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7 Simple Eco-Friendly Fun Ways to Spend Fall with Your Family

Happy October 1st!

I love fall – it is my favorite season and my favorite time of year! What’s not to love? We are at our mountain home in North Carolina right now and it is fall perfection! The cooler weather, morning hikes, snuggles by the fire, chai tea, cozy sweaters and pumpkin everything. Looking for some fall inspriation?

Here are 7 simple, eco-friendly ways to inspire you!

1. Take a Listening Hike
One of my favorite fall activities is hiking! And one of my favorite ways to enjoy a hike is when we take what we like to call “a silent hike.” A silent hike is just that – we hike together as a family in complete silence. It’s amazing how the act of simply being quiet and listening can have a huge impact on your hiking experience. There have been many times that we come upon an animal grazing or fish swimming in a creek – it’s amazing. We also like to stop along the way to listen to the rustling of the trees, chirping of the birds or to watch leaves quietly wafting to the ground. It a great time to reflect within too, while still being with the ones you love.

2. Take It Outside
Fall is the perfect time to take whatever you are doing – outside! The mister and I start every morning by taking the dogs on a walk around the lake in our neighborhood. And Eben and I like to sneak away after dinner to take the dogs on another walk. It is my favorite way to start and end each day.

3. Slow It Down
Now that school is back in session, you have to admit that you are much busier than you were all summer. I know that if something isn’t on my schedule, it probably isn’t going to happen. Which is why during the fall months, we really take extra consideration to slow things down at our house. We like to schedule extra time in the morning and afternoon, just to be. We usually spend this time snuggled up chatting about our upcoming adventures.

4. Get Centered
Along with slowing down, fall is a great time to get centered. Spend time each day doing whatever it is that makes you feel connected and centered. For the mister, this means swimming – he will get up early everyday to swim his laps before heading to work. For Eben, this means a hot cup of cocoa and a really good book right after dinner. For me, I like to snuggle down with my iPad to pin my favorite eco-friendly things or end the day with a relaxing yoga session!

5. Plan Ahead
One thing that I have definitely learned along the way is that it is super important to enjoy the moment. To ensure that every moment of fall is enjoyable for my family, I like to plan ahead. I sit down with my journal and jot down things that I really want our family to do together during September, October and November. I include all of our traditional fall family activities, as well as new ideas that I can run by the boys. The idea is that if I plan these activities ahead of time, we spend the months doing fun things together without much thought – since I planned it well in advance.

6. Find an Adventure
One of my favorite parts of fall is the cooler weather – which always equals more time outside. We usually do the bulk of our camping and sailing trips during the fall months. We really enjoy the cooler days spent outside, followed by the crisp nights roasting marshmallows over the fire!

7. Get Cozy
Fall is a great time to reconnect with family and friends. We like to plan long dinner parties with friends, have family stay for extended weekends and plan unexpected get together with close friends. Last night, I kicked off my fall cravings by having a close friend over for a glass of wine at 8 pm. It was the perfect way to end a busy day, we were able to relax, sip wine and giggle about how hard it is to get into the back to school routine – it really made my week and will definitely become a tradition!

What ways do you plan to spend fall with your family?

20 Best North Carolina High Country Fall Family Activities + Rent Our Mountain House!

As soon as September arrives, I always start dreaming of a fall family trip to North Carolina.

I love living in Florida, but since the mister and I both grew up out west, we start to crave fall weather and the changing colors! Getting away to see the leaves changing colors, hiking in the early cool mornings, sipping hot cocoa, and visiting the local farmer’s market and pumpkin patch makes us very happy. We’ve been doing it every fall for 20 years! 

We made a goal to buy a house in North Carolina by our 20th wedding anniversary! Well, Clementine Cabin is almost finished and we’re sharing it with you as one of the best vacation rentals in Banner Elk, North Carolina! Yes, you can rent our vacation home! Hooray! 

So, if you’re looking for a little fall getaway, check out our mountain house and rent it yourself! 

Either way, here are my top 10 favorite activities that I’ve been dreaming about for a fall family trip. We’re sneaking away to North Carolina in the next several weeks:

  1. Staying at our favorite getaway (Clementine Cabin!)
  2. Wrapped up in a blanket sipping cocoa on the porch (listening to the creek!)
  3. Bouldering at Hebron Rock Colony
  4. New River pumpkin patch and corn maze
  5. Boone Farmer’s Market
  6. Sitting by the river at Banner Elk Winery
  7. Stopping to shop and antique in quaint little shops (they are everywhere!)
  8. Smores on the fire pit
  9. Caramel apples at Kilwin’s in Blowing Rock
  10. Grabbing a pretzel at Lost Province Brewing Co. 
  11. Shopping for stocking stuffers in Blowing Rock
  12. Mast General Store in Valle Crucis
  13. Apple Picking at The Historic Orchard at Altapass
  14. Dinner on the patio at Over Yonder
  15. Hiking, Hiking, Hiking
  16. The fall colors! Need I say more! 
  17. A picnic on the grass by the New River 
  18. Grabbing a Dutch Creek icecream
  19. Music in the Park at Valle Crucis
  20.  Spending time with the boys 

Do you have a fall family tradition that you look forward to? I would love to hear – leave a comment below!

5 Last Minute Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Surprises for Your Family

Twig-and-Thistle-Apple-Stickers

Valentine’s Day is almost here! When Eben was younger, I always surprised him with his Valentine’s book scavenger hunt! Now, that he is older, I am looking for simple, fun ways to show him how much I care on Valentine’s Day. This is especially great since Valentine’s Day really crept up on me this year! If you are like me and need a handful of last-minute, simple Valentine’s Day surprise ideas that are eco-friendly too – read on and relax we still have a few days. Ha!

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#1: Add a Little Organic Love to Lunch
I am a little obsessed with heart shapes in food – especially for Valentine’s Day. For starters, these heart and heart apples are perfect for Valentine’s Day lunchbox – even teenagers will enjoy!

Mixed-CD-Valentine

#2: DIY Mixed CD Valentine
Whether you are looking for a quick gift for your spouse or your teen –  I adore this mixed CD valentine from Dandee Designs – so old school. I remember receiving a mixed tape from a boyfriend in junior high – it was full of love songs from Boyz II Men and Tony! Toni! Tone! – how funny is that?

Heart-Attack

#3: Give a Recycled Heart Attack
When Eben was little, I surprised him by plastering his bedroom in recycled cut out hearts. On each heart, I wrote something about him that I love. You could do something like this on a smaller scale too, such as in a lunch box or school locker. Just don’t make it too mushy if you are doing it at school. You could even mail a box of hearts to someone far away!

Twig-and-Thistle

#4: Keep It Simple
I know that I can put a lot of pressure on myself to think of a fun and creative way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with Eben and the mister. However, I have learned over the years that it doesn’t matter what I plan, the simple act of spending the entire day celebrating my love for them is all they want. Whether it is sweet notes in their lunchboxes, a heart-shaped breakfast, or a “fancy” dinner – it’s the quality time together that really counts.

Winter-Camping

#5: Plan a Getaway
Several years ago, I wanted to celebrate with an experience so the mister and I surprised Eben with a long weekend of winter camping. We picked him up early from school on a Friday and headed to the beach for a few days of camping. If you want to surprise your family with a getaway, think easy – mini-day trips or even visiting somewhere new close to home.

What surprises do you have planned for your family this Valentine’s Day?

Last Minute Holiday Gift: DIY Vegan Brownies In A Mason Jar

Hello, Friends! We are down to the wire with only 6 days until Christmas. Have you finished your holiday shopping? Don’t forget your children’s teachers and the neighbors. You can still put together organic succulents in recycled paint dipped cans or miniature Christmas Trees made using recycled wine corks. If you are going to be baking this weekend, you can throw together a few simple, vegan brownies in mason jars.

What you will need:

  • 2 cups organic flour
  • 1 cup organic carob chips
  • 1 tbsp organic baking powder
  • 1/2 cup organic brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

You can either layer all of the ingredients separately in the jar or to save time mix all of the dry ingredients and top with the chocolate chips.

Attach a tag with the instructions to add:

  • 1/3 cup of your favorite neutral oil
  • 1 3/4 cup organic almond milk.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

How to Make an Eco-Friendly Gift Card Snow Globe as a Holiday Gift

If you are giving a gift card this holiday season, don’t just slip it into a card – make it into a snow globe. It will take giving a gift card this holiday to a whole new level – especially if you are giving it to  a child. Eben and I decided to do this project for a Secret Santa party that he will be going to – it was a super fun gift to make, read on to learn how. These are perfect for last minute gifts too!

What you will need:

  • glass mason jar
  • water
  • eco-glitter
  • glue gun
  • gift card
  • tiny ornaments

This is actually a super easy do-it-yourself project that only takes a few minutes to complete. Secure the gift card to the lid of the mason jar with hot glue. Fill the mason jar with water, add eco-glitter and a couple of tiny ornaments, screw the lid on super tight – you now have the perfect way to give a gift card!