What's for lunch

My alarm has went off at 6.27 am every weekday for two months now (Alex leaves for work around 7.10 and since he is an extremely morning tired person, I get up first to make his coffee and prepare breakfast to help get his day started smoothly). Such an early wake up (I would otherwise sleep one hour more), means I get hungry for lunch already by 11. It's 7.23 now and I am already excited for what I will begin preparing as soon as I arrive to the kitchen in approx 45 min. 

This is what I made yesterday. A slow cooking process in which I've first browned onion and garlic, added a tonne of fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley and mint. Let it simmer with a few cups of homemade vegetable stock for a good hour. Drained chickpeas added, cook on low heat for an hour, then let it simmer for another. Toss in some chopped kale and orange pepper (or carrots in small cubes goes well too, for some reason I think orange colored vegetables suits this stew the best). More water or vegetable stock. Salt, pepper, freshly grated ginger, a bit of cayenne pepper, cumin, turmeric, clove, nutmeg and whatever else you might find suitable. Simmer again till all flavors are well incorporated, an hour or more (the longer the better). I like to mash the chickpeas randomly with the wooden spoon, so that more or less half are mushy, half are whole. Gives a nicer texture. Serve with fluffy white long grain basmati rice. I poured some saffron water on top of mine for extra flavor.

I have never really measured spices or anything else for that matter in my cooking, but have realized as of late that I have to start doing that now since I will be cooking larger quantities, and most people might not appreciate as much salt (and spice) that I do. And consistency is key when it comes to professional food making.

It is thanksgiving here very soon and it's always interesting with the different foods of each new cultural tradition that one come across. I will start experimenting with a vegan thanksgiving menu this week and will share the fruition of this project with you in the next couple weeks. I think homemade cranberry sauce will be on the list of doings for today to start...

about work and education

I got a comment from a Swedish reader called Karin a while ago:  

Taru! Jag tänker ofta på det här med utbildning. Vet att du inte har någon eftergymnasial utbildning. Hur har det definierat dig? Har det satt käppar i hjulet för dig? Är det något du vill göra? Vad säger du om dagens samhälle och system där det mer eller mindre bygger på att alla ska ha en universitetsutbildning? Vart tror du samhället är påväg? Måste man ha en universitetsutbildning för att klara sig? Hade gärna velat höra dina tankegångar då du själv nämnt detta tidigare men inte djupare än så.

Translation: Taru! I often think about education. I know that you do not have a post-secondary education. How has it defined you? Does it put a spoke in the wheel for you? Is that anything you'd want to do? What about today's society and the system in which it is more or less based on that everyone should have a university degree? Where do you think the society is heading? Do you need to have a university degree to get by? Would like to hear your thoughts, you've only briefly touched this subject earlier.

Disclaimer. Do not use me as an example if:

- You look for safety and stability at all times.
- It is important to you what people think about your life and career path.
- You prefer comfort before challenge.
- You can't imagine yourself being broke.
- You know exactly what your life calling is as far as work goes and you wish to learn all in relation to it.

You may take my advice if one or all of these apply to you:

- You value life experience and adventure before comfort.
- You do not mind taking a random extra job in between profitable self employment.
- You don't mind being broke every now and then because you know you'll always survive (somehow).
- You appreciate challenge
- You trust yourself and that things will solve themselves as time goes by and while you do your best.
- Uncertainty and the unknown is exciting.
- You want to develop and refine your personality before you decide which exact path to take.
- You realize that life is about the journey and thus you want to experience as much as possible.
- Freedom is of utmost importance to you.

To start with, I can tell you that I have never really thought of getting a degree of any sort. In fact, I couldn't wait to get the hell out of school with its non-practical teachings and get to try my own wings instead. Due to a high degree of absenteeism in high school, I didn't even finish with appropriate documentation. I would say that learning has always come easy to me, my teachers were always pleased with the level of my knowledge and my knack for remembering and learning things very easily. It just wasn't what I felt my life needed at the time. I wanted to know real things. About real life. And I have always wanted to love what I do. I did not love school.

I studied three years of Business and Administration in high school (for non Swedes: Swedish high school normally happens between the age of 17-19 and you study your orientation of choice). But even though I attended classes very seldom (too busy partying and hanging out with friends), I think I am the only one in my class that have actually founded and ran my own businesses later on in life. It seems to come naturally for me.

The fact that I was distracted by more fun things in those early years hasn't really hurt me that much, it rather helped me gather a lot of important social knowledge. I worked in a variety of different places to support myself: food stores, cleaning hotel rooms, booked conferences, served at restaurants. And whenever later on that I stumbled upon a business idea (first one came at 21), I made everything I could to make them happen. My motivation was fueled by the strong will of being free and becoming independent. I did not want to give away my valuable time, energy and manpower to people who profited of it more than myself. I wanted to be on top of all things. I guess I was born with an innate sense of "I can do this" and "if they can do it, so can I".

I think a higher education might be really good for certain professions and careers, but for an aspiring entrepreneur with a lot of will and ambition, it is not necessary. A course or degree in business administration/economy/management might be helpful. But even without it, I know of people who've learned everything they know by themselves. Because they're curious and want to learn. I have since I was very young relied on my own abilities. And I've always been very good at absorbing information, at making use of ideas that come my way as well as picking people's brains on important knowledge.

I had always wanted to become a business owner. So I made sure to surround myself with people who were business owners and learned all I could from them. I wanted to work in fashion. And without any prior experience but rather a keen interest in it, I called up fashion brands in NYC, booked meetings with them, flew there alone to bring their brands over to Sweden and that was the start of opening my own fashion store. 

When eating out and partying was the most important thing in my life, I started a web portal for tourists visiting Barcelona, recommending the best of nightlife, dining and shopping that the city had to offer. When I wanted to take my passion for travel to another level, I founded a blog around that interest and made money out of it. I have always loved photographing, so I made sure to find clients to build my portfolio.

Now that (vegan) food and nutrition is my most recent passion, I have founded a company in which I cook and bake healthy, organic, vegan food (that is after I've spent almost a year of working for other restaurants, catering companies and cafés here to gain experience). I'd always strive for turning my interests and passions into money makers just so that I didn't have to waste time on someone else's dreams and ideas. Sometimes my attempts had good results, but they have all turned into valuable lessons regardless of outcome.

The fear of failure has never held me back. The potential worry of not knowing enough has not stopped me either. I have always made sure to learn what I needed to know. I've taken help from people more knowledgeable than myself. Practiced all what I could. I've never received financial help from family, instead I invented ways that would help me bring my ideas to life. I think also that since I grew up with not having much, I was never afraid of being broke in search of entrepreneurial success. Being penniless every once in a while is a risk you must take living the way I have done, with the background I had. 

But I must say that without my best friends, there have been moments when I would have struggled more. I don't know how many times I have had to call my friends from the other side of the world, asking for a quick loan. And obviously since always paying back to the people that have helped you is a fundamental core value of mine, they still would never hesitate helping me out would there need be. And they know I would always do the same for them. Extremely thankful for the people I have in my life and whom have saved my ass many a time.

Back to your question: I don't experience that I have suffered from not having a post secondary education, because I have never wanted or felt that I needed one. But if I would've been a person that wanted to become something that needed a higher education, I would have made sure to get my degrees. It all depends on whatever you want to do and where you see yourself in the future. If it's a lawyer you dream of becoming, I would recommend you studying hard, but combine it with practical knowledge. If you'd want to become a psychiatrist, I would not recommend you jumping onto a five year long education without some proper life experience in your baggage first. If you dream of one day opening your own art gallery, I'd probably recommend you date a gallery owner and or different painters/artists, and then taking help from books and dear Google to get your feet wet before you send in your application to an art institute. Because how can you know what you want to do for the next four, five years if you barely know yourself and the world you live in?

A university degree is good, but not everything. There are many other ways to learn. There are many potential mentors out there that sits on all the information you're looking for. I promise you it's a hell of a lot more interesting spending good times with someone who's gone through it all, rather than wasting five days a week in class.

My years of jumping in between business ventures has been a good learning curve for me. An elongate time that has allowed me to experiment with life, with my own ideas. Imagine if I would have signed up for a design school and studied to fashion designer at the age of 21, and only a few years later discover what I discovered while running my fashion store. That the fashion world is a schizophrenic industry in which you are supposed to change your opinion four times a year. An industry that is filled with vanity, corruption and constant marketing of unethical products and ideals. I feel that I have avoided disappointments and confusions by always following my instincts and gut feelings rather than the "normal" way that might've been expected of a young woman.

I don't necessarily recommend my way of dealing with education and work, it's not for everyone as you hear. But for myself who strive for living life to the fullest and learning by living - my personal non-strategy has worked the best. I have never had a dream of becoming a university educated person. My dream was rather, if anything, to become an intellectual, wise, objective person rich with life experience. My dream was never to get a fat paycheck from a big company. My dream was rather to afford paying myself a decent salary made from my own passions and my own hard work. If I wanted a degree, I would have gotten one. If I would have been absolutely sure of what I wanted to work with for the rest of my life, it would have probably been reasonable to get a university degree. But I've always felt that what I am and want today, might not be the same as next year. Therefore has school not appealed to me much. I am always changing, refining and I never want to stop learning.

Sure, the times in life when I've been a little lost (that always happens in between functioning business ventures), I might have toyed with the idea of taking a class in writing or philosophy, just to add to my personal knowledge bank. But I simply do not think I am the sort of person that need a university degree. I think I will always be able to sort myself out and do the things I love doing. Because I have both the drive, and the knowledge in how to achieve goals. I do not let things such as other people's opinions or the lack of education come in my way. I make sure to surround myself with people who have faith in me, and I read and study all what I am interested in, by myself. I would say that I currently spend approx. 20 hours a week studying about food and nutrition for example. Because I think that will help my current business. And all the physical practicing and experimenting that I occupy myself with on the daily, adds to my expertise as well.

Making a lot of money is not super important to me. But making enough to live a comfortable, happy life in which I can afford to travel and see my family and friends more often, is what I strive for. It will have to take the time it takes, because it will only be achieved by me working with the things I love. And for a period in my past when I thought a tonne of money was super important, I made sure to try that world out by dating very wealthy men. I realized after a few years though, that it wasn't what made me happy. Money doesn't buy you happiness. It only gives you opportunities. But if you aren't happy and content from within, no material or money in the world can help you. I am glad I have gained that knowledge by my own personal life experiments.

Doing the things you love, surrounded by people you love and respect, are the two most fundamental core values in my life and even though my 32 year short life so far has proven to be ever changing, ever evolving, I think that simple philosophy is here to stay.

Although I'm very content with the experiences through good and bad that I've earned in the past. And also very pleased with what I'm currently occupied with. There are still many things I would have wanted to try out. I see life like an inviting playground, so many intriguing things to choose from. These are some of the interesting, challenging things I may or may not try my hands on in the future:

Author - Music Producer - Restaurant Owner - Documentary Video Host - Hotel Proprietor

But most of all, the things that has always been the same and probably will remain until I die: Freedom is everything. And I really want to enjoy my life and keep improving and refining myself and the little world directly around me.

Here you can read about some of what I have been up to in the past.
 

Food news

There are so many of these movies out now, which is only a good thing. The more people that get aware of the American governments unwillingness to help its citizens become/remain healthy, strong and thriving, the better. Everyone has to start taking care of themselves now, and stop relying on governmental institutions and corrupt media. You can download the full length of this movie on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play or get it on DVD.

What else is new on the food front? 

The most Michelin starred chef in the world, Alain Ducasse, who heads thirty restaurants in three continents and whom has received 21 Michelin stars with his name - is ditching red meat and cream from his newly renovated and world renowned restaurant in the historic luxury hotel Plaza Athénée on Avenue Montaigne in Paris. If that doesn't say something about the future of food, then what does.

Although the French could be considered extremely traditional and adamant in their ways of eating and cooking meats such as duck, veal, frog and rabbit, this initiative isn't something entirely new for the French haute cuisine. Already 13 years ago, another world famed Michelin starred chef, Alain Passard, introduced a mainly vegetarian menu to his clients at the elaborate dining room of L'Arpège in Paris.

This is what I would recommend for your lunch today, rather than a greasy bacon burger, for example:
My creamy roasted carrot soup with vegetable stock and ginger, garnished with non-gmo alfalfa and a side of toasted homemade ryebread, all ingredients organic. Wash it down with a large glass of filtered water with freshly squeezed lemon for a good cleanse. Yes, I will post some recipes up here soon..

And last but not least: With over 35 bills introduced in 20 states that would require the labeling of Monsanto's products, its CEO and a handful of other execs dump shares worth millions. Are we close to the final chapter of GMO's in the society? At least we're getting closer every day. US corn farmers have also recently launched a $1 billion lawsuit against Syngenta (competitor of Monsanto), claiming that the biotech giant has caused massive damage to the demand for US corn on the international market. If other countries don't want these genetically engineered products, have U.S. farmers been misled in growing them? Three class action lawsuits have been filed by U.S. farmers and I have a feeling this is just the beginning of a very important snowball effect.

#boatlife

Felt like we were out at sea last night. Wind howling, halyards banging on the mast, boat heeling over, waves washing over the cockpit. A low pressure system brought massive rain and thunder and we had a consistent 35-40 knots throughout the night, gusting to 55. At the end of the night the finger docks started to give in on some parts so we made sure to secure it with all sorts of lines we could find around the marina. Some boats closer to the sea lost their awnings/dodgers, and one unattended boat's foresail broke free and got all tangled in the shrouds, causing the boat to heal over and heave into the dock in a very damaging way so Alex cut the sheets, furled the sail and secured it to lessen damage on the poor boat. Wearing his motorcycle helmet to not get hit by the extreme forces of the fiercely raging sail and sheets. Not much sleep here in other words!

How was your night?

What if..

I've been feeling more in love with Alex in the past few months than in a long time. Maybe more than ever. Almost five years together now. They say a year of relationship on a small boat equals to approx. three years on land. The space where you live is so tiny, the challenges you go through at sea are demanding, and if there is something about your partner you dislike or feel frustrated about, it is literally impossible escaping it on a boat. You are constantly in each others face. You better make it work.

We've had our downs definitely. But some times these days, a very uncomfortable feeling hits me in my stomach. What if we wouldn't have made it through the challenges? What if we would have given up? Knowing what we know now: that our love is strong enough to work through emotional recessions, empty bank accounts and exhausting trials, it seems so utterly obvious that we are together. We are a team. Will work through anything. But imagine if the doubts we might have had in the past led us go apart? It's a disturbing thought.

I have our years of traveling to thank for many things. But primarily it has softened and toned down my hard edges. It has opened my heart in a way that I sometimes feel it is over producing, over flowing with love and at times I feel I don't know where to release the immense pounding of hot blood that is streaming within my veins. It's a tangible feeling which makes me smile a lot. Hug and kiss my man more than usual. Makes me more helpful. It makes me effective at work. And it makes me dedicated towards the causes I believe in. Nothing is ever without its obstacles, but when the foundation feels steady, everything else runs smoother as a result.

My purpose on this earth and my ideas and visions of life have become more clear and defined. And I think out of the love, and the thorny fence around my heart that I've begun cutting down, that is where truth comes from. That is where you can create truly marvelous things. Be a better partner. A better person. Do good things. Live healthier. Be fair. Be honest. Help others.

I think all the right decisions, the ways in which Alex and I communicate better these days, the mutual work and sacrifices we put ourselves through, the plans and dreams we both have individually and as a couple, the energy we put into each of our projects, the balance we feel, the progressive path we're on, the support we give one another, the defined idea of something great for the future. They are all a result of love. A result of less shields and barriers between us. The result of opening up and being real.

I feel that is the key to all good in this world. To open your heart, don't let past and grudges hold back the power you have within. Be real and truthful to your beliefs. Make life easy on yourself and people around you. Pour love into all what you do. And know that a change comes only if you really want it to. 

But I still sometimes wonder with an uneasy feel in my body, what if we wouldn't have found the strength to work things out.. a big part of the meaning of our lives seem to still be to be together.

tips from the boat

Stormy Sundays are for cleaning up the mess you caused in the week. 

If you're looking for a good dish soap that washes thoroughly and which removes grease also in cold water (some of you boat people will know this is crucial), we've concluded that Whole Food's own brand 365 has a real good one. The one with citrus scent. It's good value and does not contain phosphates, phthalates, chlorine and no artificial fragrances. The scents of citrus, lavender and pine come from 100% natural essential oils and there are some unscented options too if you'd prefer that. They have also not tested their 365 products on animals. Packaging is recyclable and made with post-consumer recycled materials.

Pretty much the perfect dish soap imo.

Historias de España

Raül Fernández Miró and Sílvia Pérez Cruz, two of Alex's long time clients from Spain released a great new album a little while ago, called Granada. Raül is undoubtedly one of Spain's most interesting and most sought after producers right now. He's constantly coming out with one mind blowing release after another.

Sílvia is on the other hand one of the stronger female voices of the country. She started off her musical career as the co-founder and lead singer of flamenco pop band Las Migas but is now going solo and often seen collaborating with Raül. It seems nothing can go wrong when these two multi-talented Catalan artists work together. The song in the video above has a very special effect, I think not only on myself. But there's no way I can listen to it without crying. It's like an internal button that hits each time it's played. In particular in the studio Alex works where sound is impeccable and it feels like Sílvia is whispering delicate words right into your ear.

Here's another fantastic piece of art, (Sílvia sings in six different languages on that particular album):
Check out Raül's Facebook here and Sílvias here. Their latest album Granada can be found on many places online but only on iTunes is also the first song I showed you, included.

Here you can find some info about Alex's music mastering affairs if you missed it last time.


daily progress

THIS is how happy one become when opening the oven to find such a perfectly cooked - golden, fluffy, sweet scenting, crispy apple cake made with fresh apples from the local farm. Cooking, and more so, baking, vegan foods is a whole different league altogether and it makes me extremely happy and proud each time my experiments lead me to a recipe that is so good that even non-vegan people love what they taste and come back for more. I honestly thought it was going to be hard working against all the stuff most people are used to - butter, eggs and milk - but really, it's just the first threshold that you've got to get past. Now that I know how to substitute each one of them so well, that is when things start to get interesting for real.
And when the bread you let rise for 14 hours comes out of the oven like this... worth all the wait in the world.
Oven roasted mushrooms with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Perfectly fine to eat as snacks as they are (I always end up eating half off the tray as they come out), or chop them up into stews or soups. J'adore.

You people are so quiet here in the blog these days (more active on Facebook it seems), hence slower updates from over here. Hope you all have had a great summer and that you too are working on some fulfilling things this fall and winter!

many roads to travel


Not joking, for at least two years have I planned writing a post about the difference I/we have experienced in the different countries in which we have lived or traveled to so far. Have now finally got my shit together and begun drafting on a comprehensive list of all positive and negative that we've experienced in each of those countries. But first a little background info..

You know already that one major gain with a world trip like the one we're on with our floating home, is that you get one step closer to the truth, you get to know the world a little bit better. A gained knowledge that hopefully gives a better idea on where it would be wise to set up a land-based home one day in the future. We're far from done with our research. Haven't yet found the ultimate place although we have some ideas. All the good and bad we encounter in each of these countries and cities that we visit or live in for an extended time, teaches us something unique of value. We add a new piece of information and knowledge to the puzzle we're trying to solve. And despite the occasional negative that we encounter, we always try to get out of each stop with more than what we arrived with. Not so much in material, but rather in experience and insights.

Speaking for myself, I have always been a curious searcher. Ever since I was very little (8) when I moved from my birth country Finland to a small farm village in Sweden, I have wanted to know what else was out there. As much as I have always felt that there must be so much more to life than that which was presented to me, I have always found it odd with people who strongly propagate for a country or a place without knowledge or experience in what else there is outside of ones direct viewpoint. How can you know when you know so little? I had no clue of what life really looked like outside my safe home base, but I was extremely eager to learn.

Of course there are people that are not interested in learning about the world, which is perfectly fine. Who am I to choose for others. The amazing thing with life is that we all can choose our own paths. I personally knew from a very young age that knowledge came from experience, and that ones experience is limited to the events and journeys one had traveled. To expand my mind, my perception and comprehension of life and the world was not an option, but a necessity that would enable me to grow.

Moving from home at 16, I started early to travel alone or with friends and have ever since made every effort towards getting to know myself, the world and the people that inhabits it better. I was so curious. Wanted to know everything! And educating myself in cultural differences, language and traveling the world happened also on other levels than just the one done in airplanes, trains and automobiles.

Everyone has their own ways to connect to new people. A personal strategy if you will, conscious or subconscious, towards who they want to spend time with. An inner guidance leading them to who and where to look for their next potential partner. Before meeting Alex, I made sure to expand my worldview by dating people from various different countries, religion, ethnicity and social standings. They were young, old, rich, poor, students, business owners, bohemians, artists, bankers, drug dealers, nightclub owners, junkies, teetotalers, policemen, sportsmen and lazy asses. A mixture of backgrounds that ensured mental challenge and which lead me to see the world through many different glasses. They were from West and East Europe. From Australia, America, Africa and Asia. Latino, Caribbean, Mediterranean and Arabic. You name it, I've probably explored it.

Some people travel through books or a higher education, the people I chose to spend my time with were (indirectly in most cases) my teachers, and no matter how our story ended, I can still look back at all of them and feel fortunate for the time we spent together. For all the things they taught me. Or the things I taught myself by being part of their lives and stories for a brief, or sometimes longer, moment.

There might have been moments when I've been absolutely sure that certain of those encounters were nothing but a waste of time. But the more distance I gain to each individual experience, the more I have realized that they were all there to help me build my own curious colourful path, and each of them have been necessary ingredients that have filled my book of life with important knowledge.

Before I met Alex at the age of 27, I was still in search of higher awareness. There were too many lives, cultures and places to explore. Almost all of the encounters lead to me sliding out and moving on towards new adventures. But always with my baggage restocked with new important lessons and insights. 

As much as I had difficulty choosing the right place to live, I had hard committing to someone for a longer time simply because my research wasn't done yet. Eventually that research came to a halt when I met someone whose puzzle pieces seemed to be fitting mine.

Alex, who had so much of all in one body: A Frenchman with Greek roots, who had lived in many different countries and spoke three and a half languages. Who worked with things I love, had gone through a ton of shit, but still had his heart in the right place. A person that loved traveling as much as I did, and who, as a bonus, had a boat we could prepare for an extended world cruise. For the dreamer and searcher that I was and still am, it was like a gift that had been given to me from above. It all fell naturally. We moved together in the first month of dating. With all my innate ideas and wishes to continue learning about the world, I was initially the slightly stronger driving force when we mutually decided to leave our lives in Spain behind and together go hunt for something greater. Alex had for a longer time wanted a change in certain aspects of his life. He had lived in Spain for seven years at the time that we met, and the country's economical situation that affected his industry had started to feel old. As much as he felt like a given in my life, it seems I came into his world at the right time.

The search, intentional or unintentional, for a partner to share ones life with, can be equaled to the search Alex and I are on today with our world travels. For each place that we visit, we add one additional piece of information to our now combined travel baggage. We know so much more now than when we started our journey together, but there's still so much more to see, experience and investigate before we can begin building a home on land. While we learn from every unique experience on this joint quest we have undertaken, we also teach each other from the individual baggage we both carried with us when we first met.

Living on a boat makes traveling a bit easier. And now that we've done it for so long (almost five years), it is hard imagining a different way to approach the world. Everything is just a water passage away. Whatever we want to explore, it is there for us to take part of. With some planning, saving and preparation of course. 

There are a few things that we always adhere to each time we discuss different places for living. Some of these have been obvious from day one, other we have learned to incorporate into our lives as time went by:
________________________________________ 

+ On the water - We want to live in a place with a safe, nice place to keep the boat. We need to know that there is a possibility to sail away swiftly would there need be. Living near water inspire a sense of freedom and that is very important to us. If also the water is crystal clear and turquoise blue, that is an obvious bonus.

+ Warm weather and sunshine - We live on a boat, which means it is hard to heat up our home. It is for us easier to fight heat than cold. On a boat or not, cold weather changes so many things to the worse. From how your body and mind feels, to what energy you thrive and live off, and even how you look. Being cold takes away too much pleasure from life. Sunshine brings endorphins and feed you energy. Sunshine is life and it paints the world in beautiful colours which are needed for a stimulated and happy mind.

+ Good, healthy food and water - The beginning of all. Without food we are nothing. Real food in my world, being only such that is natural and comes naturally from the earth.

+ Opportunity to work with what we love - Music mastering for Alex professionally, wood work/design as a hobby. For me: Cooking and baking healthy food for others. Photography and writing for my mind. This implies both that there is the physical opportunity for us to do what we love, that there are enough customers that are willing to buy our services, and a challenging and inspiring environment is equally important. For Alex work it is a tad easier as he sends his work digitally so a mastering studio could be located pretty much anywhere. But on the other hand, there are only so many world class mastering studios with the right equipment in the world. Till the day we have found the place to put down our roots that is, and can build his own studio again (this require quite an investment obviously).

+ Humble, genuine, goodhearted people - It's not like there are dedicated places filled with only humble, genuine and goodhearted people, it obviously takes time to find such stars in any given place. But there are some cultural traits that can make a population generally less or more humble, for example. We live a very simple life, we don't buy too much things, we are fine with mostly the fundamental things in life such as love, peace, nature, friendship, good food, tranquility and fulfilling things to work with. We strive for doing good, meaningful things. We live and create our life with love and passion. And we believe in helping others with the means one has. We love the sort of small village mentality where people are helpful and offer a helping hand to their neighbor, but on the other hand, small villages can become too limited for ones mind so this is a hard one. Nonetheless, being surrounded by like minded people is obviously the ultimate. From all what we've been through in life and left behind us, we are in no need of drama and try avoiding all what would mean it.

+ Nature - Rather undeveloped than overly exploited. Just being surrounded by it and feeling we are connected to the nature, is of utter importance to us. That's where we recharge and find peace. Our ultimate place to live is where also the surrounding society respect and value the same nature.

+ Good and affordable health care - We come from countries where we expect free healthcare for everyone. No insurances needed. Free healthcare is part of the deal we have with our governments, something they provide us in return for the taxes we pay. Looking at how other parts of the world take care, or fail to take care of its people when they are sick, we know we've been very fortunate.

+ A trustworthy social environment and a respectful government - This is the hardest. Is there any country non corrupt? But there are the ones that give more security and comfort than others for sure (see above example). For people like us who work for ourselves and currently are only two people in this boat, we do not necessarily need much help and support from the government. But when working, we'd like to feel good about how our tax money is spent, and that varies dramatically from one country to another.

+ Culture, craft and ambiance - We love the old world. Techniques and practices that have been handed down generation after generation. People whose great great great grandparents did things the way they still do them today. Because that's how the most amazing artwork, food, houses and buildings, boats, gardens, music and wine is produced. It is inevitable to have some modernity in life (can't live without my Mac and my DSLR camera), but most often the cheap, new, quick solutions when it comes to the beautiful and necessary things in life, lack a feel and sensation that is only obtained by things made the real, proper old-school way.

+ Closeness to the people we love and care about the most - One of the most frustrating things with constantly being on the go, is that we miss hugging, kissing and being near our most valued human beings. Family and friends. Although we don't need to live in the same city or even the same country, it would be helpful if one didn't have to spend a minimum of $2000 USD each time you'd like to meet. Most of our favorite people are located in Europe. But the good thing with people you love and trust, is that they'll always be there no matter the time and distance apart.

+ Peace and comfort - This mean all and everything. But particularly that no one is pushing you. No people, media or government trying to influence your mind to something they'd gain from themselves. No religious or fanatic people/groups oppressing your human rights. We know what we believe in and we do not need neither someone else's approval, nor guidance unless we ask for it. Equal rights and opportunities for men and women. All the things one take for granted when born and raised in an equal, non-religious society based on laws of common sense. As much as we leave other people to be who they are and believe in what they wish to believe in, we'd want the same treatment from the community and society that we live in. There are countries in which you can easier dodge pointing fingers than in other, and we would definitely like to see more of them.
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These 11 points being the basic ingredients in a very good life according to us. In the following posts I am going to tell you how the countries and places we've lived in thus far makes it with this list in mind. We are aware that it is super hard finding one place that has it all. Different locations serve different purposes in different periods of life. And one should also remember that the search, or the passage, is a whole grand journey all in itself.

Would be interested in hearing what are your most valued ingredients in life. Feel free to comment below:

Cape Cod by sunset

That weekend we spent on the cape, fourteen days ago. Mentally trying to prepare for the long cold season ahead by soaking in each day of heat and sunshine available. It's always nostalgic for us to visit a beautiful beach, especially at sunset. Feels like we are meant to be out there on the water, and not on land.

Those prehistoric horseshoe crabs are one of the few living creatures that have outlived the dinosaurs. A species 350 million years old, they are considered living fossils. I read that they come up to shore for mating, but there seem to be another reason to why so many of them were laying dead on the beach.

Apparently it is a very lucrative global business, to harvest horseshoe crabs and their milky blue blood for biomedical research (their blood has no hemoglobin, but copper which makes it blue).

Harvesting horseshoe crab blood (which goes for up to $15.000 per quart!) involves collecting and bleeding the animals, and then releasing them back into the sea. Mortality is correlated with both the amount of blood extracted from an individual animal, and the stress experienced during handling and transportation. Estimates of mortality rates following blood harvesting is up to 30%.

So that seem to be one uncomfortable reason why so many of them can be found dead on the beach.

Because someone stole their blood.
Image from the Atlantic.

Given that 250.000 of them are harvested yearly, it is not a surprise they are an endangered species. Imagine to have survived a few hundred million years in nature but you'll get extincted by human beings in just a couple hundred years. Human nature in a nutshell.

Preparations, and the things life teaches you

Have spent the last few months analyzing the organic/vegan foods market, been test-cooking and baking my brains out, come up with and adjusted recipes, and have now more or less decided what my most favorite organic vegan meals are (for now), and which I believe will be most popular with others.

I've visited every farm, store and wholesale distributor in the area to analyze where to get the best, but also most affordable ingredients. I've made food cost analyzes and determined that the more I can make from scratch - vegetable stock to bread and meal wrapping - will be beneficial and cut out unnecessary intermediaries.

I am frugal and compromise with a lot of things in life, but never with the quality of my food and the same goes with what I cook for others. But still, to be cost effective and not wasteful is something my first (fashion store) company eight years ago taught me (albeit a little too late in that particular case ;) In fact, it wasn't before we had sailed a couple years that I fully began to realize what an incredibly spendthrift person I have been. 

You live and you learn and I am glad to have gained the experience and consciousness that I have today. Things get more interesting when you are in control of every little cost, rather than having to feel anxiety for what your bookkeeper will confront you with on your monthly meeting.

I wish there was an organic food distributor in the Boston area, but haven't found any yet which is a shame. If only we could move the whole kitchen to Miami, LA or anywhere in the Med where fresh organic produce is readily available at any time of the year, or even grow most things myself, I think I would be able to cut costs additionally. Planting and gardening is something to think about here for next spring anyways. But on the other hand, this slightly more complicated process teaches me how to source and how to plan against the odds (limited market/demand etc). And the things I learn in this period of life and work will probably be of much help the day I do open a restaurant somewhere sunny and in a place more health oriented. A restaurant in New York wouldn't be too bad either, but I guess overhead and operation costs would be something absurd.

Above salad is a wonderful sort of energizing lunch that I've tried out on people around me. Nutritious health food packed with protein, fiber and vitamins. Consisting of fluffy red bulgur mixed with a homemade chickpea mixture that I minced like you would do with minced meat for tacos. It has garlic, onion and lots of herbs which brings salt and flavor to the meal. It has fresh crunchy English cucumber and red peppers tossed with it. Grilled, paper-thin savory portabello mushrooms on top. And finished with a lovely homemade vinaigrette. 

Do you think you'd like it?

Lunch in Montauk

Like I said in the previous post, here where we currently stay on the South coast of Boston, it is close to impossible to find restaurants and cafes with an organic/vegan/earth conscious philosophy. New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Miami and California comes to mind when dreaming of such places.

Montauk on Long Island that we sailed to a few months ago, offered a couple very nice on-the-go lunch spots. I'd definitely visit Naturally Good Foods and Cafe, and Joni's Kitchen again.

it is what we let it be

These picture does not have much to do with the text below, just shows one of the last times I went out for drinks a couple months ago. Nice cocktail bar at The Hawthorne in Boston.
The food culture and the way companies make money on making people sick here in the US really is the biggest turn off for me. Makes an informed individual avoid spending money and hence contribute less to the national economy. We all should do that. Stop spending money on unhealthy, unethical and downright dangerous foods, and demand transparency and responsibility from the big food corporations. For your health and for the future of this vulnerable earth.

I am probably the most anti-social person there is right now. Haven't been out in ages, and it feels pretty good because I have so much that I dream of fulfilling work wise and I ought to keep my focus and priorities straight. Another reason to why I have so easy to avoid restaurants these days (I used to love going out for nice, warm, inspiring dinners before arriving to the US) is that I truly have hard eating out here in America, knowing that most of the food you get served in restaurants here are not really real food, but made of ingredients filled with genetically modified organisms, fillers, synthetic binders, unnatural flavors and colours (not even talking about all the hormones cause I do not eat meat, and dairy only on extremely rare occasions). You know all those things that are banned in food production in Europe, but for money reasons are still allowed here in the US. There aren't that many establishments around here that serves purely organic, non-gmo food with lots of vegan options, so honestly, why waste money when I can make all what I want myself from scratch?

I know how pessimistic and awful this sounds, but it is the reality and I have always preferred being a realist rather than closing my eyes and escaping the truth. The more we know, the more complicated life becomes in one sense. But on the other hand, knowledge also gives us a chance to open our hearts to the truly real things in life. Even if they seem so few these days. Knowledge helps us reduce the distance and mental barriers between ourselves and all the wrong we have been taught (or brainwashed with) previously.

There are moments, for example when Alex and I ride the bike on our short weekend trips, that I for a second can feel a sadness for not being able to stop by McDonalds for a burger, or a road side diner and truly enjoy a greasy pizza and an ice-cold coke. You know the way one had always visualized a road trip through big ole America. And while it still happens that I give in and shut my brain off for a moment, and eat a slice or two of a veggie pizza with a crust made by gmo corn flour, additives and toxic fillers, and just a tad of cheese filled with antibiotic and growth hormones in one of the cute old-school pizza restaurants that we drive past, there's no way I can ever enjoy the experience like I probably would have, say, only two-three years ago. I know too much now.

Alex whom always have had a deep love for animals sometimes jokes (with a bit of truth in it) that he wish I had never started investigating in the way farm animals are treated, as the pleasure he always felt by carelessly eating meat now has decreased dramatically to the extent that he chooses to eat meat only approx. twice weekly. It's a weird thing, to suddenly gain a whole new uncomfortable perspective on something you've always taken for granted. How can you learn to despise something you've always loved? Or thought you loved. Glad to say that neither of us have been to a Burger King or McDonalds in over a year now.

This is an informative clip from Oprah's world, when her and her 300 something staff went vegan for a week.

The slaughter house they get to visit in the clip above is obviosuly the most modern facility in the United States (thanks to the work of PETA) and it is a much better place to be for your last day in life as an animal than most other slaughter houses so keep that in mind. The final day reality for animal slaves soon to be burgers, steaks and pizza toppings is most of the times much worse.

GMO as a subject is not brought up in the video, but the corn the cows are being fed there is not natural corn, but genetically modified. As it is in all cases in America unless you buy certified organic grassfed meat. Also I do not think meat substitutes are the greatest thing in the world like the veganista talks about here, as they too often contain tons of additives and gmo soy and corn (unless they are non-gmo certified). There is so much more good, healthy vegan meals you easily can make yourself. I'll show you later on.

Another thing I'd like to recommend, many American readers have probably heard of Foodbabe already, if not, head over there immediately if you have the slightest interest in your future health, especially if you're American. This post of hers shows well what a huge difference of ingredients that is used in some of the most commercial food brands in the US vs. Europe. Foodbabe, or Vani Hari that is her real name, is a food activist who has got companies such as Kraft, Subway, Starbucks and many more to change their ingredients due to her strong voice, knowledge and the massive following she has on her blog. Read this for an overall view of the largest cases she's successfully worked on and the outstanding changes she's accomplished.

Her activist work is obviously not popular with the big food corporations, but her willingness to expose the truth about food in an understandable manner has helped hundreds of thousand people to start eating healthier. In a country with 33% obesity and a rapid increase of cancer, autism and other illnesses that are caused by processed foods and toxins found in the water and food supply, people like her are well needed.

For a whole other reason than food I went in on Target the other day, and I was positively surprised to see what an extensive organic food collection they boasted with. Juices and crackers that I've normally become familiar with at Whole Foods were at Target priced at 20-40% less. And I recently read that Walmart who with an internal research discovered that 91% of their customers would buy organic if the price was lower (I had no clue that Walmart even sold foods?), is now teaming up with Wild Oats to create an in-house line of 100 products of affordable organic foods. A great initiative and intent to drive down organic food prices in the country.

The change is happening, albeit slowly. But the more we choose to spend our dollars on good, organic and non-gmo foods, the faster will we see an increase of better food on the shelves, for a price that suits more people. Organic food should not have to be as expensive as it is right now. Consumer demand drives the market and it is not before we demand a change by living by example that a change will come. And for every time you opt for buying foods that are harmful to the world and your own health, you add on distance to the healthy change in our food supply that we all need now, and especially for our future.

You do look for these two labels when you go grocery shopping, don't you?
 
I can't say I fully trust the USDA labeling with all its loopholes in regulations but I definitely have faith in the independent non-profit, non-governmental Non-Gmo Project so a combination of these both is what I'm looking for, but always the Non-Gmo one. My local organic fruit and veggies come from farms and markets in the neighborhoods, and tropical and non seasonal imported is always organic. I don't want pesticides and toxins in my smoothie just because someone else decided they make more profit that way.

I know that this particular Non-Gmo labeling only can be found in the US and Canada. But you might have other labels in other countries that helps you avoid the bad stuff? Most European countries as well as Australia and many South American, African and Asian countries demand labeling of all GMO's which has forced American companies to change their ingredients in products sold outside the US to such without genetically engineered organisms. But still, please read the ingredient information on all food you intend eating. And Americans, do not give your precious hard earned money away to people that do not care about you nor your health. Okay?

weekend tripping

As something of a tradition (cause we are getting older now it seems and we suddenly feel like it is nice to have some sort of routines in our lives), we left the boat early in the weekend and headed as South as possible for a two day trip. The Cape wouldn't be much warmer than Southern Boston we thought, but at least the forecast gave promise of a sunny 27C (80F) in the whole region and so a beach town felt like just the right sort of entertainment in between two industrious weeks of work. 

We drove through winding roads on old state highway 3A, over the Sagamore Bridge that we've sailed beneath a couple times previously, onto Route 28 through gorgeous towns and bays of South Western part of the Cape all the way down to Woods Hole. It's pretty remarkable how beautiful is the nature and relaxed atmosphere of the Cape, so glad we got to do another trip down before all colours fade out for winter. If only the weather could stay like this, we repeated, like what if this was the coldest it would get in a year. What a waste of wishes.

The above images are from a wonderful vintage motel called The Old Landing that we had the great pleasure to stay in. David who owns and runs this little gem of a place at the very bottom of the cape in Dennisport by Nantucket Sound, is a fun and hospitable boniface, originally from California. The type that tells you great stories and makes you coffee in the morning. Motels (or motor-hotels) can be a hit or miss, and you can't always be sure to find a place that's as clean as you require, but this was hands down the tidiest and freshest of all motels we've ever stayed anywhere. Big love of course for the old school feel and trippy colours in our room. Would not have expected to feel so good about this place, judging by the (also old school) website of the property that we checked before arriving. But I guess a good surprise is better than a bad one.

If you ever plan to stay anywhere on the Cape, make sure to consider getting in touch with David at The Landing Hotel. Did I mention the beach is across the street from your room? And they have their own clam shack/bakery in which you can get served homemade pastry for breakfast, right by the water.