30 October 2015

Homemade Tomato Paste: Quick and Easy To Make Sauce/Dip


I have been wanting to make a tomato paste  at home with spaghetti in mind
but never been able to do so for various reasons. 
One, I don't have a regular use for it (referring to tomato paste). 
Two, I am no longer fond of it (not the spaghetti per se, but the processed pasta).
Three, neither does my  husband (doesn't like both at all).


But I saw a facebook post of Vegan Afritada, a dish made of potato, garbanzo beans, and bell pepper with TVP and seasoned with tomato paste, garlic, etc. That propelled the "trying things out" in me. And so finally, for the first time in my life I made my own version of tomato paste.

It really turned out delicious. In fact, a much sumptuous than the regular tomato paste that I have tasted before.
Even B (my husband) says, "It's not bad at all" and "Yeah, quite good".
And when asked if it can be made again.
"Yes", he said. And that is the cue because he generally says "not bad at all, but cannot be made again and again". Yet this one, among a few, made it across his line of "can be made again".
(Just a tip, my husband will rather eat raw food than cooked ones. Unfortunately, there isn't enough variety of fruits and vegetables than can be eaten raw here in our area, so, we made a deal to manage what raw items we can get with 1 meal-cooking a day).

Plus!
(Referring now to the tomato paste)

It's homemade so it's preservative-free!
And you really know what's in it.

~Picture 1
pureed tomato, black pepper powder, 
garlic, palm sugar, olive oil~

So, here's the recipe. It's so simple, quick and easy to make
that there's no need to make it bulk.
 (Now I realized)
Just make it whenever there is a need for it.


Ingredients:
  • 6 tomatoes, ripe and red
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper powder
  • 1 small cube palm sugar
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • a pinch of salt

Instruction:
  • Wash tomatoes properly. Make a cross slit at the bottom and boil to soften them. The tomatoes are ready once their skin starts to peel off. Keep them cool. 
  • Once cooled, keep them in a blender and make a puree. You can do this in batches and make sure that everything is well-churned.
  • Once the puree is done, pour into a deep pan. Add a little water to the blender to remove the remaining traces of tomato puree.
  • Add crushed and minced garlic, palm sugar, black pepper powder, a pinch of salt and olive oil (see picture 1).
  • Bring to a boil. Simmer till it slowly becomes drier. You can cover and stir occasionally.
  • Once desired consistency is achieved, check the taste. Adjust if necessary. 
  • Turn off the stove and let it cool. The tomato paste is ready!


NOTES:
~Some people boil the tomatoes and then peel and discard the skin. I prefer to leave it on.
~I tried churning the tomatoes immediately once (meaning, I didn't boil them) and I couldn't make out any difference. The main reason I boil them is because our blender is not a heavy-duty one. So if your blender/mixer's performance is excellent, you might as well try this method.
~Others strain or sieve the puree and only the juice is used for the making of paste, but my version includes the pulp.
~Instead of crushing and mincing the garlic, you can churn the cloves along with the tomatoes.
~I have not tried making much of it to keep for later because there is no need to do so. The next time that I will be using a tomato paste will be 15-20 days later, or even 1 month.



17 August 2015

The Day of Compassion: An Essay For Social Psychology

The Day of Compassion is an invitation to use social psychology for the greater good by living 24 hours as compassionately as possible and by reflecting on the experience. This was introduced by Professor Scott Plous of Wesleyan University as part of the Social Psychology class assignment at Coursera. Professor Plous also includes this activity in his regular Social Psychology class at the Wesleyan University.

Here's my essay on it, written in August 2013.
~lend a hand when needed~

I see myself as a compassionate person and I saw it not only to my fellow human beings but more to the non-human animal population and to the environment as well.
Compassion to me means two things. First, it is choosing to help in any way I can even though helping may cause interference in my life. If I see a man somewhere on the street who looks to be in pain I will cautiously approach him and ask if there is anything I can help him with and try to do something about this need even though I have to be someplace else. It sometimes even costs me money or time but it is nothing if it’s worth it. And second, it is choosing not to harm even though I may stand to gain from harming. I adopted a vegetarian diet to allow a sentient being lives its own life even though I could gain nutrients from eating its meat. Our fruit & vegetable peelings go back to land as fertilizer; bottles & cans are saved for recycling; plastics that are non-recyclable are burned because they get the same fate in dumping areas and, most of the times, are thrown into the river. I might as well ensure that they are disposed well enough not to cause any injuries to others, especially to other animals that forage in such areas.
Compassion, therefore, is about choosing to live a life that helps more and harm the least possible. Sometimes it works well with participation, other times with non-participation.
Behaving compassionately is letting go of my inconsistencies, biases, and prejudices and try to make my attitudes relate with my behaviors, to embrace a newer better self. When I saw a glitter of tears in an old woman’s eye while listening to her story, even though I didn't understand the whole of it, I knew it was happiness. When that reaction made me smile, too, I knew I did something right. The sight of animals grazing freely in the hills is an image that reminds me of peace. And I don’t want to take that away from them. I know because I wanted the same for myself –freedom and peace. The feeling that my actions are in harmony with nature feels so wonderful that I would want to experience it again. Consequently, to me, behaving compassionately is the reward itself and its benefits are priceless and certainly outweigh all costs. It must be true because I love the self that has come out of that realization.
~loving one but eating another isn't compassion~
Encouraging others to be compassionate is not easy but not impossible. Thus, if I were to encourage others I would use the same or similar techniques like the central and peripheral routes of persuasion. For example, showing a 5 or 10-minute video featuring flood or cloudburst victims getting helped by numerous people to school children, most of whom don’t have TV at home, can lead to a discussion on disaster preparedness, ways to extend help or even ways to avoid such occurrences. This in itself is compassion to avert suffering. Another is using salience. A colored print out of The Healthy Eating Plate1 was posted in a conspicuous area of the hospital where my husband works to facilitate awareness about people’s diet and lifestyle choices. The idea was effective! Some people requested for copies, others talked about it, and a school teacher, who came for a consultation, asked for the source so she can print it herself and post it on their school bulletin board. It is an indirect way of showing compassion but it could lead to behavioral change. If they act accordingly, it may benefit them, their family members, the non-human animal population and the environment as a whole. A foot-in-the-door technique is another. A request was made to a neighbor to keep their empty bottles and cans separately to be collected later was also successful. This was one step up to making them agree for a bigger request –making them segregate their biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes instead of throwing them all together near the river –a terrible sight around here.
Empathy & Role playing is another technique that was successfully used by my husband in one incident when we caught kids throwing stones to a family of monkeys (I understand Hindi a bit but can’t converse). He asked them,
“Should I throw stones at you, too?”
“No”, they answered.
“Why not?”
“It hurts”, they replied.
“Then why are you throwing stones at them?”
They couldn’t answer.
And so, he went on to say, “Mat karo! (Don’t do that!) If they try to attack you without reason, grab a rock or stone and show it to them like you are going to hit them but don’t hit them. They’ll get the message and leave you alone. Theeki (Okay)?”
They nodded.
I really hoped they learned something that day.
One of the best ways to foster a more compassionate society is through education and social psychology is providing that. By conducting studies and researches in order to understand how people behave and how this behavior influence self and others, social psychology provides opportunities to evaluate our attitudes and behaviors, criticize our self-schemas, test our locus of control and know our selves better. This course itself is a means for sharing and exchanging knowledge, information and experiences among each other, to learn from each other. But these opportunities will continue just as opportunities unless we choose to be educated. We, too, have personal responsibilities to take.
Like taking the third side and acting like the hummingbird, behaving compassionately is an everyday gift that can be given in many ways to everything that surround us if we so choose it. Through education anything is possible and is more likely once we accept that we are ALL connected. What we do, no matter how little, affects others directly or indirectly in a positive or negative way. We might as well affect others in a more positive way.
As for me, I am going to be as compassionate as I can be to my fellowmen; to the animals that I call friends; and to my only home –Earth, not only today but every day of my life. 

Update: When I wrote this essay, I wasn't vegan yet. But in another assignment, I promised to go vegan soon. And yes, a year later I become one. Everything is on its proper place now, and I am not only happier than ever before but I am also leaner and healthier physically and mentally.

Source:
(1) http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/

11 August 2015

Top 15 Vegan Dont's: Explained The Way I Understand Veganism

There is only one reason for going vegan -the animals. They, in any way, should not be deliberately harmed. Their freedom to live a fulfilling life should not be taken from them. The rest of the reasons people speak about: for health, for world hunger, for the planet, are just the expected results of veganism.

This post talks about vegans and veganism the way I understand them.


1. Vegans don't consume meat, honey, eggs, milk, and dairy. They see to it that they ask for the ingredients of a dish when they eat out in a non-vegan or vegetarian restaurants. As much as possible, though, they find and dine in vegan restaurants only. Also, they don't allow any non-vegan cooking in their kitchen nor any non-vegan foods be served in their own house. 


2. Vegans don't buy packed or wrapped or canned foods without reading food labels. Many food items in grocery stores contain animal products such as milk solids. They educate themselves about unfamiliar terms in product labels. Although many vegans are fond of "veganized" foods, many are also avoiding such stuffs and trying to follow a lifestyle that is nearest to nature.



~even chipmunk reads label~
(image via iquitsugar.com)
3. Vegans don't ride horses, elephants, buffaloes, mules, or horse-drawn carriages, etc. for whatever purpose. Using their own two feet is better for health and best for the animals. Animals are not beings to carry human goods or belongings. Cements and bricks on a mule's back are just an example of human exploitation. Poor animals, they have no use of those things and yet they are burdened with such heavy loads. 

Vegans treat animals as friends. And friends are not used.



~just because we can, we should?~

4. Vegans don't support circuses, zoos, and other forms of entertainment that enslave or cage animals. They are rather involved in campaigning against these types of abuses and trying to liberate captive animals. In other words, they entertain themselves in other ways like playing/listening to music, chatting with fellow vegans, writing, etc. Instead of "enjoying" at the expense of animals, they rather view it as sad and pathetic for obviously there are other means of enjoyment without the need of animal abuse.


5. Vegans don't wear leather, fur, silk, or wool. They make sure that the goods they're buying have no history of torture and death. If they own one or two of these products before they went vegan, some give them away to homeless people, some continue to use them until they wear out and choose to never buy them again.


6. Vegans don't eat honey. Honey is food for bees who work very hard for it and not for some humans who purposely destroy bee hives for food and money.


7. Vegans don't drink animal milk. Cow's milk is for calf, cat's milk is for kittens, goat's milk is for kid. What this means is that, vegans don't take milk whether it's in their tea or coffee, bread or pastry. No butter, no ghee, no cheese, no paneer, no curd or yogurt. Well, you got it, right? Zero animal content in any food.


No animal milk means, vegans use coconut milk, soy milk, almond or cashew milk, instead. Ice creams, cakes and other products are made nowadays with plant-based milk, and they are delicious.


8. Vegans don't litter around. Veganism and protecting/conserving the environment is highly synonymous with each other that if one is an environmentalist and not vegan, he or she is a subject for a huge joke...a joke with empty humor. So vegans segregate wastes, recycle, reuse, and reduce consumption of unnecessary things that are bane to the planet. They reduce their carbon emission, too. Instead of driving their own car, they choose public transport or instead of motorcycling often, they do it when in needed basis.

9. Vegans don't breed. Unless they already have a child before going vegan. If they have, they make sure that they don't contribute anymore to the human population. They rather adopt another human being or a non-human person like a dog or a cat or a pig or a calf. Vegans have a wider concept of family. Their concept of a family no longer stays in the four corners of their home where their biological connection starts. It is extended towards non-human beings as well -the animals.


Veganism and not breeding are interconnected. Vegans realize that the root cause of all our problems, especially hunger, poverty, and climate change goes all back to people -too many people emptying every inch of our natural resources. 


10. Vegans don't have a religion. Religion, throughout history, has abused, exploited and treated animals so viciously that anyone who opposes violence and exploitation, in any form, towards the innocent has to ponder deeply and try to understand once more the brutal role of religion, not only to human beings, but more to animals. When a religion adheres cruelty, it is time to reject that religion. Goodness, kindness, or compassion knows no religion. It is intrinsic in each of us. 


If the one thing that prevents you from doing a heinous crime is because it is not allowed in your religion, then we have to analyze your character immediately, for whether you agree or not, you don't wrong others purposely because you know well yourself that rape, robbery, or murder is wrong! And to realize that doesn't need any religion.


11.Vegans don't support capitalism. Meat consumption is just one of the symptoms of a larger evil that pervades our society, which is capitalism. 


The disease of capitalism erodes compassion and makes humans see, not only other creatures, but also other humans, as commodities which only have value for the profit that they may fetch in the market, regardless of all other considerations. A capitalist mind-set, not only prioritizes profit, but also terminates everything else that it sees as not marketable. Since values are arbitrarily set by the market, in a capitalist system, a large proportion of the planet’s beings, both living and non-living, are arbitrarily discarded, as the market sees no value in their existence. And the ones that are seen as valuable are most often seen as valuable only for their final value of profit, thereby leading to horrific holocaust-like conditions for all their existence until their ruthless extermination in the name of generating profit.

This is why, as what I have understood about veganism, vegans don't support capitalism.


By the way, the first two paragraphs are excerpts from my entry to "I Am a Vegan" contest, which will be included in to a book by Ms. Butterfly Katz.


12. Vegans don't exploit other human beings. Vegans don't exploit animals, hence the word vegan. But just because they don't exploit animals, they can be allowed to exploit other human beings. No! They can't and they shouldn't! Some vegan businesses are owned and managed by vegans. Their products are highly priced, as high as the Himalayas. 


To price a small layer of strawberry cake for Rs. 800 is ridiculous. A liter of soy milk costs Rs. 95 is, obviously, overpriced. That's exploitation and it is contemptible! And it must not be empowered!


13. Vegans don't have non-vegan partners. Vegan for animals is a core value. It is something that cannot be sold nor bought. It is one of the many moral values that people in a relationship should hold on to for a great relationship to blossom. Otherwise, that reason for being vegan is very weak, it can break anytime or the vegan partner has not really understood what veganism is and is not.


14. Vegans don't use the term "vegan diet" when referring to a "plant-based diet". Veganism isn't a diet. It's a philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. 


When a man follows a diet without animal products for health reason, he is into a plant-based diet and not a vegan diet. 


When you say, vegan diet almost killed you because you found out that you were not getting enough nutrition, do not blame it on "vegan" diet. Blame it on your lack of interest to know proper nutrition. A diet with meat and animal products can also kill you, without even a warning!


Plant-based diet can kill you, too. You can consume all the pasta in the world, add plant-based noodles or breads or ice cream or burgers or pizzas with it. It's a plant-based diet but a very unhealthy plant-based diet. It is the kind of diet that you should take if you are in a hurry to join with your worm friends 6-feet underground. 





15. Vegans don't feel alone. Veganism is still unknown to, and if known, is ignored and resisted by the majority of the world's population. If you are a vegan and you feel alone because none of your family members or friends understands your awakening or enlightenment, don't be. You have to change that mentality. Don't focus on yourself. Think about a homeless cat or a dog who may not have had food today. Think about the animals in zoos. Even though they are in numbers, they are caged, no escape! Remember that your family just got extended. You have fellow vegans all over the world. Proximity doesn't matter anymore these days. And of course, you have the animals with you, literally or figuratively speaking.

It's okay to feel sad, but not alone. The cause of your sadness is based on reality, the state of affair when you want to do something for the animals but you couldn't. When the reason for going vegan is so clear for you but seems so dark for others to see. It's okay. It is a reality that you have to overcome. Our present world is like that. Instead,  be strong. The animals need your strength and valor. 



"The world is vegan if we choose it".


10 August 2015

Vegetarians vs. Vegans: Who They Are

Believe it or not there are still many people who think vegetarian and vegan are the same people. Well, they are not!

The topic seems so old to discuss that we assume everybody gets it already. But no! Many are not even familiar with the word "vegan", and since the word resembles (a little) with the word "vegetarian", they conclude that the two are one and the same. Some have not even heard that word (vegan) at all.

They have one thing in common, though. Both don't consume meat!

Time to know the difference.

Vegetarians. Though they don't consume meat they are okay taking eggs, milk, honey, and their by-products such as curd, cheese, ghee, paneer and other food items that contain eggs, milk, and honey such as ice cream, cakes & pastries, etc. They may also have no issues with wearing wool, silk, leather, or fur. They may also not think or believe that using an animal for recreation or for carrying goods is wrong. They just don't want to eat meat -all kinds of meat, including fishes. Yes, fish is meat and if you call yourself vegetarian but eat meat and other water/ocean creatures, you are a non-vegan person, not vegetarian. It's really a fact, confessed by a few I know, that some people think vegetarians eat fish.

Note: Some vegetarians don't eat eggs but drink milk and by-products of milk.

Vegans, on the other hand, don't use or consume animal or animal products. Compassion is their key reason for going vegan. They acknowledge the fact that all non-human animals are sentient, they have emotions. They are sentient being. And since they are sentient beings, they feel pain and suffering. And since eating meat and eggs, or drinking milk, or taking honey is not possible without harming or causing the animal pain and death, vegans refuse to participate in that. They reject all kinds of animal exploitation. For them, it is wrong to take life of another sentient being.

Animals, therefore, are not food, not clothing, not for human entertainment, not a commodity to be used for human benefits. Vegans, in other words, view non-human animals as friends and company.

Vegetarians are vegetarian for various reasons. One is health, another is religion. Could be both or something else.

Vegans are vegans for ethical reason.

The picture below discusses the misconception between the two.

~uploaded by Maribel Salmon @ Pinterest~


08 August 2015

Immorality: Which One Really Is Immoral?

~via wholelifemagazine.com~
Once upon a time there was a situation when I have to question what immorality truly means. 
For most people, especially those who follow Christianity (being a Christian doesn't mean one has the characteristics of Christ for I see the big difference between the two), they concentrate its meaning base on sex (intercourse, pre-marital sex in particular) and they couldn't see anything else. I am not that sure about the views on this from other religious secs but I believe they share the same. 
Anyway, I see immorality differently.
This once upon a time happened when a woman employee was kicked out of her job because she got pregnant out of wedlock. What? Yes! The management specified the following: get married and you get to keep your job otherwise, you have to resign! Why, if you ask? Because according to some company policy (this company particularly), pregnancy out of wedlock will ruin its image, its reputation! 
As simple as that! 

You might agree to what the policy entails but it is wrong and heartless!
Sex out of marriage is not an act of immorality, and definitely, a woman is not immoral if she gets pregnant with a runaway father!
When a single woman employee gets pregnant and the boyfriend refuses to marry her, does she need to lose her job? Kindly also tell me whether the company is "not" immoral when it denied its employee the job she needed the most, denying her child the comfort her salary can give?
Sex is private - between two people - and as long as the employee is doing her job properly and efficiently, the company has no right to interfere with her personal life. It's a personal choice. 
Sex becomes immoral only if one is against in doing it or if one is forced to do it.
Do you know what's more immoral than having sex out of marriage?
  • Throwing garbage anywhere is immoral. It simply puts yourselves as the center of the world because for you, getting rid of your waste is more important than anything/anyone else thereby forgetting your waste could bring harm to others!
  • Killing animals for food or simply being the reason for these animals to be butchered so you'll eat is immoral and inhumane. It, again, puts yourselves in the center for you don't value any other live beings apart from yourselves forgetting that they, too, are creations of god (if you believe so) that have rights to share the earth as much as you do.
  • Cutting trees, bulldozing the earth for the so called development is immoral. This, again, makes you forget that by doing so you make all the birds and other animals that depend on them homeless.
Is it moral to dip innocent beings in boiled water?
He or She didn't harm you in any way!

Examples could go on and on but one thing is clear, immorality does happen most of the times and that we should be ready to discuss many things about it other than claiming that sex is immoral. And that we should never agree to one thing and condemn another thing just because it doesn't apply to our liking.
But if having pre-marital sex is immoral, is getting married after doing it makes you moral? How about the man who got his girlfriend pregnant but refused to marry her, is he immoral? What if it's the mane employee got his girlfriend pregnant and refused to marry her? Will he lose his job, too?
I don't think there is a valid justification for firing an employee because the company believes that pregnancy out of wedlock is immoral.
The irony of this situation is that the company is into providing livelihood projects to communities, helping men or women, married or single become self-sufficient. How hypocrites and blind can the people in this company be when they could not even provide a decent livelihood to their own employees, and yet they talk about immorality? They better take care of their own first rather than showing some things to others and do different things on the other side.
~chopped trees as if no one lives on them;
as if it's so easy to grow one single tree;
as if felling has no consequences~

I saw how merciless the said policy is so I questioned it, not because the person concerned is a neighbor or a friend or a family member. I just refused to stay silent. That part of me just couldn't tolerate it anymore. I don't expect that after I brought their attention to this I could change them. No! Far from that. Because for change to happen it has to start from understanding what is right and what is wrong.
This case is just one of the many injustices, inequalities on earth that needs change and change is difficult, even harder having people with such kind of mentality!

06 August 2015

Lace-Inspired Crocheted Top: In Blue, Orange, Green & White Combination

Inspired by this pattern, which is free, I decided to make one of my own.
At first, I wanted all white to match with my flowery pants.
Later on I decided to make it in 4 colors since I have 4 yanks of white yarns, 2 yanks each of dark blue, orange, and green. Then again, while doing the project many ideas came to my mind and I ended up having an opening in the front (instead of the back) with crocheted buttons, as you can see in the picture. You can have it as a design or really an opening for easy fitting in.

The pattern is somewhat confusing at first. It took me a while to figure out how to start.
Since I have done it, I'll try to guide you through this design for you to follow the pattern with ease.

Click the link above for the pattern.
But you can follow mine if you find it easier to follow.


~front~
Because we don't usually find the exact materials that are recommended for a project, we need to try whether the size fits our size or not. It requires addition, multiplication, and sometimes subtraction to get the proper measurement for our body size. Since this project was finished quite a long time ago, I struggle to recall how I made the entire thing. But because the pattern is available for free, what I will do is guide you through the confusing parts of this project.

Looking at the pattern (I suggest you to copy and paste it where you can access it anytime), here'swhat you should do: 

Notes:
  • I used 4-ply acrylic and 4mm crochet hook (3 yanks white, 1 yank each dark blue, orange, & green); 3 old semi-flat buttons; sewing needle and thread
  • yo - yarn over the hook
  • Sc2tog: Draw up a lp in each of the next 2 sts, yo and draw through all lps on hook.
  • 3-dc cluster: (yo, insert hook in st, yo and draw up a loop, yo and draw through 2 loops on hook) 3 times in specified st, yo and draw through all loops on hook.

PETAL PATTERN
Foundation chain of 52. (Your first petal pattern)Hdc (half double crochet) in 3rd chain from hook, (loop on hook counts as 1st). Hdc across. Ch2 (counts as 1st hdc of next row). Turn.
  • Skip row 1, and continue working on row 2. Maintain that 51 sts
  • Row 1.  Sk first dc, *hdc in next ch-1 sp, hdc in next dc; rep from * across. Ch 2, turn.
  • Row 2. Skip first hdc, then hdc in each hdc across. Ch3 (counts as 1st dc of next row). Turn.
  • Row 3: Sk first hdc, *work 3-dc cluster in next hdc, ch 3, work 3-dc cluster in top of cluster just made (see pictures below), sk next 2 hdc; rep from * across, end 3-dc cluster in next hdc, dc in last hdc -- 17 vertical cluster, 16 horizontal cluster. Ch 3, turn.
                                                                                                                         


                                                                                                             


                                                                                                                                      
  • Row 4: Sk first dc, work 3-dc cluster in top of first cluster, *ch 2, sk next horizontal cluster, 3-dc cluster in next cluster; rep from * across, end dc in 3rd ch of turning ch -- 17 cluster, 16 ch-2 sps. Ch 2, turn. 
  • Row 5: Sk first dc, hdc in first cluster *work 2 hdc in next ch-2 sp, hdc in next cluster; rep from * across, end hdc in 3rd ch of turning ch-3. Ch 2, turn. 
  • Row 6: Work as for Row 2, except work ch 4 (counts as first dc and ch-1 at beg of next row) to turn at end of row. 
  • Row 7: Sk first 2 hdc, *dc in next hdc, ch 1, sk next hdc; rep from * across, end dc in turning ch-2--25 ch-1 sps. Ch 4, turn. 
  • Row 8: Sk first dc and ch-1 sp, *dc in next dc, ch 1; rep from * across to last sp, end sk next ch, dc in next ch. Ch 2, turn. (This last ch 2 must be of different color, if you are making this pattern with varied colors. To do that, on the last ch of the last dc -one highlighted in row 8, instead of drawing the same color, draw a yarn of different color, then tie both yarn ends together as tight as possible to avoid your work from getting unfastened later on).
  • Repeat rows 1-8 for Petal Pattern. Make 14 repeats of this Petal Pattern. I only made 11 in mine, enough to have a wrap around from waist to middle thigh.
Next.
  • With WS (wrong side) together, connect foundation ch edge and last row of the last Petal Pattern by working sl st in each st across, working through both pieces at once (looks like a tube and the back seam is formed).


Now, for DRAWSTRING BAND, you can follow the original pattern. In my project, instead of sc in row 2 and 5, I did dhc. Read below.
  • Round 1: With RS (Right Side) facing, join thread of your choice (if doing in multi-colored) with sl st at back seam on one end of Torso tube; work 14 sc along each 8-row repeat of Petal pattern as follows; 2 sc along Rows 1-2; 5 sc along Rows 3-4; 2 sc along Rows 5-6; 5 sc along Rows 7-8; join with sl st to first sc. (14 sc X 11 repeats of Petal pat=154 sts)
  • Round 2: Ch 1, hdc in each sc, and at the same time dec 4sc evenly spaced by working hdc2tog, join with sl st to first hdc. (150 sts or multiples of 5)
  • Round 3: Ch 3 (counts as first dc); dc in next hdc; ch 2; sk next 2sc, *dc in each of the next 2 hdc, ch 3, sk next 2 sc; rep from * around, join with sl st to 3rd ch of beg ch-3.
  • Round 4: Ch 1, work sc in each dc and 2 sc in each ch-2 sp, join with sl st to first sc.
  • Round 5: Ch 1, hdc in each sc and at the same time dec (sc2tog) 9 sc evenly spaced around, join with sl st to first hdc. (141 sts or multiples of 7 + 1)
Next. 
SCALLOP PATTERN (needs multiple of 7 + 1)

  • Row 1 (RS): Sc in first st, *sk 2 sts, 5 dc in next st -- scallop made; sk 2 sts, sc in next st; rep from * across. Ch 3, turn. 
  • Row 2: Work 2 dc in first sc, *sc in center dc of next scallop, scallop in next sc; rep from * across, end sc in center dc of next scallop, 3 dc in last sc. Ch 1, turn. 
  • Row 3: Sc in first dc, *scallop in next sc, sc in center dc of next scallop; rep from * across, working last sc in 3rd ch of turning ch-3. Ch 3, turn. 
  • Repeat Rows 2 - 3 for Scallop patern 
  • Work back and forth in Scallop pattern till desired length is achieved, changing colors if preferred. Fasten off. (This opening can be a back or front opening. If back opening is preferred, I suggest to use flat buttons so it doesn't hurt when lying down or sitting against a chair or wall).
~21 rows of scallop pattern, sc and wsc for button edges~

STRAP
(Remember that I used 4mm crochet hook)
  • Foundation chain of 55. 
  • Row 1: Hdc on the 3rd ch from hook and in each across =54 hdc total. Ch2. Turn.
  • Row 2:Sk first hdc, hdc in each st across.
  • Row 3-4: Refer to Petal Pattern rows 3-4
  • Row 5: Refer to row 5 of Petal pattern. Ch 2, turn. 
  • Row 6: Sk 1st hdc, then hdc in next 10 hdc, dc in next 11 hdc, tr in next 10 hdc, dc in next 11 hdc, and hdc in last 11 hdc.
  • Row 7: Sc in first 2sts, *sk next 2 hdc, 3 dc in next hdc, then (ch 5, sl st in 5th ch from hook) 3 times to form a triple picot (see picture below); sk next hdc, 3 dc in next hdc, sk next 2 hdc*; sc in next hdc; repeat from * to *; sc in last 2sts. Fasten off.
~example of row 7* ~

LOWER BORDER
  • Round 1: Refer to row 1 of Drawstring Band except that instead of sc, work in hdc= 154 sts
  • Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as first hdc); sk first hdc, hdc in each hdc around, join with sl st to top of beginning ch-2.
  • Round 3: Ch 4 (counts as first dc and ch-1 sp); sk first 2 hdc, *dc in next hdc, ch 1, sk next hdc; repeat from * around, join with sl st to 3rd ch of beg ch-4.
  • Round 4: Ch 4, sk first dc, *dc in next dc, ch 1; repeat from * around, join with sl st to 3rd ch of beg ch-4. 
  • Rounds 5-7: Refer to round 4. 
~lower border~
  • Round 8: Ch 2 (counts as first hdc); sk first dc, hdc in each ch-1 sp and dc around, skipping 2 hdc evenly spaced around; join with sl st to 2nd ch of beg ch-2. (=152 sts).
  • Round 9: Ch 1, sc in first hdc, *sk next 2 hdc, 3 dc in next hdc, (ch 5, sl st in 5th ch from hook) 3 times -- triple picot formed; sk next hdc, 3 dc in next hdc, sk next 2 hdc**, sc in next hdc; rep from * around; join with sl st in first sc. Fasten off.

EDGING FOR FRONT OPENING
  • For upper side where button holes are made, I did sc evenly for 1st row.
  • For 2nd row, I did a wsc or wrapped single crochet (click the link for a video tutorial) with chaining 3 in right places where I intended to place the buttons. Depending on how big your button, you can chain 4 or 5.
  • For the underside, sc evenly  in 1st row; then wsc for as many rows you like to have an extra layer (mine has 3 rows of wsc). Sew in buttons in place to correspond to button holes. Just sew in the extra edge of wsc layer made.
~back side of the top~

Notes:
~You need a lining for inside or any plain sleeveless top.
~You can insert a ribbon as drawstring or a single crocheted band.
~Try the garment on before sewing the strap to get the proper place where to attach the edge to the tube.
~For crocheted buttons, I got the idea from this site.
~For any clarification, just leave a message. I'll try to answer them as possible as I can.

~the final look~

Do take a look at my other crochet stuffs!




Khirsu Community Health Center: A Hospital On A Hillstation

From a Primary Health Center (PHC), Khirsu Government Hospital has just recently got upgraded to Community Health Center (CHC) with 1 permanent MBBS doctor assigned; 1 MBBS contract doctor; and 1 MBBS doctor doing an attachment duty (through bond) from Srinagar Base Hospital; and other hospital staffs: pharmacist, nurse, ANUMs, and other hospital personnel.

An ANUM training center and a hostel are also located at this hospital campus.

~hospital compound as seen from Khirsu market~
The hospital opens at 8 am to 2 pm Mondays to Saturdays in summer and 9 am to 3 pm in winter. It is an OPD service. Minor emergency cases are handled in the hospital while serious cases are referred to higher centers -Srikot, Srinagar or Pauri hospital or in Dehradun.
Delivery cases are quite less and are handled by nurse and ANUM.

GVK-EMRI  (call 108) provides emergency response services under PPP or Public Private Partnership framework and is ready on call anytime.

Housing facilities are provided for doctors and other hospital staffs. Electricity supplies come and go, sometimes for about 5-15 minutes or 1 hour to 12 hours especially when a major repair is going on.
Water supply, on the other hand, is problematic, especially during summer days. Water tank truck which comes from Pauri supplies to areas without water.

~hospital compound as seen from Pauri-Khirsu road,
the towering building is the hospital~

Khirsu's location is situated in a very strategic point where a view of the Himalayas can be clearly visible in winter behind those cloud-covered mountains.

GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam) Hotel and Restaurant is located just below the hospital.

~Chaukhamba mountains is on the right. I can't name the others.
These are the mountains visible from Khirsu
between December and early February.
This picture was taken in early February after
a night and day of rain.~
[This photograph was taken from the hospital campus]

~The view visible from Khirsu. This was taken from Khirsu hospital~


For more information regarding Khirsu CHC, just leave a comment.



05 August 2015

Empathy: The Capability To Share Another Being's Emotions And Feelings

The word empathy is one of the most common words in man's vocabulary. Though the above definition says another being, most people apply this word to HUMAN beings only and not to NON-HUMAN animals. Many fail to imagine themselves to be them, non-human animals, which somehow made me question... is empathy exclusive to mankind only?

Well, many people are generally kind and caring who may love their dogs or cats - their pets, in other words, but they seem to have forgotten their concern towards other animals like the plight of pigs, chickens, turkeys, sheep, cows, etc. in slaughterhouses getting ready to be sold and eventually be served on their dinner table. Can man be this hostile?
Now let me ask you! Are you one of these people who empathize with human pains and sufferings only? Or are you different?
Will there be a chance for you to be different from now on?
In Earthlings, a documentary film about the society's treatment of animals as food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research, I couldn't help myself but say "Good!" when the elephant ran amok and injured and killed people who treated him mercilessly just for the sake of entertainment.
In the movie, The Planet of the Apes, humans are dumb just like how humans think of animals today. They are in the situation where they are hunted for sport and dissected or sliced for scientific study. Good thing apes were vegetarian, otherwise human meat would have been their favorite. 
Could this be a consolation for humans?
Just a few weeks ago, a neighbor killed a cobra because he, his family, and his other neighbors are afraid of it. They are scared that the would enter in to their houses and bite them. That's all they can think of -bite them, and so he/she has to die through their hands. My husband and I tried to persuade them not to kill him/her, to just let him/her go on its way for he/she's just passing by. But no! The man still brought a big round stick and smashed him/her to death. I literally burst out to tears and walked away. I couldn't bear the hostility of man, who is supposed to be far more intelligent than any other being yet he couldn't hide the beast in him.
In another incident around here, a big cat was hunted and killed (I am referring to a different leopard, not the pictured one below) because he killed a 5 year-old kid. Many commented and said it should have not killed the kid, it should not hunt humans. It can kill dogs, sheep, goats and other animals but not humans! And so he was killed. But who would you blame? The big cat that has gone hungry for many days because his habitat has been destroyed by endless human population growth or the humans themselves who think that they can empty the forest, that these animals don't have the right to inhabit the earth like they do? 
~one innocent earthling against hundreds of men~
(visit indianexpress for the story)
Here, I confirmed how idiots humans can be because of selfishness and apathy. How can they even think that there is only but one man-eating leopard roaming around in this area? What if the one got killed was not the one they were looking for? But, oh well, they are not capable of thinking this way, aren't they?
Then, why kill the animal? There is forest department that is supposed to handle this situation the right way - tranquilize the cat and transport him to a jungle where he can thrive.
But they resorted to killing him.
~dogs for dog meat trade, via www.ed.ac.uk~
The above scenarios are just a few instances where humans have shown their hostility, selfishness, idiocy for the sake of their own benefit. No wonder man survive this long wiping out the weak along the way for them to thrive in great numbers.
I know that many cannot understand and connect these issues what I am mumbling about. I don't have control over that. But for those who are capable of putting themselves in the paws and hooves of these animals, they already know what to do, if they haven't done anything yet.

Yet again, compassion or kindness is innate in every person. But somehow, along the way it got lost, but it is something that could be lost but also can be found again.
Don't fail to put yourselves in the lives of these animals, which you considered scrumptious! It's time to evolve and become that man who is part of nature but on a different level altogether.
You can be a part of nature and choose to kill and eat your fellow earthlings. 
Not that!
Instead, be a part of nature, and at the same time, choose not to exploit animals in every possible way. Be that man! Be that man who says, empathy is for all creatures who live in this planet.
Empathy is something that is extended towards non-human animals.
I failed for 27 years but I changed my ways. I passed and still doing my best part to protect and respect them. I just don't have sympathy for them, I deeply empathize with them. I clearly see their value, not as food that fills my belly, but as beings that exist because they have every rights to share this beautiful planet with me.

I want to live my life and I know, every single animal out there wants to live his or her life, too, free from any threats from mankind.


04 August 2015

Random Thoughts of A Wandering Mind

A Child is A Miracle

 "Having a child is not a miracle. It’s biology. Not to mention the fact that humankind is going to out-breed our little planet. We are like lemmings—burdening our environment until a mass-killing is needed to equalize the overpopulation. People don’t think about how much having a child impacts the world. If you consider yourself an environmentalist, or against war, or poverty and hunger, then you would be wise to consider the impact your fertility has on the planet".....(Excerpt from this blog.

Finally, someone is bold enough to say the truth that many "experts" are scared to talk about! It is a must to discuss human population growth. 

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A Recipe for Disaster

The belief that you need someone to take care of you is a perfect recipe for disaster!

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A Twisted World

Our world is such a twisted one! The sick or ill get sick leave from work, get their hospital bills and medication reimbursed,  while the healthy-especially the ones who really want to stay that way don't get anything! They don't get extra pay for not being sick, they don't get reimbursed when they enroll themselves in gym or buy bicycles to stay fit and healthy, they don't get paid to buy fruits, vegetables and nuts to certain their well-being!

Pregnant women get paid maternity leave when they are the ones who contribute to the already over populated world. They are the ones who add to the consumption of earth's exhausted resources. They also pollute, in every possible way!

It's not our world that is twisted, actually, but the people who are on it (not all but most).


(via gallery4share.com)

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Cease to Change

It's just a sad fact to know that no matter how precautions or factual information you share with people (family, friends, acquaintances) about health and values in life, they still cease to change. 

This is the time when you have to realize yourself that there is a limit to everything. You can't continue to go on and on. You have to let them be and, yeah, you don't need to have anything to do with them.

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Chance

Everybody deserves a chance to get informed or be educated with something that is very important. But then, it's up to them whether to take that education and do something good about it!

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Criticize Idea Not The Person Who's Holding The Idea

To criticize the person instead of the values, beliefs, thoughts and ideas, or opinion he or she holds is the highest level of immaturity and the lowest form of intelligence.

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Found A Friend?

The moment you met a person whom you can talk to about the important social issues in life with open-mind, without feeling upset or attacked because you are talking about views and values that are exactly opposite to his or hers, that is the moment that you just found a friend!

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Help To Most People

The problem with most people is that when they need your help they expect the kind of help they want from you and get upset or angry when this expectation is not met. So, for example (among many) when you tell an obese or an overweight person to lose weight and be more active, they give you all the excuses they can think of and try to justify their health issues...and on top of that they want your sympathy when something "bad" happens to them when the reality is, the sympathy they were looking for was already presented to them only that they were too self-absorbed to even notice that help was already given.

It's like visiting a friend or a family member in a hospital who has met a terrible road accident because of reckless and fast driving to show that you care. Telling him/her over and over again to drive slow and carefully is NOT help or support when, the truth is, that is the greatest help you can ever extend to another person!

Prevention is always better than cure, because most of the times, there is no cure...other than 6 feet under ground...sooner or later!

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Ignorance, Not A Big Deal

Ignorance is not a big deal! But when you are presented with knowledge, at least, have an open-mind to accept it and change your ways.

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Intelligence

Students' intelligence these days is measured by their ability to memorize facts and retrieve these facts and apply them at a proper place at the right time! And that's basically scoring marks!
Students graduate with honors, receive awards and scholarships but are really poor in critical thinking.
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Laws Are Useless

Laws are useless!
They have not prevented bad people from committing all types of crimes. 
On the other hand, good people don't need laws. They will never be seen littering, robbing, cheating, or murdering. 
Laws are made to control!
And when people have to fight for justice, that is even worse!

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Lesson in Life that Many Choose to Fail

Murdering animals for food or clothing or using them for human benefits is one of those lessons in life that each and every one of us failed to pass earlier. This time, many are still failing not because they can't pass this basic lesson. They are failing because they refuse to pass, they choose to fail. Hence, there are still so many non-vegans out there who, deep inside them, accept that the act is wrong but still continue to include flesh on their diet.

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Money From Cruelty

To make money from cruelty is the lowest form of humanity.

Examples: 
Cockfighting, which is very common in Philippines, every Sunday or during fiesta.
Bull fighting; selling animal goods; selling birds as pets; breeding animals for food, clothing, etc.

You are better than these people who are involved in such atrocious forms of livelihood.
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On Blood Donation

I don't understand the need for blood donation camp, actually! It seems pretty useless to me...stocking blood in case someone needs it badly. I mean the only time you need a blood donor is when you met an accident and the only way to save your "precious" life is a blood from another person. 

So what if your blood goes to a person who is already sick because he's been so neglectful about his health his body slowly deteriorates and only now he needs something, like blood, so he can keep on living? What if, after he gets blood donation he continues to do the same thing he did before he needed the blood? Does it make any sense to you?

It doesn't to me!

Rather than holding a blood donation camp, why not hold a more useful camp like educating people to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle to avoid such unnecessary activity in the first place? Encourage local community to plant their own vegetables and fruits; implement strict segregation of waste and no single biodegradable waste should go out of each house -must be composted! These, among other many things, are, for me, more important than wasting time holding a blood donation camp. And nobody takes account on how much blood goes to waste later on.

Instill personal responsibility on people! Blood donation is just like a patch...patching a hole that can totally be avoided just by being responsible for your own health.

The only question that only retains in my mind is that,  what if your blood goes to a person who doesn't deserve to be saved? (This goes to organ donation, too, which is why I like (somewhat) that movie of Will Smith, 7 Pounds).

What will you do?




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Something Not Shallow: A Poem

It is sad, I know. 
But if we give up on each other,
It's not because of something shallow.
In fact, it's because of one common fellow.
They're still on your plates whole, chopped, dry, and gravy
A necessity, you say.
Something valued traditionally.
But friends they are to me
Who I adore dearly.
So you see, it's rather easy.
It's either
I let you be
And I'll be on my way
Or together,
You and me
On a journey towards something extraordinary!

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The Dalai Lama

"The Dalai Lama eats meat because he gets sick if he doesn't" is a piece of information that is not new to me. And the first time I heard about it, "what a hypocrite", was my first remark.

So he decides to take the lives of sentient animals so he continues to live, huh! What an incredible idea!

I am a vegan myself but I am not against eating meat. It's the killing of animals for food is what I am against of. These animals have equal rights to inhabit the only home I am inhabiting free from harm, torture, and threat of untimely death because of human craving for flesh, which is actually bland and not tasty at all.

And an authority like the Dalai Lama, who is supposed to be advocating non-violence, is an offensive figure for me! 


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To Complete Me

I have been hearing and reading this phrase for a long time and it is mostly coming from women who are looking for a boyfriend or a husband material and/or from a mother who wants to have a child.

I mean, come on. You needed someone else to complete you? I mean, you yourself are not complete? But how can you ask for somebody to complete you when you are not complete yourself? 

It's like giving a half-baked cookie to someone. You are the half-baked cookie and you are looking for somebody who would take you, not cooked!

Would you like to take a half-baked cookie?

This is the same with somebody who always say "I need somebody to make me happy". Nobody can give you happiness except yourself and to ask or look for it from somebody else is, really, a perfect recipe for a disaster. 

Please, learn to love yourself. You can only give happiness if happiness is already in you.

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Veterinarians

Veterinarians: The only doctor whos eat their patients!

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What You Are

It's no longer, "Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are!"
It's now, "Tell me what you eat and I'll tell you what you are!"

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What's Wrong?

What's wrong with meat, eggs, and milk?
There's nothing right about them!!!

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