Tag Archives | eco travel

6 Healthy Back To School Lunchtime Snacks

 

Fall is right around the corner, and that means it’s back to school for children, teens, and young adults across the country. For parents, that means it’s time to handle getting lunches packed, balanced breakfasts on the table, and sleepyheads out of bed!

I always get a wonderful nostalgic feeling from the end of summer, back-to-school time. It always reinvigorates me and makes me excited to try new things and make changes in my life, even though my own schooldays are long past. I think part of this has definitely been from raising Eben! 

Watching him go through the process of starting a new grade each year has been so rewarding and inspiring (and now, he’s applying to Graduate School, can you believe it!) I always want to support him and his efforts at school, and part of that means making sure he’s well fed and properly fueled so his brain can do all that learning each day (at least until he leaves us!)

One of the things I like to try and do each year is come up with new types of healthy snacks. Kids always seem drawn to any kind of single-serving snacks and fun foods—just think about those awful packaged varieties that your kids have probably begged you to buy while shopping. Packing the same things all the time gets boring and doesn’t offer much variety in terms of vitamins and minerals, which only eating a broad diet can do.

If you’re stumped for new ideas when packing lunches, here are some of our favorites, which I’m sure your kids will love, too:

  • Fruit Skewers: Use whatever fruits you have on hand (melons, apples, clementines, grapes, etc.) and stick bite-sized chunks onto wooden skewers or reusable plastic or metal skewers if you want to be extra eco-conscious. These colorful snacks are fun to eat and easy to share with friends at school!

  • Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter & Pretzels: This fun, dippable snacks make eating healthy nut butter a breeze. Eben loves these so much he had already gone through the package of them before school started! Like a healthier version of Nutella, these snacks feel like an indulgence, but they’re made from high-quality, all-natural ingredients with a focus on sustainability. Definitely a winner!

  • Fruit and Vegetable Chips: Whether you choose to make these in the oven, dehydrator, or buy them from your local health food store (such a variety is available these days!), fruit or vegetable chips are a great way of making healthy eating fun and delicious for kids. The possibilities are endless: apples, sweet potatoes, kale, zucchini, eggplant, all with any combination of flavored salts, herbs, and spices.

  • Stonyfield Organics YoKids Squeezers: This squeezable yogurt is both healthy and tasty. Eben loves the Cherry and Berry flavor pack, and they never come home uneaten when I pack them in his lunch! As with all of the Stonyfield products, they are organic certified by the USDA and made with pasture-raised milk.

  • Nuts and Seeds: I buy organic nuts and seeds in bulk at Costco and pack them in Eben’s lunch every day. They are the perfect snack to grab right before a big test or for an after-lunch pick-me-up!

  • Homemade Granola Bars: Unlike their store-bought counterparts, when you make granola bars at home, you don’t need to add any processed sugars and can control exactly what goes into them. There are endless healthy granola bar recipes online, and I guarantee at least one of them can be made with whatever you have in your cupboards right now!

What about you? Do you have any favorite back-to-school snack ideas that your kids devour? Or any packing secrets or life-changing products you can’t do without? I’d love to hear about them—the more inspiration, the better!

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Plan for Thanksgiving Dinner

Hello, Friends! I am pretty excited, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Thanksgiving is going to look a lot different this year. Most gatherings will be super small or social distanced.

Either way, it will still be a ton of fun and work! To get you started, 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 at 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 is 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 reusable 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!

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!

Green Your Halloween with Spot It! from Blue Orange Games

Spot It Halloween Green Halloween Games

We are huge fans of Blue Orange Games! We have a large media center in our family room and one whole side is full of games!

During October we fill a large jack o’ lantern bowl on our dining room table full of some of our favorite games and books. We play one every night while we eat dinner! And we still like to listen to the mister read spooky stories in the dark while eating pumpkin chocolate chip cookies! You can never be too old!

Right now, we love Sketch It!, Speedeebee!, and Flash!, 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 $24.99
+ Blue Orange Games

Road-Tripping in an Electric Vehicle: 4 Tips for Success

There are a lot of different cars on today’s roads — and with a PwC forecast estimating 107 million vehicles will be manufactured globally in 2020, there are going to be even more in the next few years. And while having a vehicle is often necessary, CO2 emissions are at an all-time high, partly due to vehicle use. This is one of the many reasons more and more people are choosing to purchase electric vehicles (EVs). But if you’re traveling this summer, you may be wondering how to plan your trip with your EV. Lucky for you, we have a few great tips in this article.

Drive Smart and Save Your Battery

EV drivers have to make the most of a charge — this is why it’s important to drive smart. When you’re trying to get the most out of your car’s battery, you should accelerate and brake carefully. If you slam on either the gas or brakes regularly, your charge is going to go down more quickly. Don’t forget to use your accessories wisely, too. Additionally, you should always charge your vehicle right before you leave so you can start off with a full charge. And remember to keep charge times in mind to ensure you stay on schedule. With U.S. manufacturing producing 18.2% of goods globally, EVs have improved drastically over the past few years, but you still need to treat your car with care.

Plan Your Stops Ahead of Time

When you’re on a road trip, you’re usually rushing to get to your final destination in excitement. But when you’re driving in an EV, you need to plan to stop frequently. So when you’re planning your route and travel time, make sure to account for multiple stops. Not only will EVs require more stops than regular cars, but the stops will probably take longer — it takes more time to charge an EV than to fill up a gas tank. But with the global specialty gases market expected to exceed $14 billion by 2026, EV drivers can enjoy saving money and going green compared to regular vehicle drivers.

Go Where Charging Stations Are

Unfortunately, much of the country is still not equipped with electric vehicle charging stations. This is especially true in less populated areas. So when you’re deciding where to travel to in your EV, be mindful of where charging stations are located. Cities and urban areas are a great choice because they’re more likely to have multiple charging stations you can utilize. While there are plans in place to get more EV charging stations in place in less populated areas, for now, you should stick to high-traffic areas. This way, you won’t have to worry about being stranded without a way to charge up.

Expect the Unexpected

When you’re driving a traditional vehicle, it can be fairly easy to simply hop in the car and take off with no plan in mind. But this isn’t a smart thing to do with an EV. Running out of battery juice far away from a charging station can be bad news. This is why you need to plan for the worst and expect the unexpected. You should always have a backup plan, like knowing about a charging station before your planned stop, just in case. With 5.5 million car accidents occurring every year and millions of cars breaking down on the roads, there’s no telling what may happen. So be prepared for anything that may come up along the way.

Driving an electric vehicle is a great way to do your part to help the environment. But because road trips in an EV can be a little more tricky, keep these tips in mind to ensure everything goes according to plan.