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Applying the Lessons Learned from our Mothers

By Meredith Mani

These days, everyone is trying to stretch the supplies they have on hand. People are baking their own bread, looking online for recipes that use canned goods, and finding hacks to get around missing ingredients like yeast. The Greatest Generation — the one of our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers — pioneered these skills during the Depression and in periods of shortages during WWI and WWII.

What can we learn from these wise women and apply to our life now? When resources are scarce and time is plentiful, there is actually a wide variety of things you can do. Here is a short list. What can you add to help out our members?

  1. Regrow your grocery scraps. Seriously, this is easy and is much faster than starting from seed. There are two types of scraps you can regrow: tops and bottoms. Bottoms include celery, bok choy, romaine, spring onions, fennel, leeks and garlic. Tops include beets, carrots, radish and turnips. The principal for both is the same: Cut or leave the veggie with 1-3 inches intact, fill a small jar or bowl with 1 inch of water and place the top or bottom in it, and put in a sunny space, like a windowsill. Then all you need to do is change the water every day. You are now growing your own food and reducing food waste.
  2. Get creative. No yeast to be found? Sourdough to the rescue. It takes a week to start but then you have all the rise you need to bake everything from English muffins to baguettes. You can also make bread with beer or bake a cake with Coca Cola. If you do have some yeast, stretch your supply by making a Poolish (also called pouliche, a bread starter) from 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, ¾ cup room temp water and ¼ teaspoon yeast. Mix in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and wait 12 hours. the mixture will then have the lift of a full package of yeast. Remember to subtract the flour used in the Poolish from the recipe you’re using it in.
  3. Start a Corona victory garden. Many veggies are easy to grow in pots on a balcony or rooftop. Cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers are the easiest. Save your old egg cartons and either sow directly in soil in each cup of the carton or put soil in an empty and clean eggshell half and then put in the carton. Water as needed until your sprout is a few inches high. Then you can easily replant in a pot in the garden by either cutting around the carton and planting each cup or by delicately transferring the individual eggshell halves, cracking the shell lightly as you plant. Eggshells provide the added bonus of feeding the roots as the plant grows. More start-a-garden tips from NPR!
  4. Waste not, want not. Grab a big zip top bag and start slowly filling it up with vegetable scraps and peels and herbs to make your own broth. Throw in onion skins and tops, carrots and celery that’s wilted, thyme that has gone off-color, those itty-bitty cloves of garlic in the middle of the bulb that are impossible to peel, and even chicken bones. Keep it in the freezer until the bag is almost full and then toss it all in a medium-sized pot along with water and a splash of apple cider vinegar if you have bones in the broth; simmer for several hours. Let cool and then strain. Freeze in pint size bags and/or ice cubes trays. Ice cube size broth is perfect to throw into rice or add to a recipe that just calls for a little. If, for some crazy reason, you have leftover bits of wine, these also freeze nicely in ice cube trays and are great for adding to a recipe that needs a splash of wine.
  5. Repurpose glass jars. Glass jars can be used as containers, drinking glasses, pretty votive holders on the porch, or storage containers for nails. I like to use them to make quick jars of pickles or small batches of jams. Save your orange and citrus peels and you can make an easy marmalade to store and use in the refrigerator — no pectin required.
  6. Extend, extend, extend. Make the most of your meat by extending it. Add diced potatoes or a can of black beans to taco meat. Lentils or oatmeal can easily be added to meatloaf or meatballs to stretch a meal. Give new life to old food by bringing back Sunday Soup. To make this soup, put all your leftovers and odds-and-ends veggies into a pot, add a can of tomatoes and some spices, maybe even some rice and noodles, and you have a delicious dinner and a clean refrigerator. Remember: THE MOST EXPENSIVE FOOD IS THE FOOD YOU THROW AWAY.
  7. Make it at home. Sure, this is true for food but there are also lots of personal care items you can whip up in your kitchen. You can make dry shampoo, hand sanitizer, room spray and multi-purpose counter spray at home using simple ingredients like corn starch, essential oils and white vinegar. While you’re at it, stretch your soaps by adding a little water to the bottle when they are 1/3 of the way down. Today’s products are highly concentrated, so you won’t lose effectiveness but you’ll gain many more uses.
  8. Wear an apron. You realize you have now officially become your mother, right? I know, I know, but wearing an apron while you are cooking or doing messy tasks will keep your clothing from getting stained.

We all need to be creative throughout the home and in our kitchen to help family members adjust to being quarantined. Thankfully, as expats, we have had to learn to adjust before and are all the stronger for it. There are no tricks or hacks for the mental fortitude it takes to get through an event like we are currently living though. Reach out to friends and family through FaceTime or Zoom to stay connected. Ask for help when you need it and know you are not in this alone. AWCA women have always taken inspiration from the women who went before us. They have handled wars and crises and upheaval we can’t even imagine. But they stayed strong and relied on each other to get through while they were far from home. You got this.

 

Your Local Food Delivery List

As part of the AWCA's efforts to encourage physical distancing, flattening the curve, and staying safe and healthy, we are sharing our favorite local food and grocery ordering resources. We have a Google form where you can submit your best ideas, and an always up-to-date list of those responses.

Don't forget our Benefit Partners and your fellow members! There are lots of great food and drink products on these pages, and supporting them supports us:

Eight Tips for Helping our Kids Cope with Coronavirus

by Dr. Anisha Abraham

How are you adjusting to social distancing, school closures, home offices, lockdowns and toilet paper shortages? If the onslaught of memes and cartoons are any indication, the last few weeks have been difficult for many families holed up at home! Here are a few tips to help kids to cope with the unfolding uncertainties and challenges of COVID-19.

  1. Maintain routines. Maintaining routines and schedules can provide children and teens a sense of stability. There are good online tools for creating a schedule for school-age kids. In our house, we made schedules with our tweens, which include online school hours, mealtimes, exercise, piano practice, small chores and free time. Of course, we had our share of drama and eye-rolling, but it does provide a rough guide for the day. For teens, consider their need for independence and creating their own path for learning, but also encourage them to take time away from media use, get physical activity and break large assignments into smaller ones. Finally, a reminder to parents-manage your expectations. Your child or teen may not be working at the same pace or intensity as a regular school day. Acknowledge this, as hard as it may be to do. 
  2. Empower kids to be responsible. Remind children and teens that they can protect themselves and others by practicing proper hand washing, sneezing into your elbow and maintaining social distancing. What we have seen is that children and teens may not get as sick as adults but can still transmit the virus to the elderly (over 60 years) or those who have chronic illnesses. By ensuring our kids use social distancing, we help decrease the total number of infections. What is social distancing? In our house, it means that there are no friends over and we don’t visit friends. If they do meet a friend outdoors to bike or kick a ball, they need to keep about 6 feet away. They are allowed to use the phone, skype or Whatsapp to connect with others. This all may seem tough to enforce, especially with teens. Still, it is ultimately our obligation as parents to teach social behavior and to keep our kids and our community healthy.
  3. Discuss information based on age. Realize that many kids are curious about what’s happening, and issues are changing by the hour. My kids, for example, are very interested in the daily statistics for COVID-19 rates by country and often check this John Hopkins site. Discuss what’s happening in an age-appropriate way. ​This may mean avoiding having adult-level conversations around small kids while talking about public health strategies and recent research studies with older ones. Also, knowing that constant social media updates can increase stress levels so encouraging kids to back off on news streams if they are feeling irritable, anxious or depressed.
  4. Build on strengths and allow boredom. Every child has strengths and interests, whether it is music, arts, science, writing and so on. Building on their strengths helps kids develop resilience and handle challenges. One of my son’s friends is an excellent illustrator and is spending some time each day drawing elaborate cartoon strips. For a teen that loves coding or math, try Khan Academy. For kids that enjoy being with animals- try zoos around the world such as the Smithsonian that have live cams. For those who enjoy the arts and want to create their own masterpiece, try a virtual tour of a museum to get inspired. Finally, how many of you have heard the phrase, “I’m bored” at home recently? Remember allowing a little boredom is a great way to promote creativity and self-sufficiency.
  5. Embrace uncertainty and start dreaming big. Research shows that kids don’t need to have a linear path to succeed. In fact, those with a slightly squiggly journey end up doing better in life. This is a great time to move beyond what has been planned and do some creative brainstorming on how to redirect and move on. Did the family trip get cancelled? If so, what is on your bucket list for your next adventure? Did the final term of high school or university just get cut short? How can you navigate the next steps? Do you have a cool idea for a short story, or a community service project? How can you start it now?
  6. Emphasize kindness and caring. Unfortunately, some communities have been the target of unkind remarks and even outright racism as a result of coronavirus. Encourage kids to continue to be kind to all people, regardless of where they are from or what they look like. Also, think of ways to give back to your community and provide outreach: for example, helping a neighbor that is elderly, donating items, to a food bank or buying gift certificates to support a local business.
  7. Model positive behaviors. Kids learn from adults as to how to react in new situations. We need to model positive ways to stay healthy and handle uncertainty, including exercising regularly, eating healthy foods to boost immunity and staying connected with loved ones. In our house, we pulled out the board games (Pandemic, anyone?), scheduled a virtual dinner with friends, created a Netflix list and are having regular calls with family around the globe. If possible, get outdoors and bike, run, hike or walk as a family. If that doesn’t work, try striking a few yoga poses or doing a mindfulness app at home. Finally, adults need to limit their media use around coronavirus and ensure devices stay out of bedrooms at night.
  8. Look out for warning signs. Changes in eating or sleep habits, increased irritability or sadness, the inability to get off devices, or the need for constant reassurance can be signs that kids may be struggling and need support. Try talking things out or getting another adult or mentor to be involved. If these don’t help, it may be time to reach out to your health provider or a counselor for additional help. Keeping with the times, many are providing telephone and electronic consults.

What is happening around us with COVID-19 can be scary and difficult for kids and adults. Hopefully, with creating routines, encouraging social distancing, having developmentally-based discussions and building on their natural strengths, we can support our kids at home. In addition, don’t forget the importance of embracing uncertainty, modeling kindness and positive self-care skills as parents while looking out for signs of depression and anxiety. Stay safe and calm!    

For more tips:

Parenting during coronavirus: What to know about play dates, education and more

Talking to Teens and Tweens About Coronavirus

7 Ways to Help Kids Cope with Coronavirus (COVID-19) Anxiety

A List of Indoor Activities That Will Keep Kids Entertained at Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Bio:

Dr. Anisha Abraham is a pediatrician and teen health specialist based in Amsterdam, NL, and on faculty at both the University of Amsterdam and Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC.  She works with teens, parents, and educators globally, using her 25 years of experience as a practicing clinician, researcher, and health educator. Her book Raising Global Teens: Parenting in the 21st Century will be released this autumn in local bookstores and on Amazon. For more information, see https://dranishaabraham.com/.

 

 

How to Entertain, Educate, and Earn While Stuck At Home

or, How to Stay Sane During a Pandemic

by Kate Spaulding

Friends, neighbors, countrypeople, this is an unprecedented time in our world. We know some of what we have to do: wash our hands, physically distance ourselves from each other, wash our hands, limit grocery runs, be kind to ourselves and our community, wash our hands, and work together. But we're also learning to navigate working from home (sometimes for the first time), cooking more, battling cabin fever, and managing kids who aren't in school. It's times like these that demonstrate the strength of our communities and adaptability of the human race. You're not in this alone.

To that end, we're rounding up resources to help you reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Do you have more great ideas? Please, add them to the conversation in the AWCA Facebook Group!

Working from Home

  • 8 Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You
  • How to Work From Home the Right Way
  • The most important thing is to have a routine - it can be the same for 5 days a week and then slightly different for 2 days a week - like that you can try to keep a similar rhythm to normal (whatever that is). Don't be afraid to do things that use to seem stupid - move furniture away from walls so you can walk around rooms completely. Create different spaces in your home so that it is clear what happens where to support routines - this is the play corner - or we play when we put this out etc. This is the eating time. This is quit time. Create virtual community groups - there are other people out there that you know with small children that can organise whatsapp singing a longs or reading stories etc. But ROUTINE and virtual communities will save you! --from Aine Markham via Facebook
  • The Remote Work Mega Guide
  • How to Work from Home Like a Boss

Activities

Especially for Parents