Tag Archives | eco travel

Paying It Forward (to Local Wildlife) this Holiday Season!

Disclosure: I am an ambassador for Stonyfield Farm, all opinions included here are my own.

For many, the holiday season is a time to celebrate and come together with friends and family. However, for many others it can be a painful and difficult time depending on their circumstances. I like to try and do something for others and the planet each holiday season, to give back. I find it makes celebrating with my family all the more special, when we know we’ve done a good deed or donated to a good cause as part of our holiday time together!

As an ambassador for Stonyfield Farm, I’m partnering with them this holiday season for their giving back campaign. Stonyfield wants all of us to take some time with our families this month to spread good fortune in the form of a charitable act—in the hopes that our compassion will inspire others to do the same! I think it’s an admirable idea, and am excited to share with you what I chose to do this year.

Stonyfield gave me a $50 Visa Gift Card to donate towards a good deed or a charitable organization of my choice. I decided to match their donation and added my own $50 too, for a total $100 donation. The charity that I choose was our local wildlife sanctuary, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, who have done great work that we’ve been privileged to witness firsthand! Since most folks I know choose to make donations to help other humans at this time of year (which is of course a wonderful cause), I worried that the animals would get skipped over! It’s easy to forget that the other creatures we share the planet with need help, too.

Helping animals is a family activity
My family is all about animals, and I’ve put effort into saving them for my whole life. Just ask my husband about our bunny rabbit Peanut—While we were dating, I overheard at the pet store that they were going to feed a bunny to a snake because he had an injured leg! Nope – Peanut came home with him. Ha! You’ve probably seen me post about Olive the French Bulldog, who was a rescue, and Noodles the Pug, they are our sweet little snuggle bunnies. They’re important members of the family, too! So we thought it would be great to remind people to help our furry friends at this time of year.

My dad is super passionate about helping animals, too. When I was a kid, we had a Great Horned Owl and a Bat, both of whom my dad found injured, and brought home to nurse back to health. This was before there were places that would help with injured wildlife. He instilled in me a strong sense of care and responsibility for the other species on our planet. As a teenager, I was driving home from visiting my parents, and at the end of my hour-long car ride, I saw an injured duck in traffic. His wing was broken and he wasn’t looking too good. I scooped him into a box and called my dad, who told me to bring him right back to their house. My dad set his wing and built a pond for him in the backyard. He nursed him back to health, and then when spring come around, a flock of ducks flew by and my duck joined them. Hooray!

Our great experience with Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
Just recently, Eben and I found a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk, injured in the bike lane of a major road outside our neighborhood. He was so hurt he couldn’t move, but an injured animal can be dangerous when they’re scared. I called my favorite local wildlife rescue group, and they came out to pick up the hawk.  I wasn’t going near those talons! The great people from Busch Wildlife Sanctuary rushed out at 10:30 at night to rescue him. They rushed him into surgery, and he was later released to the wild.

I found that the experience with the hawk was a great chance to teach Eben about how to handle a situation involving an injured wild animal. It’s so important to teach our kids how to help injured wildlife, and what the best practices are when you find a hurt animal. If you want to talk to your kids about this, try using these points for discussion:

  • You really shouldn’t try to touch the animal. They can lash out when they feel threatened and are hurting. You could get an infection from them if you aren’t careful with how you handle them and wild animals have sharp teeth and claws.
  • It’s best to call for help. Always get an adult who can assist you with helping the animal and keep your distant.
  • Let the professional rescue organizations take over whenever possible. Look up your local wildlife sanctuary and contact them when you find an injured animal. They’ll know what to do and give you instructions.

Another thing I love about Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is that they offer a bunch of educational programs, weekly activities, and special events that are fun for the whole family! If you’re located in South Florida, definitely check out their programs and see if there’s one or two that would be good to take your kids to. They offer everything from wildlife encounters, large animal feeding shows, story time, snake and bird of prey introductions, exhibits, to nature tours and nighttime walks at the sanctuary. We have been visiting the sanctuary since Eben was little, it’s fun for the whole family!

I hope that your family gets the chance to do something charitable this holiday season. It’s a great bonding experience and I think it’s so great to impress upon our kids the importance of helping others and the planet. Plus, doing acts of generosity or good deeds really helps you get into the holiday spirit of giving! So whether you choose an organization to make a financial donation to, or one to volunteer some of your time with, try giving back this holiday season. I guarantee it’ll make you feel as jolly as Santa himself!

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Plan for Thanksgiving Dinner

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Hello, Friends! November is finally here – Hooray! Which means Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Are you hosting the big dinner this year? There are many eco-friendly ways to green your Thanksgiving dinner – all of which are easier to implement if you plan ahead. Many of these ideas will save you money and time while cutting down on the amount of waste that can accumulate from a big family dinner. Read on to learn my 5 favorite eco-friendly ways to plan your Thanksgiving dinner and start planning today!

1. Decorating 101
You don’t have to spend any money when decorating for Thanksgiving, instead use items that you already have or consider bringing natural items indoors. We always have a handful of pumpkins leftover from Halloween that we use as Thanksgiving decorations. And Eben and I like to take a nature walk to collect natural elements (pine-cones, acorns, branches and leaves) to display as our Thanksgiving table centerpiece.

2. How Much is Enough?
It is really easy to go overboard when planning the Thanksgiving menu. Consider the dishes that you will be serving and ask yourself if you are making more than is necessary. Choose a few dishes that you are sure your guests will love and skip the rest. Also, consider which parts of Thanksgiving dinner you want to or can afford to purchase organic and whenever possible, avoid pre-packaged items.

3. Consider the Table
Do you have enough dinnerware for everyone in your dinner party? If not, consider borrowing place settings from close friends or family members instead of purchasing new. If you aren’t a china and tablecloth kind of family and choose to go with disposable place settings, choose a great compostable version that is made from 100% recycled materials.

4. Think Seasonal
When choosing fruits and vegetables for your Thanksgiving menu, think seasonal. You want to avoid purchasing produce that are imported from far away. You may consider joining a local CSA for the holiday season – not only will you have delicious, local foods to serve this Thanksgiving, but you will be supporting a local farm too.

5. Plan for Leftovers
What do you plan to do with the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers? If you are planning on sending goodies home with your guests, have glass resuable storage containers ready to go. If you made more than your family can consume, you could donate some of the leftovers to a local food bank, freeze them for later or have a menu plan for the days after Thanksgiving so all of the leftovers will be used.

How do you green your Thanksgiving dinner? I would love to hear – please share your thoughts in the comments!

How to Host a Simple Organic Family Fondue Night + Recipe

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What is more fun than staying in watch spooky movies and having a family fondue night. A couple of years ago, Eben (look how little he was!) and I hit the market to pick up all of the organic ingredients, then we were ready to give our new fondue set a try. What ensued was a fun night together, eating yummy food dipped in cheese! Read on for the simple directions for hosting your own family fondue night. It is totally worth it!

1. Gather the Supplies

  • fondue set
  • fondue ingredients (recipe below)
  • organic rustic bread
  • variety of fresh vegetables and fruits

2. Cut the Bread, Fruit and Veggies 
Wash and cut the fresh fruit and vegetables into bite sized pieces – cut the bread as well. Arrange on a large platter. We used a selection of rustic bread, fresh cauliflower, celery and apples.


3. Make the Apple Cider Cheese Fondue

  • 8 oz. organic yellow cheddar
  • 8 oz. organic Monterrey Jack
  • 1/4 cup organic apple cider
  • 2 tbsp. organic potato starch

Directions: Grate all of the cheese into a medium sized bowl. Bring the apple cider to a simmer over medium heat. Add the potato starch to the bowl of shredded cheese and mix until well-combined. Add the cheese to the apple cider and stir until thick and creamy. Add to your fondue bowl over a low flame.

4. Dip and Enjoy!
We sat down and enjoyed a fun evening of everything cheesy! It was a fun way to kick off the weekend and we have already been talking about our next fondue adventure. Next time – chocolate for sure!

What is your favorite fondue recipe? Please share in the comments!

How to Make Oven Roasted Organic Pumpkin Seeds

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Have you carved your pumpkins yet? We carved ours last night. Eben’s favorite part was scooping out the pumpkin goop with his bare hands. We saved all of the pumpkin seeds, washed and dried them, then baked them in the oven with a little bit of olive oil and sea salt. Yum. Do you roast the seeds from your pumpkins?

If not, you should give it a try. Here are our 6 easy steps:

1- Scoop the pumpkin goop.
2- Rinse and dry the pumpkin seeds.
3- Mix the pumpkin seeds with a generous amount of olive oil and sea salt.
4- Spread the pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet.
5- Bake at 300° for  30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6- Enjoy while you catch up on your favorite fall sitcom.

Green Your Halloween with Spot It! Halloween from Blue Orange Games

We are huge fans of Blue Orange Games – we have a large bowl on our dining room table full of our some of our favorites. We play one every night while we eat dinner! Right now, we love Sketch It!, Speedeebee!, Flash!, and Spot It, they are great for the entire family, even the mister enjoys them!

Blue Orange Games has a new fun game right in time for Green Halloween – Spot It! Halloween. So fun! The Spot It! games are a fun matching game with an astounding concept: there is always one matching symbol between any two cards. To win all 5 mini-games, you have to be the quickest to spot it! Spot It! Halloween adds a twist to the traditional game with Jack O’ lanterns, zombies, creepy crawlies and other Halloween goodies. 

+ Spot It! Halloween $12.99
+ Blue Orange Games

How to Make Caramel Apples with Coconut + Unreal Candy

I was looking through the archives and found this goody!

Over the weekend, Eben and I were dying to make caramel apples. We had picked up a few supplies from the market – organic apples, organic caramels and organic coconut. We also had some Unreal Candy on hand – and of course Eben wanted peanut-butter cup on his. They were divine! If you haven’t had a coconut-caramel apple yet, get on it! Read on for our recipe and make these yummies with your little mummies tonight!

1. Gather the Ingredients

  • 3 organic apples
  • 27 organic caramels
  • 1 cup organic coconut
  • 3 Unreal peanut-butter cups

2. Cut it Up
Take this time to chop your Unreal peanut-butter cups into small squares and get your coconut ready to go.

3. Stick It
Place a wooden ice pop stick or chopstick in your apple – make sure you don’t go all the way through.

4. Heat it Up
We were in a hurry so we heated our caramels with 1 tbsp. water in the microwave, and they were completely melted after 1 minute. However, I would recommend stopping at 30 seconds and stirring your caramels until melted.

5. Caramel it Up
Roll your apple through the caramel – it helps if you tilt the bowl from side to side until your apple is covered.

6. Sweeten It Up
As soon as your apple is covered in caramel, roll it in peanut-butter cup or coconut.

7. Eat and Enjoy!
We had to immediately sit down and nosh on our caramel apples – they were so good. I was especially fond of the coconut (my favorite!) – it was perfect.

HOW TO: Recycled Eco-Friendly Glitter Skulls For Halloween

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Looking for a fun Halloween project to do? How about easy glitter skulls? We used a couple of recycled newspaper skulls that we found at our local craft store, homemade green glue and eco-glitter. When they were finished, we placed them inside one of our kitchen apothecary jar (these usually house flour, sugar + coffee) complete with recycled artificial moss and an antique key – you know, to lock the skull inside. Read on to learn how to make a set of glitter skulls to display for Halloween.

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What you will need:

– recycled newspaper skulls
– homemade green glue (recipe below)
– eco-glitter
– paintbrushes

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Step 1: Make the Homemade Green Glue

What you will need:

– 1 c. organic flout
– 1/3 c. organic sugar
– 1 1/2 c. water
– 1 tsp. organic vinegar
– green natural food colorant

Directions:
Warm all of the ingredients over medium heat until you get a thickened consistency. Remove from heat, let cool.

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Step 2: Get Painting

Use paintbrushes to coat your skulls with homemade green glue.

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Step 3: Get Glittering

Sprinkle eco-glitter all over the skulls. I recommend placing the skulls on a plate to catch the leftover glitter.

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Step 4: Get Displaying

We used our glitter skulls in the entry-way of our home for everyone to enjoy.

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