider Foundation and they hold monthly beach clean ups.
Independence Day, also referred to as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire.
Independence day was always a special holiday for me. It marked the existence of summer and it came with barbecued food, swimming and fun with friends and family. The days were longer and the nights were warm. As a kid, July was a particularly a fond month for me to remember, the smell of summer in the air and the empty school playgrounds allowed us to use the basketball courts and soccer fields freely. School life had come to a halt for a few months and you knew you would run into your classmates outside of school. It was a chance to interact with them in a different environment. It was a welcomed break for a daily school routine.
Although now that I’m an adult, the smell of summer still brings back great memories, but there is no break in the daily work routine. I still love the smell of summer but it passes by quickly. I still go and watch fireworks, and I reflect on how lucky I am.
This holiday also marks that the year is halfway over. Time passes by so fast when you’re busy, although being unproductive is also not a good habit. Finding that balance as an adult is critical. We work our entire lives to go to school so that we can be successful in our careers, so we can have enough income that would support a comfortable life, and before we know it were inching towards retirement.
That reality is why I make it a routine to enjoy my evenings each night. Even if it’s only an hour, I work at shaping my daily routine around a simplistic schedule. This leaves time for me to just sit back and relax for the evening. Even on the weekends I have routines that help me enjoy each morning. During these mornings I usually reflect on what I’ve accomplished during the year and what I still want to accomplish.
Even though July marks the halfway point of the year, it also means that we can all take advantage of the rest of the year.
I think about what goals I’d still like to accomplish and set up a plan to follow though. Goals are like meetings, prepare for the meeting, be on time and be ready to interact and engage. You can’t postpone these meetings, set up those goals and get them done- no more excuses.
So my questions to you are:
What goals did you set out for yourself that you haven’t started or finished?
What projects do you have left to do?
What have you been “meaning to get done, but haven’t had the time”?
It’s currently Spring season in the United States of America and summer is right around the corner. We said goodbye to our winter and it was quite a memorable winter season across the country. For some, this means staying motivated in all aspects of our lives might be lacking. Summer usually means long summer nights and days where we may want to be outside and enjoying the nice weather versus cooped up inside classrooms or work environments. It also means heading to the beach, barbeques, festivals, camping trips, local park festivities and visiting hiking trails. As much as life would be easier to simple have fun all day long, I still work and I do enjoy my job.
I like to tackle four areas of my day to keep myself motivated throughout the day. My categories are my health, my ‘To Do List’, education and happieness. Here’s a simple outline of what you can do to stay motivated to get through your days.
Health- Stay Healthy
Drink a glass of water when you first wake up in the morning
Get enough rest
To Do List- Plan Your Day
Tackle the top 3 tasks you want to get done on that day
The 50/10 rule- Work on tasks for 50 minutes and then take a 10 minute break
Reflect daily- 10 minutes of reflection and self evaluation
Education- Keep Learning
Reading- Will increase your knowledge, which will keep you inspired
Browsing- Learning from tutorials and actively researching on topics will increase your capabilities
Brainstorm- This can lead to a gold mine of ideas of tasks you haven’t finished or have yet to plan out
Happiness- Focus On What Makes You Happy
Express gratitude- Think about 10 things you are grateful for each day
Clean your desk- A tidy desk will be less stressful and less distracting
Indulge in your favorite things- Set time aside to relax and enjoy your favorite things
Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which day events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and celebrated in more than 193 countries each year.
On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement is scheduled to be signed by the United States, China, and some 120 other countries. This signing satisfies a key requirement for the entry into force of the historic draft climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.
In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. A month later a separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in recognition of his work. While this April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations. Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on the environmental issues that the world faces.
Write letters to the President about climate change.
Give up smoking
Give up plastic bags
Reduce eating meat
Carpool, bike, or take transit more than normal this week
Have a conversation with a close friend about what they do to green their day-to-day life
Organize a beach clean up
Challenge yourself to recycle more or produce less trash
Install the Nest thermostat you have been putting off at home
Switch your home (and office breakroom) cleaning products to eco-friendly across the board and use micro-fiber cloths and mop heads
Go digital – especially more virtual meetings at your business
Use less paper towels or no more paper towels at all
You can choose to reduce your carbon footprint, give up certain habits that contribute to greenhouse gases or even start with a small herb garden. This day is to remind all of us that we have one Earth, and we must care for it before we destroy it any further. I’ve been a member of the Surfrider Foundation for many years and I follow many wildlife conservation organizations on Twitter. You can find these organizations on Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram. There are many organizations out there that help protect the environment and protect wildlife habitats. Please consider joining one or contributing to one.
World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which led to this day of awareness. The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.
Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. The UN-Water proposes the annual theme and coordinates the global campaign alongside one or more members on behalf of UN-Water with the support of other members, programmes, partners and relevant stakeholders. In 2017, the theme is “Wastewater.” The campaign aims to turn the spotlight to wastewater and how we can reduce and reuse to help achieve Sustainable Development.
The UN and its member nations devote this day to implementing UN recommendations and promoting concrete activities within their countries regarding water resources. Additionally, a number of non-governmental organizations promoting clean water and sustainable aquatic habitats have used World Water Day as a time to focus attention on critical current issues. Events such as theatrical and musical celebrations, educational events, and campaigns to raise money for access to clean and affordable water are held worldwide on World Water Day, or on convenient dates close to March 22.
World Water Day is also used to highlight required improvements for access to WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) facilities in developing countries.
In the next decade, UN-Water has declared 2018-2028 as the International Decade (2018–2028) for Action – Water for Sustainable Development”. I will help put a greater focus on water during those ten years.
This New Decade for Water is to emphasize that water is critical for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty and hunger, UN Member States expressed deep concern over the lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene and over water related disasters, scarcity and pollution being exacerbated by urbanization, population growth, desertification, drought and climate change.
Water is so crucial to survival on this earth. Many of us are blessed to have access to clean water, but not everyone. Here are the top ten places in need of clean, safe and drinkable water. I pulled some facts from www.ecorazzi.com, please read more about these places in the link.
Afghanistan– Only 13% of the country has clean drinking water readily available
Ethiopia– Only 42% of the population has access to an improved water supply and only 11% have access to clean sanitation.
Chad– Oxfam reports that over one million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition in the areas of Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and northern Senegal.
Cambodia– 84% of the population does not have access to clean, safe water
Laos– Although it borders a large portion of the MEkong River, the low water levels affect their electricity, food, transportation, and much more.
Haiti– Haiti is still trying to recover from the 2010 earthquake that measured 7.0 on the richter scale that killed an estimated 316,000 people and devastated buildings, residences and many settlements
Ghana– TA few areas such as the Volta Region which borders Bukina Faso and Togo are remote and poor regions, which do not have access to improved sanitation and many families lack access to safe water.
India– Water.org reports that 21% of communicable diseases in India are related to unsafe water
Rwanda– The population faces preventable diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, and many other diseases. A lack of clean water means that Rwanda has a high childhood mortality rate, one in five
Bangladesh– Many in the slums of Dhaka, the capital city, do not have access to a safe toilet and only 16% of the population in rural areas actually has access to a latrine.
663 million people – 1 in 10 – lack access to safe water.
2.4 billion people – 1 in 3 – lack access to a toilet.
Twice the population of the United States lives without access to safe water.
1/3 of the global population lives without access to a toilet.
More people have a mobile phone than a toilet.
The water crisis is the #1 global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation), as announced by the World Economic Forum in January 2015.
Without water, there is no life. We are all humans on this earth, trying to coexist, and we all have the need for clean water. There are so many reasons to search for more efficient sanitation procedures to clean our existing water, but more so, to NOT contaminate the water sources we currently have. We have to continue to work together to help one another. I hope you will be aware of World Water Day on March 22, 2017. I hope you spread the word, facebook it, tweet it or Instagram it, but more so, be aware of it. There are places in this world that still do not have access to clean water.
So each year, I try to set up attainable goals. Sometimes I achieve them, sometimes I won’t and sometimes I only achieve a few goals each year. Either way, the ones that were not achieved, will bleed into the upcoming year. I approach this goal setting a few different ways and this year I thought I’d share with you a format that I frequently use now. These goals have two concise categories and that’s personal goals versus professional goals.
My professional goals will be whatever and however I decide to navigate my professional life. That includes where I work, the length of my career, the job titles I want to move up towards and licenses that I need to attain those job titles. In a nutshell, the idea is to layout where you want to be and the steps it’s going to take to get there. This is a sample format that I tend to follow:
Profesional steps to move into the job position you desire and with desired pay
Certificates and licenses needed to qualify for desired position
Which certificates are needed
How much does each certificate/license cost
Frequency of the continuing education credits needed per year
Steps to network more, and how to come in contact with more people on a more frequent basis
How frequent will networking occur (ie quarterly, yearly, etc.)
You can use the above format, or elaborate on it however you choose. My personal goals has a different format that I use which includes daily goals, weekly goals, yearly goals and long term goals. With this format, it’s a fairly straight forward setup. However, there are a lot of templates floating around on the internet that will map out each week of each month in a play by play format, if that’s what you chose to use. I tend to not have that many goals that would need a more rigorous format, so I use this the style I use.
Long term Goals:
I like to focus more on general time constraints than day to day time constraints. Also, with the general time goals, it allows for unexpected events to occur. This list may change in the sense that new goals may be added to it or adjusted, but I’ve written it out and now it’s a personal contract. So let me show you what goals I’d like to achieve in 2017.
Continue to work towards becoming a licensed architect.
Continue to work towards my LEED AP certification
Take scheduled breaks from blogging and the upkeep of my social media
Continue to blog, but post once per week, and continue to push for better content
Be more active on my social media accounts
Buckle down on my workout routines
Community Involvement: Get more involved with the non-profit environmental organizations that I currently support, perhaps add some more to that list.
Grow specific vegetables and enough to sustain a household for weekly meals. (This is an ongoing experiment)
So this is a glimpse into what I plan to do. What are some of your goals? Do you like the daily/weekly/yearly/long term goals format? Do any of you have goals set up for 2017?
So I just wanted to share the set up that my family uses for Tết. We use the alter, entryway dresser and dining table as our platforms. The alter is for Buddha (bàn thờ Phật), the entryway dresser is used for the Saint of the Property (Đức Đai) and the dining table is used for my ancestors (ông, bà).
Before the Tết ceremony begins: (Day 1)
During the Tết ceremony: (Day 1)
On the alter sits a bowl of dry rice in which we have placed many incense sticks (cây nhang) over the years during each Tết celebration. On the entryway table is the set up for the Saint of the Property (Đức Đai), which includes a small bowl of dry rice for the incense sticks, water glasses, a variety of foods such as soup (Canh), Vietnamese braised pork with eggs (thịt kho), Vegetarian stir fry egg noodles (mì xào chay), shrimp salad (gỏi tôm), and fresh fruit. On the dining table, there is a small bowl of dry rice for the incense sticks, three bowls of rice for my ancestors (one for my dad’s side, one for my mom’s side and the third is for all other ancestors), water glasses, candles and the same variety of foods as on the entryway table but in addition, there are also Vietnamese mung bean dumplings (bánh ít trần).
Tradition goes that when ceremony starts, each person always prays and greets Buddha first with 3 bows (ba xá) and 3 prayers (ba lạy) at the alter, then we move over to the entryway table and ask the Saint of the Property, permission (xinphép) to invite our ancestors to come and celebrate Tết with us with 2 bows (hai xá) and 2 prayers (hailạy). Then at the dining table, we invite our ancestors to come and celebrate with us with 2 bows (hai xá) and 2 prayers (hailạy). After each request, we each place one incense (cây nhang) into the designated dry rice bowl. At the end of the first round of bows, each person will visit each table again to ask permission to leave the ceremony, but using the same amount of bows and prayers per table that was used in the first round. This second round of bows and prayers will release the person to go on with their day as they please.
After the Tết ceremony: (Day 1)
The bows, prayers and the placing of the incense sticks are repeated each morning for three days (ba ngày Tết), during the three day celebration. At the end of the three day celebration, there will be another feast that will be the same set up on each table and on the alter in which we bid farewell (tiễn đưa) to our ancestors.
In the late evening (close to midnight): (Day 1)
In the late evening, we celebrate the New Years Eve (Cúng giao thừa) by lighting the alter candles and welcoming the new year.This ceremony includes three separate steps by the owner of the home. The first prayer (lạy Phật) takes place at the alter to Buddha with 3 bows (ba xá) and 3 prayers (ba lạy). Then the owner will step outside on the front porch of the home and prays to Heaven and Earth (cúng trời đất) with 3 bows (ba xá) and 3 prayers (ba lạy). The owner will then come inside to the alter and will pray to the lord of Heaven and Earth (lạy trời đất) with 3 bows (ba xá) and 3 prayers (ba lạy). The owner of the home will then place three incense into the rice bowl at the alter after these last three bows are completed. This last set of bows will end the ceremony of welcoming the new year.
This is an overview of what the set up is for my family for this year. There are traditional baked goods missing from this set up such as Bánh chưng (Vietnamese rice cake which is made from glutinous rice, mung beans, pork and other ingredients) andBánh tét (savoury but sometimes sweetened cake, made from mung bean or mung bean and pork filling), as well as tea in addition to the water glasses. Each family has their own variation of what foods they cook or how they set up their ceremonies, this is just my family’s set up for this year.
So, Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! (Happy New Year) I wish you all a healthy and happy new year with plenty of wealth and triumphs throughout the year 🙂
Recipe – (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs)
September 29, 2009
This thịt kho recipe is a low and slow braise so the meat is going to be reeeeally tender. In this recipe we’re going to use pork belly because the fat on the meat tastes awesome! If you can get pork belly with the bones, you’ll have even better results. My ideal ratio of pork for this dish is actually 1/2 pork belly and 1/2 of a leaner cut like shoulder.
Near me in Southern California’s Little Saigon, I hear you can get a higher quality of pork belly at Quang Minh Mini Market. It costs more for the belly, but there seems to be a consensus that its worth the cost–something I need to check out soon!
Here are the brands I use for the seasoning: Rico coconut soda, Kikkoman soy sauce, and Three Crabs Brand fish sauce. The thick soy sauce brand is Koon Chun, to be used in a pinch.
As a kid I enjoyed mashing the yolk with the rice and spooning sauce over it–it’s fun! This dish is commonly eaten with a side of dua chua (pickled mustard greens) which provides a fresh and crunchy balance.
I have tried adding slices of yellow onion too and it adds a nice layer of flavor to this dish. You can remove the onion at the end of the braise if you prefer since it will have given up all its flavor to the broth. For the seasoning in this thịt kho recipe: tinker with the soy sauce, fish sauce, and salt after the liquid has finished reducing, to taste.
3 tablespoons soy sauce (or replace this with fish sauce)
2 teaspoons salt
1 yellow onion, cut into large pieces (6-8 will be fine)
4 tablespoons sugar for the caramel color (nuoc mau). This is to deepen the color of the dish. Depending on how dark your caramel sauce gets, you may not need to use all of it. In a pinch, you can use about ⅕ teaspoon of thick soy sauce instead, but the caramel sauce will tastes better.
Cut the pork into smaller pieces. I like 1.5″ cubes so it cooks slightly faster.
Bring 2-3 quarts of water boiling on high, or enough to fully submerge the pork.When the water’s boiling, add the pork for 1-2 minutes just to clean it. Drain then rinse the pork under running water until the water is clear.
Add the coconut soda, soy sauce, fish sauce and salt to the pot.
Fill up the pot until the water just covers the pork. Turn the heat to high.
When it hits a boil, drop the heat until you still see a slight boil, maybe about about 25% heat and let it simmer uncovered for about 1.5 to 2 hours. Check and stir the pot every 20 minutes. The longer you cook it, the softer the pork gets. Leaving it slightly uncovered lets the liquid reduce so you get a nice concentrated sauce later.
Make the hard-boiled eggs: add to a pot and cover the eggs with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Remove from heat and let it sit for 8 minutes. Cool in water then peel. Add the hard boiled eggs to the pot of pork in the last ~30-40 minutes of cooking.
When there are about 30 minutes left on the timer, add the eggs. Eventually we want the liquid to reduce to about ⅓ or ¼ of the original.
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I’m Huy! I share recipes I enjoy with a slight lean towards Vietnamese. I’m here to help, so leave a comment or e-mail me with any questions! About Me →
Tết is the most important celebration in the Vietnamese culture.
It is also, one of my favorite holidays, Christmas being the other. I love Christmas because it marks the end of the year and that the new year that’s about to come. A new year brings new beginnings, new experiences and new challenges.
Tết derives from a shortened form of Tết Nguyên Đán, which is Sino-Vietnamese and it means “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day” and it also marks the arrival of the spring season, based on the Vietnamese variation of the Chinese Lunar calendar. (The Chinese Lunar Calendar is four hours ahead of the Vietnamese Lunar Calendar.)
It is a time when families reunite and visit one another. Some may even go to temple and start letting go of their troubles from the last year. It is a time when customs such as visiting a person’s house on the first day of the new year, ancestor worship, wishing New Year’s greetings, giving lucky money to children and elderly people and even opening a shop.
As a child, I really loved this holiday. It was the only time when certain special dishes, desserts, and snacks were made and consumed. I also loved receiving money because… who doesn’t love that. Heading south to meet up at my aunts house was a thrill. I knew I would get to see all of my cousins and her little Chihuahuas. Although, the house had to fit up to 6 families which included, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, the food and the room to be able to move around the food table. In total, there was always about 12 kids at these gatherings. It was still awesome, we would always gather in one room to play a board game and we’d somehow would get into arguments about it. The boys never wanted to loose and I (being 1 of the 3 girls there) never really cared. After the arguments, we would all go to the nearby park and play as we waited for to hear the jingle of the local ice cream truck. Then we’d all bombard our parents for ice cream money. It was a great time, and by the end of the party, the cousins seemed to part ways as best friends. We always knew we’d have to wait another year to do it all over again, and it never felt fair.
Now that I’m older, and I’m on the giving end of the crisp red envelopes filled with money, I’m realizing now, that working during the year means that I have to save up for Christmas and Tết because NOW I’m realizing how much money my relatives forked out for each kid. I’m impressed that they did that for all 12 of us- EACH YEAR.
Truth be told, I don’t spend a lot of money, and the joy of receiving money and eating food as a kid is a wonderful memory that I still hold dear. Also, kids stop receiving money when they start working, so you’re really looking at forking out those red envelopes from ages 5-16- not too bad right? And now the time of the year has come again, to celebrate the new Lunar calendar and new beginnings.
I could sit here and write that I want to better myself in a specific way, but it would be meaningless. My life as it is right now… is pretty great. It’s weird to admit that at times because it sounds arrogant, but I have to admit that life is genuinely good and I’m happy. However, it also took years of analyzing and nit picking and changing routines to get to this point.
My first step in getting to my happy life was simplifying it, which meant trying to live a zero waste lifestyle. After that, the rest was laid out pretty easily. Running errands is easier, sleeping is easier, and waking up is easier. I don’t buy packaged foods anymore so I know I’m not putting certain chemicals into my body anymore. (I know that there is a chance that the bulk foods will also have chemicals, but not the same ones for sure.)
I tend to eat a lot of greens and I stopped eating meat five years ago. I just run around the bulk foods section, grab some vegetables and fruit and I’m done. Even buying soap, laundry detergent, lotion and my other bath and body care are a quick stop at the grocery store- and it’s just one store I go to too.
I think this year is a year of just pushing my blog to further investigate who I am and what I want to report/talk about. I’m a very private person so this is all very new to me. I started living a zero waste life almost 6 years ago and many people had asked me to document it or vlog it on my YouTube channel, only now am I comfortable enough to do so.
The word ‘goals’ sounds too standard. It sounds like you’re going to achieve the goal and then it’s over, it’s done, nada mas. So maybe they should just be changes, changes that will echo even after you reach a certain point. Changes that just become a part of you- they become you.
So my changes for 2016, is to push my blog, vlog more, continue to be healthy and happy but overall- continue to be a better version of ME. The ME version consists of being a sister, daughter, friend, designer, citizen… just BE BETTER.
We have 168 hours in a week, so I decided to outline my hours during the day- here’s what I found: (SEE CHART BELOW) Interesting right? My assumptions for my work week was pretty accurate- I always feel like I never have time during the week but I have TOO much time during the weekend. Now it’s time to really use those hours to my advantage! It really is amazing what you see once you write it down on paper. I never realized that I had 4 hours of free time per day during my weekdays and 12.5 hours of free time during my weekends- it’s kinda nuts! although I know I have to crunch my time during my week, but then again… I can always use my down time during the week to have nice conversations with my mom or (eventually) hang out with my family and friends 🙂